Steve to Earth - Encouraging you the way I like to be encouraged.



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Posts Tagged ‘Oklahoma’

Unexpected storms … unexpected beauty

I love learning how to live in relationship with Jesus. I love having my spirit uplifted and my soul encouraged. I love late-night visits and delicious meals with friends. I love road trips. I love snow. I love the fact that all of those things that I love came together this past weekend in Oklahoma.

There was homemade pizza and gentle conversation. It was snowing as we walked out the doors of the church building. I tried to catch the frozen flakes on my tongue. They collected on my eyelashes and my hair. They tickled my nose. My gracious host and good friend swept the thick snow from the windows of my pickup early the next morning and had the cab of my truck warm and ready to go for my trip to the city.

I drove through a winter wonderland. Black Angus cattle stood out in stark relief against the white countryside. The evergreens at the Christmas tree farm added a touch of the holidays to the late March snowstorm. The redbud trees, covered with blooms, reminded me of cherry layer cakes topped with thick white frosting. A jovial DJ played “Frosty the Snowman” as I headed east down the turnpike.

The cold temperatures made the warm hugs … sunny smiles … and firm handshakes even more inviting as I headed to class. Each day of learning seemed better than the one before. I listened intently to each speaker. My voice blended with thousands of others in worship and in song. I picked out books and CDs to glean from and study on my own once I arrived back home.

I lingered over delicious lunches and dinners with friends. We laughed … we talked … we listened. We strengthened our friendships with Jesus and with each other. Gifts were exchanged … gifts of time and attention … listening ears and encouraging words … shared experiences and insights about the struggles and the joys of walking with Jesus and living life abundantly in Him. On the final day, as we headed our separate ways, I was given a book … a gift made even more special by the handwritten message lovingly penned on the opening page.

I am blessed to have such good friends … to have been introduced to Jesus at such an early age … to have great opportunities to strengthen my friendship with Him and others who are being transformed daily into His image. I am blessed to have an avenue to share what I am learning with you. I plan to share some of what I learned soon.

Until then, may you see the beauty in the unexpected storms. May Jesus clear the way for you to travel safely in His love and His counsel, and may you emerge on the other side … stronger … more faithful … more thankful for the forgiving Jesus and those people who reflect Him beautifully in your world every day. May your soul live more abundantly in Him each day.


A little road trip for my soul

Take three vacation days … a road trip … a workshop in Oklahoma … Christ-like speakers sharing their faith … thousands of voices lifted in praise … smiles … hugs … handshakes … cold temperatures outside … a rekindled fire in my soul … rich encouragement to strengthen my relationship with Jesus … put it all together … and what do you get? A better Steve. Here’s just a little of what I learned.

» Salvation is about my becoming who I was created to be. Salvation is about my being transformed into the image of Christ.

» When I learn to listen, I will hear the culture all around me asking questions that the Gospel can answer.

» It’s not words that move the current culture. It’s images. I’ve got to give them the Jesus images. I’ve got to give them the Biblical images. I’ve got to give them the right images because they are living and dying from all the wrong images.

» The Man who died on the cross didn’t call me to live in safety. He called me to trust Him even when living for Him becomes dangerous.

» It’s a bigger mistake to treat wheat like weeds than to treat weeds like wheat. God will settle things in the end. In the meantime, treat everyone like wheat. Don’t assume that people who don’t reflect God’s glory aren’t interested in being wheat or in being in a relationship with Jesus. I don’t want God to look at me at the Judgment and say, “You pulled up My wheat.” (Matthew 13:24-30).

» When people are invisible or unimportant to me, I’m looking at the world … and at people … in the wrong way. Though both are important, it matters more how I treat those that I have power over than how I treat those who have power over me.

» Sometimes I am afraid to love the world the way God loves the world because I don’t want to get my heart broken … not understanding that out of my broken heart, God will raise up a new heart … a whole heart.

» I know Jesus wants the lost at church. The question is, do I?

» As a disciple of Jesus, I consume to live rather than living to consume.

» Experiences that people are increasingly coveting and needing are experiences of relationship. We have a whole economic system that is increasingly based on relationships. It’s all about the relationship. God didn’t send me more principles. He sent me a person. God didn’t send me a statement. He sent me a Savior. He didn’t send me more rules and regulations. He sent me a Redeemer who is Christ the Lord. I have exactly what this culture needs … what it is hungry for. I have been called to teach the Gospel in this culture at this time. Whether I like the culture or not is irrelevant.

» People aren’t the problem. Sin is.


Growing closer to Jesus in Tulsa

I love vacation days … learning … and being encouraged to strengthen my relationship with Jesus. I really love it when those three things come together as they did last week. I spent three days at a workshop in Oklahoma, and the following is a just a sprinkling of teachings I heard that made a lasting impression on my heart.

» Salvation isn’t just about solving my spiritual legal problems and getting to Heaven. It’s about learning to live like Jesus here and now.

» Jesus was faithful to His Father while being in sync with the prevailing culture of His time. To truly be like Jesus, I need to do the same.

» If I am struggling with temptation and sin, and I have God in my life, imagine how much those who do not have God are struggling.

» Jesus put me here to heal hurts. If hurting people don’t break my heart, something’s wrong.

» Life is hard. Hard is normal. If courage required the absence of difficulties, none of us would live boldly.

» Every day that I’m alive is a special occasion.

» People repeatedly reject a message of good news if they don’t trust the messenger.

» Being real is not denying my struggles and my weaknesses but owning them and learning how to deal with them. Real church is a place where being me is okay as I struggle to become like Him. It’s a place where I admit who I am while I am on the way to who I am going to become.

» I can impress people from a distance, but I can only have a positive influence on them up close.

» Weakness creates unity, compassion and interdependence in the body of Christ. Arrogance creates competition.

» God has incredible dreams and plans for people that they’ve never heard of. I have to create an environment where those dreams can come true.

» My sin is what’s keeping the church from being what it’s supposed to be.



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