Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Grow Up

'Grow up!'

Have you ever heard that command before?  

I have.

I feel like the Holy Spirit is telling me that a lot here lately.

I ran across a book that I've had for some time and I started reading it again.
The title of it is, 'Break The Power of Negative Words.'  The author is John Bevere.  It's a small book - 86 pages to be exact.  Please purchase this book and read it.  After you read the book, take it and give it to someone else. 

Yeah, it's that important.

Below is a small excerpt of the book.
The subject?
Maturity, obedience, and.........offense.


"When we obey the Word of God, which is spoken by the Holy Spirit, we will grow and mature in the times of conflict and suffering.  Our knowledge of Scripture is not the key.

Obedience is.

Now we understand one reason why we have people in the church who have been Christians for twenty years, can quote verses and chapters of the Bible, have heard a thousand sermons and read many books, but still wear spiritual diapers.  Every time they meet with difficult situations, rather than responding by the Spirit of God, they seek to protect themselves in their own way.  They are "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3:7).  
They never come to the knowledge of the truth because they do not apply it.
Truth must be allowed to have it's way in our lives if we are going to grow and mature.  It is not enough to give mental assent to it without obeying it.  Even though we continue to learn, we never mature because of disobedience."

........"There is a false sense of self protection in harboring an offense.  It keeps you from seeing your own character flaws because the blame is deferred to another.  You never have to face your role, your immaturity or your sin because you only see the faults of the offender.  Therefore, God's attempt to develop character in you by this opposition is now abandoned.  The offended person will avoid the source of the offense and eventually flee, becoming a spiritual vagabond."

'A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment. Proverbs 18:1'


Like I said - this is a great book and, in my opinion, a must read for people who 'claim' to know Jesus Christ.


Because all of us who claim to be 'following Christ' don't always act like we're following Christ.
We often act out the harsh reality of our lives as we follow our emotions, our feelings, and our heavily skewed points of view.
Behaving in that manner spells out three prophetic words for our lives:


So, by the grace of Jesus Christ, I choose - I willfully make a choice - to forgive all offense and offender past, present, and future.  I've made up my mind to release everything into the hands of God and make a request to 'overflow in love' instead of flowing over in poisonous rage.

Bless instead of curse.
Forgive and ask to be forgiven.
Ever mindful that the Judge is listening to my words and recording them for future reference when I stand before Him.

Learning to live in peace and joy as I travel this journey unhindered and as light as possible. 

'Whew', that's a tall order!

Man, I need to grow up.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I was doing my normal Metro commute in today - reading my daily Bible that I have on my phone (the app is called 'YouVersion' and it's great) when I came across some really humorous situations.

The amazing thing is that these biblical comedy moments are in Genesis - YEAH GENESIS!

Now, you have to read The Book close to catch this so let me set this up:

Genesis 46.

Joseph has just revealed who he really is to his mean brothers - the same guys who traded him away to become a slave - then they took his colorful coat - ripped it up - splotched it with animal blood and then told dad that they found this bloody coat along the way. Is it Joseph's coat? If it is he must be torn to shreds.

Dad (Jacob) is devastated.

The brothers are free of their sissy boy - daddy's little pet - tattle tale of a brother.

Joseph's screenplay begins - the title is not 'Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat' - a more fitting name for this movie is, 'Boy Interrupted'.

You know the story - if you don't then stop reading this blog and go read your Bible for crying out loud! :-)

Joseph finds himself in a...

Potiphars Play House...
Pharaohs Palace...

Joseph saves Egypt from famine.
His brothers show up wanting to buy food.
He plays some pretty cool mind games with them.
And now the funny stuff...

Gen. 46:21

Funny Fact #1 - Benjamin names 3 of his sons, "Muppim, Huppim, and Ard. What's up with that? He has some really good Bible names for the others but then it's like he gets a little cooky when the last three are born.
Perhaps Muppim and Huppim are twins that performed a cool puppet skit - an early form of a PBS kids show - I don't know.

Ard? Seriously?

Maybe Ard is the son that ate little bugs Can't you hear Muppim and Huppim crying, "Daaaad, Ard is licking stink bugs again...he's messing up our 'Super Terrific Happy Hour'!"
Sorry all of you that belong to the biblical scholar society - I realize that their names represent....oh forget it - the names are flippin' hiliarious - let's move on...

Gen. 46:29-30

Funny Fact #2 - Reunited?

Joseph pulls up in his chariot - he sees dear old dad - dad sees his long lost son - the emotional music swells - they run across the field in slow motion - they embrace - tears are flowing - snot is running - everybody is bawling and then Jacob looks at Joseph and says...

"Im ready to die now"

Nice. Just what your newly reunited son needs to hear you say.
'But dad, you just got here!!! Can't you hang around a few days to take your grandkids fishing in the Nile?' I don't think Joseph asked him that but Jacob did stick around for another 17 years. Thank the Lord he got a chance to make up for some of that lost time.

Side note: You ever know anyone who always lived with one foot in the grave? I do....uh or should I say I did....he finally really - this man's wife and daughter would always tearfully request prayer for their husband and their dad because 'he's inches from death! He'll probably be walking with Jesus before sundown!'

They talked like this for 12 years. Poor guy.

He should have watched Shawshank Redemption and followed Brooks advice:

"Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'."

Gen. 46:33,34 - 47:1-3

Funny Fact #3 - "Don't say the 'S' word.

Joseph knew the ropes. He had a good handle on Egyptian etiquette.
So he tries to coach his mean brothers in verse 33,

"When Pharaoh calls for you and asks you about your
occupation, you must tell him, "We, your servants, have RAISED LIVESTOCK all our lives..."

It was like Joseph was telling them - 'tell Pharaoh what you do but don't tell him what you REALLY do for a living because the Egyptians despise shepherds. Don't use the 'S' word guys.'
Now, Joseph told his brothers that he was going to inform Pharaoh that they were shepherds but when the time came...he didn't. Now, fast forward to when the hillbilly brothers appeared before Pharaoh and he asked them about their resume - they flat out told him what they did and I imagine them sounding like Forrest Gump when they started talking:

'We are shepherds - in fact our whole family are shepherds - our daddy's daddy's, daddy was a shepherd - I just guess our family likes sheeeeeep - mama always said...'

Just follow the instructions. Don't you wish we could all just follow the instructions?
Do what the Bible tells us to do. Obey the laws of the land like we're supposed to. We fail to do this don't we. Thank the Lord there's grace and mercy for those of us who have a hard time doing what we're told to do.

Gen. 47:7

Funny Fact #4 - Jacob speaks his mind.

Joseph finally shoves his brothers out of the way. Now, he presents his father, Jacob, to Pharaoh. There's no hello - my name is - no, 'how ya doing?' - Grandpa Jacob just starts blessing like there's no tomorrow. Awesome. Finally Pharaoh asks him what I think is a funny question - 'how old are you?'
Jacob gives an even funnier answer - no disrespect intended here but just imagine this crusty old man standing in mighty Pharaohs golden throne room and he say's...

"Well let me tell ya there sonny I'm a 130 years old but compared to my kinfolk my days have been short and not worth a spit in a can.
How 'bout yours?"

Pharaoh just sits there looking at Jacob.

That ends the conversation but THEN - out of the blue - Jacob starts blessing Pharaoh all over again.

Absolutely priceless.

I love the Word.
I don't believe in adding to it but I like to slow down and really think about what I'm reading. The Bible is so fascinating. So powerful. So necessary. So ignored.

But it can also be extremely hilarious in places.

A good rule of thumb for me is to slow down when I read my Bible - look for answers, direction, encouragement, correction and even a little comedy once in a while.

"A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired."
Proverbs 22:17 (The Message)

Friday, February 13, 2009

What is she saying?

Something really strange happened to me today.  Something strange and amusing but also very encouraging!

I had just walked out of Union Station - rounded the corner - and I was walking towards Ebenezers (NCC's coffee house) when I noticed a woman yelling as she was walking.  The strange thing was this - no one was walking beside her - no one was really close by - she was just yelling like we were listening.  Now, I had my iPod earphones in enjoying some music and I couldn't hear what she was screaming about so I just kept walking behind her - amused at this woman who apparently was a little on the strange side.  

Finally, we walked up to the door that lead to my office (the woman has continued to yell this entire time) and I was about to walk through the door when I stopped and took out an earphone so I could listen to what she was saying.

I'm glad I did.

What she was saying grabbed my attention and my heart.

She yelled out.....

"God is going to make a way for you....WAIT ON HIM!"

Now, I've been around people with mental issues - been around them on the west coast and the east coast and sadly listened to them ramble in an agitated and confused state.

But this was different.  
She wasn't yelling..........she was PREACHING!

I stopped where I stood and listened to what she was saying.
You may not believe this but I believe that she was

directly at

Was this woman crazy?  Maybe.  But crazy or not her words struck a chord deep within my spirit.

God is going to make a way for you - WAIT ON HIM!

Amen my sister - your words have been accepted - and I have chosen to believe not just because you said it but I have seen and heard enough to believe that God is going to do just what you said He will do - you have simply reminded me.  Thank you.

Come on Brad - you're really reaching here aren't you.

No - not really.

When God wants to get someone's attention...

He can use a burning shrub or a stupid donkey to do it.

When God wants His will to be done...

He can use the words and actions of prophets or the rooftops and ropes of prostitutes.

When God want's to provide for His children...

He can rain down bread from Heaven or bless a little boy's lunch.

And when God want's to speak to His kid walking on a DC street corner He can use a loud lady with no inhibitions if He wants to!

I believe that God speaks to us through His Word but I also believe that He uses unconventional methods to remind us of those promises that were recorded long ago.

I truly believe He can do this.

I truly believe He did that for me this morning.

Thanks God - I love your style.
Maybe I should take my earphones out more often.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sticks or Bricks?

I ride the metro into DC Tuesday through Friday.
45 minutes if there's not a delay.


It can be especially when I read or listen to the Word of God as I pass through the valleys, dash over the hills, and slam through the dark tunnels.

I also like to watch the video podcasts of Kerry Shook - a pastor in Houston, Texas.

He's an amazing preacher and I like his style. He illustrates his messages. Those of you who know me now understand why I like the guy.

The one I watched yesterday and today was one of the 'Stairway To Heaven' messages. Go to iTunes and check it out because it's FREE.

I'm not going to cover everything that Kerry spoke about but I will mention the main theme:

Sticks or bricks - what will you have to present to God when you stand before Him?

Are we more focused on the wood, hay, and stubble - the sticks - of our lives?
You know what I'm talking about - the things that are temporary that we devote our entire lives to.

50 inch plasma TV's
Money (yeah, I mentioned it 3 times and we both know why...don't we?)

Is there anything wrong with these? No, but do we keep it all in proper perspective? Do we remember that the 'sticks' are temporary or do we treat them like they're eternal?
Do we realize that we are only stewards and not sole owners of our STUFF?

On the day of of judgment (Bema Seat judgement for the Christian - not the Great White Throne - don't plan on being there for that one) our lives will contain some sticks and some gold bricks (eternal treasures)? The question is - what will we have more of when they pass through God's fire of testing?

Now, do we know what, 'eternal treasures' are?

Eternal treasures - precious stones - are the investments that we have made in people without a hidden agenda. Acts of love with pure motives and right attitudes that have been performed for the Lord.

Someone else may have a different definition but that's mine for now.

Eternal treasures:

Giving generous amounts of your precious hard earned resources of TIME and MONEY to help other people. Giving it to the, 'least of these.' Giving it to Jesus without expecting anything in return.

Now, I could take this a hundred different directions but I'm only going to choose one. So, here it goes...

I've known people who think that they fulfill the command to return their tithe by volunteering their time to the church.

Nope. Wrong.

I've known people who think that they can give money in the offering and then be exempt from acts of service for Jesus.

Nope. Wrong.

Do you know that I could determine what is priority in your life by examining 2 things that belong to you:

Your checkbook. Your calendar.

What would we find?

She loves eating out at nice restaurants. Dropping $25, $45, $55, $65, even $75 is nothing to her...

He loves hunting equipment. Spending anywhere from $150 to $350 every other month is fine for him...

They love going to all the sporting events - 32 hours a month when you figure it all up - it's cake to this couple. But compare it to the 2 1/2 hours they spent investing in the Lord the last 30 days...

Sticks or gold bricks?

And by the way. I'm not trying to be mean. But don't try to tell me how much you love Jesus when you know the above mentioned is out of whack in your life. We see you cry buckets of tears during worship but come on.....seriously? It's rather simple, your heart doesn't line up with your mouth. I'm sorry but 'religious white noise' just isn't on my play list. And for the record I'm not perfect in this area either...but I just admitted it. Love ya - just keeping it real...

Now, we need some sticks in our lives - God knows that.
Stick homes.
Stick cars.
Stick money.
Stick horses?
Stick play time.

But I need to treat all of that stuff like STICKS.
Temporary resources that are here one day and gone the next.

So today my goal is to be deliberate in my actions.

Spend time with Jesus because He is so awesome.
Spend time with my little girls and enjoy them being little.
Spend time making my wife laugh and smile - and that means helping her with the girls and the chores...
Spend time investing in a stranger that I will only come in contact with once.
Prepare to give money on Sunday in order to invest into the Kingdom of God.

Sticks or bricks.

It's my choice...and yours.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Connected. Disconnected?

Wow.  Another post just a few days after the previous one instead of a month later.  

Well, we're still waiting on the Lord to send the right person to take over the lease of the house on Capitol Hill.  I hope they pray.  Maybe they don't pray - maybe they do - but in the mean time all of us will pray for them!  Sound good to you?

We're still trusting Him.  His plans are way more complex and detailed than mine so I'll just let Him be God.

Since we moved to Virginia I've been riding the metro into DC Tuesday through Friday - that's about 45 minutes.  I want to use my time wisely so I've been listening to some different podcasts.  So far I've tuned into Andy Stanley and Kerry Shook (Pastor Mark is on my list as well - I just haven't downloaded anything yet :)
Kerry Shook was speaking about living passionately.  The first step in doing this is connecting to God or in some instances that all of us can relate to - RECONNECTING to God.  I've had to do that last one quite often.
Jesus makes it clear in John 15 - I can't do anything without Him.  It's impossible.
This is where 'real living' begins.  How connected am I?  How connected are you?
Am I consumed with God or consumed with _________________?  (Fill it in yourself :)

I know many people who want to be connected but they're to busy being consumed by money.  Possessions.  Lifestyles.  Image.  Careers.  Unhealthy and sinful relationships.  Etc.  Everyone is consumed with something.  I knew one guy that lost his family because he was consumed with an online video game.  He played for 10 - 12 - 15 plus hours a day.  He turned on the computer and tuned out his wife and children.  Fantasy instead of family.  Staring at the glow of a monitor screen instead of the grins of his kids.  I like to play a video game every now and then but my wife and kids are precious to me.  Priceless.  Nothing can replace them.  Lord help me to never be consumed with anything that keeps me from seeing You, my family, and others.  This story scares me.  Sometimes it's good to be scared.

I knew an individual who wanted to become like someone that they adored.  They wore their hair like them - dressed like them - made themselves up to resemble them.  Tried to take on their personality.  This person was completely consumed with their outward image so they began to spend money.  Lots of money.  Money that this young couple didn't have. How did they do it?  Plastic.  Being overly image conscious cost them over $25, their marriage.  Think about it. The clothes got old.  The makeup was used up.  The hairstyle went out of style.  Was it really worth it?  We can connect with the wrong stuff real fast, can't we? Sometimes somethings end up costing us more than we thought we'd ever pay. Throws a whole new slant on the word 'expense' doesn't it?  

You've heard of the same stories.
You know someone.
Maybe you are the someone - maybe the story is your story.
It's a good thing that Jesus is into the reconnecting/restoration business.  It's a good thing that He doesn't condemn us.  When we come to Him, admit that we've sinned, confess that we've been wrong - He reconnects us and restores us.

Don't misunderstand me - I'm not condemning the people that I've mentioned - I just want to learn from their costly mistakes - pay attention to the warning signs - be accountable to someone.  We only live this life once.  I sure don't want to look back over my life and say, "Lord, I wish I wouldn't have become disconnected from you - it cost me everything."

So I end today with a prayer that David prayed a long time ago.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me.
                                                    Psalm 51:10
       Amplified Bible

Connection.  Impossible by myself - made possible through God.  
I believe I'll plug into Him today.

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 

John 15:5-7

Tuesday, January 13, 2009



Small word.  Huge meaning.

Trust: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.  One in which confidence is placed.

Right now - at this very moment - the Lord is teaching me about trust....real trust...not just a Sunday School level lesson about trust but 'Red Sea' trust, 'water in the desert' trust, 'the battle is the Lord's' kind of trust.

Our life change from pastoring to becoming an NCC protege has been all about trust from the beginning.  Leaving family, a church family, and friends who are family was very difficult to do.  Leaving the security of a paycheck was hard to do - but all of it was necessary.  My time in Huntsville was up.  My time in Washington DC had arrived.  We jumped.


Well, to summarize - We moved to Capitol Hill and we we're content until the Lord directed us to Alexandria, Virginia.  In order to do this we need to sub lease the house on Capitol Hill.  We've shown the house several times - people send emails - they call and set up appointments to tour the place - 90% of them fail to show up.


Glenda spends all day Saturday showing the house - people act interested, excited, pumped and then we hear that.......they.......passed on the chance.


The last one was the hardest because the lady contacts the lease agency and says that she wants the place but they can't process her application because their server is down so they have to wait until Monday.  Great! we're home-free.....really?  No.  She changes her mind over the weekend.
Changes her mind?  She can't do that.  She did.


So here we are - paying for two places - unable to do so - things are looking scary - I'm upset - Glenda is very upset.  We're weary.  We try to begin second guessing ourselves only to be slapped with the reality that we know that we know that we're supposed to be here.


In the middle of all this God keeps dropping comforting words to me - just like a father encourages his discouraged child.  For instance:  Glenda has this daily rolodex devotional that she keeps near the kitchen sink.  One particular day it gave this advice:

"Patience is not learning how to wait.  Patience is learning how to wait and have a good attitude during the process."  Hmmmmmm. 
One of my scripture verses immediately following that tid bit of timely advice was this:

"Wait for the Lord; be courageous and let your heart be strong.  Wait for the Lord."  (Psalm 27:14)

Then this morning, January 13, 2009, on the Metro some where in between Franconia-Springfiled and Metro Center my daily scripture reading directed me to Genesis 22.  God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son - his only son.

His pride and joy.  
The son he loved and cherished.  
His heir.  

His promise.

So they travel for three days - plenty of time to turn back - but they kept on walking.  Plenty of time to figure out a new plan and present it to God - argue with Him - but that didn't happen - father and son just kept on walking.
Finally they arrived at the mountain - started to climb the mountain - and Isaac breaks the silence and says, "The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"

Abraham's heart must have been crushed when he heard that sweet voice say 'Father' and then follow it with that innocent question.

...where's the lamb?

"Abraham answered, "God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son."  Then the two of them walked on together."  (emphasis mine.)


It's not by chance that these verses have been in my reading plan the past couple of days.  I don't believe in chance.  I believe that God wants to speak to us.  He's got my attention.
So, I sit here at my desk - typing - no answer in sight but I'm going to make a prediction - He's going to show.  I don't know how.  I wish I did.  I don't know when He's going to work it out but there's one thing that I do know, 

He will.

So, during this frustrated, uncomfortable, and downright scary time in my life - I'll keep my ears tuned, my eyes open, and my feet moving forward up the mountain. 

Where's the offering?  God will provide.  He's my only hope.



He showed up.  All is well.

Told ya.....

Psalm 6:9