Spread the LOVE for V-Day

Here is an opportunity to or put our faith into action.

Scarlet Hope Valentine

Supporting Scarlet Hope is a way of loving our neighbor as ourselves, with our God given strength! (Mark 12:30-31).

Every day porn, prostitution and strip clubs distort God’s gift of sexuality. They debase the true beauty of women made in God’s image and degrade true love by offering a cunning counterfeit. The damage to women, children and men is profound and dark.

Scarlet Hope is piercing a source of darkness with His love.

On Valentines Day, as the world celebrates romance and love with roses and dinner, we have an opportunity to equip Scarlet Hope to offer His redeeming love to fellow image bearers in the adult entertainment industry.

Do you known that over 85% of women used in “adult entertainment” have been abused and unloved as little girls. Scarlet Hope is brining love and hope and the opportunity for freedom to hurting little girls.

Brothers and sisters, we are a part of a culture that hurts people for profit and self-gratification. This is an opportunity to encourage change and effect healing. Join me in making a gift today.

I Can’t Tolerate … ME.

I Can’t Tolerate … ME.

What do you struggle to tolerate? Is it slow drivers abusing the fast lane? Shoppers abusing the 10 item or less line? Lactose? Gluten? Politicians abusing power? Hollywood elites abusing people? There’s intolerance everywhere. But what about you, do you tolerate you? Sometimes I don’t tolerate me.

Intolerance of self further damages our humanity. Intolerance of our bodies, our faces, our stories, our past, and our brokenness is hurtful. We are only human and that means we have limitations and brokenness. It’s part of our human condition, but it’s often a part we struggle to accept or tolerate. Intolerance of our true humanity impacts how we show up in life.

Let’s back up to explain. Our spiritual ancestors, Adam and Eve, abused the power and freedom they had in God’s garden (Genesis 3). They chose to turn from him and snatch the forbidden fruit. Every one of us has followed suit. They started a crazy train of personal intolerance that leads us into into fear and falseness, like it did them.

Their intolerance was their unwillingness to accept that they had turned away from God. Instead, they pointed fingers at one another and God. They wouldn’t tolerate the reality of their brokenness and accept personal responsibility for a fractured relationship with God. So Adam blames Eve and God, and Eve plays the victim to a serpent. Unwilling to own their sin, they hide behind masks of falseness.

The masks they wore were born of fear. They feared the consequence of owning their sin. They feared standing in the light before God. They feared his response. So, they hid from him rather than standing in the light and saying, ‘Father, here we are, we blew it big time.’

The truth is we all blow it. When we pursue our deepest longings in ungodly ways, we blow it. Adam and Eve tried to fix it, to make a wrong right, by covering themselves in a lie. The lie was born of fear. They put on masks attempting to fool God and each other. The mask of victim and the mask of blamer were lies – they were false ways of pursing a re-connection to God. It failed miserably and the disconnect grew deeper.

We all have masks, and they do us no good. I have the mask of a performer, among others. It’s the false part of me trying to measure up – for me, you and God. It’s driven by the fear that the real me is not enough. It’s fueled by the fear that if you know the real me, my sin, my suffering, my limitations, you will reject me. You see the fear is you won’t tolerate the real me. And deep within I already don’t tolerate me.

My intolerance of my own broken humanity, self rejection, coupled with the imagination of others rejection, prompts the mask of a performer. The performers mask covers the fear of rejection, and both conceal the true self longing to be loved and welcomed.

There are lots of masks such as the people pleaser, judge, cynic, know-it-all, recluse, joker, stoic and hundreds more. There are endless false ways to attempt to cope with our brokenness. The only way to truly be free is to tolerate ourselves. To own our brokenness before God and others.

The true self appears when we shake off our fear and the lies it believes, stand in the light, and accept the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. To tolerate myself begs that I trust that Jesus truly holds me, covers me and secures me in love. His covering alone makes me tolerable, totally acceptable, completely welcome to our heavenly Father. Jesus reconciles us to God such that we need not fear, nor hide in falseness, from Him, one another or ourselves

The true self becomes buried behind layers of fear and falseness. Sometimes the intolerance feels so right, so normal, that we don’t even know the false layers exist, but they do. The remedy is the love of Christ. A love that tolerates the true me, the true you, because we have been remade, reconciled and redeemed by the power of His blood.

Jesus breaks the chains of intolerance, casts off the fear, stripes away the mask and welcomes us to the light. I’m working on tolerating me, because Jesus already has.

A word on America’s Greatness

I share the following post as it encouraged me and challenged me … to be good and loving in fundamental, tangible ways and to see the goodness in others around me.

Why America is Great

By Len Moisan, founder of The Covenant Group

America Great Because She is Good

When Alexis de Tocqueville first came here, he observed a young democracy that he both admired and wrote about in Democracy in America. He allegedly said:

“Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.  America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”

Unfortunately, there’s little evidence attributing this to Tocqueville. Still, Eric Metaxas finds irony here because the quote captures Tocqueville’s argument.  He calls it a “brilliant summation” of his work. “ [Tocqueville] saw clearly that it was the ‘goodness’ of America’s people that made America work. “

Regardless of who said it, the statement is packed with truth, particularly in light of Mr. Trump’s campaign to, “Make America Great Again.” But are we looking in all the wrong places to bolster “American exceptionalism?” In fact, maybe America has been great because of its Christian heritage, a heritage that the courts, schools and municipalities hope to expunge from the public square.

Is America Still Good?

Recent headlines call the “goodness” of America into question. Chicago’s homicide rate continues at a horrendous pace (631 this year). Then in one night a deranged lunatic killed 58 people and wounded 489 in a mass shooting in Las Vegas.

However, in light of recent sexual scandals among Hollywood, media and congressional elites, Chicago and Las Vegas are passing memories. New revelations of misconduct appear daily. NBC’s Matt Lauer’s is only the latest story. Should that surprise us? Not really, particularly in light of the late Hugh Hefner’s influence on sexual liberation and freedom of expression, which became euphemisms for his pornographic view of life.

As a child growing up in Catholic schools, I learned to be honorable and respectful towards women. Not that I was always a pillar of virtue. Yet, when I pushed the limits, I was ashamed. I knew my behavior was inappropriate and the rest of society agreed.

However, today those Christian voices have diminished. In fact, trashing Christian teaching has become politically correct, and as a result there is virtually no shame. The decline is something that’s applauded by the same press that wonders what went wrong.

Still A Lot of Good 

Yet, despite all of the noise, there are still good people doing good things in America. Consider that tens of thousands volunteered and donated to fundraising efforts to help hurricane victims in Texas and Florida. NFL great, JJ Watt raised over $37 million alone for hurricane relief. Beyond that there are fundraising campaigns to fund free schools, food banks, homeless shelters and much more.

Now not everyone agrees with America’s benevolence. In fact, recently I read articles that list America substantially lower than other countries for generosity. This includes Indonesia, Myanmar, Kenya and more. I’m not sure what justifies their assertions, but that just isn’t the case. No disrespect intended, but according to a CAF study, those countries aren’t even ranked in the top ten in monetary giving. Clearly giving in America is exceptional.

Statistics on Giving

Last year Americans gave $390.05 billion, or 1.44 % of their GDP. That’s nearly twice what the next closest country gave. In fact, consider this ranking of giving as a % of GDP:

  1. USA…………………….1.44%
  2. New Zealand……….0.79%
  3. Canada………………..0.77%
  4. UK………………………0.54%

Additionally, the US provides aid to 96% of all countries, which now exceeds $50 billion annually. Simply stated, American generosity is unparalleled anywhere. But why is that?

The answer goes back to the quote, “America is great because she is good.” I believe that goodness comes from America’s Christian heritage. Oh there are some who debate that concept vigorously, but the more we depart from that heritage the less goodness we’ll see.

Len Moisan is founder and President of The Covenant Group, a consulting firm that helps churches and non-profits reach their growth and funding goals.  Dr. Moisan has served as an educator, coach, manager, entrepreneur, and private consultant.

The Covenant Group  

802 Stone Creek Parkway, Suite 1A, Louisville, KY 40223
Phone: (502) 425-9810
E-mail: len@covenantgrouponline.com

Christ Died For Our Hidden Pride

by: Pastor Josh Harbin

This past Sunday I preached on humility and how it plays such an important role in the Christian life, especially as we begin to use our gifts of faith in the church (see Romans 12:1-8).

I touched on the idea that pride could be hidden in our lives. Most of the time when I think about pride my mind immediately moves to thinking more of my self than I should. However, what if pride could also be rooted in thinking too little of oneself?

Getting Personal

At many points in my life, I have allowed self-loathing thoughts to creep into my mind and wreak havoc. These thoughts include, but are not limited to: “These people don’t need me, they are just fine the way they are”, “I just have accepted that I can’t…and I’m ok with that”, “I’m fine on my own”, “No one understands”, “There is no sense in trying to do it again, I don’t need that kind of pain in my life”. There have been days that I was so worried about whether or not people thought I was enough, that I just wanted to stay in bed. These thoughts have been painful, and have even lead to depression.

How are these thoughts prideful though? I am certainly NOT thinking more highly of myself. In fact, I’m thinking just the opposite. I am thinking LESS of myself. But is that the point of humility?

The Rule of Opposites

You see, I think we often over-simplify life and follow the rule of opposites. For example, the antonym of kindness is mean-spirited, therefore if kindness is helping someone across the street, then tackling them to the curb would be mean. Right? UNLESS you were saving them from being hit by an oncoming car.

Same with pride, we often think that in order to combat pride (thinking more highly of ourselves) we should do the opposite (think less of ourselves). Now while this may seem like a good idea on the surface, it is predominately unhealthy. C.S. Lewis, in his book “The Screwtape Letters”, reminds us that this type of thinking is often the starting point for a more pride-filled life, “Self-contempt can be made the starting-point for contempt of other selves, and thus for gloom, cynicism, and cruelty.”

Pride hides in the shadows of self-contempt. This inward turning is not only unhealthy; it is sin against God. We were not created to worship ourselves; we were made to worship God. To do anything other than our intended purpose is against the creator’s plan. Our hearts are “idol factories” and they are always seeking something to idolize. When we become self-deprecating, self-loathing, or even generally inwardly focused, we begin the process of making an idol of self.

Worship is the Antidote.

Scripture calls us to idolize Christ (Exodus 20:3-5). He is worthy of our idolization (Psalm 145:3). God worship is the antidote to our desire problem. Pastor Louie Giglio states that “Worship is our response both personal and corporate, to God for who He is and what He has done; expressed in and by the things we say and the way we live”. The worship of God should be the sound track of our lives. We live, eat, breathe, sleep, work, and play for something every day, and that something is Jesus Christ. We find our value and our worth in him (Gen. 1:27; 1 Cor. 6:19-20). Worship isn’t just something we do (like singing); it’s a posture we have. In every activity we engage in we must be fully submitted to Christ. This posture is total dependence on God, seeing every moment as a gift from above. There is no room for self-loathing in from a position of sold out God-worship. Self-pride and worship of God cannot co-exist; one always trumps the other.

Our worship of God is magnified by the reality that Christ died for our pride. God did not want to be separated from us. He knew that our self-critical, self-deprecating, self-exalting, self-focused souls needed renewal. He knows that we will never find joy by looking inward, but gave us a way to look upward. But first, Christ would take all of our pride upon himself, and carry it to the cross, dying with the weight of our sin on him. This act of love is the representation of true humility. It is now by the blessing of the Holy Spirit that our minds can be renewed, our boasting can turn to the cross, and our joy can be found in Christ. God is the author of all good things, and He loved and valued us so much that he calls us his sons and daughters. We are made in the image of the most high God. As beloved creatures of an almighty God, we have access to forgiveness and glory through the cross. Christ died for your hidden pride. Lay it down and recognize your value. 

Practical Application:

Meditate this week: Isaiah 26:8 “Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.

Sing to Lord this week: Find a quiet place and sing to the Lord the song of your heart. Don’t think about anyone but him. Give it all you got!

Pray & Remember this week: Remember that Christ died for your pride. He died so that your pride could never separate you from God. Get on your knees and spend time thanking God for this mercy that you get to live out.

Share this week: When God is doing something in your heart, don’t hide it. Find someone to share it with this week. Strike up a conversation with a co-worker, a friend, a teammate, or even a stranger. Let your love for Christ pour out fearlessly. He is why we live. To God be the glory!



Join the Conversation: Good Grief!

(our summer series inviting conversation and connection. Share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter)

My mother died on July 14. A week later, I visited my father’s graveside in Ft. Logan National Cemetery for the first time since he passed. A dear friend just returned from a graveside visit to a mentor who passed in a tragic car accident. One of our church-family members just lost her grandmother. Death and grief are a part of life.

The loss of loved ones grows more real and present the older I get, and it exposes a unique loneliness in me.

Each situation is laced with joy and gladness as they sleep in faith with the Lord and await the glorious resurrection. That is the good news. They truly rest in a better place (though those words are no help on heels of a loss) and I can assent to it being a goodness amidst the grief.

Yet, there are obvious aspects of grief that are very uncomfortable and hard, though maybe goodness can be found there too. An obvious emptiness and sadness attends losing people we love. It wouldn’t be sad if they hadn’t made a meaningful impact on our lives. Their departure leaves a hole.

The hole is not only their absence, but how it exposes a deeper loneliness. In the case of parents and grandparents, it is the loss of people that knew us from the beginning. They set us in motion and loved us when we had nothing to give, but a cry, a mess and a smile. They showed us our first glimpse of unconditional, life-giving love.

Their loss tears at our roots – the roots of being known, loved and connected. Certainly we can busy ourselves with more people, and we can build other significant relationships to stay connected and experience love. Building new connections is good, but it can be a mechanism to hide as well. Hiding from the lonely reality that foundational relationships are undeniably absent for now doesn’t feel authentic or redeeming to me.

I believe the loneliness exposes a root desire for deep connection. There is goodness in the grief if we face it. My loneliness exposes a desire to be known and loved at my core. Though, the people that knew and valued me from the beginning are gone. I still want all of me to be deeply known. I want to be loved and accepted for who I am. That is a lonely grief and it is hard, lest we deny it and hide from it.

Henri Nouwen says: “The task is not to escape your loneliness, nor to let it drown you, but to find it’s source. … With your heart you must search for that place without fear.”

In this sense, I see the loneliness as a gift to be opened and explored, though it is hard to sit with. I’m finding the loneliness exposes in me a relational desire that not even the most intimate earthly relationship can fully satisfy, though they are so important. I feel the pain of grief and it’s loneliness driving me to more essential and eternal things. It seems to be leading me to God – to know him more intimately. It’s calling me to trust that in His knowing me, in His love for me, in His presence, in welcoming Him into my loneliness, there is more — more healing, more hope and a more satisfying, joyful relationship that transcends what we can know on a merely human level.

There is no fear in pursuing this, though it comes with some pain and letting go (for now) of those who have loved us well. Exploring “that place” referred to by Nouwen leads us to a deeper relationship with God, a good place, and a joyful connection.

I’d love to connect, share your thoughts.

Join the Conversation: Learning to Swim

(Join the Conversation – a summer series inviting conversation and engagement. Leave a comment on Facebook or Twitter)

Learning to Swim:

As I taught my son to swim, I encouraged him to jump off the diving board into my arms. He was scared. It took a lot of coaxing. I repeated, “I’ll catch you … I’ve got you … trust me … jump in.” Finally, he leapt into my arms and a big smile came to his little face. Learning  to swim takes trust that the one who promises to catch us will really hold on, and that it will be fun and not kill us.

In John 4 Jesus invites the woman at the well to jump into the living water. She is so exhausted by her circumstances and consumed by the shame of troubled relationships she does not see the refreshing beauty of what Jesus offers.

I get this woman, even though I’ve not been married five times, I have felt overwhelmed by my circumstances. The exhausting shame blocks her from seeing and receiving Jesus love. She’s the person drowning who fights against the one coming to her rescue.

Jesus says, instead of pushing me away – if you knew me, you would ask me if you could jump in the pool with me (v.10 my paraphrase).

Isn’t it true that often our trials block us from recognizing how much Jesus has for us. We flail about attempting to find satisfaction in the plastic water bottles of the world that we miss his ocean of grace.

Jeremiah 2:13 captures the problem:

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

We’re trying to swim in the world’s empty pools and reject the deep love and satisfaction of Christ. Maybe fear, shame, doubt or 100 other distractions keep us from resting in his arms and learning to swim. It’s hard to relax and swim when you’re fearful.

But faith says, I may be fearful, but He is trustworthy. His love is real and strong. We don’t have to be strong to rest in His living water, we simply have to let go of our broken cisterns and accept that he will catch us and hold us, forever.

What might you need to let go of to enjoy the living waters? What if, in reality, you are already in the living waters and held by Jesus? Oh, then I could rest in the safety of his arms and enjoy swimming.

Twisted & Treasured

from Rob Gibson…  a midnight thought Aug 22,2016

I am undeniably broken and not in control of it. 
My need for the Savior is greater than my comprehension. My inability to rescue and reform myself is terribly obvious to me. My need to be plucked from the pit, led from temptation, and forgiven of treason is radically real. As if my mind saw black as white, so twisted can my heart be, so self deceiving and self consumed, upside down and inside out; flesh demanding to be fed when it should rather be crucified. My fate, if left to me alone would surely be total destruction and devastating damage to others. Human sin and brokenness knows no bounds, only twisted convulsions that frustrate heart mind and soul. 

But God. But for the restraining hand of God, but for the mercy of the Father who meets me in death, but for a Savior who stands in my stead, but for a Brother who keeps watch of my soul, but for a Son who laid down His life for mine, but for the King who holds the keys to my life, but for the Lord who offers forgiveness and life, I would be lost. But God, rich in boundless love, has taken me as His beloved. Broken though I am, I am consumed by His love, held as His treasure. Amazing! Unceasing love! Hallelujah what a God, what a Savior!