By Jeff Simmons

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2016 – The Year of Immeasurably More

2016 – What a year, and what a God! This has truly been the year of “Immeasurably More.” When I think about what God has accomplished in my life as well as at Rolling Hills Community Church and through Justice & Mercy International, I am simply in awe of Him. What all has God accomplished in your life this year?

Here are my Top Ten God-Experiences of 2016:

  1. Kate’s Baptism – baptizing my youngest daughter on Father’s Day – as a parent, it just doesn’t get any better than that.
  2. By God’s grace, was able to share the story of life-transformation through God’s church with others through a book called Immeasurably More – It has been amazing to see God transforming people’s lives for His glory and I love the stories of His people that can be read about in the book.
  3. Watched God provide the funds for another Transitional Living Home in Moldova – we have 10 precious orphan girls and a house mother ready to go into this new home.
  4. Church packing 108,000 meals for Haiti – I got to serve with 500 volunteers from church to pack this many meals, mostly for children in Haiti after the hurricane.
  5. Biblical Study Tour to Israel – I journeyed with a team of 25 from church for 2 weeks throughout Israel with our guide, Yoni. It sure is life-impacting to see the Bible come to life.
  6. Mission Trip to Moldova – a wonderful experience every summer, but this year was extra special with our Transitional Living Home Graduation Celebration.
  7. Pastor’s Conference in the Amazon – I thank God for my time with these amazing pastors and their wives for a week as well as the incredible team from the States. God’s mercies stretch beyond measure.
  8. Vacation with my girls – from taking my oldest daughter, Grace, to Washington D.C. for her 12th birthday to new places with the five of us, we had the best time! I love my family and am blessed to be their husband and dad.
  9. Father & Son Bowl extra day for the fatherless – the Father & Son Bowl is a highlight every year, but adding the extra day for the fatherless was the perfect next step for this amazing ministry.
  10. Wedding vow renewal for Dolly & Carl – an unexpected addition this year, but it was so special to officiate at Dolly Parton and Carl’s 50th Anniversary Wedding Vow Renewal. I am thankful for their marriage & influence.

Praise God for each of these moments, as well as His many other incredible blessings! It wasn’t all easy, however: 2016 was also a tough year in that my dad went home to be with Jesus. I truly miss him, but I know that he is experiencing the “Immeasurably More” life in heaven…right now! I am so proud and thankful for him.

This is my Top Ten – what about yours? What did you see God do in your life this year?

I pray your 2017 is even better. I pray you press into God even more, and see Him do miracles. I pray that you grow in your love for Him and for those around you. I actually pray that 2017 is your best year yet! Stay strong in the Lord. Give Him praise and follow Him all the days of your life. He is with you and He is for you.

Praise God for 2016 and blessings on you in 2017!

In Christ,

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“What is This?” | Everyday Manna from Heaven

The Old Testament is all about God preparing His people for the Messiah. It’s a people longing for people and the story of a God of salvation and deliverance. This is so clear as God, through 10 plagues, delivers His people from slavery in Egypt and takes them on a journey, through the desert, to the Promised Land. Along the way, God teaches His people to trust Him.

Now, sustaining a million-plus people in a desert for 40 years is not a small undertaking. But, God. God supplies their every need. He gives them “manna” (this bread-like substance from heaven for their food and nourishment), quail and even water from a rock. Manna literally means “what is this?” for when the manna showed up, the people were surprised and had no idea what it was. Yet, God sustained His people with manna, and He grew their faith in Him.

Exodus is the most powerful book on salvation in the Old Testament.

Now, fast forward to the New Testament.

Mark begins his gospel not with the birth narrative, but he immediately moves to Jesus’s earthly ministry. In Mark 1, Jesus is teaching at the synagogue in Capernaum. It says, “The people were amazed at His teaching, because He taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.” (Mark 1:22) During His teaching time, Jesus heals a man from an evil spirit. Then it says, “The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, ‘What is this?’ A new teaching – and one with authority!” (Mark 1:27)

“The Torah” – the first five books of the Old Testament – does not simply mean “The Law,” but is better understood as “The Teaching.” Jesus came and taught in a different way than the “teachers of the law.” Jesus was concerned about the people – physically and spiritually. He came not only to bring deeper insights into the Law, but to bring life to the people through the Teaching. Salvation. Life-sustaining and transforming salvation.

The contrast was so evident that the people realized this was different. “What is this?” – this is what they longed for. This was what the entire Old Testament journey was preparing them for. This is life that was truly life. Not religion (the Law) but a relationship (the Teaching and the Teacher). The One who came to fulfill the law and to bring life – physical and spiritual.

Our story mirrors the journey of the Israelites.

We all stand in need of salvation. We long for physical sustenance and spiritual life. Jesus told the people in John 6:34, “I am the bread of life. he who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.” Jesus meets our deepest needs. When we were slaves to sin, Jesus brought deliverance. He sustains physically in the wilderness while He leads us to the Promised Land. He is the “author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Are we still amazed at His goodness in our lives? Do we thank God every day for the bread He gives us to eat that sustains us physically? Jesus even teaches us in the model prayer to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Everything we have comes from Him – daily He meets our physical needs. And, are we still amazed at His Teaching? Are we hungry for God’s Word and are we growing spiritually? Jesus came to teach not simply for knowledge, but that we might have life. His teaching is meant to draw us to the heart of a God who provides healing and salvation for us. How amazing that the Israelites waited for the Messiah and Jesus is born in Bethlehem. The name Bethlehem literally means, “House of Bread.” Jesus meets our deepest physical and spiritual needs. He truly is “the bread of life.”

Never lose the wonder of what God is doing in you. Just as the Israelites were surprised and overjoyed for the manna, and the people of Capernaum were amazed and overwhelmed by His Teaching. So, let’s be a people who never lose the sense of awe that comes when we realize that the God of all Creation sent His Son into the world to save us. Stay hungry for His teaching and see your life sustained, but also transformed.

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A Different Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving will be different.

Growing up, Thanksgiving was always a big deal. We could never “skip over” Thanksgiving to get to Christmas – we always emphasized Thanksgiving in our home. Mom and dad both cooked, but it was dad who cooked and carved the turkey – he would always give out samples along the way, so we could be salivating for his masterpiece. After the big meal, we would watch the Cowboys football game and fall asleep on the couch. Growing up in Texas that is just what you did. Even after I married Lisa, we would still always go to Texas for Thanksgiving. It was tradition, and our daughters loved it! One year, dad even made fajitas (along with the turkey) because my girls were not much for turkey, but they loved fajitas. “Hey, it’s San Antonio,” he would say. When my parents moved to Tennessee a few years ago, it was still dad carving the turkey (and/or fajitas), us watching the Cowboys game and everyone falling asleep on the couch.

This year will be different. There will be an empty place at our table, and we will need someone else to carve the turkey. My dad went home to be with Jesus in January, and this will be our first Thanksgiving without him. We all miss him.

Now, I know for many of you, this may also be a different Thanksgiving. Maybe it is not a parent, but a grandparent or a friend. I am praying with you and for you. Yesterday, I officiated the funeral for a 29 year-old mom who was killed by a drunk driver. It was heart-breaking and I couldn’t help but think how different this Thanksgiving would be for her family.

Maybe this Thanksgiving will be different for you not because of the passing of a loved one, but because you will be in a different place. Maybe it is a different location or a different place emotionally or spiritually. Maybe not a bad place, but just different. Life moves on. Things change. Loved ones go home to be with the Lord, people get married, family members go to in-laws’ homes, people move. Nothing stays exactly the same. Every year is different in some way.

Regardless of this being a different Thanksgiving, there are still some things that will be the same:

First, it is still Thanksgiving, and I am still thankful. Even though I miss my dad, I know I will see Him again. This life is not all that there is. As 1 Thessalonians 4:13 tells us, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.” Because of God’s grace, I do not grieve as one who has no hope. I know I will celebrate the greatest Thanksgiving meal in history with my dad (the Wedding Feast of the Lamb), and for that I am thankful.

Second, the God who is Sovereign over all never changes. Even as everything else in life changes, God is still the same. He loves and He cares. My God sees and He knows what is going on in my life and in my heart. He knows this Thanksgiving will be different, but He will still be with me. I love Him and His love for me will never change.

Finally, I still have so much for which to be thankful. It is easy to focus on what I have lost instead of seeing all that I still have. My God has blessed me – and all of us. He has lavished His blessings on us with His love, family, friends, food (too much food), a couch to fall asleep on and so much more. I choose to still celebrate Thanksgiving this year.

Yes, this year Thanksgiving will be different. And, because of that:

I will cherish it more.

I will be more aware and be more thankful.

I will tell people more how thankful I am for them.

I will spend more time with God since He is always there for me.

And, I will embrace the moment because there will never be another Thanksgiving exactly like this one.

Wherever you find yourself this Thanksgiving, be thankful. Know you are loved and cared for that day – and every day of your life – by a God who never changes. As Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “Yes this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

God is with you and for you. Also, I am praying for you. May our God fill you with all joy and overwhelm you with thankfulness this Thanksgiving – regardless of how different it may be. As Tim Keller writes, “Our Christian hope is that we’re going to live with Christ in a new earth, where there is not only no more death, but where life is what it was always meant to be.” Remember, the best is still to come. There will be bumps and detours along the way, but our heavenly Father is preparing a Feast for us. He gives us samples along with way – a sweet time with family, an amazing time of worship, listening to the prayer of a child – but one day we will celebrate a Thanksgiving meal in complete perfection. Hold on to the hope you have in Christ and embrace each moment you have with family and friends on this earth. Every Thanksgiving is different, but it is all simply to prepare our hearts for perfection. Your Father is preparing something really special for you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

 

 

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Water from a Rock

img_5470Stunning in beauty; yet, harsh in reality. During the first few days of our recent Biblical Study Tour to Israel, we spent time in the Negev – the wilderness. We actually walked where the children of Israel walked for 40 years as they wandered around the wilderness coming out of Egypt and before entering the Promised Land. It is truly wilderness – hot, dry, very little rainfall and barren. Yet, God provided for His people for 40 years. Each day God gave them manna “bread” from heaven, quail, as well as water from a rock. It is incredible to see these places in the wilderness where these natural springs come flowing out of a huge rock. They are rare, but they are there. When the people needed water, God would call Moses to “strike” (or “speak to” – important to do what God tells us) the Rock. And, God would bring water to sustain His people back then – just like our God sustains us today.

img_5466Actually, much of Israel resembles this. The area around the Galilee is beautiful and can be lush (no wonder Jesus spent so much time there), but the rest of the country resembles the terrain of the wilderness more than it does the Galilee. Jerusalem is like this, the Dead Sea and the Judean wilderness. So, why did God choose this place for the Promised Land? Why did God call Abraham to this land? Why did He make this the most coveted of all the land for His people?

Well, first of all, this is the most strategic land in the world. It sits as a “land bridge” between Europe, Asia, Africa and India. It is the home of the most ancient spice routes. With the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, it has served as a huge commercial route for all time. Almost every major army has come through this area, with more battles being fought at Megiddo, the Valley of Armageddon, than anywhere else in the world. In fact, the last battle of history will occur in this place.

img_5479Secondly, there are a lot of natural resources. While the terrain is difficult, there are still places of great vegetation. From the springs of the Jordan River in the north, to the Sea of Galilee and the well-watered areas all the way down to the Dead Sea, it truly can be a “land flowing with milk and honey.” There are huge contrasts, yet sustaining provision. While none of it is easy, it is all there. It is beautiful and bountiful. But, still there are better nourished places in the world that are much easier to grow and develop.

So, why this place? When we asked our guide, Yoni, here was his response:
“What is so promising about the Promised Land?” reading Isaiah 45:6 while viewing the Judean wilderness after our camel ride. “In English it is very poetic, ‘so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord and there is no other‘ (NIV). However in Hebrew the verse actually says “כי אפס בלעדי“ or transliterated, ‘ki efes biladai” which literally means ‘you are nothing without me.'” In other words, we are zero without God and he gave his people a land where they would often be reminded of their frailty and need of constant Heavenly help. If he had chosen someplace like Tahiti, people would have quickly forgotten about God. It is a simple formula.

img_5475God wants us to trust in Him. As God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and led them to the Promised Land, He met them to say, “Don’t forget Me” when you come into the land – Deuteronomy 8. God is always drawing us to Himself. Even in the hard times, these are reminders of how much we need the Lord – and how God will take care of us – even providing water from a rock.

One of our team members, Matt Huitt, wrote:

“I was struck by how we kept seeing all those man-made irrigation techniques and it brought to mind Isaiah 41:17-20 ‘The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set junipers in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this,that the Holy One of Israel has created it.'”

We stood on the physical rock where our spiritual rock, Jesus, was struck, where “blood AND WATER” flowed out when the centurion pierced his side with a spear. Soon, in the new heavens and new earth, drip irrigation and step irrigation and any other source for capturing water won’t be needed. Just as Eden was watered by a river, so the whole earth will be watered by the new Jerusalem when God rights all wrongs and makes all things new.

Wherever you are in the journey of your life today remember that God can and will provide water from a Rock. He is with you and He is for you. Hold on to Him. Don’t forget about Him when things are plenty, but always remember He is the Source of all good things in your life. He doesn’t want you to be complacent. He always wants you to trust Him and need Him. Think about all He has done for you today. Especially, water from a Rock.

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Three Imperatives for Every Christ-follower on Election Day

A short note for a Big Day…

The Bible tells us: “…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 I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Today is election day in the US – a big day in our country. There are unrest, concern and worry for some and hope for others surrounding this day. As Christ-followers, we are called to do three things today:

  1. Pray – God invites us to call out to Him. When we do, we affirm that He is ultimately in control. We ask Him to draw us close to His heart and for us to know that He will heal our land. We are, also, called to pray for our leaders. Today, we need to pray for both candidates as well as all those who represent us in Washington. Let’s join together and ask God to draw their hearts to Him through this entire process. That they submit their hearts and lives to the One who is ultimately in control. There is power in prayer. So, let’s pray.
  2. Vote – I hear from many people that they do not like either candidate, so they are choosing not to vote. But, our right to vote is a privilege and responsibility. There are many people who died to give us this right. We are so blessed to live in the United States. Whether you vote for either of the two primary candidates, a long shot candidate or even write someone in, simply voting at all is something we should do.
  3. Trust – Remember, our faith is not in a man or a woman, but in God. Throughout the centuries, there have been good rulers and horrible rulers, but our God has been the One who is consistent and faithful. He is sovereign over all. So, whatever happens today, trust that our God is greater. Trust that He is in control.

Pray, vote, trust. As Christ-followers, this is our time to engage: to undergird our country through prayer and participation and to be salt and light in a desperate time. And, through it all, to trust that God will fulfill His purpose for our nation and for us, individually. Let’s not spew forth hate, but hope. Let’s share with others the reason for the hope that we have in Christ. I am proud to be an American, but even more, I am proud to be a part of the Kingdom of God through Jesus Christ – the true Ruler of all.

 

 

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Is God Enough?

There are times in life when we find ourselves in the midst of waiting. Now, we don’t like to wait. In fact, we live in an instant gratification society – fast food, microwaves, faster downloads, faster & faster communication through cell phones and social media – which makes waiting even more challenging. Yet, there are times in our lives when we find ourselves waiting. Maybe it is waiting on a marriage or a re-marriage, waiting on a child, waiting on a job or our dream job, or even waiting on God. So, what we do in the waiting?

There is an Old Testament book that is not widely known, but actually speaks to this idea of waiting – Habakkuk. Habakkuk is one of the 12 Minor Prophets in the Old Testament (not minor because they are less important, but minor because their books are shorter than the Major Prophets). Habakkuk’s name literally means, “to wrestle,” and there is a lot of rich content that resides in three short chapters. As you mine the depths of this book written 2,600 years ago, you find some solid truths that are incredibly relevant to the world we live in today.

Habakkuk calls out to God with two prayer requests (called “complaints”). The first centers around how the children of God in his day (the nation of Judah) have gone away from God. They were neglecting the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament), there was violence and injustice in the land, and the leadership of the nation was corrupt. So, Habakkuk calls out to God and asks God to do something. Essentially, Habakkuk cries out to God, “Do you see what is happening here? Do you even care?” God answers Habakkuk’s prayer and says, “Yes, I do see, and I am sending the Babylonians to do something about it.”

Habakkuk doesn’t like God’s answer (sound familiar?), so he calls out to God again saying, “God, this isn’t fair. The Babylonians are worse than us, Your people, who you are punishing.” Again, God answers – Habakkuk 2:2-4, “Then the Lord replied: ‘Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright – but the righteous will live by his faith…”

God tells Habakkuk (and us) three things: Write, Wait and Live by faith.

First, it is so important to write down what God says to you. Studies show we forget 95% of what we hear within 24 hours. If we don’t write down when God speaks to us through His Word, a song, a prayer, a sermon or even a friend, then we will likely forget it and be right back in the same spot looking for an answer. Keep a journal, write a blog, have a notebook by your bed at night. God will speak to us – will we listen and will we remember? Think about this – maybe God was telling Habakkuk to “write down the revelation” as much for him as for us? When God speaks to you, maybe God is telling you to write down what He says as much for you as for your children or others who will one day read your words. There are many Christ-followers who have walked through tough times – like miscarriages, cancer and the like – and yet they have written blogs and books that have ministered to so many others. Write down what God is saying to you.

Second, God tells Habakkuk to wait. All Habakkuk could see is that Babylonians were coming and it looked bad (and it was). But, what Habakkuk didn’t know is that God (just like Habakkuk’s contemporary, Jeremiah, prophesied) was putting Judah in “time-out” (exile) for 70 years, and that He would return a “remnant” to the land. This “remnant” would rebuild the Temple and would prepare the way for the coming Messiah. God was writing a bigger story than Habakkuk could see.

God is writing a bigger story than you can see. God has not left you or given up on you. There is still breath in your lungs for a reason. God has a bigger plan and purpose for your life as well as for the world. Therefore, God says, “wait.” He is not finished yet. Don’t give up on God because He will never give up on you.

Finally, God says, “the righteous will live by his faith.” In the midst of the waiting, God is telling Habakkuk (and us) to trust Him. God is about a relationship, not religion. The Christian walk is about faith in God and God alone. Many times it is in the midst of the waiting that our faith grows the most.

The book of Habakkuk was written over a span of 60 years. Habakkuk learned to wait on God – not a “passive” waiting where you sit around, but an “active” waiting where you are about your Father’s business. Habakkuk prayed, read God’s Word and served the people in his day and generation. We are called to do the same in our day and generation. Be active in making a difference for His Kingdom in the present while you wait for God to fulfill His specific promises in the future.

After waiting on God, Habakkuk makes this incredible statement of faith: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Habakkuk 3:17-18.

Essentially, Habakkuk comes to this conclusion – God is enough. If everything was taken away, God is enough. Is God enough for you? If everything else in this commercialized world in which we live was taken away, can we still rejoice because of our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ? We must learn to wait on God – not simply for what we want Him to do for us, but because of what He has already done for us. As we live by faith, we fall more in love with God in the good times as well as in the hard times. We understand that God is for us and He will take care of us.

At the end, Habakkuk closes with this verse, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:19. It is in the prayer and waiting on God that our strength grows. It is in the faith of a Sovereign Lord where we learn to go to new heights in our spiritual life. God wants us to reach our full potential in Him. More than making money, success in our career or even having a family, growing deeper and stronger in our relationship with God is what enables us to accomplish all God desires. God used Habakkuk, in some tough circumstances, to impact others. God is drawing us close to His heart. He is telling us to “write, wait and live by faith.” In the process, we will grow stronger spiritually and we will impact others for His glory.

 

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Behind the Scenes of the 2016 JMI Gala

Every year we host the Justice & Mercy International Benefit Gala in order to raise money for all the mission work we do in Moldova, the Amazon and South Africa. It has become one of my favorite weeks of the year. Our National Directors – Alina, and her husband Vlad in Moldova; and Sarah, and her husband Magno in the Amazon – come all the way to the United States to attend and share about the work they do. These people are so special to me personally, and to our whole church family. In addition, we have people come in from Reston Bible Church as well as other JMI partner churches and so many friends from out-of-town who go on mission trips and invest in the work. It has become like a giant Family Reunion! All united in Christ and with a common desire to make a difference in His Name.

The Gala is our biggest fundraising event of the year and there is a lot that goes into making it happen. Our JMI and our Rolling Hills Staff Teams all work hard because we believe in what God has called us to. Along with this, it takes close to 100 volunteers – most of whom go on mission trips and sponsor children through JMI. The fact is, we all sincerely love the people we go to serve. The precious orphan children in Moldova, the pastors in the Amazon, the poor and forgotten in South Africa – they are truly our friends. We love them, and we know what a difference this night can make in their lives.

But, the Gala is also a lot of fun. When you are serving with people you love, united in a cause bigger than yourself and you see God do miracles in people’s lives, of course it’s fun! It is not work, but a calling and a passion.

Here are a few of the behind the scenes fun moments as we prepare for the Gala:

Taking our National Directors out to experience some good old American fun:

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Setting up in the auditorium with staff teams and volunteers – it’s all hands on deck

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Serving with people we love

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Praise God for allowing us to be involved in what He is doing in the world. When Christ is transforming lives there is nothing like it! There is no place in the world that I would rather be than serving our God with people I love and seeing lives redeemed for His glory. Thank You, Father! Get involved. Jump in because serving God is awesome! Go on a mission trip, sponsor a child, serve locally, but do something. You will have a great time serving, and God will impact lives through you. We are better together.

“I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” Psalm 84:10

Lastly, here is a message from one of our good friends about giving to JMI:

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Overcoming Roadblocks in Your Spiritual Journey

We all have them – roadblocks. There are things in our life that keep us from reaching our full potential in Christ. Some roadblocks we all face, like fear, busyness, image and more; while others are unique to us – our own personal struggle. But, we all have them. None of us are perfect; and none of us are immune. In fact, we are all a work in progress – and progress happens as we learn to bust through roadblocks in our life. So what is yours? Identifying your roadblock is the first step. Be honest. And then give it to Christ. It is Christ, and Christ alone, who can transform a life and bust down a roadblock.

Take a moment to watch this video. This is an interview with a good friend named Michael Turner. His story is powerful. God has done a miracle in his life, and I believe his story will help you bust through the roadblocks you face. God is at work in your life. Trust Him and be bold. The best of your life is still to come. Begin the breakthrough of a roadblock today.

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Spiritual Leadership in Professional Sports | An Interview with Mike Fisher

At the Men’s Leadership Network (MLN), I have the opportunity to sit down with some amazing, godly leaders. The goal of MLN is to help men grow as spiritual leaders in their marriages, families, workplaces and community. We know as men grow in their leadership, it impacts so many others and even generations.

Recently, our guest speaker was Mike Fisher. Mike is the captain of the Nashville Predators and husband to Carrie Underwood. They have a busy life, but through it all they prioritize Christ in all they do. Mike is a good friend, and I am so thankful for his life & testimony.

I know you will be encouraged and challenged by watching this interview with Mike, and I pray you grow in your own spiritual leadership within the sphere of influence God has placed you.

 

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“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor_ %22Winter is dead.”

Spiritual Discernment – Inviting God Into Your Decisions

We make decisions every day – some are little and some are big. Deciding what clothes we wear, what food we eat, the music we listen to or even what we watch on Netflix are little decisions, but over time they make an impact on our life. In addition, there are some big decisions that we make – who we marry, what job we take, what house or car we buy and where we live that have huge implications. In fact, if you think about it, our life is pretty much comprised of the decisions we make – the little and the big. Discernment is important in every decision we make. Spiritual discernment is essential in our lives. God is sovereign and He has a great plan for our lives. Romans 12:2 says, “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” This means that God has a “perfect will” for your life. However, by the decisions we make, we can end up settling for merely God’s “pleasing will” or even God’s “good will.” Yet, God wants the very best for us!

Knowing what God wants us to do and where God wants us to go is at the heart of every Christ-follower. But, how? How do we know what God wants us to do? This is discernment. Discerning God’s will in every decision we make. People often ask me for prayers or advice on decisions in their lives. Most of the time, this centers around the bigger decisions such as a job or even career change, a person they are dating and trying to decide if they are the one to marry, a decision about which college to attend or a large financial expenditure, like buying a house. I count it an honor to pray with them and for them in whatever they are facing and although their discernment process is their own journey, they are certainly starting at the right place. Here’s my 5-step process for gaining and growing in discernment with every decision:

  1. Pray about it – I believe in the power of prayer. God tells us, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8) God wants us to ask! Praying invites God into the decision. So often we set out to solve the problem thinking we don’t need God. But, God wants to be involved in every area of our life. No decision is too small or too big for God.
  2. How does it align with Scripture – God will not call you to do something outside of His Word. For instance, if buying a new car means you will take on too much debt, then it is probably not the right decision. Maybe you need to save more before buying the car, or you need to buy a cheaper car. Also, God’s Word teaches us not to be “unequally yoked;” therefore, you should not marry someone who is not a Christ-follower. They don’t have to agree with you on every doctrinal issue, but this foundation must be right. God gives us His Word to reveal His character and His will for us. Make sure that every decision lines up with His Word.
  3. Make a list of pros and cons – This is a part of spiritual discernment that many people skip. God gave us a brain, and He wants us to use it. Jesus said, “Be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.” Does the decision make common sense? Do the pros outweigh the cons. Maybe it is a new job – does your decision take into account the impact on your family, community, health benefits, personal growth – it is not always the job offer with the most money that wins. This even comes back to the food you eat and the things you watch. As the apostle Paul writes, “Everything is permissable (because of grace), but not everything is beneficial.” (1 Corinthians 10:23) Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. However, sometimes God calls us to steps of faith that defy logic. Be discerning.
  4. Seek wise counsel – We all have blindspots. We need others to look at decisions from a different perspective as well as to take the personal emotion out of it. Proverbs 10:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Don’t be afraid, or too prideful, to ask for help or advice. Ask people who you know will be honest with you. Also, be willing to go to a Christian Counselor who can help you discern. The most important part is making the right decision, not that you are right. Be willing to listen. Many times God speaks to you through others.
  5. Fast – When I have big decisions to make, many times I invest in some kind of fast. Fasting is when you give up food, social media or something else for a certain period of time (sun up to sun down, or even three days, a week, etc.) in order to not be distracted by the things of this world and focus on listening to God. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” God wants you to know what He wants you to do. Ask Him. And, then make the commitment to put yourself in a posture to receive from Him.

The Christian life is a journey of faith – and that is what makes it so exciting. It is learning to be dependent on God. Growing in your love for Him and your ability to hear His voice. This is discernment, and this leads to spiritual depth and greater impact for the Kingdom. Commit every decision to the Lord. God wants you to succeed. He wants you to know His perfect will for your life. Understand the importance of discernment in every decision you make. Follow this 5-step process, and I guarantee you will make wise decisions. And, now, let’s live it all for the glory of our great God!