3 Secrets to Avoiding Suffering

Actually, A Way to Experience True Freedom


Art by Daniel Clarke

I recently was asked to speak on this subject. I’m expecting this article to receive the most
hits on my website! Humans will do anything to protect ourselves, set up the right precautions, execute certain protection plans just to avoid suffering. So I’m giving you my three top secrets to avoiding suffering:

  1. You cannot avoid suffering. Did you see this coming? Or is this first point a surprise just like you’re shocked each time you suffer? It’s not hard to prove this first point… I was born! I was born with Cerebral Palsy, so I roll around in a wheelchair with a speech impediment. There is nothing I can do to avoid this! A lot of you have heard the powerful outcome of my story as I have spoken about it all over the world. I spent most of my life attempting to avoid the elephant in the room and pretended like my Cerebral Palsy did not exist. Pretending like your suffering does not exist ALWAYS worsens your suffering. We always go to something to cope with suffering, don’t we? What do you escape to with your suffering? Humans escape to gambling, relationships, alcohol, junk food, sex, and the list goes on. We see proof in the revenue made in these industries capitalizing on human suffering. Suffering is inevitable! The Bible states: “You have to suffer various kinds of trials for a little while (1 Peter 1:6).”
  2. Go through the suffering with Jesus. True freedom is found when we stop dealing with suffering in our own ways and start suffering with Jesus. The Apostle Paul beautifully illustrates this through these words while in prison: “For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him (Philippians 1:29 NLT).” For a long time, with friends all around me, I had deep loneliness. I preferred talking with them about my suffering rather than talking and experiencing my suffering with the all powerful creator of the universe. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses. Instead, we have one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet he never sinned (Hebrews 4:15).” When I truly started being with Jesus who sympathizes more than any other and talking with Him intimately about my suffering and being transparent and vulnerable with Him with my suffering, Jesus, the Wounded Healer, coined by Henri Nouwen, began to free me and heal me. “He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed (1 Peter 2:24).”
  3. Experience the victory of the resurrection. Suffering with Jesus allows us to experience true hope and victory. This is one of my theme verses: “Although he was crucified in weakness, he now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was made weak, but when we deal with you we will be alive with him and will have God’s power (2 Corinthians 13:4).” Seeking Jesus deeply about my Cerebral Palsy led me to this life-changing truth: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians12:9).” I read this in a special daily quiet time, then I immediately praised Jesus and thanked Him for the opportunity to experience suffering. Because now, what the world views as suffering, is now my victory and strength through the power of the resurrection. My life is a victory and a blessing, not “despite” my Cerebral Palsy but because of God’s power through the disability!  I’m blessed I’ve been able to speak on this around the world!

Please take some time and reflect on your suffering. What or who do you go to in your pain? What are some practical ways you can suffer with Jesus? Now that you’ve put your trust into Jesus, been baptized and resurrected with Jesus and live in that victory, what are some tangible ways your daily life is different? I’d love to continue the conversation with you! Comment below. If this helped you, will you share this blog with your friends and family network now?

Originally posted 2016-10-12 07:00:55.

3 Steps To Make Your Desires Realized

My one year old son, Oliver, reached for the doorknob.  He couldn’t reach it. He looked up img_4985at me. I saw what he desired and simply reached over from my wheelchair and opened the door for him. Oliver looked back up, smiled, and confidently walked through. Here are three simple progressive steps to make your desires realized:
  1. Ask – Sound wisdom from the Bible states “You want what you don’t have…you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it (James‬ ‭4:2‬).” How many times have you wanted a relationship, a next step, or a gift, but you never asked God for it? Ask Him.
  2. Seek – After you ask, look and see what doors are right there in front of you. In my twenty years of ministries among twenties, I have counseled many who want to be married. Most of them married someone they already knew! When we ask, God opens our eyes so we can seek and find! “Then Elisha prayed, ‘O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!’ The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw (2 Kings‬ ‭6:17‬ ‭NLT‬).”‭
  3. Knock – Don’t you know God is at work on both sides of the door? You asked God. You sought. Now give someone the opportunity to be blessed. There are people that God can use in your life to open doors. Ask that person and give him/her that opportunity to bless you like Oliver gave me. Yes, God blessed me in that moment that I got to open the door for my son, Oliver. It brought me joy to be the one that helped Ollie reach his next destination.
If these three steps look familiar to you, you know what happens after you knock: “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him (Matthew‬ ‭7:7-11‬ ‭NLT‬‬).” If I loved opening that door for my son, Oliver, how much more will God love opening that door for you?  Comment below. I’d love to continue the conversation with you. 
Please share this article if you feel it would encourage someone in your life. Click here for ways to partner with this thriving ministry. 

Originally posted 2016-09-14 08:00:18.

30 Day Quiet Time Challenge

A few of the twenties being equipped in the DFW Nav20s Disciple-making Training

A few of the twenties being equipped in the DFW Nav20s Disciple-making Training

God changed my life one day through a daily quiet time with Him when He showed me in 2 Corinthians 12:9…

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Ever sense then I have seen His power and love flow through my life, not despite of my weakness, Cerebral Palsy but through His power being made perfect in my weakness.

We, in the DFW Nav20s  firmly believe that the intimacy we have with Jesus through spending time with Him overflows right where each follower of Jesus lives, works and plays throughout your city!

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing….But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” – ‭‭John‬ ‭15:5, 7-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We want to invite you and your friends to join us in the 30-day Quiet Time Challenge!  To ignite your quiet time, click here and read 5 ways to ignite your quiet time. E-mail stories here of how God moved in and through you and your friend through your 30 days with Jesus. James 4:8 promises: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”  Share with a friend.

CLICK HERE to become a monthly financial 

imageministry partner with us.  All donations are tax-deductible.

Originally posted 2016-07-11 11:41:00.

Are You Free Indeed?

FreedomOften I think about when I  went to Washington D.C. for the first time. What stood out to me the most about the history of our nation is that the tallest statue in our nation’s capital, which is full of hundreds of historic statues, is “Freedom” on top of the U.S. Capitol building. We value freedom so much and I’m thankful for the people who fought for our freedom, and I was wondering, as a nation built on freedom, do we Christians value the true freedom that we have in Christ?

Jesus said in John 8:36 “If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.”

By His wounds and His blood we are free from the sin we have done and healed from the sins that have been done to us. He has totally and completely set us free.

In the Old Testament, the Lord freed His people from Egyptian bondage. We see that as such an obvious example of being set free, but the Israelites did not understand their freedom and they started to wander in the desert and were tempted to worship other gods even after they were free people. Don’t we experience spiritual amnesia like that at times? Moses had to remind God’s people of the truth when he said in Deuteronomy 8:14b, “Don’t forget that you were once slaves in Egypt and that it was the Lord who set you free.”

That’s what God has been reminding me of through His Gospel. A Navigator pioneer says that we need to preach the Gospel to ourselves daily, and the Good News is that Jesus has set us free.

“…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17b

Now that you have made Jesus your Lord and Savior, Jesus’ blood has cleansed your temple and His Holy Spirit dwells in you truly freeing you and empowering you to live a life for Jesus.

This week as you preach the Gospel to yourself daily, ask yourself these questions:

– What has Jesus set me free from?
– What has Jesus freed me into?
– Just as “Freedom” reminds this nation of its freedom, what can you use in your life to remind you of your freedom in Christ?

Please leave any comments below. My wife Marissa and I would love to carry on the conversation with you.

CLICK HERE to become a monthly financial imageministry partner with us.  All donations are tax-deductible.

Originally posted 2016-07-03 10:02:14.