The Wheelbarrow

Charles Blondin was an acrobat from the 1800s. One day, he had a cable stretched across Niagara Falls, and a crowd gathered around to watch him walk across this tightrope. The first time, he tied a blindfold around his eyes and asked the crowd if they thought he could do it. They cheered their agreement, and he started to walk across. When he made it to the other side safely, the crowd applauded.

Then, Blondin grabbed a wheelbarrow, and asked the audience if they trusted that he had the ability to make it across the tightrope, blindfolded and pushing a wheelbarrow. Everyone cheered, excited to watch him do this dangerous trick.

So, he put the blindfold on, got up to the tightrope, and asked the crowd one more question: “How much do you trust me? Who wants to get in the wheelbarrow?”

You can bet that there weren’t as many cheers from the crowd when faced with that question. They had all cheered their encouragement for Blondin to attempt the feat, but when asked if they believed in him enough to put their own lives in his hands, they were more hesitant.

Jesus wants that level of trust from us. If you’re a believer in Him, do you trust that you’re a part of the Church? That you’re a part of a group of people whose purpose is to change the world? Would you get in the wheelbarrow?

If you’re going to fulfill your purpose, your heart has to be open to the will of God. And a willing heart has trust as its foundation. It builds on what supports it. So what is your stance? What are you standing on? Everything in the world is competing for our attention, so we need to make sure that we are standing on something strong, something worth putting our complete trust into.

Getting in the wheelbarrow is the first step to fulfilling your God destiny. Stand on who God is, who He says you are, and what He has called you to do with your life.

For the full context surrounding today’s illustration, watch “Heart Guard” now.

Back to the Heart

At Barefoot Church on October 28 and 29, we are going to have a special weekend called Heart for the House Weekend. At each of our services that week, I’ll be sharing the heart and vision behind why Barefoot exists, and why we do everything that we do.

The reason we’re having Heart for the House Weekend is that sometimes we get so busy doing things that we forget the reason we started in the first place. Before my family and I started Barefoot fourteen years ago, God put a vision in my heart of a church with thousands of people all worshiping God together every single weekend. And that is still the vision we have all these years later.

But life gets messy sometimes, doesn’t it? It doesn’t always go the way we planned. People come and people go, things don’t happen as fast as we want them to happen. It can cause us to become stagnant. Trust me, I understand—I’ve been there recently. When we don’t see how God’s plan is working, our faith might begin to grow weak in what God showed us when we first started out on this journey with Him. Have you ever experienced anything like that?

So what are we supposed to do when we want a harvest but no fruit is growing? It takes victorious faith. The reality is that when we belong to Jesus and are citizens of God’s Kingdom, we live in between two worlds. We’re living in physical bodies in a physical world, but we know a spiritual world. So when all we do is feed what we see physically and ignore our spiritual health, our faith grows weaker and weaker.

Sometimes the Enemy will try to remind us of who we were before the day, and we begin to default back to that. But remember: the past is in the past, and the future is ahead. God made you anew and has called you to a holy calling. We have to stay true to our God-given purpose no matter what happens in this physical world.

We have to come back to the beginning when we first came to Jesus. When was the day He invaded your life to change your forever? When was the day your faith connected with Jesus’ amazing grace? Focus on why you started on this journey with Him, and never let yourself lose sight of the vision.

Watch the full teaching for “Back to the Heart”.

Forgiven to Flow

I believe that in our culture, we’ve made Christianity casual. We hear that we can listen and obey God if we want to but you know, we don’t have to; just pray a prayer and we’ll go to heaven when we die, and between now and then everything will be just fine.

But God created us to do more than just live—He wants us to flow. When God created humans, He made us in His image to be reflections of Him to the rest of the earth. At our beginning, humans were in perfect unity with God. But then, sin entered the picture. When we sin, it means we miss the mark of God’s glorious standard. And that sin, those misses in our lives, separate us from God.

Imagine that God is a pipe with water flowing through it. We were created to continue that flow of water. But our sin cuts us off from the rest of the pipe; God is still flowing, but we’re just a piece of pipe with no connection to the water source. So how are we supposed to flow if we aren’t connected to God?

John 7:37-39—On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)

Jesus is the connector that glues us back to God. He is the well of living water that will never run dry. Ask yourself: is God flowing through me? Have I made the connection? When our lives are flowing, we do more than just live–we can fulfill the purpose that God set in place for us long ago.

You can’t duct tape your way to God with things like attending church, doing good deeds, taking communion, or giving money. Those are all good things, but they don’t fix the real problem in our lives—our sin. But when we put our faith in Jesus, He forgives us of our sin. By giving our lives over to Him, we’re teaming up with Him to allow the fresh, living water of God to flow through us.

Watch the full teaching for Forgiven to Flow.

Real Love

John 15:9-12—I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.

What comes to your mind when you think of love? We typically love in the same way that love has been expressed to us. If we’ve only ever seen examples of human love, the kind of love that sometimes fails, then our image of love has faltered.

But when we have experienced the love that God gives us, we understand what love is really supposed to be. You’ve probably heard of John 3:16, even if you don’t know what it is. Look at what it says: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” God sent Jesus to Earth to provide us with eternal life. Jesus lived a perfect human life before dying a painful death on the cross. He loves us enough that it was worth it.

Jesus expressed this powerful love because of who He is, regardless of where we are. God doesn’t decide to love us based on what we’re doing right now—He already loves you where you are, no matter what you did yesterday, last week, or twenty years ago. But, He also loves us enough to want to help us grow and mature, so that we can become all He created us to be and do all He has planned for us to do.

When you place your faith in Jesus, you are given the responsibility to produce. All of us have an important role to play in the Church, and no matter what your role is, your ultimate purpose is to point people to God. That’s the main thing. When you’ve experienced the supernatural love of God, you understand how far true love will go. It gives its best and overtakes the world. Nothing will outlast His love. God is looking for His people to step up and permeate Earth with His glory, His heart, and His amazing love.

This post was inspired by my latest weekend message called “Re:Main”. Watch the full teaching here.

There Is Hope

Sometimes, it can feel like the world is falling apart because of all the bad news. In just the past few weeks, we’ve seen hurricanes and earthquakes devastate parts of our nation and others. Have you ever wanted to provide aid, but felt so overwhelmed by what feels like an endless amount of people needing help that you ended up doing nothing?

There are so many people affected by destruction of all kinds that it can be difficult to decide who we should help. And often when bad events happen, people turn to the Church. What is the Church going to do? How is the Church going to respond?

But if you’re asking that question and you’re already a follower of Jesus, you should be looking into a mirror. Every one of us is a part of the Church—you don’t have to be employed in ministry full-time in order to be a minister. None of us have the resources to help everybody, but when devastation strikes, talk to God. And when He gives you a clear vision, act on it!

Imagine what would happen if every Christian on the planet fulfilled their God-given purpose to the best of their ability. All kinds of things will try to distract us from the call that God has on our lives, so if we try to do it with our own power, the discouragement and devastation will destroy. Us. But through the supernatural power of God in us, we can be more determined than ever to stand up and show God’s glory to the hearts of people.

We are all called to ministry to help people discover who God is and who they can be in Him. What God wants the Church—all of His people—to do in difficult, destructive, or devastating times is to press through the challenges and get people’s attention, not because we’re great, but because He is.

Watch the full teaching for There Is Hope.

Success in the Stress

When Joseph was young, he had a dream of becoming a great leader and shared this dream with his brothers. But he was already his father’s favorite son, so Joseph’s brothers became very jealous of him. They sold him into slavery in Egypt, and told their father that Joseph had died. One day, his master’s wife lied to her husband, saying that Joseph had tried to sleep with her. Because of this, Joseph was thrown into prison.

At that point in his life, Joseph must have been feeling a little bit of stress. But through his story, we get to see an example of what it looks like to be fragile on the outside, but powerful on the inside because of what God deposits in us.

Joseph’s story didn’t end with a dungeon. While he was in prison, Joseph discovered that God had given him a gift for interpreting dreams. Two years later, Pharaoh, the leader of the nation of Egypt, had a dream and heard about Joseph’s interpretations. After he proved himself to Pharaoh, Joseph became a leader over Egypt. During this time, he prepared the nation for a long famine. When he saw his brothers many years later during this famine, he forgave them and showed them great kindness, despite what they had done to him. Because of the stress she had endured, Joseph was able to feed not only the nation he led, but also the brothers who hurt him in the first place. (You can read about Joseph’s story in more detail in Genesis 37-50.)

Stress isn’t pleasant, but it can be what activates us to accomplish great things with our lives. What happens to us on the outside can begin cracking open what God has placed on the inside so that He can shine through us. God allows stress so that we can be redirected or motivated to act. No matter how bad it gets, the stress is temporary; it is causing the treasure of God in you to leak out!

Joseph was a vessel with a dream in him to become a great leader, but he had to lose a few things before he saw that dream become a reality. All the stresses in Joseph’s life led to his purpose being fulfilled. Know that your blessing is underneath the stress you are feeling. Use your faith in God to fuel you to get through your circumstances and situations. Without stress we won’t grow and will die in our slumber, but with our faith full and strong, we will have success even in the stress.

Watch my teaching on The Success of Stress.

Take the Call

What’s your response when you get a call on your phone from a number you don’t recognize? If you’re anything like me, you probably think that on the other end, there’s somebody who is just waiting to sell you something or ask for your money. They have the deal of a lifetime ready for you! Make the decision right now and you’ll get something amazing! Sometimes the people on the other end are a fraud, and only want to get your personal information so they can steal from you.

Our minds have been trained to not trust anyone or anything. We’re just supposed to look out for ourselves. But God didn’t create us to stay in protection mode; He wants us in production mode, growing and multiplying! The world is filled with noise, with everyone having a call on your life, so we have to learn to listen for the calls that our Creator is making to us.

The first call God makes to all human beings is the call of “Where are you?” He doesn’t say this because He doesn’t know where we are, but to let us know that He is there. In order for us to move forward in life, we have to understand where we are without God—lost and confused in our sin, our misses in life. After we admit where we are, God makes more calls to us:

2 Peter 2:2-3, 9-10—Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.…for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.

Have you ever been with someone who knows they’re lost, but is so determined to find their own way that they refuse to ask anyone for directions? Maybe you’ve even been that person before! God calls us to come out and come to. Come out of the darkness of our sin and come to His wonderful light. Many people know that they are in the darkness, but they don’t want to come out of it. It’s their comfort zone, where they feel in control and safe. We have to have the faith to step out and trust the call of God.

To hear more about the other calls God makes to you, check out my teaching Take the Call.

Not Today

Galatians 5:1-4—So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.

The people Paul was writing to here were trying to crawl back into the pen of sin. The pen of sin keeps us limited, away from our God-given potential, by trapping us. (You can read more about the sin pen here.) These people were already believers in Jesus, the Savior who sets us free from the pen. They were already free! But they were trying to place limits on God’s grace.

Any of us can fall into this same trap. We begin to think that maybe there’s something more to God’s grace than just having our faith be in Jesus. We start to believe that it’s more about what we do or don’t do—instead of walking by the power of God, we’re walking ourselves right back into the cage.

But God says something different. The whole Bible is God’s story of how He is at work in our world, by showing love, grace, and mercy to humanity and redeeming His creation. He didn’t create us to live trapped and in bondage, but to walk in freedom and fulfill the purpose He has given us.

Grace empowers us to live our lives in freedom, but our enemy and the desires of our flesh work against us, trying to bind us and keep us from this freedom. But 2 Timothy 1:7 says this: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” When we face temptations that try to tempt us back into the cage, back into captivity to our sin, we need to face it with boldness and have the audacity to say, “Not today. You’re not going to help me get back into the cage—not today, not tomorrow, not ever.”

The Sin Pen

Romans 6:12-19—Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.

Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.

Our sin limits our freedom and destroys our potential. God created us to live unlimited lives, but we’ve all drifted into the pen of sin—a cage where sin holds us hostage and keeps us from our purpose.

In Genesis 25, we see how someone was limited by their sin. Jacob and Esau were twins, and one day Esau sold his potential as the firstborn—an important position and that culture—for a bowl of soup. He was lured into the pen by his hunger.

Often, when cats are caged up, they’ll try to get out in any way they can, even if it means injuring themselves in the process. But eventually, they give up—and then when the cage door is finally opened, they won’t even try to leave.

The only way you’d stay inside a cage is if you didn’t understand what lies beyond it, right? But that’s where so many people are in their lives. They find themselves enslaved by sin, but even when Jesus has unlocked the door through His sacrifice, they are too afraid to leave. If that’s you, understand the fullness of the salvation that Jesus offers once you leave the cage. He is the only way we can be free of the power that sin has over our lives, and instead, find our power through the Creator of the universe.

Through faith in Jesus, there is power to get over what is over you. God has a plan for you to spread His love throughout the Earth. Your life may not be easy, and you’ll still sin sometimes, but always keep your hope in God, and understand that through Him there are no limits to your potential.

Watch the full teaching of No Limits.

Under New Management

Hebrews 10:12-25—But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.

And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says, “This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”

Then he says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Before Jesus came to provide us with a single, once-for-all sacrifice, the Hebrew people would offer sacrifices to God for their sins. These sacrifices didn’t save them, but instead were a reminder of how seriously God takes sin, and they were a picture of the Messiah’s sacrifice that would come in the future.

The book of Hebrews is a letter that was written to the Hebrew people after Jesus resurrected and ascended to heaven. They were used to offering sacrifices, but in this letter the writer was trying to help them understand that under Jesus, no more sacrifices are required. We don’t need any more bulls and goats, because the Messiah they had been waiting on had finally come and provided the ultimate sacrifice, one that is enough to cover the sins of all humanity.

When we come to God, we put ourselves under new management. We get rid of the old leadership of our flesh, and give God control of our lives. As we learn to live His way, He begins to mold and shape us to fit His plan for our lives. When we draw on our relationship with God, we can produce so much good fruit in the world.

Watch my teaching “Under New Management”.