Yesterday morning I had the absolute honor of speaking to a group of ministry students at Church of The Highlands here in Birmingham. These amazing young people, ranging in age eighteen to twenty-four, are on fire for God, and many of them will go on to be Christian leaders in churches and private organizations throughout the country, or perhaps the world. It’s always been a blessing for me to be in their presence, and to be given the opportunity to share my heart with them made it even better.
I met with Hayes Kearbey (one of the directors of the program) on Sunday to discuss his expectations for my presentation. Ideally, I would have about forty-five minutes to share my “God story” with them. This would include the first fifty-two years of my life before I was born again, and of course, the amazing things that God has done in my life during the five years since.
Hayes also wanted me to give them a “life-lesson,” that is, something that each of them could use to make their walk with God a little better.
was my initial reaction to Hayes’ request. Of course I didn’t tell him that! I was nodding my head in agreement, but that little voice in the back of my mind was screaming “He wants you to teach them something! He’s asking you to be a teacher! You’re no teacher! Back out now, while you can, you fool!”
Well, I obviously didn’t back out. You see there, was another little voice in the back of my mind, offering me encouragement and assuring me that everything would be okay. “You know that God is gonna give you a message for those kids. He’s given you over a hundred ideas for The Seed of Hope in the last couple of years. Why would you possibly think that you can’t do this, or that you won’t have anything to say? Trust in Him.”
I agreed to be at church the next morning at eight o’clock for thirty minutes of praise and worship. When that was done, I would talk to the group.
I woke up yesterday morning with an uncanny sense of calmness. I knew that everything was gonna be fine, because God had given me this opportunity for a reason. It was part of His plan for me to be in front of the group of young adults, and I was filled with gratitude and peace. And I knew what I was going to say…
I already knew my story of salvation. I’ve shared it more times than I can remember, and though it’s always the same, it’s always a little different. You see, each time that I recount what God has done in my life, I realize some truth, some “nugget,” that I’ve never thought of before. And in doing so, I find yet another reason to be grateful to God.
I also knew my message as a teacher; what I would give to the students to take with them long after my voice fell silent. God had given that to me as well, in epiphanies, in “aha moments,” that I’ve had in the last couple of years. They’re not profound insights. I feel quite sure that someone has previously written or spoken about each of them at some point in time. In fact, I’ve written about each and every one of them at various times on this page, but not as a compilation of what I do each day to stay in touch with God, and to serve Him.
I humbly submit to you six of my personal “nuggets.” I didn’t really plan it this way, but in what has become a Church of The Highlands trademark, each of them begins with the same letter.
· Start your day with God. The very first thing that I do when come to consciousness each morning is thank God for giving me another day. His Name is the first thought that enters my mind every morning.
· Spend time with Him and in His Word. I cannot stress enough the need to spend at least a few minutes a day alone with God in prayer or in meditation. Your outlook on your daily life and on yourself will change if you’ll try this. Also try to spend a few minutes each day reading the Bible. Look, until a few years ago I never read the Bible at all. As a matter of fact, I’d run from the Bible and/or anyone quoting or carrying one. At the suggestion of a very good friend (thanks Annie) I began turning to the Word for guidance, and as source of knowledge about God and His teachings. When the Bible becomes, not just a book, but the living Word of God to you (and it will), everything changes.
· Stand before God in judgment every day. Every day. I don’t care what you may have done wrong. You stand before Him each day, and ask for His forgiveness for your transgressions (if you have any) and your walk with Him will change. You see, something in our past that causes too much shame to face Him becomes a barrier between us and God. Let those sources of shame pile up, and the result is complete estrangement from Him.
· Stay focused on God. He is our ultimate destination. There’s an insurance commercial that touts “Life comes at you fast.” How true is that statement? Life does come at you fast, and it comes with hardships, headaches, and heartbreak. In dealing with life and its “junk” many of us take our eyes off of God. We kind of put Him on the back burner, for just a minute, while we work on our problems. Those minutes turn into days, or weeks, or perhaps even months, and when we look up, God is nowhere to be found. Seek Him every day.
· Submit yourself to God and to His plan for you. I shared my thoughts with you on this subject a few weeks ago, so I won’t go there again. I’ll just say this: God’s plans for us are bigger than our dreams. Trust Him. He has the perfect plan for you.
· Share what’s on your heart with others. This actually applies in two different areas:
I encourage you to share what God had done in your life with someone else. You may question why you should share the good news of God with others. You may think that what you have to share about God in your life doesn’t amount to much, but you have no idea as the number of people in the world that don’t know God at all, much less the provision, and comfort, and strength, and love, and wisdom (must I continue?) that He gives us every day. The question then becomes “How can you not share your knowledge of God and His goodness with others?”
Secondly, I encourage you to share the hurt that may be on your heart with a friend. There’s so much to gained, not only from “unloading” every once in a while, but also from the insights that you may receive from someone else. Many of us are more than mildly surprised to learn that we’re not the only ones with problems, but also that many of us have the very same problems.
There you have it; my six “S” nuggets. They’re all quite simple in nature, but I think that quite often in our quest to become better people, or perhaps I should say better Christians, we have a tendency to overlook the simple things. If you already knew ‘em, I thank you thank for taking the time to visit. If you received at least one nugget from this post, then it’s a blessing received by me.
I pray that you have an amazingly abundant week, filled with God’s grace and goodness!