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Christ on the Throne 2In America, we have grown up with the philosophies of a “democratic republic”. It has been a great political experiment. Regrettably, it has created a cultural mindset that makes it difficult to live in a healthy relationship with God.

In God’s kingdom, there is no “of the people, by the people, for the people”. The King has the only and final vote. He is the one that determines and executes mercy and justice. Our rights are what He determines them to be.

For the rebellious, this is an unacceptable situation. And that is exactly what got us into this mess. The first sin was not disobedience, it was outright rebellion. Before Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they decided that they should determine what was best for themselves. They decided that they would become the captains of their ship. They mutinied, and all was lost (for a time).

Then God sent Jesus Christ to the earth. Why would He do such a thing? Why would He subject His Son to the humiliation, persecution and pain? What was His primary mission?

Most in the Western church have been taught to believe that He was sent to save mankind from hell. We call it, “The Gospel of Jesus Christ” – the good news of man’s salvation.

Man’s salvation is good news; but it is not the gospel that Jesus came to preach.

Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowd sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from leaving them; but He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” Luke 4:42-43

Notice that Jesus was not sent to preach the gospel of man’s salvation. The salvation of man is the smaller part of God’s eternal plan; something of a necessary sidetrack. First, there is the kingdom.

Now is a good time to remind ourselves that His story is more about Him than it is about us. Believe it or not, God had a much bigger mission for His Son: The plan to take back the throne of mankind’s heart; to take back His kingdom. Read the rest of this entry »

Christ on the Throne 2The Foundations are a collection of truths that have been lost to much of the church in America. By “lost”, I mean ignored, misunderstood, or misapplied. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; Psalm 111:10). Therefore, it would be unwise to go far into the Foundations without addressing this fear.

Every one of the benefits of our salvation are precipitated on our fear of the LORD: Life, confidence, satisfaction, protection from evil, etc. With so much at stake, it is our responsibility – and it is to our advantage – to recognize and value this facet of our relationship with the LORD. It is time we taught and lived out of the full and proper fear of the LORD. Read the rest of this entry »

This time of year can be the best time to ride; with one exception: Bugs. Open your mouth at the wrong time and something buzzy will find its way in. So, this time of year is a good time to practice breathing through your nose. Eat a few bugs (or the wrong one just once) and you may want to try breathing through your ears.

In any case, God has used this word picture to remind me:

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20

This is a difficult task for most of us (even without bugs flying around). When I have something to say, I want to say it. There’s no telling how many times I’ve missed something important while I was thinking about what I wanted to say, and how I was going to squeeze it in.

Fortunately, I have had a few mentors that have encouraged and modeled this passage for me. I have learned that the voice I was missing was not just the human speaking, but the voice of my Father in heaven trying to teach me something. As I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut, I’ve been blessed to enjoy the conversation much more than I did when I was trying so hard to speak.

Now that I think about it, I am sure this is why I have heard Him speak in practically every meeting for the last 5+ years. He speaks when we are prepared to listen. His word is alive and powerful; and it feeds our faith. Being swift to hear is the humility God rewards.

Furthermore, there is something about being a hearer and not a speaker that reduces my propensity for wrath. When I hear swiftly to the person, I am less likely to miss their intention, and their heart in the matter. I am able to hear the Father’s voice as He guides my heart for the response (if there is to be one).

So, the next time you are about to have a potentially difficult conversation, remember my bug in the mouth lesson. Believe me, they taste worse than your foot.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 1Corinthians 16:13

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving… Colossians 4:2

As I’ve written in the past, God has blessed me with cycling. It is a threefold blessing. The most obvious blessing is the exercise. Cycling is one of the better choices for maintaining a healthy life. Like swimming, it puts very little stress on your joints and is great for your cardiovascular system. Consequently, cycling is something most can do well into their latter years.

Another blessing of cycling: I really enjoy it. You can cover more ground and see more stuff on a bicycle than you can running or swimming. There is a unique feeling of freedom when you are on a bike. If you are going to sweat, then why not enjoy doing it.

The greatest blessing I get from cycling is the communion I have with God. He is my regular cycling partner. He hears my prayer requests, gives me advice, and occasionally corrects me on our rides. I can’t tell you how many ideas He has given me while cycling. Every once in awhile, He teaches me a spiritual (cycling) lesson. Here’s one I think will edify and encourage you.

I have recently noticed that when I am pushing through a challenging section of a ride, my concentration shifts from the conversation to the obstacle. Halfway up the hill, I suddenly realize that I dropped my prayer, or let go of the scripture God was speaking to me about. Not a big deal – I normally remember where we were – but there is a lesson or two in it.

Maintaining form, cadence and breathing tempo must be second nature if I am going to make it to the top of the hill. There is simply no time or energy for these things when my mind is focused on getting my body to do something it doesn’t want to do. Form, cadence and breathing are cycling disciplines that the wise cyclist will work to refine when the going is not so tough.

Similarly, it occurs to me that we cannot wait until life gets hard to begin practicing the necessary spiritual disciplines (e.g., prayer, Bible study, beholding the glory of the Lord). These must become our very nature if we hope to thrive on the hills of life. I hope you are practicing now; for difficult days are coming soon.

The second lesson I learned relates to my communion with God during the challenging portions of my ride. As I mentioned, conversations are easily lost; as are my prayer requests for others. This may not be the case for you, but I am easily distracted.

Conversely, the hills are easier to tackle when I am praising or thanking God. Somehow I am able to focus on these mental activities; and they take my mind off the pain in my legs and lungs. Perhaps this applies as well to our times of spiritual trial and tribulation. What do you think?

 

God bless you with the strength and courage to face your trials and tribulations with practice discipline and proper focus. He will be with you; and you will be blessed.

 

Humbly yours and His forever,

MapMakerCover-smallI am blessed and excited to report that The Map Maker is now available on Amazon.com (the Kindle version will be there in a few days). I am blessed that God allowed me to be a part of this work. He has been the author and writer; I have been the writing instrument. When you read what He has to say, you will realize that it was His good work. I encourage you to praise Him for it; and check out The Map Maker website.

I am excited because I have a real sense of what The Map Maker will do for those that will accept His invitation to join Him in the adventure. There are many truths that will make His children free. They will find new excitement and joy in ministry. I know, because I have been there. In a real sense, The Map Maker has been that adventure for me.

In the Fall of 2006, God revealed the desire that He put in my heart for this season. The conversation went something like this:

“Okay God, I give up. What do you want me to do?”

“What is the desire of your heart?”

I turned to my heart and asked, “What is your desire?”

“To help Christian Leaders find joyful, Spirit-filled ministry”, was its reply.

“That’s it”, said my Father, “That’s my purpose for the next season of your life.”

Immediately, God began to speak to me about this new adventure. One word in particular became the framework for The Map Maker.

To find joyful Spirit-filled ministry, Christian Leaders must surrender to God’s purpose, sacrifice for God’s plan, and submit to God’s power.

This word has been the story of my life for the last eight years. I can tell you from experience that surrender, sacrifice and submission are well worth the reward of finding Him in His purpose, plan and power. I would do it all again. I might do some things differently, but the transaction has been greatly weighted in my favor.

The Map Maker has been created to help Christian Leaders find and enjoy the adventure God has planned for them. I am sure your adventure will be different from mine. We serve a dynamic, “don’t box me in”, God. Like most adventures, there will be a mixture of excitement and fear. I pray that you find an abundance of the former; and learn how to deal with the latter.

It is the glory of God to hide a matter, and the glory of kings to search out a matter (Proverbs 25:2). Jesus spoke in parables “because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven…” (Matthew 13:11). The Map Maker will lead you on a treasure hunt. You will be encouraged to search out the mysteries of the kingdom of God, and to be faithful stewards of the treasures you discover (1Corinthians 4:1-2). If you seek the knowledge of God with your whole heart, He will fill your adventure with sweet anticipation and a wonder that will not disappoint.

Helping Christian Leaders find joyful, Spirit-filled ministry has been the desire of my heart for eight years now. More importantly, it has been God’s desire for you since before the beginning of time. The Map Maker is a product of that desire. There are no coincidences for God’s children. God has orchestrated events so that you, too, might discover the desire He has deposited in your heart. He fully intends to give you that desire – for His kingdom, name and glory.

Your servant and His forever,

I live less than a mile from Dog River. Do you ever wonder what the people who name things are thinking? Rivers aren’t shaped like dogs. Was there a dog in the river? Given the terrain in this part of the county, it could be that coming up the hills from Dog River make you sweat like a dog, and they make you dog tired.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We are not talking about riding in the Colorado Rockies, but for a 54 year old man the hills around here can be quite the challenge. To give you an idea, I can’t ride four miles from my house without having to make at least four substantial (for a 54 year old) climbs. Usually, my 18 to 20 mile rides come with six or eight challenging segments.

I must admit there have been days since I broke my hip when I wished we lived closer to the Silver Comet Trail (built on a train track bed, it is nice and flat). But, that was then, and this is now. Now, my mind has been changed. God gave me an attitude adjustment about those hills, just the other day.

He said, “The hills are not your enemy.” That’s right; that’s what He said. Here’s the rest: Read the rest of this entry »

Sometimes, you just don’t have it. I went out riding today… and I just didn’t have it. I didn’t have my normal energy level. It just wasn’t there. Two days ago I put in a big effort; not on my bike, but working in the yard. Consequently, I was tired from the start of my ride and it didn’t take long for me to realize that nothing was going to change the way I felt. I just didn’t have it.

What was I to do? Turn around and head back home? No way! I would have to be ill for that to happen – ill enough to call someone to come get me. Once I start a ride, I am not turning around. I like riding that much. It’s my exercise. It’s my relaxation. Most importantly, it’s always a time with God (check out Don’t Ride Alone for more on that topic). He teaches me things when I ride with Him.

So, no turning around; I just had to deal with not having it. I considered my options. I could have ignored the feeling; but “fake it ’til you make it” doesn’t really work on the hills around my house. I could have gobbled down a few energy gels… then called someone to come get me when I got seriously sick to my stomach. I could have gritted my teeth and fought through the feeling, forcing myself to keep up my normal exertion level. I’ve learned, however, that this is only subtly different than the ignorance tactic; and it never ends well.

Fortunately, I have experienced the “just don’t have it” feeling before. If you exercise (or work in your yard) regularly, I am sure you have felt it, too. Like you, I have tried a few unsuccessful strategies and learned from those mistakes. Along the way, I have discovered that the only way to enjoy the ride (or the yard work) is to use what energy I have. Read the rest of this entry »

One of my favorite areas to ride is around the Chattahoochee Hill Country in South Fulton County, Georgia. Most regulars call it Silk Sheets. Cyclists come from all over Atlanta to enjoy this popular cycling destination. There are a number of reasons for this.

First, there are the silky smooth roads and the rolling hills – miles and miles of them. You could ride all day and not cover all the roads that twist, rise and fall across the area. You could ride a different route every day for a month (something very important to many cyclists). There is very little traffic around Chattahoochee Hill Country. The few vehicles that you may encounter are courteous and careful. They are good about sharing the road.

Then there are the dogs – or the lack thereof. The few I have seen hardly give me a second look. Perhaps they are just tired from chasing others, they are bored with the pursuit, or they just don’t see much challenge in running down this slow cyclist. Whatever the reason, it is wonderful!

It also occurs to me that many people come to Silk Sheets because there are so many people that come to Silk Sheets. They enjoy the community feel. Even those like me – that ride alone – feel a connection with the passing cyclists that wave and say good morning, or afternoon.

Yes, there are many reasons for taking the time to travel to South Fulton County for a bike ride. There is one other – the best one by far (at least to me). The thing I enjoy most about Silk Sheets is the scenery. Chattahoochee Hill Country is the most beautiful place I have ever ridden my bike. And that brings me to the latest lesson I learned while riding. Read the rest of this entry »

After putting three screws in my hip, the doctor told me how to take care of it. He said if I did the necessary work, I would get 95-98% of my functionality and strength back. For six long weeks I had to use a walker to avoid putting weight on that leg. Using that walker was painful, aggravating and inhibiting.

Six weeks after my surgery, the doctor told me to start using crutches, and begin seeing a physical therapist. Three weeks later, the physical therapist told me to start bearing weight on the injured leg; beginning with 50%, and increasing gradually over the next six weeks. He also told me about the stretches and exercises I could do at home to strengthen my hip and the atrophied supporting muscles. Eventually, he told me to put the crutches down and walk normally.

Now, what do you think would have happened if I had been a hearer of what the doctor and physical therapist said, but not a doer? According to the doctor, it would have been absolutely disastrous. If I had, in my aggravation, tried to walk too soon, I would have broken the hip again – resulting in another surgery to replace it entirely. If I had not started walking, stretching and exercising when I was told, my muscles would have atrophied further and I would have gotten necrosis of the bone in my hip (and hip replacement surgery). Read the rest of this entry »

Dear Family and Friends,

Many things are best understood in the experience of that thing.  Most of us know that God heals.  He is our Great Physician – our Jehovah Rapha.  But do we really know that until we have experienced it?  Alas, many have had the opportunity, only to give doctors and medicine the credit.

Did my doctor do great work?  Yes, he did.  But he did not heal me.  There is only one Healer.

I have learned, and posted, many lessons while riding… a bicycle.  I intend to post some more.  Today, I just want to share that I have learned – no experienced – that God heals.  Now, just to be clear:  I have experienced this before.  I am 54, after all.  But, you know what, experiencing God’s healing power – to know God heals – is an experience that is truly worth the pain, no matter how many times you experience it.

So, let me share with you that I am back to riding the distances and hills that I was riding before I broke my hip – less than six months ago.  I was told that it might take 12 months to get back to my pre-accident capability.  I am not all the way there, but God has me way ahead of schedule.

I thank you all for your prayers and loving care.  Most of all, I thank our Great Physician for this wonderful adventure.

Your servant and His forever,

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