Checking The Compass and Discovering God’s Will

We tend to think of God’s will as an elusive stepping stone out there somewhere that we cannot see and information of how to discover it is being withheld from us. We fear that we are going miss it and sink.  The goal of this message is to embrace that living Beyond Me and discovering a life of purpose is a lifelong journey but very achievable.

Thank you for watching.

Beyond Me: The Compass from Cove Church on Vimeo.

If your local to the Huntsville area and don’t have a church home, we’d love for you to bless us with your presence at Cove Church.  Click HERE to learn more about our Easter Events.

I’m Losing It

Highway-Signs-Confused-Concept

One day last week Brittany, the kids, and I were out spending the day together. I was driving as I normally do. That’s what manly men do right? They do the driving. It’s a given norm to our society. It’s not manly to let the female drive, right? Well, she drives on long trips because she loves to drive and I cant stand driving more than 23 minutes straight. Ok, I’m getting off task. It’s the A.D.D. in me I suppose hence the reason I don’t like to drive more than 23 minutes. Ok, back to the story.

I noticed Brittany kindly letting me know where parking spots were, letting me know about on coming traffic, when the light was green, and to not look at my phone while driving. Finally, I stopped, and abruptly said, “Who’s driving?” We just giggled and enjoyed our day but I may just have to look into having a new law passed and provide her with the first Back Seat Drivers License.

You see, I drive everywhere, every day of my life. Even when we are together as a family, I do most of the driving. But on this fine day, I noticed I couldn’t “just drive.” I had a beautiful assistant looking around for me, looking both ways for me, telling me when to stop, telling me I was going too fast, and “helping” me know when the light was green, all while she would hit the fake brake on her side, clinch the door and create a body language that communicated she was in the passenger seat with a Nascar driver. My wife is honestly a good driver but I have gotten so accustomed to driving that I ultimately had a very difficult time adhering to the support I was being offered.

It’s the same way in our daily lives isn’t it? We have gotten so accustomed to our routines, live in a society that caters to self, have built a culture of self-sufficiency, that it has created an obligation for control. Now in normal daily life, this is acceptable as it helps develop responsibility and commitment. However, it has created an ugly mammoth problem in the greatest aspect of our lives. Spiritually, we limit the power of God and settle in our faith because we feel the need to control so many aspects of our lives instead of surrendering them to the One who can do far more than us anyway.

We feel we must make things happen, make things work, fix problems, and have control over situations. This one is a difficult one for me because I tend to be a control freak. I have had to learn the hard way to render control to people who can perform the task better than I can. We see the need for control damages marriages, business relationships, ministries, and ultimately the Christian believers life in general.

Why is this the case? FEAR

We fear the unknown. We battle with what the outcome of a situation will look like if we don’t try to control it. We are afraid of what doors may open in the situation if we don’t steer it the way we think it needs to go.

What does this fear cause? SETTLING

When we don’t relinquish control into the hands of the King of Kings, it causes us to settle in our faith and miss the great opportunities He has designed for us. We don’t allow the Holy Spirit to do what only He can because we take the driver seat away from Him.

How can we squelch fear and stop the settling? Lose Control!

How To Lose Control

  1. Faith Feature!

Increase our faith! Faith is not just trusting in the Father but trusting in what you do not see.

In Acts 1:6-8 we see the disciples eager to know what Jesus has never told them and then we see a significant answer that not only applies to impacting the world but also impacting our personal lives so we can impact the world.

“Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

While the disciples had good intentions, this was forbidden knowledge for them to have because faith was needed. If he provided them with the knowledge right away, it would not require them to have faith.

  1. Create Courage

Increase our courage. Jesus provided the disciples with the training they needed for the journey ahead before He was crucified as well as after His resurrection. Now it was time for Jesus to return to the right hand of the Father and for the disciples to apply that training.

You see, God has provided us with the training and strength to be able to operate in any journey we have ahead of us. We don’t need to apply more to the journey in order to control it to align with what we believe the outcome should. Instead, we trust the Lord as we take the steps ahead of us and have the faith that in the unknown, He will carry out a much greater will than our own.

  1. Freedom Forever

Increase our freedom. Instead of living in bondage to the need for control in our lives, God desires for us to experience freedom. We only do that that when we lose control. Your life will be much less stressful because you are genuinely trusting the Lord. Your life will be more simplistic because you don’t have to know what is going to happen before it happens. You take the pressure off of yourself and place it in the Hands of the One who can and will take care of it.

When we learn to lose control, our relational vision, marital vision, leadership vision, ministry vision, and life vision will be greatly increased and focused.

Have a great day as you begin losing it!

My Wife Makes The Big Bucks

RyanBritt

Ok, some of you may need to get your yack bag out. Its about to get sappy up in here.

There is absolutely no price that can be put on the phenomenal lady that I share my life with. She is the more precious than any pink star diamond ever to be discovered. When she blesses a room by her presence, it lights up like the Sirius star. The Sirius star is the brightest star in the sky by the way…Siriusly! She truly is my best friend and is the most significant human being I’ve every encountered.

I strive to communicate how insanely incredible she is and how special her life is but I’m going to step that up a notch to show this. I did some work in conjunction with salary.com who tallies what a stay-at-home mom would draw in a paycheck. So I tweaked a few things and here is what I came up with.

Job Title                                             Average Hours per week

Housekeeper                                     20

Cook                                                     15

Day Care Teacher                             12

Home School Teacher                    15

Facilities Manager                          11

Computer Operator                         5

Taxi Driver                                         8

Psychologist                                      9

Janitor                                                 8

Laundry Machine Operator          6

Chief Executive Officer                  3

Staff Nurse – RN                              2

Event Planner                                   3

Nutritionist                                       2

Logistics Analyst                             2

Interior Designer                             2

Bookkeeper                                       6

Administrative Assistant             2

General Maintenance Worker     2

TOTAL = 136 hours

What do employers pay for the same knowledge and skills that moms use every day?

Brittany Epps, for the 136 hours your serve your family (not including the many other hours and the insane of time you deal with my nutty self); your annual salary would be $164,682. Wow, you are so under paid.

That would be a paycheck of $3,166.96 per week.

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This is all just for fun, but it is definitely an eye-opener for us husbands.

Brittany, you are utterly amazing. Thank you! While I cant cut you a big fat check, I know that you don’t mind being paid with those priceless snuggle times with Eli, the ear to ear smiles from Natalee with her tongue sticking out, and the thousands of little moments you capture that confirm your calling as a stay-at-home mom. I am forever grateful for you. I love you!

To all the other stay-at-home mom’s…

God Bless you and thank you for investing many exhausting hours into your incredible little ones.

Proverbs 31:10-31 (NLT)

10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?

She is more precious than rubies.

11 Her husband can trust her,

and she will greatly enrich his life.

12 She brings him good, not harm,

all the days of her life.

 

13 She finds wool and flax

and busily spins it.

14 She is like a merchant’s ship,

bringing her food from afar.

15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household

and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.

 

16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it;

with her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17 She is energetic and strong,

a hard worker.

18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable;

her lamp burns late into the night.

 

19 Her hands are busy spinning thread,

her fingers twisting fiber.

20 She extends a helping hand to the poor

and opens her arms to the needy.

21 She has no fear of winter for her household,

for everyone has warm[b] clothes.

 

22 She makes her own bedspreads.

She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.

23 Her husband is well known at the city gates,

where he sits with the other civic leaders.

24 She makes belted linen garments

and sashes to sell to the merchants.

 

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity,

and she laughs without fear of the future.

26 When she speaks, her words are wise,

and she gives instructions with kindness.

27 She carefully watches everything in her household

and suffers nothing from laziness.

 

28 Her children stand and bless her.

Her husband praises her:

29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,

but you surpass them all!”

 

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;

but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.

31 Reward her for all she has done.

Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

Superman and a Prince

 

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Several years ago, my wife, son, and I were driving down the road headed to church. I looked at Eli in the rearview mirror and made a funny face. My little mini me was only four at the time. Eli looked back at me through the mirror, got a big smile on his face and said, “Daddy, you’re my Superman. You can do anything.”

I about had a head on collision due to the inability to see because of the tears in my eyes. Pride flowed heavy from my soul that day.

Moving forward to my daughter who is now five years old. In these first precious years with my beautiful little girl, we have what we call, “The Princess Chair.” It’s where she lays in my lap with my arms wrapped around her, her head up to mine and whisper, “No matter what, you’ll always be daddy’s little princess.” She grins as wide as the Grand Canyon, nuzzles her head in my chest, and we snuggle for a moment.

Two years ago she began saying something that has me absolutely wrapped around her little pinky. Multiple times a days she now says, “Daddy you are my prince and I will never leave you.”

Now, I’m not about to correct her and say, “No, baby girl, you’re my daughter so that makes me your King.” She can think prince until she is at least 37 years old. Because we dads all know that when 37 hits and another man (prince) comes into her life, he will have to go through the most ferocious trial by fire before I let my little girl out of the Princess Chair.

I pray that I can always be the dad that God desires me to be. My kids and I have a fantastic relationship for which I am super thankful. One element that has created this blessed bond with my children is because of the investment into their lives immediately after birth and on a daily basis. God gets all the glory. While my bride, Brittany, is a rock star mom, I don’t believe that mommy is to raise the children while daddy just brings in the dough and picks up later in life like we often see in our country.

The words I am going to communicate could sting for some that are reading. My intent is not to come across judgmental in any way, but instead to inspire a generation of Fathers to have a raised awareness to this statement:

“Your greatest legacy will not be in your career or hobby, but instead will be the one you leave under your roof.”

Raising, training, investing, and making your child a priority begins at conception.

Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Ephesians 6:4, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”

My heart breaks for the mass absence of fathers in our community, country, and world. Through 18 years of Student Ministry, I have spoken with hundreds of teenagers struggling with the flood of emotions that come from dad not being involved in their lives.

Some of the issues I’ve dealt with over the years are:

  1. Young ladies filling the void of the absence father with the need to always have a boyfriend around their arm and the sexual consequences as a result.
  2. Young ladies continuing to be with guys who treat them badly because they can’t truly grasp that they were created to be honored, valued, loved, and respected. Thus experiencing consequences of dad not being in the home to express these significant aspects to her.
  3. Young ladies with self inflicting pain issues like cutting as well as self image issues such as eating disorders all with the main culprit being dads not being around to bring her the relationship she needs that conveys the message of how precious she is just the way she was created.
  4. Numerous young men sharing that their dads never make time for them and how they cry themselves to sleep over it.
  5. Countless other issues with drinking problems, drug use, sexual abuse, confused identities, emotional distress, uncooperative kids, violence, and underachieving.

The issues are ongoing and many readers will be able to relate in some way.

What is unfortunate is that we are also dealing with dads that are right there in the home, but are not involved in their child’s life.

One 17 yr old girl who also has a 15 yr old sister once told me, “Our dad makes no time for us. I just want to hang out with him. Anytime we ask him to do anything he says he is too busy and gives us money. I don’t want his money…I want him.  My little sister cries almost every day about something related to him.  Have we been that bad that he doesn’t want to spend time with us?” 

When I think about the masses of children in our area alone that I have had contact with without fathers in their lives, it can be mind boggling. So what about nationwide? According to the U.S Census Bureau’s Family and Living Arrangements reports, there are approximately 24 million children in single parent homes. Not all are without fathers in their lives, but what recent reports are showing is that approximately 2 out of every 5 children are now going to bed without a father in their life.

I strongly believe that growing up without a father consistently involved in their children lives is one of if not the main root causes of the social dilemma our country is experiencing.

  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes.  (U.S. D.H.H.S. Bureau of the Census)
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. (Center for Disease Control)
  • 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. (Center for Disease Control)
  • 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes. (Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 14 p. 403-26)
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. (National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools)
  • 70% of juveniles in state operated institutions come from fatherless homes. (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report.)
  • The growing divorce rate magnifies the trend of fatherless families. About 40% of kids whose parents are divorced have not seen their father in at least a year. Ten years after divorce, more than two-thirds of those living with their mother haven’t seen their father for a year.

We see the evidence all across the country.  Boys and Girls with consistently active dads are more ambitious, more successful in school, attend college more often, and are more likely to attain careers of their own. They are less dependent, more self-protective, and less likely to get into harmful relationships.

Now, I realize that not all dads not involved in their kid’s lives are neglectful, but instead have rare circumstances causing him not to be able to be in the picture. I also realize there are many neglectful mothers. That is not my focus today, instead my focus is on the child hurting and crying out in negative ways due to the void of a father in their lives.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

While in my outrage emotional state, I almost wish there were laws that gave strict consequences for parents checking out on their kids. In my protective emotional state, I want to personally go to each one and ring their necks. In my Dream Big emotional state, I want to create a nation-wide program to help the prodigal father.

In all reality, right now I am in an extremely burdened spiritual state that turns my attention towards the victims. While it would be great to help the fathers come back to their responsibility as a parent, I believe the greater need is with those kids and single mothers. Let’s not lose hope in those fathers and continue to love them as Jesus does.

So what can each of us do today and every day?

PRAY:

a. As God burdens our hearts for these children, may we find time to fall on our knees asking God to wrap his loving arms of security, protection, and provision over them. Ask for our hearts to be sensitive to the Lord to discover way ways that our families can help these young men and young ladies.

PROVIDE:

a. Seek for people in the church and community whom can to connect with these young people to provide spiritual and life training and encouragement. It is vital for the young boys and girls to be connected with a same gender mentor who can teach them value, significance and what a Godly young person looks like.

b. For the single mother, may we as a church be available to provide love, resources, encouragement, assistance, and help.

c. For the step-dad may we encourage him in his role and help raise his awareness to the great responsibility that God now has him in. Help him understand the emotions and actions that could potentially be displayed by his new step-children.

d. Student Ministries: Take the time, investment, recruitment, and training to provide a safe haven for these students. Be proactive in connecting them with mentors that will check on them, hang out with them, and be available. Be constant and consistent for them. Be proactive in communicating how much God loves and values them.

PROACTIVE:

It is my prayer that this blog would spur you on to be a part of the solution and just be frustrated with the facts. I pray you will be compelled to be proactive in helping provide solutions for this global tragedy.

SPECIAL NOTE TO DADS EXPERIENCING THIS STRUGGLE:

If you’re a father reading this that hasn’t been involved in your child’s life, you can make things right. I believe in you and know you can overcome the obstacles you’ve encountered.  Not alone, but with the Lords help.  Take a moment to just try, humble yourself, and understand the chaos this has caused your child. Take all the steps you can to express your love to them and ask for their forgiveness. Please don’t fall into the temptation of getting angry or frustrated when they don’t want anything to do with you as you make these attempts. Realize that it will take time and may never be what you desire it to be. Be responsible for you only, man up, and do the right thing. Work on you and get you right. Get plugged into a church that can help you get your life on the right track and make the transition to doing what is Biblically right as a father.

ENCOURAGING NOTE TO ACTIVE DADS:

Those of you fathers connected with your children, involved in their lives and doing your best to disciple your child…thank you! Your investment into your child’s life is priceless. God Bless you and I pray you continue to seek the Lords direction for your family.

 

There are many more statistics, problems, results, and help that could be written about and there are thousands of others books articles, and blogs that help with this as well.   My greatest desire in writing this is to ask you to pray fervently with me for these young people negatively influenced and to strive to be a part of the solution. God Bless you and thank you!

When Your Past Consumes Your Future

Breaking The Chains Of The Past

Is your past hindering your future? 

Do you feel shackled? 

Is your joy being robbed by the haunting of what happened to you in your past? Are you having a difficult time overcoming that barrage of emotions and thought processes that overwhelm you as past occurrences creep into your mind? Do you desire rescue from your island of despair? 

First, let me tell you that you are not alone as I have had seasons through my life where I could be in the same boat as you. Feeling like I had lost the paddles and just wandering around in a large body of water without any ability of getting back to land where I’d be secure once again. Allowing the current of my emotions take me in directions I couldn’t control nor wanted to go. Fear, shame, loneliness and unworthiness entered my world in those moments. 

I am unbelievable grateful for these experiences that have taught me great lessons, developed character, and taught me to pray without ceasing. As a result of my personal victories in this area, I’d like to offer you a bit of encouragement and direction for your weary journey

In these seasons where you feel like your about to drown, you fall into the temptation to take on full blame feeling as it is all your fault. Of course, many of the past hurts aren’t our fault while some current consequences are the fault of our past decisions. You’ve understood that Jesus is always there to throw the life vest but grabbing hold of it seems harder than it appears. Now, your reduced to a scared, insecure person who sometime assumes your not good enough to experience the rescuing power of Jesus. Friends and family say to just move on, grow up, and get over it. We that have been there know that this isn’t the best advice. 

What Do You Do When Your Past Overcomes You? 

I want to offer you the HOPE that I cling to and has helped me overcome my past. 

Before we go any further, read these verses and allow their truth to sink deep within your soul. Read them multiple times until you feel the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit around you. 

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke‬ ‭12:6-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

~You Are So Very Worthy~

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭ESV‬‬

~Live, Dream, & Believe Big, Because God Wants To Use Your Life~

1. Go On A Treasure Hunt: Treasure can be found in your dirt. Brush it off and cling to the King of your life. The Word Of God is the only place to find the treasure to bring Hope in midst of trying times. Decide today to consistently get into the Bible and let the words dive deep into your heart and soon you will see that it will overflow into every place of your life. 

2. Healing Is More Than A Feeling: God wants to bring healing to your life but you cannot afford to continue rehearsing and rehashing the past. Practice His presence in your life. He is always there to lean on and lean into. Learn to lean on the Holy Spirit whom is right beside you every second of your day. Decide today to not give into the emotions that surge during trying times but instead talk to your closest friend who never leaves your side. Pray without ceasing…meaning…every time the emotions rise up, talk to the Father and let His presence comfort you. 

3. Begin Exposing The World to the Gift You Were Created To Be: One of the greatest ways to overcome your past and break the chains of bondage is to put your focus on others. Become an encourager, begin praying for people, and discover ways to serve those around you. Decide today to live in the Victory achieved on the cross. Jesus conquered sin on the cross. Tap into that life giving power and surrender your all to Jesus. 

“Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:15-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Your destiny as a bright star is on the horizon. You were made to shine. I see the need for people to wear sunglasses when around you in the coming days. 😎

30 Day Solitude Challenge

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God is calling us to Himself on a daily basis waiting to shower us with many more blessings than we could ever fathom! But with all the noise & distractions, how in the world do we experience the fulfillment of connecting with the Heavenly Father.

We are a busy, overworked, stressed, and a society full of chaos and noise. I believe one of our greatest needs is to reject the noise and learn the art of solitude.

We see that Jesus understood the importance of solitude all over the New Testament.

Mark 1:35

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

Jesus invited His disciples to share times of solitude with Him. “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” Mark 6:31-32

Will you join me and begin a journey that will be a catalyst to a greater walk with Jesus. During these 30 days, I anticipate big and dynamic experiences in your spiritual life. I wouldn’t be surprised if you experience miracles, breakthroughs, deliverance and transformation. If none of these things happen, you will at minimum establish a more intimate and deeper relationship with your Creator, which is phenomenal itself.

If you accept the challenge, spend 30 minutes in solitude and silence alone with the Father. If you need to break that into 2 or 3 segments in your day, go for it but let your time equal at least 30 minutes. Perhaps you take a walk in the woods, or sit beside a body of water. Even an area in or outside your house may work. Make sure that all your communication and media devices are turned off!

In solitude and silence you’re learning to stop doing, stop producing, stop pleasing people, stop entertaining yourself and to stop obsessing. Stop doing anything except to simply be your self before God and be found by Him.

My prayer is that this plants a seed deep within your soul and it begins a transformative habit in your life that continues well beyond Easter. I can’t wait to hear your story of how God’s sweet presence swept into your time of solitude and reshapes your life.

The 30 Day Solitude Challenge begins Saturday March 18, 2017 and ends on Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017.

Be sure to comment below if you are accepting the challenge. Also, be sure to share this to your social media or send the link to family and friends whom you feel could benefit from this as well.

Blessings to each of you as you embark on solitude for your soul.