Like the Nazarite of the Old Testament, young Mason Lott, grew his hair to honor the Lord and in service of those in need.
While growing his hair long since preschool, Mason, seven, always had in his mind to donate his golden locks to Children With Hair Loss. Though taunted by his peers, he always kept in mind the reason he was doing it and he remained resolute in his desire to see it through.
Watch this video interview of Mason and his parents featured on WAAF in Dallas. May God continue to bless and guide him as he blesses others!
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” 2 Ch.16.9
What does this look like in real life? Does it mean we never sin, never get angry, never say the wrong thing or stumble in our walk? What does it mean when the Lord talks of looking for hearts fully committed to him?
I read this verse and am convinced he can’t be talking about me. The desire is there to be fully committed, but my life tells a different story. My life is messy, smelly at times with sin, I get frustrated, say the wrong things….frankly this verse can’t be talking about someone like me….but then I realize that he’s looking at the heart.
If God just looked at my life he would pass by without a second glance. I’m a mess. There is nothing of the material saints are made of in my life, nothing that would tell you I’m a godly man, very little of a holy life for others to see and evaluate.
In fact, if I were under close scrutiny to evaluate my life and determine if I were a Christian I think I would fail the test. Fruit rejected. Life a waste. Failure.
But then I reread these words…God is looking for hearts fully committed. I so want to be that person, that fully committed one. Can my heart be fully committed and my life an utter mess? If God is looking for fruit, I fail. If he’s looking for a heart that wants to please him no one wants that more than I.
How do I reconcile this paradox? How do I bring together a heart that wants God with all that is in me and a life that wanders, choices that are messy, a life that doesn’t look much different than the world around me at times?
I don’t know. I only know this…when his eyes pass my way he will see a messy life, but a heart that truly wants to be fully committed to him. In the mess of all of this all I can do is trust him to help me follow my heart’s passion for him.
I watched the beginning of a video a few weeks ago that is haunting. I couldn’t watch it all. I didn’t want to see the end. It was the video of a young lady committing suicide. Someone had filmed it. The beginning of the video was heartbreaking as she just stood there…on the edge of this tall building looking down. I stopped the video before she moved a muscle. The title told me all I needed to know. I can’t imagine the thoughts of someone as they make this kind of life ending decision. It’s a tragic event in the life of someone God has made. It’s a horrible end of the life of someone dear to God. I just couldn’t watch the point of decision…the point where she leans forward and moves beyond her ability to make any other decision. The rest is inevitable.
It made me think about something that I have been dwelling on for a long time. It’s what I call the big lie. It’s a lie that started many centuries ago, but continues to be believed even today. Here’s the lie- I can find happiness disobeying God. It’s a lie that we have believed to our own fall for centuries.
At first, you have a sense that all is well. You might find pleasure for a moment, a little excitement, maybe a thrill; but there will be a moment when you move past your ability to make any further choices and you begin to fall. The outcome is unavoidable. It will happen every time and yet I hear over and over again, as people tell me they want to make a choice that is clearly sin in scripture, “I just want to be happy…” My response is the same each time. It’s a response I have repeated to those on “the edge of their building” over and over again….”You will never find happiness disobeying God.” But what I know is that most people don’t believe me and so they go on that horrible quest that starts with the decision to jump and always ends in death.
Here’s how the book of James describes it,
James 1:15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Look at the way James describes this- conception, birth, full growth and then death. From conception to birth there is a time of growth. The baby is growing in the mother’s womb. For a few months it looks like there were no results from the intimate act that had in fact conceived a new baby, but soon the action begins to show….soon there’s a birth, then growth and finally death. This is the perfect description of disobedience to God. For a moment there is pleasure, no one disputes that, but there will be a birth coming. There will be results from sin, it will come to light, it will grow up and ultimately there will be a death because of the choice. Sin has a price and it’s high!
I’ve seen this so many times in my role as a pastor I could almost predict the outcome when a person decides that it is “ok” to disobey God because….”don’t you know….I just want to be happy.” There are a hundred stories I could tell. They all end the same. The big lie has not changed in centuries, nor have the results. Don’t believe the culture when they tell you that it’s ok, because God would surely want you happy. I must tell you that God is more interested in your obedience than he is in your happiness. If you do things God’s way happiness will be one of the results. If you do things your way happiness will always elude you because…you will never find happiness disobeying God.
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!”
These words are from Paul’s pen in 1 Corinthians 13. He’s writing to describe our vision problem. You see we all see poorly when it comes to the things of God and the reality of what is going on around us. We all find ourselves near-sighted. The things of God and the truths about our world are fuzzy at best. With our vision problems we often can only see shadows and shapes.
There is a desire to see clearly, but our vision problems will only be resolved at last when we see the Lord face to face. In the meantime we have to use glasses. We have to have help to see. In our world we all know what glasses look like. They are used to correct our vision problems.
In spiritual things most of us have no idea what “spiritual glasses” look like. The fact is that without them none of us can see clearly. The “spiritual glasses” we need to see well is God’s word, the bible. This is the correction for our near-sighted vision. God’s word is meant to give us clear vision about the things of life, reality, relationship and the future. Only his word can give us 20/20 vision.
Many continue to deny they need glasses as they look at shapes and shadows describing them in this way, “It looks like…”, “It could be….” and with great and grand words and a knowing tone they wax eloquent on things they can only see dimly, things that are at best fuzzy.
What’s sad to me is that many Christians believe the near-sighted men of the world rather than wear the glasses of God’s word. They trust those can only guess instead of looking clearly through the lens of God’s word to see what really is. Jesus once healed a man of blindness who said, “I see men, but they look like trees.” Jesus once more touched him until he could see clearly. God wants us to see clearly and that vision correction only comes through his word.
We are all near-sighted. We all live with blurred vision. We all need glasses to see clearly. The only glasses that will ever give us clarity to see the way things really are is God’s word. When you can’t see clearly go to the bible and you will find you suddenly have 20/20 vision.
I’m a lady that stands up for her faith and I am and will always be involved with my family in that my greatest desire is that my children serve the Lord faithfully while my husband and I follow the path set before us.
I admit that I half-heartedly downloaded the book fromchristianaudio.com. I’m truly glad that I did!
Not only is this book a call for men to “man up” courageously, but ladies, much of it applies to us too.
This book reminds us that we need men to boldly lead the way, following Christ and husbands/dads to hold their family accountable in their actions, owning their mistakes. We need men to courageously stand up for what is right, even if you are standing alone.
The book is filled with example after example of courageous men and women doing what God has called them to do with modern day applications that will encourage the timid, motivate the discouraged and inspire all who read to courageously do more.
Ladies, we are not off the hook here. Much of what is in this book applies to us too. We want men to lead the way, but we resist following them. We use the fact that our husbands don’t go to church to simply stay home because “what’s the use anyway.” We let our children do whatever they want to because it’s such a bother to keep up with them and we wonder why they don’t choose to serve the Lord when they move out. Enough of the excuses…..time to “man up” ladies.
Being a Christian isn’t easy, never has been, but when in your life time have you heard of a stoning in the USA? Sure it’s often not a life of convenience, but neither is anything that is worth having.
Courageous Living is a call to action for each and every one of us.
It’s our choice to boldly stand and choose right courageously. It’s our choice to own up to our responsibilities and make a difference for the Lord. It’s our choice to get involved and be faithful to our local church.
If you don’t like the study groups that are going on, suggest a new one – LEAD a new one, but don’t just be passive about it. DO SOMETHING. Go, be faithful and get involved!
Be courageous….and watch how others around you will gather courage as well.
Will you answer the call? Will you dare to stand?
This book was filled with many lines that I could quote for days.
Get the book and enJOY.
(Ladies, anytime you see the word man or husband – simply replace with woman/wife. WE need this too.)
We need a new generation of men that don’t look to the corporate as a measure of their success; rather they look into the lives of wives and children.
We desperately need men who find their significance in faith, family and hard work.
Greatness is determined by God not by man.
Life should not be about stuff, it should be about the Savior.
A life of courage will see what others can’t see and believe what others can’t believe.
Courage demands a decision.
The Church can’t resurrect what the family puts to death.
If fear is contagious then courage is also contagious.
Fear focuses on obstacles, courage focuses on opportunity. Fear sees with eyes of the flesh, Courage sees with eyes of faith.
Following Christ should not be multiple choice in your home.
The faith that once cost people their lives, doesn’t even motivate us to stay faithful to the local church.
You aren’t a man until you take responsibility and live in accountability.
This audio book is read by Maurice England and is extremely easy to listen to as he reads with passion.
We have had an unusual number of days this year over 100 degrees. It’s been hot! I’m amazed at how hard it is for me to be content with my circumstances, with the heat. If it’s too hot, I wish it were cooler. If it’s too cold, I wish it were warmer. If it’s raining, I wish it weren’t. If we go through a drought (as we have), we all pray for rain. We seem to enjoy being discontent. We just recently got back from a mission trip to Russia, and when asked how the trip went my first response is, “it was really hot.” Why is my focus on my comfort, my contentment? Why do we all verbalize our discontent and everyone understands what we feel?Why is it so hard for us to be content? I hear it from everyone I spend any length of time with, “If I only had ____________.” Now, they may have a nice home, food, great kids, cars, enough to get by, but there is always that “one more thing” that will make them content.
We all struggle with it, and it has been a problem since the garden of Eden. In every country I have traveled the struggle for contentment is alive and well.
This morning I was reading Psalm 78 as the author recites the history of Israel and their sins. It’s interesting how he views it as he writes,
Psa 78:16 He brought forth streams also from the rock And caused waters to run down like rivers.
Psa 78:17 Yet they still continued to sin against Him, To rebel against the Most High in the desert.
Psa 78:18 And in their heart they put God to the test By asking food according to their desire.
Psa 78:19 Then they spoke against God; They said, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
They saw God provide rivers of water as they had asked, but is that enough? No, of course not! Can God give us bread too? And in the middle of this the author calls that discontent sin, putting God to the test.
It seems we are always trying to fill a part of us with something instead of someone. “Stuff” will never bring contentment. Our culture will make sure of that, because as soon a I get the latest and greatest of whatever toy I want then, suddenly, there is an ever better, faster more wonderful one available and I’m unhappy again.
Contentment comes from someone, not something. I see in scripture the clear teaching that contentment is a result of an intimate relationship with God. The “stuff” is another topic altogether. In fact Jesus invites us in the gospels to live our lives with open hands and freely give our “stuff” away. That’s hard to do if we consider it the source of our contentment, the reason we are happy.
I love the story that Phillip Yancey tells of a friend who went on a monastic retreat. As the little monk was taking the visitor to his room he said, “Now, if there’s anything you need let us know and we will teach you how to live without it.”
Although I have no intention of living a monastic lifestyle it’s very appealing to me because I wouldn’t have all this “stuff” to worry about and drag around.
Paul discovered the secret and talks about it in Philippians. Here is what he said,
Phi 4:11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
Phi 4:12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
Phi 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Lord, teach me to be content. Help me to find my contentment in you, and not in the “stuff.”
Henry Brandt says it best when he said, “My goal in life is not to get to the end of it and compare my pile of ashes to your pile of ashes.”
The stuff will be thrown out, sold, given away, but an intimate relationship with the living God is priceless.
I’ll gladly give all my “stuff” to get that!
But somewhere inside of me I hope I don’t have to. We are sad creatures, aren’t we?
2 Timothy 2:20-22 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Therefore flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
This passage has always given me encouragement and direction. It gives clarity to usefulness. It describes my part in being a vessel the master can use. I admit that I’m still, even at 60, in process…being molded, making choices that determine my usefulness. It’s a lifetime project to become a vessel for honor, sanctified (set apart), useful to the Master, prepared for EVERY good work. It’s my goal to be a vessel God can use. I know he’s doing his part, but he also challenges me to be part of the process as well.
The last verse of this passage is my part. In it Paul turns from what God wants to see in my life, my choices and my actions. It begins with this admonition, “Therefore flee _______, and pursue ________. After both verbs are things to make decisions about. How do I participate in becoming a vessel, a person, God can use? I make some simple choices, 1. flee certain things and, 2. pursue other things. The bible calls this sanctification. It’s my intentional decisions to agree with God’s desire for me and make choices that conform me to what he wants me to be.
Flee some things, pursue others. Pretty simple, isn’t it? Yes and no. First, I need to know what God wants me to be. I need to know what the good and bad choices are. I need to know a few basic things and from those things I am invited, I’m challenged to make some choices. They are choices to follow and obey God or follow and obey the flesh and the enemy. I know, this all sounds really complicated, but it’s not. It’s so simple children get it. How do so many of us adults miss it?
Here are some things I have heard from adults that tell me they don’t understand what God wants or is trying to do in their lives. They don’t want to be vessels the Lord can use. From their mouths you will hear, “I know God wants me to be happy, so….” or, “It may be wrong, but I know he will forgive me.” You have heard things like this as well. It’s a way to give us permission to pursue the wrong things and flee the right things. We have gotten it completely backwards when we choose to do it our way. One thing is clear, if we choose our way we will be of little or no use to God.
I wonder, as I encounter people and their choices, what do they really want? Do they want to please God or themselves? If, and I think some would be so honest, if they want to please themselves they have just declared themselves god of their lives and dismissed the God who saved them. It’s a dangerous path. There is no happy ending when we choose our own way.
But, I watch others who want to be that “vessel of honor”, that person God can use. They are amazing! I’m thinking of several of them now, both men and women, who are intentionally working with God to become a vessel of honor, someone God can use. They are fleeing the wrong things and pursuing the right things. They are choosing wisely and it shows. They are becoming what God designed them to be and the glow of that, the impact of their life is changing lives around them.
God, the master potter, is making vessels of honor, but each one of us must be part of the process if we are to be what God designed us to be. We make the right choices for a reason….choices because we want to please God. Choices because we were called to be people God can use to change the world around us. Choices that have eternal rewards.
Make your own list. What is on your “flee list” and what is on your “pursue list”? These two lists will tell you a lot about the vessel you are becoming. It may mean you have some choices to make. It may, and I hope it does for many, encourage you that you are becoming what God designed you to be. Either way we are challenged to be part of what God is making us. What kind of vessel are you becoming?
It’s clear, as you read the bible, that Godly leadership evokes a following. If a man, one man, will pursue God then others will gather and follow a man hungry after God.
As I read further into the life of Hezekiah it’s obvious that after many years of poor leadership his walk with God was refreshing to Judah. He brought them back to God and they responded.
As I read more of his life story it was interesting to me that he even went into Israel to clear out the idols of the land. There was a passion in him to follow God, to wholeheartedly follow God. There was a desire to seek God that others wanted as well. From that man came a revival in Judah. The priests returned to God, the people returned to God and the results changed a country that had for years forgotten the God of Abraham.
It doesn’t take a big church, a great choir, an amazing preacher or dynamic youth pastor. It can start with me, with you. One person, following God, seeking God, hungry for God will change the culture around them. One person who is really seeking God, not the glory of man, will find men and women hungry for the same thing. As one old preacher said years ago, “Set yourself on fire for God and the world will come to watch you burn.” I may be only one man, but I want God. I’m not interested in much else….just him. From that passion for him will come a community of people seeking after him as well. I hope to be a man like Hezekiah….a man seeking after God.
May I take the Thanksgiving theme a little further? One day is simply not enough for me to say thanks for God’s love, goodness and faithfulness to us. I can’t help myself, but must talk about it a little more. Will you indulge me for a moment longer?
I’m thankful to God for who he is, who he shows himself to be- good, loving and faithful. Those attributes show up in our world in three ways, 1. what he has done, 2. what he’s doing now, and 3. what he will do in the future. All three declare to a watching world that God is good, loving and faithful to his creation. Here are a few of the things I have noted in these thoughts. There are many more, but this will be enough for this post. Continue reading Thankful a little longer→
Guest Blog Post: Marie Wikle known as @spreadingJOY on twitter. Full of encouragement and the desire to make a difference everywhere she goes, Marie sneaks away to the beach every single chance she gets. Here is a glimpse of the ocean through her eyes.
My heart is pounding! You’d think I had not been to the ocean in years, but actually, it’s only been a few months. I quickly head to the sandy shores of the Atlantic. I’m giddy with delight! No matter how many times I come here, my heart feels as if it’s the first time I’ve seen it in years. I love the ocean. I love the smell, I love the sound, I love the sights! I simply love it.
The sand feels so cool on my feet. I must remove my shoes to get the full effects. I love walking thru the sand to the water. I reach the edge of the shore, the gentle waves lap up against me, saying “hello my dear friend! Do you know I love having you near me?” I sit in the sand, near the water but not so close as to get soaked.
I keep my feet at the edge, enjoying the cool water washing over my toes as I gaze out over the glorious ocean. I look straight ahead. As far as I can see is water. This mighty ocean is so peaceful, so calming as it rocks back and forth showing the world that God is in control of the waves. The gentle rocking is luring me into its massiveness by it mighty power. So gentle, yet so huge and powerful. It can lull the most troubled heart to sleep easily and, yet, wipe out entire cities by its force. I love the vastness of it. I look to the left and the waters are never ending…just like God’s love for me. I look to the right and the waters go on forever. I love that. I look ahead and imagine how deep the ocean must be. No one can touch the bottom of the ocean. I think how wonderful that is, because my sins are buried just that deep – as the deepest seas. And, better than that, God forgets them! He remembers them no more! Amazing!
I look straight ahead and admire the utter vastness of the ocean and think of how big and mighty God truly is and yet – he takes the time to love me – little ole nobody – me. God is bigger than this ocean, mightier than the wildest waves and wind and yet, for some reason, He draws me to Him. He calls me and HE wants me to spend time with Him. He can have anyone on the face of the earth, and he wants me. I look at the sand and the wonderful treasures that are buried there. I see the normal ole seashells, plain, like me. Millions of them are there. Usually, I never pick them up unless they are shiny and beautiful. I smile and wonder why God picks me up. I’m not shiney and mercy, no where near beautiful. Oh, I adore the cool seashells! I love when they are in whole pieces, but I rarely find them – and yet – I laugh to myself – when mom comes to the ocean, she comes back with oodles of cool shells that she found as gifts from the ocean. I smile and think to myself, she deserves those treasures from the ocean, she is truly a wonderful woman who deserves more than I can ever give her.
I sit beside the ocean for hours, soaking up every sound, every quiet clap of the waves, every gentle swoosh of the the water retreating back into its bed. I love the deep and complete peace I feel as I sit there, beside the majestic ocean. Knowing that as God controls the ocean, he truly controls everything in my life.
I look straight ahead, a beautiful orange glow is emerging off of the horizon! I didn’t realize that God was giving me yet another gift! Another desire of my very own heart! The desire to see the full moon rise up out of the ocean, to light my night, to light my path, to lead the way for me. It creeps up, inch by inch, pouring more and more of its light right down upon me. I smile and think “thank you Lord for the full moon” I have always loved how I feel closer to the Lord when it is shining down. The full moon over the mighty ocean – the greatest gift ever.
I love the glory of it all! So majestic! The huge moon, watching my every step, lighting my way. The ocean that is gentle, peaceful, yet strong enough to violently shatter the earth with its great waves. I sit and dwell on His goodness. I soak up His greatness, His wonder, HIS love for me – thank you Father, that I can always visit the ocean in my minds eye. Your grace is enough, and it truly does amaze me. Your grace and love is sufficient and never ending – just like the ocean.
What do you see when you look at the Ocean? Can you imagine how deep God’s love for you is? Can you look out over the ocean and realize the power it takes to hold the water in place?
My Prayer for you when YOU look at the ocean!
When you see the perfect cute litte treasures of the “neat” shells, may you remember that YOU are that special and that out of all the millions of “shells” that you stand out and God is waiting to pick you up and place you with his prized shells so that you may bless the heart of others everytime someone looks at you.
When you feel the gentle waves lapping at your feet – may you be reminded of how tenderly God holds us in his hands – and how he comforts our hearts when we are troubled.
When you see the waves clapping – know that HE is coming for us one day.
When you see the waves crashing on the shore – remember that this is a tiny portion of how much power God holds and ALL THINGS ARE possible by him – for his children that HE adores.
When you see the never endingness of the ocean, may you be reminded of how HE loves us – truly deep down loves us. and that love is never ending.
When you gaze at the ocean and wonder how deep it is, may you be reminded that it is sooo deep that our deepest sins are buried there and even God himself can not get to them, nor can he remember them.
May you feel the love of the LORD sweep over you and on to your life as you gaze at the majestic ocean, that is nothing short of awesome!
Last Thought: Do you know that with all of the millions of “shells” that surround you, that God chooses YOU too! He draws you. He wants you to dwell with him. Are you spending time with Him. Are you being still beside the ocean and enjoying the view? *patting the sand* come…sit right here, next to me and let’s enjoy how awesome God is – together!
In All That You Say…In All That You Do…Represent Christ!