Removing Roadblocks To God


Sometimes things get in the way!

An aspiring artist was commissioned to do a large sculpture for a famous museum. At last, he had the opportunity to create the masterpiece he had long dreamed of completing. After laboring over the work for many years, he saw it grow not only in shape but in beauty.

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However, when it was finished, he discovered to his horror that it was much too large to be taken out a window or door and that the cost for tearing down a part of the building to remove it was prohibitive. His masterpiece was forever a captive to the room in which it was created. That is the type of roadblock many people meet building a relationship with God. Nothing a person does to earn God’s favor can leave the room of this earth where self-made works are created.

Have you ever dealt with a roadblock in your relationship with God? Have you ever wondered, how am I going to get to the other side of this?” As C.S. Lewis said, “Remember He is the artist and you are only the picture. You can’t see it. So quietly submit to be painted.”

In other words, don’t keep trying to figure out the big picture. You can’t. But you can take heart in the fact that your loving Father has you right where you need to be. And if that place is difficult right now, draw closer to the artist. Don’t try to take his brush from Him. Taking the brush will only lead to relationship roadblocks with God.

Paul wrote to the Galatians, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). In this chapter, Paul discusses seven key concepts that can help you avoid relationship roadblocks with God.

1. Grace: Receiving something you did not earn or deserve

No matter how many good works you line up, God’s not impressed. The person who insists that he or she can earn, or keep, salvation by their own efforts undermines the very foundation of Christianity. The work of salvation is entirely God’s doing and none of man’s. There is liberty in knowing you will never be good enough. But God’s grace is sufficient.

2. Faith: A reasonable belief in things not seen

Salvation is by God’s grace through faith plus nothing. The gospel is not about walking an aisle; it’s not about saying a prayer; it’s not about doing more good than bad. You can never do enough good things to get God’s attention. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Good works are the product of faith, not a substitute for it.

3. Legalism: An improper emphasis on following the law as a means of salvation

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Legalism is not Christianity. No amount of law-keeping can make a person righteous. You can never write enough rules to create a good person. Legalism does not please God but offends Him.

When they attacked Stephen, he observed, they did not charge him with worshiping Christ but with speaking “against the holy place, and the law” (Acts 6:13).

The cross still offends people today for the same underlying reason. People are prone to trust in what they can do for themselves and are offended when told they can do nothing at all to make themselves right before God.

4. Freedom: The ability to do what you ought to do

True freedom in Christ is the freedom to do what we OUGHT to do. The idea of Christian freedom is so easily misinterpreted and misapplied. Ironically, the more we assert self-centered freedom, the more we become enslaved to sin. When people choose to persist in a sin, they develop less control over it until they forfeit any choice entirely. “Truly, truly,” Jesus said, “everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (John 8:34).

5. License: Abusing freedom to do what you want to do

We are free. But we have to be very clear here. We are free to not sin. Our LIBERTY should not be used as a LICENSE to sin. Legalism and license have been pictured as two parallel streams that run between earth and heaven. The stream of legalism is clear, sparkling, and pure, but its waters run so deep and furiously that no one can enter it without drowning or being smashed on the rocks of its harsh demands.

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The stream of license, by contrast, is relatively quiet and still, and crossing it seems comfortable and attractive. But its waters are so contaminated with poisons and pollutants that to try to cross it is also certain death. Both streams are uncrossable and deadly, one because of impossible moral and spiritual demands, the other because of moral and spiritual filth.

But spanning those two deadly streams is the bridge of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The two streams lead to death because they are man’s ways. The gospel of grace leads to life because it is God’s way.

6. Holiness: Doing what you ought to do in response to God’s love

Ours is a day that cries for liberation. Men, women, and even children are demanding more freedom to do as they please. In the name of personal rights, authority is flouted, and restrictions are resisted. But ours is also a day of addiction, not only to alcohol and drugs but also to sexual passions, violence, and many other forms of bondage in which a person eventually becomes powerless to escape.

The law demands holiness, but grace gives holiness. God loves imperfect people. This is why churches should be the perfect place for imperfect people. Jesus himself said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick.

7. Love: Responding to someone’s need with no expectation of reward

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Rather than liberty being used for lust, the real goal should be love. “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another” (Galatians 5:15). God demanded heart service, not mere lip service. Every relationship is harmonized in Christian freedom.  

Sometimes things get in the way.

What relationship roadblock are you experiencing with God today?

GRACE UNDER PRESSURE


Have you felt pressure lately?

Screen Shot 2020-05-22 at 7.18.11 AMIf you are like me, pressure makes me want to work hard and rise to the occasion. But, there are important boundaries to set in this line of thinking. Let me explain.

The Christian journey is not about arriving at the destination of self-righteousness or acheivement, quite the opposite. The Christian journey is about Christ’s righteousness being expressed through you.

We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Not by our own achievements. Grace takes the pressure off when you are under pressure.

Here are four ways grace saves you when you are under pressure.


1. Grace saves you from having to be perfect.

“It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised.” – The Apostle Paul

The only two fundamental religions in the world are that of divine accomplishment and that of human achievement. Only Christianity presents salvation as a divine accomplishment by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

CS1t-YWU8AAHE5hThe religion of human achievement encompasses all the other religions of the world. Because of this, the Christian church is the perfect place for imperfect people.

See, it’s not the strength of our faith that saves us; it’s the object of our faith that saves us. When we place our faith in Jesus Christ, He becomes the object of our faith, and He saves us.

You can’t lose your salvation, because it’s not yours to lose. Christ is the one who  does the saving, and He’s got you. It’s ok to be imperfect.


2. Grace saves you from having to please people.

“They desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.” – The Apostle Paul

Are you a people pleaser? Let me encourage you to avoid the disease to please. “No” is a powerful word. “No” is also a hard word. We don’t want to let people down, miss out on opportunities, or be labled narrow-minded. However, a well placed “no” is essential in the toolbox of life.

TRUTH: To say yes to the right things, we must say no to the wrong things.

unnamedOswald Chambers said, “the whole point of getting things done is knowing what to leave undone.” Too many times, I am guilty of saying yes to things when I should have said no. And, before I know it, I am stretched too thin and overcommitted.

TRUTH: If you’re always available, you’re never available.

In recent months, I have gained a new appreciation for “no.” As a parent, saying “no” is not optional. As a leader, saying “no” defines your organization. As a mentor, saying “no” models to those watching what you think is important. As a kid or a youth, saying “no” can save your life. It is ok to say “no.”


3. Grace saves you from having to be the best.

“Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – The Apostle Paul

The cross allows no place for human pride, status, or achievement. If you believe in humanity’s innate goodness or our ability to save ourselves, you would have difficulty using the cross as a demonstration of God’s love.

Screen Shot 2020-05-22 at 6.41.51 AMIf a woman were sitting safely on a pier and someone jumped into the water and drowned in a supposed effort to rescue her, the act would be considered pointless, not loving.

Jesus’ crucifixion was necessary because humanity is not sitting safely on the pier of life but is lost in sin and doomed to death. The crucifixion was necessary because there was no other way for man to be saved.

It is the power of the cross that makes us presentable to God. Jesus Christ is the one and only “greatest of all time.” It’s ok to not be the best.


4. Grace saves you from having to live a life of safety.

I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” – The Apostle Paul

Somewhere along the line, we believed the lie that we should prioritize safety above all else. But Christ has not called us to live a life of safety.

Screen Shot 2020-05-22 at 6.49.28 AMI have founds that, if a thing costs me nothing, I tend to value it at nothing. Christ values us so profoundly that He was willing to die on a cross for us.

Paul offered as a final proof to his critics the marks of Jesus on his body. They demonstrated he was a slave of Christ and not just a people-pleaser.

At Lystra, he was stoned, dragged out of the city, and left for dead. Paul was not a “people pleaser.”  It’s ok to prioritize security in Christ over safety in the world.

  • Grace saves you from having to be perfect.
  • Grace saves you from having to please people.
  • Grace saves you from having to be the best.
  • Grace saves you from having to live a life of safety.

Grace takes the pressure off when you are under pressure.


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5 Lies I Hear As A Pastor – Video



As a pastor, I hear a lot of lies. Lies are the tool of the enemy. The more you allow yourself to think about and say a lie, the more it is endorsed. Don’t rehearse and endorse a lie. Replace the lie with the truth. Today, I want to share five lies I regularly hear as a pastor that we need to stop rehearsing and endorsing.


LIE #1 – My marriage can’t make it.

11667764-0-image-a-14_1553985845827This lie is one that we really need to correct. If Jesus loves you enough to go to the cross for you, He loves you enough for your marriage to make it. If He can save the world, He can save your marriage. I am thankful to be part of a church that takes marriage seriously. If you have experienced a failed marriage, you know how painful it can be. But even a failed marriage in the past doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy marriage in the future.

I believe in your marriage, and I know God believes your marriage can make it.

Stop rehearsing and endorsing the lie that your marriage can’t make it.

TRUTH: Your marriage CAN make it.  


LIE #2 – I’m not good enough.

26461166565_03c142bd7c_oAmerican artist James Whistler was once advised that a shipment of blank canvases he had ordered had been lost in the mail. When asked if the canvases were of any great value, Whistler remarked, “not yet, not yet.”

The keyword here is VALUE. You have great value in the eyes of God. You and I are good enough to die for you. Take a moment and correct this lie in your mind and your heart. Unfortunately, in today’s world, we know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. When God gets involved, our past mistakes no longer define us. We have a clean slate. Paul wrote, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). None of us is perfect. The church exists to be the perfect place for imperfect people because God loves imperfect people.

I think you are good enough and God says you are good enough.

Stop rehearsing and endorsing the lie that you are not good enough.

TRUTH: You ARE good enough.


LIE #3 – God doesn’t care about me.

Grace-1The church exists to share the good news of salvation by grace alone. We are saved by grace, but we still struggle in this world. Because God has not yet removed evil, we live in an evil world that results in pain and suffering. How do we understand and deal with our pain and suffering? Remember that God is at work and never wastes a hurt. His silence is not absence. Sometimes waiting is important, so be prepared to be still and have hope. Realize you are not alone, and the journey is important. Our freedom from pain is delayed but not denied. Jesus is enough. Ask yourself, “what is God doing here?” Ask yourself, “will I trust Him?”

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust. ” Psalm 18:2

I care about you, and I know that God cares about you.

Stop rehearsing and endorsing the lie that God doesn’t care about you.

TRUTH: God DOES care about you.


LIE #4 – Things will never get better.

This lie is the soil of depression, anxiety, and defeat. The hardest situations in life present a choice to either get BETTER or BITTER. Talking with God can help you push back bitterness and become a better person. The keyword here is HOPE.

Motivational huddles aren't just for sports teams

When you feel like you have lost hope, talk with God. We exist to be people who pray without ceasing. One of the benefits of a relationship with God is that we have direct access to Him through prayer. However, we often misunderstand prayer to be our way of getting God to change our circumstances. When Paul prayed for people in the Bible, he never asked God to change their circumstances. Instead, he asked God to make them better in their circumstances. Even if your circumstances don’t get better, YOU CAN. Share with God about your situation and ask Him to give you the wisdom to see your situation from His perspective.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).

I believe things will get better and I know God has great things ahead for you.

Stop rehearsing and endorsing the lie that things will never get better. 

TRUTH: Things WILL get better.


LIE #5 – My life doesn’t matter.

Sad-borderline-personality-disorder-Woman-In-Depression-And-Despai-63903205This lie is a dangerous and life-threatening one. Recent statistics tell us that there are about 5,000 teenagers who commit suicide every year. There are 2 million serious suicide attempts among young people each year.

God made us for relationships, and He created us to need each other. Someone needs to hear this today. You are needed! Christ paid a high cost for your life and for mine. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God” (1John 3:1). If he loves us that much, who are we not to love ourselves? If you think the world would be better off without you, you are wrong. That is a lie. You are needed! You are loved, and you are not alone.

I believe your life matters, and I know your life matters to God.

Stop rehearsing and endorsing the lie that your life doesn’t matter.

TRUTH: Your life DOES matter.


Lies are the tool of the enemy. The more you allow yourself to think about and say a lie, the more it is endorsed. Don’t rehearse and endorse a lie. Replace the lie with the truth.

“Take every thought captive to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

Stop rehearsing, and endorsing lies. 

VIDEO: 5 Ways COVID-19 Helps Our Church



We know that God is not the cause of our pain, but He never wastes a hurt. 

Here are five ways COVID-19 helps our church.

#1 – ALLOWED ABSENCE TO MAKE OUR HEARTS GROW FONDER

IMG_5458I recently posted a picture of the inside of our empty church sanctuary. Within just a few hours, hundreds of people responded to express their longing to gather together under the same roof again. People are longing to connect more than ever. Really connect.

However, proximity does not always guarantee intimacy and distance does not demand disconnection. I am seeing people of all ages reaching out to communicate and connect in new and creative ways. There is an enhanced sense of intimacy and connection that will only build momentum once we gather together once again. From now on, we will enjoy new avenues of communication and connection that complement our in-person gatherings.

#2 – ACCELERATED OUR PACE OF EXECUTING EXISTING PLANS

Copy of Untitled-4When I arrived in the summer of 2016, our church did not live-stream any services. We first began live-streaming portions of our services in late 2017. Here we are a little more than two years later, and live-streaming is our primary way of connecting and communicating during this global pandemic.

Only in the last few weeks has our church geared up and committed to providing a full online worship experience. Because of our inability to gather, our vision of using current and future strategies to reach people with the gospel has accelerated. Now, more than ever, we are positioned to take action on existing plans to enhance online engagement. Over the past few weeks, our team has replaced “attendance” with “engagement” as our primary measurement of ministry effectiveness.

#3 – REMOVED OUR “WE’VE NEVER DONE IT THAT WAY” EXCUSES

nasemstudyimagesmallerThe past is powerful, and we honor the past by not living it. My church is over 100 years old, and for many, fear has been associated with the idea of moving forward in faith. Much of this fear is rooted in a genuine desire to stay rooted in the precious truths God has revealed in previous seasons of our church’s rich history.

However, God is using this new challenge to allow us to pause and focus on what is essential. Our rich history has brought us to where we are and prepared us to take our next steps into a new and exciting season of ministry for our church. We are now uniquely positioned to gaze forward. Our past has prepared us for progress, and we are honoring our past by not living in it.

#4 – NORMALIZED OUR CHURCH EXPERIENCES FOR INTROVERTS 

240_F_271852881_lQBB5n8Y4otT5YAye8JqLSTuRpJOuWvVLet’s be honest. The local church experience has been biased toward extroverts for a long time. Unlike extroverts, introverts feel exhausted and drained after social engagements. Think about it. In the past, we have consistently created opportunities to connect that make the experience painfully exhausting for those who are more introverted.

However, we are entering a new season of connectivity with those who prefer to observe from a distance. For example, many of our connection groups are having first-time guests join their Zoom gatherings. There is such an ease to inviting people online, especially those who are more introverted.

#5 – REVEALED OUR SMALL TOWN CHURCH HAS A BIG REACH 

Copy of The Gathering (HS)Bigger is not better. Better is better. My church is in a small town. I realize that there are towns that are smaller than ours, but I am thankful for the sense of community we have maintained. Small town churches work very diligently to serve those in their community, and this global pandemic has created a new normal.

Online connections have helped our church realize the mobility of the gospel and a broader sense of community. Recently, we have seen ten times as many people connecting with us online. When I share with longtime trusted leaders in my church that tens of thousands of people, including people internationally located, are viewing our online content, it is an encouraging reminder of this new normal. You don’t have to be a big church in a big community to have a significant impact on the lives of a non-local community of faith. It is an excellent reminder that we all work for the same guy, Jesus Christ.

WHAT JESUS NEVER SAID

I was on a Zoom video conference call with Senator Tim Scott recently, along with almost 200 pastors from around the state of South Carolina. He was asked to speak a few words of encouragement over the pastors. He said, “We need wisdom from the Lord, and not from man. This is the golden opportunity we have been waiting for. The church is the most powerful weapon on Earth.” 

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I think Senator Scott believes that because the church is the primary conduit through which God shares his Word of Truth in this world. Truth is our great friend right now in a world full of lies. A lot has changed over the past weeks, so we all need to be reminded of truth because truth never changes.

TRUTH: The church is designed to be mobilized and scattered for ministry. 

Because of COVID-19, it has been weeks since I have gathered together on campus with my church family. As a non-recovering extrovert, I can’t wait for our church to be under the same roof again. That first week back together, I may stand there on the stage and grin at my church family the whole time. With that in mind, do you know what Jesus never said? 

Jesus never said, “I’ve come that you may have CHURCH.”

Jesus said, “I have come that you may have LIFE!” 

Sometimes, we miss the point! We are too quick to confuse the real message of Jesus. In John 10:10, Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” God’s plan for us is amazing because God’s plan is based on GRACE. 

Satan has a plan as well, and it is nothing new. It is predictable. Satan used the same game plan in both the Garden of Eden and the temptation of Christ. Satan offers us ways to DO something apart from God’s will, HAVE something apart from God’s will, and BE something apart from God’s will. It is time for us to come out of the privileged, self-centered, narcissistic attitude that makes us think that everything has to go our way. That is not the way things are in this world.

Canva - You Are Worthy of Love Signage on Brown Wooden Post TakenNow, our enemy does not discriminate. But neither does our savior! John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that WHOEVER believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Let’s make that personal. I am going to say it a bit differently. I want to remind you of the good news about Jesus. God loves you so much that He let His Son Jesus die in your place, so you don’t have to fear death. You can have life that never ends by placing your faith in Jesus Christ.

COVID-2019 is an assault on humanity, but Jesus is the victorious king over death itself. We are merely experiencing a new installment of the same failed enemy that Jesus already defeated. I believe that God is teaching us something. Are you learning? I believe God is trying to tell us something. Are you listening?

You know, at the beginning of the year, God put it on my heart (after much prayer) that 2020 would be a year of growth. Now, you may say, “that’s crazy.” But, consider this. Anytime there is this much warfare, something amazing is on the other side. Let’s refuse to let the bad news about COVID-19, or any other crisis, outpace the good news about Jesus Christ. The next big news story is over 2000 years old! 

5 WAYS COVID-19 HELPS OUR CHURCH

Well, this is my first time leading a church through a global pandemic. It has been four weeks now since I made the decision to cancel all on-campus worship gatherings, indefinitely. Since then, much has changed, and even more has been said about what has changed.

At the risk of adding more “white noise” to the flood of commentary coming out about COVID-19, I do have a few things to add to the conversation. We know that God is not the cause of our pain, but He never wastes a hurt. Here are five ways COVID-19 helps our church.

five

#1 – ALLOWED ABSENCE TO MAKE OUR HEARTS GROW FONDER

IMG_5458I recently posted a picture of the inside of our empty church sanctuary. Within just a few hours, hundreds of people responded to express their longing to gather together under the same roof again. People are longing to connect more than ever. Really connect.

However, proximity does not always guarantee intimacy and distance does not demand disconnection. I am seeing people of all ages reaching out to communicate and connect in new and creative ways. There is an enhanced sense of intimacy and connection that will only build momentum once we gather together once again. From now on, we will enjoy new avenues of communication and connection that complement our in-person gatherings.

#2 – ACCELERATED OUR PACE OF EXECUTING EXISTING PLANS

Copy of Untitled-4When I arrived in the summer of 2016, our church did not live-stream any services. We first began live-streaming portions of our services in late 2017. Here we are a little more than two years later, and live-streaming is our primary way of connecting and communicating during this global pandemic.

Only in the last few weeks has our church geared up and committed to providing a full online worship experience. Because of our inability to gather, our vision of using current and future strategies to reach people with the gospel has accelerated. Now, more than ever, we are positioned to take action on existing plans to enhance online engagement. Over the past few weeks, our team has replaced “attendance” with “engagement” as our primary measurement of ministry effectiveness.

#3 – REMOVED OUR “WE’VE NEVER DONE IT THAT WAY” EXCUSES

nasemstudyimagesmallerThe past is powerful, and we honor the past by not living it. My church is over 100 years old, and for many, fear has been associated with the idea of moving forward in faith. Much of this fear is rooted in a genuine desire to stay rooted in the precious truths God has revealed in previous seasons of our church’s rich history.

However, God is using this new challenge to allow us to pause and focus on what is essential. Our rich history has brought us to where we are and prepared us to take our next steps into a new and exciting season of ministry for our church. We are now uniquely positioned to gaze forward. Our past has prepared us for progress, and we are honoring our past by not living in it.

#4 – NORMALIZED OUR CHURCH EXPERIENCES FOR INTROVERTS 

240_F_271852881_lQBB5n8Y4otT5YAye8JqLSTuRpJOuWvVLet’s be honest. The local church experience has been biased toward extroverts for a long time. Unlike extroverts, introverts feel exhausted and drained after social engagements. Think about it. In the past, we have consistently created opportunities to connect that make the experience painfully exhausting for those who are more introverted.

However, we are entering a new season of connectivity with those who prefer to observe from a distance. For example, many of our connection groups are having first-time guests join their Zoom gatherings. There is such an ease to inviting people online, especially those who are more introverted.

#5 – REVEALED OUR SMALL TOWN CHURCH HAS A BIG REACH 

Copy of The Gathering (HS)Bigger is not better. Better is better. My church is in a small town. I realize that there are towns that are smaller than ours, but I am thankful for the sense of community we have maintained. Small town churches work very diligently to serve those in their community, and this global pandemic has created a new normal.

Online connections have helped our church realize the mobility of the gospel and a broader sense of community. Recently, we have seen ten times as many people connecting with us online. When I share with longtime trusted leaders in my church that tens of thousands of people, including people internationally located, are viewing our online content, it is an encouraging reminder of this new normal.

You don’t have to be a big church in a big community to have a significant impact on the lives of a non-local community of faith. The fact that the playing ground is now more equal among larger and smaller churches has caused me to feel more common ground with other pastors and churches. It is an excellent reminder that we all work for the same guy, Jesus Christ.

Self Care Isn’t Selfish

In order to make a difference, you must take care of yourself.

It was February when I moved to Austin, TX, for a new job. This was not my first major move, but this move was different. See, my family stayed in North Carolina for several months to finish out the school year while I started my new position. I was learning both a new job and a new city while also flying back to North Carolina to see my family almost every weekend. On top of that, I was also finalizing and editing my first book for an Easter publication date.

12080370_1080201292005127_7062043521799463920_oWithin just a few months, I found that I was pushing myself too hard. I was worried a lot, and my family missed me. The pace of life did not slow down even after the book was released, and my family moved to be with me in Austin. As time went on, I found that I was getting run down and out of shape.

After more than a year of pushing myself, I was dealing with heart issues, high blood pressure, and serious depression. Thankfully, I make a few small decisions to prioritize what was really important. During that time, I realized that I needed to make some big changes that eventually led me to leave Austin, TX, and change my career focus.

In order to make a difference, you must take care of yourself.

Michael Hyatt is an author, speaker, and CEO of Michael Hyatt and company. He is also the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing and a New York Times best-selling author. Hyatt has long been one of the premier leadership bloggers and podcasters.

Screen Shot 2020-03-26 at 6.28.34 AMHis most downloaded podcast ever was the Leader-Cast Event in Atlanta, where he spoke to 3500 people live. This event was broadcast to over 20 countries and 100,000 people around the world.

The title of his talk was, “Self-care as a leadership discipline.” In this talk, Hyatt shared that he had some serious heart scares that caused him to trade in the “hustle fallacy” for self-care. 

In order to make a difference, you must take care of yourself.

“And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation.” (Genesis 2:2-3)

Why do you think God rested on the 7th day of creation? The first place we tend to cut is self-care. Did you know that reducing your sleep to 6 hours or less reduces your cognitive processes to the equivalent of being drunk? Michael Hyatt says, “Self-neglect causes crises that cripple careers.” 

In order to make a difference, you must take care of yourself.

The Bible teaches that those who do no work are lazy. However, the Bible says that those who don’t rest are disobedient. Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first 4 hours sharpening the axe.” 

CZgq0QQUYAE343LToo many people are burning out. Think of the last time you felt fully relaxed and imagine if that was your every day. The truth is that self-care drives success and significance in the life of a Christ-follower.

You need rest to be at your best. Self-care also fuels creativity. If you are looking for a breakthrough, you may just need to take a break. What Michael Hyatt calls “The Hustle Fallacy” comes with a HIGH price. It can be effective in short spurts, but sprint after sprint after sprint led me to burnout.

In order to make a difference, you must take care of yourself.

The first place we tend to cut is self-care because it seems like an unnecessary luxury. Daily tasks like sleeping enough, eating well, exercising regularly, connecting with people we love, engaging with meaningful hobbies, and making time for personal reflection take a back seat to the busyness of life. But, we need rest to be at our best. You are all you have to offer. It is not selfish to activate self-care.

Screen Shot 2020-03-26 at 6.40.18 AMJack Nevison did a study that showed 50 hours on the job yielded only 37 hours of productivity. However, if you raised it to 55 hours on the job, it caused a drop to only 30 hours of useful work. When we push past 50 hours in a week, we don’t get more done. 

As a Christian, you may feel that you must always work to help others. But, self-neglect is not a Christian concept. It can cause crises that cripple you from doing the work God has for you. Years of self-neglect will catch up with you in the form of a divorce, physical crash, or spiritual brokenness.

ASK YOURSELF: Do I want one-dimensional career success?

ASK YOURSELF: Do I want momentary success or significance that lasts?

In order to make a difference, you must take care of yourself.

Are You Under Attack?

“Because I said so!” 

Did you ever hear this phrase as a kid? I did. If I asked my mom why I had to do something or why couldn’t I do something, she would often say, “Because I said so!” That used to drive me crazy, and I vowed never to say that to my kids when I grew up. 

il_fullxfull.1425469338_dhofHowever, I now understand exactly why she used those words, and I have said them to my kids. My mom knew what was best for me and wanted to protect me from painful or challenging consequences. What I was blind to as a young, naive child, she could see clearly from the wisdom of experience.

So what does our heavenly Father tell us to do? God says that you should “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5). 

Let me ask you, who or what do you pray for? 

I would guess that you pray for wisdom to deal with difficult situations you’re going through. You probably pray for people you love who are struggling with health issues or making tough decisions. I’m sure you also pray to thank God for the blessings He has provided you and your loved ones. 

Well, what about your enemies? 

bigstock-Man-Holding-Pray-Word-In-Palm-60692744-1-minHave you ever prayed for an enemy?

It takes an immense amount of emotional, physical, and spiritual energy to manage situations in which someone is attacking you. Betrayal by others causes bitterness that can eat away at you. Your enemy’s words and actions aim at breaking you down and dominating the situation. 

If this is the case, why would I suggest that you pray for them? Well, because God says so! Praying for your enemies may not be an easy step to take, but it’s imperative and is the best way to guard yourself against the attacks of your enemies. 

We can see an example of this in the book of Esther.

Esther was a beautiful, orphaned Jewish girl. She was a God-fearing woman who was chosen to be the queen of a pagan king who didn’t know she was a Jew. The king was influenced by his right-hand man, Haman, who was an enemy of the Jewish people and was plotting to have them killed. 

1102016075_univ_cnt_2_xlEsther found out about this plot and chose to fast and pray in response. She also risked her life to approach the king and ask for his mercy on her people, God’s people. The king’s heart softened because of how much he adored her, which caused him to overrule the plot to kill the Jews and caused the downfall of Haman.

Now, if God has the power to use an orphaned Jewish girl to change the heart of a king ready to kill an entire race of people, he certainly has the power to change the heart of your enemy. He also has the power to change you through your circumstances because you pray. Focus on glorifying God, even with those who are the hardest for you to love. Imagine the emotional health and freedom that you would experience as a result of following His instructions to pray for and love your enemy. 

When you get angry or frustrated at the actions or words of an enemy, don’t let that anger poison your heart. Change your thoughts to prayers and use the situation to submit fully to God and show others His work in you. Pray not only for God to change that person’s heart, but also pray for Him to change yours.

“A man who is intimate with God will never be intimidated by men.” 

– Leonard Ravenhill

4 VISIONARY STEPS

Vision is powerful.

Screen Shot 2020-03-04 at 6.16.49 AMAbout 350 years ago, a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of America. The first year they established a townsite. The next year they elected a town government. The third year, the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness. In the fourth year, the people tried to impeach their town government because they thought it was a waste of public funds to build a road five miles westward into a wilderness. Who needed to go there anyway?

Here were people who had the vision to see three thousand miles across an ocean and overcome great hardships to get there. But in just a few years they were not able to see even five miles out of town. They had lost their pioneering vision.

Henry Ford said, “I’m looking for a lot of men with an infinite capacity for not knowing what can’t be done.” Helen Keller said the only thing “worse than being blind would be to be able to see but not have any vision.” When asked what he thought about when he struck out, Babe Ruth said, “I think about hitting home runs.”

Vision is powerful.

Here are four visionary steps you can take today.


STEP 1: REALIZE HOW MUCH IS AHEAD

Screen Shot 2020-03-12 at 4.08.45 AMWhen you are young, it is easy to dream about all the things the future has for you. As we get older and have more life experiences, there are more things to think back on from our past. However, there is always much more ahead than behind for all of us.

The gift of God is eternal life. Anyone who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ has received the free gift of eternal life and has tapped into the life that our Infinite God shares with us. What is ahead of us is an unlimited and unending experience of living with and in God. There is more ahead than behind. As Christians, we have a lot to look forward to.

Do you realize how much is ahead?

STEP 2: ASK GOD FOR GREATER VISION

Screen Shot 2020-03-12 at 4.04.45 AM“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach” (James 1:5). Anyone who asks God for wisdom will receive it, but we would do well to understand the word wisdom in this context. Dr. Tom Constable writes: “Wisdom is seeing life realistically from God’s perspective.” 

Wisdom is vision. There is no better vantage point to see what is happening in our lives than from God’s perspective. He is the ultimate gauge for both physical and spiritual things. God can see the future in the same way that we see the past. He has infinite knowledge of both actual and potential things to come. How awesome is it that this all-knowing Being has a plan for you?

Have you asked God for greater vision?

STEP 3: HONOR YOUR PAST BY NOT LIVING IN IT

Screen Shot 2020-03-12 at 4.10.58 AMSometimes Facebook gives me the option to “share a memory” and it often causes me to reminisce and feel nostalgic. More often than not, I will choose not to share the memory, but it usually stays with me for a while after I see it. I think Facebook does this because they understand how much we like to remember things from the past.

The past is powerful. For many of us, there is a fear of moving forward in faith. When an organization or an individual begins to look and move forward, it may feel as though the past is not being honored. However, it is the past that has brought you to where you are and has prepared you to take the next step. The past prepares you for progress. Our past was not designed to get us where we are. Our past was designed by God to get us where we are going.

Are you honoring the past by not living in it?

STEP 4: GLANCE BACK BUT GAZE FORWARD

Screen Shot 2020-03-12 at 4.13.16 AMHave you ever thought about why the windshield on your car is so much larger than the rearview mirror? I suppose it would be difficult to move forward if your vision was dominated by what is behind you. When driving, it is important to remember that we should glance back but gaze forward.

Imagine if you saw someone driving and they were staring into their rearview mirror the whole time. Unless they were driving in reverse, some bad things could happen. The past must be viewed with the proper perspective, or it can paralyze an organization and keep it from moving forward.

Are you glancing back and gazing forward?


Soon after the completion of Disney World, someone said, “Isn’t it too bad that Walt Disney didn’t live to see this?” Mike Vance, creative director of Disney Studios, replied, “He did see it; that’s why it’s here.”

Vision is powerful. With a clear vision of what we can become in Christ, no ocean of difficulty is too great. Without a clear vision, we rarely move beyond our current boundaries.

Vision is powerful.

1

Are Your Valuables Safe?

What is your most valuable possession?

Think about it.

Where is your most valuable possession?

Are your valuables safe?

Copy of Copy of UntitledPerhaps the first step in answering these questions is knowing the real value of things. In a 1987 edition of The Atlanta Journal Constitution, there is a story about a rock collector named Rob Cutshaw. The article describes Rob owning a little roadside shop outside Andrews, North Carolina. Like many in the trade, he hunts for rocks, then sells them to collectors or jewelry makers. Rob knows enough about rocks to decide which to pick up and sell, but he’s no expert. He leaves the appraising of the rocks to other people. As much as Rob enjoys the work, it doesn’t always pay the bills. He occasionally moonlights, cutting wood to help put bread on the table.

Here is where it gets interesting. While on a dig years ago, Rob found a rock he described as “purdy and big.” He tried unsuccessfully to sell the specimen, and according to the article, he kept the rock under his bed or in his closet. He guessed the blue chunk could bring as much as $500, but he would have taken less if something urgent came up like paying his power bill.

Screen Shot 2020-03-04 at 6.37.14 AMThat’s how close Rob came to hawking for a few hundred dollars what turned out to be the largest, most valuable sapphire ever found. The blue rock that Rob had abandoned to the darkness of a closet decades ago is now known as “The Star of David” sapphire. It weighs nearly a pound, and could quickly sell for $2.75 million.

TRUTH: Things are not always what they seem.

Matthew 6:19-21

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on Earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Jesus says there are two types of treasures. One is good, and one is bad. But we need to know which is which. Sometimes we get them confused. Location one is Earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal.” Location two is Heaven, “where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

I want to ask you another question.

What do you think happens after you die?

1 John 4:17 says, “We may have confidence for the day of judgment.” The day of judgment John mentions is a mystery worth explaining. The Bema Seat of Christ and The Great White Throne of Judgment are the two significant judgments mentioned in the Bible. The Great White Throne of Judgment is for unbelievers, and the Bema (Judgment) Seat of Christ is for believers.

8d280c3c88e416c00f2684cce453d590As believers, we do not have to fear the judgment of our sins. Christ took our punishment upon Himself at the cross. John says we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment. OUR SERVICE will be evaluated at the judgment seat of Christ, not OUR SIN.

When we stand before Him, it will be for REWARD, not REPRIMAND. This believer’s payday is where we will receive the treasure Jesus taught about when he said, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20).

The Crown of Righteousness, the Crown of Life, the Incorruptible Crown, the Crown of Rejoicing, and the Crown of Glory are five of the crowns of reward mentioned in the New Testament. Unlike the rewards we receive here in life on earth, the rewards we receive at the Judgment Seat of Christ for heaven are eternal and will never perish.

The thing that a person values most highly inevitably occupies the center of his or her heart. The heart is the center of the personality, and it controls the intellect, emotion, and will. What is your most valuable possession? Where is your most valuable possession? Are your valuables safe?

The body of missionary David Livingstone was buried in England, where he was born, but his heart was buried in the Africa he loved. At the foot of a tall tree in a small African village, the natives dug a hole and placed in it the heart of the missionary they loved and respected. If your heart were to be buried in the place you loved most during life, where would it be? In your pocketbook? Down in the office?

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Where is your heart?

Jesus said, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

Are your valuables safe?