When my wife, Lois, and I started dating, I came up with a strategy to encourage her to fall more in love with me. She was a lot in love with me from the beginning, but I wanted to increase that.
What I decided to do was to take her to the amusement park. Once we had wandered around the amusement park for a while, and had enjoyed some of the games and food, I coolly asked her if she wanted to ride the Wild Mouse. Lois had never been on the Wild Mouse ride before. But I had. I knew how wild the Wild Mouse really was. She didn’t have any idea because it looked like an innocent ride.
I knew Lois’ personality and that going on the Wild Mouse would be a tough situation for her. But I hadn’t told her that. I had only mentioned that we should go on a nice ride together.
So we got on the Wild Mouse. The thing began to shoot out making it seem like our small car was going to fly right off of the edge of the track. Lois screamed. Then she scooted closer to me. Our car veered to the right and then shot out again making it seem like we were going to zoom straight out into mid-air. Lois screamed again. Then she scooted even more closely to me this time. By the end of the ride, Lois wasn’t sitting far away from me at all. She was sitting as close as possible. That had been my plan.
I had wanted Lois to sit closer all along. The Wild Mouse accomplished that.
Sometimes God puts us on a wild ride. Life seems to be out of our control. At times, God allows these situations because He knows they will move us closer to Him and when we get closer to Him, we will discover that He is more than we ever imagined Him to be.
For His Kingdom,
by Jonathan Evans
As a kid growing up in the Evans household, it's safe to say that I had a fear of my father. I don’t mean that I was scared of him, but I do mean that I highly respected him. Whenever I was disobedient, whether in school or at home, I knew that not only would my father be disappointed in me, but that I would also be reprimanded for my actions.
I never wanted to disappoint my dad because I valued our relationship, but I also didn’t want to be reprimanded for my actions because of the pain! I quickly realized that doing things my own way without first getting instructions from my father was not a good idea. I learned that respecting my dad while skipping his instruction was not respecting him at all. True respect and reverence for my father would mean going to him upfront to receive the knowledge that I needed in order to apply to the decisions that I was making.
When I began to operate this way, people would say, "For a young kid, you are wise beyond your years." However, I knew on the inside that I was just a regular kid with a very wise father.
Fearing or respecting God does not mean that you just say that you respect Him. It is not displayed by simply going to church on Sunday or having an occasional Bible study. Neither is it displayed by simply feeling that you respect Him or by participating in a lot of religious activities. It does mean; however, that you go to Him FIRST! It means that your entire mentality is derived off of His mentality. It means that your goal is to not take any steps in life that are outside of the instruction given by Him. It means that your Father in heaven has the only say and the final say over every area of your life.
Many people will claim that they have a fear or respect for their Father in heaven while they simultaneously skip his instructions. Yet if you fear God, He will become the beginning of all of your knowledge. He will be FIRST. And then people will say to you that, "You are wise beyond your years.”
But that's when you can reply, " I am just a kid with a very wise Father."
Think about it:
Do you respect Him or do you RESPECT Him?
For far too many people, the subject of marriage is like a three-ring circus. First, there is the engagement ring. Next comes the wedding ring. Then, there is suffering!
One lady said that she got married because she was looking for the ideal but it quickly turned into an ordeal, and now she wants a new deal. And one man said that he and his wife were happy for twenty years… and then they got married.
We laugh, but these kinds of feelings are far too pervasive in marriages today… a reality that I hope you will avoid when you choose to get married because feelings like these can lead to a crack in your relationship with your spouse and push you dangerously close to a breaking point.
That’s dangerous because the break-up of a marriage these days doesn’t seem to carry the same gravity that it did in the past. So-called “no-fault” divorces offer the option of an “amicable” split, which has led to the ending of many marriages without even a hint of remorse.
It reminds me of a guy who went to the Super Bowl. The stadium was packed, but the seat next to him sat empty. The man behind him questioned him about the empty seat. He answered, “That seat was for my wife. She would have been here, but she died.”
The other man offered his condolences and asked him if he didn’t have a friend that he could have asked to come with him rather than let the seat remain empty. The man replied, “I do, but all my friends said they wanted to go to the funeral instead.”
Now, I realize I’m making light of a weighty subject, but I’m doing so to illustrate how the seriousness of the wedding vows no longer seems to be honored.
Statistics remind us what we already know; either from personal experience or from our friends, that over 50 percent of all marriages will end in divorce. Over half of every promise made that “until death do us part” gets broken! I know that doesn’t sound like very promising news for you as you make your way to the altar, but – friend, you don’t have to be a statistic.
I’m convinced that one major reason for this unbelievable statistic that I want you to avoid is that we don’t understand the nature of the agreement we make when we get married. And if we do not understand this agreement… if we do not view it as God does… then we will not be prone to protect it. What’s even worse, we won’t benefit from it.
One day a boy lost one of his contact lenses. He spent a lot of time trying to locate it, but he couldn’t. Eventually, he told his mom. The boy’s mom began looking for the contact lens with him and found it in a matter of minutes.
The boy asked, “How did you find that contact lens in just a few minutes when I must have looked for 20 minutes?” The mom said, “That’s easy. You didn’t find it because you were looking for a contact lens. I found it because I was looking for $250.”
It all depends on how you view it!
Marriage is a covenantal union designed to strengthen the capability of each partner to carry out the plan of God in their lives. You cannot leave God at the altar and expect to have a thriving marriage. God must join you in your home according to the aspects He has set up in His covenant. When He does, and when you abide by His authority, your marriage will not be a statistic, but rather it will be a satisfying tool used by God to advance His kingdom both in you and through you.
Because marriage matters,
Dr. Tony Evans
How can you see your future when you're staring at your past?
We call our past, the past, but the truth is, it is very much present in many lives today. For some, past issues so rule their thoughts and actions that they decide their future is over before it's begun. In essence, they have given up on themselves, and that has brought them to believe that God has given up on them, too.
Yet God has always used "broken vessels" to accomplish His purpose on the earth. A number of people in the Bible were broken, yet God raised them up in a marvelous way. God used Moses, a murderer, to deliver the Hebrew children. God used Jacob, a liar and a trickster, to fulfill His promise to Abraham. He even used Rahab, a harlot, in the messianic family line.
Just as God redeemed their lives, He can also redeem yours.
For those who have ever questioned whether a single, or even multiple, failures have disqualified them from God's use - or whether one bad decision will hinder them from their destiny, I have a word for you: It's not too late for God's unlikely path to success. Trust Him, you just may be closer than you think.
God’s agenda is to advance His Kingdom down the field of life. To do so, He’s looking for men who’ll rise to the occasion in their bid for greatness. Yet in order to rise to the occasion to be great, you must first allow yourself to want it. You were made for it. It’s okay to want it. In fact, it’s more than okay; it’s a mandate.
Far too many men are satisfied with the practice squad. Far too many are satisfied with just being okay, with getting by, or living a mundane and ordinary life. As the Scottish knight and military man William Wallace said, “Every man dies. Not every man truly lives.” Many, if not most, of the problems we face today exist because men are thinking too small. They are either not thinking about greatness at all, or they’re thinking about it according to the world’s grid.
You may have one last objection to the idea that God wants Kingdom Men to aim for greatness. After all, didn’t Jesus say that servanthood is better than greatness?
When James and John, the Sons of Thunder, sought a place of honor in Christ’s Kingdom, the other disciples gave them a hard time. But Jesus never corrected the two men for what they wanted. He only corrected them for how they wanted to go about accomplishing it: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant . . .”
Jesus didn’t tell the men not to wish to be great. He told them not to try for greatness in the way that the world does—using power, intimidation, fear, and leverage. The rulers of the Kingdom are much different from the rulers of the world. True greatness is achieved through service. It is outward-focused and others-driven.
One of the critical elements in advancing God’s kingdom is in understanding that as a man, you are responsible for that which falls within the realm of your personal influence. A man who neglects this responsibility prevents himself from remedying it.
I pastor a church with over 200 employees. We have such a large staff because our focus is not merely internal, but includes community impact. Most of the time the church runs smoothly and I’m not involved in the day-to-day logistics. Yet occasionally I get a phone call from someone in the congregation who sounds very upset, telling me something he or she doesn’t like.
I’ll never forget the time a woman called to tell me that she’d phoned the church five times the day before and could never get through to the operator. All her calls had gone to voicemail.
I could have told the caller the parable of the persistent widow and encouraged her to try a sixth time. I could have asked her why she wasn’t giving her complaint to the operator, and why she was giving it to the senior pastor of a large church, Christian school, and outreach center. How was I supposed to know why the operator wasn’t available?
Yet, even though that’s what I felt like saying, that’s not what I actually said. Because the caller was right. She had contacted the correct person with her complaint.
I may not be directly to blame for the missed phone call, but my position makes me ultimately responsible. When I get a call or complaint, I seek to handle it immediately so that it doesn’t happen again. Why? Because I’m ultimately responsible.
A similar complaint was brought to Adam. Not about a phone call, but about a piece of fruit. Even though it was Eve whom the serpent tempted to eat the fruit that had been forbidden in the Garden of Eden, it was Adam that God went looking for. After all, Adam was responsible.
Men, I want to challenge you today to accept the responsibility that God has given to you, and live up to the calling He has placed on you to be a kingdom man.
When I was 10, all I’d ever known at home was chaos. I was the oldest of four children, and the atmosphere for all of us was volatile. My father and mother were in constant conflict, making divorce seem the only possible outcome.
But that was the year my dad put his faith in Christ. He immediately became fired-up about God and the Bible. He became an instant evangelist, consumed with God’s Word.
My mom hadn’t liked my dad as a sinner, and she liked him even less as a saint. After he became a Christian, my mom did everything she could to make his life difficult. Dad couldn’t even read his Bible until Mom went to sleep because she’d make his life so miserable when he did. But Dad, committed to aligning himself underneath God, did everything he could to show Mom love in spite of how she treated him.
Rather than divorce her, he loved her unconditionally. Month after month, Mom tried anything and everything to break his focus on God and to get him to stop showing love to her. But nothing worked. Dad was calm, consistent, and caring.
Around midnight one night, my mom came down the stairs with tears in her eyes. Dad was reading his Bible. When he saw her tears, he asked what was wrong. She told him she couldn’t understand how the more she rejected him, the kinder he was to her.
“I want what you have,” she said, “because it must be real.” They both got down on their knees, and my dad led my mom to Christ.
After that, he led all of us kids to the Lord. And he modeled daily for us the value of making God and His Word our central focus.
Had my dad lacked the courage to dedicate himself to God and our family in spite of harsh opposition, my own home would have become a statistic. I would have ended up as a casualty. My children could have ended up that way, too.
Yet, because of God’s grace and His use of my dad, the opposite happened. All four of my children are effectively serving in ministry in one capacity or another.
The impact of a father on a home, the impact of a husband on a marriage, and the impact of a man on a church or community can’t be emphasized enough. My own father’s influence dramatically altered the trajectory of my life, affecting more people than he can know of this side of heaven. I thank God for my father and pray that He will raise up fathers just like him across our nation.