Final week of reposting for the summer of 2014.  Beginning next week, I’ll be back with fresh. all new posts.  And soon I’ll be explaining exactly why I was taking off from blog for the summer and what BIG things you will be hearing from me soon.  So stay tuned…

In case you didn’t know this about me, I love bananas!  I love to eat bananas.  I love to put bananas in my cereal.  I love to drink banana smoothies.  And I especially love my wife’s fresh-baked, homemade, banana bread!  You could say I’m bananas for bananas [sorry… couldn’t resist].

But despite my love for bananas, there was a time recently where the last thing I wanted to see was a banana.  Someone gave me a banana and it almost made me vomit.  Why?  BECAUSE IT WAS ROTTEN!

You see, even though I love bananas and would love to be given a banana at any time… I never ever want to receive a rotten one.  And if you give me a rotten one, it might just make me sick.

So no matter how much I might be craving a banana, if the one you have is rotten, PLEASE DON’T GIVE IT TO ME!

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“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and GREATER WORKS THAN THESE HE WILL DO, because I go to My Father.” (John 14:12)

Did you ever think about how that verse could possibly be true?  How could we do “greater works” than Jesus Himself?  The One who walked on water?  Fed the multitudes with 5 loaves and 2 fish?  Healed the sick and raised the dead?  Is it actually possible for me to do “greater works than these?”

I say YES!  And in Part 2 of the Living Your Strengths series, I tell you why I believe that.  Check out the video above and see for yourself how you can DISCOVER YOUR GREATNESS.

Living Your Strengths

This is a guest post from Mark Shawky - a graduate in Health Administration and life coach with a passion for helping others discover their best selves. You can follow him on twitter, @Shawky_Mark.  And if you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.

jesus-in-hospital

Sickness is one of the very few things in life that can push you face down into the mud—even when you are already on your knees. I distinctly remember my doctor scribbling something in my patient folder, then gravely lifting her head and giving me a clear diagnosis. I was 23 and optimistic about treatment; 10 months later, I went into remission.

During the recovery process, I learned that enduring any kind of illness is truly a journey.  Some ailments may be cured through a regiment of fluids, chicken soup, and aspirin.  Others require a more intensive, long-term treatment plan.  Unfortunately, I experienced the latter.

The illness spared me no mercy: my body and mind were both diseased.  Yet in the midst of my struggle and on the path to recovery, I also discovered my soul and spirit were just as ill. I knew better than to question God about my circumstances, so I didn’t.  I simply expected to get better and trusted that God would bring me through the fire. What I did not expect was that the heat of the fire would melt away my spiritual bondage and renew my mind, soul and spirit in a powerful and dramatic way.

Through my illness, God showed me that my own mind was held hostage by resentment, anger, insecurity, and grudges— all which did nothing but poison my life.  It took a debilitating disease for me to awaken to the negative way in which I was living and thinking.  I did not know what it meant to be thankful until I was no longer able to leave my bedroom to see what I could be thankful for.  I did not truly know what it means to forgive others until I was incapable of feeding myself and had to rely on others for even my most basic needs.

Until I realized that I could not purchase better health or peace of mind, I did not truly understand the meaning of the phrase, “money cannot buy you happiness.”  Until my life depended on it, I did not know what God meant when he said, “trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5).

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Every now and then I read a passage in the Bible that just clicks.  One sentence will speak volumes and resonate on so many levels.  Today was one of those days.  This morning I was reading John 12 – the story of when Jesus went to visit the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus just after raising Lazarus from the dead in chapter 11 (see John 11:38-45).  The part that struck me was this:

jesus lazarus

“But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.”  John 12:10-11

Lazarus had a great miracle happen to him.  He was raised from the dead by Jesus after being dead for 4 days in the tomb.  That isn’t the kind of thing that happens every day – even Jesus was alive on the earth.  And now that he was alive, he was a living testimony to the power of Jesus.  The chief priests were trying to tell everyone that Jesus was a bad guy or at least a normal guy at best.  Their message was “don’t follow Him.  He is nothing special.  Keep living your life as usual and don’t pay too much attention to what He is saying.”

But when Lazarus walked into the room, their message became much less effective.  Lazarus was a walking billboard – shouting out JESUS IS THE REAL DEAL!  JESUS IS ALL-POWERFUL!  JESUS IS GOD!  You couldn’t escape it as long as Lazarus was alive.

So the chief priests tried to kill him.  They hated his guts because he stood in direct opposition to their message.  Without saying a word, he was a bringing many people to believe in Jesus just by his very existence.

Are you Lazarus too? 

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God didn’t create you to be GOOD at everything, but He did create you to be GREAT at something.

That’s the premise of the latest series at The Well called LIVING YOUR STRENGTHS.  The idea is that yes, you can do whatever you want it if you try hard enough – but that doesn’t mean that you can do it WELL.  Based on the highly renowned Clifton StrengthsFinder ® assessment, the Living Your Strengths series will help you identify your God-given strengths and how to use them for your growth and for God’s glory.

God created us all uniquely – with different strengths – in order that the Body of Christ would be complete. The Church – including YOUR church – needs everyone’s strengths in order to be operating at full strength and fulfilling God’s mission in the world.

Living Your Strengths

This is a guest post from Dr. Mena Mirhom - a schizophrenia researcher at Columbia University and psychiatry instructor for Kaplan Medical, who has guest posted on my blog before.  You can follow him on twitter or facebook or at his own personal blog.  And if you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.

Robin Williams

The news of the passing of Robin Williams took the world by surprise. How is it possible for one of the most iconic and brilliant comedians of our childhood to commit suicide? How could someone who brought us so much JOY, have so much hidden PAIN? When the explanation is “he had depression,” we sometimes can’t help but trivialize it by pointing out irrelevant things like…“But he had it all!”, “He was so funny!” or “He was so involved in charity!” 

There are realities that the death of Robin Williams will hopefully force us to face. Continue Reading…

Searching for Hope

August 13, 2014 — 7 Comments
A couple more weeks left in the summer and that means I’m still going through some of my favorite reposts from the past two years.  God willing, I’ll be back to all new content starting in September and then I’ll tell you all about the “special project” that I’ve been working on all summer long.  Hope you enjoy this post about a topic that everyone in the world could all use a little more of today…HOPE.  Enjoy!

HOPE.  What is it?  Where do I find it?  How do I get it?  And if I do get it, how do I keep it?  Why does that guy seem to have so much of it and I have so little of it?  Is there really such a thing as hope in my situation?

Of course we all know the “right” answers to these questions.  It’s easy to rattle off some Bible verses and spew out a few stories and then declare “so just hope in God.”  But do we really believe that?  Do you really believe that?

The honest answer for me?  Yes and no.  At times, yes.  And at other times, no.  There are those times when life seems to be going well – not perfect, but at least moving in the right direction.  Economy is up, career is progressing, and relationships are stable.  Life is good.  At times like that, it’s easy to talk about hope and tell others about hope as well.  Hope is ours.

But those “good” times seem to occur much less frequently than the “bad” times don’t they?  The economy seems to be down more than it’s up.  My career has more bumps than I expected.  And my relationships (or lack thereof) seem to be a constant source of stress and anxiety in my life.  Where’s hope then?

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