live and learn

live2So at the end of 2012, I want to talk to you today about reflection. Not getting down on yourself about all the failures, mistakes, or shortcomings of the year. But about looking at the past year reflecting on it, taking it in and learning from it. Something that I always say as a joke, but also very true is that “You live and you learn”. You mess up once, understandable, but take that experience and learn from it. Learn not to make the same mistakes over and over again. Really apply yourself, your will, and the strength and grace we have to overcome from the Holy Spirit to not making the same mistakes over and over again. Just like in life, when you overdraft by using your bank card when you don’t have any money, you learn not to do it again, or you get kicked in the hinder with a overdraft fee. A lot of times it is easy to get down on ourselves when trying to live this awesome Christian life for God and we screw it up by some sort of sin or mistakes, but since you made the mistake, go to God to ask forgiveness and he will give you a fresh start. Not only that, but you now have an experience in your life to learn from. Remember, God’s mercies are new every morning. He is always there to run to and to forgive any time we screw up (that’s not an excuse to sin, that would be another story, his grace isn’t a license to sin, but his grace is there to make us strong and to overcome.) This is a great time to reflect on the past year and learn from our mistakes and shortcomings and make the decision to change some things around whether that be overcoming an addiction, setting priorities straight, or just simply making more time for God and his call on your life. Yes, forgive yourself for your mishaps, but learn from them to not do them again. Ask God for grace and strength to keep strong and in pursuit of him. Know that when you do mess up, not to run from him further into darkness and sin, but run to him for he is there with open arms to receive you and love you and direct you.

Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”

Phillipians 3:13 “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,”

Forget the sins the you have committed, don’t dwell on them and let them drag you down, instead, you have learned from your mistakes, now strive forward towards God and keep your eyes on him. We all have a past, maybe even the past year that we want to forget, and we can do just that, give it to God and let his mercies cleanse you and make you clean, now that you are clean, run towards God and his plan for your life.

My challenge to you today is to reflect on what you have learned from life’s experiences this past year and declare this new year a time of dedication to God and his plan for your life. You have learned you can’t always do things on your own, you need God leading the way. You have learned that certain sins lead to certain results, but with God’s help we can over come that sin. You have learned that you feel emptier inside, because you haven’t given God the time of day when it comes to spending time with him and you aren’t pursuing his call in your life, so set aside that time daily to spend with him and follow where he leads. I challenge you to learn from this past year and decide what is right for you this year as it pertains to God and his calling and desire for you!


Think PositiveToday I want to talk to you about perception. About the way we look at life and what our mindset is going into life and all it’s different situations. Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person. I think it really is an important thing and the Bible the tells us so as well. Think about the kind of people you like to be around. Do you like to be around someone who is always complaining, dragging their feet, and someone who knows how to turn a typically normal situation into this big drama, or something negative to complain about. Or do you want to be around someone who is always looking for the best in people, someone who is looking to spin a bad situation into something that really isn’t that bad after all if you look at it a certain way. I mean you can take both of those to extremes and a lot of times extremes can be dangerous and unreal. You want the positive person, unless you are one of the negative extremes people. Of course be sympathetic to someone who may be going through a hard time and try and relate to them, but don’t let them bring you down or drag you into negativity. Do your best to look at life with the eyes of love and the way God looks at people.

Phillipians 4:6,8 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God…….Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Matthew 15:11 “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

Ephesians 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

I could go on and on with verses that God is telling us to look at life positively and with love and kindness. These are just a few encouraging verses to you on just that. We need to really take a look at our heart life and our mind life, what kind of voices are talking to us in any and every situation? Are they voices that scream negativity, doubt, fear, hate, and so on or is it a voice of peace, love, kindness, forgiveness, and positivity? One of them is the right answer, the second one is the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to us and the negative one is either your own negative attitude that you have adopted as your own, or it could be the devil and his evil temptations that are sly and may come off as a normal response, but are just temptations to give in to those negative attributes that we talked about. I’m not saying that any time you are negative, it’s the devil, but watch out for it. And plain and simple, looking at life one way or the other is a choice. You have the power to change and to be a light and to walk in love.

A lot of times when you fill your heart and your mind with negative thoughts, that is a direct line to what words come out of your mouth. If your heart is filled with God’s word and his direction and love, you’ll find that his word and love are the type of words that will come out of your mouth in conversation. Same with that dirty negative attitude, if you are always dwelling on the negative of life, those are the type of things that will flow from your mouth in conversation.

Matthew 12:34 “You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”

My challenge to you today is to try and see what kind of heart and mind you have taken on as your own. Do you find yourself thinking negative a little too often or do you find yourself full of positivity and God’s word? Be honest with your self evaluation, if you want, ask others which category they would put you in. Once you have determined what you were, now you have the choice to make a change, now you can determine what kind of person you want to be. Learn to fill your heart and mind with God’s Spirit and direction, and then choose to put away any negative thoughts that may want to overwhelm you and give them to God, for he cares for you. I challenge you today to start thinking positive and start speaking positive no matter how bad life may get, it’s only worse if you let it be, by your outlook and perception of it.

Are you making a point or making a difference?

Do “non-believers” need the straight up truth about everything the Bible has to say about everything they may be doing wrong? Do they need you to make a great point about how they are living in sin? Maybe you made a great point about something that they said or did that didn’t match up with God’s word, and all of your Christian friends really applauded you for that. Or do they need you to show unconditional love and to not point any fingers? Do They need someone who won’t judge them for what they may be doing wrong? What does the Bible say? Is there a right and a wrong way to treat a “non-believer”? Let’s take a look at a few scriptures to see how the Bible tells us to handle these situations.

In Luke 19:1-10 “Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. 8 Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”

This was a problem for a lot of the religious people. And I’m sure we can see that a lot today. A lot of people might see someone new show up to church with a baseball cap, tattoos and piercings and smelling of the Marijuana or alchohol and want to kick them out on the spot, but that is not the way Jesus showed us. Jesus didn’t go up to Zacchaeus and say you are a dirty sinner and I want nothing to do with you unless you get saved and then walk over to his disciple buddy’s and say “yeah Peter did you see me drop that bomb on him, he didn’t see it coming” haha. No Jesus didn’t want to make that point, you will see the religious Pharisees doing that, but not Jesus. Instead Jesus made dinner plans with Zacchaeus and I’m sure showed him Grace and Love! And then Zacchaeus changed for the better. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, to make a difference, not to make good points.

*Jesus allowed for people to Belong before they Believed

In Matthew 11 The religious people tried to dis Jesus by calling him a “Friend of Sinners”. But Jesus wasn’t in the business of trying to impress other Christians. On paper Jesus had more in common with the Pharisees than the Pagans and non believers, but Jesus constantly directionally leaned toward the people he may have disagreed more with, the people he had less in common with. I want to make a note that a lot of Christians may not agree with, that is that we should not fear guilt by association. We shouldn’t freak out if someone from church sees us out to eat with a “sinner”/non believer. If you struggle with the sin, then be smart about it, but don’t be afraid of reaching out to sinners and showing them grace and love. We to should be a friend of sinners.

In Galatians 2:11-13 we see an example of Peter getting embarrassed to be hanging out with uncircumcised gentiles. Some friends of James came by and Peter basically ditched out on them, on the uncircumcised gentiles that is. And as a result some other Jewish Christians followed that hyprocritical example of Peter. He was afraid of criticism from other believers. We should not be afraid of criticism.

I want to give some props and credit to someone that I know, that is a great example of how we should be toward sinners and non-believers. Clayton, my brother-in-law, has been such a great example in reaching out to non-believers full of grace and love. Ever since I have known him, this has been his ministry and there is always people coming to the Lord from it just like Zacchaeus did. I think a lot of us “Christians” can learn a lot from him on how to reach out to the unsaved and treat them. He is constantly asking them if they need rides, taking them out to eat, inviting them into his home and that is the way Jesus did it and the Bible tells us to do it. So if you know him, take his example in that area! We shouldn’t judge non-Christians for acting like non-Christians. 1 Cor 5:12 says “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?”

Here is a key verse from what i have been talking about is this

Colossians 4:5-6 “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders, make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Surrender your agenda and lovingly serve the people in your path.

Instead of judging and saying sinner, sinner, sinner,  Rather than saying you are a  sinner, doing this wrong, doing that wrong and saying oh yeah, by the way, Jesus Loves You. Rather than those things, Be full of grace and season it with “some salt”. In other words, show them love and we can season it with a little bit of God’s word, but don’t over do it. Balance it the way this verse does “full of grace, seasoned with salt…FULL of grace and just SEASONED with salt. Show them patience and humility so much so that they can see there is something different with you. That something is the same love and grace that Christ showed towards the sinners. He didn’t come to condemn the world, but to save it! So we should take his example and run with it. We should do more of it! I know that I need to do more of it and in doing so I can bet that we will be making more of a positive impact and difference rather than a negative “point” or impact.


Why is what I’m about to talk about important? It is, one, because I need this for myself and you may also need this. My life is not and has not been prioritized in the way that it should be. It is a little Out-of-Sync from where it should be.The Real issue is that I have no one else to blame for this, because the responsibility of living this balanced, prioritized life lies solely on my shoulders. My personal life with Christ is not where it should be.

Why your church may need to hear this? I am taking notes from a message I heard spoken. There was a survey taken from Christians that attend church from all different backgrounds across the board (new, old, denominations, non-denominations, etc). They put “us” into 5 categories.

-Exploring Christianity

-Growing in Christ


-Close to Christ

-Christ Centered

They had 4 different practices categories, such as – praying, confessing sin, reading scripture, and setting time aside alone with God. The reason this blog is called STALLED is because people in the STALLED category were often sometimes lower in the practices categories than even the “Exploring Christianity”.

Right now, I would say that way to many of us, including me are in and have been in the STALLED category. New explorers, believers, new to church people for the most part are excited about everything – reading, growing, getting involved in groups and programs, they are growing! That was/is you. Then 2 years, 3 years or further down the road, all of the sudden we “STALL”. We all I’m sure have experienced this before. We look back and think, “What Happened?”, “I was growing, becoming more like Christ, amazing things were happening in my life” and then all of the sudden, it kinda just “STALLED”.

2 things can often happen when we get “STALLED”. 1- They often leave the church, because they are frustrated and angry and they assume that I must not be doing something right, because I was growing and all of the sudden I am stagnant and have been that way sometimes for a couple years. Thinking “Either the Christian thing wasn’t really true” or check out because I’m feeling guilty that I am not where I need to be. 2 – People will stick around and complain about everything, because they can’t quite put a finger on what it is that is going on. So they say “the church isn’t doing it for my anymore” or say “I need something deeper” (Which you probably do, but are looking in the wrong place.)

If you are STALLED in your spiritual life and are Out-of-Sync. You are looking in the wrong place. You don’t need more “me”, you don’t need a better message, or more intense worship, you don’t need another program, You certainly don’t need to find a new church. What you need is more of Jesus Christ in your life. And you haven’t found a way for that to happen yet. You are depending on certain instruments and institutions to do that for you that weren’t intended to do that for you in the first place.

John 15 talks about Jesus being the vine and us being the branches and apart from him we can do Nothing. Look it up and dwell on in for a few minutes. Its pretty simple. It’s not just some cute little phrase, it’s not something Jesus just wanted to put on a t-shirt or something. This is a promise, the REAL DEAL. He tells us to “Be in Me”, not just be in a church or a small group. This next thing I am going to tell you is KEY, make sure that this hits home with you!

“You Have to OWN your Own Spiritual Life”  – You need to get to that place where you understand that that is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!

As you grow and mature as a believer you become less dependent on programs and more about an arranged life. The church can do it’s best to team up with you and try and make things clear for you, but at the end of the day, no one can do it for you. No one can read scripture for you, serve for you, give for you, etc)

You have to OWN your own spiritual life.

In Mark 1:14-15 Jesus tells us “The time has come, the Kingdom is near” and is telling us that (paraphrased) “it’s possible for you to live in the context of the kingdom. You can be a part of the kingdom, all you have to do is follow me. Do what it is that I do. I don’t care how old or young you are, how good looking or athletic you are. If you want to be a part of the kingdom movement, you can be a part of the movement, just follow me. You can be like me, you can experience transformation in your life.” The Apostle Paul talks about this in Romans 12:1,2, being transformed by the renewing of your mind. Being transformed as talked about in the Bible is very dense, deep and sometimes really hard to try and figure out and understand. How can we spiritually transform, what is the best way to do that, where do we go from here?

I am going to give you an Acronym that can probably help us in this area.


V is for Vision – Understand what Spiritual Transformation looks like/to really follow Jesus

I is for Intention – YOU have to make a DECISION that YOU want this more than anything else in life

M is for Methods – a process and certain disciplines

Matthew 13:44-45 “Kingdom of Heaven”, we need this Vision, discovering the kind of life Jesus wants you to live.

We have settled for a life of mediocrity, a life chasing after cars, money, popularity, a raise, applause and ignoring the Reality of the life that God has called us to live.

We can grow more like Jesus. Spiritual Transformation is possible if we lean on Grace and Faith and we are willing to center our lives around the activities of Jesus Christ. We have compared this vision of the life that Jesus wants for me and the reality of where we are really at. There is this gap. I’m not really where I want to be. I’ve settled and am chasing after all this stuff that is different from the life God has designed me for.

If we are honest, a lot of us would say my life really isn’t centered around the fact that Jesus is in me. Instead we wrestle with doubt issues, fear issues, anger issues and all of these other things are dominating my life but not Christ in me.

We are not talking about external behavior or legalism, we are talking about the “inside”, about Christ being formed in you and understanding that that’s a reality and that is possible. That is the Vision, and at some point Intention and decision has to come, you have to say to yourself that “That is what I want, I want that.” Of course this won’t be a perfect journey. There will be times when you forget, get off track, screw things up, but the decision we will always come back to the Intention of it! ARE YOU THERE?

Methods – Jesus engaged in certain practices in his life here on earth. He withdrew himself to spend time with the Father, He threw himself into scripture, He was always a part of service and community. If Jesus used these methods, how much more do we need them in our lives, how much more important is it.  Don’t only “trust” Jesus for your salvation, but trust him with your life. Believe that he knew and knows how to do life. The purpose of methods is to free you up in the right things at the right moment. It’s not just another chore or responsibility to make you feel guilty.

Intent – Have YOU yourself made the decision for yourself that you want Christ formed in you and you want something more than a STALLED or stagnant life, more than anything.

John 8:12 Jesus said we don’t have to walk in darkness. Don’t be a slave to earthly things. Follow Jesus into his way and this way of life. Jesus freed us from the power of sin.

John 10:10 Jesus came to lead us to a better life and a better way.

So if you are STALLED. Remember that YOU have to OWN your own spiritual life. Its not anyone else’ responsibility. Sync up with Jesus way of life.