What You CAN Control

Are you a control freak like me? I like to have control. I like to be “in the know.” I like to “hold all the cards.”

Unfortunately, like I mentioned in my last blog, there are so many things that I can’t control. I can’t control exterior circumstances. So we trust God with the storms – with the things that happen TO us.

But what about those things that I CAN control? How does God play a role in those things?

Certainly God has placed things in YOUR hands to serve Him with, to make decisions about.

So does “Let Go…Let God” apply with these things?

There is a story that Jesus told that gives us some insight. It is found in Matthew 25.

14 “For it is just like a man going on a journey. He called his own slaves and turned over his possessions to them. 15 To one he gave five talents; to another, two; and to another, one—to each according to his own ability. Then he went on a journey.Immediately 

REMEMBER WHO OWNS WHAT IS IN OUR HANDS. God certainly blesses us with things, situations, ideas, callings but when it comes down to it, we have to remember that we are NOT the owners, we are just the managers. So what ever we have – big, small, good or great is ours to deal with based on the fact that God blessed us with it!

16 the man who had received five talents went, put them to work, and earned five more. 17 In the same way the man with two earned two more. 18 But the man who had received one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money.

REMEMBER TO BE FAITHFUL TO WHAT HAS BEEN GIVEN. If we remember we aren’t the owners then we will be more ready to invest what has been given. We are to be faithful to the blessing. We are to “work hard” and make smart decisions with what has been given to us. Whatever we have been given is so that we can bring glory to God with it. If we “bury” what has been given or even if we use it for ourselves, then we are wasting what was entrusted with us.

REMEMBER THAT GOD REWARDS RISK-TAKERS. God doesn’t give you what you have so that you can do NOTHING with it. He wants you to live by faith. He wants you to trust Him with what you can control so that He can multiply it and when that happens – when you have faith to take a risk – he will add even more to it. RISK COMES WITH POSSIBLE FAILURE BUT IT ALSO OFTEN BRINGS TREMENDOUS RETURN. If you never step out and risk something, then you are not being obedient. I am not talking about being reckless. I am talking about being faithful to what God has put in our hands.

So what is in your hands? Remember when Moses was called by God to lead the people of Israel out of slavery? What was his first response? I can’t because…Moses had forgotten what God had placed in his hands. Then God reminded him. Moses take the staff that is IN YOUR HANDS and throw it down (risk) and when He did the rod turned into a snake.

You see God can do miraculous things with the things we CAN CONTROL if we are faithful and obedient to Him with it all!

Live on Purpose!

What you CAN’T Control

(This post is late posting because of the unusual SNOW DAY in Louisiana :))

4 inches of snow in Louisiana!!

You ever feel like there are very few things in your life that you can actually control? I mean look around you. There are so many things going on in our world right now that you have absolutely NO control over.

You can’t control Covid. Pandemics are kind of funny that way. They are out of our control.

You can’t control the political landscape.

You can’t control the weather. (As I write this there is the possibility of snow in the South! Update: IT HAPPENED! See above!!)

You get the point. There are tons of things in your life that are completely out of your control. So quit wasting your time trying to control them! We are funny like that aren’t we? We are control freaks.

I have a good friend from California where I served as Pastor for 6 years that used to often remind anyone who would listen to, “Let GO and LET GOD.”

There is something to that advice especially in the situation of things you can’t control.

You see, God is not surprised by a global pandemic. God is not surprised by who is elected President of a nation. God is not taken off guard by wintry weather. God is not overwhelmed. God is not scared. God is not tired.

So in the situations that overwhelm you…Trust Him.

In the events that you don’t understand…Believe Him.

It reminds me of the storm that blew up on the disciples one time. Mark writes it like this in Mark 4:35-41

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Storms are certainly beyond our control and THEY WILL HAPPEN. So how do we react when they do?

REMEMBER THE PROMISES OF GOD! The disciples had the promise that they would make it to the other side. (v35). When God makes a promise nothing can hinder that promise from being kept! Now, Jesus didn’t promise them an easy trip to the other side. He didn’t say the waters would be calm. BUT He promised they would make it!

REMEMBER WHO IS IN YOUR BOAT! Jesus was with these guys. They had been with Him when He had done the miraculous so comfort should accompany the presence of Jesus. God is with you! He will never leave you or forsake you.

REMEMBER JESUS IS THE MASTER OF EVERY SITUATION! For some reason the disciples hadn’t gotten that yet. He was master over fish and bread and sickness and demons but not over the wind and waves? There is nothing that surprises God and He is Master over everything that comes against us!

REMEMBER WHERE PEACE TRULY LIES! Peace does not always lie in the absence of pain but is often found in midst of it. Jesus is IN THE BOAT with them and HE IS ALSEEP. Because He was in God’s will and operating on God’s timetable, Jesus knew that this storm would not overtake them. So He slept. Many times when we are going through things that we can’t control it feels like Jesus is asleep but we have to remember that it is truly peace if we are in God’s will. The hard part is sometimes realizing that the storm is God’s will, but once we remember His promises, His mastery and the fact that He is with us, we can have the peace that passes all understanding!

REMEMBER TO CALL OUT TO HIM! It was OK that the disciples woke Him up. Even though he said their faith was weak, at least they knew where or in whom their faith resided! They ran to Jesus and shook him awake and prayed for mercy! He calmed the storm – that thing they couldn’t control and then challenged them to allow their faith in Him to grow – that thing that they could control.

Storms are hard. They are out of our control. We can’t predict them. We can’t calm them. But we can trust that Jesus is MASTER over them!

Live on Purpose!

Giving What You DO Have!

So Wednesday I challenged you to think about your walk with Christ SO THAT you can minister to those in your care.

I will admit that discipling our kids is a hard job. I don’t know why. Something seems weird about sitting down and reading the Bible or praying. We probably feel inadequate most of time so we decide to leave our kids spiritual lives to the church. We say “they will teach them that at church…”

Let me tell you, though, that the role of the church is to support and enforce what you are teaching your children. After all, they spend about 2 hours at best at the church each week and the rest of their time is spent with YOU!

So how do you invest?

Start young! The younger they are when you start, the easier it will be to continue. BUT it is NEVER TOO LATE TO START. I mentioned that as young as I can possibly think back I can recall my parents sitting on the edge of my bed reading a devotional with me and praying before I went to sleep.

Stay at it! This was a pattern that would continue until I became “of beard.” Probably around 11-12 the devotional time shifted to mom doing a devotional with me every morning and praying with me before I went to school.

I will say, I had some struggles with that on occasion as a teen because I didn’t want to get up or say a prayer or whatever but boy do I remember it and I certainly believe it kept me on a trajectory toward Christ.

Start over! Don’t be discouraged if you miss time doing it. Simply start again. Nichole and I used to read the Bible with our kids when they were little and honestly there were times when life got in the way. We were traveling, they were spending the night somewhere or homework was being done. Just because there is a hiccup doesn’t mean it is over. Get back at it.

Share your journey! Following Jesus by faith is a walk. It is not a one time thing. Allow your kids to see your faith in action. Let them serve with you. Let them see how you respond in faith to difficulty. Be honest with them when you don’t get it right (that has great benefits too). Let them be a part of your walk with Christ.

You can’t give them your faith, but you can make your faith in Christ so attractive that they want it!

You see, the Great Commission is our calling as we follow Jesus. We are told to go into all the world and make disciples. That starts at home. Give your kids or those in your life what you have! Give them Jesus!

Live on Purpose!

You Can’t Give What You Don’t Have

Do you have influence in someone’s life?

In this post and the next I want to address those who are parents or grandparents or have sway and influence over the life of a child or children. My suspicion is that narrows things down to EVERYONE reading this.

Friday, I want to talk about discipling your kids and investing in them with the Word of God. That is so important…BUT…

Before we can give something to our children, we must have it for ourselves. So today, let me encourage you as a follower of Christ, to get in the Word. Have a quiet time with God.

I remember when I was a little kid (as far back as I can literally remember) every night my mom and dad would sit on the edge of my bed and do a devotional with me and pray for me. The most specific thing I remember about those times were the devotional book they used. (see pic)

This is an actual copy of the book they used!

We had that book and “More Little Visits With God.” Those were wonderful times that I looked forward too. (We will talk more about that tomorrow)

Today, though, I want to share with you what I realized and also remember those times.

I remember seeing my mom spending hours with the Lord. If you know my mom you know she is a student of the Word and is the best Bible teacher I have ever known. She was always in the Word and I saw it first hand.

My dad was at work most of the time during the day, but one distinct memory I have of him is one day stumbling across his Bible and seeing all of the handwritten notes in it. I didn’t really understand why it was ok to write in your Bible until later on in my life.

My point is that my parents gave me something that they already had. They were imparting to me the knowledge of a Savior. They were teaching me to love what is right. They were showing me how to love God. They did this in so many ways that I don’t have time to recall, but it was so important for me to know that they were not trying to give me something that they weren’t invested in themselves.

What they were doing is scriptural. God gave this command which is known as the “Shema” to the Israelites in the law.

“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead.Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9

My parents lived their faith. They loved God with all of their heart, soul and strength. I NEVER QUESTIONED THAT. Then they “repeated them to their children...” I was the recipient.

So, if you are an adult with a child in your life, I ask you…DO YOU LOVE GOD? DO YOU SEEK HIM IN HIS WORD? ARE YOU FAITHFUL IN SUPPORTING THE CHURCH WITH ATTENDANCE AND GIVING AND SERVING?

THESE ARE THE THINGS THEY WILL SEE.

YOU LIVING YOUR FAITH WILL MAKE THEIR REALIZATION OF FAITH SO MEANINGFUL.

Your kids or grandkids or nieces/nephews can’t have your faith, but your faith can certainly direct them and influence them to know Jesus personally as they grow.

So remember – you can’t give your kids what you don’t have for yourselves! Get in the Word, live your faith, make much of Jesus and then you will have something of value to give them!

Live on Purpose!

One Day at a Time

Resolutions. Are you making them? Have you already broken them? Just kidding.

What is a resolution? What does it mean to resolve to do something.

Resolve mean to “decide firmly on a course of action.”

During this time of the year we tend to make these grandiose goals and resolutions that are kind of attainable. You know?

Whatever you decide to pursue this year, let me just give you a word of advice that I am taking for myself this year. Take it ONE DAY AT A TIME!

Pursuing Jesus is much like this and Jesus tells us as much when He is challenging us to follow Him.

Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Take up your cross DAILY. That is really the only way. The choice to follow Christ is a life-changing, one-time decision BUT it is also an on-purpose DAILY decision.

So choose to follow Jesus. Make it your life’s goal. Take up that cross (His will for your life) and DAILY carry it as you follow Him. That is LIVING ON PURPOSE.

Don’t get discouraged when you miss a day. The great thing about days is a new one comes every 24 hours so when one day is not seized, the next one is available. You don’t have to go back to start. Just start where you are.

I can’t wait to hear of the stories of how God used you ONE DAY AT A TIME. If you have one please send it to me at kevin@northmonroe.com! I want to collect the success stories of all of you who are following Jesus one day at a time.

God bless you and LIVE ON PURPOSE!