WHAT IS THE MEANING OF MY LIFE?

Psalm 42:2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

What are we here on this earth for? What is the meaning of my life? Every generation since the beginning of creation has asked that question in one way or another. What is my purpose? Am I part of something bigger than what I see? This question is natural because it is programmed in us by our Creator. He created us with a purpose, and, unless we figure out that purpose, we will be devoid of joy and peace in our lives.

Every person on earth tries to find their purpose in some way. Most spend their whole lives filling that answer with things that rust and destroy. New home, new cars, new putters, new clothes, new jobs, new kids, new spouse… and on and on. A never-ending pursuit of something more to bring a sense of purpose and meaning to life. Yet, one thing seems blatantly obvious when you have eyes to see it; nothing really satisfies. It all leaves you wanting more. It promises so much more than it can fulfill. The feelings of satisfaction with these things never last.

The problem is within your soul. Your soul has God-size expectations. After all, it was God who breathed the soul into us (Genesis 1:26-27). It refuses to be satisfied with anything less than God Himself.

What can truly satisfy the soul? That is the question we should be asking and on a journey to answer. The answer is found in only one place — with the God who made us. It’s not enough to serve a god. We can find “gods” in many forms. They are created in the mind of man and will only bring bondage as they can only bring deception and lack any power. Religion doesn’t make us happy. Only relationship with our Creator can do that.

I am talking about the God of the Bible. The One who created you to find purpose in something greater than yourself. The One who created you to glorify His name and find purpose in His kingdom. The One who created you to put others first and find joy in living sacrificially.

The greatest irony of humanity is that, the more we fill our lives with stuff to make us happy, the more dissatisfied we get where it matters most — in our souls. Take celebrities as the example here. Fame and fortune don’t cut it. A lot of rich and famous people are miserable. It’s the wrong diet for what our soul needs. The soul lives for something more pure, more relational, more redemptive. You can only find that in God.

In a word, we are left dissatisfied. We have chased the breeze never to catch it. We have been deceived by the devil to believe we could find happiness in things that never fully deliver.

Here is where I found true satisfaction for my soul:

* Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)

* For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. (Psalm 107:9)

When will you realize that Jesus is better than anything this world has to offer? When will you stop exhausting yourself chasing after happiness when it is only a prayer away?

I Want Friends of Many Colors

“Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers? Malachi 2:10

“I’ve never hugged a white man in my church before.” The sweet lady had been a member of her church for decades and she had the biggest smile as she released me after a vigorous hug. She was physically feeble but her spirit was overflowing with passion and wisdom. She had tears in her eyes and I was immediately confronted with the potential impact of this night.

As I prepared to go up and speak I looked around at the crowd of black and white faces intermixed. It was packed and it was a beautiful picture of diversity and unity. It made my heart smile.

It was a start. A start of something much greater than a movement, more like a transformation. For way too long whites and blacks have segregated in their churches to worship the same Jesus. We have segregated to worship the one who calls all men and women equal. It’s not as ironic as it is sad. How can we ever feel ok with this? It’s nothing like what our Savior would do.

To make things more shameful, there is deep seated prejudice among many white “Christians” and bitterness and hatred among many black “Christians.” This cannot be the will of the Lord. This has to be called out and eradicated. There is no room for it among those of faith.

It infuriates me to see the prejudices until I look at myself more closely. Am I really much different in my actions? How many friends hat don’t look like me? Do my children hang out with kids not their color? Do I make any effort to get to know those of a different race? How can I claim Jesus as Lord over all His church and I only make effort to associate with one color of it?

It is a great thing when events like the other night happened, when two churches of different races come together to demonstrate unity. I preached my guts out that night. I proclaimed how it must go past the walls of that church or it was only smoke and mirrors. I preached it with great passion and intensity. Many made comment to me about my fervency that night. They assumed I got caught up in the moment and understandably so as it was pretty exciting. But that was not the reason behind my earnestness. No, that was because I was preaching to someone in particular who really needed to hear what God had given me… myself. I needed to be reminded that until I really cared enough to befriend those who were black in that service then I was just another part of the problem I preached against.

Christians will you take up this challenge with me? Will you make the first move and connect with believers of another color not to make a stand or statement but because you find them worthy of your friendship? I want friends of many colors. I think I am missing out on good friends who I can love and who can love me. I think my kids are missing out on good friends too.

I am sick of the divide and want to be part of the solution. I am sick of talking about it and doing little to remedy it. Join me. Jesus desires it. The church needs it. We need it. 

Special thanks to my church and churches like Washington Street Baptist who have the courage to walk across the unseen line of separation and join together. 

Criticism is What You Need to Grow


If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. Matthew 18:15

There are many things we love to receive: a gift, a pat on the back, a million dollars! Some things we never want to be given: a pink slip, toothache, shark bite, or criticism!

Please, no shark bites. But truth that is criticism can be just what you need to grow. Sure, it doesn’t feel good to have someone call your issues out. We try really hard to debunk what they have said because we don’t want to feel the shame that comes over us for being flawed. We do not like to have our issues called out, but truth is, criticism is good for us when it is given in the right spirit, coming from someone whose motive is pure and gracious.

Criticism gives great perspective. One person said, “Criticism polishes my mirror.” It makes things that are fuzzy in my perception of myself come into focus. We often have blind spots and don’t realize how we are perceived, what our facial expressions communicate, how what we say is taken, and many other things that we do not realize people are seeing as flaws in us.

When someone has the courage to reveal it to us in love, we would be foolish to disregard or discredit what they are saying. We should receive it humbly and thankfully. Some of my biggest moments of growth came when someone cared enough about me to tell me the truth, and I received it. Sure it stung, but I grew because they said it and I had the courage to receive it.

Here are some things to consider when receiving constructive criticism:

1) Do not take it personally. If they care about you, they are not attacking you personally or trying to hurt you. They want to help you.

2) Feedback makes you stronger. One of the most valuable gifts, and one given sparingly in complete honesty, is feedback. Feedback that is critical might hurt our pride, but ultimately, we should want to be better and not deceived into thinking we are better than we are. Hurt my pride before you let me keep making the same mistake over and over again!

3) It expands your perspective. You just can’t see things sometimes. They are just out of your peripheral vision. Until someone points it out, you don’t realize certain things about you. If you are hypersensitive and insecure, you will run from criticism because you can’t face the fact that you are flawed. This is tragic, though, as you miss opportunity to increase your range of sight and see yourself more clearly.

4) It challenges our people-pleasing. This is a big one for me, personally. When someone contradicts me, I do not need to see that as persecution. It is exhausting trying to live for the approval of everyone. Being able to give and receive criticism is a way of living healthier in your relationships.

5) It deepens your relationship and trust. When someone has the courage to approach you in love and critique you, and you respond correctly, I guarantee your relationship will grow to a deeper, more trusting level. That is a person you want to keep close to you. It is a rare find, a friend like that.

Let me sum it up: If you are not open to constructive criticism, then you are not open to growing as a person.

God Doesn’t Need You To Try So Hard


Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Romans 12:1

If I got a B on a paper I would sulk and pout and lose sleep for days over it. I couldn’t take anything but perfection when it came to grades, which I had to constantly fight to try and achieve. I stressed myself out in school, constantly worrying about my grades and my future. When I would make the grade, I could not enjoy the moment because another paper or test was pending. It was exhausting.

Any overachievers relate to me? Anyone plagued by perfectionism? Do you ever feel guilty if you don’t work yourself to death on something? Are you what some might call a control freak?  Here is a news alert… God doesn’t need you to try so hard. In fact it could be detrimental to your soul. 

The Christian life is a paradox in many ways. We gain our life only when we lose it. The least will actually be first. Giving is better than receiving. When it comes to how we are to live, God is not interested in how much we can achieve for Him. That might shock you but you won’t find verses in the Bible that says, Thou shalt achieve great things for God.

He doesn’t want our efforts as much as He wants our surrender. He put His Holy Spirit in us and gave us the authority of Jesus to accomplish life altering, earth-shattering, transformative things for Him. That doesn’t come  via talent, hard work, ingenuity, or anything else we could accomplish on our own. That comes through the power of God, the Holy Spirit, in us.

It doesn’t mean God doesn’t want our best effort or to use our talents but His word is full of stories of uneducated, unqualified, unprepared participants who didn’t have any influence or position yet changed the world around them. When we read the stories of these men and women, we are not noticing what a great person they were but rather, what a great God they served!

Reality check… you are not capable or equipped to do this life your own strength in a way that will honor God. You need help. You need Jesus. Your greatest efforts will fall short of the eternal, kingdom advancing work God wants to do through you. 

Some of you have worn yourself out trying to change your spouse, train your kids, make a business successful, maintain a family on the verge of falling apart, all by your will power and effort. It leaves you weary and on edge. You are frustrated on how little control you have to make things happen. Truth is God doesn’t call us to juggle all of this. He isn’t testing us to see how much we can achieve. This stuff is too big for us!

You want to be a great parent to your children? You want to be an influential grandparent on your grandchildren? You want to live for something greater than a paycheck and two garage house? Then you will have to surrender your talents, your wisdom, your control, your effort to the Lord and allow Him to inspire you, empower you, and lead you into His purposes.

That’s great Dax but what if it doesn’t work?  What if I do that and my kids, grandchildren, or job do not cooperate? Instead of getting frustrated you rest in the knowledge that you are trusting them to God and that He will work in The best way and at the right moment. You find peace in a God who sympathizes with you when those you love make horrible mistakes and refuse to change. You rest in the fact that God is doing things you can’t always see and will always prove Himself faithful.

Whatever you are going through right now, which one of these questions best speak to your approach: Am I putting more effort into trying to fix what I perceive as the problem OR more effort into submitting to the Holy Spirit to receive whatever He would have me to learn and do in this situation? There is a Grand Canyon difference between these two perspectives. One is a futile attempt to do things you cannot do. The other is a place of rest and peace as you surrender to His will. Which one you choose will make all the difference in what kind of person you are.

Ashley Judd Represents What’s Wrong with our Culture

If you haven’t seen the crazy rant by Ashley Judd, I recommend not bothering. It was uncomfortable and sad to watch. It was shocking and purposeless. It had no value for any real cause.

Many will judge what Ashley Judd said but reality is she represents the current climate of our American culture. There is an increasing boldness and brashness to our culture’s justifications of shocking and immoral actions. The pattern is quite traceable. It starts out subtle. Decades ago, media started putting more and more sexual innuendos in their shows and commercials. Magazines start showing more and more skin in publications not called Playboy or some other adult entertainment. The line keeps getting pushed further and further. The line keeps getting blurred more and more. Our moral senses become further desensitized.  Sin gets bolder and more shocking. Homosexuality goes from taboo to the norm, a culture demanding that it be readily acceptable, all in the name of progress. Feminism becomes an excuse to be rude and crude. Rated PG today used to be rated R  years ago. It is like drowning slowly not realizing you are sinking until too late.

The attitude in our culture that is prevalent is one of tolerance. “Do whatever feels good and don’t you dare question me because it is my right,” is what Ashley Judd and millions more proclaim in this time. All the while our culture loses its moral decency and slips slowly down a slippery slope of debauchery and filth.

What will be the end result? Eventually the culture will break down under the force of its own immorality. The church will be ridiculed and God will be shunned. The people will be turned over to the gods of their making and it’s own demise will become inevitable. Those who love sin will loathe statements like this, will revile it as preachy and paranoid. They will rave against it as judgmental and close minded. Yet, anyone who takes a moment to look can see the instability of what we have witnessed in Ashley Judd’s rant. There is no hope in that message. There is only ignorance: “I am my own master and I will say and do what I want and no one has a right to tell me otherwise.” That is the message of the day and it will lead our culture to what it wishes: a godless, immoral, chaotic heap that will come crashing down.
Those who love Christ must take notice and stand firmer than ever before. No compromise must be our stance; yet not allowing our moral stand to result in isolation but rather, reaching out to the Ashley Judd’s and offering them a better way, a way of hope and purpose. We can’t join in and we can’t isolate. We must see the devastation of the moment and fight to rescue those caught up in it. We must be a voice in the darkness. We can’t be scared of it or run from it. We must engage it with light and hope.

There will be many more shocking moments like Ashley Judd’s to come. Be prepared, prayed up, and ready to engage this culture with the only hope it has, Jesus Christ.

Ten Things Every Church Member Likes To Hear From His or Her Pastor

o-CHURCH-CONGREGATION-facebook.jpg

I am super blessed to serve at Heartland Worship Center. Like all churches, it is made up of infected saints, but it truly is a family. They love their pastors well and trust them to lead. Not only that, they are a joy to lead.

Most pastors feel like I do, but are they saying it? Here are ten things every church member would like to hear from his or her pastor:

  1. “I love you.” Whether the budget is in excess or deficit, attendance is high or low, or whatever good or challenging times are about, the church needs to hear their pastor say the words. It cannot be assumed. It needs to be said and said often. The people need to know pastors care for them.
  2. “I want to be here for a long time.” It is so common today for pastors to have a short tenure. The average is less than five years. With such a short stay, it is hard for churches to fully follow their pastors as they wonder when they will leave. Churches need to hear from pastors that they desire to stay long-term. If you cannot say this as a pastor, then you need to find somewhere you can for the good of the church.
  3. “I will provide a vision that is biblical and obtainable.” People without vision perish, the Scriptures tell us. The people of God need to know what they are called to do. They need a compelling vision to unite them. A pastor needs to inspire them to follow a vision that makes the name of Christ famous and glorifies the Father.
  4. “I will say the hard things even if it offends you.” Pastors should not set out to offend their people as some kind of spiritual marker, but there are things that need to be said that will not always sit well with sinners. Pastors have to stand against abortion, abuse, sexual sin, immodesty, immorality, homosexuality, and anything else that is offensive to God. It matters not if it is popular to say or not. A pastor’s standard is not the will of the people but the will of God.
  5. “I will put my heart and soul into my preaching and teaching.” The people of God are desperate to hear God’s Word. Every week, they need to be confronted by its truth in their lives. The pastor must use every opportunity to bring it with passion and clarity, depending on the Holy Spirit to take the Word and penetrate the hearts of the people.
  6. “I will not cater to a few.” Pastors cannot give preference to their buddies in church. They serve all the people, even the ones they disagree with or whom annoy them. It hinders the church if pastors cater to the powerful, wealthy, or popular of the church.
  7. “I will pray for you daily.” How can a pastor be effective for his people if he does not pray for them daily? They need to hear often that he is interceding for them. A praying pastor is an effective one.
  8. “I will share my faith with the lost.” Pastors must lead in evangelism. It is crucial we share the faith outside the walls of the church. Pastors must be on the front lines of this. This means developing relationships with lost people and not just Christians.
  9. “I fail often in my walk with Christ.” Pastors need to be vulnerable with their people about their failures. We are all infected saints. It is crucial the people don’t feel preached down to but preached in to. This will only happen when the pastor shares his own convictions brought on by the Word of God. Good shepherds are honest about their struggles with their people.
  10. “I will communicate with you what is going on in the church.” Church members desire to know what is going on in the church. This means clear and consistent communication. There is no way to get the word out on everything perfectly, but the people should feel the pastors take the time to let them know what is going on.

Pastors are called to people, and those people need to hear the above from their pastors. It is an honor to serve the Lord and our people. Let them hear it.

Ten important “What if” questions I like to ask you…


1. What if I told you ten years from now your life would be exactly the same as it is now? Why are you afraid of change? God wants us to step out and take risks. Don’t stay the same because you haven’t arrived yet to where God wants you.

2. What if I told you that no one on Facebook really cares what you are doing today? We give people to much control in our happiness. We need them to approve of us to feel wanted. Why? We have the Lord who calls us His child!

3. What if 99 of the 100 things you are worrying about all the time never happen? Was it worth being robbed of life so you could be consumed with worry? Where has it gotten you? Instead, trust. Trust in the Lord who has you in His hand. He will see you through.

4. What if you woke up this morning and you only had left those things which you had given thanks to God for yesterday? Our selfishness makes us forget to be thankful for what we have. Are you content? You should be. God has blessed you!

5. What if you are trusting in a bunch of lies that you have convinced yourself are true? If we buy into the lie that this life is all about accumulating stuff, achieving, and having fun then we will miss the real purpose of life.

6. What if instead of thinking the grass is greener somewhere else you found value, purpose, and joy in where you are? Until we learn to be content in having the Lord nothing else will ever really satisfy us.

7. What if in all your struggle to gain your life you only get further away from ever really finding it?  To really gain life you have to be willing to lose it. When we come to the end of ourselves we find out who we really are.

8. What if  we set forth to accomplish things with no fear of failure? God wants us to live radically. He would have us seize the day and live adventurously. Quit letting fear paralyze you.

9. What if how we perceive a problem is actually the biggest part of the problem? Perspective is key. How we see things will determine how we respond to it. Make sure your perception lines up with the will and word of God.

10. What if you forgave yourself? How long you going to live in defeat for your past mistakes??? God forgives you if you look to Him. You can’t control anyone else’s feelings toward you. Move forward and quit reliving  your failures.