Finding Grace In The Desert

Oasis-smallerDeserts are dry places, and we’d like to find the way out of them as quickly as possible.

I know how you feel.  I’ve felt the same way myself, but I found that there’s always an “Oasis of Grace” to be found because, even when one makes their bed in Hell, He is there. (Ps. 139:8)

And so…If you are in a dry desert place, let me encourage you, today.  There is Hope.

God Is The Oasis

  • Not because we are good but because God is so good.
  • Not because we deserve help but because God loves us so.
  • Not because of us but because of God.

The oasis is not over the next sand dune.  Living Water is not somewhere over there…just out of sight.

The disciples were in a burdened and heavy laden.  There were “in a desert place” emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  The gem in what Jesus said to them was in the literalness of the translation.  We read in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

He Didn’t Actually Say, “I Will Give You Rest.”

Jesus actually said, “...I will rest You.”  How cool is that?!

Jesus wasn’t telling His disciples that He had something to give them, like pulling a warm blanket from His closet on a chilly night and giving to them.

He was saying, “He, personally, is the rest….[the warm blanket…the cool water to drink]”

In the desert, He is the oasis, Himself.  Stop looking for a way out.  Stop waiting for circumstances to change.  Stop.  Turn your eyes upon Jesus.  His Spirit within you is the fountain of living water.  His promise to the woman at the well (John 4) was that she’d never thirst again, because He would always be available as her “bottomless cup.”

Circumstantial and emotional times of dryness are common to this life.  Jesus experienced every temptation that is common to man.  But…

Look “inside.” Look to that place that is deeper than the surface of your emotions.  Fix your inner eyes upon your Living Oasis.  His grace will fill your soul.  First ankle deep.  Then knee deep. The waste deep.

Escape into the home of His Grace, right now!







When You Don’t Know What To Do

sweeping_a_floor_s“If I knew what to do, I’d do it!” 
I know you’ve thought that.  Probably, if you’re like me, lots of times.

There is a simple solution to such a frustrating thought.  That’s what we’re going to look at today.

The answer is found in this true life illustration:

There once was a young, energetic, conscientious young man who worked for the owner of a hardware store.  The first thing he would do when the young man arrived at work was ask his boss, “What would you like for me to do first?”

The owner would give him a task.  After it was completed, the young man would ask for another.  One day the young worker was asking about his next duty, and his boss said, “Follow me.”

They went to the storeroom.  When they arrived, the boss said, “Look at that sign hanging over there.”  As the young man looked he read, “When in doubt, sweep.”

When In Doubt, Sweep

As I said, I’ve been in that, “If I knew what to do, I’d do it” zone.  But, I discover an action that eased my stress and brought some peace faster than anything else.

I swept the floor.  Not literally.  But, I focused my mind on some simple task right in front of me, and did it.  I “swept,” and I did it consciously as unto the Lord.

I’ll Take It From Here

There are many times the Lord would say to us, “You need to let me take it from here.”

At that point, usually sooner than we think, He no longer needs our help.  What we need to do is something staring us right in the face that needs doing.

I used the story of a young stock boy and sweeping the floor.  With a waitress it may look like, “wiping down tables” – or – “filling salt shakers” -or- any common task that always needs done and re-done.

Sweep Somebody Else’s Floor

Having swept your floor, then look for opportunities to do something practical to help someone else.

It’s not all about you or me.  It’s about community.  It’s about actively and practically caring for the world around us.

More Effective Than “Confessing The Word”

I absolutely believe in speaking the realities of the Word of God to myself and over my circumstances.  But having done that as an intentional act of trust and truth as a daily exercise, then I have to shift my mental focus to the practical task at hand.  Otherwise I start “faith fretting.”  Truth be told, “faith fretting” is not faith at all.  And, truth be told…it doesn’t bring results any faster.

We are far better off to make a habit of spending some focused time with the Lord (in a way that is meaningful to the individual) that includes stating the things we are trusting Him for…ONCE DAILY.  Then “sweep” or do something productive where you can see some kind of measurable result….even if it’s small.

Whenever the temptation to worry arises, don’t automatically start making scriptural confessions.  That may sound counter-intuitive to what you may have been taught.  But, you will be much further ahead in keeping your heart consciously focused toward God as you simply strive to keep sweeping.

Sometimes The “Faith Efforts” Don’t Do Much But Cause More Stress

In Mark 4:26-29, Jesus said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

Perhaps there isn’t anything else for you to do but trust, rest, and “sweep.”  I’ve personally discovered that to be absolutely true and the journey into greater peace and prosperity.

What do you think?



Why Not Knowing Everything Is Good

FaceAdmitting to yourself (and others) that you don’t know something is a good thing because it’s a true thing.  And you know what Jesus said in John 8:32, “…the truth will set you free.”

I know, as a pastor, (the person whose supposed to know everything about everything, right?) the most freeing words I discovered were, “I dunno.”  Of course it’s important to add to that response, “…but, I will look into that.”

Of course I then need to look into the question, right?  Otherwise it was a cheap “blow-off.”  And, as much as is possible, I do some research.  I also make sure I get back to the questioner.  If I can’t come up with a helpful response…I tell them. 

[Otherwise, they end up feeling like I de-valued them.   No good.]

Learning New Stuff Is A Good Thing

I want to address what I’ve discovered about the “need to know all things,” but first I want encourage you to be a learner. Be thirsty to discover new things.  Being stuck in the cement vault of one’s long established personal opinions becomes corrosive to one’s soul.  Get out of the vault into the fresh air of discovery.  It may be scary sometimes, but it’s oh so rewarding.

Too many folks are afraid they will loose their faith if they listen (really listen) to opposing or different view points.  But, that’s unfounded fear.

As I’ve opened the ears of my heart to others, I’ve actually developed a new authenticity to my own foundation of faith.

The Need To Know All Things

The need to know all things is typically demonstrated by these two areas:

  1. The inner resistance to admitting that you don’t know an answer to something.
  2. Making up stuff.  In other words, giving an off the cuff lame answer, or repeating someone else’s lame answer that sounds spiritual but has no real scriptural evidence.  [There’s a lot of that flowing around].

Not Having To Know Brings Peace

Here’s the deal…

  1. God knows you don’t know everything about everything.  And, if He knows that already, then He isn’t expecting you to come up with every answer.  And, when you can’t, and admit it, He’s not disappointed in you.  He never appointed you or I as geniuses of the universe, therefore, it would be impossible for Him to be disappointed.
  2. He also knows you do know some things.  If you’ll trust Him to do so, He’ll arrange circumstances where you can rub shoulders with people that will help you make new discoveries, and that you can help as well.  It’s called “community.” And Father God is very big on community.
  3. Learn new things, and when necessary find them in books.
  4. Approach life hunger and thirsty to learn.  Jesus said, “He who hungers and thirsts for righteousness will be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6)

I’ve discovered the freedom of not having to know everything.  I’ve discovered the joy found in learning.  I recommend that kind of freedom and joy.  It’s some of the best “food on the menu.”


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You Can Bring Anxiety To It’s Knees

joyAre you learning to be care-free?  Is it even possible?  I mean in the reality of your daily lives…beyond religious cliche’s. 

Yes!  God seems to think so.

Here’s a few practical tips I’ve discovered that are taking me a long way on the “Peace Trail” in God”s Kingdom.

  1. I don’t believe every thought that I think.
    If the thought that presumed it’s way into my mind leads me to be anxious, angry, fearful, resentful, suspicious, jealous, or “unsettled” in any other number of ways, I don’t grant it the right to occupy my attention.
  2. I pay attention to what I say after I use the word, “but.” We can say the right stuff in the first half of a sentence, but what counts is what statement follows our “but.”  You might say, “Jesus came to give us abundant life, but I’ve made too many mistakes.”  Listen carefully:  What ever words follow “but” is where you are actually placing your faith.  To the contrary, we could say, “I’ve made a lot of mistakes, BUT, He makes all things work together for my good.”  Now, that’s a great but.  So…pay attention to what words follow your but.
  3. I only give anxiety the amount of authority in my life that God does.
    That would be a big goose egg…“0”… God has given me the authority to set and monitor the controls to my emotional thermometer.

It’s a choice to continue practicing these three points.  God backs up our decisions.  When we do, anxiety will begin to cry uncle.

If you’d like to watch the 29 minutes teaching on this for more detail, here it is:

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I Discovered The Hole In My Bucket. Have You?

butFor a long time I wondered why I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere fast.  Have you ever been there?  My head was happily in agreement with the right things that should be working.

Then I discovered something very important…and oh so simple.  It wasn’t complicated at all.  It was what I was actually believing….more than what I confessed was my “stand of faith.”

I made a simple discovery. 

The Simple Discovery

Here it is:  The words or sentences that follow the word “but” are more revealing as to what a person actually believes than the words they use prior to the “but.”

“I believe the abundant life of Christ is His will, BUT…my circumstances are against me at the moment.”

“I know God loves me, and I’m completely forgiven, BUT…I’ve made too many mistakes”

Faith works.  Every time.  Sometimes seemingly quickly.  Sometimes slow.  But, it always works, the positive or the negative.

So the question…is your but too big?  Without realizing it, mine was.  Once discovering the truth, I put my mouth on a diet.  I began consciously weighing my words.  And you know what?  My hefty hieny started getting into shape.

The Benefit

Almost like magic, my attitude started getting in shape and my experience began to improve.  Now, the God kind of faith began working wonders.

Just like physical weight gain, you don’t notice it right away.  Until one day you try to wear one of the old promises of God, and it no longer fits.

Start paying attention to what you are saying (or thinking) after the word “but” in your vocabulary.  It’s a more accurate measure than what you say before it.


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Quit Smoking the Easier and Effective Way

smoking-gettyAfter years of frustration, Jack made a discovery.  God’s personal word to him worked.

If you would like to discover Jack’s secret [no brag, just fact] then you’ll want to click here and let Jack share with you.

If you’d like to be encouraged by more make sure to subscribe to my RSS feed or email in the top right corner of this blog.   :)  Thanks!


P.S.  Oh, yea…and don’t forget to share this with friends on your favorite social media site!

Who Wants To Be Like Jesus?

humanity2The old gospel chorus echos the desire, “To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus, all I ask, to be like Him…”

But what does that mean?

“Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

To Be Like…The Same As…

But what does that mean?

One answer is found in Acts 10:38 and gives a “full scope” answer…

“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power:   who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”

To be like Him:

  1. Anointed with the Holy Spirit’s power
  2. Doing good everywhere He went
  3. Healing (mending) those beaten down and oppressed

I am a big supporter of physical miracles, healing, and releasing people from a demonic grip.  I practice and teach that aspect. [Make no mistake about it]  However…

I also firmly believe that a Christian can be at the forefront of “power works” and miss the majority of what “being like Jesus” – or – “Re-Presenting Jesus” is all about.

Going to church, paying your tithes, singing in the choir, teaching Sunday School classes, attending seminars, etc, etc, etc.  _______________ (fill in the blank with the favored activities of your christian community subculture.)   These all have the potential of being valid.

However, I believe one can do a lot of religio-spiritual activity – as defined by your christian community subculture – and not be very much like Jesus was, or is, at all.

To be like Jesus is about putting yourself – on purpose – in the line of fire, standing for the worth of a woman (as He did) who had been condemned as a whore and thrown in the dirt to be executed.

To be like Jesus is to purposely engage in something more than spend hours a day on Facebook thinking you are taking a stand with Jesus by posting graphics and sayings about how much you love Jesus.  (sarcasm intended).

To be like Jesus is to climb down off a religiously haughty high horse and literally “touch the leper.”

To be like Jesus takes balls.  [ooop, did I just type that out loud?]

To be like Jesus is boots-on-the-ground, dirt-under-the-nails, [at least figuratively speaking], “not-on-my-watch devil” involvement.  That diamond has many unique facets.  One size does not fit all.  But…dynamic rather than passive engagement.

To be like Jesus is being a voice for those who don’t have their own voice…

To be like Jesus can be a myriad things…but many, most likely, on the other side of your “chicken line.”

To be like Jesus, however, is not simply being a “do-gooder.”  Any fool with half a conscience can do that. 

To be like Jesus is doing good and changing communities (often one face at a time) in naturally supernatural ways.  The Holy Spirit’s partnership is vital.  Like, I mean, partnering with Him…on purpose.


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Financial Miracle Testimony

In financial crisis times for many, there’s wonderful stories of great provisions from The Great Provider.  Philippians 4:19 is and always will be the same for any Jesus Follower who purposely pillows his or her head on the faithfulness, power, and wisdom of God.  One such story comes from a lady named Melissa.

May the spirit of Melissa’s story in God, be repeated in your life as wrap yourself in it’s truth.  Listen now with hope beyond hope for your own circumstances:

If you’d like to save this testimony to your computer, right mouse click “download” and select “save link as”


How To Have The Best Breakthroughs

magic-bulletAsk 10 people how to have the best breakthroughs and you’ll likely hear several different opinions from either their own experience or the last seminar they attended.

One thing that I know FOR SURE!

There are no magic bullets.  One. Size. Does. NOT. Fit. All.

I’m not sure of all the psychology behind it, but very often we – as Western Christians – are on the hunt for the one RIGHT answer.  The BEST technique.  The MOST EFFECTIVE formula.  It probably has a lot to do with our exposure to the inundation of advertising and marketing.

Still In Search

There is a purpose for advertizing and marketing of a product.  To. Sell. Said. Product.  And to sell said product, the advertiser uses attention getting techniques that promises what it normally can’t deliver.  And that, my friend, is one of the main reasons why so many folks are still looking for yet another “one-size-fits-all” magic bullet.

But The Truth Is

The truth is…THERE. IS. NO. MAGIC. BULLET!  Breakthroughs to increasing and lasting freedom come one way, and one way only.

Knowing the truth.  Not knowing the right church doctrine.  Knowing the truth.  THE truth is a person…JESUS.  Although there are many good methods being taught that can help an individual see Him more clearly, the techniques will fail – yet again – if a person begins to believe that it’s the RIGHT way.  Even the BEST way for every individual (yourself included).

Deliverance Ministry Training

I believe in being trained to help people find their path to freedom!  I believe there are principles that can be learned that are helpful.  But these are two of the things I reject:

  1. One way is the right way for everyone.
    I am very familiar with a method called, SOZO.  It’s the Greek word meaning “Freedom.”  It’s often translated in the Scriptures as “Salvation.”  It’s powerful.  No doubt about it.  SOZO can be an extremely effect means of helping a person remove the stumbling blocks from their lives.However…

To assume that is the best right method is not correct.  If SOZO is treated as a magic bullet, folks will end up disappointed…and they’ll be on the hunt for the next deliverance ministry because this one didn’t solve all their emotional/spiritual problems.

There are a number of pretty good programs out there that can be helpful…AS A HELP.  I’m only naming SOZO because I’m most familiar with it.  And…I repeat…It’s a good one…AS A POTENTIAL HELP.

2.  The Devil Is Your Main Problem (read above…I reject that)

Deliverance ministries (often unintended) have a “get rid of the devil” mentality.  If we can just get rid of the devil, we’ll find the freedom and peace we’re looking for.  (or some such thinking).  It’s predicated on the subtle background belief that the devil is more powerful than he actually is…since Jesus stripped him of his power and authority.

Now….my friend…you may say, “Yes, Gary, that’s true.”  But what you actually believe deep down inside is that the devil is the main source of you not getting where you want to go.   And. I. Reject. That.

Then What Is The Main Source Of My Ongoing Problems?

It’s the main source of my ongoing issues, myself.

The main source is not ignorance of the right truths.  The main source of our problems is…

Wait for it….

Lack of intimately knowing God!  (Not to be confused with knowing ABOUT Him.)
Okay…sure…and the devil is keeping me from knowing Him the way I want to.

Uh-huh…what did I just say?  I said that we give the devil too much credit.

Many of the deliverance ministries, like SOZO, demonstrate that the responsibility is upon the individual in how they’ve been responding to various woundings of mind and heart.

But, if the individual being SOZO’d or Well Springed, or whatever still holds onto the belief that the devil has more power and authority than he actually has….then it’s going to be the mouse on the treadmill all over again.

I sincerely believe we have to abandon the “get rid of the devil” mentality that some hold onto.

Let me close this post with Psalm 91:14, “Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high , because he hath known my name.”

Many tormented people (all of us in some way whether it feels like torment or not) would say that they set their love upon the Lord, because they deeply believe He is the center of their lives and affections, but actually the memories of the offenses are what they have been rehearsing day and night.  They “know the names” of all the things that have been imprisoning them.

“To set your love upon Him.”  In the Hebrew verb tenses it’s a very aggressive stance.  It’s not passive.

The belief of many, no matter how sincere and strong in their minds, would truthfully be considered “passive.” 

It’s not about how much we do in “religious/faith” activities” that makes the tense aggressive.  It’s about how we initiate ongoing intimate relationship with the person and personality of HIM.

Pondering His name…loving His name…embracing internally the fullness of His name.  That’s a path well worth traveling.


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Handling the Feelings of Failure

WindowA person only feels like a failure because he/she has real life circumstances to back up and fuel those feelings.

But, that is a miserable place to live.  Since feelings of failure are common to all of us, we all need to know how to better deal with them.

I know what you’re feeling.  As I’ve so often said in my blog posts, “Been there.  Done that.  Bought a truck load of T-shirts.”  And guess what?  I sometimes catch myself re-visiting the ugly places.

However I’ve Discovered An Antidote

It’s sorta like the principle of Judo.  Use your opponents own strength against them.

Matthew 5:25 says, “Agree quickly with your adversary…”

Agree.  “Yes, I am.  When I depend on myself, I fail.”

Like Si from Duck Dynasty is famous for saying, “Hey.” 

Hey…it’s true.  But, Hey…Jesus isn’t a failure.  And Hey…He finishes what He starts.  He’s faithful even when…Hey…I’m faithless.  (2 Timothy 2:13)

If our success in life is based on our own perfection, then I would never succeed.

Having Said That, Let Me Also Say…

  1. Failing at stuff (even a lot of stuff) doesn’t make your identity, “The Failure.”
    The devil baits you into believing that your mess ups change your identity.  Nobody enjoys making mistakes.  Especially big ones.  And, the appropriate remedies may be hard to do, and even take some time.  However, you do have the power – through Christ and His grace and wisdom – to tackle the “clean up.”  Why?  Because you’re not a failure.  You’re a treasured son or daughter of God.  And He will NEVER leave you or forsake you.
  2. Failing at stuff may simply mean that you’ve found yet another way that’s doesn’t work well.The only “failures” are not those who fall, but those who stop getting up.  Even then…”Failure” is not your identity in God’s eyes.  You’re only His son or daughter who could have enjoyed more success, but chose the inactive path.  You see, that doesn’t make you a failure.  It make’s you an inactive success.
  3. Lastly, the first cousin to feeling like a failure (note: “feeling like”) is the “I’m worthless” card.  We are only worthy through Christ, so – in that sense – none of us are worthy.  However…

Not Worthy Doesn’t Equal Worthless.

My wife recently had a dream of me holding a handful of very large scorpions.  I was pulling out their stingers.  May this post “de-stinger” yet another scorpion that’s been tormenting you.


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