Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hearing and Listening Are Very Different

Listening is an art. In fact, sometimes I think it's a gift. This past week I spent some time with our HITC students learning about "listening".  Most people hear, but not all listen. Listening is the ability to accurately receive messages in the communication process, whether verbal or non-verbal. When you think about it, listening is one of the golden nuggets of communication. If someone isn't a listener, things can be easily misunderstood, communication can break down and people become frustrated. With the busy pace of life we must always be on the alert to truly be listeners and not simply hearers. Whether it's my wife, my kids, my friends, and especially the Lord, I must be a listener. One who always is hearing and understanding the heart of what's being communicated. I want to be a better listener. I want to understand the heart of others from what they're communicating to me. That means I need to stop talking, not be distracted, be patient, avoid any personal prejudice and watch for any non-verbal communication. These things don't come easy. In fact they take work and practice. But the payoff is that others will know you really care because you're willing to listen. Will you make the transition from being a hearer to a listener?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Babies and Trust

As our little Camille continues to grow, being just under 6lbs at her last checkup (at 8 weeks), it's amazing to see how inquisitive and alert she is. She wants to see everything around her. But the one thing that amazes me the most is her faith and trust. Essentially, she can't really do anything on her own (except pooping). Everything she does requires the help of another. Whether it's feeding, changing clothes, changing diapers, and even getting around, another person is needed. When you think about it, Camille is always dependent on another person. To do this her faith and trust in others must be unshakeable. The Bible also instructs us that we too should have the faith of a little one when it comes to trusting the Lord. Just as Camille is dependent on others, we too must be dependent on someone. And that someone is Jesus. We can trust Him in everything. Today will you choose to have faith of a little one and trust Jesus?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I'm All That and Have Arrived...NOT!

I think there's real balance required when it comes to how we view ourselves. Yes we are valuable, precious and treasured by God Himself. But sometimes we can get to a place where we put too much value on ourselves, because of what we think or believe. Before you know it we've fooled ourselves into believing we're "it" or that we've "arrived." Romans 12:3 gives us a glimpse of a golden nugget. It says, "I realize how kind God has been to me, and so I tell each of you not to think you are better than you really are..." How easy it is for us to think and believe we're better than we really are. Before long we've forgotten about our reliance on God and what He's done for us, and are walking and living in our own strength. We're walking in pride or a false humility and don't even see it. As soon as we take our eyes off the Lord we can quickly end up at this place. Pride runs rampant in our culture, with everyone looking down on everyone else. Don't fall into the trap! Don't think you're better than you really are. I'm a sinner who daily needs the grace of God and can never forget it. My prayer today is that I never think I'm better than others or better than I really am. I'm simply a sinner who needs God's grace :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lids Coming Off

We're already into the second week of HITC classes for this school year. There's great excitement and expectations are high. What I've already seen as we enter this second week are the changes in the students. I've seen lids already come off. Things that have been stumbling blocks or obstacles in the past, are no longer what they once were. How can this be? Simply because of the desire of the students and the power of the Gospel. It's a formidable combination. Jesus is the breaker of chains, but there must also be a willingness on the part of the person, having faith in what Jesus has done. The good news here is that you don't have to be student in HITC to experience what they're experiencing. Any believer can live it out first hand. All it takes is willingness and faith. The victory that Jesus won is for everyone, including you :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Throwing in the Towel

Life sometimes has a way of crushing life out of people. The weights, pressures and stresses have a way of inflicting as much discouragement and hopelessness than ever seemed possible. You stand there holding the towel of defeat, ready to throw it in at the next bump you hit. It's one thing after another that pulls you down and down to a place that's so deep that you can no longer see the light of the surface above. This is such a dangerous place to be, yet so many people can easily find themselves here. So how in the world do you get out? How do you make it back to the surface? Definitely not on your own or by your own strength. For me there's only one option, the Lord. He's the One who helps me and gets me back onto a level surface. He's my strength and hope when life seems overwhelming. He's my shelter and refuge where the pounding of life can't reach me. He's my peace when I desperately need it. He's the One I run to and cling to. Yes, life can seem overwhelming, but when God is with you, nothing is bigger than Him and you will make it through! Psalm 107:28-31 encourages us by saying, "Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,  and He saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper  and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness  as He brought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the Lord for His great love  and for the wonderful things he has done for them."  With the Lord you can walk through anything :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

My Goal is to Please God and Not People

Pleasing people can be a trap anyone can fall into from time to time, including myself. What are my motives for the things I do and say? Hopefully it's not to win the approval of others or to please them? I must always be on my guard with this. Pleasing people can become the norm if you're not alert. I can't forget that every word I speak and everything I do must be done for the Lord. Not to win His approval, but because He's the One I live for. Doing things to please others or to win their approval can be a heavy load to bear, as well as a dangerous one. Before you know it, your focus can be on pleasing others more than on pleasing the Lord. Something else to remember is that when it comes to people, there will always be those that you will never satisfy or please, regardless of what you do. What a burden to bear, that will never be accomplished. I'm done with people pleasing and now my focus is on pleasing the One who loves me so much that He chose to die for me :)

Friday, September 6, 2013

The New Faces of HITC

It's our last day of HITC Orientation today for this years students. We have had a blast, cramming as much fun, challenges, intensity and powerful messages into three days as you can. It's been amazing! I never cease to be amazed at the diversity of the students who come to HITC. They come from different backgrounds, cities and experiences. As I ponder this upcoming school year I can't help but think about how God is going to equip, mold, form and release these students. They have no idea what they're in for, but I know it's going to be great, because God is involved. Already there has been growth in their lives, overcoming fears and obstacles, and doing things they never thought they've ever accomplish. I'm proud of them and very excited for them. They are the new faces of the Harvest International Training Center. And as I talk about this new group of HITC students I also think about the many memories I have with all of our previous HITC students. They allowed the Lord to do His thing in and through them, and because of that I couldn't be more thankful for them and blessed by them :)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Do You Believe the Best in Others or the Worst?

Sometimes we can be so cynical, harsh, and critical of others without really much effort. In certain situations we can jump to conclusions very quickly about others and before we know it, we've got everything figured out without even talking to the other person. Whatever happened to living out in life the phrase found in 1 Corinthians 13:7 which says love, "is ever ready to believe the best of every person..." Would others say that you're this kind of person? Someone who is ready to believe the best of every person? As I said earlier, it's pretty easy to be someone who believes only the worst in others, but I think it's time for us to start doing what this verse says, a little more often. Don't rush to conclusions about someone. Don't fall into that trap. Be someone who's ready to believe the best of everyone. Isn't that what Jesus did and still does? If you begin to do this, see what happens and be ready for a difference in the relationships around you :)