Surround yourself

Surround yourself . . .
The “Surround Yourself . . .” memes are abundant on social media, reminding you to be around people who encourage, inspire, challenge, and support you. No one ever tells you to surround yourself with people who drag you down, take all your energy, and make you feel bad about yourself.
And as much as those Facebook philosophers’ advice seems like simple common sense, Professor Moran Cerf, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University, actually backed it up with research. He discovered that when two people are together, their brain waves begin to look almost identical. Meaning, you really do become like the people around you.
He applies this to decision-making. Because making consistent, daily decisions is stressful, you should carefully pick the people you spend time with. If you have goals, surround yourself with people who have either already attained them or are working toward them. Over time, you’ll begin to mimic those behaviors and become more of the person you want to be.
Professor Cerf could have saved himself ten years of wise research if he had just shared Bible passages. After all, God has been wise for all of eternity. He lets us know in Proverbs 13:20, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Want to make good decisions? Surround yourself with people who make good decisions. Want to have a stronger prayer life? Pray with people who love to pray. Wishing you’d read your Bible more? Ask a friend to text you passages each day. Want to be a better parent? Talk to parents you admire.
Want to be a companion of fools? Then hang around with knuckleheads: “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Here’s one thought, though: surrounding yourself with people who think like you could mean you end up living completely in a bubble of believers. That’s not okay. You’ve been given the good news of Jesus and get to take it to a hurting world. Invite people to worship with you. Have them over for coffee. Even when you’re the only believer at work, be an influence on the people around you. The more you share your joy, the more the Holy Spirit can work in them and make their brain waves more like yours.
Finally, makes sure that you surround yourself with Jesus so that “in your relationships with one another, [you can] have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

Prepare the Child

We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. Psalm 78:4

A phrase on many parenting websites says, “Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.” Instead of trying to remove all obstacles and pave the way for the children in our life, we should instead equip them to deal with the difficulties they encounter on the road ahead.

The psalmist wrote, “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes . . . , which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children” (Ps. 78:4–6). The goal is that “they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands” (v. 7).

Think of the powerful spiritual impact others had on us through what they said and how they lived. Their conversation and demonstration captured our attention and kindled a fire in us to follow Jesus just as they did.

It’s a wonderful privilege and responsibility to share God’s Word and His plan for our lives with the next generation and the generations to come. No matter what lies ahead on their road through life, we want them to be prepared and equipped to face it in the strength of the Lord.

Father in heaven, we seek Your wisdom and guidance to prepare the children we know and love to walk with You in faith.


Through conversation and demonstration, help prepare children to follow the Lord on the road ahead.

Overcoming Fear

You have permission to not be afraid

As a pastor, I’m regularly asking, “What are the people coming to church this week dealing with to which Jesus can bring resolution?” The answers obviously vary week to week, but there’s a recurring theme—one that I feel lately is demanding our attention more loudly: fear.

Maybe fear seems to be trending because it’s election season and presidential hopefuls are reminding us of all the problems with our world that they plan to fix. Maybe it’s because news outlets are daily finding new ways to push notifications to our phones and browsers.

Or maybe the world legitimately is just becoming a scarier place. The news media is going to make sure you don’t forget all the things you’re supposed to fear: ISIS terrorist attacks, the deterioration of principles and morals that supposedly made our nation great, climate change ruining our planet, or the prospect of a 2016 election that has many jumping on board with the #VoteNobody2016 tag. Liberals and conservatives may argue about what we need to fear, but they pretty unanimously support a platform that unless something happens, the world is headed to ruin.

And maybe it is. Actually, I’m pretty convinced that the world is falling apart. I mean, read Matthew 24:6-13, and you’ll hear Jesus himself say that it is.

And I don’t mind that it is. Obviously, I don’t like that atrocities and injustices and natural disasters are just a step away from touching our lives—or maybe already are. And I haven’t even mentioned the local and subjective fears. Things like bills, health, and the future in general are enough to keep us from ever opening our front doors.

But the world falling apart and us living in fear don’t have to correspond. In fact, for God’s people, they shouldn’t. Because fear is a lie. 

Fear is mongered by the devil himself as a way to kill what God’s made you and trap you in doubt. The devil is aware of the kingdom impact a believer makes when the Spirit works in his gifts, so he’s going to use every fear he can to keep you from using your gifts. He’s going to work to tweak your insecurities in hopes that you question God’s promises and your status before him in Jesus.

Therefore, one of the first steps to overcoming fear is remembering that those things the devil wants you to question are unchangeable—God’s promises and your status before him in faith. God in his love for you sent Jesus. The salvation Jesus accomplished for you is factual, objective, and unconquerable. God’s love that we see in Jesus drives out fear (1 John 4:18).

Knowing God’s love means that you are free to not live in fear. Even if the externals that cause fear surround you, fear doesn’t have a right to hold you because God’s love lives in you.

So the next time fear threatens, take whatever’s pushing fear—whether it’s a diagnosis, the political outlook, something a spouse said that can’t be unsaid—and look at it from the perspective of your heart that is immersed in God’s love.

Here are a few points of perspective from God’s love that I use to filter the fears that the devil throws at me.

  1. This world isn’t my home. Did you know that God actually wants everything bad about this world—the things that cause us fear—to make us all the more eager to be done with this world (Romans 8:22,23)? We’re in this world for a purpose, but that purpose isn’t our comfort. It’s to bring God glory through our lives and our witness. When you see this world cycle deeper in its self-destruction, remember it’s not the world you’re here to save. It’s souls in it as God speaks his Good News of life through you.
  2. Resolution and safety come after this world. Not in this one. Jesus tells us to expect hardship here on earth (John 16:33). But at his side in heaven, he is “making everything new” as all that is broken finds restoration (Revelation 21:5).
  3. In everything and despite everything, God is in control. Not the president, not next year’s president, not the news media, and certainly not you. God is. And find peace in the knowledge that even events and currents in the world that seem to directly oppose God’s purposes are the very contexts in which he works his perfect plan. Case in point: Golgotha.

These perspective points don’t fix what you encounter, but they free you from the necessity to fear what you encounter. Instead of holding your fears in and trying to resolve them in your mind, take them to the cross. There, see your Savior who loves you so much that he gave up his life for you. There see your Savior look to you with that exact same intensity of love and assure you that he is with you today, tomorrow, and “to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).


What Goal Are You Working on

Psalm 90:12So teach us to number our days,That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

goalsI was reading through various scriptures and this verse was opened up to me. It is a request.  This psalm is about living 70-80 years of your life and accomplishing nothing because it happened so fast.  It also deals with a person who does not make their peace with God and just like that, life is over.  So David made a request from the Lord, “Teach us to number our days.”  How many years do you have left with your children at home?  How many years of work do you have left until you retire?  How many months are left for the goals your set for yourself this year?  How many dates do you have planned? How many vacations are you saving for?  How many friends are you keeping up with?  How many mornings with God have your had this month?  How many months do you have with your grandchildren before they start to school?  How much money are you investing to retire on? Teach us to NUMBER our days.  Set a goal! Accomplish it! Avoid regrets! Answer the question, “how many?” Before you know it, it’s all over!  Maximize what you have NOW

Dealing with Grief



2 Samuel 19:1-18

Loss is like a freight-train that hits us unexpectedly — then continues to drag us around the tracks for miles to come.

When we lose a loved one, relationship, or even a job, it can seem impossible to step free from the despair.

It’s healthy to grieve. But, sometimes we can be so overwhelmed by our own feelings we pour out our discouragement to everyone around us.

David does this in 2 Samuel 19. His son Absalom, who led an opposing army, died in battle. The victory that day went to God and to David’s men, but David was unable to celebrate or congratulate his troops because of his distress over the loss of his son.

How David felt was completely understandable. However, he didn’t realize his feelings were setting a tone of sorrow for everyone he led. His army and his people were negatively impacted by his overwhelming grief. It was not until David’s friend Joab called him out for his lack of concern over his nation that David was able to see past the pain of his loss.

David didn’t just “get over it,” but he chose to look around and continue living and leading in spite of his grief.

We can mourn our loss while still moving forward.

Like David, we can choose to not let discouragement and despair have a stranglehold in our lives. We can mourn a loss while still moving forward and living out the life God has for us.

How do we do that? When we intentionally look for things to be grateful for, grief begins to lose it’s grip. Even when it feels like everything’s falling apart, we can still be thankful for Jesus who meets us in our grief and comfort us through it. In Jesus, we can have joy and hope even in our grief (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

  • What is a loss you are struggling to heal from? Who can ask to pray for you?
  • Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. How can you give thanks in your current circumstances?

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