God is not impressed with our experience or expertise. He’s impressed with faith. However… There is a problem with faith. The problem with faith is that it will make you great. For example, if you have great faith, then you will see great miracles. Miracles are like expensive cars. The more of them you own, the more other people think you are great. They may even start calling you “Apostle So&So.” Imagine that. So the temptation to use faith to make you great is real.
There was a time when I was a bit skeptical about making “declarations of faith” as some do in certain Christian circles. When I would run into Christians who believed in this kind of practice, I often felt like it wasn’t sincere and authentic. I believe God wants us to be real. I mean read the Psalms. David didn’t polish his words with God. That all changed when I was in BSSM taking the Church Leadership Track led by Steve Backlund, the crazy guy who is always trying to get people to laugh at lies. I realized there were probably a few lies I had been believing, and my attitude toward making those audacious un-authentic declarations of faith started to change dramatically. It was a combination of scriptural teaching, and empirical evidence from my own life that slowly converted me to one of those crazies. The problem with deception is you don’t know you’re deceived until it is somehow exposed. I am fully aware that many aspects of this idea of making declarations and proclamations has been abused in many ways. But unfortunately we, the church, have a great reputation of throwing the baby out with the bath water. I don’t know how someone could throw a baby out with the bath water. I prefer not visualizing that.
Having a dad is a big deal. This has been proven by many studies. For example 85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes. 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. I have spent 7 years as a youth pastor, and four years before that mentoring teenage boys, many of which were fatherless. I have seen firsthand how many challenges can be traced back to not having a father or a father figure in someone’s life.
The truth is, whether you had a dad or not, you still need what Michael Brodeur calls a constellation of fathers.
What your brain eats and drinks will determine what you focus on in life. And a lot of other things too.
When was the last time you evaluated what kind of information you’re feeding on? What do you tend to read, listen to or watch on television? Over the last year, I have become more and more aware of the fact that what I feed on tends to directly affect many parts of my life.
1. It affects my level of faith and hope.
2. How I prioritize my time, energy and money.
3. It affects me emotionally.
4. How I treat my wife and children. And I’m sure there are many more.
Some of us are big on eating healthy and are very careful about what you eat. I think you would agree however, that we tend to have certain eating patterns whether good or bad. Most of us don’t put too much thought to it.
I have discovered that eating patterns affect what I feel like eating and drinking. So if I get into a habit of drinking Pepsi a lot, then I tend to crave Pepsi. If I hardly ever drink it, then I don’t tend to want it. Most of us probably have a few choices we like for breakfast we tend to stick with. Well, I believe the same principles of eating habits and patterns can be easily applied to what we feed our brains with.
I know all too well how simply watching the news affects me. I have to be honest with myself about how it affects me, and monitor how much I expose myself to this resource that is primarily filled with bad news. And bad news is really good at producing fear and anxiety.
The Prophet Isaiah wrote “You keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you.”
You are led by whoever you allow to influence you
I like to listen to the Dave Ramsey show. If you know this show then you can guess how it affects me. It makes me want to get out of debt like my life depends on it, and increase my income, and be more responsible and smart with money. It’s also entertaining at times, and I love it. When I listen to Doug Addison’s podcast and read his books, it makes me want to get better at interpreting dreams and use the prophetic in evangelism. You get the point. Whatever we expose ourselves to influences us. If “leadership is influence” (Maxwell), then whoever you expose yourself to means you are allowing that person to lead you on some level.
You don’t buy what you like. You buy what you’re thinking about.
In his book Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Jonah Berger talks about 6 principles that affect what makes things go viral. He shares how some studies show that when making a purchase, we don’t necessarily buy something merely because we like it. We’re more likely to buy something because of what we’re thinking about. So, for example if French music is playing while we’re shopping, we’re more likely to want to buy some French wine. The advertising industry takes advantage of this every day.
In America the number of 30-second TV commercials seen in a year by an average child is 16,000. I don’t know what it is for adults, but wow! That’s a lot of commercials! Companies are willing to pay hundreds of thousands for commercials because they need you to think about their product. So you’ll buy it. Just liking it isn’t enough.
Here’s my point. We all like God. We all like it when people get healed miraculously. We all like it when we’re full of faith and hope, but just liking that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll pay the price to have that. I like it when I’m full of hope and faith. However I am acutely aware of how I can’t make it on my own. I need encouragement. I need to be reminded of who I am. My point is this. We all hate commercials. But why not take what makes commercials effective and use it to our advantage? So instead of allowing someone else to dictate what you think about, why not take control, and cultivate thoughts on the the things that matter most.
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2
Eric Johnson once said “if you’re lacking in hope, you might be drinking from the wrong well.”
Don’t just eat what you’re accustomed to eating. Mix it up.
I have some friends who subscribe to a service offered by a local vegetable farmer. They pay a monthly fee that includes a certain amount of packages of vegetables. The mix and types of vegetables in each package is entirely determined by the grower and what’s in season. So you don’t ever know exactly what vegetables you’ll be eating that week. Here’s the upside. It makes you eat vegetables you might otherwise never eat. Review what you’re feeding on and consider mixing it up a bit. For example try listening to a preacher you don’t think you like, but have never listened to. Or think about some areas you would like to grow in and think about what kind of resources you could exposing yourself to to keep yourself learning and growing.
Here are some resources I like.
Other than reading my bible, here in a nutshell is what I try to expose myself to intentionally as best I can. Some general categories and some specific examples of resources I get a lot out of. Most of them are free. :)
1. Practical wisdom and personal development. I try to make sure there are podcasts/radio shows and books in my diet that cultivate and stir up a desire for growing personally, and that educate me so I can always be learning.
Examples: Dave Ramsey, Daniel Pink, NPR TED radio hour (podcast), Michael Hyatt (podcast), Evernote Essentials (book), Copyblogger (blog).
2. Preaching. Spiritual growth and inspiration: I want to split this one up into several categories.
A. Inspiration, encouragement. Preaching that helps keep my hope and faith up at a healthy level.
Examples: Bethel Church (podcast), Expression 58 (Podcast), Jesus Culture (podcast), David Hogan (Youtube)
B. Supernatural, manifest power of God. Preaching and testimonies that stir up hunger to see more miracles, raise the dead, cast out demons, prophesy with more accuracy and boldness etc. Examples: Doug Addison (podcast), David Hogan (Youtube), Chris Gore (director of healing rooms at Bethel),
C. Kick in the butt/Holy Spirit conviction and wake-up calls. Preachers/teachers who don’t shy away from the controversial, or tough parts of scripture, who have a passion for holiness, righteousness and truth. Often this could be people who are either prophets or teachers, tending to be more/less black and white when it comes to truth and what God is saying.
Examples: David Hogan (Youtube), Kris Vallotton, Dr. Michael Brown (podcast), Michael Brodeur – my mentor during my third year at BSSM and one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever heard teach scripture.
What are a few podcasts, tv shows, radio shows or individuals you get a lot from?
I bought my wife a gift. It didn’t go so well. Here are a few things I learned in the process.
Much of what we aspire to requires courage. Recently I realized that you can not grow in courage if you don’t grow in failure. To the degree you learn to be o.k. with failure, you will grow in courage and creativity. Courage and creativity go hand in hand.