Get in Shape or Pizza?

Change is funny. Well, not really funny but kinda. It’s actually us that are funny. We want change but we generally don’t like it. We’ll say things like “I need to get in better shape”, followed by “but this pizza tastes so good.” See what I mean. Funny!

Sometimes change is “thrust” upon us. Generally speaking we probably struggle with that kind most because it wasn’t “our” idea, and yet if it’s necessary we need to value it. Before becoming a pastor I worked in the healthcare industry and did marketing and admissions for a short term care facility. Many times people would have to come in and rehab because of something ongoing that could have and should have changed earlier but they didn’t. If I remember correctly it was people who had heart attacks that so often had to change their diet, low sodium, etc. The new “lifestyle and diet” was thrust upon them instead of choosing to change and do what needed to be done. But it’s so easy to put it off.

In Mark 2 we see Jesus addressing change. Here’s His take:

18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”

19 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.

21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”

Jesus addresses the question of His disciples fasting with a declaration that I don’t think John’s disciples necessarily understood. “Why would they fast while I’m here?” This is a time of celebration because of the fulfillment of messianic prophecies. They were in a time of change. Then Jesus makes a similar point with the cloth and the wineskins. Basically saying, you can’t mix the old  “religion” with the new “covenant” and if you try, it ruins the old wineskins. New wineskins for new wine.

The word the Lord is speaking to me is; “If you want a new filling Patrick, you have to have a change in the vessel.” Here’s the thing…I want God to do a new work in me and continue to change me. We were never meant to live on one place of change, change is meant to be continual to keep in step with the Holy Spirit. As a church we have to continue to allow the Holy Spirit to shape, mold and change us so we can be as effective as possible in reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So then the question comes back to us, do we want to “get in shape” more than we want the pizza? Change will cost us, but it is good and it is exactly what God is speaking to us.

How are you doing with this? I’d love to hear.

God gives you what your heart desires!

Did you know that there is a promise that God tells us He’ll give us what our heart desires? Does that make Him a genie in a bottle? I don’t think so. (at all) Rather He is an amazing Father that desires to give us those things that make our hearts come alive, but with a caveat. Here’s the promise:

Psalm 37:4 tells us to; Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Oh that’s good! Let me draw our attention to 5 little words though….Delight yourself in the LORD. This is the caveat. God wants to give you the desires of your heart, but first we need to delight ourselves in Him. What does that mean so that we can experience this promise?

In Hebrew the word delight means make soft, pliable, live or spend in enjoyment.

Therefore if we delight ourselves in the Lord we will become soft and pliable to the leading of the Holy Spirit….enjoying His process…enjoying His presence and therefore enjoying His purpose. When we do that, OUR desires change to His desires. It becomes about His process, His presence and His purpose which God is totally committed to fulfilling! And by the way…those are all good!  When we’re connected to His good it overflows into our lives. Our lives become good!

Here’s the rub: so often we want God to simply give us what we want, but sometimes what we want is not good. We may think it’s good, but we can so often want something in our lives that really isn’t good.

But if we first (say first right now where you are) if we delight ourselves in God first. We will be shaped by Him and WE WILL experience His good in our lives. WE WILL see the desires of our hearts filled.

So pay attention to those first little 5 words: Delight yourself in the LORD, If you do this…. then He will give you the desires of your heart, and you will live the life you always have wanted!!!!

You may already “know” this….but maybe it’s time to start “living” this!

Starter or Finisher?

As I sit here writing this today I’m laughing at myself. Not a funny haha….rather a…really Patrick! That’s because it’s taken me some time to finish what I started on this post. I probably started writing this about 2 months ago.

You see God drops scriptures, little phrases, statements and word pictures in my thoughts and I know instantly that I need to write about and/or preach what He’s just given me. Sometimes there’s an urgency for the week I’m in and other times, well it takes some time. When it’s something I’m supposed to write I can sometimes allow it to fall through the cracks and it doesn’t get done right away (procrastination?) and very often that is fueled by things that we allow to get in the way.

Some days it feels like I have a zillion things to do. Hyperbole maybe? and sometimes I just don’t want to write because I want to do something else. There’s a lot of times in life that are like that. We have something that we know we should do but we put it off because we’re busy or simply because we don’t want to do that thing right now.

1 Kings 20:11 tells us this….‘One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off.'”

This is one of my favorite little passages that reminds me that it’s not about how we start, but rather how we finish. You see God has called us to not only start things but to finish them. That is His promise to us…that He will finish what He started in our lives, and it’s also a great place to mimic His actions.

Maybe that’s a task, but maybe that’s an attitude adjustment? Whatever it is…If God spoke it into us, He means for us to do it.

Let’s be people who not only start, but continue in the middle and finish strong empowered by the Holy Spirit in all things.

Maybe you feel like you’ve started something God has spoken to you and you feel like you let God down because you dropped the ball, don’t! Don’t own that one moment longer. Give it to God and continue to fulfill what He has spoken to you. When you do that you’ll be a finisher. Then you can boast like the one who takes the armor off….but of course your boast will be in the Lord as He’s the one that not only speaks into us but empowers our actions to fulfill them.

Think about it!

The beginning or the end?

As we have just finished this 21 days of fasting and prayer it may seem like an ending, but in reality it’s more like a beginning and here’s why. What God has done in each of us and our church is not meant for a short season of 21 days, but rather a new level of surrender, sacrifice and obedience.

Whenever we have times where God moves in us they are never meant for a moment and then going back to where we were previously. They are meant to raise us up to another level of discipleship. They are watermark moments in our lives and with Him they are meant to become the new normal. 2 Corinthians 3 tells us that we are to be moved from glory to glory to glory…becoming more and more like Jesus. Which means we don’t have moments of becoming more like Him and then falling backwards. It looks like us continually being transformed into the image of God, glory upon glory.

Are there bumps along the way? Sure, but it is a directional thing where the Spirit of God is continuing to work in us, empower us and move us forward.

So remember…this wasn’t the end…It’s a new beginning!

New Year – New ?

As we enter a new year,  we all look at our lives and I believe that every one of us has some things in our lives that we’d like to see changed.  With the new year it brings many things; A close to the following year, a fresh start, resolutions and expectations and many times hope.  It is the most natural time of the year where we have a built in process for new beginnings. So take advantage of this….don’t just talk about it. Implement something new. Begin to do something that you’ve procrastinated this far in doing. Make a change. Do it!

Because although every day can be a new beginning, take advantage of this one. But remember this: If you really want to see change, you have to change some things you believe, it stats with what God has said….like Philippians 4:13, You can do (fill in the blank) it! Believe Romans 8:31 that God is for us. Really believe it. Believe 2 Peter 1:3 that tells us that God has given us everything for life and godliness. This year grab on to a promise from God and go after it! Really believe it. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you believe it! Deep down at your core believe it.

Here’s why:

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.”

Change what you believe, really believe and your thoughts about everything will change. Your words will become different, you’ll begin to speak into your destiny instead of off-hand words that fight against it. Your actions will follow and done a few times repetition begins to take over and they become habits. What you do consistently tells you what you value and what your life becomes.

It all changes because you determined to listen to the Word of the Lord and truly believe it. Remind yourself over and over again what His Word says….the rest will follow.

2018 is going to be vastly different for many people, you might as well be one of them.

Breaking all the rules!

Admit it, you partly clicked on the link because of the title. I didn’t title this writing because of that, but rather because this is exactly what Jesus did.

Reading in John chapter 4 and we come across an innocuous passage of scripture. At first glance we maybe don’t give it much thought, but go a little deeper than the surface and you see that this is exactly what Jesus has done. He broke all the rules.  Here’s the passage: John 4:1-30

In this interaction with the woman at the well, Jesus crossed ethnical, moral and gender barriers that most of His time didn’t think should not be crossed.

1.  Ethnically – The Jewish people looked down upon the Samaritans to the point that even their drinking vessels were considered unclean, so when He asked her for a drink of water He crossed a barrier.

2. Morally –  The woman came alone to draw water from the well, whether that was because she wasn’t welcome with the other women or a sense of shame kept  her isolated…whatever the case, Jesus talking to her created an ambiguous situation that looked as if Jesus crossed another barrier as He was talking to a woman with a checkered past and how that could have appeared to onlookers. She might have even read that conversation wrong, but He set that straight as well.

3. Gender – Many sages of the day warned of being seen speaking to a woman for two reasons. First, because of the opportunity to fall into temptation and second because of what people might think.

The disciples were astonished that Jesus was talking with the woman but obviously trusted their Master.

In all of this it’s important to see that Jesus didn’t do anything wrong, rather He just broke the expected norm of the culture. He did that then and He is still doing that today because He loves us. You may find yourself in a place wondering if there are barriers between you and God…there is nothing too great that can keep you from His love, mercy and grace. Just take a page from this story and give Him whatever He’s asking for…He’ll take care of the rest.

Out of gas?

Have you ever ran out of gas in your car? I have twice in my life. Both times happened because I didn’t fix a problem earlier and it ended up with me on the side of the road. It left me frustrated, stressed and overall not happy with the situation. (This was also before cell phones so I couldn’t just phone a friend.)

Sometimes life is like that. We end up running out of gas, and usually it’s because we didn’t take care of an issue before and it blossomed into the place where you find yourself. Empty…emotionally, mentally, physically or spiritually.

What do you do when you find yourself here? You may say if I knew what to do, I wouldn’t be in this place. But theres good news, the Word of God addresses this. In Matthew chapter 11 we see how Jesus encourages us in this situation. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

The greek word for labor is kópos and it means to strike a blow so hard that it seriously weakens or debilitates ending in extreme weariness partnered with phortízō –the greek word for heavy laden which means overloaded.

This verbiage gives us the language of what we feel sometimes;  it feels like life has punched us so hard that we’re weak and we’re so overloaded with everything that it leaves us feeling like we’ve got nothing left…that we’re empty. But the Word of God doesn’t just describe where we can find ourselves. God always gives us the answer for what to do WHEN we find ourselves out of gas.

3 Things to do:

  • Come to Jesus – So often we try to tough it out ourselves instead of coming to the very one who has the answers that we need. Come to Him in worship, intentionally create space to just BE with Him.
  • Take His yoke – A yoke was a a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull. Jesus is saying connect yourself with me, not the situation you find yourself in. (and btw, His yoke is easy and burden is light vs the heaviness we so often carry around) There’s a divine exchange that happens when you give your heaviness to Him and take His lightness.
  • Learn from Him -Understand this: It’s a process. We have to unlearn so many things about simply trying to do things on our own. Sometimes we have to learn how to come to Him and to exchange your yoke for His yoke. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right all the time…remember…It’s a process of learning and relearning.

If you will make these 3 things a priority…your tank will become full again.

Great Move


As I was praying the other day I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Great moves of God happen because we greatly allow God to move in us.” We therefore have to ask ourselves…Are we greatly allowing God to move in us?

A couple days later, I had a dream  where many people were at the altar responding to what the Holy Spirit was saying after a message,  but one person moved and it created a domino effect.

Two things came out of those two moments with the Holy Spirit. 

First: We have to begin to focus less on our schedule and focus more on His. So often we think that means we have to pick between what God is speaking to us and what our schedule already has on it, but what I’ve found usually is that He merges/overlaps His plans and purpose with our already moving life. We simply have to learn to surrender and therefore allowing God to move in us.

Second: Someone else’s movement should not lead ours unless it’s a positive effect in going deeper with the Lord. Many times at altar moments I find that we need to stay and pray through regardless of what anyone else is doing. Just because someone else was done, doesn’t mean you are.

When we begin to allow those two truths to really take root in our heart, that’s the beginning of a great move in us.


How many times have you felt a situation in life that seemed too big to handle like a wave that was crashing in? Very often they come in the form of a sickness, a divorce, an unexpected financial problem, a death of a loved one, etc. Fear creeps into these moments and they become bigger than we think we can handle.

These are all serious moments that happen to us, but did you know that you were never meant to be overwhelmed by a situation. Maybe you wonder then, “Why am I feeling overwhelmed?” or “How is it that some people just seem ready for whatever life throws at them? Are they wired differently or just naturally resilient?”

The truth of the matter is that as Christians we have a built in readiness preparation plan, but a plan is only as good as it is followed through. In John chapter 15 we have an insight into this plan

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

This is one of my favorite passages in scripture as this lays out how our lives are to be lived as Christ followers. There are a couple things to know in this:

  • Abiding in Christ is a continual fellowship with the Holy Spirit
    • Our lives in Christ are never meant to be lived out apart from the friendship of the Holy Spirit. 
    • We are to be rooted to Him, to allow Him to be our anchor. Everyday.
  • The fruit that He is declaring over your life as you abide in Him is love.
    • In John 13 we see the command that Christ gives but we also see the fruit of discipleship…34 A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”
    • So the fruit you see in John 15: 8 is love.
    • And where love is…fear cannot be is what 1 John 4:18 tells us.
  • As you abide, remain, stay connected His joy becomes your joy!
    • Fear of what if no longer can have a place of residency because in it’s place is the knowledge (the experiential knowledge) that God has you in His love, right in the middle of the moment that used to feel too big.
    • His love changes your emotions and His joy becomes yours, but not in measure, but in fullness!!!

You see, remaining in fellowship with the Holy Spirit truly does change everything. You become ready for whatever life throws at you, because of the preparation of our soul before the moment that you needed it, as you stay connected to the Holy Spirit.

Turn Around Moments

Are you stuck? Do you feel like you can’t get forward traction? Sometimes we feel like this and that we’re all alone and nobody understands where we’re at. But the truth is every one of us have situations in our lives where we feel the same way. It’s also not germane to life as we know it. It’s been this way for every people in every generation.

If you take some time to read through Biblical history you’ll see that the people of God had the same struggles and situations. In Isaiah 43 we see that God is speaking to His people. He’s speaking life, He’s speaking promises, He’s speaking of His redemption and salvation. He’s reminding them of who He is and who they are to Him, and yet they refuse to turn to Him and because of that the people are missing out on the very thing that they desire. A moment of deliverance, a moment of change and freedom.

You see every situation that you struggle with, every place that you feel stuck is in some ways a place where you need deliverance. Delivered from that place into a place of forward movement. You see the people of God were one step away from a turn around moment. That one step is simple. Turning towards God and away from trying to simply do it yourself. If I’ve found one thing out in my time following Christ it’s this…I can’t do it on my own, but when I turn towards Him and humble myself I get unstuck. I begin to move forward and the amazing thing…you and I are always just a moment away from a turn around.

A moment can begin the change, a few days begin to change your habits and then you’re positioned for a new life.

Take some time, read Isaiah 43 for yourself and let the Holy Spirit speak to you about the new thing God wants to do for you in the midst of being stuck. Then as you allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life, share this truth with others that need to be encouraged.