Pastor | Author | Speaker

Ray Johnston

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How to Recapture Momentum by Raising Your Leadership Level

You’ve gone through the six keys to recapturing passion. You’re feeling great. You’re energetic, hopeful, and ready to recapture momentum.

So what do you do next?

You take all that energy, enthusiasm, optimism, and passion and channel it into raising your level of leadership.

Here’s what I mean.

The Three Levels of Leadership

Your impact can only go as far as the level you lead at. It doesn’t matter if you’re leading a church, a business, a community, or a family: you can’t drift your way to a great life. To truly have an impact, you need to take a close look at your leadership level.

In my experience, there are three basic levels that someone can lead at. If you want to capture momentum, you have to raise yourself from the lowest to the highest. Which of these levels best describe you?

  • Lowest: The lowest level of leadership is a person who says “it’s all about me.” If you’re at a low level of leadership, you’re focused on getting your own needs met. Surprisingly, you’ll find this just as much in ministry as you do in some businesses. The marks of low-level leadership are a leader who dictates rather than discusses, who won’t listen, and who doesn’t pursue feedback. Low-level leadership is unsustainable, and believe me, it’s not a level you want to be at.
  • Middle: You see this level a lot. Most businesses operate very well with a “middle” level of leadership. When you lead at this level, you’re focused on results. It’s reactive, generally efficient, and driven by competency. There’s a lot of order in this level of leadership. You’ll find that decisions are made at the top level, that politics can often come into play, and that the organization reacts pretty well to challenges. If you’re at this leadership level, you’re not necessarily in a bad place. However, there’s a much, much better place you could be.
  • Highest: High-level leadership is marked by creativity. Like middle-level leadership, the results are there. However, the impact has gone far beyond that. The focus is on ensuring that everyone is not only operating efficiently but at their highest level possible. High-level leadership leads to a distinctive culture: it’s innovative, it’s agile, and it’s inclusive. The people involved have a sense of ownership and purpose, and the organization is adaptive and effective, even in complex situations.

How to Achieve High-Level Leadership

If you’re currently at a low or middle level of leadership, I want to challenge you to make an upgrade. Here are four hallmarks of high-level leadership that I’ve seen work time and again:

  1. Create a Team: Forget hierarchy. Flatten your organization. Get rid of the concept of kings and pawns. Everyone is on the team. Could you imagine the difference it would make in your organization if everyone saw themselves as the racecar driver instead of a member of the pit crew?
  2. Shared Decision Making: Without shared decision making you will never have organizational momentum. People support what they create. If you’re the one making all the decisions, you have to talk everyone else into your vision. Why plan something for someone else when they can plan it themselves?
  3. Shared Leadership: At low and medium levels of leadership, you’re the leader and everyone else is the follower. At a high level, everyone is a leader, and everyone is on the same team.
  4. Collective Vision: Again, people support what they create. Momentum comes from a collective sense of vision, not a group of people going along with a single person’s commands.

In order to work these keys into your leadership style and revitalize your organization’s momentum, ask yourself these four questions:

  • What am I doing to create a culture of teamwork?
  • What am I doing to make sure we are all making decisions?
  • What are we doing to share leadership?
  • What are we doing so the vision is collective and everyone is involved – including the entire church?

Don’t think of these as one-time questions. Review them once a year to diagnose where your organization is at. And don’t stop there. Think about experiences you can have and people you can emulate who will help you grow as a leader and think better thoughts. Get out there and experience those things and get time with those people.

Momentum simply can’t happen without growing as a leader. Be honest with yourself about where you’re currently at and push yourself to a higher level. If you do, momentum will follow.

How to Recapture Passion and Build Momentum by Intercepting Entropy

It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about a church, a business, a relationship, a community, or a life: if you don’t have momentum, you’re not going anywhere.

If something in your life that you’d like to see grow has lost momentum, you’re in trouble. But just because momentum is absent doesn’t mean you can’t get it back.

From my experience, there are several different things you can do to regain momentum. One of the most important is recapturing passion. Passion is the force that will allow you to stand up against outside pressure. It’s absolutely essential for getting momentum back into your life.

The First Key to Recapturing Passion: Learning to Intercept Entropy

Picture this for a minute: two cans of diet coke. One of them is empty, one of them is full. What happens if you squeeze them? The empty one is going to crumple up. But the full one? There’s no way you can make a dent.

What’s the difference? It’s all about what’s on the inside.

Passion is the same way.

Passion is inner strength fueled by hope. When you have it, there’s no amount of outside pressure that can make you crumble or fall. It’s a key to momentum. With it, you can avoid decay. Without it, there’s no way you can grow.

In my experience, one of the biggest threats to passion is entropy.

Have you ever heard of Max Dupree? He’s one of the smartest business leaders out there. When someone once asked him what was the most difficult thing he had to work on, his response was “the interception of entropy.”

Entropy is a physics term. Now I’m not a physicist, so I can’t give you a particularly nuanced definition here, but what I can say is that everything has a tendency to deteriorate. When left to themselves, things tend to fall apart. That’s entropy.

Think about it.

What happens when you drive a new car off the lot? It immediately loses value. Five years later it looks nothing like the car you bought.

What happens when you leave your yard to itself? It deteriorates. Weeds grow, and it takes more and more work to get it back in shape.

What happens to your body when you don’t eat well or exercise? It grows unhealthy. You’re more likely to get sick, or to die early.

Everything, when not given enough attention and energy, deteriorates. And what’s true of our cars, yards, and bodies is true of people and leadership.

When people become apathetic, complacent, or settle for less than God’s best in their life, they deteriorate. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a car, a yard, a marriage, or a church, anything deteriorating is sad.

Spotting Entropy Before it Sets In

So how do you intercept entropy? The first step is spotting it. Here are five signs that entropy is taking over a church:

  • The Focus Shifts from Results to Internal Processes: The older something gets, the more it focuses on internal process. As a result, impact, vision, and meeting needs gets left by the wayside. Test yourself, your organization, or your church on this by asking “will this process we’re sticking to really have more impact than something else?”
  • Living to Serve Shifts to Being Consumers: We deteriorate from people passionate about meeting needs and improving life for others to people desperate to shore up more possessions and wealth for ourselves.
  • We Spend Time Arguing Over Things That Don’t Matter: We stop talking about how our church can grow, and start spending time on conversations about what color the carpet should be. Focusing more on a building’s appearance (or any other frivolous topic) than the needs of the people in it is a clear sign of entropy.
  • Reaching People Gets Replaced with Religious Rituals: Nothing feels less passionate than repeating the same rituals over and over again with no regard to their impact on the people repeating them. Ritual can be a good thing, but prioritizing it over reaching others is a sign of entropy.
  • Taking God Honoring Risks is Replaced with Playing it Safe: God calls us to take risks. Worrying more about safety than what God calls us to do is a clear sign of deterioration.

When you see entropy set in, the only choice is to get it out of your life. Spot it, recognize it, reject it, and work to get yourself back on track. Get your car serviced. Pull weeds. Go for a walk. Spend time with your spouse and kids. Throw out old processes, realign your thinking to prioritize impact, and recapture passion. When you do, you’ll be well on your way to finding new momentum.

Why Momentum Matters

Over the next few weeks I’m going to dig into a topic I feel strongly about: momentum. Momentum is crucial for building a great business, a strong family, a thriving church, and an impactful life.

Everything in our life is in one of three stages: growth, plateau, or in decline.  It doesn’t matter what it is.

Growth: Something is new and exciting. It’s vibrant. It’s growing. Momentum is propelling it forward.

Plateau: Growth has stopped. Things are stable, but not improving. The focus has shifted from impact to internal processes.

Decline: Something is deteriorating. Our body grows less healthy. Our yard gets overtaken by weeds. Our car starts to make a weird sound, then won’t start. A marriage falls apart. A business goes under. A church finds itself straying from God’s plan. Hope fades, dreams die, and people discover they can live with mediocrity.

There’s nothing sadder than seeing something that was growing go into decline.

But here’s something I’ve noticed. It doesn’t matter what it is – a church, an organization, a business, an individual ministry, a family, a marriage – when something plateaus, alarm bells should go off. That’s the time to act. If leadership pays attention to that alarm and makes a change, we can see a shift from decline back into growth.

But here’s the other thing – decline is a normal condition. It’s the way everything tends to go.

So how do you move from plateau into growth? How do you keep from sliding into decline?

I can tell you in one word: momentum.

Creating Momentum

Momentum isn’t something that inherently exists in a church, business, relationship, or person. But it is something that can be created and it doesn’t matter what state of existence we’re currently in. If we can capture momentum, we can come back from decline and plateau and push ourselves into growth.

How do I know this? I’ve lived it. Bayside is over 20 years old right now, and it has more momentum now than it did when it was only a year old. Everything is hot when it’s new, but most things decline over time. Or at least they do if they don’t have momentum.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing several major ways that Bayside has kept its momentum, and how you can capture that same momentum in your own relationships, businesses, ministries, and life.

Discouragement and hopelessness are common traits of being in decline. But when we have momentum, we will find new hope and vision. Check in next week to find out more about one of the most important things you can do to capture momentum: recapturing passion.

Bouncing Back From Failure

Are you a bouncer or a splatter?

Not sure? Think about the last time you failed (always easy for me). Did you get discouraged, go “splat,” and stay there? Or did you bounce right back up?

What you do with failure is a big deal. The vast majority of people who wreck their lives don’t do so because they failed. Lives are destroyed because people fail, get discouraged, and quit. They quit their marriage, their faith, their future, their finances, their health… they go splat and never get back up.

If you’re a splatter, the book of Zechariah is for you.

Zechariah is a prophet that God sent to the Israelites after they got discouraged and quit. After returning to their home after 70 years of exile, they were called to rebuild the temple, build walls, and to build a relationship with God.

They didn’t even finish the temple. Like so many of us, when the task at hand turned out to be harder than they expected, they quit.

Zechariah tells us that God’s concern is for our hearts. This book tells us that when we get discouraged, we need to get back up. And then it goes a step further – it gives us four things we all need to know to bounce back instead of staying down.

1. God wants you back

In Zechariah 1:3, God gives the Israelites (and us) a command and a promise: if we return to Him, He will return to us.

Ever worried that God has forgotten you, or given up on you? Ever wondered if maybe it was too late? If you feel that God is no longer interested in your life, there isn’t much sense in getting back up when disappointment strikes, is there?

But here’s the thing: God wants you back.

It’s everywhere in this book. In fact, Zechariah’s name means “The Lord Remembers.”

The next time failure knocks you down, know that God remembers you. He wants to bless you. When you walk away, He always, always wants you back.

2. God wants you strengthened

A lack of strength is a far bigger problem than a lack of any outward possession. And I’m not talking about physical strength. Zechariah tells us that there’s no way we can have a great future unless we are spiritually strong. He calls us back to the word of God.

If you want God’s best, if you want to know His will, if you want to know which direction to go, you need to understand two principles:

We can’t know the will of God without knowing the word of God. We can’t know His will or His direction for us unless we know His word. Knowing His word is what gives us spiritual strength.

We can’t be in the will of God without obeying the word of God. The Israelites spent decades disobeying God and expecting His blessings. How many of us are guilty of the same thing? Zechariah tells us that this isn’t how it works. God wants us strengthened through His word.

The word of God has been attacked, criticized, banned, and burned, yet it has outlasted every one of its cruelest critics. God’s word is something that you can trust, and it is something that will last.

3. God wants you encouraged

As you read through Zechariah, you’ll realize pretty quickly that it’s a book of prophecy. You’ll also notice that there’s some really bizarre stuff in there. But when you look a little deeper at these prophecies, you’ll start to notice a pattern.

In one vision, Zechariah sees horses and riders that have been sent throughout the Earth. God is telling us that no matter what happens, He knows about it.

In another, Zechariah sees four horns that are to be thrown down by four craftsmen. He’s told that the horns are the forces that worked against Jerusalem and that God is going to destroy them.

Here’s another (and this one is my favorite): Zechariah sees Joshua standing before the angel of the Lord. Satan’s there too, and he’s accusing him. What does the Lord do? He rebukes Satan. In other words, He tells him to shut up. I love that! When Satan tells you you’re not forgiven, that you’re not good, just do what God does – tell him to shut up!

Satan sees our sin and accuses us. God sees our sin and chooses us.

So what do all these visions have in common? These three (and the other five you’ll find in Zechariah) are here to encourage us. When we fail, we have a reason to get back up and live better than we did before.

4. God wants us authentic

In Zechariah 7, people come to Zechariah asking if God wants them to continue fasting. God’s response was “were you really fasting for me?”

And then, in just a few short verses, He describes exactly what He wants Christians to be like:

“9This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’” (Zechariah 7:9-10)

Know what’s not in that list? Rituals or silly religious rules. Instead, we’re to take His love and pour it out on anyone who needs it.

Isn’t that amazing?

Learning to Bounce

God wants us back. He wants us strengthened. He wants us encouraged. He wants us authentic.

When you’re with God, can failure keep you down?
When you’re spiritually strengthened, can discouragement overpower you?
When you’re encouraged, is disappointment in control?
When you’re authentic, is failure the end of the world?

When we build these four principles in our lives, bouncing back from failure is achievable.

When we have these four things, when we love God with all our heart, when we love the Bible and build it into our lives, we end up with so much love that we can use to impact the people in our lives and in our world. When that’s the alternative, quitting no longer feels like an option.

Unleashing the Power of Faith in Your Life

7uwbhgsh5fg-clem-onojeghuoIf you want to live a life that has an impact, the best way to get there is to unleash the power of faith.

Sounds easy, right? Just boom – let faith take the lead. Done.

Yeah, not really. When we’re learning to walk by faith it may not seem like the easiest task at first, but we’re fortunate. We have the Bible, and it’s full of examples of people who let faith lead their lives. 

Five People Who Walked by Faith

  1. Faith Gave Abel the Confidence to Give: Hebrews 11 gives us a hall of fame of faith. The first name on that list? Abel. Here’s the play by play: “By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings.” Hebrews 11:4

God approved of Abel’s offering. Why? Because it was sacrificial. The second somebody gives a sacrificial offering, they’re stepping out in faith. What do you think would happen if Christians in America really started sacrificing? Could you imagine the impact if we had the faith that Abel had?

  1. Faith Gave Enoch the Confidence to Change: Genesis tells us that Enoch lived for 365 years. It also tells us that he walked with God, but not until he was 65 years old. What happened then? He had a son. Something about having a child made him say “I need God.”

Some of the most destructive words in the English language are “nothing will ever change.” When you have faith, it’s like those words don’t even exist. Enoch’s life shows us that it is never too late to make a change. Is there something in your life you wish were different, but you’ve given up on? When you let faith lead your life, change is always a possibility.

  1. Faith Gave Noah the Confidence to Build: God gave Noah a warning and a job to do – a flood was coming, and he needed to build an ark. The earth had never flooded before. Noah had never seen an event like that. He couldn’t fathom why he needed to pull out his hammer and nails, but his faith gave him the confidence to build anyway. The adventure of his lifetime started the second he began building something for God.

The same is true in your life. The moment you start to build something for God, three things happen: you make a difference for your family, you make a difference for future generations, and you can make a difference at any age. When you’re led by faith to build, there’s no limit to what your impact can be.

  1. Faith Gave Abraham the Confidence to Obey: God told Abraham to take a huge risk. He called him to leave his home, and to go to a country he didn’t know. Abraham didn’t know where he was going. He didn’t know when he’d get there. All he had was a promise. And what happened? Hebrews 11:12 tells us: “And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

God called Abraham to obey, and because his faith allowed him to do so he became the founder of a nation. What risk is God calling you to take? Are you willing to step out to take it?

  1. Faith Gave Moses the Confidence to Stay Faithful: It’s not always easy to hang in there. Moses knew what that’s like. He made a choice to be mistreated with the people of God instead of enjoying the pleasures of sin for a short season. He looked to God and he looked forward. He persevered because he had a vision for the future.

And you know what happened? Because he had the confidence to stay faithful, his people passed through the Red Sea. Because one guy hung in there, two million people were rescued from slavery.

What do you think could happen if you decided not to quit?

The Impact of Faith

So how do you unleash the power of faith in your life? Be like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Moses. Be everything that faith is.

Faith is giving, even when it’s a sacrifice.

Faith is changing, even when you’re certain it’s impossible.

Faith is building, even when people don’t admire what you’ve created.

Faith is obeying, even when you don’t understand what’s being asked of you.

Faith is staying faithful, even when you’d rather not.

If these five things are happening in your life, then faith is being unleashed. And if these five things are there, you’re in a position to make a difference for yourself and for future generations.

Jesus’s Five Foundations (Part 3)

If you’ve been paying attention to this blog at all the past few weeks, you know that you absolutely must build your life on a solid foundation. Without a good foundation, nothing can stand.

No one knew this better than Jesus. The book of Mark outlines the five foundations that Jesus used to support His life and ministry. We’ve already talked about the first three (check out parts one and two of this blog series if you missed them). Today we’ll look at the final two.

Foundation Number Four – Resilience

Have you ever felt discouraged?

Dumb question, I know.

Discouragement is nearly impossible to escape in life. It’s also one of the most toxic things you can experience.

Jesus was in a position to experience discouragement. After being baptized, after spending forty days alone in the wilderness, He was ready to begin His ministry. But then He receives some distressing news: John the Baptist has been put in jail. The person God used the most in His life was gone.

I don’t know about you, but if I lost the person who had the biggest impact in my life, I’d be feeling pretty low. In fact, I’d probably be about ready to pack up shop.

Ever notice that discouragement leads to two words? I quit.

  • My marriage is in a rough patch – I quit.
  • My kids aren’t shaping up the way I wanted – I quit.
  • School is harder than I thought it would be – I quit.
  • My church isn’t living up to my expectations – I quit.
  • I’m feeling discouraged – I quit.

But that’s not what Jesus does: “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.” (Mark 1:14)

Jesus’s response wasn’t to run and hide. It wasn’t to whine. It wasn’t to play it safe. It wasn’t to quit. Because His life and ministry was built on the foundation to resilience, He could stand up to discouragement. His response wasn’t to quit, but to move forward. He continued His ministry into Galilee and proclaimed the good news of God.

I feel like quitting something every day. Don’t you? But over all my years as a minister I have never seen God use a person who allowed discouragement to shape their attitudes and their actions. This foundation of resilience, this resistance to discouragement, is what stands between you and giving up. It stands between you and losing your opportunity to be used by God, to impact people for Christ, and to make a real difference in your church, community, and family.

Foundation Number Five – Relationship

Jesus may have lost John the Baptist, but that doesn’t mean He was going to go at it alone. Soon after He goes into Galilee, He finds Simon and Andrew and says “Come, follow me.” Ten more disciples soon followed.

He knew that relationship is one of the strongest foundations you can build a life upon.

I had an opportunity to talk with Bryce Jessup, an outstanding pastor and leader. He gave some amazing advice, but this is the phrase that stuck out to me: “Dream a dream and build a team.

If you don’t have a dream, or if you’re not part of one, why are you here? Why are you living? And if you do have a dream, why would you try to pursue it alone?

We all need other people. We need relationships. We need people who can see things in us that we can’t see in ourselves. We need people who can teach us things. We need mentors. We need others, because that’s how we find encouragement, hope, and confidence. There is simply no substitute for relationship when building a foundation for your life.

Building Your Foundation

Jesus laid five foundations for his life: humility, identity, character, resilience, and relationship. What’s more, He built these foundations into his life before He built His ministry.

Just like you can’t skip the foundation when you build a house, you can’t afford not to lay the foundations of humility, identity, character, resilience, and relationship into your life if you’re trying to build something that lasts.

So ask yourself: which of these foundations am I missing? What is it that I need to build into my life to overcome discouragement, loneliness, distraction, and despair? What do I still need to fully live my life? It’s only by asking yourself these questions that you can start to build a life that has lasting impact.

Jesus’s Five Foundations (Part 2)

Pop quiz: Who represents the biggest competition for these companies and groups?

  • Coca Cola?
  • McDonalds? 
  • Republicans?
  • PCs?

Everyone wants to know who their biggest competition is. And this raises a question: who do you think is Christianity’s greatest competition? What is it that causes the most people to walk away and not live out the will of God?

It’s not another religion.

It’s not another faith.

It’s something quite different. And that something is referenced in Jesus’s third scene in Mark 1.

In the first two scenes, we find Jesus accepting two foundations as central to His life: the humility to allow others to minister to Him and an identity as God’s son. Now He’s in the wilderness, being tempted by Satan. Being tempted to go in the opposite direction of what God has called him to do.

And that’s Christianity’s biggest competition. It’s the issue of character. It’s choosing whether to go in God’s direction or go in your own.

Foundation Number Three – Character

Jesus Chose to Pursue the Will of God

Mark 1:12-13 tells us that Jesus spent forty days alone in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. At the end of those forty days He went into Galilee and continued proclaiming God’s word. He was confronted with every temptation, every reason to pursue His own path, but because He had the foundation of character He continued to follow God’s will.

If you have character, you choose to pursue the will of God. You do it when you don’t feel like it. You do it when it’s hard. You do it because the number one thing you value in your life is God’s will.

Every movie, TV show, and commercial out there is telling us to go in the opposite direction. There are three things that the world tell us to pursue. All temptation falls into these three categories:

  1. Power and Prestige – the desire to be famous, well known, and dominant.
  2. Pleasure – the desire to feel good all the time, to have fun, to party.
  3. Possessions – the desire to be wealthy, and to pile up more and more stuff.

Here’s a game – the next time you’re watching TV, ask yourself which of these categories the commercials you see are trying to sway you towards. I guarantee that every ad you see will use one of those values.

Jesus isn’t the only person in the Bible who had the character to follow God’s will. Moses is another great example. Hebrews 11:24-28 outlines his story. Even though he grew up in Egypt’s palace, even though he had all the power, pleasure, and possessions a man could dream of, he chose to walk away from it all.

Why?

He was looking to the future. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” (Hebrews 11:26)

  • Moses knew that God’s purpose was more valuable than popularity.
  • Moses knew that people are more valuable than pleasures.
  • Moses knew that God’s peace is more valuable than possessions.

Moses was motivated by looking ahead to his reward. He may have ended up mistreated because he followed God’s will, but 3,000 years later we’re still talking about him. He’s a hero today. If he’d chosen to stay in the palace, no one would have heard of him today.

What kind of future do you want?

You can be a hero by pursuing God’s will in the lives of the people you love. If you keep pursuing it, even when you don’t want to, it will lead to the life you ultimately want.

The only way to overcome Christianity’s biggest competition is to overcome the urge to pursue your own wishes. By building the foundation of character into your life you’ll follow a purpose that is greater than your own. There’s no better purpose on which to build your life than the will of God.

Jesus’s Five Foundations (Part 1)

Everything you build needs a foundation.

It doesn’t matter if you’re building a house, a bridge, a fence, a marriage, a family, or a spiritual life. If you don’t have a rock solid foundation, anything you try to build will fail.

I’ve noticed a trend in America. We don’t like to work on foundations. We’d rather put our effort into the things we can see. Is it any wonder that we live in a nation of so many failed marriages, relationships, careers, and dreams?

We need a solid foundation. How do we get there? Look to Jesus. Specifically, look at what Jesus did in the first chapter of Mark. This chapter outlines the five foundations Jesus built into his life before he launched into his public ministry.

When you read through chapter five, you’ll find Jesus living through five different scenes. Each one illustrates a foundation that Jesus built His ministry on. We can use those same foundations in our own lives.

Today we’re going to look at the first two.

Foundation Number One – Humility

Jesus let people minister to him

The first eight verses of Mark 1 tell us about the ministry of John the Baptist. In verse 9, Jesus enters the scene. What’s the first thing He does? He gets baptized.

So let’s back up a step: what is baptism? Baptism is a symbol. It isn’t something that saves you. It’s not something that makes you a Christian. It’s a representation of being united with God. It symbolizes all of your sins being washed away and being raised to a new life. It’s an important act. If you’re a Christian and you haven’t been baptized, I recommend it.

Jesus’s baptism is a big deal. It’s reported in three of the four gospels. It’s the very first thing Jesus does in his public ministry. And I think it’s really interesting that Jesus’s first public act is to let someone else minister to Him. This is Jesus we’re talking about – the Son of God, the Creator, the King of Kings. But the very first thing He does is be humble enough to let someone else minister to Him.

So why is this so important? No one can live a Christian life without power. There is a power that is released when you let someone minister to you. God uses people to lift others up, to provide spiritual strength. If you can’t find the humility to let others minister to you, if you don’t build your life on that foundation, you can never reach God’s full potential for you.

Foundation Number Two – Identity

Jesus listened to the voice of God

Jesus is getting baptized. When He is raised out of the water, here’s what happens:

“10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:10-11)

Who you end up being depends on the voice you’re listening to. It determines whether you’re miserable or loving God and life. It determines whether you’re discouraged or encouraged. It determines whether you have a future or not, and whether you’re delighted or devastated with your life. It’s all who you listen to.

Our culture would love to tell you that you don’t matter. If you build your life on that message, you’ll face nothing but discouragement and despair. Jesus used a different voice as his foundation – God’s voice.

Here are the three things God said to Jesus. They’re also three things He wants to say to you:

  • You are my son: In other words, “you belong to me.” God is saying “you are in My family.” How do you feel about your own children? That’s how God feels about you. You belong.
  • Whom I love: You are loved. God’s love gives you the number one thing everyone wants: security. A person who truly loves you will never abandon you, and there is no greater love than God’s.
  • With you I am well pleased: You are forgiven. These words give us hope. There is no condemnation for us in Jesus.

If you’re asking yourself “why am I so discouraged, depressed, and afraid all the time,” it’s because you’re listening to the wrong voices. You have to move to seeing yourself how God sees you instead of how other people tell you you are.

Here’s what God is saying to you: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Is there anyone today who doesn’t need to hear this? Can you imagine the difference that basing your life on those words can make?

Listening to God gives you identity, and it’s a foundation you can’t afford to live your life without.

What Are You Living For? 4 Things We All Want, But Few Have

 

You know what I’ve noticed every time I drive? Americans have too much stuff. How do I know this? Self storage businesses are everywhere. We have so much stuff, we can’t fit it all in our houses.for.

And I realized something – Americans have a lot to live on, but many of us have nothing worth living for.

If you asked the average American to name something worth living for, how many of them do you think would have an answer?

Would you have an answer?

If you’re not sure, there’s a chapter in the Bible it’s time for you to read. It’s Luke Chapter Five. If you haven’t read it, start now. If you’ve read it, it’s time to share it with someone who hasn’t. This chapter answers so many of the questions we ask ourselves every day:

  • If I’ve failed, can I bounce back?
  • How do I find direction for my life?
  • What are God’s priorities?
  • How do I become a fully devoted follower of Christ?
  • If there are any limiting factors weighing my life down, how do I lift the lid and become what I can become?
  • What is worth living for?

Luke 5 addresses four things that every person wants, but very few people have. It’s a chapter for anyone who needs any of these four things:

The Four Things Every Person Wants, But Few People Have

  1. Hope: We all need hope. When do we need it most? When we’re feeling tired, frustrated, or failed. Luke 5 starts out with a feeling of failure. Jesus’s first three disciples are sitting by their boats. After a night of fishing, they had caught nothing. They’re tired, worn out, feeling hopeless. But Jesus redirects them:When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.'” Luke 5:4

Here’s why that’s so important. What Jesus is saying here is “have hope.” Hope is fuel. Hope fueled the disciples to get back up and throw their nets in the water again. Without hope, you can’t succeed. Without hope, you’re stuck. But when you have it, it fuels everything you need to make your vision a reality. Hope fuels growth, success, faith, optimism, joy, impact, friendships, marriages, and (last but not least) absolutely everything.

So here’s the million dollar question: where do you find hope? This passage tells us. Before Jesus spoke to the disciples, He was teaching a crowd. The disciples were listening to the word of God. The more you listen to the word of God, the more you realize He’s bigger than your background. And you realize that God always has better days ahead. Those two facts can give you the courage to throw your nets back into the water again.

  1. Direction: There’s something everyone has, and its initials are DLP. Everyone has a Dominant Life Principle. A DLP is the idea you hold in the core of your being that decides how you make decisions. If your DLP is fun, you’re going to opt for the fun choice if given a chance. If your DLP is comfort, you’ll make choices that keep you feeling safe. If your DLP is money, you’re going to do whatever it takes to keep on making more.

When Jesus tells Peter to put his nets back in the water, here’s how he responds: “’Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” Luke 5:5

Did you catch that? He said “Master.” It didn’t make sense to Peter to go back out. He’d fished all night and didn’t catch a thing. But because Jesus was the lord of his life, his DLP, he did it anyway. Jesus gave his life direction, and He’ll do the same for yours.

  1. Purpose: In Luke 5, Jesus gives the disciples something we’re all looking for: a purpose. When the disciples obey and bring their boats back out on the water, they pull up so many fish that their nets begin to break. They’re rich! They can take a vacation! Their business is booming!

But wait. That’s not why Jesus brought them out on the water at all. Here’s what he says to them in verse 10: “Don’t be afraid;from now on you will fish for people.” Jesus upgraded what the disciples were living for. They weren’t living for themselves anymore. They were living for Christ’s priorities. They were missional.

Jesus gave the disciples a purpose, and He’ll do exactly the same thing for you.

  1. Courage: So take another look at verse 5. Peter calls Jesus “Master,” and then he says something else that is equally crucial: “Because you say so.”

Peter hadn’t caught anything all night. There was no reason for him to believe that if he went back out anything would be different. But because Jesus asked him to, he did it. His belief in Christ gave him the courage to go back out there and do what seemed impossible.

Why wouldn’t it be any different in our own lives?

  • I tried something. It didn’t work before, but because you say so I’ll do it again.
  • I’ve given before. It didn’t seem to help, but because you say so I’ll do it again.
  • It’s hard to stay faithful in my marriage, but because you say so I’ll do it.
  • I don’t understand why you’re asking me to do something, but because you say to do it, I will.

Experiencing a Miracle

Peter needed all four of these things. Christ gave them to him. And because of it, Peter experienced a miracle.

  • Peter needed hope – Jesus fulfilled his hopes
  • Peter needed direction – Jesus showed him where to go
  • Peter needed a purpose – Jesus redirected his life
  • Peter needed courage – Jesus proved that when he had the courage to obey, miracles would follow.

Do you want to see a miracle? Do you want to see impact? Want to see a real change in the world? Want to finally find something worth living for? Find these four things in Jesus, and you’ll have what you need to see a miracle.

The 6 Benefits of Living with Faith

I’ve been noticing a trend lately. And I can’t say it’s a good one. It’s most noticeable when I’m driving. Looking at billboards and bumper stickers it’s easy to see that the Christian faith (and faith in general) is under attack.

Here are just a few I’ve seen in the past couple of weeks:

“God is an Imaginary Friend”

“Don’t believe in God? Join the club”

“Want a Better World? Prayer Not Required.”

I gotta say, being surrounded by these kinds of messages is a great way to get discouraged. But it also got me thinking. What happens when we flip it? Are there benefits to having faith that you can’t have any other way?

I bet you can guess the answer.

Faith is mentioned in the Bible 486 times. A concept doesn’t get that much representation unless it carries some serious benefits. Having faith, living by faith, and walking in faith will benefit your life in ways that nothing else can. 

6 Benefits of Living with Faith

  1. Faith Determines What God can Do in Your Life: In Matthew 9:29 Jesus says “According to your faith let it be done to you.” What’s He doing while He says this? Healing someone of their blindness. Because of their faith, the blind were able to see.

Everything God wants to do in your life happens according to your faith. There are thousands upon thousands of promises in the Bible. The key that unlocks every one of them in your life is faith.

  1. Faith can Solve Impossible Problems: People with faith have a special kind of vision. It’s not X-Ray vision – it’s future vision. When you don’t have faith, you focus on the problems in front of you. You focus on why things are impossible. When you have faith, you still see how difficult life can be, but you also see that any problem is solvable.

Jesus says that if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can move mountains. With power like that, even daunting problems seem small.

  1. Faith is the Key to Answered Prayer: What is it that causes forward progress in a person’s life? Fresh vision. The idea that better things are ahead is what drives us to improve our finances, our marriages, our careers, and our relationships.

What causes fresh vision? Hope. And what leads to hope?

You guessed: faith.

When you have faith, you have the confidence to keep hoping. You have the confidence to keep moving forward. You have the confidence to keep on praying. And in time, all prayers are answered.

  1. Faith is the Basis for Miracles: So this is sad: American Christians have stopped believing that miracles are possible at about the same time the secular world has started believing that you can do impossible things. Steve Jobs is a perfect example of this. He’d have an idea, his engineers would tell him it was impossible, and he’d say “we’re doing it.” And it happened!

Faith is the basis of miracles. Every single miracle in the Bible started because someone had a problem. I’m assuming at least someone reading this has an idea of what it’s like to have a problem. If you have a problem and you have faith, you have the ingredients for a miracle.

  1. Faith is the Way to Please God: If you were to ask the average American what it took to please God, you’d get a few different answers. Some might say God likes rituals. If you wear the right clothes, wave the right incense around, and chant the right words, God will be happy. Some might say that God appreciates rules and regulations. If you do the right things and don’t do the wrong things, God will be pleased. You’ll also get people who say God wants religion – observing holy days, putting up some stained glass, and doing communion once a month.

You know what’s funny? The Bible says God’s not interested in rituals, regulations, or religion. The one way to please God is faith. Without faith it’s impossible to please Him.

  1. Faith Gives People the Confidence to Move Forward: No one has a great life when they’re looking backwards. You can’t move forward that way. Faith allows you to look ahead.

If you have more faith you will have less anxiety. If you have more faith you will have less fear. If you have more faith you will have less uncertainty, more confidence, and less discouragement. When you have faith you have more confidence and more hope, which are two things you need to be a psychologically healthy person. Having faith is what allows you to move forward.

Living with Faith

Unleashing faith in your life is what gives you fresh vision and the confidence to move forward. It allows God to work through you in ways that are completely impossible otherwise. Faith is how you discover your life’s purpose and truly make an impact in your world.

 
Faith is what truly brings someone alive. Nothing a billboard can say will ever change that.