Food for Jesus

We did not choose to be born in America! We could have been born in Uganda or Haiti. Imagine that! I respect that I was born in America. But we weren’t born here because we’re lucky. We were born here because we are blessed.

We are blessed to be born in a country where we have freedom and prosperity. We are blessed to have the opportunities that freedom and prosperity make possible. I know some people think we’re not prosperous. We hear a lot of concern about the economy. But unless you’re making less than four dollars a day, you’re making more than 90% of people in the world. They’re fighting to get here!

Even if you’re homeless in America, you’ll find water that’s better than what they’re drinking in parts of Uganda or Haiti. There are Ugandans or Haitians that say, “If I have to be homeless, and all I can do is drink water, then I might as well be homeless in America and drink good water. Here, I’m drinking water that’s killing me and my children.”

We have an opportunity to help. That’s why we’re so blessed! God looks at all of His children and says, “Those of you in this part of the world are doing very, very well. But there’s a part of Me over here that is not.” When you don’t help out, you’re basically turning your back. You’re saying, “You know what? I’ve got my own thing to do.” You’re becoming selfish, and selfishness is not of God.

Essentially, everybody has a broken spirit. Whether you are the richest man in the world or not, you still need the love of Jesus. You still need to be saved. You still need to have the blood of Jesus on your life. And when you share His love in the act of feeding someone who is hungry, you have done the act of Jesus.

That’s where Jesus says, “You have not only fed me, you have been me.” It is so important to understand that! Jesus went to the people who were hungry. He took a couple of loaves and a few fish and He fed five thousand people who were hungry. Why did He do that? Because they were hungry! He said, “I am It. I am everything. I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one gets to the Father except through me. I am the Truth, and the truth will set you free.”

If you’re going to turn your back on Him and you don’t care about the person who is hungry, then your mind’s not in the right spot. You’re actually doing the exact opposite of what’s going to fulfill you. Selfishness is very shallow. Pridefulness is very shallow. Making sure that you are taken care of is actually a shallow life.

But when you feed somebody else, you have created joy and a smile on their face. Then you lay your head in bed at night and you say, “Man, I forgot to eat dinner and I didn’t even notice.” Why? Because you were feeding other people! You were not hungry yourself. Not one time. You didn’t need to be hungry. You were helping others who were hungry. You weren’t hungry because you were fulfilled.

Taking care of somebody else will fulfill your heart. And I think that is the greatest thing ever.

Love and Fire

The Lord your God will make you abound in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your land for good. For the Lord will again rejoice over you for good as He rejoiced over your fathers… (Deuteronomy 30:9)

It is God’s will to prosper us. The Bible is clear on this point. But prosperity doesn’t always come right away. There’s more to the lifestyle of Jesus than taking that first step. Yes, you start by loving Jesus. Yes, you embrace what He stands for. Yes, you accept His sacrifice for you. But the time still comes when you have to figure out who you want to be, in Christ. You have a decision to make.

God calls all kinds of people. There are the Pauls in Christ and the Peters in Christ. The Doubting Thomases are in Christ. There are the Marthas in Christ, and the Marys, the Davids, the Josephs, and the Joshuas. They all represent a different skill set in Christ. The church needs them all. Some are teachers and some are preachers. Some are evangelists and some are counselors. They’re different people, just like the parts of the body are different. (1 Corinthians 12:4-12) We all come together to make the church body work.

Everybody can be who they want to be in Christ. God will prosper you with giftings, too. Ask Him! He’ll show you. But you have to be open to becoming the person you’re going to be in Him. It can be a hard and even scary decision, because once you open yourself to God, there’s a fire you have to go through. God doesn’t simply allow you to be whoever you want to be. You have to become who you want to be. In Christ. It takes fire.

That’s why some people are fearful of saying, “Okay, I’m ready. Make me who you need me to be.” I understand! I don’t wish trials and tribulations on anybody.

But God’s love stirs in your soul. It stirs and calls to you. When that happens, you will ask Him to change you. You won’t be able to help yourself. You’ll want Him to make you into whoever you are going to be in Christ, fire or no fire. You will ask and He will take you up on it.

I’ve heard people say that they look forward to the fire. They say, “I welcome the trials and tribulations, because I know I need them to get to my next level.” I’m not one of those people. I don’t look forward to the fire. I just know that when I come out of it, I’m going to be better.

Paul said, “Be joyful in trials and tribulations because it makes your faith stronger.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) For me, this means that I can find joy in the midst of trials. I can ask God to give me joy while I’m going through the fire. I know He will! I’m confident that even in times of trial and tribulation, I will be joyful.

So when you’re ready, take this step. God has so much for you. He’s only waiting for you to ask.

God Is All In!

I think one of the greatest injustices anyone could ever experience is to not know who Jesus is. In fact, I think it is the greatest injustice.

It’s not necessarily that Jesus died on the cross, although if you don’t get that concept, that’s part of the injustice. But I think the greatest injustice is simply to not know Jesus. And I think the church, in some ways, has tainted our view of Jesus.

When you live like Jesus lived, will you make mistakes? Yes, you will! The mystery of God is the church, but the church is part of man. We’re not perfect. We fail, sometimes a lot.

Jesus had turmoil around Him all the time. People tried to kill Him all the time. And yet, even hanging on a cross, He looked over at a guy and said, “Today you’ll be with me in paradise.” He understood what it was to love a human being. He knew the hearts of people and He said, “I love these hearts. And even though they’re bad at times, I still believe in them. I’m going to love on them until they change. I’m all in.

I think Jesus looks at us now and says, “Look. I’ve redeemed sin on the cross. I’ve taken sin away. However, you’re still going to make mistakes.”

My sons make mistakes. They make them all the time! But they still feel loved. And while they live in my home, they will feel safe. I fear that a lot of people don’t feel safe in their own homes. I think that’s why they don’t understand their purpose in life. Even in their own homes, they don’t feel safe. Living the life of Jesus can change that. There is freedom in Christ Jesus. There’s no condemnation in the life of Jesus.

I believe that is why the Word says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

I know we put that phrase on our hats. We tattoo it on our arms. You see that a lot with athletes. They rely on the strength it delivers. But it means so much more than mere strength. It’s not simply, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me physical strength. That’s why I can be a professional athlete.” No, no. It’s a lot more than that. You can do all things in Christ because you live His lifestyle.

If you truly live that lifestyle, you’re strong in all areas. I walk in the lifestyle of Jesus. Things don’t always go right, but I’m confident that I will always be able to deal with problems. I’m always going to be able to overcome obstacles. It’s because of who I am in Jesus. In His family, I’m always safe. Even when bad things happen, Jesus is always going to love me. He’s always going to help me.

He’s always going to encourage me to move on, and I’m going to press on. I look ahead to Him.

Jesus says, “You might experience trials and tribulations, but you belong to my family. Will things go wrong? Yes. Things will go wrong on earth. But because you’re in my family, you will still feel safe. You will still feel joy. You will still feel empowered. When trials come, you can meet them.”

He’s all in!

See you Monday.

Living It Out in Joy

The resurrection is power, man. Resurrection power says, “I have conquered death. I have given eternal life.”

When Jesus resurrected, He said, “We’re family. Now you live in a family in which your sins have been taken from you. Now you live in a family in which death has been conquered. I have died for your sins, and I have resurrected, giving you new life.”

I am in the family of God because I believe in who He is and what He’s done for me. I’ve been justified. I’ve been justified because of the blood of Jesus and the faith that I have in what He did.

But I believe the lifestyle of Jesus is really where it’s at. I believe in living it out. I love humanity. I love the concept of human life and why we were created. And I love God, the creator of life. So I worship that God and I serve that God. I do that by doing my best to live under the commandment that He gave us, to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

I worry about those who say, “I’ve accepted Christ and I’m justified, so now I’ll just sit here in my chair and I’ll wait for the Second Coming.” I worry because I believe they will fail. They won’t find happiness that way.

There are tons and tons of people that choose salvation. They do the message, and they admit they’re a sinner, and they believe in the justification, and yet they’re not happy.

They’re not happy because they’re not living the life of Jesus. The joy comes from living it. It’s about asking, how am I striving to live for Jesus? That’s it. That’s the way to happiness.

You’re starting to see more and more people on that course. Those that live the life of Jesus, man, they find joy. Think about it. Just handing some food to a homeless man or woman and walking away feels really good. It makes you happy.

Why does it feel so good? You didn’t make any money. You actually lost money doing it. You know? So that’s not why you feel good. You feel good because there’s something inside of you that says, “Man, that was awesome.” It just feels awesome to love your neighbor as yourself.

And whether you believe in Jesus or not, you just did what Jesus would do.

The sad thing is, I believe some people live their lives every day with that “love your neighbor as yourself mentality,” but they don’t believe in Jesus. I think it’s going to be a sad day when judgment comes. But even the non-believers who live out the “love your neighbor as yourself” concept find joy in this life. They find it. That lifestyle will always bring joy. It’s in everybody’s soul to be that way.

See you Saturday.

Getting Connected

God is a jealous God, so your relationship with Him is your number one priority. And when you truly strive to have a relationship with Him, there will be a change in you. You will become a better person. Intimacy with God means intimacy with people, and there is so much joy in that! Ask anyone who walks that path.

I think sometimes Christians work on their relationship with God but don’t work on their relationships with people. That’s a shame, because working on the vertical without working on the horizontal doesn’t get us very far. It’s only half of our calling.

Here’s a familiar example. You’re driving to work, and this is what goes on in your mind:

“I’ve got to make sure I read my Bible today, and I’ve got to make sure I take communion, and I’ve got to memorize my memory verse. Hey! That person just cut me off! Eff you!”

That’s a little comical, I know, but we’ve all been there or somewhere like it. When it happens, we know that we can confess it to God and let it go. We know that we’re forgiven.

But sometimes it’s so much worse. Sometimes Christians see people right in front of them and think, “I don’t care about that person.”

If this is you, then you’re messing up. When you’re connected to God, you don’t struggle in your relationships. So if you’re not connecting to people, you’re not connected to God. You’re struggling in your relationship with Him. I know. Sometimes I struggle in my relationships, and I know what it feels like.

The key is to find the source of the disconnect.

If you’re having trouble caring about people (or you are cussing at them) then somewhere along the line your ability to connect to God has been disrupted. To connect, you have to open your heart. Reading or memorizing verses isn’t enough. If you’re not doing it with your heart, then you’re not doing it. The Bible says, “Write the commands on your heart so they will not leave you.” (Proverbs 3)

Write these commandments on your heart. Love the Lord God your Father with all your heart, soul, and mind. That’s the first commandment. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus said the second is like the first (Mark 12:31). Loving your neighbor is loving God. That’s why an increase in intimacy with God leads to increased intimacy with people. There is no separation between them.

All people were made by God. All people bear His image. And we were all set on this world by Him. We are called to love everyone! Yet God looks at the world and says, “I have created everyone in my image, but some people are so much less fortunate than others.”

If you forget about them, you’re forgetting about God.

Matthew 25 is the way into understanding this simple point:

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:37-40)

Jesus is saying, “In every human being, you need to find me. I am there, in everyone. When you feed a hungry person, you feed me. When you give water to a thirsty person, you give water to me. When you help shelter and clothe people who are homeless or in great need, you take care of me in my time of need. When you visit the sick, or visit people in prison, and love on them in any way you can, you love on me.”

Do you want to be a better human being? Pursue a relationship with God! As you grow more intimate with God, you’ll become more intimate with people. Are you going to mess up? Yes. You’re going to mess up. But in connecting to God, you will learn to love your neighbor as yourself. That is what He is asking you to do.

See you Wednesday.

Replacing Suffering with Joy

I don’t know how to replicate what Jesus did for me.

I know it’s not by standing on a soap box. It’s not by holding up a sign, saying that without Christ you’re going to rot in hell for eternity. I don’t believe Jesus did it like that. Jesus did not walk through the villages and say, “You better accept me or else rot in hell.”

So how do I do it? I’ve spent years working on this question. I’ve read and prayed. I’ve asked God to show me how He wants me to reflect the love of Jesus. I’m not done yet. I think this is an ongoing part of the Christian life. But the effort so far has been worth it. I truly believe that God has given me an opportunity to reflect Jesus in an awesome way. God has shown me how to follow Jesus by becoming a servant leader.

As a servant leader, I get to help give suffering people every possible chance to experience joy. What a blessing! I want to do this! I want to ease their burdens. I want to help create new and sustainable ways of living through clean water, food, family, freedom, and fulfilling work. I want to help create joy in the very best way that I possibly, humanly, can. That’s the most that I can do, but it’s the least that Jesus does. He loves us so much!

Being a servant leader also means guiding and teaching. While I am doing my best to create joy in places where people suffer, I am also creating opportunities for young people to participate. I am nurturing them as servant leaders. To me, there’s no greater way to feel Jesus than that.

I love my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I will do whatever He asks. I want to know that He looks down on me and smiles. I want to feel that so much, and I can feel His smile when I do something good for somebody. I can feel His love reflected back to me.

That’s why I feel good when I go to bed at night. I lay my head down on my pillow and I feel great. I’m enjoying life so much!

You can do the same. You can go to bed saying, “I just helped someone get rescued from slavery today.” Or you can say, “I just helped a village of 1500 people get good drinking water.” You can say, “I just helped build an orphanage that will put shelter over kids’ heads and give them positive opportunities to learn and to be leaders.” Or you can say, “I just sent 200,000 meals to hungry families and fed them for a year.” Whatever! There are so many opportunities!

There are so many opportunities for us to create joy. Not a day goes by that we don’t receive the opportunity to reflect the love of Jesus into the world. And when you know that you’ve done it, man, that’s just an awesome feeling. You have received the love that He gives and then you’ve shared it. You’ll feel it because you’ve replicated it.

That’s the joy of bringing the kingdom!

See you Friday.

A Well-Known Miracle

Last time, I wrote about the abundance that Jesus brings. Jesus is famous for feeding the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish. But the Bible also tells us that He fed far more than five thousand people. He fed five thousand men, the Bible says, and the women and children who were with them.

This might be Jesus’s most well-known miracle, but there was so much more to it, right? Jesus didn’t simply feed those hungry people that day. We keep reading, and we see that they ate until they were full. Then they gathered up twelve baskets of leftovers! This is awesome! Jesus fed five thousand men and their families with just five loaves of bread and two fish. Everyone ate until they were full, and when they were done, they had more left over than when they started.

And then, Jesus told us, “Those who believe in me will do greater works than I have done.”

What? Greater works than feeding thousands of people with nothing more than a bit of bread and fish?

Yes!

We can bring the kingdom the same way that Jesus fed the five thousand: with leftovers to spare! We can bring the kingdom with abundance!

Our mission in life is to do as Jesus did. He was moved with compassion for people, and he healed the sick and fed the hungry. Then He gave that mission to Mary and a handful of apostles. He commissioned them. Later he called Paul the Apostle. If you don’t believe that we can do greater works than Jesus did, just look at what these people accomplished. It is estimated that by the end of the apostolic age, there were one million Christians. From fourteen people to one million! By the year 100!

Have faith that we can do great works, and do them with abundance. We’re not like Jesus. We’re not God. So we have to work together. But the greater our numbers, the more we can do. We can feed the hungry. We can bring abundance to those who are starving. We can help make their communities healthy and sustainable. That’s the same as leftovers! We’re not feeding them once. We’re feeding them while helping them build sustainable ways of feeding themselves and others.

If we help communities grow healthy and sustainable, then they will always have enough food. Enough, and then some. This is how we save lives. Our mission is to reach out to communities that are hungry, or struggling with sickness and disease because they don’t have clean water. We reach out with a Spirit-led passion for freedom from slavery, for plentiful food, clean water, housing, and industry. The communities we reach out to will have more than enough, so they’ll be able to live and thrive. They’ll enjoy the abundance of Jesus.

That’s what we bring. That’s bringing the Good News.

We’ll always have work to do. If we could solve the world’s hunger problems once and for all, then we wouldn’t need Jesus. We’ll always need Him, and He will come back. When He does, hunger will end. When He comes, He’ll say, “I have come to redeem the world. This is it. I died on the cross and now I have come back. Now it’s over. Now no pain. Now no hunger. Now no thirst.”

He will give us His fullness when He comes back. I truly believe that. But until He does, we’re called to be His ambassadors, and do our best to bring the Good News. We’re called to restore love and redemption to people as much as we can. This is the journey that He’s called us to undertake.

That’s why I’m going to do the most that I can do to make sure everyone can eat, and drink, and live, and understand who Jesus is. This is my life. I’m hoping you’ll make it yours, too, because the greater our numbers, the more we can do!

See you Friday.