Developing Contentment

To be covetous is to be literally obsessed and driven to obtain what you do not have. When believers covet, they focus on what they do not have rather than being thankful for what God has done for them. This sin of the heart and of the mind drives an individual to want something at someone else’s expense. Proverbs 14:30 states, “Envy is a cancer in the bones.” You can tell you are slipping into covetousness when you begin to spend too much time thinking about things.

There are two negative effects of coveting. First, coveting drives people to obtain what is coveted in inappropriate, unwise, and at times illegal or immoral ways. Second, obsessing on what others have denies our faith in the Father to provide for us equally well. There is no need for a covenant child of God to ever covet because what he has done for others He will surely and gladly do for us.  All we need to do is ask instead of worrying, fretting, or coveting.

Andrew Carnegie was asked, “How much money is enough?” He replied, “Just a little bit more.” Contentment, in contrast to covetousness, is to be satisfied with what you have. It is not laziness or a lack of ambition, but being grateful for what you have at every stage of life rather than bemoaning what maybe missing or is yet to come. Who can forget the story about a thirteen-year-old surfer named Bethany Hamilton who lost her arm in a shark attack? She has maintained a positive outlook on life, choosing to see her possibilities rather than the limitations that are the result of the injuries. An old rabbinic teaching says, “Who is wealthy? The one who is content with his life.”

The ability to rest contented in God is priceless. Every believer can develop contentment in his or her life by overcoming three hindrances to contentment. The first hindrance to contentment is the competitive spirit. The Bible warns us about comparing ourselves with others (2 Corinthians 10:12). James 4:1-2 teaches that the root of strife, fights, and quarrels in the believer’s life is coveting. The key is to be the best you can and focus on yourself, rather than trying to beat the other guy.

The second hindrance is the materialistic spirit. “I saw a man who had no family, no son or brother. He always worked hard but was never satisfied with what he had” (Ecclesiastes 4:8, NCV). Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep you lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ ” It is interesting that this often quoted Scripture is directly tied to the concept of contentment. We don’t have to worry about stuff because God will always be there to provide for us! Materialism is trying to fill a spiritual need with something physical or material such as property, relationships, money, or even power. Many people have acquired all this and yet remain discontented, anxious, and covetous.

The last hindrance to contentment is the empty spirit. Every human heart was designed for God to dwell there. The empty spirit is a heart that is not filled with God and his word. “If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment” (Job 36:11, NIV). There is no real prosperity or contentment without a relationship with the Father through faith in Jesus Christ. The Apostle John tied well-being and health to the condition of one’s own soul (3 John 2). Paul said he learned how to be content, at rest, and at peace in any situation—the impact of the strength that only comes from walking with the Lord (Philippians 4:12-13, NIV). When the human spirit is empty, people will covet, slash, burn, steal, and manipulate to acquire what they desire. They are driven by emptiness. Fill yourself with God and there will be no room left for covetousness.

Spiritual Kryptonite

imagesSuperman is an iconic and enduring image of strength in our Western culture and around the world.  We know about Metropolis, Clark Kent, the phone booth, Lois Lane, and Superman’s arch nemesis Lex Luther.  We also know there is nothing that could take Superman down, except for one glowing green gem called kryptonite from his home planet of Krypton.  In the presence of kryptonite, the man of steel became mortal, weak, confused, and subject to attack and ultimate defeat. 

Believers and Christian leaders too have a kryptonite from our home planet that works the same, draining us of life, joy, peace, and victory.  Our kryptonite, however, is more of the carbon based variety than some precious element.  The kryptonite our arch enemy uses to defeat us is people.  You see, animals don’t offend us, the oceans, forests, mountain ranges, and skies don’t offend us.  People offend us. 

Sooner or later we all have our own encounters with kryptonite.  Sooner or later we all have our stories of spending years investing in people only to have them turn on us, bending over backwards to make sure a family in need is taken care of only to get mad at you for some unspoken reason, experiencing disappointment in some bold endeavor, trusting a good friend only to find out the friend is one of your biggest critics, making great sacrifices with little to no appreciation, watching church members get in conflict with one another and take it out on the entire church, experiencing a crushing loss in life or ministry, or navigating the sting of a Judas kiss from a coworker or staff member. How we respond to the these kryptonite encounters determines whether we will reach our destiny or fold under the hurt, betrayal, and cynicism.  

I know what that’s like after nearly 30 years of ministry service.  Ministry does not exempt a person from kryptonite.  On the contrary, ministry just gives the minister more exposure to kryptonite – more opportunities to get offended.  One pastor I served slammed his hand in anger against his canoe during and outing breaking his hand and then blaming me for the injury.  Another church leader invited us to serve as his associate pastor, promised that we would soon transition into the lead role at the church, and then weeks later informed the people, after we had moved across the country, that he would have to let us go if the money did not start coming in.  My home church voted me down as their pastor, twice, after a spurious search process that included drawing names out of hat (no, I’m not joking), putting my name back into the hat, realizing the other man wasn’t going to come, and finally submitting my ministry to the church for a vote.  Rejected and dejected, we walked back into the church to face the people with a warning from the loving Holy Spirit: “Be very careful what you say next, for what you say will impact your destiny and their future.”  It’s not what happens to us, but how we respond to it that matters in life and ministry.

In each situation, and countless other encounters with kryptonite through the years, I had to make a decision whether to let it poison me or move forward trusting God.  Our failure to perceive what the enemy is actually trying to do with the kryptonite of people is his greatest weapon.  Paul admonished Timothy to stay out of strife with people because strife is the doorway to becoming captive to the devil to do his will (2 Timothy 2:24).  Imagine claiming Christ and yet living your life as a tool for Satan.  If we go through things without letting that kryptonite get inside of us and affect us, the devil cannot have his way with us.

Psalm 55 provides special insight for identifying kryptonite and overcoming its power in your life.  The Psalmist cried out to the Lord for help saying, “My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught.”  When we are distraught we are deeply agitated, upset, unable to think or behave normally, and extremely distracted.  In reality, however, the Psalmist was distraught and close to imploding from the kryptonite because he was thinking about all the things people were saying about him, all the things people were thinking about him, and all the things people were doing to him.  There’s nothing we can do about what people say, think, or do, but we have the power to choose not to think about it. “Cast your cares on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22).  The key to defeating the kryptonite is to not even touch what THEY are saying, thinking, or doing with your thoughts.

I heard a preacher once tell the story of a jet airliner beginning to make its initial decent.  As it flew below 10,000 feet, the electronic and communication systems began to go haywire. After aborting and pulling back up to 20,000 feet the systems became normal.  After flying back down and pulling up several times with the same results, the co-pilot went below to find out what was happening.  He discovered there were rats chewing on the power conduits.  At the higher altitude the rats couldn’t function, but at lower altitudes the rats would come to and begin chewing on the cords disrupting the systems of the aircraft. 

As believers, God has called us to a SUPER life, but if we choose to live at the lower altitudes of hurt, offense, and bitterness, we will be short-circuited and defeated every time.  We need to habitually live at the higher altitudes where the kryptonite infested rats can’t affect us.  Our spiritual altitude is set by our time in prayer, time in the Word, and practically by what we choose to think about.  “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8, NLT).  Our lives tend to go in the direction of our most dominant thoughts. Whenever you are given an opportunity to get offended with people just tell yourself it’s kryptonite, and then choose to go up even higher where the rats can’t play in your head.

The Itch Addiction

Unknown-1Transitions are a fact of life.  In our highly mobile society, it’s not uncommon for people to change jobs, houses, associations, schools, churches, and geographical locations. While the Lord does lead his people into seasons of life change from time to time, I’ve noticed that some people seem to be literally addicted to change, making sweeping, compulsive, and often irrational life-changing decisions over and over again.  I call that pressure to change things or to shake things up repeatedly the itch and I’ve realized after many years of spiritual leadership that the itch is actually a form of addiction and life-controlling problem, rather than merely flightiness or flakiness.

Rooted in a failure to develop biblical contentment, the individual with the itch addiction lives with a constant nagging sense that the thing they need the most and the thing they seemingly must have to function is right around the corner. So on a dime, and without thought of consequences or openness to sound counsel, they veer off to scratch the itch. Rationalizing each move, they literally pull themselves and often their families all over the map trying to soothe the itch.  Wisdom is proven right by her actions (Matthew 11:19), and too often, the decision is proven to be yet another mistake.  Why?  The change was itch mandated rather than Holy Spirit directed.

The problem with the itch is that it prevents individuals from ever developing a root system, and since there is no root there can be no real fruit.  Just about the time the Lord gets us into position to begin to lay a foundation for great growth, the enemy comes along and inflames the itch.  Itch addicts, consequently, postpone their development, compromise their destiny, and squander valuable time and resources with each knee jerk decision.  

The itch is complicated by well-meaning but undiscerning individuals who actually praise or encourage this behavior under the guise of wanting to be supportive.  We should no more encourage someone with the itch to swerve than we would an alcoholic to get a bottle and get drunk.  The veer is the itch addict’s drug of choice and they need gentle instruction, the renewing of the mind, deliverance, and accountability, rather than enablement.  When we truly care about the addict, we help them face reality instead of empowering them to remain addicted.

If you are given to the habit of repeatedly veering and swerving from one place to another, don’t look to justify the behavior, garner support from others for the addiction, or attack the messenger (as so many substance addicts do).  Acknowledge, confess, and repent over the fundamental lack of contentment in your life, and for letting the itch run your life.  Tell the itch it can no longer be the Lord over your life.  Learn to stay still and wait on the Lord.  Changes will come into all of our lives, but we need the Holy Spirit, not the itch, prompting those changes.


20130611-125148.jpgI’ve never understood people with great talent or ability just kind of cruising through life with no desire to fully develop and reach their potental. Throughout my life I have witnessed countless gifted students, athletes, and believers opt for mediocrity simply because they lacked the deisre and discipline to be coached to greatness.

Jim was in my high school graduating class. His highest priority was not in learning (unless it was to learn who had the best smoke). So a young man who scored a 34 on his ACT graduated with one of the worst GPA’s.

Danny was the most talented swimmer I had trained with on my swim team. His technique was both perfect and beautiful. But he lacked the desire and focus to become a champion. On one occcasion at a meet in Belleville, IL, Danny was playing pool while the gun went off for his swimmng race. I will never forget Danny running upstairs to the pool and jumping in a half a lap back from the field. He still managed to overtake everyone to win the race.

George (not his name) was an anointed and gifted servant of God called and equipped by God to perfom one of the most important roles in the body of Christ – serving as a true armour bearer for God’s generals. One internationally known minister once told me that in all his travels no one had ever taken better care of him than George. But he made some bad choices and lost his desire to be mentored to greatness.

Contrast these stories with my friend and competitor Tom from my age group swimming days. Bob Steele, the head men’s swim coach at SIU Carbondale at the time, used to tell us there were three factors in succeeding as a swimmer: raw talent, hard work, and a good attitude. He said that you needed at least two to succeed but three would be unstoppable. Tom always had talent and a great attitude but early on he showed no interest in working hard. But one day a coach and mentor came across his path and encouraged him to train with the Parkway Swim Club in St Louis and at the University of Iowa swim camp in the summer. Combined with his new work ethic and the world class coaching, Tom became an Olympic Gold Medalist and World Record Holder.

I see Tim Tebow’s situation (and that of so many Christians) in the same light. Tim proved his ability, hard work, and attitude leading his college team to national championships. Despite his success there and gritty backup play as quarterback for the Denver Broncos leading them to a playoff victory over Pittsburg, Tebow was traded to an inept Jets team that failed to appreciate, use, or develop this godly and talented young man.

As corny as it sounds, I actually prayed for Tebow to be picked up by some NFL team that has both the insight to see the potential and the skill to develop it. Yesterday the New England Patriots announced intentions to sign Tebow. Most people forget that the Patriot’s celebrated QB Tom Brady couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a throw in the beginning of his career. But Patriot’s head coach Bill Belichick remembers and yet took a talented Brady and developed him into one of the all time greats. Sportswriter Tyler Raburn said of Belichick, “He took Brady from the sixth-round prospect he was and made him into the superstar he is today.” Something tells me that Belichick, with an eye to the future, is ready (and unlike the Broncos and Jets) and able to do that again with the young Tebow.

Like Tebow, I believe as Christians we all have great potential but we must have two indispensable factors working in our lives. First, we must desire to be developed and mentored. Most believers live and die never accomplishing much, not because they lack ability – they simply lack the heart. Second, we must submit ourselves not simply to a coach but to a coach that has the experience and ability to wisely mentor, instruct, push, correct, and develop us.

Don’t settle for being like a Jim, Danny, or George. Like Tom and like Tim, see and seize (don’t squander) your “Tebowtunity” when it comes your way. I fully expect Tim Tebow to flourish with the Patriots. Like Tebow, with the desire and proper developmental coaching, I expect you too will flourish and become a champion for Jesus.


Resistance Is Not Futile

Borg 1If you’ve been exposed at all to the television or movie versions of the Star Trek productions you have become very familiar with the strange world of the part human, part machine colony of the Borg. Their ultimate goal is in assimilating others to be exactly just like them. The famous declaration of the Borg when challenged is to say, “resistance is futile.” This is exactly how the enemy works against the believer. He knows that if we resist him, he has to flee (James 4:7). Actually resistance is not futile – it’s the key to overcoming the devil every time.

The ultimate goal of the devil, then, is to get us into a position of non-resistance to his influence, his negativity, and his accusations. We all know that the greater one lives inside of us but if we, in the heat of battle, begin to stop resisting, we will be defeated every time. Because we are born of God, we have through faith everything we need to overcome this world because the victory that overcomes this world is our faith (1 John 5:4-5). But the key is to stand in this revelation and truth against the influence of the enemy and the circumstances in our lives that are running contrary to the Word of God. Even though we ARE overcomers, we can be overcome if we falter when it comes to resisting those things that Jesus died to redeem us from.

There are many things that subtly but effectively steer the believer towards non-resistance such as spiritual laziness (the lack of discipline to continue in prayer, worship, and Bible study), weariness (the effect of long protracted battles where one literally gets tired of fighting), and emptiness (we give everything we have in service scraping the bottom of the barrel instead of keeping the barrel full and giving out from the top). The more lazy, weary, or empty we become the less likely we are to stand and resist the enemy. The more non-resistant we become to the activity and agenda of the enemy, the more defeated we become. We have been redeemed from the curse according to Galatians 3:14, but the curse will still prevail and advance in our lives in an atmosphere of non-resistance. 

The reason for this is we are defeated by whatever we yield to in life (give up to, surrender to, relinquish to). According to James 4:7 we are to resist (withstand, strive against, oppose) the devil and his thoughts, but unfortunately, many believers forget about the first part of that verse that commands us first to submit to God. We cannot effectively resist the devil while we are actively resisting God. Make sure you eliminate every single area of non-compliance with God and His Word in your life if you want to see the devil flee. The other critical factor, according to 1 Peter 5:9, is the quality and level of our faith. We are told to resist him (the devil) steadfast in the faith. The quality and level of our faith determines our capacity and readiness to resist and continue resisting. The key to raising both the quality and the level of our faith is always more time in the Word because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word (Romans 10:17).

I love the story of Jehoshaphat in the Bible when he was facing an insurmountable alliance and attack of enemy forces in 2 Chronicles 20. His example shows us how to resist the enemy while under pressure. First, he immediately went to the Lord in prayer. Unfortunately, many believers today try everything else under the sun and only after every single other option has been exhausted without results, they turn to the Lord in prayer. It reminds me of what Winston Churchill said of Americans in light of World War II. He said, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.” Christians are a lot like that today, but prayer should be our FIRST resort not our last resort. Second, he gave his ear to the prophetic word of God. In this case, the Lord raised up a prophet in their midst to declare that the battle was the Lord’s and that they were to stand and in standing (resisting) they would see the victory. We may not all have a specific prophetic word in our situation, but we have something more sure and certain, the Word of God (2 Peter 1:19). Like the people in Jehoshaphat’s day, we need to believe the Word and in doing so we will be victorious. Finally, he released his people to sing and praise God in the midst of the battle. In fact, the singers and praisers were placed at the head of the army without weapons. In the natural this does not seem like a very good strategy for winning a war. In fact, it sounds like a recipe to lose any element of surprise and to precipitate a massacre. But the weapons we fight with are not carnal – they are mighty (2 Corinthians 10:4). Praise, in fact, is a supernatural weapon of our warfare that literally silences the foe and the avenger (Psalm 8:1-2). This actually brought confusion to the enemy’s camp and their ultimate defeat.

The enemy may try to tell you that it is futile to resist him, but according to the Word we know that if we will submit to God and stay strong in faith we will abide in a position of resistance to the enemy and in doing so he will have to flee. If you are feeling lazy, weary, or empty, get busy right now building up your resistance capacity by spending time in God’s Word and presence. Like Jehoshaphat, you too can believe God’s Word, stand, and watch the defeat of the enemy in your life.

Refuse to Settle

Some people have the mistaken idea that faith is simply a life of pretend or pretense, but as Jerry Savelle used to say, “Faith does not pretend…faith attacks.” Faith is not tapping your slippers, closing your eyes, and pretending you are not facing a major challenge, setback, or disappointment. Faith does not deny the existence of financial failure, a physical sickness, or a troubled marriage. Faith acknowledges the existence of the issue but then proceeds to attack it with the Word of God and deny that obstinate situation permission to remain. The problem is that the enemy is very good at convincing us to accept limits, boundaries, and fences as unchangeable reality. Everything inside of us as believers should cry out, “don’t fence me in!”

We need to understand that the enemy would love for all of us to live far below God’s best, but I want to encourage you to not settle for less than what God’s Word says you have can have spiritually, relationally, physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. Matthew 11:12 teaches us that the kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent take it by force. Many assume this refers to an assault by the world or Satan on the kingdom of God. In reality it refers to the aggressive faith-filled stance of the believer to press in to the kingdom of God and everything it offers the believer.

One of the primary reasons Christians fail to live an extraordinary life in God – one that is beyond the usual, extraordinary, noteworthy, remarkable, uncommon, rare, phenomenal, and special – is that they are all too willing to settle. Any voice that compels you to settle for less is of the devil. In today’s blog I want to leave you with some keys that will empower you to resist the devil and and embolden you to refuse to settle for less than God’s best in your life:

First, James 4:7 teaches us what to do with the devil and his suggestions: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” One of the devil’s most effective tricks on the body of Christ is to get us in a position of what I call “non-resistance” to his wiles, schemes, lies, and agenda. If we resist rather than yield, he will have no choice but to flee from us every time.

Second, remember that your past does not equal your future. Let go of past mistakes so that you can reach for what lies ahead (Philippians 3:13-14). It’s hard to press forward for your future when you eyes are glued on the road behind you.

Third, open your heart and life for others to correct you when necessary because open rebuke is better than secret love. A word from a friend that really cares about us in due season can often mean the difference between success and failure. It takes a bold believer to speak into our lives and it takes a humble but sharp believer to listen to and receive that counsel.

Fourth, whatever you do, stay out of the pity party because when you are in pity you are not in faith. When you step in to pity, you step into a pit – a demonic trap of the enemy to hold you back. If we TRULY believe that God’s blessing is on our lives and operating to empower us to succeed and prosper, we would never fall into the trap of the pity party.

Fifth, find out what God’s Word says about your situation. Memorize it, study it, and confess that Word often. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Revelation of God and His Word, on the other hand, bring us to a place of victory and success.

Sixth, accept the call, like Abraham, to be a blessing to others every day. It’s great to confess that the blessing is on you, but we all need to take the revelation of the blessing to the next level and make up our minds to not just possess the blessing, but to be a blessing – to be the kind of believer that empowers others to prosper and succeed.

Seventh, dream the biggest dream of your life. God’s Word says, “God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams” (Ephesians 3:20, MES). The lack of dreams and small dreaming is what ultimately holds the believer back (not the will or the willingness of our Lord). If you can grasp the dream, comprehend the dream, conceive the dream in your heart, you can see that dream come to pass. Dreams by their very nature take us beyond where we have been before – they are natural boundary breakers and fence crashers.

Finally, trust in the favor of God – that the favor of God is on your life in abundance. The favor of God is kind regard, friendly disposition, support, defense, vindication, promotion, justification, benevolence, acts of grace and good will, advantage, partiality, preferential treatment, and convenience afforded for our success. Favor is when people say, “no,” and circumstances say, “no,” but God says, “yes” (Jerry Savelle). Any believer can tap into the favor of God through faith (Romans 5:2). Favor is vital in hard times because it takes the boundaries and limitations off of our lives and enables us to go from ordinary to extraordinary.

The Bad Report

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NIV).

As long as we live on this earth there are times we’re just going to receive a bad report. Jesus made it plain to his disciples that no one was immune from trouble. But just as certain as trouble would find the believer, the delivering and overcoming power in Jesus Christ would be made available so that we can have trouble without trouble having us. Regardless of whether it’s a family crisis, challenging problem, life-threatening disease, or a lost job, we can decide how we are going to respond. Ultimately, the goal of the enemy through the bad report is to try to maneuver us from our place of faith. The arrival of trouble should be like a flashing yellow light warning us of the devil’s intentions and motivating us to reflect before we react to the bad report.

The onset of a bad report does not make us the freak or the black sheep of the body of Christ. True, sometimes bad reports come because we are unwise. As Forest Gump always said, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Most of the time trouble is just the consequence of simply being alive and totally normal. Trouble is common to everyone and its presence in our lives does not make us terrible people. We should also realize that trouble comes because we threaten the enemy with our lives or because we have made the quality decision to live for God in an increasingly post-Christian culture. Remember the words of Paul to his spiritual son Timothy: “Yea, and all those that will live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

The question is not whether bad reports are going to come – they will. The question is how will we choose to respond to them. You see, if we want to be distressed we should look within. Becoming introspective during a challenging time will produce no lasting results and will only increase our anxiety. I learned in college years ago that if I was feeling down or upset to go out and find someone who needs ministry and bless their life. By taking the focus off of ourselves we often alleviate the distress. If we want to be defeated we should look back. Pining over the past with regrets and “what ifs” will cause our certain defeat in the present. If we want to be distracted we should look around. This world offers a new distraction, it seems, every new day. There’s plenty to distract us already with the trouble. We don’t need to go looking around for more to distract us from the things of God. If we want to be dismayed we should look ahead. While there is certainly a place in our lives for looking forward in vision, we have to make sure we are not so focused on the future that we slip into anxiety or worry about what will or will not happen or become dismayed because the future is sometimes slower to manifest than we would like. Finally, if we want to be delivered – to truly be set free – we should look up. Freedom comes in fixing our focus on the Lord Jesus Christ and on His Word. When we spend time in the Word of God we are spending time looking to Jesus.

The story of Jairus’ daughter in Mark 5 gives us a great example of what to do when the bad report comes our way. First, ignore completely the negative report. Jesus arrived on the scene to a negative word and a great commotion of grief, doubt, and unbelief. He was not moved by the report and if we want to see victory in our lives we can’t be moved by the negative reports in life either. Second, arrest the fear trying to rise up in your heart. It’s natural to feel the fear building in us but we have to make a conscious decision to stop the fear and do what Jesus said – just believe. Third, we need to continue to believe in the one who is with us. Yes, there’s bad news but Jesus is still with us reminding us that he never leaves us nor forsakes us. Fourth, separate yourself from all doubt and unbelief. Jesus would not allow the unbelieving crowd and apparently some wavering disciples to enter into where the child was. Jesus, together with Jairus and a few others, separated themselves from that unbelieving atmosphere. Finally, look for the word of the Lord in the situation. In the midst of the fear, grief, despair, and doubt – in the midst of all the commotion it is sometimes hard to listen for the words of life ready to fall from the lips of Jesus. Nevertheless, we must listen beyond the noise for the words of power and dominion that Jesus has for our situation. One word from God can change our lives forever. The word spoken that day raised Jairus’ daughter from death. The word spoken to us today can bring life and encouragement to our hearts as well.



Faith Flirts

Lt. Gen. James H. Doolittle

Whenever people hear the message of faith for the first time their hearts are usually encouraged and excited about the possibilities obtainable through God’s Word. As we listen to the uncompromised Word of God going forth we catch a glimpse of how life could be if we would begin to use the force of faith like a tool rather than as just a generic term to describe religion in general. The Scriptures teach that “all things are possible to him that believes” (Mark 9:23). Faith is the divine connection between where we are in life and where we could be. Faith is how we access the favor of God (Romans 5:2), the prescribed way for believers to live (Romans 1:17), and how we ultimately please God (Hebrews 11:6).

But when the reality of the lifestyle of faith sets in – that it takes more than faith to get the job done – that it requires time, love, patience, and doesn’t usually produce immediately or over night, people often lose their enthusiasm. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world (1 John 5:4). It is the key to the victorious life in God. I often liken the lifestyle of faith to a boxing ring. Well trained in faith we step into the ring to do battle. Paul called it fighting “the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). If we won’t get into the ring, or fight, or stay in the ring, we can never obtain the victory. Many people begin with good intentions but when they see the reality of faith they immediately try to climb out of the ring and back away from the message or the word of faith.

People who begin but do not hang in there on their walk of faith are what I call “faith flirts” – they flirt with the notion and concept of being a faith person but they do not persevere in their faith and are not invested over the long haul. If we can leave the lifestyle of faith then it was never a personal revelation to us. To “flirt” means to play triflingly and superficially without serious intentions as with a toy. It means to talk sweet nonsense, to touch a thing in passing, or to deal lightly, casually, or flippantly with a thing. The faith flirt plays with faith but never really decides to actually live consistently and enduringly by faith.

The faith flirts are relatively easy to spot. First, they are normally unstable and unsettled. Because they are not really walking in faith they do not possess the corresponding peace and rest that always accompanies the faith person. Second, they value spiritual experience over the Word. In fact, when a faith flirt hears about someone seeing Jesus, they invariable want to know what he looks like. The genuine faith person wants to know what he said. Experience, for the faith flirt, becomes more binding and authoritative than the written Word of God. Third, faith flirts are easily defeated and quick to give up. Where the faith person has formed a habit of fighting and winning, the faith flirt has developed the habit of tucking tail and running. Fourth they don’t ever seem to get results because they never persevere long enough to see the manifestation or the end of their faith. Finally, they are consistently ruled by their emotions. The faith person has a soul that is anchored in the truth of the Word of God, the highest reality in the universe. The faith flirt is anchored to the emotions and when the emotions change, they change. They live terribly inconsistent and flaky lives because they have no foundation of faith and can never have a foundation until they give more credibility to the Word than to their feelings.

I want to encourage you today to evaluate your walk and look for evidences of the faith flirt. If you are unstable, experience based, quick to quit, lacking results, or emotion ruled, acknowledge that, repent of it, and make up your mind to stop flirting with faith but take the faith plunge once and for all. You can quickly move from faith flirt to faithful by establishing your foundation in the Word of God. Instead of playing with the Word and faith, get serious about getting the Word in your eyes, in your ears, and down into your heart. The more diligent you are the stronger you will become.

In the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, President Roosevelt was looking for a way to respond decisively to the cowardly action of the Japanese Imperial Navy. A bold, unprecedented plan was presented to send sixteen medium range Army B-25 bombers off the aircraft carrier USS Hornet and bomb Tokyo and four other cities. Led by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, the handpicked squadron headed out to sea and prepared to strike at the very heart of Japan. Before embarking on this dangerous mission, Doolittle told his airmen, “victory belongs to those that believe in it the most…that believe in it the longest… and we’re going to believe.” Doolittle’s Raiders successfully bombed Japan before running out of fuel and losing the bombers one by one trying to reach the mainline of China.

These brave army pilots knew the challenges, the risks, and the importance of the mission. They volunteered and accepted their role and likely fate. After leaving that flight deck early because a Japanese fishing boat spotted the American flotilla, they knew there was no going back and most likely not enough fuel to get to China after the bombing run. Faith people are the same way. They head out into the spirit realm with no plans for failure and no plans for turning back, and they execute until they achieve the objective. That is the essence and difference between the faith flirt and the faith person. Make a quality decision today, one from which there is no turning back, to live your life on the Word and to stay on that Word with a bulldog determination that says, “I cannot be defeated and I will not quit.”