Category Archives: discipleship


While, there are different theological and philosophical ideas in deism, it’s basic belief is that there is a Supreme Being who created the universe, but then stepped back and distanced Himself from it. He established the laws of nature and then let the universe run itself. This idea includes human beings – God is not involved in our lives and is not interested in what we do. Theism, on the other hand,  holds that God created everything and is intimately involved in His creation, including the lives of human beings.  He cares what we do and is active in our daily lives. Evangelical Christianity is anchored in theism because theism is built on biblical truth.

However, by looking at evangelicalism today, it seems that many Christians live a deist type of Christianity. Most Christians today live as though God doesn’t really care how they live their lives. They acknowledge Jesus as their Savior but leave Him there. They become the “god” of their own lives.

How else can we explain the staggering divorce rate, premarital sex, addictions to pornography, unwholesome entertainment choices, self absorbed life styles, lack of honesty and integrity, and materialism that is so prevalent in the church? Over the years I’ve talked to countless believers who made choices that are so contrary to God’s holy standards, and seemed oblivious to the horrible witness they were to the world of what it means to be a child of God. Recently I heard a DJ on a national Christian radio show say that he viewed a certain movie and approved of a caller to the station who said that he saw it too. Not knowing about this movie, I read a review of it on a Christian movie review website and was absolutely horrified at the film’s sexually immoral and profanity laced content that the reviewer summarized. And yet here were two Christians, one who has a national platform, saying that they saw the movie without any real sense of shame.

The current mantra among many believers is “God wants me to be happy”, which then allows them to pursue anything they desire. This is deist thinking. No, my friends, God isn’t concerned with our happiness, He is concerned with our holiness. When we are walking in holiness we have His approval, and when we have His approval we have His presence in our lives, and when we have His presence in our lives we have joy. And joy, which is rooted deep in our hearts, is infinitely better than happiness, which is dependent on outside circumstances.

The worldview of a deist leads to disastrous results. Since all human beings are fallen creatures that are born with a sin nature, it is natural for us, even Christians,  to be selfish, self serving, and egocentric.  And that is the way many Christians act. Without dying to self and grasping the reality of Romans 6 that our old self was crucified with Jesus so that when we surrender to Him and His will sin has no power over us, we act just like the unredeemed.

A very popular saying in Christendom is “Christianity isn’t a set of ‘do’s and don’ts’ but a relationship”. While this sounds good and eases our consciences, it is only half correct. Salvation is not a set of “do’s and don’ts”, we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus alone (not by works, religion, or anything else). However, as followers of Jesus, discipleship is very much a set of “do’s and don’ts”. God has set the parameters of what is acceptable for His children and what is not. He has set the standards of holiness which we are all to strive for. Just read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, Luke 9:23, Luke 14:33, 1 Peter 1:16-17, and Philippians 4:8 as just a small sample of the definition of how a follower of Jesus should live.

Sadly, deism has dominated the thinking of the church today, leaving biblical holiness by the wayside. My friends, God does care how we live. Since He created us and is active in our lives, He knows what’s best for us, has laid down the definition of how we are to live, and expects us to follow it. When we treat Him in a deist way, we become the gods of our own lives and shame His glorious name and bring misery to our lives. Yes, it does matter what we watch on TV or at the movies. It does matter what we read or look at on the computer. It does matter what we say how we treat others, how we define marriage, and how we define sexuality. God has given us the standards for each of these, and we can’t just ignore them and convince ourselves that “God wants me happy” trumps them all.

God is our Creator, He loves us and has set the standards of behavior by which we are to live (for our own good and for His glory), and is active in our lives. The question is – will we surrender ourselves totally to Him? Will we give Him all rights to ourselves to His will, die to “self’ and live for His glory instead of our happiness? We will all give an account of ourselves to Him when our lives on earth are over and we stand before Him. May we live in such a way that we will not be ashamed of how we conducted our lives, and then hear Him say: ‘I know you weren’t perfect, but I know your heart was sold out to Me and you heart’s desire was to follow Me. Well done!”.


I’ve heard many Christians over the years say that they want more of God in their lives. Indeed, there have been numerous songs sung and books written about wanting more of God. But is this a correct statement to make? I think we might have it backwards.

You see, when someone trusts in Jesus as Savior, immediately, at that very moment, the Holy Spirit  regenerates, indwells, baptizes, and seals the individual. Regeneration means that the person is “born again” and is a new creation in Christ. Indwelling means that the Holy Spirit’s presence takes residence in the new believer, and guides, teaches, convicts, and empowers the him/her in their Christian walk. Baptism means that the new believer is initiated into the family of God and is now identified as a child of God. The sealing aspect of the Holy Spirit is a mark of ownership and protection, which means that we now belong to God and He protects that which is His.

All this happens at the very second of salvation. Pretty special isn’t it.

According to this spiritual truth, every believer has all of God they will ever get. Ephesians 1:3 states: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”  , and 1 Peter 1:2-3 says: “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”  (emphasis mine in both verses).

Do you see that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. When the Holy Spirit indwelt us upon salvation, we didn’t get half of Him, or three-quarters, or ninety nine percent. We got all of Him.  Thus, we cannot get “more of God” than we already possess through our faith in Jesus.

Well, then, why don’t most of us experience more of God in our lives? The answer is simple, and gives us the direction of what our prayer should really be. You see, my friends, in order for us to experience more of God, we have to give Him more of us. In fact, we need to give Him more of us, and more of us, and more of us, until we give Him ALL of us! Our prayer must be: “Lord, show me areas in my life that I still control, the areas that I don’t want You to have and want to keep for myself, and then give me the courage to surrender them totally to You. All of them”.

Our desire must not be “I want more of God”, but must be “God, I give You all of me”. We need to be like John the Baptist who said in John 3:30 “He must become greater; I must become less. “

Too many Christians want God’s presence without surrender. They want the power of God in their lives while “self” is still in control.  It just doesn’t work that way. You see, God is not going to force us to surrender. Surrender is an act of our will that intentionally gives the reigns of our lives to Him. It is dying to self and unconditionally giving Him every facet of our lives.

However, we often fight surrender because it goes against our natural inclinations. After all, we want to be masters of our own fate and captains of our own ship. We want to call the shots. Yet, we know deep down that in order to experience God’s incredible presence we need to do just the opposite . That is why surrender is a life long journey, a journey that continually, daily, dies to self and yields more and more to Him.

Have you said, or are you saying now “I want more of God”? The solution is simple. Just give Him more of you. Remember, if you are truly born again you have all of God you will get. Now, to experience His glorious presence, you need to surrender to Him and give Him more of you and more of you until you give Him all of you. This is the only way to go deep into intimacy with Him.

WIll you join me in saying this –  In my life:  Less of me until there is none of me. More of Him until there is none but Him.


When someone has work done on their house the person doing the work writes up a contract that specifies, in detail, the work to be done and the total cost of the project. If the homeowner agrees to the contract specifications he or she signs the contract, signifying their acceptance of the terms. No sane person would sign a blank contract, allowing the contractor to do whatever work he felt like doing at whatever cost he determined. That would be disastrous to the homeowner. No one signs a blank contract.

However, when we follow Jesus He asks us to sign a blank contract to the rest of our lives, telling us that He will fill in the details as we walk with Him (this “blank contract” is not a literal piece of paper that we sign, but is a symbol of a heart attitude that is totally sold out to Him). He gives us no specifics about what the future holds, no time line regarding our activities, no indication if our lives will be filled with joy or pain, and not even a hint about what we will be doing.

Sounds scary, doesn’t it? All of us want to know the details regarding our lives, and signing a blank contract regarding the most valuable thing we have – our very lives – sounds crazy. But that’s the way Jesus is. He wants us to be totally sold out to Him, to follow Him wherever He leads, whenever He calls, doing whatever He asks us to do. Signing the blank contract tells Him that we are totally devoted to Him and that we trust Him wholeheartedly with our lives.

Think about some of the individuals in the Bible who signed the blank contract. God called Abraham to leave his home and to go to a land that He would show him. Abraham had no idea where that was or all the details of how his life would unfold. The only thing he had was the generalities of God’s covenant promise. But he followed Him and because he did, God’s covenant people, the Israelites, were birthed through him, and from his descendants came the Messiah.

Additionally, when Jesus called the men who would become His apostles, He simply said “Follow Me”, not giving them any details of what that entailed. I’m sure if He would have told them of the hardships they would face and of the martyrdom that awaited them, they probably would have turned and ran as fast as they could. But Jesus didn’t give them the details, asking them, in essence, to sign the blank contract and leave the details up to Him. They signed it and He used them to turn the world upside down for the Kingdom of God.

And think about Mary. She was a simple teenage girl from an insignificant town who was engaged to be married when God rocked her world and told her, through the angel Gabriel, that He had chosen her as the one to give birth to the Messiah. He didn’t give her all the details, just generalities. Yet, we see her heart when she responded to Gabriel’s words: “I am the Lord’s servant, May it be done to me as you have said”. Mary signed the blank contract, and her life was never the same as she played a significant role in the most profound story in human history.

The list is extensive – Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Nehemiah – individuals who were called by God for a specific task without knowing all the details. He asked them to sign the blank contract. They signed it, trusted Him, and were used incredibly by God.

How about you? If you are a born again believer in Jesus, He hands you a blank contract, asks you to trust Him and sign it, and then follow Him without any conditions. He asks us to follow Him on His terms, not ours. Sadly, far too many Christians follow Jesus on their terms instead of His. They place their devotion on their own happiness instead of on Jesus. This is not discipleship.

Signing the blank contract necessitates an absolute surrender of everything we are and everything we have to His will. It is holding our very lives with an open hand, allowing Him to do what He wants to do with them. Bottom line, it is dying to “self” and giving all rights to ourselves to Him. Jesus said in Luke 14:33: ” In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be My disciple”.  He is telling us that we need to sign the blank contract and let Him fill in the details.

This sounds fatalistic to some, but it is not. Remember we surrender to the One who literally loved us to death and continues to love us with an everlasting love. He knows that there is no greater journey on the planet than following Him unconditionally, and we will find no greater joy and fulfilment in life then being totally devoted to Him in absolute surrender.

Have you signed the blank contract? Have you, by an act of your will, given Him total control of your life? Do you love Jesus so much that you will follow him on His terms – whatever that may involve?

Ruth’s words to Naomi (in Ruth 1:16-17) are some of most profound words of surrender ever uttered: “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me”.

I’ve reworded these words of Ruth to pertain to the Christian life. Would you say this with me: “Jesus where you want me to go I will go and I will live where you want me to live. The people you want me to serve I will serve, and what you ask me to do I will do. You are my Lord and I love You with all my heart. I will follow You in complete surrender all the days of my life…no matter what”.



I recently read an article that said the church should not be involved in the culture wars that abound in our society, and should stick to its mission of loving everyone and being “good news” people. To quote the author of the article:

“How is it that the very people Jesus died to establish as models of forgiveness, gentleness, peace, and mercy have become a people generally perceived as mean, judgmental, and merciless? We have become identified with political agendas, culture wars, and religious demands that leave non-Christians shaking their heads and dismissing Christianity altogether. Along the way many Christians have become known more for what we are against than what we are for. That is bad news”.

It seems like the author is telling Christians to divorce themselves from what is going on around  them and just be syrupy sweet people who don’t offend anyone.

I disagree.

The reality is that there is an epic spiritual battle raging around us, and that battle strikes at the  very heart of Christianity. The “culture wars” that abound today are aimed at the moral absolutes God has established for all people, and thus, aimed at the very person of God. If left unchecked, a lesser God and a counterfeit gospel will replace the truth, and myriads of people will be led astray.

In the last few years there has been a seismic shift in the strategy of those who oppose God. There seems to be an all out attack on Christianity, the Bible, and God Himself. The rhetoric of the new athiests and others who oppose Christianity is filled with disgust and hatred. Tolerance for Christianity is all but gone. How do we combat this? Not with physical weapons, civil disobedience, or empty protests. But by presenting a clear, bold, irrefutable case for the truth.

When Christians take a stand for biblical truth on marriage, sexuality, the sanctity of life, honesty, integrity, and family we are not abandoning our mission as the church of Jesus Christ. On the contrary, we who have truth must communicate it to the world. If we remain silent, who will speak up for God’s moral absolutes? Who will present a biblical world view on the hot bed issues of the day?

It is pretty naive to think that we can impact culture with the truth of Jesus by ignoring the culture’s beliefs. Now I agree that some Christians can be obnoxious, mean-spirited, and self-righteous as they confront the evils of our world. That is counterproductive. However, we can be uncompromising, bold, and fearless while still being respectful, and we should strive to do so. However, many who are afraid of coming off as mean-spirited have gone too far in the other direction and turned into spineless jellyfish.

I get pretty tired hearing the phrase “Christians are known too much for what they are against than what they are for”. This is just wrong-headed logic. Tell me what you are against and, in essence, you are telling me what you are for. For example, if you say you are against abortion you are telling me you believe that life begins at conception and that all life is sacred. If you tell me you are against gay marriage you are telling me you are for God’s definition of marriage and His design for sexuality.

Yes, the main mission of the church is spiritual, but included in this is being unashamed of the truth of God’s moral absolutes, and to love people enough to tell them the truth. If we hide our heads in the sand because we are afraid of offending people or because we want the world to like us we are not fulfilling the mission we have been given. We need Christians of grit and backbone to stand in the gap for the truth in a society that has rejected God and His commands. We desperately need followers of Jesus who know what they believe and why they believe it, and who are courageous enough to face the opposition that they may experience when they stand for truth. We need Christians who are so in love with Jesus and who are so devoted to Him that they are willing to risk everything for Him.

Should Christians be engaged in culture wars? I believe so because, at the core of these wars is a battle for truth, which, if not confronted, will eventually undermine the theological and practical truth God has given us. This will lead to a God that we create in our image, a Jesus who is a role model but not the divine Messiah, a gospel that is void of the cross, and a compromised holiness that is an abomination to God. And that is not good news.


When planning a home project, a vacation, or a major purchase the wise person usually looks at the cost to determine if they have the necessary funds and if the result is worth the monetary outlay. In other words, they count the cost.

It’s the same with following Jesus. While salvation is a free gift of God – we are saved by grace alone by faith alone in Jesus alone – discipleship is another story. Salvation is free, discipleship costs everything. Jesus assumed that all who would receive Him as Savior would also follow Him as Lord.

In some of the most soul searching words Jesus ever uttered on the topic of discipleship He said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish. Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-33).

If you read these words and they don’t grip you down to the core of your soul, then you haven’t really read them.  This is not light and breezy teaching. This is point blank truth about discipleship with no holds barred. This is discipleship in its purest form. Everything else is a façade.

What did Jesus mean by these words? Do we really have to hate our families and get rid of all of our possessions? Let’s take a look.

The Bible is very clear about our relationships with others. We are told to love our families, our neighbors, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and even our enemies. Jesus said that if we are even angry at someone it is the same as murder. So what did He mean by hating our families? In this statement Jesus is saying that we are to love Him supremely above anyone else. He is to be number one on our priority list. Our love for Him must be so deep that all other relationships look paltry in comparison. Indeed, a true disciple, a true follower of Jesus loves Him with all his heart, all his mind, and all his strength.

Remember, and this is crucial, we will never be able to love our spouses, kids, parents, extended family members, and other people the way we should until we love Jesus first with a supreme love. When we love others above Him, our love falls short of the standard God has set and we will not love others as He commands us to. But when we love Him first and supremely, our love for others will flow out of our hearts like a cascading river in the spring.

What about selling all we have? Are we to get rid of everything we own and become  missionaries in Papua New Guinea? While Jesus might call some of us to leave the comforts of home for the mission field most of us will not be called. What Jesus means here is that we are to hold all the “stuff” He has given us with open hand, allowing Him to have control, and to be open and obedient to how He wants us to use them. It is to place Him above our treasures and surrender them to His will for Him to use for His glory, not our pleasure.

Bottom line, discipleship means dying to self and making Him Lord, and I really mean LORD of every aspect of our lives. This, my friends, costs everything. It costs everything because the terms of discipleship that Jesus laid down demand that we surrender ourselves and all we have to Him, and this flies right in the face of everything that comes natural for us and everything we are taught. It is natural for us to seek our pleasure, and our self absorbed interests. We are told by society to look out for number one, promote yourself, use others for self gain, and that life is all about us.

Jesus’ terms of discipleship say just the opposite. He says “Life is not about you or your happiness. It is about Me. It is about dying to self and surrendering to me in every aspect of life. It is only when you are on the journey of true discipleship that you will know Me intimately, love Me supremely, worship Me deeply, find the real purpose and meaning of life, and find deep rooted joy that makes worldly happiness look worthless in comparison”.

Yes, the cost is high (Jesus said to count the cost in the Luke 14 text quoted above). Discipleship is not for cowards, and alas, far too many Christians ignore it or choose the way of “self”. However, we must follow Jesus on His terms, not ours. To be sure, the journey of discipleship is a life long journey, and no one “arrives” in this life, but we must be on the journey. There is no other road to be on for a true born again believer of Jesus.

If you have no desire to be on this journey, I challenge you to do a real gut check to see if you are really saved. If you are truly born again and realize that you are not on this journey I challenge you to repent of the “self” attitude you have held and put your hand in His and commence the journey. It is never too late to start doing what’s right. Remember, it is the only journey on the planet that will bring a deep relationship with our incredible God, a life of holiness that glorifies Him, fulfills the destiny He has planned for our lives, and gives us the peace, joy, and hope that passes understanding.

As Jim Elliott said: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”.


Smart phones are everywhere. These small hand held devices contain more computing power than computers that filled entire floors of office buildings twenty years ago. With these “mobile devices” (as they are now called) the world is at our fingertips. Using them as telephones is a minor reason for their existence, as texts, tweets, Facebook posts, entertainment, cameras/videos, and information have taken over as their main purpose. There are literally thousands upon thousands upon thousands of “apps” that give us whatever we want at the touch of a button. There are “apps” for every conceivable topic known to man – finance, lifestyle, home, entertainment, geography, lifestyle, sports, music, books, religion, etc. The list is endless.

However, our “smartphone” culture has, unfortunately, invaded our walk with God.

Our relationship with God has, for many people, been reduced to a “Facebook” level. People have gazillions of friends on Facebook, but never have been people been more lonely. The level of communication on Facebook is so shallow and superficial, and we have lost the ability to look each other in the eye and have a conversation that has depth and meat to it. This can also describe many Christians relationship with God – shallow and superficial. We have settled for a Facebook relationship with God that has reduced Him to nothing more than a Facebook type “friend”. Oh, He’s there, but only on the level of a name on a list. He wants so much more than this. He wants us to go deep with Him, to cultivate a meaningful, meaty, deep, intimate relationship. Jesus died on the cross to reconcile us to the Father so that we can, once again, live in His glorious presence in deep intimacy. Sadly, however, we’ve settles for so much less.

Additionally, we’ve reduced our communication with Him to a Twitter type “tweet”. Tweets are 140 character (maximum length) messages that let your followers know what you are thinking. These tweets are, generally speaking, random, unimportant, and impersonal. Now, while there is nothing wrong with short prayers to God throughout the day, it seems like far too many Christians have replaced deep, passionate, communication with God with short, meaningless ‘tweets’. We have become so used to “tweet” style communication that we can’t get alone with God and spend protracted time with Him. We rush through a “140 character” impersonal, shallow tweet/prayer and call it good. My friends, God so desires for us to spend unhurried time with Him. He so desires that we place priority on communicating with Him on a deeper level, and yet we give Him our “tweets”. He’s not impressed with our rushed, news flashes about how we feel about the burger we just ate. He loves us so much and is so devoted to us, and He desires that we spend time with Him and pour out our deepest hurts, our heaviest concerns, our humblest confessions, our sincerest thanks, and our most lavish praise on Him. A ‘140 character’ tweet just can’t do this.

Finally, we’ve made our awesome God into nothing more than another “app”. We generally ignore Him until something goes wrong in our lives, and then we remember “there’s an ‘app’ for that” and go to our “God app” and expect Him to rescue us. Just as we go to a financial app to help us balance our checkbook, a cooking app to help us with a recipe, or a medical app to help us with a health issue, we seem to treat God like an app when we need help that the other apps can’t supply. God is just an “app” away! My friends, God is more, much much more, than an “app” – a resource that exists to help us out of our problems or to give us information we need on a particular issue. Our incredible triune God is our everything, not just a cosmic bellhop who is just waiting for us to press our “God app”. He wants us to be sold out to Him, to die to self and surrender to His lordship, and to follow Him wholeheartedly. Indeed, every aspect of our lives is to be a sacrifice of praise to Him, and we exist to give Him glory. The “app” God reduces Him to the level of an impersonal, lesser God.

My friends, while there is nothing wrong with smartphones, let’s be intentional about not allowing a smartphone mentality to creep into our relationship with God. A challenge for all of us is to put our “mobile devices” down and turn them off for a period of time every day, and spend deep, meaningful, intimate time with our God. Don’t hurry through, but linger in His presence – sing praises to Him, read His word and let it soak into your mind and soul, pray to Him with purpose and passion, and let Him love on you in the stillness of the moment. Don’t worry, your smartphone will still be there. You won’t miss out on a tweet or a Facebook posting. And that recipe app that shows how to make gluten free cherry mango waffles with chia seed syrup will still be there. Believe me, your time with God will be the absolute highlight of your day that nothing on your smartphone can ever rival. Forget the “smartphone” God and give Him the rightful place He deserves. He’s your your Almighty God, your everything, your deepest intimacy, your Abba.


The victorious Christian life” is one of those Christianese phrases that we hear often and that rolls off of our tongues easily. Indeed we have victory in the blood of Jesus – victory over the curse of sin which brings us eternal life.  We read in 1 Corinthians 15:54-58:When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.  Pretty incredible, isn’t it?

However, when we talk about the “victorious Christian life” we usually refer to our present life, the life we now live on planet earth. By this, we mean experiencing power over temptation, living in the presence of God, and doing the things that give Him glory. Every Christian should desire this life.

Yes we want victory, but do we really want the circumstances that give rise to victory? Think about it for a second. The idea of victory means that there must be something or someone that we have victory over, which means that  that there are conflicts, battles, or all out war. There is no need for victory when all is peaceful because there is nothing to fight, and thus nothing to win. 

In the lives of believers in Jesus, victory tells us that we are in a war, and that war takes on two fronts. First we battle the forces of evil – Satan and his minions who work ceaselessly in their attempts to sew doubt in our minds, plant temptations in our hearts, and stir up chaos and confusion in our lives. Yes, there is a war that rages around us everyday, but there is victory when we claim that victory in the blood of Jesus and fight the spiritual battles with the armor of God that is so wonderfully explained in Ephesians 6.

The second front is “self”. Self is the old me, that part of me that wants to be God and call the shots. We fight this constantly whether we realize it or not – we struggle with obedience to God or doing what the world expects; we fight with being a humble servant as Jesus calls us to be or acting in pride and wanting our way; we battle with holiness when the world seductively whispers “go ahead you deserve to make yourself happy with all the pleasure you want”. This battle is also fierce, but there is victory, and that victory is experienced when we die to self and totally surrender to the lordship of Jesus in our lives.

Jesus wasn’t naive, He knew that this earthly life would be a battle. In John 14:33 Jesus said: I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  He ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to indwell those who would trust Him as Savior so that we would have everything necessary to realize “the victorious life”. Ephesians 1:3 says: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ”. In order to allow the Holy Spirit to work this “every spiritual blessing in Christ” in our lives we must die to self. There is no other way.

Yes, every true Christian desires to have victory, but most don’t want the circumstances that go along with it – spiritual warfare and the battle for lordship in their lives (“self” vs Jesus). Yet, these conflicts exist in each one of us. The battles are fierce and continuous, and we must make concerted effort and take intentional steps to avoid being a casualty. But we are all in the war and must fight. There is no victory without the fight.

Are you experiencing victories in your Christian walk? While none of us is perfect, when we don the armor of God daily and die to self daily, we will realize more victories and experience the presence of our awesome God like we never did before.

We all want victory, but no one wants the battle. Remember, you can’t have the former without the latter. Are you taking the steps necessary to be victorious?


I didn’t want to write this post, but I sensed God leading me to do so. I love the church, both the universal collection of all born again believers and the local bodies of believers that make up the universal church, so I argued with Him about it. However, one thing I have learned in my thirty three years of being a Christian is that when you argue with God, He always wins.  I gave God two reasons why I didn’t want to write this post. First, I asked God “Who am I to write this?  I’m just an unknown pastor of a small church that is struggling to keep its doors open.  There are many other big name pastors who should write this.” Secondly, the things He led me to write hurt deeply, because, as I write this, I am part of the problem, not part of the solution. But He prevailed, and so I write this. It’s not neat and pretty, but I sense it’s God’s heart. So here goes.

If I am part of the problem, what is the problem? The church, the bride of Christ, has lost its purity and gone after other lovers, and thus has lost its power.  Who are these lovers? Popularity, coolness, self exaltation, complacency, and lukewarmness.

The church has gone to great lengths to be popular and cool with the world. We make our sanctuaries look like coffee house lounges instead of places of worship. When I go to a doctors office, I expect it to look like a doctor’s office.  When I go to a church I expect it to look like a place to meet with God, not a place to lay back and drink a latte. Also, many churches have dropped the word “church” from their name because the word “church”, they say, is offensive to people. Call it what you like, it is still a church. Additionally, in our “coolness” we have also devised “non threatening” services, Bible studies, and prayer meetings. When we cut through the baloney, non threatening basically means watered down. In truth, the gospel is threatening because it says that I am a sinner that deserves hell, and that I cannot save myself. However, there is good news, absolutely incredible news in this threatening message, and that is God loves me and has made the way to forgiveness of sin and eternal life through his Son Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the church has forgotten to tell people both sides of the gospel message. – all lovey-dovey and no sin, no hell, no repentance. We might be non threatening and non offending people to a lost eternity.

In order to be cool, we have adopted many buzz words in the last few years.  We are told by the experts to “think outside the box” (i.e.: do weird things). How about thinking inside the Book instead of “outside the box”? We are also told that the church needs to be “relevant”. Relevant? God and His word are always relevant. We don’t need to be clever and tell lots of cutesy stories and add a multi media extravaganza to make the message “relevant”.  Just preach and teach the Word with the anointing of the Holy Spirit and God will transform lives. Another buzz word is “missional”.  Do we really need to make this a central focus? Being “missional” (living out our faith and verbalizing it with others) is at the very heart of being a follower of Jesus. If we need to make this a big focus, it is a sad commentary that the church has lost its way.

I wonder how many pastors spend more time downloading stories and video clips to spice up their sermons than being down on their faces before God praying for anointing and holy boldness as they prepare and deliver His message. And we scratch our heads trying to figure out why most Christians are biblically and theologically illiterate, and don’t have a biblical world view on the moral issues of the day. They say, however, that they are not changing the message, just the method. Well, I believe that when you change the method, the message will eventually change because you now must cater to those whom you attracted, which are not really interested in the real message. But you need to keep them coming back so the message changes to appeal to them.

Sadly, the modern church has adopted a worldly stance in regards to music and literature. Dove awards? Really? Do Christian musicians compete with one another for the song of the year, singer of the year, etc? Aren’t we supposed to sing for God’s glory and His approval? Do we compete with each other to see who worships better? And what about Christian Book Awards (formerly known as Gold Medallion Awards) that are given to the best Christian books? Are we competing with each other on who writes the best book about God? On top of this, many big name Christian authors don’t even write their own books but use ghost writers to write their books and then put their own name on the cover. How dishonest is that? And yet we congratulate ourselves by giving each other little trophies, which are actually trophies to our own egos. 

Have you ever gone to a Christian conference or listened to a Christian radio/television talk show, and before the speakers give their talks the emcee takes about five minutes touting all the degrees the speaker has, all the prestigious universities they studied at, how many books he/she has written, how many television shows they have appeared on, and how many countries the individual has ministered in. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t care about all of that. I care about the individual’s heart. Are they sold out bond slaves of Jesus? Do they pride themselves on their accolades or are they broken, humble servants of God?

Have you noticed the plethora of self help books in Christian bookstores? There are “how to” books on every conceivable topic. Much of this worldly psycho babble has complicated the Christian life so much. We’ve made marriage, raising kids, work place behavior, and interpersonal relationships a chaotic maze of steps, emotional responses, and “to do’s”. We’ve complicated the Christian life so much, is it any wonder that most Christians haven’t a clue on how to follow Jesus.

We’ve become Christians of convenience instead of Christians of conviction. We want to come to church and be entertained by the “show” and then have our ears tickled by a feel-good, its-all-about-me message. We follow Jesus on our terms instead of His. We have ignored Jesus’ words in Luke 14:33: “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be My disciple”, and Luke 9:23: “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me”.  Instead we want an easy, comfortable, light and breezy discipleship, which is totally foreign to Scripture.

I could go on but this is already too long. You know, it’s one thing to say what’ wrong, and quite another to give solutions. So, what is the solution to the mess the church finds it self in? What can we do to be what God has called His church to be – the most powerful entity on the planet who, through the power of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, is used by God to transform our world for His kingdom?

It’s very simple. In fact, it can be summed up in three words: DIE TO SELF. Self is that part of me that wants to be God and call the shots and be in control. “Self” is the anti-God state of mind.

Dying to self means nothing less than absolute surrender to Jesus Christ. It is giving up all rights to ourselves to Him in total surrender. Dying to self is living in spiritual brokenness, which means to acknowledge that without Him, we are spiritually bankrupt, so we hold onto Him in holy desperation. Dying to self makes Romans 6 operative in our lives – acknowledging that “self” died with Christ on the cross, and intentionally living in this reality. 

Dying to self is the key to living the Christian life and impacts every aspect of life – marriage, family, work, recreation, entertainment, relationships, money, time, ethics, morals, and character. If we would just die to self and give God the reigns of our lives everything would change. For example, just think for a moment, what would every marriage look like if every Christian would die to self and obey God’s simple standards for marriage? How would our marriages be if every husband loved his wife as Christ loved the church (i.e.: unconditionally and self sacrificially) and every wife submitted to her husband (i.e: respected Him as the head of the marriage and home)?

My friends, only by dying to self will Jesus’ bride, the church, be chaste again. Only when each one of us repents of our sin of self sufficiency, self reliance, self centeredness, self righteousness, self exaltation, self congratulation, and selfishness, and dies to self by surrendering to Jesus Christ will we, the church, again be His holy, devoted, passionate, intimate, sold out bride. I believe that it is that simple. But for many of us, it is so hard to do because we fight so hard to be in control. However, if God is to send the revival that we so desperately need, it must start here.

I know that many who read this will not agree with me and think I am some crazy nut job. Probably some, if not most, will be angry at me and never read again. That’s ok. But for those who resonate with this, will you die to self and be on the journey of absolute surrender? As our world slides further and further into darkness and chaos, will we, the church, the bride of Christ, be His chosen instruments that He works through to shatter the darkness and bring people into the light?   I ask myself, and you my fellow brother and sister in Christ, will we die to self? Will we be part of the solution or remain as part of the problem?


On a wall in my office I have fastened a piece of chalk so that I see it constantly as I sit at my desk. Why? It’s not because I like to scribble on the carpet or draw hopscotch squares. I have it there as a reminder – a reminder that our nation, our churches, and most importantly, that I, need revival.

It has been said that when Gypsy Smith, the great English revivalist, would come to a town to conduct meetings he would get down on his knees, draw a circle around himself, and cry out to God to send revival,, and to start it inside the circle. The chalk on my wall reminds me that if God is to bring a revival to my city, my county, my state, and my country, then it needs to start with me.

It is so easy to look at our society and say how bad “they” are, and to look at other Christians and say how much “they” need revival. But what about you and I? I don’t know about you, but I sure need a fresh move of God in my life. I need to draw that circle get on my face, and cry out to God to start a revival in me.

Revivals always are birthed in prayer that is saturated in humble brokenness, honest transparency, and deep repentance. Humble brokenness that recognizes that we are powerless and spiritually bankrupt without God’s manifest presence in our lives. Honest transparency that acknowledges that we, too, have sinned in many areas of our lives, be it gossip, laziness, lukewarmness, critical spirit, sexual sin, lust, dishonesty, cheating, jealousy, compromise, or any other unholiness. Deep repentance that weeps over our own sin because we hate it so much – not because we got caught or because of the consequences we might have to face, but because it grieves the heart of our heavenly Father.

Before we “stand in the gap” for revival on behalf of our country (Ezekiel 22:30), we must kneel in the circle for personal revival. You see, my friends, it starts with me, and it starts with you.

And, when He rends the heavens and comes down within our circle and revives our hearts, it will be a transformation that is truly supernatural. We will be saturated in His presence, filled with the Holy Spirit, crave holiness, and experience deep intimacy with Him. We will be hungry for His word, passionate in prayer, sold out in our worship, and fearless in proclaiming Him. We will understand that their is wholeness in spiritual brokenness, victory in surrendering to Him, freedom in being His bond slave, and true life is dying to self. In summary, we will experience the reality for which we were created – to know, and I mean really know, our great God.

Will you join me and be a part of the army of the “Chalk Circlers”? Are you tired of just existing and going through the motions in your walk with Jesus? Do you hunger and thirst for more? Then how about going to the store, buying a box of chalk, and putting a piece in a prominent place so that you see it everyday as a reminder of your need of revival. If you can, draw a circle in a private place and get in that circle everyday and pray that God would send a revival, and start it in your circle. If you can’t draw a circle, still pray everyday for personal revival. Persevere in your prayer and don’t lose heart, God works in His will and in His timing (let me know if you will enlist in the Chalk Circle army so we can pray for and encourage each other).  

Remember – pray fervently in humble brokenness, honest transparency, and deep repentance.

Oh Lord, rend the heavens and come down in revival, and let it start with me!


Whatever happened to the United States of America, that great experiment in democracy, that nation that was founded squarely on the morality and truths of the Bible? While the U.S. is not a “Christian nation” per se (our constitution provides for freedom of religion), it was undeniably founded on biblical principles. One only needs to read the statements of the Founding Fathers to see this. The argument of who was a Deist or who was a Theist is a straw man argument. The United States of America was founded on biblical principles. Period.

And because of this, our country led the way for basic goodness, decency, morality, and benevolence in the world. Oh, we weren’t, and aren’t, perfect. Far from it. Slavery and racism being a prime example. But, on the whole, we were a good nation. Why? Because of our foundation of biblical principles.

Since our country honored God, His hand of blessing was upon us. We enjoyed freedom, goodness, opportunity, decency, plenty, and justice. We were the country others flocked to to make a good life for themselves and their families

However, with the passing of time, things began to change. Before we reached our 200th birthday, we started to forget that God was the source of our incredible blessings and embarked on a dangerous journey of self reliance that had no room for God.

Prayer in schools vanished, evolution became the science of choice, living together replaced marriage, casual sex became the norm, rampant divorce led to the demise of the family which in turn left millions of kids confused and angry, the filth of pornography was protected as free speech, the mother’s womb became a death chamber for over fifty million babies, God’s moral absolutes were considered archaic for our modern society and were replaced by relativism, God’s name and His ten commandments were considered threatening to many and have been ousted from public places, and now homosexuality and gay marriage is applauded and championed in every aspect of our society.

Additionally, our elected officials, from the White House to the Governor’s office have not upheld their oath of office by refusing to defend the laws of the land and the measures voted on by the people. And sadly, unelected judges with no accountability are determining the course that the nation is heading on many moral issues.

If the Founding Fathers could see the condition of the United States today they would think they were looking at a foreign country, not the one they so bravely established over two hundred years ago.

In its inception, and for many decades, America was good and the church of Jesus Christ was a big part of that goodness.  The Bible was believed, faith was important, families attended church together, and God was considered as the cornerstone of society.

But, like our nation, something happened to the church. Theologians, scholars, and experts suddenly got “smarter” and started to doubt the Bible, wondered if God’s moral absolutes were really necessary, took a twisted view of morality, and began to compromise the truth. Instead of pouring energy into discipleship and helping Christians mature in the faith, the church decided that it needed to be “cool” and popular with the world. So the church made the sanctuary look like a night club or a lounge, replaced heartfelt worship with an entertainment extravaganza that rivaled a Las Vegas production, replaced the Bible with self help books and books about “me”, developed a crossless and bloodless gospel so as to not make people feel icky about themselves, and created buzz words like “thinking outside the box”, “emergent”, “seeker sensitive”, “non threatening services”,  “real, relevant, relational”, and “a new way to do church”.

And the results have been devastating. The church of Jesus Christ has lost its savor and has become no different than the world. Tragically, the church has lost the power of the Holy Spirit to impact our culture for Kingdom of God.

Church, we must be honest and shoulder some of the blame for the pathetic condition of our nation. We should have been leading the way for the culture to see their need of God and been the lighthouse to show them the way to Him. Instead , we compromised the truth and became like the ones we were called to transform. We have shamed our magnificent God’s name.

While its easy, and common, in articles like this to bemoan, the ills of society and the church, and how we’re going to hell in a hand basket, it is another thing to offer a solution.  Church, there is a solution.

And that solution is revival.

Only a revival in the church can halt the disaster that ominously looms before our nation.  The church is sick and on life support, but God can breathe new life into her. But it will come at a cost. Church, we, all of us who name Jesus as Savior, must fall on our faces before our holy God, repent of our own sins, the sins of the church, and the sins of the nation, and cry out to God for mercy.  Perhaps He will send revival fires our way. A revived church is surrendered, deep, passionate, fearless, bold, loving, hungry for holiness, and anointed by God. A revived church is alive and in love with Jesus Christ, and has an enormous impact on society.

Church, our nation is dying, and we, the body of Christ, can be used by Him to rescue it. Will we humble ourselves, repent, and die to self so He can live through us?

It may be now or never.