Too Much Cheese Makes You Selfish

Cheese Wedges

Occasionally I pray for a miraculous supply of never ending cheese. I know God’s done it before with flour and oil (1 Kings 17:14), so why not cheese?

Or, how about garlic bread made with Texas toast? And when I’m feeling extra bold and full of faith, I pray for all-you-can-eat filet mignon. Is that too much to ask for God!?

That would for be the life for sure.

I never hesitate to eat a heaping portion of cheese whenever there’s an opportunity. But why is it that I fail to seize every opportunity God gives me to demonstrate his love to others, be obedient to His word and follow through on conviction from the Holy Spirit?

Just a few weeks ago a random, flamboyantly gay guy (Jeremy) comes crashing a dinner party with some friends of mine. We’re outside eating by the fire pit when he comes stumbling by drunk and high. It’s pretty obvious Jeremy’s fully committed to staying, so I say a few polite things to him but essentially ignore him the rest of the night.

In my mind, I’m thinking I’m tired; I’m ready to go home. This is my safe place among friends. My ministry/pastor hat is off. Let me just enjoy a night relaxing before the long Sunday ahead.

I even handed him an invite card to church. What more do you want from me God?

A lot more.

Here is a kid that is lost and caught up in a world of sin that will only lead to death (James 1:15). Standing next to a pastor who knows the love of Christ and has seen his redemptive power firsthand but didn’t do anything about it.

I ate the cheese.

My selfishness brought about immediate satisfaction at the expense of Jeremy’s eternal salvation.

Everyday is a limitless supply of selfish opportunities and God opportunities. Don’t be selfish. (click to tweet.)

Choose to be the light and love of Christ in a world that so desperately needs it.

What helps you be less selfish? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Photo courtesy of ladymissmarquise.


God Never Disqualifies You

Your past actions never disqualify you from being used by God. (click to tweet this.)

Do you believe that? Or do your insecurities, doubts or fears get in the way of truly believing?

What gets in the your way?

Sometimes I think about my current career path. I spent the better part of nine years as a software developer/web guy. But now I’m a small groups pastor. I went from being a web developer to a people developer. I have no clue what I’m doing. I’m experience growing pains as a leader in a role that requires a completely different set of skills.

And I’ve been in a dry season with God. How can I pastor and lead people when I feel disconnected from God?

I’d like to disqualify myself at times.

But God never does.

Galatians 1:13
13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.

This was the Apostle Paul. In his previous way of life he intensely persecuted the church. He stood by and watched Christians get executed; nodding in approval.

Galatians 1:22-24
22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.

Despite the man Paul used to be, he was able to say “and they praised God because of me.”

God works through broken people. (click to tweet this.)

People who have committed adultery. Lashed out in anger. Said hateful things to loved ones. He works through our doubts, insecurities and fear. When we don’t think we’re good enough, God says we are.

We have been set apart and called by his grace…all for Him.

Galatians 1:15
15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace…

It’s not what you’ve done. It’s who you are; a child of God created in His image.

And even though we may be nobody’s in our own eyes, if we embrace our weaknesses and imperfections, God’s transforming power can come alive in us.

And people will praise God because of you.

Talk to me in the comments. What are some things that have made you feel unable to be used by God?


Being Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

Girl Suffocating

When I swim, I sink like a rock.

I’d like to think it’s because I’m a solid mass of muscle. Isn’t it common knowledge fat floats and muscle sinks. ;)

But lately I’ve been trying to counteract that tendency. I’ve been going to the local swim club to improve my swimming technique.

One of the biggest hurdles I’ve encountered is how terrible my breathing becomes when I start to get tired. I can feel my body tense up. I start to panic. The mechanics of my stroke start to change. Overall, everything about what I know to do starts collapsing.

So often we can get overwhelmed with life.

You can’t find a job. You don’t know how you’ll pay the bills. The kids are driving you crazy. A past relationship is throwing you in a frenzy. You’ve been breathing from your reserve oxygen tank, but you sense it’s starting to run out.

It’s getting harder to breathe. You’re losing faith and trust in God.

But you know what was interesting about my swim practice the other day? You’d think my breathing would become more labored as I progressively got more tired. But it actually improved.

The reason?

I got better at staying calm when I got tired. I kept myself together instead of collapsing. I remembered to breathe.

That’s exactly what God wants us to do when we feel overwhelmed, confused or in a world of chaos. To remember to breathe.

But not on our own.

God wants us to increase our capacity to breathe through Him.

Rather than struggle and fight through a seeming lack of oxygen, we need to realize we have a God who will breathe for us.

Daniel 10:17-18 (NIV)
…My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.”

18 Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength.

Just as I learned to breathe when I wanted to panic, we need to learn to rely on God whenever our current situation has us scrambling for breathe. We need to learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and say “God, I trust you” with my current situation. (Click to tweet.)

When you want to quit, learn to take a deep breath, exhale and say “God, I trust you.” Deep breath. Exhale. “God, you are the source of my strength.”

Photo courtesy of ontwerpplus.


Why I Started Reverse Fasting to Grow Closer to God

What’s the purpose of fasting? To me, there’s two components of a fast.

  1. Denying your physical needs/temptations so that you can . . .
  2. Be more intentional seeking God.

The problem I’ve experienced with myself over countless years of fasting is that I spend an overwhelming amount of time focused on #1.

What type of fast am I going to do? Daniel, liquids, water only? Full, partial? Am I going to incorporate a non-food fast like social media? And then 99% of my fast is focused on trying to find fast-approved recipes, avoiding social media, and honoring the fast I’ve chosen.

But what’s the missing piece?

Seeking God.


There’s always lot of intentionality about what I’m fasting but little when it came to how I’d seek God more. How do I always lose sight of that? I have no idea, but it’s so easy to let what I’m fasting completely overshadow why I’m fasting.

The hope is that fasting provides an opportunity to seek and depend on God more. Whether that be an extra meal during the day or time saved not on social media or watching TV. But, more than I care to admit, God doesn’t generally get that extra time.

Which is why I now start any fast by reverse fasting.

What’s a reverse fast?

Instead of focusing on #1 first, I’m going to focus on #2. Reverse the priorities. Instead of spending so much time figuring out what I’m not going to eat, I’m going to first figure out how to seek God more.

It starts by doing an honest assessment of my day and identifying unproductive times. Once I’ve identified those, I can cut them out and get more time in my day. Then I intentionally plan how I’m going to use that extra time to connect with God.

That’s the key to a reverse fast.

For example, here are some unproductive times I’ve identified in the past:

  • Hitting the snooze button. Seriously, I waste 30 minutes a morning.
  • Always having a TV show I’m watching and watching it when I have idle time.
  • Checking social media a gazillion times a day.
  • Randomly browsing the internet for no productive reason.

Cutting out those things could easily free up one to two hours a day (if not more!). So with that extra time, my reverse fast has looked like this:

  • Morning (15 minutes): Read from a devotional like My Utmost For His Highest. Marinate on it.
  • Lunch (15 minutes): Eat lunch at home. Before eating, spend time praying for people in my life (intentionally collecting prayer requests beforehand).
  • After Work (30 minutes): 15 minutes of personal prayer/worship. 15 minutes of listening for God’s voice.
  • Before Bed (30 minutes): Read and marinate on a longer Bible reading plan.

So there you have it. My reverse fast. I feel this change puts the priority and focus back on the right thing (God). This coupled with a few other practical things I’ve discovered along the way will help you set the table for a spiritual significant fast!

How about you? What’s been your experience with fasting? How do you structure yours?


Do You Have These Four Characteristics of a Disciple?

Have you ever wondered what it means to be a disciple of Christ?

The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) tells us to go make disciples. But what exactly is a disciple? I asked myself that recently and went on a quest to find out. Turns out if you search the Bible for the phrase “my disciple” you get some amazing results.

Here are four characteristics of a disciple along with some questions to ponder.

Bear Much Fruit

John 15:4,8 (NIV)
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Do people look at your life and want to pick your fruit?

That question sounds kind of like the start of a lame pick-up line, but it’s valid here. ;)

Would people want to eat the fruit of encouragement they see from your life? Would they see how you’re slow to speak and quick to listen and want that fruit in their life?

Or would they take a bite from the fruit of your life (e.g., pride, selfishness) and want to spit it out immediately?

Love One Another

John 13:34-35 (NIV)
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Have you been demonstrating the love of Christ to the co-worker who annoys the crap out of you? Are you cussing people out, flipping them the bird when they piss you off on the road?

Remain Faithful to Jesus’ Teachings

John 8:31 (NLT)
31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.

Being “faithful to my teachings” means put it into practice. Consistently.

James 1:22 (NIV)
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Can you honestly say the Word of God regularly impacts your life? Or that you even read the Bible regularly, let alone have it consistently affect your actions?

Are you quick to obey Jesus’ teachings? Even when it’s uncomfortable and seemingly not beneficial to you?

Follow Jesus

Luke 9:23 (NIV)
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Following Jesus is not a casual decision (cf. Luke 14:25-35).

Are you willing to leave behind and give up everything in pursuit of Jesus? Even your spouse, your family or your own personal success?

So, Are You a Disciple?

These four characteristics really gave me some tangible things to think about. Do I demonstrate these characteristics in my life?

I hope they did the same for you.

What do you think about this list? Anything missing? What’s it mean for you to be called a disciple?