Love and Lordship – God and Me

Every one of us has a story.  Every one of us likely has a point in that story, probably several, where God’s story and plan for our lives intersected our story.  Whether we recognized it or not, whether we accepted it or not creates the story of where we are right here and now, today.  Mine is no different and as we begin to dig deeper and unpack more of the Love and Lordship message that He has laid on my heart I want to share a bit more with you about my story. 

The “All-American” Life

I grew up in a very churchgoing (every time the doors were open) Christian family as an “all-American” kid. I got good grades, played the piano, sang in choir, played sports, and was sheltered from much of the world.  My life consisted of family, church, school, basketball, and the farm…AND not necessarily in that order! 

Ah, church!  Well that was just as much a success pursuit as anything else.  Early on in Sunday School class or Christian Service camps, we’d get a gold star for attendance, extra points for the number of Bible chapters read, even more points for Bibles verses memorized. While I loved the little prizes we’d get and competitions we’d for these spiritual endeavors, the best part was the recognition it would bring.  This carried over into Christian Camp every summer as everyone “oohed and aahed” whenever I would tell how many chapters were read and how many verses memorized.  And with all those points my team could win!  This was awesome.

It all looked and sounded good but early on it was rooted in my pride and flesh.  You don’t tell a hyper-competitive boy or young man that he can win by reading and memorizing the Bible and doing the most service projects.  I worked hard to accomplish the next challenge, always for The Lord and Church, of course.  With every win it led to more prideful church service or volunteering in the community, which made the church, my parents and family…and me…look really good!

I spent much of college and a few years beyond thinking I knew more than God and pursued the athletic lifestyle of the world.   I chose to do relationships and sexuality my own way and as long as I went to church with my girlfriend(s) and treated them nicely then surely God was okay with it.  Partying was fine as everyone else was doing it.  The enemy and world were all too willing to accommodate as I kept up the façade of the nice, “all-American,” Christian young man.

Assuaging My Guilt

Whenever I stepped outside my own ever-expanding boundaries and felt a bit guilty I would simply show up at church, quote a few Scriptures, enter into some spiritual conversations, sing in worship and enjoy a nice message, most of the time, although occasionally it hit way too close to home for what I was experiencing.  With my guilt assuaged I would walk a little straighter line for a while and eventually end up back in the same patterns, places and people.  It was a cycle I could live with…for a while.  

Along the way doors opened for several opportunities to pursue “my dream” of professional basketball—overseas and in the USA.  Life was “good” and most anyone would have thought that I was a nice guy with a winsome attitude, athletic success, and a good heart!  God knew better.

God’s Persistent and Patient Pursuit

He first got my attention at the Athletes in Action training camp in May 1987.  Mike Sigfrids, Assistant Coach (and Discipler), gathered us on the first day of training camp and explained that while we were going to be playing world-class competition in what were then the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, there was a greater purpose.  He told us that while many of us were there to further our basketball pursuit and careers, they would awaken us 15 minutes early every morning on our four-month tour. Although they could not force us to, they asked us to spend those 15 minutes reading The Bible, praying, and meditating, with them holding us accountable on a semi-weekly basis.

I fully agreed with Mike’s comments about pursuing a basketball career; after all, I’d just returned from Ireland where I’d held basketball camps and toured with professional players across the country with great success.  Doors were already opening, but God was up to something else.

As I listened to Mike, The Lord spoke to me.  It wasn’t audible, but very plainly He dropped these thoughts into my mind: “You think you’re here to further your basketball career, but this is what you’re really here for.”  I thought, “OK” and began to take to heart what Mike (and The Lord) said.  I began that day in May 1987 to study God’s Word daily, to pray and to apply that Word to my life.  I have continued every single day for 33 years in His Word, in prayer, and time with Him.

God’s Gracious Faithfulness

I’d like to say the change was immediate, but most of us know that The Lord usually works patiently through discipline over time. That’s discipleship.  He had my attention, but I was still playing the game of church while enjoying the fruits of sin as I continued partying, imbibing and indulging my fleshly desires for a season longer. 

God was faithful.  He continued to use the consequences of my own selfish choices and actions as I reaped what I sowed. He graciously and patiently broke me completely and captured my whole heart over the next 14-15 months.

Through a series of consequences brought on by my own actions, I found myself weeping openly on my bedroom floor in confession of my sins.  As I wept I had a vision of a Roman soldier pounding nails into hands and feet on a wooden beam. As the camera in my mind panned out I saw Jesus’ blood and tear-stained face and the Roman guard’s face was mine. Hebrews 6:6 flooded my mind!

Remember the “competition” of Bible reading, memorization and serving in my younger days?  While I may have done it for selfish, prideful reasons, God did not waste any of it!  As I mentioned, I’ve spent every single day for nearly 33 years in God’s Word, and by His grace the verses, stories, and lessons have come flooding back in with new and renewed insight and power. Every bit of the Love and Lordship message and ministry comes from His Word by His Spirit in His Authority.

Growing in God’s Good Grace

As I spent time in His Word and presence, He began to shift my thinking from professional basketball to pouring into young people (in particular boys and young men) and continued to prune and shape me.  Once again I “heard” God say to me, “I need someone to help raise up Godly men, marriages, and families because the enemy is wreaking havoc in these relationships and crippling My Church!”

So, right at the doorstep of realizing my dream of professional basketball player, The Lord clearly guided me to help raise up Godly men, husbands, and fathers—disciples of Christ!

I spent the next 14 years in teaching, coaching, and administration in public and private schools.  I then shifted for the next eight years into directing a non-profit Sexual Risk Avoidance program and then transitioned into building the Kentucky Marriage Movement with The Family Foundation over the last nine years. 

All throughout, God has been calling me to disciple others in His Love and Lordship. He has encouraged and equipped me to teach others to seek Christ as Lord and walk as His disciples, building up Godly men and marriages, and faithful husbands and fathers.

Throughout the years of learning and growing, God has shaped and pruned me as well as this message for His Kingdom purpose, and He continues to confirm the calling.

The Hope and Prayer of Love and Lordship

My hope and prayer is that your knowledge of the Bible and personal relationship with JESUS will grow exponentially as you commit to and engage in His Love and Lordship.

Far too often, nearly every single man and couple that I counsel, mentor, or speak with come from a church background (past and present) and has very little idea what Christ’s Love and Lordship means according to His Word.  They attend church and often are in a small group.  Their children attend children’s and youth ministry and they sign up and serve, but their understanding of God’s Word is lacking at best and usually nearly absent and it is very evident in their life and relationships, especially in their marriage and family. 

This is a wake up call to the modern-day American church to place the priorities of discipleship in loving relationships, beginning with marriage and family in the home, above attendance, conversions and success.  This is not occasional teaching on marriage as one man/one woman for life but prioritizing it in everything that is done.  Teaching, building and holding accountable young people, those unmarried, married and divorced to the high standards of God’s Word in relational and sexual purity and integrity; for ALL to honor marriage (Hebrews 13:4).  To seek and extend the high calling of relational servant-leadership in Christ’s Church to those who have lived accordingly (1 Timothy 3:4-5).

Love and Lordship is a ministry and message that calls those who claim Christ as Savior and Lord to display the image of God in these four standards in their life and relationships:

  1. Christ as Lord in all things reflected in…
  2. Loving Marriages/Families/Relationships that leads to…
  3. Relational Servant-leadership first in marriages and families and develops…
  4. Generational Discipleship in personal life, family, The Church, and culture.

We want to encourage and challenge those who will take this to heart to allow it to drive them to Christ, His Spirit, and His Word, into a relationship with Him as Lord and relationships with all others that reflect His Love. 

My prayer and desire is to lead people into a deeper relationship with Him and in their marriage and family and in all relationships to strengthen His Church through His Love and Lordship!

“Natural devotion may be all very well to attract us to Jesus, to make us feel His fascination, but it will never make us disciples.  Natural devotion will always deny Jesus somewhere or other.” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Make it a great day and God bless in Christ!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – Christ’s Lordship and Love are not only imperative but necessary in our lives and relationships.  How have you thought about these elements of your relationship with Him in your life?  What is the evidence in your life of His Lordship and Love?

Love and Lordship…Action Item – Take some time this week to write down one thing that you are doing each day that helps you grow your relationship with Him as Lord.  Write down one thing you could do better to know and love Him with all your being.