Breaking the Spirit of Passivity

God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, and to have dominion (see Genesis 1:26-28). These are not passive words; they are active words, words filled with energy, vitality and even force. People who are effective for God’s kingdom are not passive in nature. They are active in their pursuit of Christ and Christlikeness. They are intentional in following God’s plan for their lives, having great marriages, raising their children, and in seeking to demonstrate God’s love for others.

Passivity is a problem that began in the Garden of Eden, and, in my view, is sometimes a problem in the church. God specifically told Adam and Eve to rule over the fish and the birds and over everything that moves on the ground (Genesis 1:28). Shortly thereafter, Satan came to them masquerading as a creepy, crawling, crafty serpent. The first thing Adam and Eve should have thought is – God told us to take dominion over this creature.

As soon as that serpent opened its mouth with deceit, they should have spoken to the serpent with authority and told it to be quiet! Perhaps even better, they should have picked up a rock and smashed it in the head. God gave the earth to Adam and Eve and not to Satan and Satan did not belong. Instead, they were struck by the blow of sin and Jesus had to come to crush the head of Satan by the cross.

Interestingly, the Bible says that when Eve was deceived and ate of the fruit she gave some to Adam, “who was with her” (Genesis 3:6, NIV). The dude sat by and watched his wife get attacked by Satan and did nothing about it. Instead, he became a partaker in the sin. God gave them a beautiful garden to live in which certainly provided for many opportunities for relaxation and contentment. But their contentment was not to warp into lethargic living. Their inaction was actually disobedience to God’s direct command. 

There are sins of commission and omission. There are things God commands us to do and things He commands us not to do. The active commands are far more thrilling than the inactive – be fruitful, fill, multiply, subdue, take dominion. That’s sounds like a lot more fun than “don’t eat from this tree.” If they had set their minds on doing the things God had called them to do, they would not have been lured into the enemy’s trap because they would have been busy about their Father’s work.

In contrast, when Jesus walked the earth he actively lived out God’s commands by his fruitful life of love, filling others with God’s healing power, multiplying through making disciples, subduing the forces of darkness as He drove out demons, and taking dominion by advancing God’s kingdom wherever he went. Jesus was not passive. He was active about His Father’s work.

People who are effective for God’s kingdom are not passive in nature.

It is sometimes our inaction that gets us into trouble more than our actions. As the old saying goes, “an idle mind is the devil’s playground.” What got King David into trouble is when he took time away from the battle field and in his bored solitude was lured into the temptation to commit adultery. His place was on the battle field. I believe there was actually a demonic spirit sent to lure David into a slumbering condition. The king became prey because of a passive moment in his normally otherwise fierce life (see 2 Samuel 11).

God has called each of us to be on the battle field. Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). Of course, there are times to rest and relax, to vacation, but we cannot let our guard down when it is time to fight. If we will not actively resist the enemy, we will be devoured by him. There’s no middle ground.

Throughout the Bible, God calls His people to advance. Jesus said, “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12, NKJV). We are commanded to go into all the world and preach the gospel. We have been given authority over all the power of the enemy. We trample snakes and scorpions and every wicked thing (see Luke 10:19). We should be an advancing church not an idle church. Yes, we will face resistance, but that is when we need to grow stronger and “Rule in the midst of your enemies!” (Psalm 110:2, NIV).

Contentment is not passivity. Passivity is not contentment.

The time leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion is called His passion week. We don’t call it Jesus’ inaction week. Even in laying down his life in submission to his Father’s will, Jesus was not passive. He was passionate. What are you passionate about? We need to break off the spirit of passivity and begin to advance boldly and passionately for God’s kingdom. 

His Promise Remains

we thank You for Your promise
though the journey is far
and trouble deep
though not untouched by sorrow and grief
His Promise remains
everlasting life, eternal hope
joy that never ends, and peace
we thank You for Your promise
a babe in a manger
Mighty Deliverer
a man on the cross
broken, now scarred, marred beyond recognition
raised to life – we praise His name!
our Redeemer
through His blood we are saved
through His passion restored
by His brokenness made whole
there is no other name – Jesus
His promise remains
that which nothing can change
though the gates of hell rage
through sin mars every page … of human history
through war and famine
pestilence and disease
through shakings and tremblings
though every tombstone marks the human race
we know that one day the trump will sound
the dead will rise to life
the sea will give up treasured souls
ashes will be reassembled
we will meet Him in the air – oh glorious day!
His hope remains
our faith is sure
His love never failing
His promise remains
on Christ the solid rock we stand
though the storms come
though winds blow fierce
Your praying church remains
in the posture of prayer
O how my heart burns within me
how I long to see Your face
my longing remains
I will not give up
I will not fear
steadfast and resolute
we will endure
because His promise remains
we thank You for Your promise
in this our hope is secure
though the journey is hard
we are pioneers
through the hours of trial
when despair creeps in like a cloud
though we feel hot breath around us
persecution and pain
we walk through the fire
not burned
His presence remains
heaven holds no smell of death
only the fragrance of life
though wounded, we will rise from the depths
we overcome
by the blood of the Lamb and our testimony
to the praise of His glorious name
Your promise is sure
we are secure
we will endure
we remember His promise
we carry it with us
cross valleys
which rise up at His glory
through mountains
that bow to His name
we praise You and praise You
we say Yes and Amen
His promise remains

Prioritizing God and Marriage

One of my priorities is spending quality time with my wife and kids. During my married life, I have consumed content from Pastor Jimmy Evans who is the founder of a ministry called MarriageToday. I’ve listened and re-listened to many of his sermons/podcasts and read some of his books. I wish I could say that my skill as a husband has matched my level of listening to Jimmy Evans, but I have no doubt that his material has helped me be a better husband.

One of the many things I have learned from Jimmy Evans is the priority of marriage over everything else in life except God. Some spouses tend to prioritize their children, thinking that their children need and deserve their attention moreso than their spouse. The risk here is that when the children grow older and leave the nest, you’ve not invested in your marriage the way you should. You’ve also shown your children priorities that are out of balance. Another thing I’ve learned from Jimmy Evans is the importance of praying together as a couple.

As a parent of two young boys, I can attest to the fact that children consume much of our time and energy. My typical work day involves getting up around 5:30 in the morning, spending some time with the Lord, getting ready and heading off to work at about 6:30. I work from 7:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and get home about 5:00 p.m. We always eat dinner together as a family.

From the moment I get home, my boys demand my attention. Right now, they are not likely to go to bed unless we do, so I help out around the house and spend time with my boys until about 8:30 when we all start getting ready for bed. We read stories to the boys and try to have a short time of prayer before we dive into the sheets. Hopefully, we’re in bed by 9 or 9:30. Yes, I’m 41 years old but I still listen to Adventures in Odyssey while I fall asleep.

Our schedule gives me about 4 hours each evening to be with my family, but does not allow for any time for Leslie and I to be together alone. Nevertheless, we do spend a lot of time together as a family, around the house, going for walks and excursions, watching movies or football, and eating together. It’s not a sacrifice, it is a joy.

To prioritize time with God, I have to be intentional about it. I have to make a plan. I might pray at spontaneous moments of the day or worship the Lord while I drive to work, but to spend that quality time with Him that I know I need, I have to make a plan. I have to plan to get up in the morning. I’m certainly not perfect in executing my plan, but I do better because I make a plan. If I’m up later than planned the night before and don’t wake up to pray, I make a plan to pray in the evening. The same strategy applies for marriage.

Last year, I think Leslie and I had maybe 3 date nights the entire year. Planning date nights has not been easy, but I’m hoping that we will do better this year. During our attempt at a date night in February, we got rear ended and Leslie ended up in the emergency room. We never did make it to the Cheesecake Factory. Thankfully, we were okay but Leslie was pregnant and she was admitted to the ER as a precaution. Then Jacob was born on April 29th and we’ve been busy since then keeping up with our two boys.

Finally, in December, we had a real date night. We went to Panera Bread. Since there were barely any customers in the restaurant, we had a peaceful and quality time, just the two of us. This year, I am hopeful we will make a better plan. We’re doing better at praying together as a family. We also plan for the unexpected, because the unexpected will always come. It takes work, but the reward is worth it.

What I’ve Learned in My Adventure with God – Part 2

In a recent article, I shared four lessons I’ve learned as I have journeyed with the Lord. In this article I will share four more lessons learned. Let’s get started!

#5 – God Leads by His Spirit in Different Ways

I have previously shared how God led me to Texas through a dream, but not every major decision in my life has been prompted by a dream. I am grateful that God has spoken to me through dreams, but you don’t need a dream from God to be led by the Holy Spirit.

God certainly leads us through His written word, but sometimes we need more specific direction when it comes to specific decisions.

When it comes to making these decisions, God may lead us by speaking directly to our spirits through an impression or inner voice. I think this is an area where Christians sometimes struggle because we have to learn the difference between our emotions and the voice of the Holy Spirit. I would encourage you to desire to be led by the Spirit, but to be sure to test everything to ensure you are really hearing from God.

God will also speak to us through the counsel of a trusted friend or pastor who can help us confirm that we are being led by the Lord. God may also lead through circumstances, such as open or closed doors.

Entire books have been written on this subject, so I’ll not go into great detail except to say that God always leads through peace. However, it is important to note that spiritual peace is not the same as emotional peace. I have made decisions where I felt emotional turmoil yet God’s peace was evident. Emotions can be wonderful but our emotions are a part of our flesh which needs to be dedicated to God. We cannot always trust our emotions, but we can always trust God’s peace and the leading of His Spirit.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” -Romans 8:14

#6 – God’s Kingdom is of Greater Value than anything of this Earth

When I was a younger man, I had such a hunger for God’s presence in my life. I wanted God like The Parable of the Hidden Treasure and The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price (see Matthew 13:44-46). There were times I would lie on my bed just crying out to God for more of Him. I also think I had an emotional void in my life that I wanted God to fill. As the years have gone by, I believe my hunger is still there but perhaps not with the same raw and deep emotional intensity I once had. Also, I can say that God has filled the void I once felt and, although there are areas where I still lack, I am a more full and complete man than I once was.

My desire to walk with the Lord has not changed. More than ever, I want my life to count for eternity. I want to be a man that walks with God. I want my sons to see their Papa as a man who seeks the Lord. The more I journey with God, the more I see that the value of the eternal is vastly more important than anything of this world. This world and everything in it is passing away. It is but a vapor, a brief moment in time. This life matters, but eternity matters so much more.

It saddens me when I see so many people who appear to be living for only this earth with little thought for eternity. We need to have an eternal perspective and live for God by investing in His Kingdom, seeking Him more than anything this world has to offer.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” -Matthew 6:19-20

#7 – God is More Concerned with My Character than My Success

When I was younger, I wanted to do something great for God. I remember reading David Wilkerson’s book, The Cross and the Switchblade, and being inspired by how his commitment to prayer launched him into a powerful ministry. Yet, I have often found myself in places which seem so far away from my dreams. I worked for an employer for over 13 years and often felt like I was laboring in obscurity, unnoticed and underappreciated. Then I went to law school and now I’m a state of Texas employee and not in the ministry. Though I have served the Lord and have been involved in some form of ministry much of my life, I have yet to realize my big dream.

We named our first son Joseph in part because of the personal connection I feel to Joseph’s character in the Bible. Joseph displayed impeccable character in the face of great disappointments as he labored in obscurity until the day came for God to promote him. During that time, God proved Joseph’s character and proved His word true in Joseph’s life.

God wants us to face difficulties as opportunities to grow stronger in faith, love and character. As we grow stronger, we take further steps into our destiny in the Lord. The book of your life is not fully written. God has more.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” –James 1:2-4

#8 – God Loves Me and He is Proud of Me!

My Father really loves me, yes He does! There was a time where I struggled to believe that I am loved by God. Through the fires of adversity, God has given me a greater revelation of His love and my confidence has grown.

A few years ago, I graduated law school. Law school was tough, probably the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. I don’t think I always handled the pressure well. I often had to study and/or attend class from morning until evening, six days a week, and sometimes I had to do school work on Sundays. Leslie and I also struggled in our marriage during this time and had too much conflict.

Despite everything, during the graduation ceremony the Lord whispered to me, “You are my beloved son, I am pleased with you.” I sensed His pleasure. Leslie was sitting in the crowd and told me later that she felt God speaking the same thing to her around the same time He spoke to me. It was an affirming moment. Despite the difficulties, we had persevered in obedience to God’s call and had passed the test. I emerged from law school with a greater confidence in myself and in God. Now, I do not doubt God’s love for me. I am His son, His beloved son. My Father is proud of me!

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! -I John 3:1 (NIV)

Seeking Truth

In Spanish the word for truth (verdad) and green (verde) are very similar. Like the grass and trees are green, truth is all around us because it was placed there by our Creator. Truth is not complicated if we have an honest and sincere heart to seek and know truth. The problem is people suppress truth through unrighteousness and exchange God’s truth for a lie. Our foolish hearts become darkened where we can no longer see the obvious (see Romans 1:18-25). If you really want truth, you can have it. Be a truth seeker.