Devotional: Walking with God 24/7

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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“Enoch walked with God.” (Gen. 5:24)

In Marketplace Leaders, Os Hillman writes that “the true test of a person’s spiritual life and character is not what he does in the extraordinary moments of life, but what he does during the daily grind of everyday life when there is nothing tremendous or exciting happening.”

From my ability to remember anything until now, my dad has always told me pray as the first thing I do when I wake up, the last thing I do when I go to bed, and every moment in between. Zen Habits taught me to be present – even in the most simple activities like washing dishes, taking out the trash, and handling an email. And my time at Saddleback Church has taught me that anything and everything is a form of worship…if I make it so.

All of this has strengthened my resolve to walk and talk with Him all through the day – about my wins, losses, struggles, confusions, my moments of happiness and sadness, and/or any random topic that comes to mind. I want to speak with Him like I would any other family member, friend, or someone I just met whom I crave to learn more about and befriend. I feel horrible when I only come to Him when I’m knee-deep in some altercation; He still helps me out of it and stays with me through it like an unconditionally loving Father…but that’s not the kind of relationship I want to communicate to Him.

I want to seek God with all of my heart, body, mind, and soul the way David did; the way Enoch did. It’s the relationship that matters the most to me – and I pray that You’ll help me know it and live it at 100%, 100% of the time.

Devotional: Are you horizontal or vertical?

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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“Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” (Isaiah 5:21)

Before I re-dedicated my life to Christ, I was handling all of my circumstances in a horizontal fashion.

I processed incoming news – good, bad, and uncertain – using my own knowledge and that of books and my friends, family, and counselors in a secular fashion.

While there was some success here and there with these avenues, it was never consistent; they were always short-lived; there was always a better way in hindsight; it was exhausting; and it felt unfulfilling.

Looking sideways and down weren’t the right operating system for the results I wanted, and I needed an upgrade.

I am learning to look up and vertically integrate more often. My experiences, talents, thought processes, education, loved ones, and people I look up to are all wonderful resources to consult, and they are necessary – but they are only secondary resources on their own, and I can only adhere to them when God speaks to me through them.

Knowing this requires prayer and listening for advice that moves me, that is consistent with what the Bible says, and serves God and others.

The rest of my inputs – regardless of how good and well-meaning it sounds – must be passed on in order to make room for His answer.

It’s something I still struggle with and will continue to struggle with it for the rest of my life…but the more I shift the ratio of worldly-powered decisions to God-powered decisions, the more successes and purpose I will experience.

Devotional: Encountering the supernatural in our everyday lives

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in Me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)

I want to experience miracles every day in my life. Assurance of this requires two things: that I ask for unexplainable blessings every morning in His name; and that I have a change of perception. Every day that I’m alive, breathing, playing with my kids, being with my beautiful wife, doing meaningful work…all of that is a supernatural thing.

Devotional: Avoiding judgment

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.” (Luke 6:37)

Mother Teresa said: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” I can only choose one of the two options – love or judgment – to occupy my heart.

If I don’t like the feeling of being judged, I need to stay away from judging others. And if I can only house my heart with one tenant – either love or judgement – I should decide on the one that makes God smile, inspires and encourages others, increases compassion, and gives me even more power the more I use allow it to stay.

The other occupant doesn’t pay, stinks up the rest of my being, and drains me and others.

For me – I find myself having judgment issues when it comes to my kids (with my unreasonable expectations and lack of compassion) and politicians. If I know this about myself, I need to (1) stop listening to the news – as it’s information overload and negative all-around; and (2) ask myself how I could handle anything with my kids with God’s love.

Devotional: Honor

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Rom. 12:10)

Yes, the Bible says to honor your father and mother; and yes, it’s very right to honor those who have served in the military; and the concept goes for quite a few people who have achieved great things…but what about honoring the every day person? Didn’t Jesus believe they were worth dying for? Didn’t God create them for a unique purpose to serve the Kingdom, alongside you? 

I’m talking about the person who mops the floor at the restaurant; the person who disposes of your trash; the homeless person who swallows their pride and asks for some help to get by; the parking attendant; the server who delivers your food; the back kitchen cook you’ll never meet who makes your food; the crossing guard who walks your kids across the street safely to school; and even a person who can never do anything for you. 

Jesus died for them, too; you are commanded to love them; and honoring them clearly exhibits your understanding of what it means to be great in His Kingdom. 

Devotional: Do what’s best

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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“May He equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him. All glory to Him forever and ever! Amen!” (Heb. 13:21)

“God’s will done God’s way never lacks God’s support,” as Pastor Rick Warren would always say.

If I am doing what I am shaped to do; if I am doing work at the highest level, with love, with the intention of giving Him the glory, and that serves my brothers and sisters…I have nothing to worry about, and God’s strength will be with me and it will be successful.

It might not be success on our terms – money, possessions, power, recognition, or even results that payoff in my lifetime – but it’s something that lasts forever, is important, and I will be rewarded.

If the work I do doesn’t inspire me, doesn’t exhibit His love, doesn’t serve the people that Jesus died for, and I can’t or won’t do it to the best of my ability…I’ll need to eliminate it, and make room for activities that do fit the bill. I don’t have enough resources for mediocre, misaligned work that won’t have an eternal ROI.

Devotional: Washing toilets

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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Loved today’s morning reading from Marketplace Leaders:

“…those He wanted to promote, He promoted; and those He wanted to humble, He humbled.” (Dan. 5:19)

Paul desired a career in the building industry. Early in his career, he was working with a large ministry to help direct several of their construction projects.

As the projects were completed, Paul was asked to stay on for future projects. To keep him busy he was given a number of jobs – one of which was cleaning toilets. He recalls getting down on his knees each day and complaining to the Lord, “Lord, I’m a college graduate!”

Discouraged, Paul told the Lord, “I will not leave here until You promote me. Please give me contentment with my circumstance.”

Paul felt totally forgotten by God. A few months later, Paul received a phone call from a man in the Midwest who owned five successful businesses who wanted to interview Paul for a job. This came as a total surprise to Paul. As he drove to the interview, he told the Lord, “I only want your will in my life, nothing else. I am content to remain obscure for the rest of my life if I have You. You must override my lack of experience for me to get this job.”

The owner of the company asked Paul a surprising question: “If I asked you to clean a toilet, what would you do?” Paul sat there, stunned. He wanted to burst out laughing. Paul assured him that he would simply pick up a sponge and start cleaning.

Amazingly, Paul was hired even though other candidates were more qualified. After several months of success Paul asked his boss why he hired him. His boss replied, “Paul, I still have a large stack of applications from people who wanted this job. Do you remember the first question I asked you in the interview? I asked each one the same question. You were the only one who said he would clean the toilet. Paul, I am a wealthy man, but I grew up dirt poor. I clean my own toilets at home. I can’t have people running my businesses who are too proud to clean a toilet.”

Sometimes God places us in situations to see if we will be faithful in those before He is willing to promote us to greater things.

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This also reminds me of the Bible verse from Luke 16:10: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

God tests me to see how I respond to work that seems minor and/or is looked down upon by the world, when nobody else is looking, and when it’s inconvenient.

I need to remember that God has an incredible plan that I – nor even the smartest person on Earth – can forecast; and that He works in unconventional ways (He’s in the miracles business). I also need to remember that God uses all of my experiences, strengths, and weaknesses for His plan for me. And I shouldn’t forget that my boss may be my manager, but God is my ultimate employer; and that everything I do – 100% of my work – serves Him and is a reflection of how I value Him.

If these truths are the case, shouldn’t I work at the highest level – regardless of what it is – at all times?

This helps me look at washing dishes, taking out the trash, cleaning up in the backyard, handling emails, etc. in a better light, and that I look forward to showing God I can be trusted with little because it prepares me for great.

Devotional: Proactive and reactive dependence on Him

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.” (Gen. 32:24)

This part of the story in the Bible takes place long after Jacob had fled his family for screwing over his brother Esau (he conned his brother into giving him his birthright, and poached their father’s blessing meant for his brother), and was now in a situation where he’d have to face him again. He was very fearful that Esau would take revenge on him and his family for what he did; and pleaded with God for mercy.

Jacob couldn’t use his own power to get out of this situation. He was so scared of encountering his brother that he refused to move from his hiding place without God’s protection and presence – to the point where he wrestled with one of God’s angels and wouldn’t let him go until God agreed to watch over him.

Do things need to get really bad before we depend on God with all of our mind, heart, soul, and body? While it’s amazing that God’s love is unconditional and He will always be there even when we neglect Him, it’s unfair to our Father for only coming to Him when we need him (imagine trying to do that with your parent, spouse, best friend, sibling, etc.), and you’d be selling yourself short by not having his power, provision, and protection from the beginning to end of all your circumstances.

Instead of making prayer your “Hail Mary” strategy when you’ve exhausted all of your other resources, why not make consulting with God your first line of defense and attack against difficult, disappointing, uncertain times?

Devotional: Re-thinking ministry

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.” (Rom. 12:1, The Message)

This is an insight that changed everything for me years ago. After coming back from serving in Rwanda (I went with a team there to build pre-schools for poor communities with no access to education), I felt bad to not want to go back and do more ministry work there.

I was so confused – I love the Lord, the country of Rwanda and its people were incredible, it was a heavily-rewarding experience, I was blessed to do what most can’t or won’t do, and I got to travel and see more of God’s glory. I couldn’t stop raving about my teammates and the work that God made happen.

“What is wrong with me?!” I thought.

A few months after my trip, I was listening to Pastor Rick Warren speak on an episode of Daily Hope, and his message shifted my perspective.

I can’t remember the exact wording, but his point was this:

God created everybody differently – from your biological make-up, to your talents, experiences, your ministry, and your ultimate calling. He loves variety. Some people are not called to make money, but called to go into the mission field and carry out God’s initiatives. And then there are others who may not be called into the mission field, but they’re great in business and have been blessed with obtaining financial resources – they can produce the income needed to fuel these life-changing missionary initiatives.

There is no one better ministry than the other. Both are necessary.

It made me think about my work at Fransmart, The Halal Guys, and consulting gigs differently. I realized that while I may work for a CEO or I may be a business owner – God is the true boss that I serve, and that the money I make can enable mission trips and other important causes that would either not happen or be delayed.

It led me to look at even my everyday tasks differently as well – like brushing my teeth, eating meals, driving to work, playing with my boys, talking with my wife, etc…that they are also an opportunity to serve Him and give Him glory. It doesn’t need to be massive, public activities to make God smile – they are all critical.

If your heart doesn’t tug you towards being a pastor, missionary, nonprofit worker, or be any other position that carries the obvious Christian banner….don’t fret and feel you aren’t doing what God wants you to do. Sometimes He wants you to be knee-deep in non-Christian environments – where God’s love is needed even more – so that you can make way bigger ripples.

Overall – Take your passions, skills, experience, and love of helping people, and using those to cause the impact that God custom-built YOU to make. Forget the labels and expectations – they only take your eyes off of your important work.

Devotional: Knowing my armor

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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“David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. ‘I cannot go in these,’ he said to Saul, ‘because I am not used to them.’ So he took them off.” (1 Samuel 17:39).

This applies to all parts of my life.

If there is a project or task within it that I don’t understand, am not good at, and am not remotely curious or passionate about – I need to leave it alone and leave it to someone else who meets or will grow to meet those requirements. I have no business meddling in things God didn’t build me to suit, and I am guaranteed to fail.

Of course – there are activities that may not be my favorite thing to do or that may not seemingly be the best use of my time – that I’ll need to partake in.

How will I know the difference?

I believe that there are two conditions to figuring this out:

1. If God calls me to do it – which means prayer must happen first, and being aware of His answer thereafter; and
2. If it is a sign of love – if it shows someone you care and speaks their love language.

These two conditions are simple enough to direct all tasks that present themselves. I won’t have to feel confused about which road to take, and I won’t have to feel reactive.