confidence

True Christian Joy

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” – John 17:13 Have you ever thought of Jesus as having a sense of humor and being joyful? Yesterday, we shared the parable describing the invitations that were extended to a great feast, but many were too busy to attend. In the Book of Luke Chapter 14, Jesus humorously shares their excuses: “…The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five yokes of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Still, another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ “ In their culture, these types of excuses were unheard of so you can imagine

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People Respond Well to Humility and Vulnerability

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ ” – James 4:6 Great leaders tend to be individuals who are strong and confident, yet vulnerable and humble as well. This is something I had to learn as a leader. When you’re insecure or green in this arena, it’s tempting to give off an aura of strength or overtly-strong confidence. But very often what you think is assurance and tenacity, is often interpreted as arrogance or creates a fearful environment. There’s a difference between the two. In general, if you come off as pompous and self-important, your actions will turn people off. People do not respond well to prideful, arrogant, self-glorifying, or controlling ways in which we try to hold onto things that we really shouldn’t. Leaders, whether they’re pastors of large churches, empty nesters, or founding CEOs,

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From End to Beginning

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” – Revelation 22:13 As we wrap up our discussion on faith, here’s an interesting thought for you to meditate on: God has already written the final chapter of your life. The Lord stands outside of time and He sees your story in its fullness. In fact, He writes from end to beginning and everything in-between is part of getting you to where He has destined you to be! Isn’t that a great thought?  Although you read a novel from start to finish, you always have the luxury of turning to the final chapter to see how it all turns out. While you don’t exactly have that option in life, knowing the character of the One writing the story enables you to get a glimpse of how it will end. In fact, because the

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God Chooses the Unlikely

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” – 1 Corinthians 1:27 We talked about sheep in wolf’s clothing yesterday, and how not everyone who achieves great things in God’s Kingdom looks the way we expect them to. Today, I want to build on that idea by reminding you that you don’t have to be perfect or healed in order for Jesus to use you. I truly want you to grasp and comprehend the power of this crucial reality! Many people who are born again and become active in a church realize how “messed up” they are very fast. While this isn’t always a negative thing, and Jesus does want us to mature and become more like Him, it’s important to realize that God loves, accepts, and even uses us in our flaws;

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There is Power in Generosity

“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” – 2 Corinthians 9:11 I recently had the pleasure of spending time with David Green, the founder of the Hobby Lobby company and a devoted believer as well as a very nice man. I was speaking with him, and he told me an incredible anecdote. He was working at a small craft store in Oklahoma City in the 1970s when he decided he wanted to start his own business. He took out a $600 loan and opened a small craft shop in his garage. His network now has over 800 locations, and his net worth is close to $8 billion; he is a Forbes 500 member. I never want to miss an opportunity to learn the secret to someone’s success when I sit

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What Makes a Leader?

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12 I was pastoring a church in Orange a few years ago, and we were meeting in an old two-story American Legion Hall structure. On Sunday mornings, we’d bring in seats and set up the auditorium like a sanctuary. Except for the fact that there was a bar just below us, it was a fantastic layout overall. We were accustomed to a bit of noise and riff-raff since a bunch of guys would occasionally be drinking and clinking early in the morning. As the group increased, I invited Dallas Willard, a friend, and mentor, to speak during a Sunday morning service. When the day arrived, we were all looking forward to his leadership talk, and as I was

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The Pain of Provocation

“Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah would say to her, ‘Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?’” – 1 Samuel 1:6-8 We learned yesterday that Hannah, who was married to a man named Elkanah, was unable to have children. Her pain was amplified by the fact that her husband had another wife named Penninah, and she seemed to have no problem getting pregnant. Despite the fact that Elkanah favored her and had a genuine love and affection for her, Hannah’s pain burned and led her to a place of agonizing jealousy. Even worse, Penninah

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No Fear in Love

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” – 1 John 4:18 I went to a number of different schools during my growing up years, but the one that I attended for quite a while was a Baptist school in the Valley area of L.A. For the most part, I enjoyed going there, and I think it helped my walk with God a lot. However, there was one teacher who made it a bit of a challenge. The kids called her “Mrs. Nun,” because she would remind you of a stern-faced Catholic sister, and she was constantly grimacing and instilling religious fear in the impressionable young minds of her students. She had us watch a bunch of old movies that were made in the 1960’s and 70’s about the

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Called vs. Driven

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5 Among the greatest gifts we inherit when we become part of the family of God is that He gives us a purpose. The very One who set the stars in the sky and the planets in space has ordained a calling for us, and if we seek Him, He faithfully leads us to it. As for me, I’m called to be a pastor and to expand the Kingdom of Christ through Hour of Power and Shepherd’s Grove. However, I’m not the proprietor of my position — I’m only a steward of what the Lord has entrusted to me. First and foremost, it belongs to Him, and so does everything else that I enjoy. Knowing this, I’m free to embrace my

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For Your Good and His Glory

“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.” – Job 13:15 Many times, the enemy will try to harm us by using our misfortunes to fill us with shame and guilt. However, the wonderful thing about God is that He delights in turning seemingly dire and hopeless situations around for our good and His glory! There’s a story in the Old Testament about a guy named Job, who was an exceptional person. He loved God with all of his heart, and he was a hard-working, decent family man. However, out of the blue, tragedy struck him, and he lost everything he held dear — his livestock, his wife, his children, his friends, and his health. And while it seems his circumstances would have been enough to make any human being crumble, Job had a choice to make: he could

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