Posts Tagged With: choices

Dynamic Christian Living in One Simple Sentence! (For real!!!)

I’m coming off of an absolutely exhilarating week with some of the finest high schoolers you’d ever want to meet. This at a place near and dear to my heart called Hartland Christian Camp.

For this week’s PODCAST, this is my Wednesday morning message from last week at Hartland.


Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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THE Very.Best.Thing Ever


Get ready for a well-deserved pat on the back, and a hearty, “Well done!”

In addition to that, welcome to Luke’s heartwarmingly endearing introduction of two precious women: Martha and her sister Mary. As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, this delightful little story now brings us full circle in our discussion of the Return of the Seventy from their very first mission’s trip.

You might remember that while debriefing their by-all-accounts exuberantly successful experience, Jesus responded to the Seventy by alluding to this landmark event:

“Yes,” Jesus told the Seventy, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning!” (Luke 10:18).

That statement opened up for us an entire discussion of exactly how Satan, this now-fallen angel and defeated foe, seeks to invade our lives with his nefarious influence. We shared with you then (Podcasts #151 and 152) six ways that we can slam that door to our lives shut to Satan’s influence in our lives.

In this podcast, we’ll now look at the other side of that proposition: How Satan seeks to slam that door to our lives shut to God’s influence in our lives.

Sadly, I must say that he — Satan — has been enormously successful and effective in doing just that. I would venture to say that this is THE battle that we fight, and far-too-often lose, with the greatest frequency when it comes to spiritual warfare. Yet ironically, very few of us recognize this as a spiritual battle. And even fewer of us understand who is the architect of this strategy.

This is universal.

My friends, we have a lot to talk about.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take several seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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The Parable of the Despised Samaritan

It’s universally called “The Parable of the Good Samaritan.”

Universally, that is, except where Jesus is concerned.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, if Luke 10:33 in the NLT is any indication, Jesus would have most likely entitled this, “The Parable of the Despised Samaritan.”

A title which goes to the heart of this story, really. Something that I need for you to feel as you listen, and to feel it deeply. For if not, this parable completely loses its punch.

Forget about shifting a paradigm. With this one parable, Jesus completely obliterated the paradigm, and created a whole new paradigm on the spot.

You are in for both a treat and a challenge.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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How Can I Know God’s Will for My Life?

Time to tackle yet another question from camp. And this one just happens to be one of my all-time favorites. 

This student phrased the question as follows:

How do I know if God is “calling” me to do something? How do I know if it’s just what I want to do?

I can’t wait to get into this. For two reasons:

1. Because the question reveals a heart of obedience, someone who genuinely wants to please God with his or her life.

2. Because the answer to this question is so practical.

To rephrase the question, what this person is asking is this: 

How can I know God’s will for my life?

Do you know how many books and pamphlets have been written in an attempt to answer this very common question? Neither do I. I can’t count that high.

You’ll read everything from “God just tells me what He wants me to do,” to complicated formulas where means, motive, and opportunity must all be in their proper alignment before God’s will can be known.

The more cynical among us might be tempted to conclude that God is playing some sort of hide-and-seek game with us, as if God’s will is buried treasure, the Bible is our map, and we must discover the clues or solve the riddles in order to unearth God’s will.

I, for one, do not for a second believe that God is a cosmic tease, someone who gets some perverse pleasure out of watching His children stumble around in the dark, searching for His will.

God would not encourage each of us…

…to know God’s will for you (Romans 12:2 NLT)…

…unless He wanted us to know it!

Oh, and by the way, while we’re talking about this, let’s once and for all time put away this faulty notion that God’s will for your life must be the opposite of everything you want out of life. Or worse, God’s will might just be the most horrible thing in the world that you can imagine. As if God’s will is something to be feared.

Just because someone hates heat, doesn’t particularly like to get soaking wet, and screams at the sight of spiders does not mean that God has called him or her to sweat in a mud hut in the middle of some deep, dark rain forest living on a nasty diet of beetle-grubs.

How do I know this? Because in that same blessed verse (Romans 12:2), God Himself describes His will for your life as…

…good and pleasing and perfect.

Hear this:

God’s will for your life is “good and pleasing and perfect.”

Now repeat after me: 

God’s will for my life is “good and pleasing and perfect.”

OK, so back to the question at hand, 

How do I know if God is “calling” me to do something? How do I know if it’s just what I want to do?

God answers that question in just sixteen words, Psalm 37:4 (NLT).

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Or to put it another way, If you make God the delight of your heart, His will for your life is to follow your heart.

Follow your heart. Yes, it is that simple.

What does it mean to delight yourself in the Lord, or to make Him the delight of your heart? It simply means to do those things that you know will please Him, and refrain from doing those things that you know will displease Him.

This is not complicated. I’ll give you a few examples, and you tell me if these things please or displease God.

Tell a lie. (Displeases God)

Tell the truth. (Pleases God)

Gossip about someone (Displeases God)

Speak favorably about others (Pleases God)

Do your best at school, at work, or in your home (Pleases God)

Cheat at school, at work, or in your home (Displeases God)

Fill your mind with pure pictures, lyrics, etc. (Pleases God)

Fill your mind with filth (Displeases God)

Harm someone (Displeases God)

Help someone (Pleases God)

This is NOT complicated.

So His promise is this… Make God the delight of your heart (by doing those things that you know please Him), and then follow your heart. 

Why does this work? Because as you make God the delight of your heart, His heart will become your heart, His heart’s desires will become your heart’s desires, His will will become your will.

It really will!

One last thought… This does not necessarily mean that when you follow your heart, God will reveal His entire plan for your entire life, all at once. Let me share with you one more equally precious verse, 

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105 NLT).

Not to get too technical here. But the lamp to which the verse refers is a handheld oil lamp, which were as common in biblical times as light bulbs are to us today.

But here’s the thing: An oil lamp gives off exactly the right amount of light to allow you and me to take one more step.

Did you get that? #OneMoreStep.

Take that step, and voilà! The lamp will give you exactly the right amount of light to take one more step. The next step.

Step-by-step is how this Christian walk is meant to be lived. Step-by-step, one step at a time.

So here it is: Make God your heart’s delight by doing those things that you know please Him. Follow your heart’s desire in order to follow God’s will. And take the first step to fulfilling your heart’s desire. Just one step. Take that step, and sooner rather than later God will give you just enough light to take the next step, and the step after that.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Happy walking, my friends. And be sure to enjoy the journey!

(Any thoughts? Just click on the title, scroll down to the bottom, and leave a reply. I’d LOVE to read it.)

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The Key That Unlocks the Doorway to God’s Blessing

Is it really true? 

That the gateway to God’s blessing in my life opens wide when people say hateful, hurtful, spiteful, or malicious things about me? Or when they treat me in a hateful, hurtful, spiteful, or malicious way? Simply because I desire to live a righteous life, rather than an unrighteous one?

In this PODCAST, you are about to learn how blessedly true that really is.

Please note that depending upon your web browser, it might take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.


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“Why is my mom a crackhead, and why does she choose drugs over me?”

No junior higher should ever have to ask God a question like this. But that is exactly the question one middle school student asked when given the opportunity.

“If you could ask God one question, and knew that He would give you an honest answer, what would you ask?” One student’s response: 

“Why is my mom a crackhead, and why does she choose drugs over me?”

As I often say when talking to students at camp, I hesitate to speak for God. But I have a hunch as to how He might answer this heart-rending question. I believe that He would say this:

There are many, many kinds of addictions — alcohol addiction, food addiction, pain killer addiction, pornography addiction, sex addiction, nicotine addiction, gambling addiction, so many others — including, in the case of your mom, drug addiction. 

And the two things that absolutely break God’s heart about addictions are these:

1. Every single addiction causes things to break. Broken lives. Broken relationships. Broken hearts — your heart, and God’s heart. And once the pieces of our lives, relationships, and hearts lie broken, it’s so hard, if not impossible, ever to put them back together.

2. Addictions are so, so, so easily avoidable. No one is forced to become an addict. Meaning that countless lives, relationships, and hearts are so often broken needlessly.

Think of it this way: No one is born an addict. Your mom was not born a crackhead. Addictions were never a part of God’s plan for her life.

Addictions always begin in the exact same way: A person (your mom) made a choice. A seemingly innocent choice, or so it would seem at the time. A small choice. An apparently insignificant choice.

Of course, I don’t know the specific back story about your mom. But I do know, and over the years have met, scores of people with  a variety of addictions. And so far as I know, every single one of them at some point in their past made a fateful choice.

Your mom was either at a point of desperation in her life, and thought that smoking or swallowing or inhaling or injecting a substance into her body would dull the pain for just a few precious moments. Or she was with a group of friends just out to have a good time. Her friends were making choices. And they somehow persuaded her to make the same choice. So wanting to fit in, while in her mind minimizing the consequences, she made a choice. 

In either case, she made a choice that had disastrous consequences.

Disastrous because one choice will usually lead to a second, which will then result in a third, that then becomes a fourth. And as is true with every addiction, she eventually passed a point of no return. At some point, she yielded the control of her body to a foreign substance or improper impulse, something that God never intended for her to do.

And the result is a broken life, broken relationships (including her relationship with you), and broken hearts (including God’s and yours).

I say all of that to say this: It’s not personal. Your mom is not choosing a drug over you. She never did choose a drug over you. Please read that again because I want you hear that. She is not choosing drugs over you.

I have no doubt that if your mom could turn the clock back to the split-second before she made her first disastrous choice, she would make a different choice the second time around. Never have I ever had an addict tell me that they are thrilled that they became addicted, and that if they had it to do all over again, they would become addicted again. Never. And that “never” applies to your mom as well.

Now, I know that none of this can repair a broken life, broken relationships, and broken hearts. But it can do the following:

1. You need not think about your mom’s addiction in terms of acceptance or rejection, as if she is accepting drugs and rejecting you. Please believe me: It is not personal. If someone could wave a magic wand and release her of her addiction, your mom would jump at that opportunity. But as you’ll learn in life, there are no magic wands.

2. Your mom needs you now more than ever. Even if she seems to be pushing you away. She needs you to show her the highest form of love in the Universe. We call it unconditional love. The same kind of love that God has for you, and for your mom.

God loves your mom no matter what, addictions included. I mean, if anyone should feel rejection, as if your mom is choosing drugs over Him, it’s God. But He “gets” that it’s not personal with Him either. So in spite of her addiction, God loves your mom. You now have a golden opportunity to learn to love her in exactly the same way that God loves you. God will always love you, no matter what. As I learned a long time ago,

“People need love the most when they are the most unlovely.”

So does your mom.

3. Every time you feel the pain of your mom’s addiction, this can be your most powerful reminder and motivator to be very, very careful about the choices that you make. Choices about what you do with your body, and what you put into your body. Especially when you are tempted to think that you can get away with it, that you will beat the odds. The four deadliest words that I know for a Christ-follower are these: 

“I can handle it.”

“I can handle it if I just take one drink.” “I can handle it if I take that one drug.” “I can handle it if…” I beg you, beg you to be very, very careful about what you do with your body, and what you put into your body. Because it’s a devastating thing to become a slave to any addiction.

I leave you with this. A simple instruction which, if your mom had read this and taken it to heart, would have protected her life, her relationships, and your heart from being broken. It may be too late for her; it is not yet too late for you.

The Apostle Paul was thinking of dear, precious people just like your mom when he wrote this:

Some of you say, “We can do anything we want to.” But I tell you that not everything is good for us. So I refuse to let anything have power over me… We are not supposed to do indecent things with our bodies. We are to use them for the Lord who is in charge of our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:12-13, Contemporary English Version).

If you will make a choice to live according to 1 Corinthians 6:12-13, then out of the ashes of your mom’s addiction will result the beauty of your God-honoring life.

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