Category Archives: Weblog

Pacifiers

What is a pacifier? Websters says it’s a person that pacifies or a plastic shaped nipple that babies suck on or bite. Both definitions are simply temporary solutions for more permenant problems. Most of us have a hunger inside of us and we try to fill it with things. It could be things like money, sex, drugs, people, food or alcohol. I don’t know what it is for you, but all of us at one time have tried to satisfy (pacify) our souls with something or someone. When we do this, we begin to get restless and that hunger returns worse than before. It’s like we have a hole in our heart and we shove all these things in it to plug the hole and they work for a little while, but the hunger comes back.

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”

-Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT

King Solomon talks about how God has placed eternity in our heart.  But It’s like we are taking what God put in our hearts and replacing it with something man-made. Why do we do that? Think about if we took something that we were born with and replaced it with something unnatural, something that is not supposed to be there. The book  of Ecclesiastes talks about this. In Ecclesiastes 1:14 King Solomon had everything he could ever dream of and more. He had tried everything under the sun and he says it’s all useless! I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind. Without God, it’s all meaningless. That’s what it all boils down to, you can try everything that this world has to offer but it will not satisfy (pacify) you. Only God can fill the emptiness!

Dream BIG.

Do you have a dream? I know you do. Do you have a dream that is so clear that you’re more than certain that God himself has placed it in your heart? Again I’ll say, you certainly do. Now, what are we willing to endure to reach and achieve this dream? What we tend to do as humans (especially men), is get discouraged and sometimes even angry with God when the dream doesn’t come in the package we thought it would. In our finite minds, we get a picture of how we are going to achieve OUR dreams. It’s in this place that the problems begin. OUR mind (with all its limits) attempts to map out a plan to achieve what we think OUR dream is. In reality, this dream was hatched by our limitless Creator. In all reality, it’s HIS dream for us.

In Genesis 37 we are introduced to Joseph, one of Jacob’s sons. Now Joseph had a dream, a big dream that was indeed given to him by God. Although the end result was exactly what God showed Joseph it would be, the series of actions and circumstances that led him there by most standards was anything but ideal. We read that Joseph was betrayed by his brothers (Genesis 37:23), sold into slavery (Genesis 37:28), had is moral standards tested time and time again (Genesis 39:7,10,12). He was framed for attempted rape (Genesis 39:17-18), he was falsely imprisoned (Genesis 39:20), as well as was forgotten (Genesis 40:23) during the journey to achieve the dream God gave him. As spectacular as these injustices may seem, the truly striking part is that not even one single time did Joseph ever raise his fists to God in anger nor did he ever blame God. What he did is so counterintuitive it may be hard for some of us to wrap our heads around it. He honored God in all he did and embraced His standards despite what he may have been going through. He WORSHIPPED God! That’s true worship. Being obedient to God when no one is looking all the while upholding His moral standards. It’s a beautiful thing really. Just look how God honored Joseph’s faithfulness in return by giving him favor in all he did. Joseph even found himself as second in command and ruler over all Egypt with pharaoh being the only person maintaining a higher rank. Through these circumstances, God positioned Joseph to not only achieve the dream He gave him but he was also in a place where he was able to save his entire family from the incredible famine that had gripped the whole land.

There is always a deeper agenda in the dreams we are given. Our minds are just too feeble to see it all. We can only experience this depth of a dream when we are obedient to the small glimpse we are given initially. We must “Walk by faith, not by sight” right? Let’s look at this portion of scripture in 1 Samuel:

“…Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.”

-1 Samuel 2:30 NIV

God honors honor. Complete trust in Him, it’s what we call faith. Honor acts as a catalyst to gain His divine strength that will be necessary to achieve the dreams that are so beyond our own limited capabilities. So let’s live honorable lives to achieve and accomplish the mission God has given us in the form of dreams. Let’s take those faith steps and put our trust completely in Him. Let’s stay true to who he designed us be. Let us worship Him in all that we do so that through our obedience, His will be done. Let us not get discouraged or angry. Let’s stay in hot pursuit of His dreams and thank Him for any and all circumstances we may face.

“If He brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it… Remember BIG dreams are HIS dreams.”

Dream BIG.

Fishing.

Living here on the Gulf Coast, fishing can be a way of life or just a great way to relax and enjoy God’s beautiful work. The act of fishing requires the use of a rod and reel, some hooks, and bait or lures. Now, there are many different species of fish here on the Gulf Coast. There is fresh water and saltwater fishing which includes bay fishing or offshore fishing and thus, the type of fishing you choose determines your bait or lure selection.

You know the devil’s an expert angler. A temptation can be his rod and reel and his bait can be food, drugs, alcohol or maybe even porn. Whatever it is, he knows your weakness and he will continue to cast that bait until he gets you to bite. But, there is good news…

Men, if you get hooked you can spit the hook and keep swimming.

Satan is an expert angler and he has bait out everywhere. I keep thinking about when he went for the trophy catch in Jesus, but Jesus didn’t take the bait. He was on a 40 day fast and was tempted with food, kingdoms and wealth. The devil knowing scripture used the Word as bait. He took Jesus up to the highest point in Jerusalem and told Jesus to jump cause God’s word said He would send angels to protect Him. Jesus wasn’t having it. In every scenario, Jesus fought back with God’s Word. He used the same bait satan used against Him to win the battle. Like I said, satan is an expert angler, he has been doing this for millennia, but Jesus is an even better one! The one thing I want you guys to know is that you can win these battles too.  Just remember what scripture says about you.

“If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom.”
Deuteronomy 28:13 NLT

You are victorious over temptation.

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”
Romans 8:11 NLT

Think about the power that is living in you. It’s the same power that rose Jesus from the grave. We can overcome temptation! We have the victory! You are overcomers! Don’t take the bait.

A Reminder For Those Who Don’t Feel They Have Enough

Mike Foster

by Mike Foster

’Tis the season of giving. But while we assume we need to be rushing off to purchase perfect presents, we can actually do something great with what we’ve got.

Photo Credit: Flood G., Creative Commons

Take this woman and her boots for example.

She was on the subway in New York. Another lady entered her car barefoot and evidently chilly by the way she was wiggling her pink toes. The boot-wearing woman took off her shoes and zipped them up over the pink toes.

At the warmth, the woman cried.

The now socks-wearing lady looked down at the thin layer that protected her own feet for her long trek home. A man noticed her disgruntled look and a chain reaction started. He whipped out a pair of thick gym socks and handed them to her. She could make it home.

Hearing about the gift, a store contacted the woman who gave away her boots and sent her on a shopping spree. What did she do? Buy a new pair of boots? Enjoy the repayment for her random act of kindness?

Not exactly.

Instead, she continued the chain of giving by donating every purchase to a women’s shelter.

After hearing this story, I realized that giving is about something deeper than the gift and my heart started growing like the Grinch in “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.”

What if Christmas,” he says, “doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!

There is a “little bit more” to this whole season than purchasing presents, isn’t there? Gifts are awesome but there are times where we can’t wrap the thing we need to give away.

Here’s why:

This whole Christmas thing started because Jesus was born to give a grace that could and can never be contained in a box. Because of him, and people like the boot-wearing lady, there is a chain reaction of goodness and kindness that has been freely gifted to us.  So pause.

What great thing can we do with what we’ve got?

Source: A Reminder For Those Who Don’t Feel They Have Enough

Distraction.

What are distractions? The dictionary defines it as the ability to prevent someone from giving full attention to something else. Wow! All of us get distracted from time to time. Some distractions are good some are bad. Here lately I’ve been struggling a lot with distractions to the point I feel like I might have ADHD to the 10th power! I start on something and something else gets in the way. Most of my distraction start in my head. I start to think about things I want to do and then things I need to do and then the things I had just started doing then I forget about the other things. Now let’s think about God scripture tells us to,

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Matthew 6:33 NLT”

God wants our full attention and He doesn’t ask us to seek Him, He tells us to. He even says He will provide for us. Why do you think that is? One of the things that most of us are distracted by is the question on how are we going to take care of our families. “How can I provide for them, how can I pay the bills?” Now with CHRISTmas coming it’s, “How can I get my the kids presents they would like?” Other things worry me too. One thing for me is my 4-month-old son. I find myself getting up in the middle of the night just to check on him. Another thing is safety, last night I was driving home from church and I started thinking what if someone carjacked us and shot me and left with my son. Then I stopped and realized I was not pointing my eyes in the right direction, they weren’t pointed towards Jesus. All of those thoughts kept me from focusing on God. Look at Peter for instance. He was in a boat in the middle of a huge storm and saw Jesus walking on water. Peter called out to Jesus and Jesus told him to come out of the boat and Peter got out and started walking on water then all of a sudden he got distracted by the storms and waves and started to sink, he panicked, but then Jesus came over and reached out to him and pulled him to safety.

I don’t know what storms or what good things are distracting you from keeping your eyes on Jesus. Maybe it’s time to take inventory of things that pull you away from God. In the book of Hebrews, we are told,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
Hebrews 12:1 NLT

The writer of Hebrews tells us to get rid of the good and the bad because it will keep us from finishing the race. All distractions do is slow us down, send us in the wrong direction to keep us from the One that loves us and that’s Jesus. I am not saying divorce your wife or get rid of your kids or quit your job. What I am saying is put God first, make Him the center of your marriage, give God control and watch all those distractions fade away.

God has great plans for you and you can’t receive those great things by getting distracted from Him.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”
Jeremiah 29:11, 13 NLT

Exile.

For some time now, I’ve been in exile. I’ve had to sit a few opportunities out because either the timing was wrong or God has simply said, “No, you have to wait.”  I’ve come to learn something. There is a certain strength that is built in a man when in exile. Brian Hardin founder of dailyaudiobible.com and a mentor of mine put some perspective on this for me earlier this year.

Arguably the most quoted bible verse over the last few years has been Jeremiah 29:11, it reads:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

It’s a great scripture, no doubt. But like so many scriptures it is at times used and understood out of context. You see, in the context of this scripture, the Hebrew people found themselves in exile. It was a harsh enslavement in a foreign land under the authority of a demented king. Jerusalem was all but a faded memory. They weren’t going home soon, and when they did, it wasn’t going to be the same. That’s a hard place to be.

For men, circumstances of exile are often the times that define our story. Sometimes God has to exile us in order to  show us who we really are. It’s like, in order to give us His identity, we have to be stripped of what we have become by the terms of life and the world.

The challenge is, are we willing to be exiled?

The Hebrew people had to learn that in their exile, life had to go on. They had to plant fields, they had to teach their children, they had to work with what they had, where they were. It was in these times in the monotony of mere existence that God began to remind the Israelites of who they were. They were a people set apart as His own, a people meant to usher His son into the world.  In the same way, God uses exile in us to build the capacity He needs in order to take us where He’s going.  Therefore, in much the same way as He used the Israelites, God uses believers today as emissaries of His son Jesus in the world. As Christians we are the light of the world, it should be through our existence that Jesus is known. Exile gets us ready to move in truth and in authority. So I ask, what are you doing in your exile, are you letting God build capacity?

Perspective.

 A sincere heart note from our friend @JohnR1977


This weekend, I had a rather emotional experience. Actually, it was more of a series of divine appointments that could have only been orchestrated by The Almighty. I apologize in advance if I ramble and change directions during the following, but this isn’t a thought-out attempt to appear witty or introspective. It’s an admission of guilt and a testimony of grace. Away we go.

I have a problem. Well, I have several problems, but one in particular which I cannot seem to pin to submission. My ego gets the best of me more than I care to admit, and I cannot stop it. And it’s completely undeserved. I am by far the best looking guy in the world, I never graduated high school, I’m a recovering alcoholic and addict, and I have I destroyed more relationships in my life than I can count. I try to be better, every single day, but I still catch myself looking down my nose at those around me and shaking my head in derision. I scoff at people who have no idea why I’m being such a jackass, and the reality is, I have no idea either. I’d imagine it’s some sort of deeply wired defense mechanism that’s operating on some subconscious level that only a professional could navigate, but I believe God can fix it faster. So that’s what He and I talk about. A lot.

Let me tell you a story. Once, there was a wayward young man who followed his beautiful girlfriend into a converted school on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. The school had become a church, and the church had become a beacon of hope for those in the surrounding neighborhoods. The people inside were caring and wonderful, and the love was palpable. It was an amazing experience.

Or, it would have been, but it was all lost on the young man. See, he didn’t care about being there. He was only present out of some duty and obligation to his significant other. He would have much rather been at home. But he went nonetheless,and tried to appear interested.

This charade lasted for a few years. He would go, she would be happy. They would leave, he would be happy. And so they danced, the beautiful girl and the wayward young man, even though truth be told she somehow knew him to be disingenuous.

The men of the church cared for the young man as their own. Reached out, pulled in, and the young man pushed back. Love doesn’t come easy for one who has spent a life time either in passionate pursuit of it or fleeing from the sharpened tip of it. Brotherly love wasn’t a concept that rang familiar to one who was an only son, and to his father, a forgotten son. But this isn’t a step into the bog of self-pity, for those who keep their eyes on those behind them never have the chance to see the smile in those in front of them. So the young man extended cursory pleasantries and hurried handshakes and made haste for the exit. Every Sunday. For years.

His duplicitous behavior transcended church attendance, however, and one day, the young man found himself in the midst of a rather precarious predicament. Down one road lay the beautiful and lifetime of happiness and love, and down the other lay selfish pleasures of the flesh and a mistake that would destroy the beautiful girl.

Which path do you think he took?

Sufficed to say, the young man chose the path of least resistance, as he was wont to do. Love and respect were commitments, and one doesn’t have the time for such things when self-gratification is so much easier.

Away! Away the young man rode, straight into the arms of the enemy who had been waiting for him for sometime. As darkness wrapped it’s tendrils around the young man, he heard the words of God speaking from somewhere above, as if God was up in a tree shouting down with hands cupped over mouth.

“Make haste, young man!” the voice would cry. “Take one step back, just one, and I will reach down and pull you up into this tree with me. Up here, you and I can speak freely, and I can tell you my plans for you.”

The young man stopped being a young man in that moment. In a single action triggered by a lone thought, every cog in the mechanism that ran the young man’s heart popped out of its housing and shot off in a hundred directions. As the light left his eyes, the last thing the young man remembered before he submitted to the dark was the face of God reflected in the eyes of the beautiful girl.

There he lay. No longer young, and no longer a man. A husk that held a brain with more knowledge than wisdom, and a heart with missing pieces. It was all he could do to simply pick himself up off of the floor and stumble towards reality. And as he cried softly to himself, he noticed he wasn’t alone. A presence had filled every inch of space around him. It enveloped him but didn’t stifle. It encompassed him. It warmed him. As he opened his eyes and wiped away the tears, two hands reached out. In one lay the pieces of his heart, and the other rest upon his shoulder. He cautiously picked the pieces from the palm of the hand and in an instant, the young man felt love. In the next, he knew love. In a moment, he was whole again. Not a better version of his old self, but a completely new entity. Then the voice came again.

“I will never leave you. I will never stop loving you. I will never be apart from you. I am here always.”

“But I didn’t reach up my hand so you could pull me up, and look what I did. Look what I destroyed. Look who I hurt.”

“It’s all fixable. I will fix it all. I will renew it and rebuild it and revive it. Look at me.”

“I can’t.”

“No tears, my son. Look at me. Look in my eyes.”

“I hurt her so much. I can’t”

“You can. Through me, you can.”

The young man dried his eyes and looked straight into the face of forgiveness. All at once, the pain was gone.

“Now, remember this. You have to put into action a few things. Show me you believe what I’ve said and I will not stop working until what I’ve told you has been made true. Can you do that?”

“I don’t know. I have nothing. I have no job, no money, no one trusts me. I’ve destroyed my life.”

“You’ve looked me in the eye and known that I am for you. That’s all you need to know. From this moment, you walk forward. Follow my son. He will take care of you while I work. As for her and the others, you will see that they’ve never stopped loving you either.”

“How can I be sure?”

“Because you will see me in their faces. Just as you did with the beautiful girl.”

I told you that story to tell you this one. The young man did see the love in the faces of the men of that church. And they accepted him despite the mess he had brought upon himself. They never judged, they never condemned, and they never made him feel unworthy. And for awhile, a brotherhood was formed that was set to take on the enemy with a ferocity that could only be fueled by a bond forged by God. But, again, the young man felt himself to be too close to pure love, and he ran for the railing and vaulted over. Right back into the darkness.

God’s word says that there is nothing we can do that will keep us from His grace, love, and mercy. I believe that. I’ve apologized to God a lot lately. And I know He forgives me. And He and I are still hard at work on the whole ego thing. We’re getting there.

This weekend, two groups of people did two totally different things, and both groups did them in the name of God. One group joined together yesterday and praised Him for all of the good He has brought to the world. The other destroyed lives because they believed it’s what God wanted them to do. I took a piece from both events, and they fit together. Hear me out.

Muhammad isn’t real. He isn’t a prophet. Allah is not God. It’s so unfortunate that some people believe the opposite, but one day they will know the truth. The lives lost in Paris were not in vain, however, because when things like this happen, God uses the devastation to mold greatness as only He can. People will come to Christ from this. I feel it. I know it.

I spoke to a security guard yesterday at Spirit Fest. We talked for an hour or so, and he was a very interesting man. He wasn’t there to praise or worship, however, he was just there to complete an obligation. Exactly what I used to do. He said something very profound to me that I haven’t been able to shake in the past twenty four hours.

“I think it’s great that people believe in God and all that. For me, I’m not ready. I just can’t see myself being that nice to everybody, everyday. I couldn’t do it.”

That’s his perception of being a Christian. And he’s so close to the mark that I’ll call it a bullseye. We are to love everyone, and how better can that love be perceived by others than when genuine kindness is reflected in every action. I gave him a very quick lesson in how accepting Jesus as your savior is first and foremost, and how all of the other stuff comes together through that acceptance. He didn’t become a believer yesterday, but the seed is there.

Here’s my point, for those that haven’t bailed on me yet. I am a messy, imperfect horrible person. I am an egotistical jackwagon (thanks Pastor Scott :)) and when I feel myself getting too close to someone or something, I purposely set it on fire. Not literally, of course, but I burn bridges so I don’t have to walked back over them only to find the other person has given up and left. I ruin things. That is who I am.

At least, it’s who I am sometimes. We all have the incredible hulk to our Bruce Banner’s, and mine just happens to be the monster who thinks he’s too good for everyone else because deep down he feels he isn’t good enough at all. And I am trying so hard to change that. And I will. Rather, God will, and I will let him.

It comes down to how you view yourself, and how you view your God. Is the God you serve one that speaks mercy and love, so that everyone sees how “you are nice to everybody, everyday,” or is the God you serve one who instructs you to murder? It isn’t that difficult to see which one we ought to be pursuing. And do you view yourself as worthy of being rebuilt? You should. I do, finally. And even though God has just started, I can’t wait to see the finished product not only in the reflection in the mirror, but in the reflection in the people I come across.

Hold on to those who love you. Hold on to The One who loves you. Cast your pride aside and accept mercy and forgiveness, because we are so blessed to have it.

Thank you, my brothers. And I know you’re just as sick of me saying sorry as I am of saying it. Know this, though. The young man owes his life to you. God used you men to speak into me and hold me up when I wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out. I never stopped loving you guys, even if I let myself believe I didn’t like you very much. And I respect you all for everything you’ve become. The lives you’ve changed are a testament to your faith, and you should be proud of that.

Oh! I forgot to mention. The beautiful girl still captivates the young man, and they are closer now than they ever were, even if they aren’t where they used to be. But that’s a good thing. Where they used to be wasn’t leading either of them anywhere.

This young man is off to bed. God bless you all.

Capture

Discipline.

One of the things I love to do is workout consistently. I try to get up every morning before work and hit the gym. I’ve been doing this for about 7 years now. It makes my day feel better and I don’t have to worry about missing the gym because of other engagements later in the day. It’s been hard to master, I don’t always get up, but I’ve disciplined myself over time so it’s not a big deal anymore. Discipline has been a major factor in what I look like now as opposed to what I looked like when I wasn’t in shape. When I started attending Church Unlimited and became a believer, I saw how discipline plays a major part in your spiritual walk as well. The way I see it, I figure I can compare my physical and spiritual well-being quite easily because I know discipline is required to achieve greatness. In 1 Timothy 4:8 it says,

“Physical training is good, but godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”

For a long time now, I have been training physically to be stronger and to have a healthier lifestyle, but now as I follow Christ and realize that I get my strength from Him, I strive to become spiritually stronger. My brothers and I have made it a point to keep accountability on each other to not only be spiritually stronger, but healthier as well. As leaders of our homes, we want to be around for many family memories. It’s not easy, but nothing worth something great is ever easy. Our faith has got to be in Christ our savior in order for us to do greater things. If He says we are to do great things, our faith must prove it!

Prostitution.

Prostitute: a man or a woman who sells themselves for money or material items or pleasure.

Reading in the book of Ezekiel and throughout most of the old testament God compares His people to prostitutes. He does this because over and over we see them selling themselves out to idols. They have become unfaithful to God who has always been faithful to them. They  turn their backs on Him and forget about all the things He did for them. God has given them freedom from Egypt only for them to be enslaved by something or someone else. In Romans 6 Paul talks about the freedom from sin. Think about this, are we not the bride of Christ, yet we cheat on Him every day when we sell ourselves out to lust or addictions or material things. You see, like it or not, anything placed before God becomes your God or your pimp. Things or people you put before God will inevitably control you and cause you to do whatever you have to do to get more. But remember, God is a good God and He will wait for you.

He says,  “I will not leave you or forsake because I love you so much that I came to earth in the form of man to rescue you from all this!” There is only one control factor involved with God, it’s love. It’s His constant love and the free will love we can choose to reciprocate to Him and to one another. God humbled Himself and came down to our level to rescue you and me, to prove His love! That’s how much He loves us, He became flesh to die for us!

“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”
John 1:14 NLT