Money

We all need it. We all want more of it. It consumes most our thoughts whether we have a lot or a little. Even Jesus spoke of money in nearly half of all his parables. One in every seven verses in the New Testament deals with this topic. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, fewer than 500 verses on faith, and more than 2,000 verses on money. In fact, 15 percent of everything Jesus ever taught was on the topic of money and possessions — more than His teachings on heaven and hell combined.

Why such an emphasis on money and possessions? There is a fundamental connection between our spiritual lives and how we think about and handle money.

It was Martin Luther who said, "There are three conversions a person needs to experience: The conversion of the head, the conversion of the heart, and the conversion of the pocketbook."

Matthew 6:19-21 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

I truly believe we will never be truly free or experience God's blessing until we are obedient to God's call to give. Living an open-handed generous life is very freeing. Whether you call it a "tithe" or "giving" or "generosity" it's the same idea. Unfortunately when some people want to argue about the "tithe" not being a New Testament requirement it's just to justify their lack of obedience to God's word.

Let's not live in bondage to fear when it comes to money. Trust God with a portion of what He has given us the ability to earn!


I recently taught at Mercy Church on the subject of money, here are the cliff notes:


WHEN IT COMES TO OUR MONEY...

1) Our HOPE should be in God.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 


2) Being GENEROUS shows our gratitude.

2 Corinthians 9:11 “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”


3) You will be BLESSED when you give.

Acts 20:35 "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive'."


4) WEALTH comes from God.

1 Chronicles 29:10-13 David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, LORD, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.


5) Giving is a matter of the HEART.

Matthew 6:21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."


6) GIVING helps us keep things in proper perspective.

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

I am always open to questions and feedback ... thank you!

God's Got You

Have you ever had that overwhelming feeling of falling? Or at least that feeling that you are slipping off a cliff that you are barely hanging on to? For some it's financial, others it's relational, maybe it's business, or it's your health that seems to be slipping away. No matter what it is the feeling is the same; You get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, you lose your appetite, and your hands get cold and clammy.

At some point we've each faced that feeling. So what do you do with it? How do you react? What do you say? What do you think? What is your response? I do know this, it's not healthy or even helpful to live there in that anxious fearful emotion. We must have another, more powerful, thought that leads to a better healthier emotion.

I believe if we can replace that fearful thought with a faith-filled thought we then have a hopeful faith-filled emotion that follows. Make sense?

For example, I was talking to a good friend of mine about some of my cares and worries and he said, "Timmy, don't worry bro God's got you!" And with that one thought I was able to replace my fear with hope. And I begin to dwell on that, and think, "yes God does have me, He always has, and always will."

One of my favorite verses:

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - NIV

So to you I say, "(insert your name here) that thing you are going through, don't worry about it! God's got you! You are going to make it."




A Growing Faith

I was enjoying a great cup of coffee at Kaldi's Coffee on the Plaza here in Kansas City the other day when someone recognized me and proceeded to ask me some questions about faith and spirituality. I always enjoy those conversations!

The Question: 
If I want to grow spiritually, what should I do?

My Answer:
That's easy; and you can start today! I will admit this will seem elementary, but I can promise you the things that are easy to do are easy NOT to do. Many many Christians are failing to do many of the things I will put here. But if you do them your faith will grow so far beyond what you would have ever thought it could. I will admit though, each of these things must be done, you can't skip any of them. Now, don't get legalistic here or overwhelmed! It's the principles behind each thing that are important, and you can think outside the box of just how to accomplish them.

It's like a marriage; there are things you must do to have a healthy happy growing relationship with your spouse. But, it's more the principles behind each thing we must do that is important not just the thing itself. Make sense? Some people, even well meaning (though mis-informed, and even mis-led), feel that some of the things I will list here are "too legalistic"... and I believe they are ONLY if you make them that way. You don't need to make them legalistic. They can be what you do as an expression of your love and appreciation to God! In other words, I don't do these things to get God's approval or to get God to love me more or even to stop God from killing me. I do what I do because I love and trust God, and all that I have is His. Period. And that is how we all should live and love! And keeping in mind this is a journey, not a destination ... this is the path I am on, not perfect, but moving in the right direction.


6 STEPS FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH


1) Read the Bible. (Study)

Listening to Bible would be the same. Depending on my schedule I do both.

Psalms 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.


2) Pray. (Meditation)

Simply communication. Talking and listening.

Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.


3) Give. (Generosity) 


  • Giving Financial (Contributions)

It's unfortunate, but many Christians get hung up on this one issue for one reason or another and miss out on a level of blessing from the Lord that is theirs if they'd only obey.

I do believe and teach in 'Tithing' giving a tenth of your earnings to your local church, though I am also okay with people being givers of a regular amount whatever % that is. I've heard some people who reject the 'tithe' teaching to only find out that it was because they don't give anything.

2 Corinthians 9:6 But this I say, He which sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully.  


  • Giving Time (Volunteer)

I feel, at least from my personal experience, Christians (and even those who do not consider themselves Christians) do a pretty good job here. I have people ask, "well isn't giving my time like giving money?" And the answer is - no, it's not. Giving of your money takes way more faith, trust, love and commitment, hence the reason it's so difficult for people to do. And why people make every excuse under the sun not to give, even so-called 'Biblical' excuses about "the tithe being an Old Testament thing ... and we don't have to do it." etc. All an attempt to feel better about what we do or don't do.

1 Peter 4:10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace. 

Galatians 6:10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.


4) Go to church. (Community)

"Hey, you can be a Christian without going to church Timmy!" Yes you can! And you can also be a human without bathing, but you would smell much better if you did! Ha ha!

What typically happens to people is they have some falling out with someone at a church, then they get out of the habit of going. It's easy to do, and easy not to do. I get it! And frankly I could write a book on this topic alone. But let me just argue the point with this thought; Nothing bad can come of attending church, especially one you like and it a good fit. I mean seriously, you going to let some disagreement keep you away from fellowship with others and faith? That would be childish! Anytime you get a few people together there are going to be issues. It's just life. Life is messy from time to time.

I have been attending church weekly for 45 years now and I wouldn't change it! If I could go back I would still attend church every single weekend. And I am committed to attending church every weekend until I die, no matter the disagreements I have with people in the church or out of the church.

One last thought here, and I apologize ahead of time to those of you who don't attend church! Another important factor in attending church is helping to balance out whacky beliefs we have from time to time. This isn't always true, but I find it to be so many times; when Christians don't attend church their views can become a little out there. And they need community to help keep their feet on the ground. I think the reason for this is that people crave "spirituality" and they take in whatever they hear, therefor they are like that verse in Ephesians 4:14 that says: Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 


Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.


5) Small Group. (Friendship & Fellowship)

As a pastor I encourage people to get involved in a small group. The reality is that many people are in a small group already, they just don't know it. And just maybe all that's needed is a little more intentionality, as it relates to "spiritual growth", but the people are most likely are already around you. And by definition a small group is just that, a small group. So if 3 people are meeting together regularly, then boom there it is - ingredients for a small group.

It's difficult to force friendships. Let's be honest here, not everyone gels with everyone else. We've all met those people who you feel you have known your whole life, it's easy to talk to them, interests are similar, goals, ideals, etc. all seem to be easy things to talk about. But then on the other hand we've all met those people who just make you wish you were deaf. Everything they like you hate. All that to say, find a few people you can related to, gel with, and forge some solid life-long friendships.

Little side journey: Good friends aren't those who are always there, but those who lead you and encourage you to greater heights of integrity, character, love, forgiveness, and faith. If they are gossipy, hateful, negative, divisive ... run away! Fast!

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.


6) Diary. (Journaling)

I was encouraged many years ago to keep a diary. I have been good at times and bad at times at keeping up with it. But when I do it's such a joy to pen my thoughts, my struggles, my disappointments, my prayers, etc. I think it to be a valuable tool to spiritual growth. Plus it's something that will be given to my children when I die, so they can see my life parts of my life as I journaled them and get a glimpse of me by it.

Habakkuk 2:2 Then the LORD replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it."


Summing it all up:

I would like to add that not only are the things mentioned above important to DO, I would also encourage you limit or discontinue all-together things you know you shouldn't be doing. Make sense? If you are cleaning out a pool, but continue to throw dirt in as you clean, you will never get the pool completely clean and in the condition you wish to have it.

I sincerely hope that you have a kickass 2015!


Happiness Isn't Always an Easy Choice

We all have heard or read the quote, "Happiness is a choice!" And while I have said it many many times, and do believe it to be true I also know that it's not always an easy choice.

I am fortunate that my personality type is pretty-much the optimistic-happy-type, so it comes easier to me than some I suspect, but still it's not always easy even for me. So I guess the question I want to address here is - How to choose happiness even when it's not easy to?

1) Make time in your life to do things that make you happy.

I teach a lot on being selfless and giving yourself away, helping others, etc etc. But there is a balance to that! You can't give what you don't have, so it is vitally important to give to yourself!


2) If there is something in your life that is ripping happiness from you, change it.

Obviously there is a balance to this as well. I mean kids can rip your happiness from you at times, I know this cause I have 2 of them, ha ha! So I am not saying so post them on craigslist ... no no no! I am talking about those things that we sometimes feel obligated to but don't have to do. But since we are people pleasers we do them. I suggest you stop. :) If it's a person, then maybe there should be a change, or at least a heart to heart conversation.


3) Resolve your inner issues.

In my 24 years of ministry I have seen people's past issues cause many problems in their life. It keeps them from happiness, and it doesn't need to.  Resolve the issues. And whatever you do learn to be a person who forgives and moves on! Don't allow junk from the past to dirty your future.

4) Find peace with God.

Of course I believe that true happiness is achieved through a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ. But let's just be honest here, I know, I am sure you do as well, Christians who are extremely unhappy! So I am not naive enough to think that just "being a Christian" makes you a happy joe lucky person! And when I hear preachers who try and sell that message I cringe, because it's just not so. It's just like the message of being a Christian will make you healthy and wealthy. Nutty! To be wealthy you must apply principles of wealth to your finances, same for health ... apply the principles. (I will stop ranting!)

Final Thoughts

I am aware that life isn't fair. Some people in this life are dealt poor hands and it sucks! And for them happiness can seem allusive, but it's worth the pursuit! Blessings to you!

I'm Not Where I Thought I'd Be


Q: Is your life right where you envisioned it would be at this time in your life?

A: Probably not, if you are like the rest of us.

Now that I am getting well into my 40's I am hearing from my friends things like, "I'm not where I thought I'd be in life." Or something real similar to that phrase. Frankly, I've said that many times in the last few years.

I assume they mean what I mean by that statement; I don't have what I thought I'd have, I haven't accomplished what I thought I would accomplish, I'm not doing all that I wanted to do, etc. etc.

I am uncertain just who is right where they thought they'd be at any particular time in their life. I mean, in my early 20's I envisioned being in college, I was. In my later 20's I envisioned myself being married, I was. In my early 30's I envisioned myself having kids and being in full time church work, I did and was. In my mid to late 30's I envisioned moving to Kansas City and starting a church, I did. In my early 40's I envisioned pastoring a mega-church, I didn't. And now in my mid 40's and late 40's I have other visions, hopefully "I will" and "I did" will be what I say after I get there. But if not, well then I will keep on keeping on!

I am learning more and more in life, some things are just what they are, you can't do anything about them but you can do something about YOU! You can change yourself, your perspective, your behavior, your view, your thoughts, your beliefs, and your attitude! And when you change those things, you change the world!

Final word to all my buddies who are in their late 30's to early 40's struggling with inner identity issues, just keep on keeping on doing what you know is right!

That is a valuable lesson in life right there, just keep on doing what you know is right, and with that I would encourage you to stop doing what you know to be wrong! You'll be so happy you did, I promise!




Make It Count

We all have one life to live, let's make it count for something good!


  • If you are a mom ... be the best mom you can be!

  • If you are a dad ... be the best dad you can be!

  • If you are an employee ... be the best employee you can be!

  • If you are a boss ... be the best boss you can be!

  • If you are a student ... be the best student you can be!

  • If you are a grandparent ... be the best grandparent you can be!

  • If you are a son or daughter ... be the best son or daughter you can be!

  • If you are a friend ... be the best friend you can be!

  • If you are a Christian ... be the best Christian you can be!

  • If you are a (FILL IN THE BLANK) ... be the best ________________ you can be!


CLOSING THOUGHT: 

Maybe you are like me and want to be good at so many things, even things that I'm not all that good at?! It is not only depressing, it is a waste of our precious time to want to be or do something we are not able to do. I am not talking about things that might be a real possibility. I am talking about wanting to be a Rockstar and you are in your 50's and can't sing or play an instrument. Make sense? I think we waste a lot of time chasing pipe dreams, when we should be about doing what is right in front of us to do, like love those who we are responsible to and for!




What Makes Marriage Work

It seems that I hear of a marriage falling a part every day. It saddens me deeply, because it doesn't have to be this way ... you can make any marriage work. Now I realize that when trust has been violated, and hearts have been shattered, and vows have been broken it's tough. Really tough!

Why do I even care?

I care because I still believe in the institution of marriage, the sanctity of it. I love love! I am fascinated by love. It's powerful when two people can come together and commit to spend the rest of their lives with each other "till death do us part." And not to mention it is the best thing for kids for their parents to be together, of course not if the home is in utter shambles, but there isn't anything better for kids than to have both parents together forever AND happy. It's the way it should be. And when couple get divorced it wrecks havoc on the kids, and even extended family, friends, and society as a whole! Let's be honest, divorce sucks, big time!

Three Things That Make Marriage Work Well:

Disclaimer: What I am about to say is completely dependent on BOTH husband and wife participating! Both must be ALL in, 100%, 100%! One person can't make a marriage work, it takes two. So if you find yourself in a marriage where one is all in and the other is not, it's going to be difficult if not impossible for there to be any awesome stuff accomplished. Now, if you are the one pulling for the marriage I encourage you to pray like crazy! God will give you direction and wisdom. 

Also, no shame or judgment on those who have been divorced, or even those getting a divorce, poop happens! And it's a bummer. I am simply trying to help those who want help, or need a little punch in the arm to get them through a tough situation. 

First and most important ...

1) God

I'm not saying that in a trite arrogant stupid naive way! But when a couple is living a life for God, I mean really living a life after God then they will (should) want to be the Man (husband) or the Woman (wife) God wants them to be.

This means that a man who really loves God will do whatever he can to love and serve his wife and kids. He will be faithful to his wife and kids in every way. This doesn't mean he will do so perfectly and without stumbling along the way from time to time. But his heart is full-on devoted to his wife and kids. His family will be more important than his career, friends and hobbies. Because that is what a real man does!

Same goes for the woman, a woman who loves God will love, respect and serve her husband and kids! She will do whatever is needed to be the pillar of the home. Her husband will come before her friends, her career, or anything else. This is what a real woman does.

I believe God to be a critical facet in any relationship because IF you really really love God you will have a constant voice of *GOOD whispering in your ear encouraging you to love, to give, to cherish, to be faithful, to be strong, etc! It's that constant voice in your heart and mind to do what is right! Let's be honest here, we all need that! In much of society I feel a pull in the other direction! I feel society encouraging me to do whatever the heck I want to do! Basically encouraging me to only think of me, myself and mine. I believe "God" is a crucial aspect in having a happy, healthy long-lasting marriage.

*Hence the reason I encourage being a part of a church community! Not that going to church means you will never have marital issues, but you will have that constant voice of good in your ear, and a support group when and if you do ever face rough times. But I can say with complete certainty that your marriage will be better being a part of a church community than it would NOT being a part of a church community! I am absolutely certain of this.


2) Love Your Spouse

When you get married you give up only thinking of what you want. I don't think most people really get it. Marriage is a joy, a blessing, and full of freedom ... but its a freedom to be faithful, loving, self sacrificing.

When you get married you gain so much, but in gaining so much you do give up things to get what you gain. It's much like anything else in life, you give up some things to gain other things. You gain an income with a job, but you do give up some of your free time in order to work. And it's a fair trade. Same with marriage.

I've had people say to me, "well I deserve to be happy, and my spouse no longer makes me happy!" I laugh when I hear that because happiness is a choice, plain and simple. The sad part is that you are so weak in character and so deceived that you are "deciding" to love someone more than the person you are supposed to love most of all, your spouse. And it's all because you "feel" something. It's ridiculous.

When I have counseled couples recovering from an affair I often ask, "Can you see now that if you had invested all the time an energy in your marriage that you were investing in the 'other person' the grass would have been greener in your own yard rather than the neighbors yard?" 


3) Love Yourself

It is impossible to love someone else fully if you do not love yourself. Loving yourself is an important part of loving your spouse. And when I say, "Love Yourself" I am referring to so many things, i.e. loving your body, loving who you are, loving your life, loving your decisions, etc. etc. I have seen people sabotage their relationship all because they hate themselves. And when someone hates themselves that can not accept love from anyone else, and they definitely can't give love.

Shame is a relationship killer. Shame is different than guilt. Guilt is feeling bad for what you have done, shame is feeling bad about who you are. Guilt is, "I did bad and I feel guilty for it." Shame is, "I do bad, therefor I am bad."


THE GOOD NEWS

Here is the good news about all three of these, God, Love Your Spouse, and Love Yourself ... YOU CAN DO IT! No one is without hope. Anyone can begin doing these things today, right now. Your Marriage can be turned around, YOU can turn it around! Seriously!  It's never too late, in my opinion.

Another Disclaimer: Obviously there are situations that are irreversible, and it's so broken that the only thing you can do is move onward, I get that. I encourage people in those situations to let go of the guilt over the past. Move on! It does no good to roll around in the past should've, could've, would've land! It's over, so what you must do now is make yourself ready for what lies ahead for you.

I am often asked by people who have been divorced, "Can people change?" I assume they are thinking, "maybe if I had stayed longer it could've worked?" It's a mystery really. I believe on one hand that people can change, but the real question is not can they, but will they. And if I am honest, most people can, but won't. They are stuck in the patterns they have grown to love and cherish and they feel safe functioning a certain way, even at the expense of those around them. Make sense?

If you or someone you now needs some Relationship Coaching, please contact my office to set up an appointment, I'd love to help you! (913) 390-1200, or email jana@mercychurchkc.com. Thank you!





Slay Your Demon (3 of 3)

My final thoughts on slaying your demon is simple really, and it's in the above picture, "The Struggle is Real." We all struggle, or should struggle with the demons within! I saw a t-shirt that read, "I don't fight with my inner demons, I just go along with them." I think that is tragic! The demons you, me and everyone struggles with will take us places we never thought we'd go, and keep us longer than we want to stay and cost us way more than we want to pay.

I believe that all 6 points I gave led up to this final point: 

7) Stay Healthy - Another thing we can do to win the war is to stay healthy! Spiritual Health, Mental and Emotional Health and Physical Health! All are very important in being able to fight off the demons within that would love to get you to do something stupid.

I am only 45, but I have seen enough of life to see a pattern in people doing stupid stuff, and the pattern is: making bad choices when you are in a bad place. Whether it's a bad mental state, emotional state, spiritual state and even a bad physical state. And this has been true in my life as well. I am most susceptible when I am weak, or troubled or stressed to do or say silly stuff.

A rule I live by and I encourage others to live by: Don't ever make big decisions when you are in a bad place emotionally, mentally, spiritually or physically. Wait until you are in a good place, and if you still want to do whatever it is when you are in a strong state, than maybe it's the right thing. I am, of course, assuming that "what you want to do" isn't immoral or corrupt. Hello!

I see this a lot in cases of adultery, divorce, and even remarriage. People who have affairs, not always but often, are super stressed at work, have a broken marriage, weak spiritually, or are going through some kind of mid-life crisis of sorts and typically always regret their decisions when they look back. Same with re-marriage; I see people get divorced and before they are even over it they "meet someone special" ... this is a recipe for disaster typically.

Okay, so I am ending this blog and there really is so much to write about this subject, and I want to leave you with one last thought and that is to not allow guilt and shame to keep you down if you have given into your demons more than you should have! That's not going to help you move forward at all, actually if anything it can weaken you. You will find yourself saying, "well I already did it last night, I might as well do it tonight too." That is just not true! If you have messed up, than ask God to forgive you and move on! Don't live in the land of past mistakes! You can win the war!

1 Timothy 6:12 "Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses."


Slay Your Inner Demon (1 of 3)

"We all have inner demons to fight. We call these demons 'fear' and 'hatred' and 'anger'. If you don't conquer them, then a life of 100 years is a tragedy. But if you do a life of one day can be a triumph." - Bruce Lee (From the Movie: Dragon) 

One of the things we all deal with is, what many refer to as, our "inner demons." Whether these are born of insecurities, things we lack, irreversible past treatment, deep dark desires, unmet needs, unquenched thirsts, or simply fears, they are real. Many people are tortured daily by their demons and if we let them, they will drag us down to the pit of darkness, despair and eventually, if we give in, they will lead to our destruction. Even if you do not give in to them they often work as a distraction, keeping us from the life God desires for us.

So, what you and I want to know is what the freak to do about it? I mean, how can we not let our demons ruin our life?

Side note: I can hear in my head someone saying, "Just denounce them. Don't acknowledge them, then they won't get a foothold in your life." I'm sorry, but that's just so ignorant, in my humble opinion. That's like ignoring or not acknowledging when the doctor says you have cancer. Also, I am uncertain if we can ever completely rid ourselves of our demons. And when I say "demons" I am not talking about an actual demon, but rather our carnal selfish flesh, our sinful nature - the part of us that wants to do whatever the hell we want, when we want and with who we want. You understand? I am not talking about demon possession. That's a whole other teaching.

1) Know Your Demon - What I mean is that we should know what our struggle is; know your enemy. I think most of us do know what our demon is - whether Lust, Pride, Fear, Insecurities, etc. When you know your demon, you know not to give in, and you know it's not God speaking to you. Make sense? Know what voice belongs to who. Many times all this takes is a little commonsense. I find the Holy Spirit to be a HUGE help in knowing and identifying my demon.

For example: I know that when I feel like skipping church, its the Devil speaking to me. I know God wouldn't be asking me to skip church, and I know that the Devil isn't going to encourage faithful church attendance. I know when I feel like being selfish and not supporting my church financially, it's the Devil. I know God encourages generosity. (I am sure there is some one who would like to dispute this obvious point, but I am speaking generally here ... of course we all know there are always exceptions to most rules. But frankly a person who would want to dispute this is only attempting to justify why they are stingy and not obeying God. People who are generous would agree with this principle 100%)

Let me continue; I know it's not God telling me to run off with some other woman and leave my wife and kids. Duh! But how many of us know people who have done this and have actually claimed it was God? But even commonsense would tell you that is something you should not do, but it happens all the time. I could go on with example after example, but you get the point. Know your demon!

2) Don't Obey Your Demon - This seems so easy, doesn't it? But it's a lot harder than it sounds, huh? How many times have we considered doing what our demon is asking us to do. Even with the above examples? It's strange how the demon can make something that is so wrong seem so right. Our demon makes it seem like such a great idea, saying things like, "You deserve it" or "You don't want to miss out on that ..." or "It will make you so happy ..." and so many other tempting one liners. 

I have helped people through these very struggles and always thought, "how can they not see that this is so stupid" until I faced some of the very same demons speaking to me. Wow, it's real, and not always easy when you are the one wrestling the demon. Often the craziest thing can be so tempting.

What I have learned is so very helpful here, is to have good trustworthy friends, who are people of character who you can go to and they can confirm for you, "dude, that's crazy! Don't do it!" Then your response should be, "Okay, I won't!" I can't tell you how many people have come to me about something I have said, "Dude, that's crazy! Don't do it!" To only have them go ahead and do it, and later regret it.

1 John 4:4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

To Be Continued ... 

NO CRIME FOR A WEEK

We are in the midst of Lent. For the Christian, Lent is a time of self-reflection, sacrifice, fasting, soul searching and spiritual renewal as we approach Easter Sunday.

As I have been doing my own reflecting I felt compelled to issue a challenge to the Mercy Church congregation I serve and the city we live in, Kansas City, to LIVE HOLY THE WEEK OF HOLY WEEK - April 13 – 19. Unfortunately “living holy” can and often means different things to different people, so allow me to clarify.

I am NOT referring to a bunch of rules that the religious-church-folk often impose on us, like NO Drinking, NO Dancing, NO rated “R” movies, NO reading Harry Potter Books and definitely NO Tattoos! These are only some of the ridiculous man-made “religious” rules that we thought if we could adhere to would get God to like us more. I was raised in that legalistic culture and now see why so many people who came from that no longer attend church. It’s heart-breaking!

Leviticus 11:44 “For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.” - NASB 

When I say “LIVE HOLY” I am referring to 3 things primarily that, if not all at least one, will make sense to you I am sure:

1) Keep the 10 Commandments 

ONE: 'You shall have no other gods before Me.' TWO: 'You shall not make for yourself a carved image--any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.' THREE: 'You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.' FOUR: 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.' FIVE: 'Honor your father and your mother.' SIX: 'You shall not murder.' SEVEN: 'You shall not commit adultery.' EIGHT: 'You shall not steal.' NINE: 'You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.' TEN: 'You shall not covet…’

2) Live by the Golden Rule

Matthew 7:12 "So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the Law and the prophets." - RSV 

3) Love your Neighbor as yourself 

Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” 

I am convinced that if we will commit to live holy the week of Holy Week it will not only impact us personally but also our churches, our friends, our neighbors, our cities and the world we live in.

On a very practical level let me give a bit more detail; the bible clearly states that we should “obey the laws of the land” as long as they do not hinder us from serving Christ, so included in this challenge is for us to live as law abiding citizens … no speeding (this is going to be a huge sacrifice for me, ha ha! I have a really heavy foot!), wear your seat belt, if you have had too much to drink - call a Taxi or a friend to drive you home, etc.

I can feel some of you rolling your eyes … listen take the challenge to Live Holy for one week, come on! You’ll be glad you did! Here’s the deal… if every person in Kansas City would do this it would be like utopia … like Heaven … everyone caring, giving and loving … it would be awesome! Crime would stop completely! Amazing! Wouldn't it be cool to see crime stand still for one week in our city, or whatever city you live in? I think so!

Blessings!