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How to Know When God Is Up to Something

WavesIs the earth still spinning? Are waves still crashing on the beach? God. Is. Up. To. Something… guaranteed!

It’s been well over ten years since I led our church in Kentucky through a study of Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, the classic work by Henry Blackaby and Claude King. The primary lesson of that study has made a lifelong impact on who I am: God is always at work in, around, and through you. And the conclusion is we must join God in what He is doing.

Angie and I are on a roller coaster journey right now. Easter at Saddleback was a crazy time in which we saw around 38,000 people come to church with hundreds of decisions made for Christ. My parents have been visiting from Kentucky. I’m a bit behind on several freelance projects. Angie has a very busy week and then is heading for Vegas to be treated like the princess she is at Women of Faith. And as of today, we have about nine weeks until we move to Arkansas to begin the planting of Grace Hills Church.

As we prepare for relocation, it’s been interesting to see word get out about Grace Hills and people expressing an interest in being part of things already. We can’t wait to get on the ground and grow those relationships, but we also want to squeeze all we can out of the experience here in southern California. I have a community to manage. We have friends we’re going to dearly miss. I have mentors from whom I want to learn. And there is also a bit of packing to do!

We’re currently praying for God to open doors to support partnerships. If you or your church would be interested in partnering with us, we’d love to hear from you, but what is more valuable is the prayer support we’re already receiving in large amounts from many friends and family.

God is up to some stuff. If we get too busy, we’ll miss joining Him because we’ll be too distracted. If we don’t get busy, we’ll miss joining Him because we’ll expect things to happen without intentional effort on our part. In the middle is this thing called balance and in our walk with God, balance means finding that sweet spot where we’re taking time to slow down and know Him and we’re devoting time to serving Him.

Like the ocean waves hitting the shores, God is consistent in showing up. Day or night and no matter the season, He keeps making noise around us. There are times when the tide goes out and a sense of distance from Him looms heavy, but the tide always comes back in. God’s presence never leaves us. He’s always up to something!

photo source: stsuch

How to Fix Broken Relationships

BrokenContext: The following are my notes for a message to the men gathering for Saddleback’s Herd Saturday, which is why it’s a message directed primarily at men.

Two Things Men Do Well

We’ve been raising both a daughter and a son. I’ve watched my daughter grow from a baby to an eight year old. She has an amazing imagination. She writes, draws, paints, and builds things. Now I’m watching my son grow up and he just turned one year old. I’ve already noticed a significant difference between the two of them. While Ella is being artistic and imaginative, Sam is breaking stuff! He’s a one-baby wrecking crew. He climbs, he knocks things down. He screams at the dog for no reason. He isn’t mean, he’s just… industrious.

Watching them reminds me of the two things that men, in particular, do well.

  1. We have a knack for breaking stuff.
  2. We balance it with a knack for fixing stuff.

This includes relationships. We have a tendency to break relationships too. Sometimes it’s our selfishness and other times it’s our insensitivity. Either way, we have a tendency to wreck friendships and marriages. We’re sinful men, so we often hurt people.

I believe firmly, however, that we’re also good at fixing broken relationships too. We just don’t realize it often enough.

James knew about our tendency to wreck things – not with our hands, but with our words. He wrote about it in chapter three of his general letter. He opens up by reminding us of just how much damage we can do with our tongues. We can set the world on fire, burn down relationships, and destroy people’s lives with our words.

By the way, have you "liked" Grace Hills Church on Facebook yet?

Then James turns his attention to the tactics necessary for fixing and rebuilding peace in a broken relationship. In [youversion]James 3:17-18[/youversion], he mentions seven tools and attitudes we ought to have toward those with whom we’ve wrecked things.

Seven Tools For Fixing Broken Relationships

  1. We need to be pure, especially in our motive to restore broken lives.
  2. We need to be peace-seeking rather than imperialistic. It’s not about conquering, it’s about reconciling.
  3. We need to be gentle, which doesn’t mean weak. It simply means to be under control in our approach.
  4. We need to be willing to yield – to give the right-of-way to the other person.
  5. We need to be full of mercy, which is more than forgiveness, it’s the ability to offer something that either isn’t deserved or can’t be repaid.
  6. We need to be full of good deeds – the actions that demonstrate the value we place on making peace.
  7. We need to be sincere – brutally honest, with ourselves and others.

It’s Time to Get Proactive

These things aren’t easy to do. They’re all tough. We want to lash out. We want to take back lost territory, establish our dominance, and fight for our right to be right. But a wise person once said, “You can be right, or you can be married.”

James dangles before us a prize – a reward if we’ll put aside self and put in the time necessary to cultivate peace and healing in our broken relationships. This is a Bible principle. We typically won’t change because of anything in the past, but the future motivates us. This is why the Bible leans so heavily on our future reward as motivation for living life well.

Here’s the bottom line – if you’ve hurt someone or a vital relationship is damaged, you probably already know what you need to do. It’s just a matter of putting in the time and going through the tough stuff so that you can reap the reward of a restored relationship and blessing. Are you willing to do what you know you need to do today?

photo source: purplegecko

This Little Moment is Gone

Tunnel Vision

There are moments in life that slip by and then they’re gone forever. This past week, my son Sam turned one year old, so we threw a little party for him at a park in Laguna Beach.

At the park, there was a little system of tunnels for kids to crawl through made from concrete culverts and a mound of dirt. I was walking just ahead of Sam and decided to run ahead and catch him through the tunnel. He peered through the tunnel at me just as I readied my iphone for a shot. Then he was off to something else. That moment is gone. It’s preserved in a photograph, but I’ll never re-live it.

Sometimes that thought needs to hit us – before we throw away a relationship, before we choose our career over our family, before we allow all the little moments to rush by, un-enjoyed.

This moment is already passed. Was it worth it?

Jolt! by Phil Cooke. Make Change Work For You

Jolt! Get the Jump On a World That's Constantly ChangingChange is guaranteed to be consistent. Our personal growth is not.

I first met Phil Cooke at a conference at Prestonwood Baptist Church a few years ago where he signed a copy of another of his books for me – Branding Faith. Listening to Phil speak to our breakout session about media and branding fed my hunger to know how to communicate more effectively. Phil has a knack for such tough subjects.

In his latest work, Jolt!: Get the Jump on a World That’s Constantly Changing, Phil spends a chapter detailing with a barrage of data the alarming rate of change going on around us. If the reader stops at the end of chapter one, things will get rather tough emotionally as our heads continue to spin, bewildered by the sheer momentum of the changing of our culture, which spirals out of control continually. But Phil doesn’t stop there. In fact, the data is just the introduction.

Jolt! is a manual for navigating the turbulent waters of change as well as a challenge to embrace change and grow through it. Phil talks about his own experience of “hitting a wall” and being forced into pursuing his big dream. Had sudden and abrupt change not entered the equation (in the form of losing his steady job), Phil never would have stepped out in faith and chased the bigger goal God had for him.

The same is true of many of us. Fear of change (or fear of the unknown future) paralyzes us and causes our growth to stunt – unless we fight that freezing tendency and run straight into the change, using it to our advantage at every possible turn.

This is not just a book for leaders or even believers – it’s a book for everyone who lives in our hectic, high-priced, recession-challenged climate of unending change. It’s a book for everyone who wants to get a positive grip on change once and for all!

Get It On Amazon

When We Disagree, We Should Declare…

VictoryThere are a few options here, but typically we fall to either declaring war or declaring love for those with whom we disagree.

Some causes are worth fighting for and many issues demand a debate, but when Christians choose the wrong battles, it gives the distinct impression it’s an “us vs. them” situation. The better alternative is “us FOR them.” That is, us laying down our self-interests and even our very lives for those with whom we disagree, and especially for those who simply have not yet come to believe in Jesus.

Jesus radically flips our values with such declarations as “turn the other cheek” and “pray for your enemies.” I tend to believe that this results from the divinely immutable truth that those of us who believe in Jesus are winners, no matter what. We’re fighting battles in a war that is already won as far as eternity is concerned.

So since we know the outcome of the contest, perhaps instead of continuing to assault the other side, we should spend our time freely and enthusiastically recruiting people over to the winning side.