Author Archives: Rich Warriner

Greater Than All

1260873_593950547306643_556081084_nJesus is greater than all. He is the center of the universe. His ultimate purpose is to make His glory, or you could say His matchless worth & infinite beauty, known.

This is incredibly good news for us and here’s why…it means that you are not the center of the universe.

Being the center of the universe is exhausting. You think you have to be like Atlas, the guy from Greek folklore, carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. It’s up to you to make the world go ’round. You have to be everything to everyone. You have to be the perfect dad, mom, spouse, friend or employee. You have to be the perfect leader so you can lead the perfect organization. You have to  be in control and in charge. It’s exhausting.

It’s also exhausting because of all the conflict it creates. You have to work so hard to make sure you get what’s owed you, even if that means hurting people or using them. After all, when you’re the center of the universe, everything revolves around you with all your wants & needs. This creates a pile of broken relationships and its exhausting for everyone involved.

Its so freeing when you let go of everything involved with being the center of the universe and instead begin to align yourself with God’s ultimate purpose. Discover the joy and freedom that comes when you remove yourself from the center and make Jesus & the greatness of His name the center of your life.


What to do when Michael Scott is your boss

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People in authority will do things that make your life difficult.

This can happen in a direct way, such as when your boss demotes you or berates you in front of your co-workers. It can also happen in an indirect way, like when a leader in government makes laws and policies that negatively impact your life.

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Sometimes the intentions are good, such as when a parent disciplines their child in hopes they will behave better. Other times the intentions are bad like when an evil leader inflicts suffering on those they’re supposed to be protecting.

The big question for us, though, is “how should we respond when people in authority make life difficult?” For the follower of Jesus, the answer to that question is always the same: honor them.

Honor is both internal and external. It’s an attitude of humble respect that is accompanied by courtesy and even obedience. When…

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2 Ways to Embrace Fear and Become Courageous

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How many times have you thought, “If I could just figure out how to get rid of my fear, then I’d courageously step out and do that thing I’m afraid to do.

“I’d take that new job, confront that person who’s mistreating me, lead a small group and tell my friend about Jesus!”

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If you were to compile a top 10 list of the greatest stories of courage in the Bible, the story of David & Goliath would make it into the top 3. It’s a classic story.

The underdog takes on the champ. Only David is like a kid on the JV wrestling team stepping into the octagon against a UFC Champion. This fight shouldn’t even be close. But David courageously steps into the ring anyway.

We think courage comes from the absence of fear, but that’s not true. Where there’s courage, there’s always going to be fear. If fear wasn’t present, would…

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Diary of a Wimpy Christian

162717437Religion. Its like being the wimpy, shy, awkward guy in high school who never stops trying to get the attention of the most beautiful girl on campus. But no matter how hard he tries, she never notices that he even exists. Exhausted & discouraged, the guy works even harder, hoping she will at least glance his way. But nothing changes. For all the attention he receives from her, they might as well be living on two separate planets.

Grace. Its like being that same wimpy, shy, awkward guy but instead of him working hard to get her attention, to everyone’s bewilderment, she is the one who loves and is pursuing him. Inflated with a blinding pride, he thinks he’s too good for her and so at first he resists her and tries to ignore her. Eventually though, after her relentless pursuit, he finally lets down his walls, opens up his heart, and invites her to marry him. Incredibly, she says yes to him. A wimpy guy and a radiant beauty.

The scandal is not over. Still puffed up with pride, he once again begins to ignore & neglect her. Thinking that he’s something else, he expects her to be doing all the serving, loving, & giving in this relationship. After all, he silently reasons, she is one lucky lady for getting him in the first place. In love with himself, he chooses success, reputation, and the image in the mirror over her. And yet, with an amazing love and grace, she continues to pursue him anyway…this wimpy, shy, awkward, proud, self-centered man she has loved from the beginning.

And then one day, a transformation occurs. Its as if he suddenly emerges from the fog of his delusion. For the first time, he realizes that he has had it all wrong.  He is unworthy of her. She is more worthy than anything he could ever offer. He has always been a wimpy, shy, awkward guy. She, the most beautiful girl on campus. He deserves nothing from her. She deserves everything from him. With a changed heart, now fully realizing the depths of her love & grace, he begins to live differently. He pursues, loves, & pleases her with his whole heart. Not so that he can win her love but because he now understands that he has her love. He always has…and he always will.


Why You Need to Defiantly Rest

160889930Contrary to what some might think, physically resting doesn’t show how little you care; often it shows how much you care. There is a story in the Bible where Jesus and his disciples are sailing across the Sea of Galilee. Sometime during the night, a furious storm overwhelms them, sending the disciples into a state of fear & high anxiety. Frantically, they do everything they can to keep from drowning. Instead of being at rest, they are simply trying to survive (can anyone relate?).

At some point during their struggle, the disciples remember that Jesus is in the boat with them. However, unlike the disciples, he is the picture of perfect rest. He’s curled up on a cushion having the sleep of his life. The disciples wake him and yelling over the storm they say, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus gets up, commands the storm to be still, and all is OK.

If you have been…

a. running a thousand miles an hour in life
b. nearing the point of burnout
c. stressed & anxious
d. neglecting the more important priorities in life like friends & family

…it might be time for a rest. However, you need to understand something. Whenever you rest physically, be it a day off, a vacation, or a seasonal breather in the pace of life or ministry, there will always be those who will interpret that as a lack of caring…rest anyway. In the story above, Jesus has been serving like crazy and the tank is empty. However, the disciples don’t get it so with shock & disbelief, they exclaim “Don’t you care?!” Of course he cares; that’s why he’s resting. It’s pretty hard to love & care for others when you’re a shriveled up, burnt-out mess.

At some point you have to ignore the voices that say resting means you don’t care about your job, your family, your church, or your community and take a rest anyway. Resting doesn’t show a lack of care, it shows how much you care.

If you’re tired, overwhelmed, anxious, or just out of step with what’s important, one of the best things you can do is stop what you’re doing, take a rest, and turn to Jesus. He promises to bring refreshing & rest for our souls as we do (Matthew 11:28-30).


4 Steps to Change Your Life. No, Really….

booksThey say you can tell a lot about someone by looking at the first section they go to whenever they visit a bookstore. The techie goes for the computer section. The romantic adventurer goes for the fictional romance section. For me, I tend to go straight toward the self-help or self-improvement section. What does that tell about me? There is a lot I want to change or improve. I have books on how to become a better dad, how to better manage my time, how to get freedom from people-pleasing, how to become a better leader, and on & on the list goes. Whenever I read one of these books, I approach it hoping that the following process will take place:

  1. Read the book.
  2. Discover a key, usually in the form of a principle, to change.
  3. Begin trying really hard to live this new principle.
  4. Keep repeating step 3 until voila!… a changed, new and improved me.

If only it were that simple. I think this is the same process for change we often use with other methods. Just change step one from “Read a book” to “Go to a counseling session” or “Listen to a sermon” or “Read a blog”. Are all these methods to change good? Yes. I make a living doing one of them. Does the four step process sometimes bring change? Sure. However, if this process and these methods are all that we are banking on for change, I think we are going to be disappointed a lot of the time. There is another step involved that brings much deeper, longer lasting change. I think it is the most important step. It is to humble yourself before Jesus, confess your weakness, sin, immaturity, or whatever it is you want to change and ask him to help you change.

The writer of Hebrews describes someone in need of change coming before Jesus where they can “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:15-16). Self-improvement where I try really hard to muscle my way through to change? Sure, it might work. But there is a better way. Come to Jesus, humbly confess your weakness to him, and invite his grace-filled power to come and help you change.


Why My Church is Like a Bar

Confession time. I love country music. Don’t judge me. I was a bona fide country music hater up until 5 years ago. But then something changed. Some would say I saw the light; others would say I fell into darkness. Regardless, I’m a fan.

There’s one song in particular that I’ve come to appreciate. It’s a song about a bar. I like the tune but even more I like the way the song brings me back to what I think Jesus would want a church gathering to look like. The song is titled I Love This Bar by Toby Keith. Substitute the word bar for church (and take out a few lines about excessive alcohol consumption) and I think you’ve got a great picture of what a church gathering should look like. Here are some lyrics from the song:

We’ve got winners, we got losers, chain-smokers & boozers…we got yuppies…bikers…thirsty hitchhikers…broken-hearted fools…suckers…high-techs…blue-collar boys…rednecks”

On & on the list goes and then the chorus,

I love this [church], it’s my kind of place. Just walkin’ through the front door puts a big smile on my face. It ain’t too far, come as you are. Hmmm, I love this [church].” Italics & emphasis mine.

Toby Keith’s list of people found at a bar is pretty close to the kind of people we find surrounding Jesus on a regular basis…outcasts, prostitutes, liars, cheaters, religious, irreligious, confused, blue-collar, white-collar, city folks, country folks, and everything in between. Two reasons why Jesus attracted such a crowd.

  1. The outside never mattered to Jesus: he was all about the heart, what was happening on the inside.
  2. Because Jesus was all about love, acceptance, and forgiveness, people instinctively knew that they could come just as they were. No need to get all tidied up. Just come as you are. And they came. They came in droves.

For us who have put our faith in Jesus and are by virtue part of His church, He calls us to be like Him. To be the kind of church where all are welcome to come just as they are. A church that isn’t an obstacle to the unchurched finding Jesus but instead leads them straight into His wide open arms of love, acceptance, and forgiveness. When the church is like this, open to people from all walks of life, regardless of how broken or messed up they are, it will be able to share the Gospel and watch as life after beautiful life is transformed by Jesus.


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