You Need a Plan

He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6



“What is it?” Del touched the wooden pole and then pointed to a pile of unpainted boards. “And those?” Layne sighed and ran his hands through his hair. “Yeah…that was gonna be a coat rack, and this one…maybe a bookcase. I never got around to finishing them.” He swept his arm to indicate what had once been a three-car garage, but now resembled the after effects of an explosion at Hobby Lobby. “Yeah, I start out great, but lose steam halfway through and never finish. I’ve got thousands of dollars’ worth of parts in here—mechanical, carpentry, technology—but they’re worth nothing unless I do something with them. He kicked a two-legged table. “Guess I should throw some of it away, but it’s good stuff. I really need a plan.”

Do you ever feel like one of those unfinished projects? God saved you, delivered you, and cleaned you up, but every time you turn around, you’re messing up. You don’t want to. You’re trying to follow Jesus, but all you see is a big mess. This verse is for you! It was God who began that good work in you and it is God who will finish it. He doesn’t give up on His projects halfway through because, unlike Layne, He does have a plan. Jesus doesn’t toss anyone on the scrap pile, because He’s an excellent carpenter. His sandpaper is rough and His knife is sharp as he whittles away ugly parts of our character. Being God’s project can be painful, but He’s the only One who sees the message inside our mess. He knows how to bring out the beauty hidden behind our stubbornness, pride, and selfishness. When we cooperate with Him, He continually refines, perfects, and molds us into works of art. Our Carpenter never gives up until our lives become masterpieces, fit for the house of a King.

When discouraged with yourself, remember that your Carpenter is still at work.
 Don’t criticize His masterpiece. 
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Thank God for You

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Philippians 1:3


Every time I think of you, I …what? Depending upon our relationship with the “you” in this question, the answer often sounds like this: “Every time I think of you, I get nauseous…I want to scream…I have deep regret…I feel anxious.” Can we honestly say that we give thanks to God for everyone in our church? Some people make us question God’s judgment rather than motivate us toward thanksgiving. Paul had the same issues we have. Not every person who read his letter was Best Friend material. The church at Philippi had a few jerks in it too. Their church also included baby Christians, whiners, and trouble-makers. But, instead of reminding them of how far they had to go, Paul praised them for how far they had come.

Gratefulness is the secret to contentment. When we express continual thanks for our possessions, we stopped craving what other people have. When we thank God for our physical features—eyes that see, hears that hear, hands that move—we realize that bad-mouthing the way we look is simply ungratefulness. And when we learn to thank God for the good qualities we see in others, we can more easily extend to them grace and forgiveness. Our natural attitude says: “That guy is so-o-o slow, it drives me crazy!” Paul’s attitude says: “That guy is so careful that he rarely makes a mistake.”


Try this experiment: When you want to complain about someone, find something about them to thank God for.
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Welcome to Phillipi


After they had been… thrown into prison…
Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. Acts 16:23-25 

WELCOME TO PHILIPPI. Paul’s experience in this city looked nothing like its tourist literature. He and his company had arrived for a stay and were leading people to Jesus and starting a church. But the city leaders were convinced that his message would upset the status quo, so they had Paul and Silas arrested, beaten, and thrown into a dungeon. Unfortunately, Paul had experienced several similar tours of Mediterranean jails, so instead of sulking in silence, he and his buddy considered prison their new mission field. The Dungeon Choir drew the attention of the other prisoners and even the jailer got saved. When the anti-Jesus mob couldn’t shut them up, they ran them out of town. And that was Paul’s introduction to Philippi.

How would you feel about a place that had treated you that way? It would be understandable if Paul wanted to shake the dust off his sandals and vow never to return. Holding a grudge or crossing them off his list would be reasonable. At the very least, he may try to forget it ever happened and focus his efforts on people who appreciated his message. 

But when Paul was invited to be a guest in another city jail, he wrote a warm letter to the church at Philippi. Some in that church may have been the very people who had mocked, arrested, and beaten him. But since that time, they had accepted the message they once rejected and been added to the church. Paul’s former enemies were included in his loving letter to the church at Philippi.

Who has been crossed off your list because of what they did? 
What if God wants to use you to bless them?
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Veto Power

He humbled himself by becoming obedient… even death on a cross. 
Therefore, God highly exalted him... Phil 2: 9

You deserve more! Demand your rights! Flaunt your stuff! So much for the wisdom of our day. It’s all about ME. Nobody can offend or take advantage of ME. “It’s my way or the highway,” we announce proudly, as though God Himself might want to take notes. What if Jesus had that attitude? What if He arrived on earth, grew up to understand Who He really was, and became disgusted with the whole plan. “These people are awful, Father. They don’t appreciate anything I do for them: the miracles, food…and for what? Only a handful even believe in me and I deserve respect! I’m not dying for them. Beam me up.”

That’s how we might feel. But Jesus understood true humility. He knew that to exalt Himself would distract from His message. So He always exalted and obeyed God—even when that obedience cost Him His dignity, His wants, and His life. How far would you go to obey God? We might want to please Him, but we also want to retain the veto power— just in case. Being beaten to a pulp and then nailed to a cross would classify as veto-worthy; yet, Jesus earned future glory by His willingness to fully obey. Jesus knew that His Father would reward Him for all eternity. We can follow His example because we know that too.

Have you retained the veto power in your level of obedience? 
You’ll never accomplish all God wants for you.
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Empty Yourself


…although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Phil. 2: 6-7 


Imagine the scene. The Adored One of heaven steps to the portal and looks down. On a faraway planet, the humans He loves are murdering, raping, and stealing from each other, while the religious ones are frantically trying to make themselves righteous enough to impress God. They are all without hope. The Son looks at the Father and hears, “It’s time, Son.” Jesus nods and lifts the ornate crown from His head while a thousand angels gasp in astonishment. The warriors draw their swords. What was happening? The Son removes His royal robes, but when angels rush to serve Him, He holds up a hand. “No, I’m not going there to be served. I’m going to be a servant.” Emptied of His privileges as God, the Son steps through the portal.


When Jesus “emptied Himself,” He willingly set aside everything that kept Him from coming down here and being with us: His rights, His history, His comfort, His own will. He left them in the hands of His Father and would depend upon the Holy Spirit’s power to help Him fulfill His mission. He set the pattern for us. Jesus emptied Himself of everything that kept Him from uniting with us physically, and we must empty ourselves of everything that keeps us from uniting with Him spiritually. We set aside our rights, our history, our comfort, and our own will, leaving them in the hands of the Father, and depending upon the Holy Spirit’s power to help us live for Christ. As Jesus emptied Himself to be one of us, we must also empty ourselves to be one with Him. 
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Think Like Jesus

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Phil 1: 5

Whoa! Wait a minute. We know we are supposed to try to BE like Jesus, ACT like Jesus, and LOVE like Jesus. But those are all external behaviors, things we can choose to do. Now, we’re told to THINK like Jesus. That sounds about as possible as leaping over Mt. Everest in a single bound. We’d be more likely to win the lottery without buying a ticket than to have the same mindset, the same attitudes, and the same motivations as the Son of God. Yet, there it is. A command we’re expected to follow. So when we’re confronted with an impossible-looking command in the Bible, should we: 

A) treat it as a suggestion?

B) pretend we didn’t see it? 
C) pretend we’re doing it but we’re really not? 
D) ask the Holy Spirit to do it through us?

If you guessed A-C, you’re wrong, but probably in the majority. If you guessed D, you’re right, but it might not be the way you think. Asking the Lord to “do this through me” is often spiritual code for “It’s God’s fault if I don’t obey Him.” That’s not what it means. Before the Lord can do the impossible through us, we have to be willing to get ourselves out of the way. If we are to have the same mindset as Jesus has, that means we cannot hang on to the old mindset that belongs to us. 

To think like Jesus means Self has to pack its bags. Self no longer gets to vote or veto. We capture those self-centered, prideful, lustful, envious thoughts, call them what they are, and kick them out. We stop excusing our sin, and agree with God. Then answer D will work.

 Are you willing to have the same mindset as Jesus? 
It means surrendering to His right to change your thinking.
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Biblical Christianity


…not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the others. Phil. 2:4

“Yeah, but I like things this way! I can’t believe you’re changing it.” “I don’t want our small group to grow. Those people aren’t like us.” “I should help support missions and our church, but I like nice things.” It would be great if those comments were pure fiction, but they’re not. Every church has its own version of them. Every family does too. Me First! My Wants Should Rule! Of course, we don’t say it like that. We’ve come up with milder ways to express those selfish tendencies. But the motives are still there. The very root of all sin is this: I want what I want when I want it. I’ll do right, as long as it doesn’t infringe on what I want.


What if we let Jesus rule our lives to such an extent that our first reaction to any idea was: “What would Jesus have me do? How can I best represent Him in this situation?” Imagine the transformation in our homes, our churches, and our communities if that was the default response of every Jesus follower. 
Most divorces would never happen. 
Families would live in harmony. 
The church would never need to beg for volunteers because the lists would be filled months in advance. 
Giving would overflow the buckets, every orphan would have a home, and there would be no needy among us. 

Is this utopia? No, it’s biblical Christianity. 
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Prideful Humility



Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. Phil 2:3  

Alphonso flashed his award-winning smile as cameras snapped. “Get a couple more orphans in this shot,” he murmured to his press secretary while resting a manicured hand on a toddler’s fuzzy head. “Alphonso! Alphonso!” journalists shouted. “How much have you donated to this project?” The superstar lowered his gaze in practiced modesty and waved a dismissive hand. “A little over ten million, but really it’s nothing—” Fans cheered from the scarlet-roped viewing area, drowning out the next question. Alphonso exchanged a wink with his accountant. Ten million was a small investment that paid off in publicity. Charity work was rewarding in itself, made him feel like a good person. But it was also tremendously profitable—if you did it right.

“Prideful humility” is a paradoxical term that needs to be added to our dictionaries. Guilted by constant reminders of how blessed we are, we can be tempted to publicly demonstrate our generosity. We’re so used to posting and tweeting every minute detail of our lives that we can forget what true humility looks like. Culture’s attitude is: If you can’t Instagram it, why do it? This verse nails us. We do most things out of selfish ambition and vain conceit, but Jesus reminded us in Matthew 6:3: “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” That means that we should give, serve, love, and forgive quietly and privately because God sees our inward motivations. He wants to reward us for eternity, but He can’t if we’re already rewarding ourselves. When our greatest desire is to please the Lord, it doesn’t matter who else knows. God does. And that’s enough.


How often do you make choices simply to please the Lord without anyone else knowing about it?
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BAD DADS OF THE BIBLE--MANASSEH

He sacrificed his children in the fire…
practiced divination and witchcraft, sought omens, 
and consulted mediums and spiritists. 
He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, arousing his anger. 
2 Chronicles 33:6



King Manasseh would never be named Father of the Year. Not only did Manasseh sacrifice his own babies to idols, but because he was king, other dads followed his example. He led the nation of Judah into all kinds of wickedness, so God was angry with him. Manasseh had so hardened his heart against the Lord that even child sacrifice was acceptable. He assumed he had God’s favor because he was king of God’s people, so he might as well court the favor of idols too. Can’t have too many gods, right? Wrong. So how could a father justify sacrificing his own children? For the same reasons we do.


When the Lord ceases being our only God, we are prone to all kinds of twisted thinking. Many modern fathers have done as Manasseh did and sacrificed their children upon the altars of selfishness and pride. “You’re pregnant? Here’s $500. Get rid of it.” We sacrifice them in other ways as well: their values to the sports god, their self-worth to the money god, and their minds to the entertainment god. The good news is that by verse 20, Manasseh repented. He tried to reverse the damage he’d caused, but even then, his eldest son followed in his footsteps to become Judah’s next evil king. No sin is too great for God’s pardon, but often the damage is irreversible. When we repent, God forgives, but scars may remain. Don’t be a Manasseh.
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BAD DADS OF THE BIBLE--DAVID

When King David heard what had happened, 
he was very angry. 
2 Samuel 13:1


David. Dreamy songwriter. Innocent shepherd boy. Mighty warrior. God’s hand-picked king of Israel. David wore many hats, most of them extraordinarily well. But he failed in one of his most important roles—father. Running a kingdom isn’t for sissies: slaughtering evil villains, making wise decisions, and keeping all those wives happy. He was proactive in bringing justice to the nation, but failed to do it in his own household when he learned that his son had raped his daughter. When Absalom learned that their father had done nothing, he became bitter and plotted to kill his half-brother and take the kingdom from his father. David was angry about the rape, but did nothing to vindicate his daughter, so she “remained desolate in her brother’s house.”

We may not have kingdoms to run, but we often allow our kids to bully each other by ignoring the victims and excusing the victimizers. “They’re just kids. All siblings pick on each other,” say the David-like fathers. Sadly, some oblivious parents allow abuse of all kinds to continue under their roof because it’s too much trouble to keep close tabs on what the kids are doing. “You kids get along!” David-like parents shout from the other room, while a lifetime of damage is being done sibling-on-sibling. David refused to address the dysfunction in his own household and lost the respect of his kids. Don’t be a David.
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BAD DADS OF THE BIBLE--ELI

Eli's sons were scoundrels; 
they had no regard for the LORD. 
1 Samuel 2:12




Eli held one of the most respected positions in the Jewish community— a priest in God’s temple. It was his job to hear from the Lord and make God’s will known to the people. But he was also the father of two sons. Church kids. While Eli was busy at the temple, the boys ran wild. Eli made the mistake many parents make, especially those in ministry. He elevated church work over family responsibilities, and assumed the kids would catch morality like the flu. God judged him for not restraining them.

God warned Eli years earlier that his sons were no good and he needed to do something about that. But like many fathers, Eli was passive. Discipline required energy and unpleasant confrontation, so he ignored their ungodly behaviors. We see this attitude after a thug has been arrested for assaulting someone. “He’s a good boy,” the tearful mother says. “He just got in with the wrong crowd.” That may be true. But it’s more likely that he WAS the wrong crowd. It’s difficult for us to see the people we love realistically, but God doesn’t wear rose-colored glasses when he sees our family. He expects parents to be intentional about teaching, disciplining, and restraining their children. Eli remained passive, and everyone suffered. Don’t be an Eli.
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BAD DADS OF THE BIBLE--LOT

The two angels arrived at Sodom… 
and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. 
Genesis 19:1



Sodom and Gomorrah were wicked places long before Lot arrived. Yet, he chose to move there anyway and became a respected leader in the most perverted twin-cities in the region. His neighbors, co-workers, and friends were vile and twisted people, but there were exciting career opportunities and the weather was beautiful. Lot may have excused his continued stay by thinking that he was a good influence; instead, he got comfortable with their sin. While Lot thought he was conquering Sodom, Sodom was conquering his family. His wife was destroyed and the girls ended up committing incest with their father.

Power, money, and success are strong lures, and many fathers sacrifice everything for them. They, like Lot, see a great opportunity and ignore everything else. They brush off the warning cries of “What about your family?” by insisting that they’re “doing this for them.” So they throw money, possessions, and permission at the kids instead of time, attention, and instruction. They assume the schools will educate them, the church will spiritualize them, and the mom will discipline them. Only too late do they realize that while they were conquering the world, the world was conquering their kids. Don’t be a Lot.
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BAD DADS OF THE BIBLE--JOSEPH (ISRAEL)

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons... 
Genesis 37:3


“Here he comes, Dad’s little pet,” Rueben smirked. The ten brothers stood as a unit, hostility crackling in the air. As the eldest, Rueben had been the apple of his father’s eye, and the brothers all knew they were the fulfillment of God’s promise to their grandfather, Abraham. They had purpose, position, and power. Then Joseph came along, and Dad seemed to forget the rest of them. To make it worse, Dad flaunted his favoritism, giving an expensive robe to a little kid. The brat wore it like he was a king. They gave up trying to get Dad’s attention and turned their focus upon the one who’d stolen it. Hurt and resentment mushroomed into fighting and revenge. Little brother became the enemy and home became a battlefield.

Maybe you grew up in a home like that. You know the sting of favoritism and swore you’d never do that to your kids. But now, your family accuses you of the same thing. You don’t mean to, but it’s hard to treat them all equally when some are harder to handle than others. But there’s that one who wanted you when the others wanted Mama. Or he/she likes what you like, wants to be with you. Being a parent to more than one child is overwhelming, and treating them all equally is easier than it sounds. But if you find yourself favoring one child over the others, Jacob invites you to take a peek into his home and learn from his mistakes. His favoritism created disaster for one son and incited lying, hatred, and revenge in the others. Don’t be a Jacob.
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Prideful Humility

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. 
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.  Phil 2: 3  


Alphonso flashed his award-winning smile as cameras snapped. “Get a couple more orphans in this shot,” he murmured to his press secretary while resting a manicured hand on a toddler’s fuzzy head. “Alphonso! Alphonso!” journalists shouted. “How much have you donated to this project?” The superstar lowered his gaze in practiced modesty and waved a dismissive hand. “A little over ten million, but really it’s nothing—” Fans cheered from the scarlet-roped viewing area, drowning out the next question. Alphonso exchanged a wink with his accountant. Ten million was a small investment that paid off in publicity. Charity work was rewarding in itself, made him feel like a good person. But it was also tremendously profitable—if you did it right.


“Prideful humility” is a paradoxical term that needs to be added to our dictionaries. Guilted by constant reminders of how blessed we are, we can be tempted to publicly demonstrate our generosity. We’re so used to posting and tweeting every minute detail of our lives that we can forget what true humility looks like. Culture’s attitude is: If you can’t Instagram it, why do it? This verse nails us. We do most things out of selfish ambition and vain conceit, but Jesus reminded us in Matthew 6:3: “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” That means that we should give, serve, love, and forgive quietly and privately because God sees our inward motivations. He wants to reward us for eternity, but He can’t if we’re already rewarding ourselves. When our greatest desire is to please the Lord, it doesn’t matter who else knows. God does. And that’s enough.
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It's NOT Me First?

…not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the others. Phil. 2: 4



“Yeah, but I like things this way! I can’t believe you’re changing it.” 
“I don’t want our small group to grow. Those people aren’t like us.” 
“I should help support missions and our church, but I like nice things.” 

It would be great if those comments were pure fiction, but they’re not. Every church has its own version of them. Every family does too. Me First! My Wants Should Rule! Of course, we don’t say it like that. We’ve come up with milder ways to express those selfish tendencies. But the motives are still there. The very root of all sin is this: I want what I want when I want it. I’ll do right, as long as it doesn’t infringe on what I want.

What if we let Jesus rule our lives to such an extent that our first reaction to any idea was: “What would Jesus have me do? How can I best represent Him in this situation?” Imagine the transformation in our homes, our churches, and our communities if that was the default response of every Jesus follower. Most divorces would never happen. Families would live in harmony. The church would never need to beg for volunteers because the lists would be filled months in advance. Giving would overflow the buckets, every orphan would have a home, and there would be no needy among us. Is this utopia? No, it’s biblical Christianity.

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Thinking Like Jesus

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: (verse 5)

Whoa! Wait a minute. We know we are supposed to try to BE like Jesus, ACT like Jesus, and LOVE like Jesus. But those are all external behaviors, things we can choose to do. Now, we’re told to THINK like Jesus. That sounds about as possible as leaping over Mt. Everest in a single bound. We’d be more likely to win the lottery without buying a ticket than to have the same mindset, the same attitudes, and the same motivations as the Son of God. Yet, there it is. A command we’re expected to follow. 

So when we’re confronted with an impossible-looking command in the Bible, should we: 

A) treat it as a suggestion?

B) pretend we didn’t see it? 
C) pretend we’re doing it but we’re really not? 
D) ask the Holy Spirit to do it through us?
If you guessed A-C, you’re wrong, but probably in the majority. If you guessed D, you’re right, but it might not be the way you think. Asking the Lord to “do this through me” is often spiritual code for “It’s God’s fault if I don’t obey Him.” That’s not what it means. Before the Lord can do the impossible through us, we have to be willing to get ourselves out of the way. If we are to have the same mindset as Jesus has, that means we cannot hang on to the old mindset that belongs to us. To think like Jesus means Self has to pack its bags. Self no longer gets to vote or veto. We capture those self-centered, prideful, lustful, envious thoughts, call them what they are, and kick them out. We stop excusing our sin, and agree with God. Then answer D will work.
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Are you willing to have the same mindset as Jesus has? It means surrendering to His right to change your thinking.
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Empty Yourself

…although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Phil. 2: 6-7



Imagine the scene. The Adored One of heaven steps to the portal and looks down. On a faraway planet, the humans He loves are murdering, raping, and stealing from each other, while the religious ones are frantically trying to make themselves righteous enough to impress God. They are all without hope. The Son looks at the Father and hears, “It’s time, Son.” Jesus nods and lifts the ornate crown from His head while a thousand angels gasp in astonishment. The warriors draw their swords. What was happening? The Son removes His royal robes, but when angels rush to serve Him, He holds up a hand. “No, I’m not going there to be served. I’m going to be a servant.” Emptied of His privileges as God, the Son steps through the portal.


When Jesus “emptied Himself,” He willingly set aside everything that kept Him from coming down here and being with us: His rights, His history, His comfort, His own will. He left them in the hands of His Father and would depend upon the Holy Spirit’s power to help Him fulfill His mission. He set the pattern for us. Jesus emptied Himself of everything that kept Him from uniting with us physically, and we must empty ourselves of everything that keeps us from uniting with Him spiritually. We set aside our rights, our history, our comfort, and our own will, leaving them in the hands of the Father, and depending upon the Holy Spirit’s power to help us live for Christ. As Jesus emptied Himself to be one of us, we must also empty ourselves to be one with Him.

Veto Power

...He humbled himself by becoming obedient… even death on a cross. Therefore, God highly exalted him... Phil. 2:9



You deserve more! Demand your rights! Flaunt your stuff! So much for the wisdom of our day. It’s all about ME. Nobody can offend or take advantage of ME. “It’s my way or the highway,” we announce proudly, as though God Himself might want to take notes. What if Jesus had that attitude? What if He arrived on earth, grew up to understand Who He really was, and became disgusted with the whole plan. “These people are awful, Father. They don’t appreciate anything I do for them: the miracles, food…and for what? Only a handful even believe in me and I deserve respect! I’m not dying for them. Beam me up.”

That’s how we might feel. But Jesus understood true humility. He knew that to exalt Himself would distract from His message. So He always exalted and obeyed God—even when that obedience cost Him His dignity, His wants, and His life. How far would you go to obey God? We might want to please Him, but we also want to retain the veto power— just in case. Being beaten to a pulp and then nailed to a cross would classify as veto-worthy; yet, Jesus earned future glory by His willingness to fully obey. Jesus knew that His Father would reward Him for all eternity. We can follow His example because we know that too.


Have you retained the veto power in your level of obedience? You’ll never accomplish all God wants for you.
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Falling Idols

The next morning the same thing happened--Dagon had fallen face down before the Ark of the LORD. 
I Sam. 5:4



God’s enemies were cheering. They did it! They captured that magical Ark of the Lord. Now success was guaranteed. They could have Yahweh’s power on command. They set God’s Ark beside their idol, Dagon, and everyone went to bed happy. The next morning, old Dagon had toppled over and lay face down before God’s Ark. They stood him up, but the next morning there he was again. This time his head and his hands broke off. Terror struck the city. Who was this God that no other god could stand up against? They couldn’t get rid of the Ark fast enough. Even God’s enemies had learned: Yahweh topples idols.

He topples our idols too. He greatly prefers that His people acknowledge and get rid of idols on our own. But when we refuse, He has to do it for us: The affair gets exposed. The kids turn out horrible. The casino takes all your money and gives nothing back. The spouse you thought would complete you, betrays you. You’re left with a broken Dagon and no way to fix it. When Self has been the idol, the toppling can be particularly painful. Age steals beauty. Popularity dries up. Success succumbs to the plunging Dow, and your overpriced, designer hiding places go out of style. We can rename, replace, and refuse to admit them, but the Lord knows about those other gods and He won’t tolerate them. He loves us enough to topple our idols.

God will not share His glory with idols (Is. 48:11). 
He will topple them, but it’s much better if we do it first.


What's Molding You?



And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… Romans 12:2

Your mission, Jim, if you choose to accept it, is to convince this people that their leader is against them.” In the classic TV show Mission Impossible, no mission was impossible. One of the IMF team’s favorite tricks was to use their incredible mask-making skills to fool their enemies. They made a mold from the face of the bad guy, then poured Rollin’s rubbery mixture into that mold, and Voila! The mixture conformed to the contours of the facial mold, and once hardened, became just like it. The mold created a mask that made the good guy look exactly like the bad guy. Enemy defeated. Mission Accomplished.

Satan does the same thing with our lives. Imagine the Evil Commander issuing an order similar to the one Jim received: “Your mission, Demon, is to convince God’s people that He is against them.” He does it by making a mold of himself, and then seducing us to pour our passions, time, and attention into it. He parades his superstars before us—the-rich-and-famous, and the famous-for-being-rich—and then suggests: “Be like them.” When we focus on his idols, we become like them. His work is so thorough, we can attend church every Sunday and never realize we are wearing the mask of the enemy. But God’s solution is to transform us by His power through His Spirit. He invites us to pour our passion, our will, and our surrender into His word. When we do, we conform to His image and Christ’s character appears in our lives. Enemy defeated. Mission Accomplished.

Whose mold are you conforming to? 
Use the mirror of God’s word to study your reflection.
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Is God Jealous?

“…for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD…is a jealous God.”  Exodus 34:14


One celebrity has famously stated that she could never worship a God who is jealous; therefore, the God of the Bible must be rejected or reinvented. The confusion comes because of our misunderstanding of the nature of jealousy. We instantly categorize the word “jealous” with other negative words, like greed, hatred, or envy. But consider it this way:


John paused at the door of his home, fumbling with his house key while juggling the bouquet of roses he’d brought to surprise his wife. He smiled as he pictured her squeal of delight. He’d worked two jobs for the past ten years to pay the bills while she pursued her degree and an internship she loved. He’d stayed home with the kids on his days off so she could enjoy time with her friends, but he didn’t mind at all. He adored her. The love of his life. What a treasure she was to him!

The door opened and he lurched into the silent hallway, trying not to drop the flowers. He wandered into the kitchen, wondering at the stillness, and saw a note on the table: “Dear John, I’m sorry, but I must pursue my own happiness. I’m in love with that prisoner I’ve been writing to, and I’ve left you to be with him when he is released. The kids are at my mom’s. You’re a nice man, you’ll find someone else. Thanks for everything.” He stared unseeing at the note, trying to understand. That prisoner? The convicted rapist? Con man? Married 4 times? What was she thinking? Now consider this—Did John have a righteous reason to be jealous? Outraged? Heartbroken? That’s the way our loving Creator feels when we love ourselves instead of Him.

Do your choices, desires, and affections provoke jealousy 
in the heavenly Father who adores you?
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Which God Is Yours?



“You shall have no other gods before me.”  Exodus 20:3

2:00 am. The house was quiet. Nothing moved except the figures on the screen before him. He needed this. It filled him, met his need like nothing else could. Regardless of how crazy the day or how cranky the wife, he knew where he could go to feel better. Here, before this flickering throne, he could be anyone he wanted to be. His online servants cavorted before him, performing for his pleasure and satisfaction. He was well-respected, a leader, considered a godly man by everyone. But this was where he found comfort, value, and identity. Only he and God knew his dark secret: this was where he really worshiped.

When the Lord commanded humanity to have no other gods before Him, he was not referring to placement, as in first, second, third. He meant that He wants to see nothing in our lives that meets our deep heart needs except Him alone. Whatever we run to in order to have those needs met is our functional god. But we defend our idols: “My wife isn’t meeting my needs, so porn is OK.” “My kids are my life, so God understands if I don’t trust Him with them.” “My reputation is everything, so lying on social media helps me keep it.” Idols don’t have to be sin habits. They can be God’s gifts that have become more important to us than He is. In order to identify our idols, we can ask ourselves this: WHAT DO I PURSUE, SACRIFICE FOR, AND RUN TO FOR COMFORT?


Whatever we cannot lay on the altar before God, IS our god. What idols reign in your life?
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Idol Reflections


You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind…  Exodus 20:4

“I’ve gotta get home,” Bekah murmured. Her mother raised a brow as she backed out of the school parking lot. “What’s so urgent?” Bekah shrugged one shoulder and faced the passenger window. “I posted a few selfies with that hot new guy, Brad, then my phone died. I wanna see who liked it.” Her mother sighed. “Oh. I was hoping you were excited about drama practice at church tonight.” Bekah rolled her eyes at the window. “Puh-leeze, Mom. I’m not gonna be in that. They gave Jenna Ray the lead, and everybody knows I’m better than her.” She tossed her hair. “I deserve a bigger role. I will not be just an extra.”


Self-worship. We are supposed to outgrow it, like we outgrow taping rock star posters to our bedroom walls. Unfortunately, many don’t, and social media gives us plenty of platforms upon which to build our shrines. Even those of us who profess to follow Jesus can get turned around and start following ourselves. We subconsciously gauge our worth by the number of “likes” or comments on our posts. Duck-face selfies replace genuine smiles, and if we can’t Instagram it, why do it? American culture has seduced us into becoming our own gods, and this god is insatiable. We must feed, pamper, and console it continually, or it plunges us into depression. We may never bow to a wood and stone idol, but we bow every day to the one in the mirror. 
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New Identity


He became sin for us, who knew no sin, 
that we might become the righteousness of God. 
2 Corinthians 5:21

Roy’s knees trembled as he stood with head bowed before the throne. He had dreaded this day since childhood, and now, here he was. It had happened so fast: the speeding semi, the crash. One minute he was reaching for the radio and the next, standing before the Lord God Almighty. It was too late to change anything. He couldn’t undo all he’d done. No way to stack up good deeds or apologize for the mess-ups. He’d only known Jesus for three weeks. Still didn’t have it all figured out. How could he explain— “Next!” The Voice was like the sound of a thousand waterfalls, and Roy forced himself to look up.

Smiles. All he saw were smiles. Everywhere. “Roy!” Jesus was coming toward him. Dark holes marred the hands held out in welcome. “I—I don’t—I’m sorry…” Roy blurted, but Jesus placed a hand on Roy’s shoulder. “Father, Roy’s one of ours. He’s wearing my righteousness.” Roy gaped at his spotless clothing. Where’d he get that? All he remembered was dirt and blood and broken glass. Before that, nothing but sin and selfishness. He’d done nothing to deserve this robe or those smiles, but there they were. “Welcome, Righteous One,” came the Voice again. Righteous one? Roy wanted to object, but the Voice went on. “Because your sin debt has been cancelled by my Son’s sacrifice, you are welcome here. Enter the joy of your Lord!”

If you have accepted Jesus as Lord of your life, 
then God has given you a new identity: Righteous One.
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Gender Wars

He created them male and female, 
and he blessed them and called them "human."  

Genesis 5:2

Facebook has decided there are 51. New York City offers only 31 choices, but that number will increase soon because humanity is giddy with excitement over its new toy: gender selection. We have decided that we can choose our gender the way we choose a flavor of ice cream. However, gender is no more our choice than whether or not we breath oxygen. God has declared that there are only two: male and female. Our gender is assigned to us at conception, through our DNA, just like race, height, and eye color. No amount of body mutilation or mental confusion can change what God has declared.

Our value is not up for a vote either. God established the value of human beings in two distinct ways: when He breathed His own life into Adam (Gen. 2:7), and when He took on flesh to became one of us (John 3:16). God did not become a puppy or a dolphin. He took on human flesh because humans were most like Him, with a spirit like He has. No sane person lays down his life for a goldfish, a rabbit, or evolved pond scum. When God sent His Son to rescue us, He declared the value of human life. No matter what we’ve done, our value can’t change because God already set it. Your gender is His choice; your value is His choice. Every human being, male or female, is created in God’s image, useful for God’s purposes, and worth God’s Son.


Just as you cannot change your gender, you cannot change your value. God has already set them both.
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Who Told You That?

"Who told you that you were naked?” the LORD God asked.  Genesis 3:11




“I never went to college,” Marsha said. “My dad always told me I was too stupid.” Brent nodded. “I know what you mean. I’ve always been too scared to ask a girl out, ‘cause my grandma always told me I was too ugly.” He looked at his friend Andi. “You had a great family. You probably can’t understand what we’re talking about.” Andi gave a short laugh. “Yeah, my childhood was great, but I hate myself anyway. I’ve always wanted to play soccer or take gymnastics, but people made fun of me one time for being a clutz. So I sit on the sidelines and save everyone the misery of watching me fail.”

When Adam sinned, he allowed Satan to tell him who he was. Did Satan know? Did Satan create Adam in his own image? We make the same mistake Adam made when we allow hurtful words or experiences to tell us who we are: “You’re a failure.” “You’ll never amount to anything.” “You’re too ugly/stupid/poor/low class to ever have a successful life.” Sometimes we even let the mistakes we’ve made tell us who we are: “You’ve messed up too bad.” “Even God couldn’t fix you.” “Forget living purely after all you’ve done.” Do other people know our value? Did they create us in their own image? Just as Satan did not have the power to define the man that God made, neither does he—nor anyone else—have the power to define you. Your experiences are not YOU. Hurtful words from childhood are not YOU. Only God knows who you really are. Let Him define you.
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