Saturday, April 30, 2016

May 1, 2016


If you want to be great you must find a way to be third.

How do I know if I'm third?

You know you're when you are sure that God is first!

"On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37

God must be first in your commitments. The Samaritan was a busy man who was traveling from somewhere to somewhere else but when he saw a neighbor in need he made time to stop and help.

Where does God rate in your time priorities. Jesus is saying in this parable, "If God isn't first in your commitments He is first."

And if he isn't first you are not third.

Secondly, if God isn’t first in your compassion He isn’t first in your heart.


If he is not first in your life then you are not third.

When you love God most you will care about what He most cares about.

When you love God most you will share His love with those who need it most.

When you love God most you subordinate your needs to the needs of others.

When you love God most you expect Him to lead you to people He can love through you. When He is first and you are third that will happen often.

How would it up your game if you cared most about what God cares most about?

Have you given God first place in your life?


Friday, April 29, 2016

April 30, 2016

"On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37

It's never a good idea to try to make yourself look good by making Jesus look bad. But a young lawyer learned that the hard way. He showed up where Jesus was teaching and tried to out smart Him with what he thought was a clever question, "What does it take for a great guy like me to up my game?" 

He wasn't expecting the answer Jesus gave him, "You're a lawyer, you tell me what they law says." 

When he gave the right answer Jesus said, "Good! Now go do that!"

That would have been a great chance for this young man to slip back into the crowd with his dignity intact, but he pressed the issue, "Who is my neighbor?"

Jesus answered this question with one of the most memorable teaching stories of all time - the parable of the Good Samaritan.

In essence Jesus told him (and us), "If you want to be great find a way to be third." Then He painted a word picture to show what that would look like.

To be first, be third in your commitments!

This Samaritan was on a journey, traveling from one place to another when he happened upon the badly beaten Jewish man the Priest and the Levite had passed ignored the need and passed by.

Was the Samaritan less busy that the two clergymen or was he just more compassionate? It appears the latter is true.

Obviously, they made "me first" decisions in regard to their time while the Samaritan made an "I'm third decision" in regard to his schedule.

Jesus said by, "If you love God you will love others and if you love others you will give them your time."

If you want to "up your game" you must be third in your scheduling! That means you make time for God first and then factor in time margins so you will have time to love others during the course of your daily activities!

When you are too busy to make time to spend with God you are way too busy. You have a "me first" schedule.

If you can't time to help a hurting friend you are too busy. You have a "me first" schedule.







Thursday, April 28, 2016

April 29, 2016

In yesterday's post I referenced the Indiana Wesleyan University basketball team as an example of how a counter-cultural approach to a competitive team sport can make a nationwide impact.

When an "I am 3rd" program can win championships on a consistent basis in a "me-first" culture like college basketball, that is significant. It gives hope that a committed team with a winning strategy can change a culture over time!

Churches are looking for a way to positively impact the culture of their community. But before they can reach their community for Christ they have to find a way to capture the attention of those they want to reach.

How to do that is the big decision church leaders must make. I have noticed several approaches church have chosen in their effort to gain the attention of the community they want to reach.
  • The "hipness" approach 
They try to compete with the secular entertainers and celebrities in they culture they long to reach in the hope that  if they can impress secular people they will have a chance to reach them.
  • The "hype" approach
This approach saturates the community with songs and slogans and signs to create an attractive image of the church. Their idea is if they can catch the eye and ear of their community they can win their heart. They want to make it the "in" place to be, the place you go to see and be seen. 
  • The high power personality approach
A church will lean heavily on dynamic high-personality pastors and musicians to create a high energy emotionally charged atmosphere they hope will be attractive to secular people who have little religious background. They hope to be able to eventually transfer the popularity of their platform people to a faith in Christ.
  • The happiness approach
Some ministries choose to focus on the good news side of the Gospel. They believe the sign of true spirituality is wealth, health, wisdom and joy. While God is certainly able to provide those things they fail to mention our greatest joy is to be found in knowing Him and loving Him regardless of circumstances.

While each of these approaches have reached people and build large churches, they choose to compete with culture or in some way co-op it. 

At FredWes we have chosen a different approach. We don't want to compete with culture or co-op culture we want to create a counter-culture.
  • The healthy approach
At FredWes we believe that if we build on healthy Biblical principles and practices and if we develop healthy relationships, the church will grow. And as we maintain our spiritual health we will continue to grow. We seek to build those healthy relationships on the principles of the "Great Commandment":

"Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37-39

Our ministry statement, "Loving you to LIFE" is an expression of this commandment. We will love God most, love others much and least self last.

For this new year of 2016-17 at FredWes we are going to recommit, refine and rephrase our mission. This year I call you this challenge, also from the Great Commandment: "If you want to be great find a way to be third."

It works for the Wildcats and it will work for FredWes!






Wednesday, April 27, 2016

April 28, 2016

Indiana Wesleyan has really upped their game when it comes to their men's basketball program.

To give you and indication of how far they have come, I was part of their first two basketball teams. My freshman year was the first year IWU began participating in intercollegiate sports competition. Prior to that their athletics were all intramural. So, when they first began putting together a basketball team I was part of it. Now, they have won two national championships in the past three years - so that is a quantum leap!

What accounts for such a major improvement over the past 40 years? How have they upped their game to the status of one of the best small college basketball programs in the nation?

Eleven years ago a mediocre small basketball program took a chance on this 24-year old young man when they hired him to be their head basketball coach. Watch the video clip below to get to know Coach Greg Tonagel and his winning philosophy:


Can you really build a quality, competitive championship caliber basketball program on the foundation of a Biblical principle?

Coach Tonagel's record speaks for itself:

  • 2014 and 2016 NABC/NAIA DII National Coach of the Year
  • 6-time Crossroads League Coach of the Year
  • 301-83 (.784) career record makes him the all-time winningest coach at IWU
  • 150-49 (.754) Conference record
  • 8 Regular Season Conference Championships in the past ten seasons
  • 7 NAIA Quarterfinal appearances in the last nine seasons--more than any school in the country
  • Has led Wildcats to top-6 NAIA ranking in each of the last ten years
  • Has coached 14 NAIA All Americans and 26 All Conference players in his eleven season
What does this have to do with anything other than you bragging on your Alma Mater, Brad?

I want to make the point about how to up your game by using the spiritual principle of "I am third" just as Coach Tonagel has done for the IWU Wildcats.

"On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” Luke 10:25-28

Obviously, this young man thought he had a pretty good game already when he flippantly asked Jesus how he could up his game. I don't think he was expecting the answer Jesus gave him.

Jesus said in essence, "If you want to up your game find a way to be third. Love God first (and most), love others next and then love yourself."

That is a game-changer isn't it?

How would it up your game today if every conscious thought was run through that matrix of "God first, others second, and I'm third"?

Why not try it out and see?






Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Giant Difference




 "For forty days, every morning and evening, the Philistine champion strutted in front of the Israelite army." I Samuel 17:16

Ready for another giant life lesson from David?

Let me ask you,
"How do you measure yourself?
How do you measure your problems?
Do you ever measure yourself against your problems?"

Another big difference between David and the rest of this bunch - including the giant, was how they measured themselves and how they measured their problems. How about if we look at that this morning?

Goliath got in trouble because he overestimated himself. He overestimated himself because he measured himself against the other soldiers. For the most part, that was a good comparison because he was bigger and tougher and stronger than anyone else. He was a champion and he didn't inherit the title he earned it. Two errors here that eventually proved fatal:

(1) He measured himself against men who were smaller and weaker than he

I see many people who do that. In order to feel good about themselves they find weaker, smaller, and less talented people and therefore arrive at an unrealistic value of themselves. It is not healthy to inflate your ego by measuring down. You may become a champion by defeating inferior opponents but you won't remain a champion that way. 

(2) He defied God and despised the man of God. Yes, he was big but not that big!

The Israelite soldiers measured themselves against the giant. They arrived an unrealistic view of themselves by measuring against an unrealistic standard. I know people like that who are always defeated because they set unrealistic standards for themselves. Somehow they have the knack for putting themselves in no-win situations. It is healthy to aspire to be like someone who may be bigger or stronger or more well-known than you but use that for motivation to get better. That is not what these guys did. They devalued themselves by overvaluing Goliath. Not good. Not healthy.

And then there was David! 

Let's learn from David! 

David didn't measure himself against the soldiers and he didn't measure himself against Goliath, he didn't measure himself at all! He just lived in the power and grace of God and let God handle the giants, and the lions and the bears in his life. 

The healthy approach to a self-esteem is not to measure ourselves against others but to lose ourselves in God! God has not called us to compare to others He has called us to complete others! 

David didn't compare he committed!

Are you struggling with self-esteem or self-worth issues? 

That is a common struggle. It is one we must each conquer and the sooner the better! But don't follow the lead of the giant and don't emulate the soldiers. Don't get into the measuring or the comparison trap. Do like David did! 

To love yourself lose yourself in God. 

To find who you are and what you can do, find yourself in God.

There is a giant difference!






Monday, April 25, 2016

April 26, 2016

"Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the Israelites. “Why are you all coming out to fight?” he called. “I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves! I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!” When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken." I Samuel 17:8-11

Was Goliath a giant obstacle or was he a giant opportunity?

He was both! It just depended on who you asked! There was the actual Goliath, who was a large and powerful man. Then there was the even larger and more formidable giant that the Israelite soldiers were looking at and listening to. And then there was the big target that David saw.

What is it that determines your reality? Is your reality determined by what you see or by how you see what you see? Do you see life through eyes of fear or through eyes of faith? It makes a giant difference!

The soldiers were measuring Goliath's strength against their own. His size and strength were far superior to theirs. There was no denying that! We are talking about faith here - not fantasy! Faith is not denying reality it is focusing on a greater a reality!

That explained the difference between David's perspective on the giant as opposed to how the soldiers saw him. David knew he was no match for the strength and experience of the massive mountain of a man. But that wasn't a problem for David because he never planned on confronting the giant in his own strength. He had a realistic look at the giant but he also had a focus on a greater reality - God's strength!

They couldn't see beyond the giant and David could. They saw a big giant but he saw a bigger God.

Therein is the difference that faith can make. Faith is life without limits. Faith is a God-sized life.

Your life is filled with difficulties and challenges. Even on a good day life is bigger than you! To deny that is begging for trouble. In real life, giants don't always show up one at a time. Often they come in tandem or in groups! If you don't have a faith that is bigger than life, you will spend your days staring at giants paralyzed by fear and filled with frustration.

Don't you think God has something better than that in store for you? Do you think that God sent Jesus to suffer and die on a cross so that you can spend your life defeated by giants? Do you believe that Jesus submitted to leave heaven, become human and die a humiliating death in order for you to spend your life as a victim? I don't think so! I think He wants you to be a victor!

But you can't BE what you can't SEE.

David saw himself as a victor because he saw the power and strength of God! The army allowed themselves to become victims because they couldn't see beyond their own weakness. David chose a faith perspective but they settled for a fearful point of view.

Are you living as a victor or a victim? It depends on how you view your giants. You can decide as David did or you can default like the Israelites. Being a giant-killer is just one decision away. today could be that day!

Spiritual Weapons



"Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. “I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again. He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine." I Samuel 17:38-40

Once you figure why you are fighting the giant, then you need to know how to fight him. What weapons will you use?

That is the first decision David had to make once he decided the giant must fall. King Saul had an idea for him. Even though he didn't want to fight the giant, he was willing to donate his armor and his weapons.

When your time comes to face the giant you will find other people have ideas how you should do it and weapons they are willing to loan. They don't want to face the giant but sure are free with their advice!

David was wise enough to know that if he was going to bring down the giant he couldn't do it with other people's armor. He could not face the giant with someone else's sword. In a big fight you need a familiar weapon. The shepherd boy had become an expert marksman with a sling and a stone. Because he had practiced and prepared and become proficient with this weapon, God was able to augment his skills to bring down a giant. God can't use what we haven't prepared. David understood that it was really a spiritual battle and that the battle was the Lord's. He understood what St. Paul knew:

"A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:10-17

God's battles must be fought with His weapons. You can bring down physical giants with spiritual weapons - David did. And you can bring down spiritual giants with spiritual weapons but you can't bring down spiritual giants with physical weapons.

Killing giants takes the right reaons and the right weapons. 

David knew. 

Now you do, too

Saturday, April 23, 2016

April 24, 2016

"Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the Israelites. “Why are you all coming out to fight?” he called. “I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves! I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!” When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken." I Samuel 17:8-11

Giant-sized lesson number four is coming up!

As I read this story the other day it occurred to me, "Why did the Israelites allow the giant to set the rules?" Each morning and evening this fierce warrior came out and taunted the people of God. He dictated the terms and set the rules of engagement. They let him do it.

Who sets the rules for your life? Do you allow the enemies in your life to set the rules of engagement for you? Where do you get your marching orders?

That is a key question, don't you agree?

If you want to know the big difference between David and the other Israelities you look no further than that. David looked to God for his orders. He never allowed the enemy to set the rules for him.

I understand how easy it is to feel like you are powerless when you are confronted by an overwhelming circumstance or life situation. When you feel powerless you feel like your life is out of control. During those times you see how big the giant is and how small you seem to be. When that happens you become immobilized. That is where the army of God was when David showed up.

Notice the key word there - "feel". When you allow feelings to dictate your reality you are letting the enemy make the rules!

Here's a rule you can live with - WHAT YOU FEEL IS NEVER MORE REAL THAN WHAT YOU KNOW! As people of faith we judge our reality based on the facts of Who God is and how He works! We live "by faith and not by sight".

If you have a giant towering over you casting a shadow of fear or intimidation over your life - remember, he doesn't make the rules! What you feel isn't real! God is real! His Word is real! His Person and His truth define reality for us!

April 23, 2016

"As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground. So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword. Then David ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head." I Samuel 17:48-51

Are you ready for giant-lesson number three?

Well, here it comes: When there is a giant in your path there is a David on the way!

Do you believe that?

What part of being God's people don't you understand? What part of "the battle is the Lord's" don't you understand?

God's army was already disgraced and they were about to be defeated. Goliath was cursing God and intimidating them. They were discouraged on the inside and about to be defeated on the battlefield. I guess you could say they were between a giant and a hard place. Immobilized and clueless - there they sat. King Saul was looking for someone to step up but could find no takers.

Little did they know that a hero was enroute.

I believe there is more than just a great story here - and it IS that! There is a strong principle here. God's honor was at stake and His people were at risk. When that happens, when we are at our weakest, that is when God steps in.

That is why I say, "When there is a giant in your path, there is a David on the way!"

Sometimes that David is a person. God has an uncanny knack for sending just the right person at just the right time!

Sometimes that David is you! God is able to stir up something in you to embolden you and empower you to stand against that giant until it falls!

Sometimes that David is a group of people or a couple or a family that come at just the right time.

Sometimes that David is an idea or a strategy that comes in the stillness of the night!

Sometimes that David is a financial blessing.

God is sovereign and unpredictable. He has a unique answer to each specific problem. But you can be sure of it! You can be confident that if there is a giant in your path there is a David on the way!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Battling Giants



"Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the Israelites. “Why are you all coming out to fight?” he called. “I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul....." I Samuel 17:8

I have been sharing some "giant-sized" lessons we can take from the story of David and Goliath.

Yesterday I talked about why and when we should fight giants. 

Perhaps you are facing some sort of giant in your life today.

Today I want to talk about an attitude that brought Goliath down. You could call it overconfidence or you could call it arrogance and you would be right either way.

Of course, Goliath had good reason to be overconfident, he was nine feet tall and had never lost in battle. He was tall and he was strong and he was fierce and he was experienced and he had protected all his vital spots with heavy armor. Since no one in their right mind dared to challenge him, it seemed as though his undefeated streak was safe.

There was no doubt about it Goliath was a rock star! And - he knew it.

So, there he stood taunting the army of God. Another day, another humiliation of the enemy. If they sent someone out to face him, he would slaughter them and be victorious. If they refused to send someone out to challenge him then he won by default through intimidation. There was not a man anywhere who could handle him.

But, there was a boy. There was a godly boy. There was a godly boy who had never heard about Goliath but who was very familiar with God. When that godly boy showed up and heard the taunts and curses of this Philistine, he took it personally. No one fooled with his God! This big guy needed a lesson in respect! It was time for him to go!

Goliath had faced a lot of men. He had never faced a boy. He had faced people who were strong and confident, but none of them had proven to be as strong or confident as him. But there was something different about this boy - different or crazy. This is the first time Goliath had faced an opponent who was not coming in his own strength but in the strength of God. As he was soon to find out, not even the strongest most confident man is a match for God.

David entered the battle with faith in God while Goliath was trusting his own strength. Therein is the lesson.

Anything you do in your own strength will fail. A giant-sized ego is no match for a gigantic God. Strength is nice, but no substitute for God's power. Confidence is helpful, but humility is better. Experience is a benefit, but faith is superior.

If you are going to battle giants - or little guys, for that matter, trust in God's power and go in His strength. Not to do so would be a huge mistake.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

April 21, 2016

"David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” I Samuel 17:45-47

Not only did David know how to fight a giant, he knew why to fight a giant.

Fighting giants is a big job so you better know why and when to do it! As I continue with thoughts about David and Goliath over the next week or so I want to share some giant lessons.

Lesson one: why fight a giant?

David fought the giant to defend God's glory. This defiant giant was impugning God and the armies of God. Not only did he disrespect God but he was causing God's people to despair and to doubt God. Because David was zealous for God and jealous of His honor, this giant had to go! David knew he had to fight the giant to defend the reputation of his God.

Never fight a giant for your own reputation or to make a name for yourself. That is not a good enough cause.

David fought the giant to deliver God's people. Goliath had the army of Israel trapped in fear and despair. His threats and taunts had immobilized the troops. That was putting them at risk as well as the nation they defended. God called His people to be free. We are not designed for fear. When David recognized that God's people needed to be delivered he knew he had to fight the giant.

Never fight a giant to impress. Only fight a giant if you or others are oppressed. Freedom is a reason to fight giants.

David fought the giant to demonstrate God's power. This mammoth hulk of a man was making God's warriors look weak. The giant was causing people to lose their fear of Jehovah and to embolden the enemies bent on destroying them. Not only were the Philistines beginning to believe they could defeat Israel, other enemies were watching closely. When an army marched in those days they carried the banner of their gods, they carried the banners of their tribes, and they carried the flag of their nation. So, in a very real and visible way the army of a nation represented all that nation represented. When an army looked weak, the entire nation and its culture and its religion looked weak. David demonstrated that God's power through a boy is far stronger than the enemies' strongest weapon.

Never fight a giant to demonstrate your strength or power. Only confront a giant to demonstrate that His strength is made perfect in your weakness.


There are reasons for fighting giants. I have given you three of them. David fought Goliath for the right reasons and God honored him with victory.