All posts by mjharvell

My name is Michael Joe Harvell, I am married to Joy and have two daughters - Grace and Hope! I am the Pastor/Founder of Grace Place Community! My goal in life is to love God with all of my heart, soul and mind and to love others as I love myself! I attempt to show that love by sharing God and His love with others, so that they might expereince some of the amazing blessing that God has allowed me to experience! If I can ever help anyone in their spiritual journey - it would be a great honor and pleasure! One of my favorite things to do is to take a long ride down a winding road on my Harley Heritage Classic!

You Can’t Earn Grace!

Simply Amazing!
Simply Amazing!

There is something really wrong with me, I still catch myself trying to earn my salvation. It would seem that my mind and thinking have been bent into going with the flow of my religion and the powers of this world. The Gospel of Grace that I think that I know so well, in some way becomes twisted into religious bondage and everyday distortion. If I am not careful, I tend to relegate my great, big, awesome God into a small score keeper tending the books, while sitting in a over sized chair. Church seems to have become institutionalized and often seems as if it is hurting more than it is helping.

Our big problem is that we tend to accept the idea of grace in theory, but not in practice. We say that we believe what the Scriptures teach about salvation being by grace, but our lives seem to always be focused on works. On most days, we are living stuck in guilt, fear and an “I just don’t care anymore” attitude, when we should be living in a free, loving, full of amazing grace miracle.

The truth is that our whole culture runs counterclockwise to grace, especially God’s understanding and explanation, which happens to be the only understanding and explanation that really matters. We become focused on a “do it yourself” spirituality and a “look out for yourself” attitude. Instead of practicing the Golden Rule of: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!”; we practice the worlds standard of “Do unto others, before they do unto you!”

Romans 2:8-10 says: For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

Most of us view our relationship with God, as our chasing after and trying to catch Him, but the truth is: Our relationship with God is about Him chasing after and catching us with His amazing grace and unconditional love. God, our great lover, chases after our heart and affections and presents us with the most amazing gift ever given the gift of relationship, not based on what we have or have not done, but founded, nurtured and grown totally and completely by His amazing grace.

I don’t have to earn it! I can’t earn it, but I can enjoy it and when I do enjoy it, it makes loving Him back a very natural thing!

A Life Changing Question!

If Jesus were sitting across from you at this very moment, what would happen, what do you think he would say to you?  Several weeks ago, I ask myself this question and discovered a very interesting answer!  There were a lot of things that came to my mind, but I eventually began to dwell on one thing in particular.  I felt that Jesus might say to me:  “I am not nearly as interested in what you do as I am, in why you do it!”

This really got me to thinking!  I do a lot of stuff that I would put under the banner of “Service To The King!”, but I am not always so sure that I am doing that stuff for the right reasons.  I am not always so sure that I am really doing it for service to the king.  It may be more like service to myself or for myself and that is a very hard thing to admit.  When I began to admit this to myself, all these areas of my selfishness began to open up and I felt sick to my stomach.  I don’t want to be selfish, I don’t like being selfish, I want my service to the king to be pure and meaningful, because he is more than worthy.

This took me to a place of reflection, which took me to a place of repentance, which took me to a place of restoration!  Jesus says:  “Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest!”  When we come to him, honest with the mess that we are, he loves us, forgives us and restores us.  He gives us strength to live a new and better life, a life that is blessed with his promises, presence, provision and power!

What do you think Jesus might say to you???

Seven Steps To Growing Your Relationships!

Relationships are hard work, but they are vital to our getting the most out of this life!  You can do life by yourself, but you are not really living.  Really living is when you do it with other people and when other people do it with you.  So here is a list of 7 things that each of us can do, to help grow and develop the relationships around us:

1.  Learn to really listen! Most of the time, we are listening to reply, instead we need to learn to listen to understand.  When we begin to really understand what the other person is saying, then we can be the help, comfort and encouragment they need us to be.  Stop thinking about what you are going to say and really listen to what is being said to you.  Good listeners use all of their senses to pick up on what is going on!

2.  Work to make your time, quality time!  When someone gives you their time, they are giving you their most precious commodity, don’t waste it!  Make sure that you get the most out of time you have with those that you care about, by giving more and more of yourself.  Be fully alive in the present moment and don’t take one second for granted.  Make the most of the 24 hours you have been blessed with today by spending quality time growing with those that you love and that love you.

3.  Take time for self!  It is not selfish to take some “me” time, in fact, it is vital if you intend to give your best in your relationships with others.  Take time everyday to take care of yourself.  Take time every week to do something that you really enjoying doing.  Take time at least once a month to get away from your regular routine and do something that makes you happy.  This will actually make you more of a joy to be around and will make you a lot more interesting person to those who choose to be a part of your relationship circle.

4.  Stop expeting others to complete you!  Others can add to your life and others can take away from your life, but they cannot complete you.  If you are looking for someone to complete you, you will be disappointed, because even if someone can complete you, they can only do it temporaraly.  The task of completing someone else is fulfilling at first, but it eventually becomes a drain.  The best relationships are made up of give and take.  It is the natural flow of give and take in a relationship that allows the relationship muscles to grow and make life bigger and better.

5.  Appreciate the little things! It is the little things that make life sweet.  The sparkle in your childs eye, the embrace of a lover, the encouragment of a word from a friend, all of these are little things that have a big impact.  Make sure that you are not taking these things for granted.  Everyday of your life and every person in your life is filled with little things that make life sweeter, so make sure you enjoy the sweetness!

6.  Understand that love is expressed in different ways!  We all love in differnet ways.  You can’t make someone love the same way that you do and why would you want to?  The people that are in your life all love you in different ways and for different reasons, enjoy that, celebrate that and get the most from all the different flavors.

7.  Practice forgiveness!   When you become perfect, then you can expect others to be perfect.  Since there is not any danger in that happening anytime soon, then give and receive forgiveness.  I say practice, because we are all works in progress and we need all the help we can get.  And the best way to get better at something is by practice.  Start now – what or who do you need to forgive?

You can do this and your relationships can go to a whole new level and I pray that they will as you live blessed!

Yes You Are!

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I could not sleep last night.  Let me take that back, I actually went to sleep, but only got about three hours before I woke up and was wide awake, after some tossing and turning, I finally realized that I was not going to sleep, so I decided to get up, do my workout and update my blog.  As I am sure many of you know, I have been trying to get healthy over the past couple of months.  I have totally changed my eating, maintained regular exercise, saved off 25 pounds and am feeling the most energetic that I have in my entire life.

I was working with four young guys yesterday, which are at least half my age or younger and I kept cracking on them, because they were letting me, the old man show them up.  I got up this morning, thinking about how blessed I am to get to live the life that I live.  I am a part of an amazing ministry called Grace Place that ministers to people everyday in some of the most incredible and meaningful ways ever.  I have a growing, fun and profitable business that allows me to meet new people from all walks of life.  I have family and friends that love me, are there for me and that make life worth living and sharing.  I could go on and on, but I don’t want this post to be so long that you don’t have time to read it.

Bottom Line:  We are all blessed!  Yes, life may sometimes throw us a curve ball, but there is always a purpose and as we pursue it, we become better and stronger.  Take a little time today to think about all that you have to be grateful for.  Enjoy the blessings that God has surrounded you with and above all – make sure that you are living blessed!

A Letter To My Friends!

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One of my favorite authors, Henri Nouwen said:  “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.”

This is the person that I want to be, but have recently come to realize that I have fallen short of being.  I have become good at giving advice, because so many people ask for mine.  I have gotten used to providing solutions, because there are so many people that have needed me to do that.  It is my natural instinct to try and provide a cure, because I don’t like to see anyone suffer.  While all of this is good and necessary, it sometimes gets in the way of my being able to grow in meaningful and lasting friendship, because people feel that they have to live up to some expectation.

Sometimes when I offer advice, solutions and cures, it is frustrating to see them fall on what I often mistakenly perceive to be deaf ears and bruised hearts.  This has caused me to get caught up in the manipulation game that so much of the world wants to play in and what gets in the way of genuine, caring, meaningful and growing relationships.  I am not God and I have got to learn to trust Him to take care of the stuff that is above my pay grade.

I want to be a real friend!  I want to share the pain of those that I care about, not judge it, correct it, manipulate it, advise it, solve it or cure it.  I want to touch the wounds of those I love with a warm and tender hand, not a hand of correction or perfection.  I want to be this kind of friend, because this is the kind of friend that I want and need.

Please forgive me for where I have fallen short and for where I may have failed you.  It is not because of a lack of love for you.  It is not because I believe myself to be better than you.  It is simply because I am a man and I often miss the mark, but I am learning and promise to try and do better.

Thank you for being my friend and as I work to provide you with true and meaningful friendship, I hope that you can find the grace to maybe do the same for me, because the truth is:  We all need each other, if we are going to live blessed.

Trusting Your Instinct – Learning To Empower Thought Over Feeling!

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For the past couple of months I have found my instinct, intuition, feeling, spirit giving me information, but I have not wanted to accept it.  My heart and head teamed up and out voted instinct and spirit.  In my heart, I knew that things did not add up and I knew that what my instinct/spirit was telling me was right and so I asked questions, got the answers that my heart and head wanted and refused to listen to my instinct/spirit.  But my instinct /spirit is a pesky little thing, so it would not let it go and just kept on and on.  And so the war raged on and I walked through life living in a continual argument with myself.  (This is an impossible argument to win!)

Over the past couple of days, my instinct/spirit has been proven correct and my heart and head has taken a pounding because of it.  Life teaches us to think things through and the problem with this is that often our over thinking actually clouds the reality of our vision.  An instinct and the voice of the spirit is much more than a thought and one of the problems that I have discovered in my life is this:  When I treat my instincts/spirit as a thought, I actually limit them, their power and their effectiveness at helping me to get to the right place in my life.

There is a big difference between thinking and feeling.  Thinking is something we do with our head and heart, while feeling is something we do with our instinct and spirit.  The problem comes for us, when we blur the lines and allow it all to get mixed together.  Do you know the difference between a thought and a feeling?  I mean really think about it – what is the difference?  Most people really cannot began to explain it, because they have never really taken the time or pursued the discipline of thinking through their feelings and feeling through their thinking.

If you can’t describe it as a sensation, whatever’s going through your mind is not thought, but feeling. Learning to tell the difference between thought and feeling is very tricky, especially when, we override our feeling/instincts/spirit with mind/heart/thoughts.  Add to this the power of our often very active emotional reactions to those thoughts and “WHAM!” – . We often feel something, ignore the feeling, decide something else is true, then have all kinds of emotions about what we just made up and give the thought power over our feelings and then it’s on and we are headed on an emotional roller coaster ride.

If we are going to trust our feeling/instincts/spirit, then we must learn to quiet all of the other noise of life.  We must step out of the messed up social training that we get from media, internet and even messed up family and step into the quiet place of who we really are.  This is where we begin to hear what we really need to hear, so that we can see life as it really is.  This does not always feel good, because there are going to be some residual thoughts that linger hoping to have a say in the direction you are going, but push the thoughts aside and give your feeling the full attention it deserves and you will notice that your emotions become positive, even though the situation might be negative.

When we give our feeling the attention it deserves, then our instincts kick into gear to take us places where the spirit is able to help us live the life of blessing that we were created for.  Stop empowering the war within and decide to just pay attention and do the right thing.  You will be glad you did, because you will not be able to help living blessed!

5 Action Steps To Growing Trust In Your Friendship/Relationships!

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Trust is one of those things that has to continually be worked on.  Over time it will develop on it’s on, but for it to grow strong and powerful, we must be willing to give ourselves to one another on a different level than with most.  The following is a few tips to help grow this most vital trait to growing and developing our friendships/relationships.

1.  You Have To TAKE And MAKE Time To Get To Know One Another!  You need to take time to share each other’s biggest dreams, as well as worst nightmares.  You need to discuss your morals and why you feel the way you do.  Take time to think about how you were raised, what you value and what your challenges are.

2.  Figure Out Where The Boundary Lines Are Located!  As you grow in your friendship/relationship, you will discover that these are often changing as you face challenges and as you grow.  This is where honest conversation is very important and this is why getting to know each other is so important.  You need to know what the limits are – what is acceptable and what is unacceptable.  If something makes one of you feel uncomfortable, then you need the freedom to share, and if the freedom is not there, then you have a major boundary that is going to get in the way of the friendship/relationship moving forward.  It’s not about doing whatever you want and it’s not about controlling the other person, it is about growing together.

3.  Practice The Golden Rule!  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!”  This is just common courtesy and should be a given in any friendship/relationship.  Give what you want and receive what you give.  This is seriously one of the biggest challenges to our growing, because often there is an expectation of one kind of treatment, but the display of another.  If you love and care about someone them treat them, the way that you want to be treated in all things, not just some things.

4.  Communicate, Talk & Share!  The more open you are about who you are, what you do, how you think, where you are going and when you hope to get there, the better off everyone will be.  You cannot grow a friendship/relationship, if you do not have regular and meaningful communication.  Get rid of the guesswork for the other person by being totally open about what you think and feel.  Distrust starts to sneak into a friendship/relationship when there is any breakdown in communication.  The distrust may be totally unfounded, but we are humans and when their is a void our mind tends to fill it with the worst of our imaginations.  If you really love your friend/partner, then you should want to communicate in as many ways and as many times as possible.

5.  Practice Honesty!  Sometimes this is easier said than done, because we don’t want to risk hurt feelings or bruised egos, but in the long run it always costs us more, if we miss the boat on this one.  I say practice, because this will always be something that you are working to improve.  The best way to tear up the bridge of trust is to start being dishonest with each other.  Don’t get angry, just explain yourself, where you are coming from and why you did what you did and begin building from there.  If you made a mistake, admit it and once a mistake is admitted – move forward without dwelling on the past.  

Before we wrap up, let’s take a moment to talk about broken trust and what to do about it, because it is bound to happen at some point.  When trust has been broken, it does not have to mean the end of the friendship/relationship.  Many friendship/relationships have survived broken trust.  The key is to realize that it is going to take time for recovery and if the two of you are willing to make the time for the recovery, then it is more than possible.  In fact, it is possible to build the trust stronger than it was before.  You may have to go back to “Square 1″, but you’ve been there before and it was a great place to start from.  Three things are important here:  1.) Ask for and give forgiveness.  2.) Allow time for healing of the hurt, anger and madness.  3.) Accept and deal with the changing boundaries.  

Life is better when it is shared!  And you were created to share life with others.  Take some time to work on TRUST and as you grow in your friendship/relationships, you will live blessed!