IMPRESSIONS…What is God saying to me?”

What is God saying to me?
What is God saying to me?

When the devil gives us an idea it’s called temptation. When God gives us an idea we call it an impression. An impression is not a feeling, but more like an inner sensing, an inward urging or pressure, an internal breeze of wind rustling the leaves of your spirit, emotions and will, inviting you to listen with your heart to God’s still small voice.  How do you know when it’s God speaking to you?

Like gravity, I can’t see God but I experience the results of His actions. I confess this makes it hard sometimes. I wish I could see God like I see other people. How can we get to a place where we become sensitive enough to know when its God speaking to us? Here’s the reality…

YOU HAVE TO FIGURE IT OUT

Figure it out means think it out. Thankfully, not by yourself. God knew that we humans would struggle with the subjective nature of our relationship with Him. So, not only did God come to earth in human form in Jesus, but He also gave us a book, The Bible, to be an objective source of authority where we can go to find true information about Him.

Figuring it out means going to God’s Word, the Bible, and reading and studying what it says. God will never contradict His Word. God will never tell you to do something that goes against what He’s already told us in The Bible. One way of figuring out if it’s God’s voice I’m hearing is to check my impressions (what I’m sensing on the inside) with the truths of God’s Word. As you do this…

YOU HAVE TO WORK IT OUT

Very often, when Jesus Christ would teach and preach, people failed to understand His message. The Gospel of John records this insight: “Jesus gave this illustration, but they did not understand what He was telling them.” Jesus was teaching and even using stories to make clear the meaning of his message…and still people didn’t get it.

Knowing what Jesus said and what He meant are two different things. What He said is easy enough, but knowing what He meant is the part where we work it out. Paul, the Apostle, instructed first century Christians: “So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Thankfully, God has given Christ-followers His very own Spirit to live within us and to teach us the truth. Working out your own salvation with fear and trembling means working with God’s Holy Spirit to understand truth. The Apostle John explains this when he says, However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He (God’s Spirit) will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. – John 16:13 (NKJV)

Once we begin figuring it out and working it out…the natural progression of this process means…

YOU HAVE TO LIVE IT OUT

John also connects these spiritual dots for us in his book 1 John 2:27 (NLT):

“But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.”

The third person of the Holy Trinity, The Holy Spirit, lives and dwells inside every true believer empowering us to figure out our own inner impressions, working out our own understanding of what God is saying to us and to live out the faith we possess.

INFLUENCE…How am I impacting people around me?

 

INFLUENCE

“Each of us is surrounded by people who look to us, count on us, and depend on us to make a difference.” – Blaine Lee


It’s like breathing air. It’s the most personal and the most universal human experience. What am I talking about? Influence.

Every day we’re surrounded by forces trying to influence us. We breathe it in (Marketing, Media, TV, Radio, Friends, Books, Magazines, Tablets, Smartphones ), opening ourselves up to be influenced by others; and then we exhale it out (Parenting, Leading, Managing, Socializing), attempting to wield our own influence-powers. Push, pull. In, out. Give and take. We influence others and are influenced by others.

When measuring our own influence, I’ve found that most people fall into 1 of 3 categories:

1.  MANY PEOPLE UNDER-ESTIMATE THEIR INFLUENCE.

We see it in others. It glares at us.  We recognize influence in others, but do we see it in ourselves? John Maxwell relates that according to some sociologists, even the most introverted person will influence 10,000 people in their lifetime.

All day today, you’re carrying around two kinds of influence: Active and Potential. Typically, people who underestimate their own influence do not value their own potential. They doubt their ability to make a difference. So, they hold back, stay in the shadows, sell themselves short. They don’t flex their influence muscles.

2. SOME PEOPLE OVER-ESTIMATE THEIR INFLUENCE.

David and Heather Kopp, along with Larry Wilson, define an influencer as “a living person whose life and work has far-reaching impact–whether for good or ill–in today’s world”. We also refer to these people as “World-Changers”. And who doesn’t want to be considered a world-changer?

Sadly, this desire to be thought of as important and powerful leads some people to over-reach in their attempts to exert influence on others. They’re not so much confident as arrogant. They reek of ambition and sweat forcefulness out of every pore. Unfortunately, they tend to rub their nasty sweat all over everyone else around them. And it stinks!

We’ve all known people like this. Perhaps, at times, we have been people like this. I know I have. One of the best ways to discover if you’re behaving this way is simply to ask your family, friends and co-workers for feedback. Ask them:

  • Am I overbearing?
  • Do I give advice when you don’t really want me to?
  • Do I come across as too forceful?
  • Am I tactful or too direct?
  • Do you feel respected by me?
  • How do I make you feel?

Takes courage…but it’s the quickest way to learn whether you’re overestimating your own influence.

3. A FEW PEOPLE RIGHTLY ESTIMATE THEIR INFLUENCE.

The Apostle Paul taught, “…I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.” 

What’s he saying? He’s saying properly estimate your own influence. Don’t over-reach and don’t under-reach. When you stand in front of the mirror, don’t ask it, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” Just go to the mirror and be honest; be willing to see yourself as objectively as you can. Warts and all!

Then go out and activate your properly estimated influence to change the world!

 

 

18 PRACTICAL WAYS TO DEVELOP MORE INTEGRITY

HOW TO PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH
HOW TO PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH

What does it mean to have integrity? To have integrity means ‘to be in reality what I appear to be’. It means that my core beliefs are congruent with my common practice. It means my walk matches my talk and my behavior mirrors my true beliefs.

Integrity implies more than just being honest, but certainly no less. Integrity means I’m honest AND whole. Integrity is having the courage and honesty to handle the demands of life with grace and truth. To better lead myself I like to ask myself this Growth Question: INTEGRITY…Am I practicing what I teach?

Allow me to share with you 18 PRACTICAL WAYS TO DEVELOP MORE INTEGRITY.

What can we do to develop integrity? Do the following…
1. Tell myself that integrity is important…Value it.
2. Talk to God asking Him to give me integrity…Pray for it.
3. Make someone a promise and keep it…Work at it.
4. Ask a friend to hold me accountable to have integrity…Submit to it.
5. Read what God says about integrity in the Bible…Study it.
6. Explain to myself why integrity matters…Understand it.
7. Spend time with people who have integrity…Catch it.
8. Teach on it to others…Model it.
9. Listen to my conscience…Sense it.
10. Condition my mind with self-talk for integrity…Program it.
11. Create a document outlining what it would look like for me to have integrity…Script it.
12. Collect quotes on integrity…Seek it.
13. Read books about integrity…Read about it.
14. Listen to sermons/talks on the subject of integrity…Absorb it.
15. Dialogue with My spouse and friends about it…Discuss it.
16. Study lives of men and women who succeeded and failed at integrity…Learn it.
17. Analyze and evaluate choices where I choose not to act with integrity…Change for it.
18. Write a document describing what would happen and what life would be like if I don’t choose integrity…Contextualize it.

 

DO YOU ‘BUY’ THIS LIE?

 

Are You 'Buying' This Lie?
Are You ‘Buying’ This Lie?

There is a lie many people buy…and it’s defeating them! They die under the weight of this lie:  Here’s the lie…

WORTHINESS = USEFULNESS

In other words, this lie says that how much you’re worth depends on how useful you are to somebody. You’re only as valuable as you are useful. Have you ever heard that? Do you ever feel…that you’re only as good as your last performance?

I believe this is pragmatism at its worst! What is pragmatism? Pragmatism has been called America’s philosophical contribution to the world. Pragmatism is the belief that everything should be viewed in terms of its practical uses and successes. If you’re useful, then you’re valuable…If you’re not useful then, according to some pragmatists, you’re not worth much.

In this kind of twisted thinking human life is reduced to the measure of its usefulness. The less useful you are the less valuable you are. The recent V.A. scandal is evidence. “Useful” people make it to the top of medical waiting lists. Unborn babies are treated as commodities to be discarded through abortion. And the elderly are viewed as dispensable and mainly ignored or worse, made to feel irrelevant.

Another branch stemming from this lie is the equally undignified baloney which says, “You’re only as valuable as you are beautiful.”In this mentality, your worth = your girth (I like rhyming:) Put another way, “If they don’t like your waist, they think you’re a waste.” It’s sad but this attitude is everywhere.

A third consequence of this line of thinking is the often believed logic which implies, “You’re only valuable if you’re likable.” We’re back to usefulness again. If a person likes you, then you become worth something in their eyes; useful. But what if you’re not everything they expect you to be? What then? The sad reality is that you’re deemed less valuable.

An equally pervasive consequence of ‘buying’ this lie is that people confuse NET WORTH = SELF WORTH. In this kind of thinking, self-worth is something to be earned. You must justify your existence and prove you’re worthy “to take up space and breathe in air.” If you don’t produce? Well, then you’re out!

I’ve described one way to live. Allow me to suggest another. I am choosing to live in God’s World not the Pragmatists World. I believe God’s world is more realistic! In God’s world, my worth is not earned but bestowed. My value is based on my relationship with the Lord not on what I can afford. My worth draws its breath from my creator not my behavior.

Personally I believe that it’s not what you do that makes you valuable, it’s what you are: God’s Creation. God doesn’t love you because you’re useful, He loves you because you’re His! God loves you because you’re wonderful…Did you know that? You’re wonderful because you were wonderfully made! David said in Psalm 139:13-14(HCSB):

For it was You (God) who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.”

 
David said he was wonderfully made. So was I. So are you! This means you’re more than your usefulness, beauty or personality. You’re more than your productivity. You’re more than your “To-Do” list. You’re more than your paycheck. Your worth, your value is not conditional. Romans 8 tells us:

“I am convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love which Christ Jesus our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in this present or anything in the future, by forces or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation.”

Romans 8 says nothing can separate us from God’s love. Why? Because God’s love isn’t contingent on your being useful or beautiful or likeable; but on His being faithful! The reason nothing can separate us from God’s love is because God separates our worth from our behavior. Do you? Can you? You can and here’s why:

You are not what you do. You are who God says you are!

Wow! This changes my life! As I reject this lie I can go to work and do my job without the pressure of feeling like I have to EARN God’s acceptance by my performance. If I fail today, I am just as valuable as if I’d succeeded. If I succeed today, I’m no more valuable than if I’d failed.   

Here’s my conclusion.  Bottom line: Never base your worth on anything from earth. If you are a Christ-Worshipper then your citizenship is in heaven!

HAS RUSSELL CROWE’S ‘NOAH’ FOUND GRACE IN THE EYES OF THE LORD?

 

Russell Crowe as Noah
Russell Crowe as Noah

But Noah (Russell Crowe) found grace in the eyes of the Lord.  Can we start there?  With God’s grace?  Can we begin a review of this movie applying Jesus’ prayer from the cross, “Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do.”?

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE MOVIE ‘NOAH’…

I saw the movie ‘Noah’ last night.  I was impressed by the breadth and scale of the director’s vision.  Of course, it was of “Biblical Proportions”:)

For example, nature’s full glory and fury rise in the form of fortress-like walls and waves of water.  “Death by water” Noah’s character quips during one scene in the movie.  The landscapes were breathtaking, reminding me of “Scottish”‘ green pastures and high mountain cliffs.  The wardrobe choices were “cool”.  I expected robes.  They wore pants:) My friend said, “It’s kind of ‘Lord of the Rings'”.  I said, “Yeah, it’s like Pirates of the Caribbean meets Lord of the Rings!”.  We laughed.  Me a little more as I recalled Johnny Depp’s make up and costume as Captain Jack Sparrow.

FACTUAL ALTERATIONS IN THE MOVIE ‘NOAH’…

But then, the movie got weird, and I was reminded that what I was watching wasn’t really God’s story as told in The Bible, but a different story; one being brought to life by Oscar Winning actors and actresses accompanied by enchanting music scores. Entertaining, yes!  But then there’s those nagging…what do we call them…facts.  Thank you, Columbo!

“Director Darren Aronofsky called his movie “the least biblical film ever made,” The Telegraph reported. He also claimed his leading character, Noah, was the “first environmentalist,” something that suggests the movie storyline doesn’t exactly follow the Bible’s.”

Because there are so many factual discrepancies in the movie itself (Both my friend and I agreed the storyline veered off into a manufactured direction) perhaps the best question is, “In what ways does the movie agree with the Biblical story in Genesis?”.  Honestly, only a few.

For instance, they did keep the main character’s name the same:)  God is involved (He’s called ‘The Creator’ in this movie), though His name is never actually spoken once. Then again, neither is God’s name mentioned in the Book of Esther in the Bible, but you certainly know He’s present in the story!  Not a big deal.  But then there was that bit about how God’s character is portrayed: as merciless and unfeeling.

I noticed that God’s motives for why He initiates the flood are misrepresented. For example, in the Bible God sends the flood because of the depth and incorrigibility of mankind’s sin.  Specifically implied in the Biblical story is that violence (Murder, Torture, Inhumane Treatment of People, Child Sacrifice and Cannibalism) and sexual immorality (Rape, Adultery, Homosexuality and Fornication) are the primary impetus for God’s wrath.

In the movie, however, God is seen as destroying people because they refuse to care for the earth or happen to be a meat-eater.  As a matter of fact, my friend said, “I felt more offended as a meat-eater than a Christian. It was like an assault on my diet!”

FAITH OBSERVATIONS FROM THE MOVIE ‘NOAH’…

Viewing the movie prompted me to consider that each of us “lives within a story”. What we see when we look at the world of people and objects around us depends to a great degree on what we think and believe within us.  In other words, what I find when I look at the world is what I’ve told myself is there to see.  This becomes my story; my own personal version of reality.

Telling myself “the true story” not just “my story” is vital to faith.  Just because God first relayed the facts of creation through a book and not on an ipad does not call into question it’s reliability. The Bible may tell us “the old, old story” but it remains historically accurate, poignant and timely for 21st century conditions today.  Objective reality does exist even if I refuse to acknowledge it.  The sun will “rise and shine” whether I choose to look at it or not!

FINAL CONCLUSIONS ABOUT THE MOVIE ‘NOAH’…

In the late 1980’s, Bono used to say at U2 concerts, “God is good. He gave us Hollywood.”  Hmm, did he?  Well, I think it’s more like God gave us stories and we built Babel with it; our own monument to ourselves.  God invented it, we just branded it.  We shaped it into our own image.

Keep in mind that ‘Noah’ is hollywood.  It’s CGI, green screens and props. It is art, after all, not archeology.  It isn’t science, nor is this movie the work of serious Theologians. It’s cleverly written and creatively imagined but in the end, it’s just a movie; flooded (pun intended:) with fake sets, cool stunts and handsome people convincingly pretending to be somebody they’re not:) Fun to experience; just don’t build your theology on it!