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walk this way

As the disciples walked the dusty roads in Jesus steps they couldn’t help but to be impressed with his life. After all, they followed. At some point, I think they made a connection between his inner life and his outer life. On one hand he prayed much and addressed God affectionately as “papa.” On the other hand he spoke with authority, demonstrated the miraculous, and moved with an uber sense of clarity.

In a logical next step, his pupils asked, “will you teach us to pray.” I like this question for two reasons. One, though they’d known prayers since they were little, they were willing admit that they had missed something in Sunday school. Secondly,  there’s hope for me.  Maybe, I can ask the same question and learn.

In a fallen world, authentic relationships are not automatic. We have to be intentional if we want to experience the connectedness that God dreams of. Simply put, we have to fight for it. When you experience the battles associated with belonging don’t be surprised. It’s just part of the territory God has given you to conquer.

Asher fighting the good fight at Disney

Five battles that you will have to fight to “feel” connected to the family.

1. The Fear Battle

The fear of rejection is familiar to us all, especially when were a newbie. Most of the time you have to fight through moments/seasons of awkwardness, fear of rejection and fear of looking stupid before you begin to connect with others.

2. The “Don’t Know How” Battle

We did not come out of the womb as experts on friendliness or relationships so we all have to learn. Better get started.

3. The Business Battle

I once heard that relationships happen in moments, in seasons and in a lifetimes. We don’t have friends for life with out friends in seasons and we don’t connect with people in seasons without connecting in moments. If we are too busy for moments, we are too busy. Right?

4. The Compromise Battle

When Adam and Eve dorked out on God, the natural response was to withdraw from him. We tend to do the same with his family when we are walking in darkness. A neat verse in 1 John says that keeping ourselves in the light = great fellowship. Ahhh, nothing to hide means enjoying the ride.

5. The Battle of Offense

I’ll be honest with you I don’t like pain. Rejection, misunderstanding, betrayal…all hurt. You can be hurt the most by family because you love them the most. And the pain doesn’t go away quickly. BUT, it seems to me that the term “hurt by the church” has become a trump card of sorts that makes it ok to nerd up. Offense builds a fence and we don’t do family too well through fences. So lets settle it. You will be hurt by the church. I suppose the Lord Jesus himself is regularly hurt by the church. Thankfully, he hasn’t given up on love even though he has been burned before. You can do it.

The Reward

Connectedness and belonging are rewards in themselves and worth the battle. In Psalm 133 the Lord give us a great insight to another benefit of connectedness. He says it is there, that  place of connectedness, that “he bestows his blessing.” Walking in connection and walking in blessing is a double whammy of good living.

Here’s a talk I gave on this thought hosted by the good folks at Vimeo (

I’m at Taylor’s Bakery right now enjoying kona blend coffee, gravy biscuit and getting ready to share the next part of the ant series. It normally takes me from 5-9 hours to prepare a 40 minute talk. I do speak off the cuff at times but not as much during the school year. I think being a pastor helps me to live for God. When, I’m preparing for a talk, I am confronted with the scriptures. If I have discrepancies in my life, I have to process them, before I can speak authentically.

at Taylor's Bakery in Auburn

Taylor's is usually quiet, great coffee, and a great place to study.

I realize that God’s word is valid and true no matter what, but it helps if I’m living it, right? A fringe benefit of my job is that I have to deal. If I harden my heart…to God, to Ginger, anyone really, then it kills what I’m trying to give life to. In this sense my job is intricately tied into my personal life. Like it or lump it, it is.

So, here’s my self analysis if you please:

The Ant

1. She is self governed, takes responsibility for her life.

I think I’m doing pretty well here. I at least think I’m a self starter. Anyone who is a pastor, entrepreneur or self employed has to be. Other wise, they don’t make it. I realize that if I’m gonna grow, its up to me (and God of course, but I have to cooperate). One of my favorite quotes is by Ed Cole, “maturity doesn’t come with age but acceptance of responsibility.” Next however, is the kicker.

2. She thinks ahead and acts appropriately in the appropriate season.

The dagger. The point that has dug into me here is the idea that the ant “gathers its food in harvest,” that is, she works on what she is supposed to be working on. Ever remember in college when you had finals, suddenly you wanted to clean your room. I’m semi good at making lists for myself but I’m not often sequential at completing them. Honestly, I’ve been working on this one for years and am improving. I’m not at ant level though.  I tend to make a list of several things I need to do and generally pick the ones to do that are the most fun for me, or cause me the least pain. Importance is too often secondary. At times I plow during harvest just b/c plowing is more fun or I’m better at it than harvesting. The ant, however plows in season, sows in season and harvests in season. 

Request: If you are a sequential, organizational, left brained, detail loving ant,  know that you are loved and I need you in my life. Actually, I married one of you. Gin, if you are reading this, even though I kick against the pricks, I need your ant-iness. And, secondly, if you are one of those people, pray for Josh.

I know that personally I’ll never be bat 1000 in the ant leagues. But, I can go to the ant and learn a lesson.

If the ant stuff resonates with you, check out this little handout I put together from Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It shows that we spend out time on things that are:

1. Important and Urgent

2. Not Important but Urgent

3.  Important but Not Urgent

4. Not Important and Not Urgent

The ant lives in numbers 1 and 3.

Proverbs 6: 6 -11 You lazy fool, look at an ant.  Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. (self governed)  All summer it stores up food (thinks ahead); at harvest it stockpiles provisions (acts in season). (The Message translation with my comments in parenthesis)

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or here to download the notes


Below are the notes from the above message “Finishing Well -Part 1.” If you are reading this from facebook, visit

Introduction: Two runners are running a race. One runner is looking at his feet and the other is looking at the finish line. Question: Who knows where they are going?  Who doesn’t trip and get a concussion? Who wins the prize?

Four statements that Paul the Apostle made. Which runner do you think he identified with the most.

Statement 1: Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24

Statement 2: I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself. 1 Corinthians 9:27 The Message

Statement 3: Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Colossians 2:18

Statement 4: I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 

Finishing Well Through Jesus Perpsective

Ephesians 5: 25 …Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 

  • holy = meaning, set apart for a special purpose
  • cleansed = clean and pure, not dirty
  • radiant = understanding who we are
  • without stain = free from the wounds and sins of the past (stains are permanent)
  • without wrinkle = at rest, not stressed, not wrinkled from a hard life, at peace

Walking through the junkyard.







If we are to pick up the right things on our walk through this life then we have to live with the end in sight, the prize of finishing well.

Six Characteristics of Those Who Finished Well (Bobby Clinton Study)

  1. Relationship with God
    1. They maintain a personal vibrant relationship with God right up to the end of their lives. Intimacy, obedience and faithfulness.
  2. A Learning Posture
    1. They maintain a learning posture and learn from various sources such as life experiences, other people (current and historical) and literature. This person is a student of life and able to learn lessons from life.
  3. Christ Like Character
    1. They evidence Christ likeness in their character which is manifested in the fruit of the spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control.
  4. Maintains Convictions and Beliefs
    1. They live life based on their convictions and truth that God has revealed to him/ her. The promises of God are received by faith and decisions are made on the basis of them. They believe what God has said and stand on it.
  5. Accomplish God’s Purposes
    1. They leave behind an ultimate contribution or legacy which is a testimony of a God honoring life. 
  6. Fulfilled Their Sense of Destiny
    1. They walk in a growing awareness of his/her sense of destiny and see most of it or all of it fulfilled in his or her lifetime. Choices and life decisions were made on the basis of this sense of destiny.


  • I will finish well
  • I will make it.
  • I will not burn out. 
  • I will not become offended and quit. I will not stay angry.
  • I will not become discouraged and quit.
  • I will not stay in sin.
  • My eyes will be fixed on the prize.
  • I will look beyond the current battle into the future, beyond where my feet are currently standing and into the glorious future.
  • I am the head and not the tail, above and not beneath.
  • I will learn what I need to learn, obey what I need to obey and do the hard thing that I need to do. I will drop the things I need to drop and pick up what I need to pick up. I will do what it takes.
  • I will finish well. I will finish well.

Acts 13:36  For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep.


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On the last week of our discipleship class, instead of a lecture we have a commissioning time where the class spreads around the room and each receives individual prayer.  Small teams of other students go from person to person and pray prayers of encouragement and commissioning over each class member. It’s a lot of fun to pray loving gestures and for the students to pray for each other.

Because he is 100% faithful, the Lord gives us prophetic words of encouragement for the people were praying for. Once when I was praying with David a student whom I was just getting to know, I felt in my heart like he was gifted creatively. I kept praying prayers that hinted to what I was feeling and it kept building in my heart. I got bolder and bolder in these prayers. I told him that I felt like God had really given him this creative gift or skill. “I don’t know what it is,” I said, “but God put it there.”  I even felt like God would use this unidentified gift to bless David financially at some point in his future.

I continued down this path of praying and speaking this stuff out and finally I stopped to ask: “What is it bro, what is your creative deal?” “I write,” he humbly responded. I’ve since learned that write he does.

I share this story to point out that God was affirming to David a gift that He had given him. The urge in my heart was a word of encouragement from the Lord.  It was the affirmation of a component of David’s destiny. It was beyond me and beyond the natural. I was supernatural. God was speaking. It wasn’t a random coincidence. I was just lucky enough to be involved.

God is Speaking

Since most of the time we don’t know about what needs to change about our daily lives, since we don’t always know the next steps to take, and since we like sheep tend to wander, we need someone to show us the way? Jesus referred to himself as the Good Shepherd.  He is the shepherd and we are his sheep. His sheep hear his voice and the voice of a stranger they will not follow. The assumption of this verse is that sheep must recognize a voice to be able to follow. His sheep have learned to hear his voice, follow it and not follow other voices. 

I have heard well meaning bible teachers suggest that God appeared to men of old, like Moses, Isaiah, Paul and other Biblical writers and spoke the word of God to them. After a few thousand year span he completed his perfect word: the Holy Bible but upon on canonization of scripture God stopped speaking. It is very true that God spoke to and through the people who wrote the Bible but that doesn’t mean he stopped speaking. 

The very idea is an affront to the relational nature of God. Communication is a non-negotiable if any relationship is to work. God is a speaking Spirit. From the beginning of the story “God said…”         

2 Ways that God is Described in Scripture:

1. God is light.  Light reveals. Philosophers have had trouble with the rationality of color because in theory color doesn’t actually exist.  Instead, light bounces off objects and the reflection of the light reveals “colors” off the object. I’m not going to join the debate about color theories but rather it is in light’s nature to reveal. God is light and light reveals. Jesus is the “light of the world.”  It is therefore in God’s very nature to reveal.

2. God is love. Love by its nature communicates.  As I mentioned before, is the relational context where God’s love is expressed. So since God created other beings with the capacity for relationship (love), he wants us to communicate with us.  Relationships cannot exist without communication. Love communicates. Communication is the language of love. 

God is a communicator. The phrase This is what the Lord says occurs over 3800 times in the Old Testament alone. God is relational. Eternal life as Jesus described by Jesus meant knowing God in an experiential way (John 17). Relationship cannot exist without communication. God did speak in the Bible and it is the rule for living. God spoke through the bible to say “Hey you, listen, I’m sending my Spirit and He’s gonna be talking.” The Bible is our roadmap but God promised the Holy Spirit as our guide. 

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. John 16:13 (NIV)


A lover doesn’t write letters so that he will never have to talk to his beloved again. We don’t want to say “We have your letters so that’s enough, we don’t need to hear your voice.” The Bible was never meant to be an end but a means to an end. The Bible should guide what we hear. The Bible allows us to filter what we hear, to learn to discern his voice but never to replace his voice. Scripture is the fence around the playground that allows us to run all over the yard without fear of getting out of bounds. You really should spend time in the scripture, but so that you can give him a vocabulary to speak to you with.

God is speaking.


Everyday Life

The direction of our lives is flowing from a river that we put our feet in every day. The Christian walk is more than a collection of high water experiences but it is a life made up of minutes and hours and choices lived day after day.

When you play guitar repeatedly you form calluses on the end of your fingers. Your body responds to enable that kind of behavior in the future. Good music we hope. Our bodies and our minds are quite resilient in their response to what we give them to work with. After you think a thought around 7 times the neurons actually create a neural bridge that helps that thought move along next time.

Neural bridges are good when you are thinking about things that are true, thoughts that are noble, praiseworthy, virtuous, etc. Not so good however, when we are thinking about judgments we have made against others, ungodly beliefs or how awful things are for poor ol’ me.

Everyday Familiarity

For the good or for the bad these things are part of our everyday. A point I am trying to make is that after a time, we can engage in self constructive or self destructive behavior with ease. We are often so familiar with our own demons that we don’t even see them.

If you learned to lie your way out of trouble, after a time it feels natural. Telling small lies can become an everyday part of the life we have created. I knew a girl once that lied even when there was no apparent reason to. I think she was so accustomed to this being a part of her life that she didn’t realize it.  The fruit of this type of “everyday,” unfortunately is perhaps that no one will take you seriously or that people might believe you in generalities but not in specifics.

Another example might be control. Controlling a situation to get what you want can feel so normal after some practice but it’s killing your relationships.

If there is any scenario that you repeatedly find yourself in, it might be a good time to stop and ask God why. It might be because of something you are doing every day.

In most cases we are not the victims of circumstance or bad luck, our daily lives rather, are a magnet for circumstance. The good and bad news about the direction of our lives is that we are sowing for it daily.

Consider making a small change in your daily habits, attitudes, beliefs, words, goals or spending.

Everyday Help

“The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble,” says the writer of Proverbs. Many people do not like the direction of their lives, but they do not know what to do about it. They are in the dark. Scripture says that even those who have the gift of Prophecy “see through the glass dimly,” so ever on our best day there still some obscurity. What do we do?

The truth is that our lives were designed by God to have his involvement. The greatest sin of humanity is its attempt to live independently from God. This approach is not working out for us so well. God is speaking to us about our lives. He loves to help us and rescue us and restore us……..but we have to listen.

The Lord himself says, “If my people would but listen and follow my ways, how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn away their foes.” If we would but listen. Listening means I stop and turn my attention toward God. Listening means I am willing to hear what He has to say. “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.” Listening means I am ready to follow.

In God’s everyday plan, he has committed to loving us. He really does have our best interest in mind. We have to trust him and listen.

Fact: The direction of our lives is flowing out of what we do daily.

Fact: We are often ignorant of little things that we are doing daily.

Fact: God will give us steps and help us if we will listen.

Try listening as a part of your everyday and see how quickly your enemies are subdued.


Reference: Psalm 81:13,14, Proverbs 4:8, Proverbs 4:19, Hebrews 3:7





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