“Influence”

This post is a teaching I did at Living Water Teaching’s US headquarters located in Caddo Mills, TX.  You can CLICK HERE to listen to the recording now or CLICK HERE to go to iTunes and download the Podcast.

Influence is defined as: “The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something.”

One of the most important choices we make in life is what we ALLOW to influence us. Please take note of the word, ALLOW. We allow what influences us, it can’t take control and do it all on its own!

One major influence is what or who we spend the most time with. What we listen to, watch, read and allow to be in our lives, becomes a potential influencer.

In Proverbs 13, we read about the topic of wisdom. I really like v:20 in the NLT translation, which says: “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.”

There are two powerful forces that battle to influence us, wisdom and foolishness. The Bible reveals to us in Proverbs 9 that they are competing for our attention, calling out for us to follow them. So many people take the bait, hook, line, and sinker!

Something important to note about foolishness; it’s deceptive, and it can appear informed and attractive. We see it all over social media, in print, on tv and hear it on the radio. I was thinking about the news as I wrote this and the effect it has as we listen to it and then when you add the pictures to it as well, it can get so much worse. Most of the time, it provokes us to react because of the things we hear and see, and not in the right way.

To get a true understanding of wisdom and foolishness, let’s look at how they are defined.

Foolishness is defined as: “Lack of good sense or judgment; stupidity.”

Wisdom is defined as: “The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.” 

Wisdom and foolishness express themselves through the words of the influencers which we allow into our lives. We’d like to think we’d never be influenced by foolish people. However, foolishness is deceptive and can appear informed and attractive.

When we read 2 Corinthians 11, we read where Paul was frustrated because the church allowed foolishness to deceive them. We read about their faithfulness as well as their foolishness, along with false apostles. Paul brings truth to light to distinguish the wise people apart from the foolish people. Here are three ways he did it; they can help us in our daily lives.

1.  Fools listen to anything anyone says. Wise people compare what they hear to God’s Word and in prayer receive revelation. They also seek wise counsel from those that they trust. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4).
2.  Fools look to move up the ladder, becoming anyone and saying anything to get ahead. We call this type of person a YES person. Wise people are faithful with the opportunities God gives them, and they always put others first. (2 Corinthians 11:7-15).
3.  Fools boast about their achievements (2 Corinthians 11:17-18). The wise know to boast in the Lord. (2 Corinthians 11:30-31).
Listening to foolish influences carries harmful consequences, but listening to the wise can help makes us wise (Proverbs 13:20).

In a world so full of opinions, the Bible must always be our rudder of truth and wisdom.

Here are 3 questions to ask yourself:
1. Who or what influences you the most? Based on the three things previously mentioned, are those influences wise or foolish?
2. If necessary, what is one way you can begin now to change who and or what influences you today?
3. What is one situation you need to ask God for wisdom about? James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you”.

 

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A message of PURPOSE revealed in STAR WARS

star-wars-pic-to-go-with-star-wars-post

The following is a really great guest post from Eric Anderson .  I asked him to bring the topics of PURPOSE and STAR WARS together for this post and he did a really great job.  Thank you, Eric!  

“Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope.” This line from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, is one of the top 100 lines in the whole history of cinema. Although it was not the first line in the movie, it became the first significant line in a franchise that has impacted millions of individuals, as well as culture as a whole. This line brought an old man out of exile into a conflict which spanned a galaxy. Obi-Wan Kenobi had been in exile for nearly 30 years at this point. He was keeping tabs on a child on a desert planet far from his former apprentice. He did not exactly choose this exile. It came after he experienced a battle with a friend who betrayed him and his friend’s new mentor was just too powerful for the few Jedi that were left, to take down. But this line gave him a renewed purpose.

Purpose is a hard thing for us, right? We often struggle with it. Whether as a college student in a boring job with classes that are overwhelming or a businessman who is traveling to another continent for work or play. We live in a culture that does argue over our origins, regularly. In a world where a view like Han Solo’s claim of “Kid, I’ve flown from one side of the galaxy to the other and I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s one all-powerful force controlling everything,” I would argue that we should take the side of Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan knew the Force. He had used the Force and responded to it time and time again. For him, it was not a struggle, and it doesn’t need to be one for us, either – even in exile.

The Jews in Babylon knew the feeling of exile. They had been in exile for nearly 70 years. They had sought purpose in the exile and were longing to get out of exile. First, we’ll look at the purpose within exile, then the purpose after exile. There were several prophets that can stand out in this time period. Jeremiah did not go into exile, but he wrote a letter to those in exile which is found in Jeremiah 29. Now normally, people focus on verse 11, but we shall look before that at what he actually told them to do while in exile. Verse 7 tells us: “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” He didn’t want them to just carry on in life, but to live missionally within their context. This fits with Jesus’ teachings. He taught us to share our resources with those who have none. Even when God sends you where you do not want to go, He has people there for you to reach. People for you to love, be generous to, and to which you can share Jesus. I doubt that Obi-Wan just sat there while he was on Tatooine. We know he was looking after Luke from a distance and also that Yoda had told him to train in communing with the Force. Did you really think he became a Force Ghost later on by doing nothing on Tatooine?  In Jeremiah 29:12, after telling us He has a future and a hope for us, God says: “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” God has a relational and personal purpose for us. Jesus himself said that he calls his disciples “friends” and not just servants (John 15:15). This calling is one that exists both in and out of exile. It never ends and it will continue in eternity.

Exile is never permanent. It is always temporary, even if it feels long. When the 70 years were up, God revealed a particular part of His plan to two different men. One of them was sent to build walls around Jerusalem. Nehemiah felt a calling from God to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem and Ezra felt the calling to build a new temple for worship. They each have their own book in the Bible and I encourage you to read them. It seems that when someone is pulled from exile, throughout scripture they have a role. Paul spends time growing closer to Christ in exile then goes on his missionary journeys after that. Jesus spends forty days fasting in the wilderness and then completes his calling to bring redemption. Obi-Wan’s purpose was to get Luke out of his exile and helping with the rebellion against the Empire. In the newest Star Wars film, we find another person coming out of exile. A girl named Rey. She has been living life as a scavenger on a planet that experienced a huge battle and has many crashed ships on it. She then helps seek Luke Skywalker after enlisting in an army to fight the New Order.

Whatever phase of life you are in, whether you feel exiled to a place you do not like or if you love where you are, God has purpose for you. First of all, for you to enjoy life with Him, and secondly for you to bring His redemption to those around you.

Thank you again, Eric Anderson! And thank you to those that have taken the time to read this blog post.  I pray this one and any others you take the time to read, will bless you and bring increase into your life.  Please help us to reach further and bless more people by sharing this blog with others you know.  Together we can make a difference!    

A Challenge to “Take Each Day Gladiator Style”

colosseum-rome-italy

It’s a scorching day at the Colosseum in Rome and the crowd is roaring with anticipation. Suddenly, a steel gate goes up at one end of the arena and the crowd elevates to something way beyond a roar, as a burly man enters carrying a shield by his side and a sword in the other hand. Just as he is making his way into the center of the arena, another steel door disappears into the rock wall and out appears a battle-scarred man, screaming a blood-curdling noise. He charges towards the center of the arena with a shield set tight to his chest and yielding a massive sword. As he arrives at the center and goes from a sprinting charge to a leaping flight and with his sword set to swing, he crashes into the other gladiator and THEN?????

Here we are, a new day of dawning light has come. Your eyes open to the sound of an alarm clock and so it begins. You just entered into the arena of battle for yet another day. How you enter it sets the tone for how your day will go.

So many enter each day with a victim mindset; a “WHY ME” mentality that screams defeat from the very beginning. The facial expression screams, “I give up” before the daily ever truly has the opportunity to produce! So many wake up each day, already with an attitude of total defeat leftover from the day before. As soon as our eyes open, we must engage the day like a gladiator entering the arena of battle. If we surrender, we will find defeat to what we can’t get back.

We MUST take on a warrior mentality when it comes to life. When I picture a gladiator, I picture a warrior that knows defeat is not an option. He knows this mentally and keeps that mindset for the battle he is entering into.

The battle between the two gladiators was taking place in their minds long before they entered the arena. The stage was already set for certain victory in both their minds, but the realization was that someone would not be walking out of that colosseum of alive.

I want to share 10 attributes of a warrior, which can help you be the victor and no longer the victim.

1. Ambition: You will never have what you don’t truly desire!

2. Knowing of Purpose: You must be locked in and focused on your WHY!

3. Physically able: Your family, friends, and dreams need you being the best you can be. YES, I’m talking about how you take care of you which is a reflection of how we also take care of others.

4. Honor: How we honor those in our lives speaks loudly of our character and the person we really are.

5. Compassion: I like the statement that goes something like this: One of the greatest ways for us to succeed is by helping someone else to succeed.

6. Faith: What do you believe in? I myself, have my faith as a Christian and am totally secure in it. Many don’t know what they believe and are tossed daily about by the beliefs of all those around them. YOU and you alone must be set and solid in your faith and not give up or give in, no matter what comes your way.

7. Courage: This is the ability to do something that you know is difficult and dangerous. Courage is a daily decision we will make whether we want to or not. What we don’t face, we will encounter over and over again until we do.

8. Discipline: Do you have a discipline that is self-motivated OR do you require others to guide you through life? Discipline is something we set best for ourselves; we must create a check and balance system to make sure we walk it out.

9. Freedom: You must realize that you have been freed to be all you could ever dream to be. The only thing that can truly stop you is you!

10. Endurance: You must have the ability to endure. Life might not always be the way you want it, but you have got to be willing to push on and NOT give up.

I know there are many more attributes we could list, but these speak loudly to me in my life. You could also expound on each one for your own life.

So which gladiator are you—the one that brings the battle OR the one that has the battle brought to them? We have got to recognize, correct and overcome those weak areas in our lives and move on to conquer the day and be the best we can be!

Now get busy and make this day count!

Originally posted on The Good Men Projects website on 4-2-2016. CLICK HERE TO READ

 

What Do You Say?

new year 2016

I wonder how many were counting the minutes until 2015 would end, in an almost fearful state of mind? I know there was also a group that was embracing every second that 2015 was going to give them; believing to the very last second for breakthrough, healings, restorations, transformations, etc.

Life gives us two options, to embrace and fight against whatever is coming our way OR give up and accept what is. I have found that if I decide to embrace the moment through Christ, it goes much differently than if I fight against it on my own strength and power. Embracing does not mean giving in and giving up, but instead knowing that God has your back and by faith through grace we can do ALL things through Christ.

According to Webster, one of the definitions of embrace means, “to use (an opportunity) eagerly”. In Christ, we have all kinds of opportunities, but on our own we are VERY limited! In Christ, we tap into a limitless power that says, “I CAN”. I CAN do all things through Christ. I CAN do great things. I CAN walk in divine health and wholeness. I CAN live blessed above and beyond all I could ever ask or think. I CAN! I CAN! I CAN!

So, what are you now going to say about 2016? It’s up to you!

BUT!!!!!

Welcome to another Kingdom Thinking blog post in the Kingdom Relationship series. I’m finding that I’m my best person to focus on when deciding my topics. I guess you could say that I’m telling on myself! So buckle-up, grab a pen, notepad, and Bible, and let’s get this journey underway.

First though, if you have not read the other posts in this series, here are their links:
And Two Shall Become One…
All Or Nothing!
Two In, Two Out

So now back to my story =) This last week, my wife, Debbie, and I had a disagreement. Actually, we had to agree to disagree. BUT I felt I was right and was determined to prove it. Anyways, after I acted like a 5 year-old, she went her way and I went mine, but my conscious got the best of me and so I went back to her office and apologized. Now that would have been fine and dandy, but I did not leave it at I’m sorry. I added the infamous BUT in the sentence! Now that’s all I’m going to say about that. =)

I think it is CRAZY that two words can be so hard for many to speak and if they are spoken, then how hard it can be to not add anything other than “I LOVE YOU” after them. I recently read something that said a good apology has three parts:
1. I’m sorry
2. It’s my fault
3. What can I do to make it better

You might not define this as a good apology, but I think it is for sure one that will make life better than some apologies I have heard. (I also know that silence is an answer that sometimes screams louder than words).

My wife’s uncle, Pastor Jerry Zirkle, was my first pastor and he used to say, “Whoever says I’m sorry first, is right”. Debbie has always told me that I can be the one that is right. =) Right or wrong, an apology is the starting place for every battle to truly end. I believe that just fuming until one decides to grow up and move on, never brings resolution to an issue, BIG or small. We owe it to each other to give an apology and ask for forgiveness. True forgiveness means leaving that issue there and never bringing it up again later.

God designed us to love and to care for not just ourselves, but for one another. Actually, we are to prefer one another above ourselves. Romans 12:10 (AMP) “Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another.” Admitting you might have said or handled something wrong does not make you a lesser person, but instead, a bigger person than you might have given yourself credit for.

I’m making this post short on purpose, but I’m praying that the impact is eternal. Right now, if there is someone you need to apologize to, then there is no better time than right now.

So that’s the end to this part of the adventure in the Kingdom Relationship series, but I feel that there will be more posts in this series. Until next time, I pray God’s richest over you and yours!

And Two Shall Become One…

After reading comments from the pictures and posts I put on Facebook from my Anniversary Date Day on May 1st, I was led in my heart to start this series. This is Part 1 to the “Kingdom Relationship” series.

Notice: I am not a professional marriage counselor, nor a perfect husband. My wife has put up with a lot and given more grace than anyone should have to. I write this series from my heart and under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, my hope is that this message will in some way minister to others and bring those relationships to a whole new level – one I call a Kingdom Relationship.

“And the two shall become one flesh, so that they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (‭Mark‬ ‭10‬:‭8‬ AMP)‬‬‬‬‬‬

I had mentioned in my last blog post that I would be starting a series on Kingdom Relationships. I am not doing this because I have all the answers or think I’m the perfect husband. I am just a man who was blessed over 23 years ago with the most amazing woman ever to grace this planet. I’m pretty sure I could write a book on what NOT to do in a marriage. “I’m sorry” and “please forgive me” are words I have spoken way too many times and my wife has always forgiven me and loved me no matter what! We live life forward nowadays, not looking back; and you must do the same. She has truly stuck by my side through the good, the bad and the ugly.

Debbie Spanberger, AKA Angel, I dedicate this series to you and want to say thank you for making me the most happy and blessed man on the planet!

Back to my opening title and scripture. One of the reasons I feel relationships fail, has to do with the fact that many never fully see themselves as “one together”. The word “commitment” is almost a dirty word nowadays, and one that society has perverted in so many ways. We want to be on our own and live like we are on our own, even in our marriages. Separate lives, separate dreams, separate bank accounts and the list keeps going. I’m not asking for you to agree or disagree, I’m simply speaking from what I see and hear around me on a regular basis. Marriage failure rates seem to grow daily. (I talk from experience, as I have gone through the divorce walk and I wish that on no one!)

“Many marriages would be better if the husband and the wife clearly understood that they are on the same side.”
Zig Ziglar

Again, a Kingdom Relationship is not a perfect one. We are human and we are going to mess up. I hear couples say “we never fight” and I want to ask them, “Do you live in the same house and talk to each other?” As male and female, we are wired completely different. (We will get more into that thought later.) I think as males, we have a streak of stupid embedded in us because of some of the things we do and say…. just being real and honest here!

I read an article a few years ago in USA Today that was talking about a growing trend in people living together before marriage, to see if they fit into each other’s lives. They want to see if they like living with each other before they get married so that if they don’t like it, they won’t have to get divorced, just in case the relationship doesn’t work out. How sad of a concept and one that is totally against what the Bible calls marriage. Any level of relationship, especially marriage, is not a trial offer like a piece of software that you try to see if you like it first, but instead, it is a relationship that you enter into fully and committed to from the start.

Nothing I ever put in my posts is meant to be me passing judgment, but instead, to hopefully bring a Christian perspective to those that have ears to hear. I know my readers come from different backgrounds and beliefs, but I will always write and share according to what the Bible says and never add or take away from it. And from that I know that we all can grow and learn.

“Whatever your mindset is when you enter into a relationship, will reveal your staying power during hard times.”
Keith Spanberger

Marriage is clearly defined in Ephesians 5:22-33 (CLICK HEAR TO READ). No gray areas: one man, one woman, fully committed, forever, end of story! So what happened? The lack of commitment as I have said many times already, is the start, but not the full answer.

“Compromise and lack of commitment will destroy any relationship and leave us one day asking why.”
Keith Spanberger

Again, don’t think my wife and I have a perfect marriage, but instead, we have a marriage filled with God’s grace which is crucial for success in anything we do in life.

I have only scratched the surface in this post, but I hope that it stirs your hunger for creating a new fire in your marriage or relationship. Stay with me as we journey deeper in the next post on having a Kingdom Relationship. Also, please share this post with others you know. This blog post and this series are not about lifting me up, but instead, lifting up my God and His Son, Jesus, my savior. My life and marriage would be nothing without Him!

What’s Your Story?

I have had this title going off inside me for some time now. I hope that by the end of this post, you will be on the right path to finding your story.

I want to ask you a question – WHAT IS YOUR STORY? I’m sure this question prompts many different thoughts. We all have a story and each story will vary because no one path in this life is the same. But I want us to not look at our story as defined by the life we have lived; but instead, by the one life that was given.

1 Peter 2:9 (AMP) “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s} own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

Now, let me ask you again after reading this scripture – WHAT’S YOUR STORY? Our real story starts as a YES. The very simple answer to a life-changing question. Do you believe?

We, as believers, have been chosen and set apart. We are designated for something great; royal above any royalty this world has ever seen. If we dig into the deep meaning of this word, “chosen” we find: “to pick, gather, picked from among the larger group for special services or privileges”. If you go back and reread the scripture now with this meaning and see it as God speaking personally to you, then you will see and know your true story. Your story is uncommon and there will never be another like yours. So live like it, and do it all to the glory of God!

Just a heads up, my next blog post is a kick-off on Kingdom Relationships.