A Great Friend Is Priceless


One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,  but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.  Proverbs 18:24

A great friend is priceless. How can you put a value on a relationship that adds so much to your life? That friend you do life with… that friend who you know has your back and you have his or hers. You cannot put a high enough price on that.

I have been blessed with good friends. Friends I can trust. Friends that are safe. Like all things priceless, these types of friends are rare. To get one you have to be one.

With a good friend of mine leaving our church to go to another opportunity, I am reminded of the value of friendship. I have many, many friends. I only have very few that I can be completely real with. It is those friendships I treasure the most.  Those rare friends help shape me into the person I am.

Are you a good friend? An invaluable friend to someone else? Here are qualities I see in this kind of friend.

  1. They go the extra mile when you need help.
  2. They always make you feel wanted.
  3. They tell you they have your back and mean it.
  4. They don’t project their negativity on you.
  5. They listen to you and don’t just share their own thoughts and passions.
  6. They accept you as you are, faults and all.
  7. They don’t try to one up you.
  8. They find humor in things and make you laugh.
  9. They really do pray for you.
  10. They are safe in that you can trust them with your deepest pains and feelings.

I pray you have at least one of these friends. I pray you are this friend to someone else.

Don’t Look Inside Because I Don’t Like What I Will See

change-fish.jpg 

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”   Matthew 23:25-26

Real change requires a look inside. An infected saint knows this all too well. I have tried in every other way, but my own journey says in order to make lasting change in your life, it starts with an honest look at your insides.

What does it mean to change? You know God desires it. You know there are things hindering you that He wants removed. But if you are like me, the struggle is real, and change is extremely difficult. When you are forced to look within, you know something needs addressing. You know there is something dreadfully wrong. It creeps up when we are put on the spot or someone dislikes us or we feel foolish. Something in us feels really broken, and we want to quit thinking about it as quickly as possible. We make ourselves busy, or we shift our thinking so we don’t have to deal with the unpleasantry of the wound within.

When we take time to look on the inside, to go deeper than what is at surface level, we find that things are complicated. It only takes a moment to realize, while there are good things happening, we have a really long way to go. Our garden is not without weeds. We wish we were better than we are, but we are not. And what is the result of this? It brings strong feelings of shame to our life. Shame makes us want to hide. Sometimes, it can be strong enough to make us want to curl up in the fetal position, hide in the closet or run with all our might to escape.

We want to feel whole. We want to feel like things are good and in order. We don’t want to feel empty or rejected. We avoid it at all costs. Yet, without an honest look at what is going on inside, how can we ever really change? How can we ever become like Christ? How can we ever experience the joy that is ours in Him?

Looking inside brings real fear. We are not sure we can face it and make it. It requires loads of courage to investigate deeper into our soul. If we want to change, we have to face our own sin and insecurities. We can’t be like the Pharisees who put out an image to everyone that was not consistent with who they really were in their souls. We have to face the pain, the shame, the guilt, the weakness. We have to face it in confidence that Christ’s grace is greater than our sin. That He will not leave us exposed and condemned.

How do we receive this great grace? We face courageously the depth of our sinfulness and we repent. Repentance moves us from deceiving ourselves that everything is okay to trusting in Christ’s work. Repentance produces a growing strength and stability in our inner core. It produces a change of character. It is the Gospel at work in us.

Let your complacency be disrupted by looking within. Change can only happen when we are first unsettled at our core. When we take the time to face our demons and get the help we need. Once we do, change is possible with the work of Christ and the accountability and support of others. God wants to do a mighty work in you – so have the courage to trust Him as He reveals the depths of your soul to you and changes you from the inside out.

 

God, Where is My Burning Bush So I Can Believe?

I am truly an infected saint. I doubt that God exists more than I care to admit. I have preached through much of the Scriptures. I have been through more schooling than should be allowed. I have dedicated my life to following Christ. Yet, I have times of doubt. Times where I wonder if it is real. “Is there anything beyond this life?,” is a question that whispers to me sometimes.

Honestly, I don’t like living by faith. I can see your face right now. It’s a look of disappointment. A pastor that doesn’t want to live by faith?! Shame on you, Dax. Yet, I really would like to know by visible signs. Not just trust and hope. I’d like for the Spirit to descend like a dove from the clouds and talk to me.Or a burning bush to start speaking to me in a divine voice and tell me to remove my Nikes because I am on holy ground. I want to know God is really there, that Jesus really walked on water and was raised from the dead.

I have staked my life on a God I cannot see, touch, hear, or prove. The skeptics laugh and ridicule.  They are willing to bet their entire existence on the idea that He does not exist. As John Ortberg said in his book, Faith and Doubt, “If God is there, why doesn’t He make more noise?”

Most people in our world believe in God. The minority who doesn’t believe in a higher power might dismiss the majority view as a logical fallacy known as argumentum ad populum, or “appeal to the people” —  simply because many people believe something to be true doesn’t make it true. But my faith is not based on the masses’ belief. It doesn’t hurt or help my faith that many believe.

I have faith because His word has been tested in my life. I cannot deny my own experiences. My salvation experience was supernatural. In that moment in 1992, I became acutely aware of my frailty and smallness in this universe. God revealed His glory and grace. It was beyond compelling… it was transformative. God is always there as I have faith to look. I see His hand working. I recognize His intervention in my life. Faith has been my rock and refuge in an unpredictable and often cruel world.

I even praise Him for the times of doubt because God has used it to strengthen my faith. These moments of doubt remind me why my faith is so powerful in my life.

What about you? Do you feel shame when you doubt? You shouldn’t. Doubt is part of being human. God is bigger than our doubt. Some of the greatest spiritual moments in my life occurred when I came out of a valley of doubt. Doubt makes my faith stronger. It causes me to question things and to seek Truth more. I don’t need a sign to be strong in my belief. Didn’t work for Israel. Wouldn’t work for me.

God is not easily found by our senses because He wants us to come to Him in the right way. Like Israel of old, miraculous signs and wonders would just leave us feeling entitled and wanting more and more sensational showings by God. We wouldn’t be satisfied enough to be fully devoted to  Him. It is in faith that we find our strength and resolve. For “blessed are those who have not yet seen but still believe.” John 20:29.

Christian Your Views Are No Longer Tolerated

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.  Acts 5:29

Things are changing rapidly in our culture. We have hit a tipping point. For years movements like the LGBT have been preaching equality and winning over society.  Sexual freedom is glorified more and more. The idea of waiting to have sex until marriage has become taboo. Tolerance is being rammed down our throats at every turn. It is no longer enough that these lifestyles be allowed in our culture.  They have become bolder in their demands. There is a demand for it to be accepted.

People are losing their jobs for speaking out against these lifestyles. Christians are being seen as bigots because they are unwilling to accept what they consider to be immoral actions. Society will not allow Christians to love them without agreeing with them. Yet, this is our calling.  People don’t like feeling guilty so the rise in anger increases in order to try and shut the mouths of Christians. Here is the reality. Persecution is coming.

More and more momentum is building to tolerate every group but Christians. It is ok for you to do about anything you want and it be accepted anymore. Morality has been replaced with anything goes mentality. The loud voice of our culture preaches toleration for everyone except those who disagree and take a stand. That will not be tolerated. It can’t be. If someone disagrees hey might have to face the possibility it is wrong. That will not be allowed.

The tipping point is here. It used to be just angry dismissal of Christians. Now if one speaks out publicly, their job is on the line. Very soon society will demand churches conform or there will be consequences. Government will bow to the pressure of the majority and begin to take freedoms away from the church. It might be our tax exempt status or a censorship of sermon topics or forcing ministers to marry those of LGBT community. It might be all of these. Is there a day coming when Christians will face jail time if they don’t conform? I think it might.

So what are we to do?  Stand up. Count the cost. Hold firm to our conviction. Trust Jesus to the very end. We don’t want to start a war but we are already in a war. We can’t compromise. We can’t lose faith.

And while they spit at us and call us names we are to love. Not retaliate. We are to pray for them and show them kindness even if they seek to destroy us. It is what Jesus did.

We must obey God rather than men!

When God Seems Silent

I cry to you for help and you do not answer me; I stand, and you only look at me.    Job 30:20
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.            Psalm 22:1–2

Often in our life we  are not sure what God is up too. Things can get hectic and we are left wondering what God wants to say to us… if anything at all.

If we are honest about it we struggle to see God’s involvement in our daily lives.  You don’t like your job but you have no idea what to do about it and you feel like God has not opened any doors. You have some major health issues and you can’t find purpose in it and God seems silent on it. People around you are dying and you are coming face to face with your own mortality and God seems distant. You are single and want God to bring the right person into your life but it seems like God has hidden all the good prospects from you. Don’t you wish He would just write it on a cloud or send you a text message?! “Hey Dax, this is your God. Here is what I am doing right now in that situation of yours…” Just doesn’t happen that way does it?

Let’s get real here. We want God to swoop in with power and win our trust by making clear the good things He is doing in our circumstances. Yet He feels more like an absentee Father more often than not.

Here is my advice to you. Are you ready for it?  It won’t make a lot of sense but it is absolutely the response you should have.

Praise God even when you don’t know what He is doing.

That’s right… worship Him even when he seems to be silent. In uncertainty be certain about your affection towards God.

Chew on this idea…Absence heightens desire.

Maybe God’s silence is too move us to hunger more for His presence, to yearn even more for Him. If He were quick to answer every time we have a need, we most likely would take Him for granted and even hold him in contempt. That God feels somewhat out of reach should make us desire Him even more. Longing makes us seek. Seeking will lead to us finding.

Tips for A Christian at the Ballot Box Tuesday


From a Christian perspective, we must not lose sight of the real battle. Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against Satan and his demons. Just because you don’t see them waging war does not mean that it is not happening all around you. In the spiritual realm is where the real war wages.

So what about politics? Should we still care about who wins the White House? Sure we should. We are Americans and we care about our country. The person in that seat decides a lot of things for us. But that is not where the war is won. It’s much greater than that. This is an epic battle of supernatural forces. So pay attention and be ready to do your part but don’t lose perspective.

A few things to consider as the election looms:

1) Voting for the moral platform is our duty as Christians.

Go out and cast your vote. Make an informed decision. But being aware of the real war means voting for the candidate that upholds the morality of God’s word. What their stance is concerning issues like abortion, same sex marriage, and separation of church and state are issues that have eternal repercussions. Don’t let any other agenda guide you more strongly as a believer. Don’t let their stand on taxes or immigration or unions be the deciding vote for you as a believer.

2) Voting for the true Christian candidate.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, pretty much every candidate claims Christianity in some form. Their words and actions show  their faith often to be a ruse. As a believer you should be looking for the following from a candidate in order to know them by their fruits:

  • A clear acknowledgment that their faith is in Jesus Christ. Make sure they clearly state their salvation and not just religious  jargon from their speech writer. Be wary of cliches like church goer or believer in God.
  • That Jesus is the only way to salvation. Be wary if they speak in terms like:  Jesus is my way but your way might be different.
  • That the Bible is their source of authority for life.
  • That their views match up with their professed faith. If they claim to be a believer but hold to different morals than what the Bible proclaims then there is an issue.

3) Don’t see the winner as either savior or devil.

So many speak about the election as if the very fabric of Creation hangs on the ballot box’s thread. God is bigger than the election. His church will not fail. There is no reason to fear. Do I think there is a lot at stake with the election? I definitely do but my hope is not in a politician or a government. It never will be placed in them because they are not worthy of my faith. My faith is in Christ and He will never abandon us.

4) Be informed before you speak about candidates.

So many Christians are making statements publicly about candidates without having all the facts. Be informed on what candidates stand for and what they believe. Take time to research it and speak informatively. Let’s be a witness for Christ by speaking hope and peace into a tumultuous environment. Encourage other believers not to fear but to trust.

5) Should I vote for the lesser of two evils

Let’s first recognize that unless we are voting for Jesus we are always voting for the lesser of two evils as no candidate will be without sin. When Christians face two morally corrupt individuals, they should not justify a vote for either. In a case like this we would be better off voting for a write in candidate who did uphold Christian principles. They won’t win you say? Most likely true but you didn’t compromise either. I cannot vote for evil. It just flies in the face of a holy God. For those who would come back at me that we at least get some good things with one candidate versus another, I would say put your trust in God and not in a morally bankrupt person you are hoping follows through on their political promise to do moral good. If Christians would ever unite and be work together we could shape every election in our country!

You have to make the decision to vote your conscience. I cannot do that for you. We just need to know that we are accountable for our actions. I am for mine and you are for yours.

Don’t lose perspective. The battle is beyond flesh and blood and we are squarely in it. I have read the last pages of scripture and the victory is ours in Christ Jesus. Praise Him.
Dax

Pastors And Politicians And Why You Should Be Careful To Trust Either

PASTORS AND POLITICIANS AND WHY YOU SHOULD BE CAREFUL TO PUT YOUR TRUST  IN EITHER

Let me start by saying I am a full time pastor. My integrity is one of the most important things I possess. Once it is lost it is almost impossible to recover it. I often forget how skeptical people our of pastors. I assume they’re give me the benefit of the doubt because of my position. Not the case outside the church and downtime a within.

Many see pastors as no better than corrupt politicians, out for their own agenda and fame. Insincere orators who really don’t care about their audience but try hard to convince them otherwise plague the church today. It’s a real turn off. It’s not only happening in high profile churches but in churches of all sizes. Pastors are not trustworthy just because they have Reverend in front of their name.

A Pastor’s integrity is constantly challenged by the mainstream pastors you see on TV. While there are some strong bible preaching from men whose lives live up to their calling, hey are a rare commodity. Men like Adrian Rogers, Ravi Zacherias, John Piper, and David Platt. But not just well known names like the ones mentioned. There are pastors all across our nation who will never be spotlighted bit are faithful servants and handle the word faithfully. These men protect their integrity at all costs. They know their credibility is crucial for being effective in spreading the gospel.

Unfortunately there are plenty of highly visible ministers who seem to be out for only themselves. Who are involved in financial mismanagement, scandal, manipulations, and false teachings. These men give pastors a bad rep. Their polarizing figures. People either hate them or love them. The problem with this is pastors shouldn’t be polarizing because they shouldn’t be that noticeable. It’s not about them. It’s about the message of grace and the cross. When it becomes about them the message gets lost.

Here are a few litmus tests you should consider before you follow a preacher/pastor:

1) He is passionate about the word over his own agenda.

2) He cares more about his listeners than he does his own fame.

3) He makes the name of Jesus famous and not his own voice.

4) He strives to live what he preaches in all areas of life.

5) He readily admits he is not perfect and has struggles and failures like all men.

6) He speaks with a sincerity that bleeds through his words because he believes whole heartedly in the power of the word.

7) His family sees him as a strong Christian at home and not just on stage.

If your pastor(s) exhibit the above then encourage them today. Let them know you notice and pray for them. We desperately need pastors sold out to Jesus and not to themselves.