Give It Away

Presently, I’m reading the book “Letters by a Modern Mystic” by Frank C. Laubach.  The book is simply his entry journals from his time in the Philippines from 1930-31 when he was attempting to modern mysticlive in a conscious moment-by-moment relationship with God.  His aim was to literally be thinking about and/or talking with God each and every minute of his day regardless of what he might be doing.  I would highly encourage you to go pick up a copy.  I’ve provided a link at the bottom of this entry that will take you straight to this book on Amazon.  Anyway, let me get to what I want to share from this gem.

As I was reading today Laubach’s entry for June 1, 1930, he made a statement that was incredibly simple, yet crucial for a vibrant relationship with the Father and non-negotiable if we are to make a difference in the lives of those placed in our path.  Here’s the passage:

“This week with its failures and successes has taught me one new lesson.  It is this: ‘I must talk about God, or I cannot keep Him in my mind.  I must give Him away in order to have Him.’  This is the law of the spirit world.  What one gives one has, what one keeps to oneself one loses.  Do you suppose that through all eternity the price we will need to pay for keeping God will be that we must endlessly be giving Him away?”

After reading this and re-reading this several more times, I began pondering what my typical day looks like in relation to my awareness of God throughout my day and how much I give Him away.  I wouldn’t say I’m a complete failure at this, but sadly most of my days are spent simply surviving the day, living in a much smaller story than I was meant to live.  But I’m intrigued by same question Frank Laubach posed….”What would it look like if I were in constant, minute-by-minute communion with the Father.”  Heck, what would it look like if it were just hour-by-hour….if I made a concerted effort to think about and talk to God just once every hour of the day.  My guess is that my world would be much different, less stress, less worry, more joy.

I’m convinced that my world would be drastically changed and that is a good thing.  But what I believe would be  impacted most, would be those around me.  Think about it!  If we were to be continually focusing our thoughts, motives, actions, and hearts on God, the lives of the people around us would be transformed.  How would I parent differently, how would that impact my relationship with my wife, what about the high school students I teach each day, and most importantly, how would my life impact all the people that come across my path that are hurting and searching and crying out for hope, something to believe in?  The implications are huge…the stakes are eternal!

In Psalm 19:14 the psalmist says:

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

We aren’t after this just for our sake.  If we’re living out the mission of Jesus (to bind up broken hearts and set captives free), then our calling, our desire is that our lives not only impact others, but transform their hearts.  So, could it be that Laubach’s lesson really is at the heart of the Gospel?  Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-39 that the two greatest commandments were to love the Lord and love others.  So, we must give Him away to others and in turn that continually draws Him closer to ourselves.  Sounds accurate to me.

So, are you continually giving others Jesus?  Giving them love, forgiveness, grace, truth, boldness, compassion, hope?  This is the way to the heart of God.  How I long to know and live from the heart of God.  Let us give Him away!

Click to go get the book Letters by a Modern Mystic by Frank Laubach.

A Toast to the Boastful

2 Corinthians 12:9

As I write this blog, I’m visiting my parents down in the South Georgia where my folks pastor a small Pentecostal congregation.  They have only been stationed here a little over a year and already God has blessed their efforts tremendously with growth spiritually, financially and numerically.  But on the travel down, I allowed my mind to just wander a bit while my three small ones were napping and my wife was, in an attempt to take full advantage of such an atypical event, doing the same.

I began to ponder my walk with the Father.  I allowed my mind to settle on this season of life and what it has brought me and my family.  Here’s my conclusion – it’s been tough!  No sugar coating it, no political correctness!   Life, in the last 5 years, has dealt us some tough blows…some because of us, some in spite of us and some through no fault of our own.  Consider, over the past 5 and ½ years, my wife and I have:

  • Gotten married
  • Had not 1, not 2 but 3 kids – however, I now know what causes that and it will stop!
  • Bought a house (selling said house)
  • Both changed jobs
  • Moved twice

All of these circumstances and more, coupled with the ‘normal’ marital challenges have, needless to say, been cause for concern, prayer and counseling.  So I felt the Lord asking me…”what do you do when times get tough?  Where do you turn?”  I came up with a seemingly super spiritual response when I replied, “Lord, I can’t handle all of this – I’m too weak!”

In today’s world, when times get tough, people often tend to turn tail and run or bail.  I have to ask…

What do you do when times get tough?  Do you isolate yourself?  Do you take yourself out of the game?  Do you rest on the sidelines while the direction of your life, your spouse’s life, and your children’s lives is being determined?  More importantly, while the destination of those mentioned above is being determined for ETERNITY…where can you be found?

I was reminded of Paul’s writing to the church at Corinth in his 2nd letter to them.  Paul, in talking about how he had asked the Lord to remove his thorn in the flesh, penned these words, “but He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Again, I want to challenge you today – He knows you can’t do it.  He knows your weaknesses.  He knows that in your own strength, you will fail.  However, if you understand and accept your weaknesses and yes, even boast in them…the promise is right there: the power of Christ will rest upon you!  I don’t know about you, that encourages  me to get back in the game and continue the fight!

So, when times get tough; when you feel like you’re all alone and you’re been pushed past the point of being able to make it, don’t bail…just do a little boasting!  So here’s to the boastful among us – I hope to be much more like you and Paul with my daily walk!

Tim Cook
TJM Leadership Team

What Are You Hoping For?

Beauty awakens our heart with hope. After the dark dreary winter the colors of spring bring hope.  As the weather has been warming I look with anticipation for the daffodils to begin blooming.  The first colors of spring, a sign of hope that winter could be over. I know it doesn’t seem very masculine to talk about a little yellow flower but it is beauty in the midst of gray.  So much of our lives seem to be caught waiting for hope.  I have been pondering the thought – “Jesus wants to restore hope”.  Hope is defined as a confident expectation.  My heart longs and wants to hope but it feels too risky or vulnerable.  The thrill and joy of a hope fulfilled.  As I age and walk the journey I have come to realize it is not stuff that I hope or long for but a closer relationship with Christ is what satisfies my heart. My confident expectation is that He is with me closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24) and He will give me the desires of my heart as I delight in him (Psalms 37:4).

Mark Carpenter
TJM Leadership Team

Who’s Got Your Back?

I saw the video below and thought about men and our tendency to fly solo, to do this thing we call life all by ourselves.  Sure, we “hang out” with other men and maybe even go to church and participate in a small group, but are we truly living in community?  Are we doing life with a group of men that is bringing freedom and life?  This takes developing relationships to the point where we can be vulnerable and know it’s safe.  You’ve got to be walking with guys that you know have your back and will fight the battles with you, that will go to hell and back for you.  Some would say, “I’ve got God and that’s all I need.”  Though I’m confident God can handle it, what I know is that living in community is His idea.  Not just a neat idea, but His plan for each of us.  Even Jesus, the Son of God, chose to live life with a band of brothers.   I encourage you to watch the video and ask yourself if you have this in your life.  If so, that’s awesome, continue to nurture it.  If not, I challenge you to begin asking God to bring men into your life who are desiring the same thing.  Stick with it…it will transform your life!

Jason Carter
TJM Leadership Team