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What Difference Does Jesus Make?

I occupy a lot of different roles. When I was born, I became the son of David and Martha Jo Harvell. Eventually I became know as Michael Joe to most folks, that is until I got married and then I became Joy’s Husband. I have been known as the chubby blond headed guy with blue eyes, a pretty good cook, a decent teacher, a not bad writer and a host of others things. When I went to Pastor my first church, I became known as Pastor, Preacher or Rev. After Joy and I were married for several years, we had our daughters Gracie and eventually Hope and I became Gracie & Hope’s Dad. To some folks I am a friend, to some an encourager and to some, just a goofy guy that loves Jesus. I’ve actually have more roles and titles than I have time to write about. I remember when I was younger hearing a Preacher preach a message and he asked the question: “Do you want a title or a testimony?” As a young kid, I thought: “Why not both???”

I hear people all the time say: “I love Jesus” or “I know Jesus as my Lord and Savior.” And that sounds really good, but I can’t help but wonder: “DO WE REALLY KNOW WHO JESUS IS AND IF WE DO, SHOULDN’T THAT MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE?”

What Do You Think Of When You Think of Jesus?

There Are Many Different Pictures of Jesus! A lot of different beliefs, many of them in conflict with one another. For us to be so sure that we know Jesus and have a relationship with him, we should be able to articulate from personal experience who he is and what he has done in our lives, but often, we just repeat what we have heard or been taught, because the truth is: We know about Jesus, but we don’t really know Jesus.

Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” -I John 4:15

Some people don’t see Jesus at all. Out of all the ones that do see Jesus, many only see him as a good man or an interesting teacher. When we see Jesus, we need to see him as he really is, in all of his glory and splendor. We need to see him as the humble, loving and faithful teacher that taught and teaches us a better way to do this thing called life. We need to not just say we believe, but prove we believe with the way we live our life, in the things we say and do. When we accept Jesus as God’s son and the perfect sacrifice for our sin, the evidence that it (he) is real is that our relationship with Jesus begins to change, develop and grow us into something more magnificent than we could ever dream or imagine.

We Know That We Know Jesus When:

We see Jesus as God’s Son! Jesus is not just a man. Jesus is the God/Man. Jesus is God come to earth, to live in the flesh, to show us through a living, breathing, physical example how to live, grow and be blessed in this life and for all eternity. And Jesus gives us the way and will to reclaim our rightful place as God’s special creation, made in God’s image and all that comes with that amazing truth. We know that Jesus is God’s son, but we have to do more than know it, we have to believe it and believe it in such a way that it changes our life from the inside-out.

We see Jesus as our Savior! The realization that I can open up my life to God and know Him in a real and personal way is amazing. The belief that I can have my very own personal connection with the supernatural power of the Almighty is incredible. And to think that all of this blessing is found in and through God’s Son Jesus, who made a way for us where there was no way is the icing on the cake. There is nothing we can do to make our messed up selves right with our God, but if we will accept and believe in the gift of His son, Jesus will become our Savior, cleanse us from all unrighteousness and restore us to a real and right relationship with Him that allows His blessing of forgiveness and power to flow to and through our lives.

We see Jesus as… Who or what do you need to see Jesus as today? Stop playing pretend games, get dissatisfied with just barely getting by and get to know Jesus and all the roles He can fulfill in your life by helping you to fulfill all the roles you were created for. Jesus is everything we need him to be and so much more, we just simply have to receive and believe…

Why I Do What I Do!

I still remember taking those test in High School that are supposed to tell you what you are supposed to be when you grow up and mine always indicated that I had the potential to be and do a lot of things, but no real desire or focus in any single direction. I remember thinking, I just wish someone would tell me what to do?

What I really loved was the spiritual life and the idea that we can have friendship with God, but back in those days, there were not many people big on the “personal relationship” part. The focus was more on getting you saved, baptized and into membership of the local church.

I could not really see myself being a Pastor/Preacher/Teacher,, because I just did not think of myself as being intelligent enough and I absolutely hated studying. I thought maybe God wanted me to be a Youth Minister. Down deep in my heart, I knew I was called and gifted by God to be a Pastor/Preacher/Teacher, but I felt like everyone else would judge me as inadequate, because I certainly did not feel that I was qualified or could even become qualified.

I remember a traveling evangelist coming through town and he came and spoke at our school. The story he told was that back in his younger days he had been running with the wrong crowd and one night he was with some guys that decided to rob a store. They all got caught and he went to jail and while he was in jail, he met Jesus and accepted Him as his Savior. The relationship with Jesus changed his life and he was so on fire because of the amazing relationship he had with Jesus. He was in our town for about a week and I remember going to hear him preach every chance I got. I do not remember his name, but I do remember how God began to deal with me and my future in a very real way during that time. For the first time, I knew what I felt in my heart about growing in a personal relationship with God was of vital importance to the Kingdom and we’ve got to start talking about this.

I had accepted Christ at a young age and had been a pretty good boy growing up. My family and church had raised me to know the difference between right and wrong. I generally chose right, because I wanted to be pleasing to God and especially because I did not want to disappoint my Granny or Mother. A lot of the teenage temptations did not interest me, because I cared more about what other people thought and that often kept me on the straight and narrow. (Not for the right reason, but it worked for the most part.)

After the evangelist left town, I really began to grow in my devotional times with God. I began everyday in His Word and I journaled and did my best to pray without ceasing. I can still remember going out at night to have long walk and talks with Jesus. Trying to figure out what He wanted me to do with my life. I remember praying one night: “God if I have to go to jail in order to find your will and serve you, then I am willing to do whatever I need to do.” Looking back, this was the very first time that I truly began to acknowledge God’s call upon my life.

As I grew in my faith and relationship, God began to also make it clear that He wanted me to be a Pastor/Preacher/Teacher for Him and His Kingdom. He showed me that a big part of what I was supposed to do, was just share the relationship and help others get into it and grow through it. So that is how it all started. There is a lot more to the journey, but that will be for another time.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. -Philippians 2:1-4

Today I was thinking about my “WHY?” Why am I a Minister (Pastor/PreacherTeacher)? Why am I a Master Life Coach? Why am I a Mentor? And here are Seven Reasons That Make Up My Why!

1.) God has called me and gifted me to do what I do!

2.) There is a much bigger picture of God and I really do want everyone to get it!

3.) The Bible is more than a book, it’s a love letter full of directions, guidance and instructions for living the blessed life we were created for.

4.) The Church is God’s best plan for us doing life together so that we can encourage, grow and motivate one another.

5.) A Relationship with God really does make all the difference and someone has to believe that, share that and help others get it right.

6.) I’m not perfect and I don’t have to be, because God actually wants to use my imperfections to bring greater glory to Himself and encouragement to others.

7.) I’ve given God plenty of opportunities to give up on me, turn His back on me and/or zap me with a lighting bolt, but every time, He reminds me that His GRACE is sufficient…

When Life Squeezes!

Back when I was working with youth, one of the illustrations I loved to share with them was to take three tubes of tooth paste and challenge three of the teens to have a little race with the tubes of tooth paste, all they had to do was very carefully follow the directions as I gave them and the first one finished with all the tasks would be the winner. Task number one was to sqeeze as much of the tooth paste out of the tube as fast as possible. They immediatly went crazy, squeezing, grabbing, pushing, pulling, rolling, whatever they could come up with to try to gett every bit of the paste out of the tube.

Now for the second part of the challenge and the one that finishes first, will be considered the Grand Champion. Then I would instruct them to put all of the tooth paste back into the tube and immediatly they look at me as if I have lost my mind. Of course I have not lost my mind, I know they cannot put it back easily and that is the point.

I go onto explain that life has a tendency to apply pressure and it will untimately squeeze out of us, whatever we have inside of us and no matter how bad we may want to, it is almost impossible to get it put back inside, out of site and out of mind.

Luke 6:45 teaches us that: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

This is why protecting our heart from evil influence is so important. Life will squeeze you and whatever you have in you is going to come out, so it is best to make sure that we have the right stuff inside of us.

The Bottom Line: When we get our heart right, then we get our life right. A great way to start is by spending time with the Master, learning to think His thoughts and be empowered by His Spirit.

Ask yourself this question and ask God to help you to be honest with yourself and Him abouth the answere: “What’s in your heart???” 🙏🏻