When Your Story Takes a Detour

Why I've Paused the Series about God's Will

Commitment. It’s a big thing for me. The way God has wired me, once I make a commitment, I keep it — or die trying. My dedication can be a very good thing. But it can also make it very easy to become over-committed and very difficult to do anything — no matter how good — that might make me look like I’m not committed.


“The greatest ability is dependability.” I don’t know who said it, but I embraced that character value from an early age. So it makes it especially challenging to let you know I need to push pause on blog posts for the rest of the summer.

I’ll be back to finish my series 7 Secrets You Need to Know about God’s Will. In fact, I have a lot more plans  to develop resources to help you live a story worth telling and figure out God’s best for your life.

But I am facing a challenging deadline now to complete my next book and need to focus every minute I can spare into making it great. If I try to squeeze in the blog post series during this incredibly busy season, I am concerned that 1) my family will suffer from never seeing me at all, 2) the book — a defense of our freedom to believe — will fail to have the impact it could have, and 3) the series itself will suffer because it will not get my focused attention.

I am tempted to write a lengthy blog post explaining more of why I need to pause my blog posts until September, but that would defeat the purpose of conserving time. Even as I write these words, I cringe at the thought of not delivering fresh content to you as planned. But the fear of what other people think of us can imprison us and keep us from putting first things first.

Sometimes we have to make tough decisions about where we will invest our time. And sometimes very good things must be put on hold for other Kingdom priorities to get the focus they deserve.

What I am learning during this busy season is that it takes just as much faith for me to admit I can’t do it all as it does for me to attempt to do something great. My story can only become worth telling if I trust God to carry what I cannot while I focus on excelling at doing what I can.

I thank you for your patient understanding and humbly suggest that now would be a great opportunity to grab a sample chapter of my latest book A Story Worth Telling or buy the entire book and close out the summer with a boost to your faith. Amazon is offering it at about 30% off. Don’t know for how long, but you can grab your copy here.

The First Secret You Need to Know about God’s Will

Do You Actually Expect to Hear from God?

If you’re a Christian struggling with a decision right now, you may be asking a lot of questions about what God wants you to do next. But are you actually expecting to get answers or just going through the motions? This post is the first of seven in which I share some secrets I have learned about discerning God’s will for our lives when Scripture does not give us clear direction.


In my book A Story Worth Telling, I share the story of how we decided to move to Atlanta after nearly four decades of living in Northeast Ohio.  I had sensed a pull in the direction of Atlanta for well over a month before I even mentioned it, first to my wife and then to my life coach Dick Savidge (I highly recommend him if you are in need of Christ-centered life-coaching.)

I’m not one to naturally put a lot of confidence in feelings. It’s just not how God has wired me. Nor are feelings all that reliable. But I learned through my years as a pastor and school principal to pay attention to the internal voice that might be the Holy Spirit or my subconscious trying to help me to see something important.

I had made a few trips to Atlanta. I had made a few connections in Atlanta. And I had another sound reason for considering the move — location. My friend Hugh Hewitt drilled the importance of location  into me through his essential book In, But Not Of. I had taught the book for years and even partnered with Hugh on the revised edition.

I was stepping out to serve God’s kingdom-at-large as a writer, speaker, and content strategist. There are few locations that rival Atlanta for Kingdom-related opportunities and no better travel hub with direct flights to everywhere so I could minimize travel time and maximize family time.

Sure, we would be leaving family behind. But Kingdom priorities always trump family loyalties.

We had reached an intersection, a point in life where a decision needed to be made — to stay or to go. My friend and mentor P. Andrew Sandlin was one of my prayer supporters who encouraged me to pray specifically for God to give us great clarity while I was on a trip to Atlanta. And so we did. We prayed for direction — and expected to receive it.

After the trip, I was pretty certain the wise move would be to relocate. I discussed it and prayed about it with my wife. She gave me the green light to go either way.  And so I prayed the prayer of Samuel, “Speak, Lord, for your servant listens.”

You might call it more of a waiting than a listening. After asking all the questions I shared in my eBook What God Wants You to Do Next, the move to Atlanta seemed to be a wise one. I asked God to show me what I was missing, a question I got from John Maxwell.

I sensed no nagging concerns, no suppressed voices I was trying to ignore. And I still recall the moment of decision when I told God, OK, Lord. I don’t know how this is going to happen or what it will mean for us. But I am willing to go. I sensed tremendous peace alongside the fears that always accompany such a step.  And so we stepped out. [You can read more of the story in A Story Worth Telling.]

I have never questioned whether we made the right move, partly because these decisions are not right or wrong decisions. They are wise or unwise decisions, and that decision was bathed in every source of wisdom I could find and aligned with the leading of the Spirit within me.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. (Romans 8:14)

The First Secret You Need to Know

I learned a valuable lesson at that time about God’s will. It’s one I should have understood already. It’s the first secret you need to know when trying to discern God’s will for your life:

Secret #1 — If you don’t expect to hear God’s voice, you won’t attempt to listen.

Scripture tells us we have not because we ask not. I would suggest that when it comes to figuring out God’s best for our lives, we often hear not because we listen not.

We pray for direction, but we don’t actually expect to receive it. It’s more about checking the task off our spiritual emergency list than expecting to get an answer from God.

But when we truly expect to hear from Him, we become more aware of the many ways He may be leading us. We hold all of them up to Scripture as our final authority, but we become more sensitive to God’s nudges and prodding that could come from any number of directions as He sees fit. After all, He delights in using the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.

God guides each of us differently because — news flash! — He wired each of us differently. But none of us can be led by God in any direction and by any means if we’re not first expecting Him to guide us.

Question: Have you ever struggled to hear God’s voice when making decisions? What challenges have you faced to receiving guidance from God? You can share your thoughts with other FaithWalkers by clicking here.

Photo credit: Paul Jarvis

You Too Can Experience the Power of Intentional Prayer

Why Multi-tasking Prayer Leaves Us Weak

The truth is that prayer changes everything, especially you. Yet many FaithWalkers take an accidental approach to prayer rather than carve out time and space for intentional communion with God.

Person in Prayer

They pray as they go through life, sort of like grabbing whatever food is handy throughout the day. That practice may quench the hunger pangs at the moment, but it doesn’t make for a healthy diet. I call it “multitasking prayer,” and it can have disastrous results.

Like texting and driving, it is deceptively dangerous because we appear to get away with it many times before disaster actually strikes. Much research has now demonstrated that texting and driving can slow the reaction time of a driver to the same extent as if he or she were drunk.

I can’t help but think that God must hear our hurried, distracted prayers at times and wonder whether we are more than slightly inebriated.

I’m sure you’ve heard the common defense for multitasking prayer: Scripture tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), keeping an attitude of nonstop prayer, as stuff comes to mind throughout the day. Yet many use this as an excuse to turn from intentional, continual prayer to a set of accidental prayers, which don’t form a full communion with God.

When that happens, we quickly become like the hiker who snacks on energy bars all day instead of pausing by the trail to prepare balanced, nutritious meals. The quick bites of fellowship with the Almighty may satisfy some immediate hunger pang, but if that’s the complete diet, your faith will soon become lean and malnourished, unfit to respond when tested.

The Power of Intentional Prayer

Imagine how your life would be different if you spent three hours every day in focused, intentional prayer.  Most of us believe we wouldn’t get much else done.

And yet here is the counterintuitive way one man described his take on focused, intentional prayer: “I have so much to do today that I will spend the first three hours in prayer.”

The man’s name was Martin Luther. As a key figure of the Reformation, he lived a story of tremendous worth. His thinking leads us to this conclusion: if you think you don’t have time to pray, that’s exactly when you know you should.

Another person who accomplished great things for God, most notably helping to bring an end to the horrific slave trade of his day, was William Wilberforce. Though he seemed to be always in motion, this dynamo for justice recognized that he was too weak to do worthy work when he failed to make time to pray: “The shortening of private devotions starves the soul; it grows lean and faint. I have been keeping too late hours.”

Most revealing of all, Jesus himself regularly took time to step away from the crowds and hurried pace in order to pray (Mark 1:35; Luke 11:1; Hebrews 5:7). Let the weight of that truth sink in.

When God himself, “who was tempted in every way that we are, except without sin” (Hebrews 4:15), walked the earth as one of us, he considered uninterrupted seasons of prayer to be essential for his earthly journey.

The bottom line is this: the FaithWalker who longs to live a story worth telling knows it simply can’t be done without intentionally investing time for faith to find its voice in prayer.

Question: How what place does prayer have in your faith journey? What prayer tips do you have to share with other FaithWalkers? You can share your thoughts with other FaithWalkers by clicking here.

This post first appeared in my book A Story Worth Telling: Your Field Guide to Living an Authentic Life. Thanks to all who gave input on my recent survey. My new series begins on Monday — 7 Secrets You Need To Know about God’s Will. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it.

Photo credit: Dingzeyu Li

5 Questions to Gauge the Health of Your Faith

Is Your Faith a Source of Life to Others?

How do you know if your faith is healthy or not? It’s not as if you can stick a thermometer in your soul. But Jesus gave us a way to measure the faith within us — by evaluating what flows out of us.


In John 7:37-40, we find this account of Jesus’ teaching:

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive,for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

In the days of Christ, even more so than in Western civilization today, water was the stuff of life. If you didn’t have it, life came to a halt.

Being thirsty was a far more common experience then. And yet each of us knows what it feels like to thirst for fulfillment and true soul satisfaction.

How Can I Help You? A 3-Question Survey

Your Input Is Vital to Creating the Best Resources

I mentioned in a previous post that I am preparing a series of posts to help readers through the process of discerning God’s will.

A Compass for Direction

Not a week goes by that I don’t get questions about the topic or meet with Christians who are struggling with various aspects of this issue.

I’ve counseled believers for the last two decades on this issue and learned a lot of lessons the hard way as I worked through my own faith journey. So I’ve given a lot of thought to what I can share that might be helpful to you.

My latest eBook What God Wants You to Do Next and my latest traditional book A Story Worth Telling both begin to unpack direction in this area.

But, candidly, I want to know what you need. How can I best be a help to you? 

The only way to find out is to ask: Would you be willing to complete this 3-question survey?

Take the 3-Question Survey

It will take less than 30 seconds and greatly help to determine the best direction for posts and helpful resources in the months to come.

Feel free to offer more input in the space provided.

Thank you for your help!

9 Ways Truth Causes Faith to Thrive

In spite of recent events and rulings by the United States Supreme Court, truth still matters for those seeking to live authentic lives of abundant faith. When our beliefs are focused rightly, faith can move us to live a story worth telling. But when our faith falls for propaganda, our story inevitably suffers for it.

Os Guinness, author of A Free People’s Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future, says this about attempts to find freedom apart from truth:

The sad fact is that without truth and virtue, those who proclaim freedom and set out to do what they like often end up not liking what they have done.

Truth causes faith to thrive, while propaganda always destroys in spite of false hope, good feelings, and the best of intentions.

Yet how often do we engage the source of truth? Jesus himself said that the Word is truth. It claims to have all we need to equip us while out on the trail following Him. But do we use it?