You have heard that it was said,  “You shall not commit adultery.”  But I say to you that  everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5: 27-28

I sit here this morning with a heavy burden. I have been carrying this burden for sometime now but yesterday the Lord added a little weight to it and I feel it is something I must share with you. What is this burden? In order to explain it I need to share a small piece of my testimony with you. This is something that few of you know and most of you are completely unaware of.

Let me start by saying this. I am a Christian man who struggles with sexual sins.

Growing up I had a pretty normal life. My parents were good parents, strict in some areas, casual in others. At a very young age I stumbled upon my dad’s porn collection and was immediately hooked by the images I saw. Any chance I had I would sneak in to look at page after page of naked women. It was euphoric to say the least. I also remember watching movies as a kid such as Porky’s, Revenge of the Nerds, Animal House, and all those classic comedies that were legitimately funny but done so through the use of naked women bouncing around the screen. Through this experience I became infatuated with the female body and it has plagued me my entire life.

Not to long ago when Stacy and I were going through a hard time I found myself starting to look at websites that I shouldn’t have. Why did I? Because it is like a drug for me. It numbs the pain of what ever I am going through. It becomes an escape from the reality of the moment.

I have a pretty good idea that I am not the only man who struggles in this area and I am positive that I am not the only Christian man who struggles with this. I am also sure that I am not the only married man dealing with this. You see, men are stimulated visually and it doesn’t take a whole lot to get our attention. If you don’t believe me just go to the mall and watch as the men turn their heads to look at the women. Watch them as they constantly scan the scene. You will be surprised to see them turn their heads even when a female that is dressed modestly walks by, but, it is definitely harder for us when a female who is dressed more provocatively gets in eye sight. We don’t mean to. It is just something that we all struggle with and Hollywood and the corporate world know this and this is where my burden comes in.

Everyone has heard the saying “Sex sells.” Unfortunately, this is true, and for the most part it is because of men and our struggle; however, it appears that women are beginning to struggle more and more in this area. Maybe they always have but because of modesty they hid it. Nonetheless, Hollywood knows this and it is evident when you watch television. You see, I mentioned earlier that there were some movies that I watched when I was younger with the nudity and sexual content but tv wasn’t that way. The most you ever saw on television was a kiss. You and I both know that this isn’t true today. It isn’t uncommon to turn the tv on and see a heated sex scene or to see women prancing around in their underwear. Television is getting worse and worse and this scares the H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS out of me in regards to my children, especially my 2 boys who will probably struggle just as I have because, like I said, men are visually stimulated and there is more and more visual content for them to see than when I was a kid.

So what was it that added the weight to my burden? Well, I read an article the other day that the FCC (The Federal Communications Commission) is basically going to stop wasting time and energy looking into indecency on broadcast television and only focus on the stuff that they consider egregious indecency violations.

Now, I realize many of you may not see a problem with this but I assure you it is a serious problem. If I struggled because I watched some movies and looked at some pornographic magazines, things I really wasn’t supposed to be looking at. How much more will our children struggle when it is right there on public television, including in our children’s cartoons and movies that are “PG” and “PG-13″. But television isn’t the only problem. Internet is another major area of attack. The internet is a blessing and a curse. It gives us the ability to communicate with others and find a plethora of information but it also allows for the easy access of pornography. Here’s the kicker though. One doesn’t have to go to a porn site to see these types of images. All you have to do is log into your preferred social media website and it is right there in your face and its becoming more and more prominent.

So what are we to do about it? I don’t really know but I do know that we must do something, for the sake of our own lives and the lives and futures of our children. Let me share with you a few tips that might help.

Vote! I am not one who usually promotes politics through my blog but given the fact that this has a lot to do with our government and we have an election just a few weeks away I think its fitting. If you read the article about the FCC you will see that they made their decision after they lost a couple of court rulings in regard to indecency. We need to make sure we have elected officials in place who have Godly morals and are willing to make the decisions to safeguard the future, not just for our country but for our children.

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. Proverbs 14: 34

if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7: 14

Admit it! Many of us tend to deny that we struggle with anything, especially something like sexual sin. If we deny it, it doesn’t exist. Or does it? Whether we admit it or not, the struggle is there but we tend to not worry about fixing things that we do not perceive to be broken. The first thing you need to do is to admit there is a problem and, not only admit it, but confess it to a trusted friend who will help you work through it.

He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28: 13

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1: 8-9

Get an accountability partner. You can’t do it alone and you shouldn’t try to. You need to find someone you can trust to keep things confidential but who will also be real and not afraid to confront you when you are slipping.

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!… Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10, 12

Learn your triggers. We all have triggers, whether it’s a channel you have in your cable lineup or the moments when you find yourself all alone surfing the internet- you have a trigger. Something that will “shoot” you into an area you don’t need to be in. You can’t battle the problem if you don’t know your triggers.

Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. Lamentations 3: 40

Turn it off. I know. I know. This is a radical concept but if you struggle because of television, Internet, and/or social media then you need to do something about it. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. You can not fix the problem by continuing the same habits. If you are not willing to turn it completely off then you must make adjustments to these activities to make sure you do not slip and fall into temptation. Here are some examples: Change your channel lineup, only watch tv with your spouse around, only go online with your spouse around, allow your spouse (it must not be you because you will know the password) to set up an accountability software on the computer (like this great one from XXXChurch), delete friends from your social media list or change what you are able to see from your friends like only being able to see status updates and not pics.

If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Matthew 5: 29-30

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 1 Corinthians 6: 18

Please, don’t walk away from this blog thinking there is nothing wrong with what you are watching or looking at. It destroys lives. It ruins families. It can lead your own children down a dark path. It can ruin friendships. And worst of all, it can hinder your relationship with God. Admit its a problem. Admit you have a problem. Seek help.

If any of you have gone through this struggle, and are okay with sharing, please share in the comments what you did did work through it.

For additional reading check out my first blog post “Nobody’s Perfect.”

“I never knew it would be this hard!”

“I can’t live with her anymore!”

“He isn’t the person I fell in love with!”

Marriage is all over the news right now.People arguing over what marriage is, who can be married, is it a civil matter or a religious one. While all of these issues are very important I believe that the real discussion should be “How do we save the marriages that are in turmoil?” or it can be asked this way, “What do I have to do to save my marriage?”

Stacy and I have recently gone through a very stressful time in our marriage.There were times when I wasn’t sure if we would make it. I spent many nights wallowing in my own self pity. There were nights when Stacy and I would have an all out war and at the end of it I was ready to give up on everything. It looked like our marriage wasn’t going to make it. That is until one night when I cried out to God and asked Him for help by showing me something to read that I may gain insight into what to do. That night God pointed out a book to me by one of my favorite pastors/authors Andy Stanley. The title of the book is “The Grace of God.” Now, that night I didn’t read the book but I thought a lot about that subject- God’s grace. You see God knew that I already knew the answer to my question He just had to point my thoughts in the right direction. That night I realized what I already knew. I realized one of the key ingredients to making a marriage last. Husbands pay close attention because as the head of the household and the Spiritual leader of your family this really applies to you.

Let’s start by talking about God’s grace. God’s grace is a subject that can be hard for many of us to wrap our minds around. Grace, in its simplest definition, is a gift that you do not deserve. Jesus dieing on the cross for yours and my sins was God’s grace to us. His forgiveness when we did not and still do not deserve it. It was His unconditional love for us that gave birth to His grace for us. As I thought a lot about this I began to meditate on God’s Word about marriage and one verse came to mind:

Husbands, love your wife, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25 (ESV)

And as I thought about this verse another one came to mind:

…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (ESV)

And then this verse:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? Romans 8:35

So, how did Christ love the church? By forgiving the church, us, even when we did not deserve it. Christ willingly went to the cross to take the punishment for your sins and mine. He done that so that we may be forgiven for our sins. Now, did you do anything to deserve that? Absolutely not. But He forgave you anyway because He loves you.

Are you ready for the application. Take a look at the first verse I posted. What does it say?

Husbands, love your wife, as Christ loved the church

How did Christ love the church? The second verse says it all:

…while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

If we are to love our spouse the same way that Christ loved the church then what does that mean? It means that you forgive them no matter what. It means that because of your love for them you forgave them before they even done whatever it is they done. It means that you give your life up for them. I know what your thinking/saying, “You don’t know what they done to me. They cheated on me. They lied to me.” Haven’t you done that to Him, to Christ? Remember Ephesians, while we were still sinners. And I bet you’ll say this, “But doesn’t Jesus say that it is alright to divorce your spouse if they committed adultery?” Yes, you are correct. And you have every right to. But there is a part of that verse that so many of us look right over.

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your  hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” Matthew 19:3-9 (ESV)

Did you catch what Jesus said there. At the very end He did say that one may divorce their spouse for sexual immorality but just before that He said that “but from the beginning it was not so.” Basically what Jesus is saying is that God planned for marriage to be an everlasting bond between a husband and wife but Moses allowed divorce because the people were hard hearted. Are you hard hearted. Like I said, if you divorce because of adultery you have every right to but I would encourage you to try to work it out first. Just as Jesus extended His grace to us when we did not deserve it, we should extend grace to those who do not deserve it, including a cheating spouse.

This brings us to the verse in Romans. What does it have to do with all of this? Lets look at it one more time.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

If we are to love our spouse as Christ loved the church then we should not let anything separate our love for each other. In our culture people get divorced for irreconcilable differences.  That’s just a fancy way of saying “just because.” We have become a society that gives up to quickly. We do not try to work through the differences. Guess what? Marriage is hard. It’s comprised of two completely different people trying to live in unity under one roof. One is a slob and one is a neat freak. One is a sports nut and the other likes romance. One was raised in a family with very strict discipline and the other was raised in a family of “time outs.” One learned how to save money and one learned how to spend it. One learned how to cheat and one learned how to be loyal. One learned how to divorce and one learned what it meant to be married. What I am getting at is that marriage is comprised of two different people who suffer from a curse. A generational curse. Everything they are they learned from their parents and/or other adults that were in their life while growing up. And when you take two people from two completely different backgrounds and join them together you get a completely different life than you knew. Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew:

What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. Matthew 19:6b (ESV)

So what does our marriages lack these days? First and foremost it lacks Christ at the center. When you have Christ at the center He can give you the strength to do what needs to be done. The second thing that our marriages lack these days is GRACE! Don’t give up so easily. Work through your problems and if you need to, seek professional counseling.

I would also like to stress that if you are in a marriage of physical violence. Get out and do it now. God never intended for you to be in a relationship of abuse. Remember what Jesus said:

“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and  the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two but one flesh. Matthew 19:4-6a (ESV)

That means that the two should be joined together in unity and abuse is not unity. Seek help. Do not stay in a relationship like this because the odds are that it will only get worse and you can not work on the problem while the abuse is going on. Also, abuse is not love. This is how Scripture describes love:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:3-7 (ESV)

I began this blog sharing with you how my wife and I have recently gone through our own marriage struggles. Let me be upfront and honest. What I done to her, what she done to me, did not deserve forgiveness; not by society’s standards. Guess what, we did forgive. We did not allow society to dictate our marriage. We let God do that and our marriage is still going strong. Is it perfect? No. We still have our obstacles to overcome, but with Christ and grace we will.

My wife and I will be praying for each and every one of you. May God bless your marriage and give you the strength to forgive.

Some verses for husbands:

Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth Proverbs 5:18 (ESV)

Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. Ecclesiastes 9:9 (ESV)

Husbands, love your wife, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. Ephesians 5: 25 (ESV)

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7 (ESV)

Some verses for wives:

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27 (ESV) [also read verses 10-31]

To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 1 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV)

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Ephesians 5:22 (ESV)

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 1 Peter 3:1 (ESV)

And He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And He called his disciples to him and said to them,“Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”Mark 12: 44 ESV

I am notorious for only giving God my left overs. I don’t mean to. I don’t want to. But I do because I am full of excuses. This is what I typically sound like, “I want to do more. I want to be involved, but…

I just don’t have the time.

My job keeps me busy.

The kids are sick.

I am exhausted from working late.

I don’t fit in there.

The kids have a lot of homework to get done.

That’s to early for me.

I don’t feel good.

I just can’t spare the money.

I got bills to pay.

I think you get the picture. Heck, you can probably relate to many of these. You’ve probably said them a time or two.

Over the last few weeks at our church we have been going through a series called “All In.” The main point of the series was about choosing between being a fan of Christ or a follower. Most of us would fall under the fan category. We are not sold out to Jesus. We are consumer Christian. We claim the name, go to church, get what we can out of the sermon, and then we go home until next Sunday. We DO NOT listen and follow the words of Jesus when He said.

 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. Luke 9:23 ESV

God has called us to give our lives to Him but we just give Him a small piece. As a matter of fact, we give Him the smallest piece we can spare. We give Him out of our abundance. “What do you mean?” Look at the story of the widow. Many people that day gave to the offering but Jesus said that this widow gave more. “But the rich people gave “large sums?” That is correct but they gave what they could spare. It didn’t hurt them to give what they did. They didn’t go home and wonder to themselves “How are we going to pay our bills?” They gave out of their abundance, their extra. But, this widow. She was awesome. Scripture says she put in two small coins that equaled about a penny, but Jesus said she gave more because she gave all she had. She wasn’t worried about it. She trusted God to take care of her needs. She was all in and she didn’t have a big but.

Its not just about money. Matter of fact, money is at the bottom of the list. Its also about time, talents, and trust. God wants you to trust Him with everything you have and in return He will supply your needs.

Where do you stand? How big is your but? Don’t let the cross around your neck be the only cross you pick up today. Don’t die to yourself on Sunday and live for yourself the rest of the week. Jesus gave you His life. Don’t just give Him your extra.

If you want to see what a big but looks like, check out this video Big But.

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10b, ESV)

Most people, when they hear these words of Jesus, they automatically picture a life of financial blessings. A life filled with all the toys and stuff that our world, our society, labels as an “abundant” life. But is this what Jesus was talking about? I don’t think so. John 10 is a continuation of John 9. At the end of John 9, Jesus is talking about spiritual blindness. About how we can see Christ’s blessings and His miracles but we still do not see Him. I firmly believe that the abundant life that Jesus is referring to is a life of spiritual abundance. Now, with that being said, let me ask you this question. Do you live an abundant life?

I used to think that I did. I was the Christian guy that all my friends and family would go to for advice. I was the guy that they looked up to, yet, something was missing. Something just did not seem right. My wife has been saying for the past year that I was unhappy and I always told her that it wasn’t true. That I was happy. That although there were some things in our life that I wished were different, I was happy because I had my family. Many of you would probably say that that is an awesome way to put it but the reality is that my wife was right (as she usually is but don’t tell her I said that). I haven’t been happy for quite some time and I couldn’t put my finger on why until recently.

Those of you who know me well, know that I am really into church and church leadership. If I have spoken to you in the last year I have probably shared with you that I believe God has called me to plant a church in my hometown of Green Cove Springs, FL. What you probably do not know is that for the past 8 years I have felt unworthy of anything that God has called me to. That I do not deserve any of it because I am not good enough and am not capable of doing the things that He has called me to do. I put on a good front but deep down this is how I feel. Why? Because I know that I have “hidden my talent” rather than using what God has given me to grow the Kingdom. What’s changed? Recently, I had the privilege of being a part of a book release team for one of my favorite pastors, Pastor Perry Noble of NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina. I received an advanced copy of his first book, Unleash! Breaking Free From Normalcy, and when I began reading it my eyes were opened.

If you have ever heard Perry Noble preach, you know that he is very colorful with his stories and illustrations. He is a South Carolina southern boy and it shows when he speaks and when he writes. It is through these colorful stories that Pastor P (as his church calls him) is able to meet you right where you are with the Truth of God’s Word.

Chapter 1 begins with Pastor P telling the story of how he never missed a school dance when he was in middle school. It was a huge deal for him, but, he says that he never danced. I bet many of you can relate. Here’s what he says about it.

I talked about dancing. I thought about dancing. I watched
other people dancing. Quite a few times I almost had the courage
to walk onto the dance floor and try dancing.
But I didn’t. I was one of those guys who was always at the
dance but never actually danced.
When I take an honest look at my own life and the lives of the
people around me, I have to wonder: are we doing the same thing
when it comes to following Christ? Maybe we think about doing
something radical for God. Maybe we even dream that one day
we’ll be more than we are today. But we end up merely standing
against the wall, never experiencing the rhythm of God’s grace. We
don’t embrace His promise of a life that is beyond our imagination.

They say life is a dance but how many of us are standing against the walls rather than enjoying all the dance has to offer. In school I was the same way. I went to all the dances but I never joined in the fun. Why? I don’t know because believe it or not I could dance. In fact, my uncle (he’s younger than me), a friend, and myself won numerous dance contest at a local “teen dance” that we use to attend so, I was capable of dancing but I just didn’t do it. Why? Simply because I allowed myself to be tied down by my fears of rejection, ridicule, etc.

Perry Noble, for the next 10 chapters, talks about what hinders us from having that abundant life. He addresses things such as The Performance Trap, Moving Past Your Past, and The Great American Lie to even dealing with a common cliche in church that God will never give you More Than You Can Handle.

I strongly encourage you to pick up this book and read it. God never intended for you to live a normal life but a life filled with spiritual abundance. He never intended for us to live a life limited by the walls and barriers we put up. In fact, as Perry Noble puts it:

We can live a life that is unleashed because of whose we are, not who we are.

So I challenge you, get off that wall and join the dance.

I am a Star Trek junkie. I wouldn’t consider myself a Trekkie or anything (I don’t speak Klingon and couldn’t tell you what episode it was when Kirk encountered the little furry things-can’t even tell you what they’re called) but I love to watch the shows and movies. Now, I know many of you may disagree with what I am about to say but I think the most recent movie, Star Trek, is the best Star Trek movie to date. I loved how it gives the back story to the original characters and I thought that they done an excellent job casting the characters, but what I enjoyed most about the movie was the lessons I took from it about leadership:

Make sure you have the right people for your team– There is a scene in the movie when the characters are called to duty and we first see the crew aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. The captain of the Enterprise is Capt. Pike. He learns that they may be heading into a trap and tells his communications officer to scan for Romulan transmissions. The communications officer, who was probably in that position because of his education, years on the job, and rank, informed Capt. Pike that he didn’t think he could distinguish Romulan dialect. Capt. Pike’s response was simple, replace the officer with Uhura, someone who was still a cadet (in school), who didn’t have the tenure, nor the rank of the communications officer but she possessed something he didn’t have- the ability (or gift) to distinguish the Romulan dialect and many others. Capt. Pike recognized that he did not have the right person in position. Don’t misunderstand me here. Education is very important. I am pursuing my education and I think everyone in ministry should seek some type of formal education but education does not equal gift. God has gifted each person to achieve His will and we need to make sure that when we choose our team we are not just looking for someone with the education or tenure. We need to make sure they have the ability to perform the job required. God’s person (the one He’s given the ability to)=the right person.

“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,  so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach;  if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:4-8

Trust your team and their advice– This theme is throughout the movie. There are numerous occasions where Kirk must test his crew in order to accomplish the task before them. One particular instance is during the final fight scene when Kirk informed Mr. Sulu that even if he (Kirk) is on the enemy ship, if Sulu felt he had the tactical advantage, he was to take it. Another situation was when Scottie had to “beam” three different people from two different targets onto one transporter platform- a feat never done nor attempted before. Kirk trusted his team to get the job done. Kirk didn’t really have a choice on who his team was. We; however, play a key role in choosing who is on our team. Here is a thought for you to chew on. You chose the person because you felt that it was who God wanted in that position. If he/she is God’s choice then don’t you think you can trust them to do what God has called them to do. Don’t get me wrong, you are the one responsible for the church but don’t let your responsibility for the church get in the way of your team doing their job. God equipped them for it. Who knows, if you loosen the reigns, your people may surprise you because now you are giving God the room to work.

“…If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach;  if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” Romans 12: 6-8

“The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” Proverbs 12: 15

Trust the Holy Spirit– When Spock took command of the ship, he made the logical decision to rendezvous with the rest of the fleet in order to defeat the Ramulans. That made the most sense. It was certain death to try and take on a ship of that size, with advanced weapons, all alone. Kirk disagreed. He knew in his gut that the best choice was to pursue the Ramulan ship and try to stop them at any cost. Although Kirk’s idea was illogical and stupid, when he took command of the ship he followed through with his instinct and was able to defeat the Ramulans. As leaders, we have something better than our instincts to follow. We have the Holy Spirit. How often do we know without a doubt (through our personal Bible study and prayer life) that God is telling us to do something. Something that is outside the box but still falls inline with Scripture and yet we (or others) think it is illogical because it goes against tradition, it is considered “blasphemy”, or people (“Christians”) will leave the church if you do the very thing God is leading you to do. Let me ask it this way. How many lives do you think were lost because you didn’t follow the Holy Spirits leading? If Kirk hadn’t followed his gut instinct, all of Earth would have been destroyed. God has called you, Pastor, to lead the church the way that He wants it led, not the way that the people want it led. Follow the Holy Spirit, lives are at stake.

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. John 16:7

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. John 16: 13

“While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.” Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?” Acts 10: 19-21

“All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, He devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from Him.” 2 Samuel 14:14

Do you ever feel worthless? Like you have strayed so far from God that you can not find your way back. Like you do not deserve God’s forgivess. Do you feel like “water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.” I know I have. In fact, recently, I have been struggling so much that not only did I feel like “water spilled out on the ground” but I felt as though the “ground” had soaked me up and there was no way to make things right. Thankfully, God is an amazing Father who is always making the effort to reconcile our relationship with Him. As the verse says, He is always devising ways to bring us back to Him. If you are feeling like there is no hope, you have strayed to far away, I want to encourage you today to take to heart what this verse in 2 Samuel teaches us:

1. God did not stray away from you. It was you who wandered off.
2. God values you and His relationship with you, that is why He devised the way to bring you back to Him (Jesus)
3. You have to open your eyes and pay attention to what God is doing around you so that you will not miss His attempts to restore the relationship between you and He.
4.  You must take action and allow God to work in your life. I heard a pastor say yesterday, “You can’t steer a parked car.” God can’t help you change if you just sit there and do nothing.

Being a father is one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. The joy of seeing my kids grow and learn and develop character is beyond description. I would say that being a father/parent is the 3rd greatest gift that God gives a person (the 1st being salvation/relationship with Him and the 2nd being marriage) but I have found that this gift comes in many packages.

Aside from all the joyous things I mentioned above, there is another aspect of being a parent that I consider to be a tremendous gift. That gift is the lessons you can learn about your relationship with the Heavenly Father by being a father (or mother). Let me explain what I mean.

From time to time my kids can push my buttons. (I know that’s hard to believe) Here’s an example. One day I told my daughter to do something and being the typical 9 year old that she is she began to argue with me, questioning why she had to do whatever it was I had told her to do. After a minute or so I became so aggrevated that I said to her, “Why can’t you just do what you are supposed to do?” As soon as the words came from my mouth I felt a Spiritual slap to the back of my head and I could hear those same words being directed toward me from the Father up in Heaven. It was a humbling experience and one that has stuck with me.

Parents, let me encourage you. The next time you are disciplining your children; the next time you are instructing them on the proper way to act; the next time you are picking them up after they fall down; the next time you are taking care of them when they are sick; the next time you allow them to make a mistake and learn on their own; the next time you wrap your arms around your kids to protect them and show them you love them, remember this-how much more would your Father in Heaven do this for you. And when your children are disobeying you, think about how much more you are disobeying your Father in Heaven.

“This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:10

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:9-11