Don’t Give Them Leverage


Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”       1 Corinthians 15:33

Leverage is a valuable thing. If I am a wrestler and I have leverage then I am probably going to win the bout. If I am looking for a raise and I have leverage, the higher ups are going to be much more motivated to consider it. Leverage is power. When someone has leverage over you they have power in your life.

Leverage is a reality and whether you recognize it or not it exists in your relationships. You have leverage in some people’s lives and others have leverage in yours. The key is being very careful who you let have leverage in yours. If you allow negative, overly critical people to have leverage in your life they will bring you down. They will distort your view of things and it will negatively effect your attitude. You may not be able to avoid these people but you should not give them leverage (power) in your life.

I choose to allow people like this to have leverage in my life:

Giver of godly advice over lover of human wisdom

Encourager over discourager

Positive over critical

Realist over drama queen or king

Non anxious presence over spastic

Honest over flatterer

Silence over gossip

Prayer warrior over try and quickly fix it
These are just a few qualities that come to mind but I am very intentional and extremely careful on who I let have leverage in my life. I strongly encourage you to do the same.

Simon Says…

I used to love to play “Simon says” as a kid. The leader would ask you to do something and you would do it only if he said “Simon Says” first. If you hopped on one foot because you were told too and Simon didn’t say first then you were out. I loved this game!

Unfortunately there are a lot of Christians doing what “Simon says,” Simon being the loud voice of the world. The scriptures tell us to not conform to this world… to not love this world… to not store our treasures on earth. So many professing Christians look exactly like the world in almost every way. They are spitting images of well mannered, civilized, respectable, non Christians.

When it comes to how they talk, what they watch, what they wear, what music they listen to, what jokes they tell, what they do with their money, what they teach their kids… when it comes to these things and more many, Christians can live exactly like the atheist down the street. If  a reality show of one week of each of their lives aired, you wouldn’t see much difference in their approach to life. Maybe a church service sprinkled in or possibly a prayer before a meal but when it comes to how they live life, pretty much the same.

We are told to not conform to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Here are several practical things you could do each week to live out your faith and not look just like this world.

1) Start your Day Right– When you wake up each morning before you roll out of bed, speak to God and ask Him to keep you humble and needy today. Humble so that you don’t become hard of hearing to His voice and needy so that you recognize your need to depend on him for the day. Start your day with prayer so you remind yourself that you can’t be what you need to be as a worker, friend, spouse, parent, or whatever calling you have for the day.

2) Be Aware of What You Are– Evaluate your thoughts, speech, and actions during the day. Ask this question: Is God being glorified by what I think, say, listen to, and do? How are you being seen by others? If they found out you were Christian would they be surprised? Do they know you love Christ and want to please Him.

3) Lift Them Up– Be a source of encouragement to those you are around. Tell them what you admire about them. When they doing something worthwhile be the first to compliment them. Don’t talk about your accomplishments but be a listening ear to theirs. Let your actions put them first. This even goes for those who annoy you or anger you. Anyone can be nice to those who are nice to you. Jesus loved his enemies and calls us to do the same.

4) Stay Alert– Guard your heart against sin. Do this by hiding the word in your heart so that you might not sin against him (Psalm 119:11). Don’t just give in to any temptation you face. Put up a fight against sin. Train your mind to hate sin like God hates it. So many times Christians don’t even give a thought to their sin during the day. They just give into it so that it is as natural to them as breathing. Resist the devil and he will flee but we have to resist!

5)  Keep the right Perspective–  Fight against duty driven Christianity. Duty driven Christianity is when we do things out of guilt or this misconception that we have to do certain things or God will not be pleased. Instead we need to live as Grace Motivated Christians. His love and mercy and unmerited favor that Jesus gives to me is my inspiration; it motivates me, compels me to live for him, to be like him, to tell others about him. I long to do things that honor God because I love him not because I feel obligated or that I am bargaining with him. I’ll do good things and then maybe he will bless me.

This list is not exhaustive. You could add others but if you took these Big 5 and began to apply them to your life you would be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you will no longer be like this world. Let’s dare to be different, let’s dare to be like Christ.

Why God Do You Let Them Die?

 


Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am, in order that they may behold my glory.    John 17:24

Now a disclaimer here before you read. I am speaking only about those who are in Christ below. Without Christ death is the grand finale of condemnation. We are correct to feel despair for the death of a person without Christ. May it be a reminder to us of the urgency to share our faith so no one has to die without hope.

Here is something I have come to terms with: What we want God to do and what we get from God often does not agree. I want to personally admit that for myself today. Perhaps there is no more obvious example of this than when it comes to our prayers for the dying. We weep and beg God to save our loved ones from death but often they die anyway. Forgive me if I sound insensitive but that is our reality. I recently experienced this with my own dad. He was in ICU for two weeks and everyday it seemed he got slowly worse. It was torturous for us. We begged God to save Him. We had others come in and do the same in their prayers. Hundreds were interceding in prayer for him. We cried out in faith, knowing God could save him. But on December 18th he breathed his last breath. I had to process again why my prayers and the prayers of the faithful didn’t seem to be enough to save dad. Did God not care? Was He too busy to help one hurting family out? Did I not have enough faith when I prayed?

Most of us feel the way I did after my dad’s death but we don’t dare say it. We don’t want to come across as doubting or that we are angry with God. Even in our despair we feel the need to defend God. We are left with so many unanswered questions though. We are unsettled in our spirit and struggling to find solace that they are in a better place. In our minds, a better place to us is with us!

What I think we need is perspective. Perhaps we are missing a big piece of the puzzle.  We so desperately want our loved ones here that no other option seems justifiable in our desperation. We can’t see beyond our own pain and grief. Surely God would want to give them back to us. But what if Jesus feels the same way that we do about them? What if he so wants our loved one to be with Him that no other option is acceptable. In His prayer for his people, Jesus reveals His desire for them:

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am, in order that they may behold my glory. John 17:24

He wants them to come home. He yearns for His people to be with Him in glory. Sure God respects this life and allows us to live it but He wants to be with His people as His ultimate desire. When you see it clearly you know this to be glorious news. Jesus wants to be with me! He wants us to enjoy the paradise He has created for us. He wants us to be in His presence. It is hard not to be selfish and want them here but what are we keeping them from? If it is time for them to be welcomed home what could really compare to what they are about to gain in Christ?

When a loved one is suffering in the hospital, who knows the pain and agony that await them if they were to live. Sometimes I think death is an act of mercy from God. We want them with us so badly that it is hard to conceive death as mercy but God doesn’t want us to suffer needlessly. He rewards us by bringing us home. The doctors told us that if dad survived his quality of life would be poor… most likely life on a ventilator. I would not wish that on my dad. I would not want to keep my dad from going home.

James compares this life to a water vapor, here and gone in an instant. Ever wonder why God made life so short? Again, I see it is an act of mercy. God doesn’t want us living a  long time without having the opportunity to walk fully in His presence. When we can see it this way we recognize death for what it is, a gift. Even if it comes suddenly or unexpected, we must not go into despair, knowing that are loved one is with Christ.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8

I want to make a challenge to you. For the next 30 days what if you intentionally looked for the good in the people and cirmumstances around you? How might that change your perspective on things? When I get critical in my spirit it really effects me negatively in all areas of life. Seeing the positive in people or circumstances does not mean you have to ignore the issues those people or circumstances bring. It just keeps you from seeing everything as completely bad when God wants to show you good that can come from it. For example, let’s say a coworker gossiped about you and you found out. Your tendency would be to think evil thoughts about that person to where you saw nothing good about them. What if you were able to still pinpoint good things about them but also address the issue? “Sally is a hard worker but what she said about me was untrue.” Now that is perspective and if we have right perspective, we are more apt to handle situations like these in a way that honors God. When we handle it in the flesh we go after the “Sally’s” in our life with venomous words and feelings. How does this honor God in any way? I think we tend to react negatively to someone who hurts or offends us because it feels so natural to respond that way. We like what feels natural, but natural means we are in the flesh and that never honors God.

If you are willing to do this challenge, why not make these 30 days a testimony to challenge others? What if you posted on Facebook or sent an email to friends letting them know you are going to focus in on what is good, what is lovely, what is commendable when it comes to your spouse, job, health, social status, material possessions, coworkers, children, etc.. Share throughout your journey how this is changing things in you. I promise that if you approach things positively you will see them in a new light. If you take me up on this challenge you will see change happen in your life. Others will notice it and react in a better way to you as well. Let the challenge begin!

All things work together for the good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:38).

Power of Persecution

Read Acts 8:1-8 today. It starts with, “On that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem.” It ends with, “So there was much joy in that city.”

It hit me, how could there be joy where such great persecution existed? I think it is all about perspective. If you see persecution as personal suffering without a greater end then you will avoid it like the plague. You will do anything, including giving up your faith, to make it stop. But what if you saw persecution as a way God uses to spread the truth of Christ. What if you saw persecution as a way that God displayed his power in the church and in the world. God is Sovereign and he makes persecution serve his greater purpose. Persecution advances the kingdom, it does not thwart it. Persecution opposes complacency in our life. It forces us to take serious our faith and to not take for granted the blessings God has given.

John Piper said about persecution:

  1. God makes persecution serve the unstoppable mission of the church—your mission, your ministry.
  2. If your faithfulness brings trouble to the church (like Stephen’s did), you will be honored and not blamed—at least by the godly.
  3. Your worst critics can become your precious comrades by the power of Christ’s converting grace.
  4. And the very Word—the gospel—that brings persecution sometimes, brings joy always and forever.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not praying for persecution but I do see the benefits of it and I want God to do whatever it takes to be honored in my life. That is a scary prayer but one that I pray.

Overwhelmed by Circumstances in your Life?

 

When you and I hurt deeply, what we really need is not an explanation from God but a revelation of God. We need to see how great God is; we need to recover our lost perspective on life., Things get out of proportion when we are suffering, and it takes a vision of something bigger than ourselves to get life’s dimensions adjusted again.

Warren Wiersbe

I know what’s its like to feel like everything is crashing down around you and nothing makes sense. The answer is not in pulling yourself up by the bootstraps and trying harder to be stronger. That way is failure because quite frankly none of us are strong enough on our own. It’s only when you take all that effort and put it into fixing your eyes on Jesus that you finally find supernatural strength and peace. Don’t carry this burden alone any longer. You have a Savior who cares deeply and wants to carry it for you.  You have tried your way of handling it and you know how much that does not really work. Now give it up and look to Jesus and find rest for your soul.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”    Matthew 11:28-30