Starting Over (Part 4) Release It
by Andy Stanley

This is the last message in Andy’s four-part series Starting Over. In this episode he explains how to release the past. This is to ensure that next time won’t be like last time. What we mean by that is if you’re in a stage of life where you’re starting over academically, professionally, a new marriage, a new relationship, a new neighborhood, a new city, you’ve wrapped up something that didn’t end as well as you thought it should, in fact you hope nobody finds out about it. If you find yourself having to start over, this is the series for you.

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Video Highlights

Here are some highlights from Starting Over (Part 4) – Release It by Andy Stanley:

This is the last message in Andy’s four-part series Starting Over.  In this episode he explains how to release the past.  This is to ensure that next time won’t be like last time.  What we mean by that is if you’re in a stage of life where you’re starting over academically, professionally, a new marriage, a new relationship, a new neighborhood, a new city, you’ve wrapped up something that didn’t end as well as you thought it should, in fact you hope nobody finds out about it.  If you find yourself having to start over, this is the series for you.

At 2:03 Andy talks about moving from rethink it to release it:

In order to start over in such a way that next time is better than last time you got to own it, rethink it and release it. Remember that the circle of blame that explains why your marriage failed, why the business failed, why you have so much debt, why school didn’t go the way your wanted it, to why she broke up, you know here’s all the blame. Essentially you know there’s part of it that we’re to blame and then there’s part of it where other people are to blame. At every failure, every junction, every transition in life where things didn’t go well there’s something we got to own. There’s part of it that we got to blame.

This week I want to talk about the rest of this pie so when we talk about owning it, that’s the part that you’re responsible for. Not dealing with this enables the person who hurt you to smuggle their issues into your future! You actually allow the people who hurt you, deceived you, lied to you, you allow them to actually influence your future. None of us want the people who created chaos in our lives either in childhood, or that last job, or that last neighborhood, or the last team or that last school.

At 4:54 Andy talks about two questions that need to be asked:

So here’s two questions I used to ask people all the time and they never had a good answer for.  I think they are important questions as it relates to moving on.  The first question is how far into your future do you intend to carry the angst created in your past?  The second question is how long do you plan to allow the people who mistreated you to influence you?  Another month, another marriage, another season, your whole career?  We don’t plan it, we just live it.  We have bad attitudes, and we have all these fears and anxieties, and we don’t trust people, and we’re angry and we have a short fuse.  We’ve allowed the people who’ve hurt us most to kind of follow us into our future.  How long do you plan to allow the people who mistreated you to influence you?  Have you ever met somebody and they’re like kind of living a wrinkle-free life, you know everything just kind of perfect and then you hear their story?  They have some like big gargantuan ugly monster of a thing in their past and you think to yourself, I would have never guessed.  When I meet people like that I always ask this question how did you get peace?   100% of the time is because they decided, they decided, they made up their mind.  They decided that their past would remind them, but it would not define them.  They decided somewhere along the way, as bad as that was somehow they found the courage or the power or the insight to decide to make up their minds.  I have a dear friend with one of those stories and I asked her how did you get from there to here?  How did you get to this point where when people meet you they would never guess that’s part of your past?  She said I decided, I decided there was enough pain in life, I wasn’t going to drag that along with me the rest of my life.  It wasn’t worth it, I decided there’s going to be enough new pain why in the world would I want to drag that around with me the rest of my life?

At 10:57 Andy talks about two questions that need to be asked:

You’ve got to find a way to let go of the past, release the past, so your past will inform your decisions, but it will not control your life.  The way you get there is you forgive, you forgive.  Forgiveness allows us to leverage the lessons of the past without lugging around the luggage from the past.  Ephesians 4:26 says, “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry”.  Paul admits there is an appropriate place for anger, but there’s a way to be angry and not to sin.  Put in the name of the person(s) who have hurt you, now let’s read it again, in your anger do not sin, do not let the sun go down while you’re still angry and do not give “Frank” a foothold in our life.  Do you really want to give the person who hurt you the most staging ground in your life?  You’re not a victim, you don’t have to spend the rest of your sad story. Paul says get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, slander along with every form of malice.  He says be kind and compassionate to one another and there’s our words, forgiving one another.  The only way to break the chain between what has been done to you and your future, the only way to pardon the person who hurt you is to decide to pardon them.  I don’t hold you accountable, you are free to go, you’re not following me into my future.

At 21:34, Andy concludes talking about releasing and pardoning:

You aren’t pardoned, you are forgiven.  The reality of forgiving the people who’ve hurt us the most is not simply because they deserve it, they probably don’t, but because God in Christ made that very same decision for you.  This is amazing, God does not factor your sin into his relationship with you.  He freed himself of the burden of looking at you through the filter of your sin by choosing to pardon you another way.  Your future relationship with God isn’t shadowed by your past sin, he disconnected your past sin from his future relationship with you and now Paul says we have the same opportunity.  Andy recommends you to make a list of what they owe you.  You need to get specific and write down exactly what they owe you.  You need to say what did they take from me, they took my childhood, your opportunity to raise a child, your advantage of your high grade point average, they took away, they took away.  Here’s what you will discover when you start your list, it will be longer than you ever imagined and as you make your list some of the energy is going to come out of your story.  When you finally make a list, here is all that they took from me, here is all that they owe me, something powerful may happen inside of you.  That’s when you can hold that out, not to them, they don’t have to be a part of this.  You decide you don’t owe me anymore, you know what else you’re going to discover?  Most of what they took from you, they can’t pay you back.  How ridiculous to spend your whole life waiting to be paid back something that can’t ever be paid back.  They can’t restore what was taken, so why hold over someone’s head a debt they couldn’t repay even if they wanted to.

Until you own this, you’re going to have a very difficult time releasing and pardoning.  The good news is if you do this your past will remind you, but it will not define you.  You can move on, release the past and the past can release you.

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Starting Over (Part 3) Rethink It
by Andy Stanley

Sometimes we look at our past and our decisions don’t even make sense to us. In this episode Andy explains how to transform our thinking. If you’re starting over with anything or you’re about to start over, you’re just coming out of a bad job situation, a bad marriage situation, bad relationship situation, you are wrapping up a really bad semester in school, financially made some bad decisions and here you are starting over. What we’re talking about are some things that you can do to ensure that next time won’t be like last time, at least as it relates to your part in the equation.

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Video Highlights

Here are some highlights from Starting Over (Part 3) – Rethink It by Andy Stanley:

I’ve seen in my own life when it comes to starting over there are three essential things you have got to do to ensure that next time will be better than last time. We talked about the first one where you got to own it in part two of this series. Today we’re going to talk about you got to rethink it. When you own it you can’t blame your way into the future. It means you got to take full responsibility for whatever your part was and whatever you’re having to restart, and this is difficult for us because we all love to tell our sad story. You get no sympathy when you own it.

At 3:21 Andy talks about moving to rethink it:

Today, we are moving on to rethink it. When you think back on the thing that you’re having to restart with whether it’s relationally, financially, professionally, academically or whatever it might be, at some point along the way (even when it wasn’t our fault) we ask ourselves, what was I thinking? Here’s the amazing thing when we look back, our decisions don’t even make sense to us! When we look back and go, I should have seen this coming, what in the world was I thinking. So, in order to ensure that next time isn’t like last time you got to ask the question, what was I thinking. My observation is this, very few of us camp out on that question long enough to come up with an answer. It’s just sort of a statement, what was I thinking, and on we go. I think we intuitively go, you know kind of laugh it off, what was I thinking. But I am telling you, I can’t overemphasize this, stopping to come up with a real answer for that question is a key to ensuring that next time won’t be like last time. Here’s why, because if you think the way you used to think you’ll do the things you used to do, it’s just that simple. Chances are history is going to repeat itself, maybe even in the areas where you say very little of the blame belongs to me. You owe yourself an answer to the question.

In Romans 12 the Apostle Paul is writing a letter to the Christians and says, therefore I urge you brothers and sisters of God’s mercy to offer your bodies (not just your mind or intentions) as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God and this is your true and proper worship. It not about killing animals, it’s about living daily moment-by-moment. Here’s what he says, do not be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed. You have got to pay attention to what you are thinking and when you look back you need to answer that question because you are transformed by the renewing of your mind. So basically, to renew means to restore your mind. All of us at some point have promised God and made commitments to God and because we never answered the question we just move right on into our own future. One of the reasons we don’t spend time with this is because renewal takes time, that’s why. If you want to be transformed, it’s not simply a matter of the will, it’s not simply a matter of discipline, all that’s part of it, you’ve got to renew your mind. Time is your friend.

Please take a year off and renew your mind, you need time. You can’t just keep slapping on a new commitment, a new prayer and all that’s good but you never answered the question what was I thinking. What if I meet the right person? You’re not the right person, you’re not ready for the right person because you’re not the right person. If you meet the right person they’re not going to like you, you need a year off. I’m telling you hit the pause button, you’ve been in the emergency room emotionally, you’ve been in the emergency room in terms of just what’s going on in your life. Don’t make any big decisions, it’s going to take time, hit the pause button. It’s common sense and everybody know it’s true. So, I ask you Christians a question, do you want to know what God’s will for you is? Then you got to take time and renew your mind. If you think the way you used to think, you’re simply going to do what you’ve always done.

At 18:35 Andy outlines the seven lethal assumptions:

1. If I find the right person everything will be all right.
2. This is my situation and it’s unique.
3. It’s not right but it makes me happy and God wants me to be happy.
4. If only I had, then I would be satisfied.
5. I owe is better than I want.
6. My secret is safe with me.
7. Just for fun sex will solve it.

At 27:25, Andy concludes with a question you need to ask yourself:

So, here’s the question you got to answer before moving on. What were you thinking? It’s not enough to ask the question, you’ve got to answer it. Don’t start anything new, don’t jump back in because until you have taken off the old and put on the new you’re never going to get where you want to go. The good news is this next time really can be better than last time through the renewing of your mind.

»Watch Part 4 – Release It by Andy Stanley

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Starting Over (Part 2) Own It
by Andy Stanley

We are in the second part of this series called “Starting Over” and the subtitle is “How to ensure next time won’t be like the last time.”  I am going to talk about three processes that you have to engage with to make sure that next time is better than last time.  The three go like this, own it, rethink it and release it.  Today we are talking about “own it.”


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Here are some highlights from Part 2 of Starting Over from Andy Stanley.

In order for you to ensure that your negative history doesn’t repeat itself, you have to own your role in your negative history.  You have to pause long enough to actually own your responsibility on what was your fault.  Own that you are part of the disaster, whether it was professionally, romantically, relationally, academically, or whatever it might be.  Now the reason we don’t do this is because (let’s face it) there’s nothing to own, it wasn’t your fault.  There’s something in you and something in me that says, you know, there’s a better story to tell and I don’t want to tell a story about how I screwed up.  I’d rather tell a story about how unfair they were and how dishonest they were and how they always kept me off balance.  I don’t want to talk about me, I want to talk about them.   Your best bet for a successful future is to own your share of your past.  If you’re part of the human race it is in you to blame other people, and to blame circumstances and to blame somebody else.  It is in you to just ignore your part and to get so enamored with your story that people cry, write checks and offer you jobs.  We don’t stop long enough to ask the question, what was my part?  God said to Adam and Eve in Genesis there is just one rule.  See that tree over there, don’t eat from the fruit of that tree.  But then they broke the one rule and here’s what Scripture teaches, that when they broke this rule, you got messed up, and I got messed up and sin entered the world.   When they heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden they hid.  When we do something wrong we hide from people around us because of guilt and shame.  Adam and Eve hid from God and so he asked them have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?  The very first thing the first two people in the world did after they sinned was blame somebody else.  We all want to tell a story that’s mostly true, we just don’t tell the whole truth.  After you tell your story that’s 90 percent of the truth long enough, you start to believe it’s the whole story and you hide.  If you don’t own your part of your own history you will lay the groundwork for undermining your own future.  If you don’t pause and take responsibility for your part in your history, the part of your history that’s caused you to have to start over, you will drag it with you into your future.  You cannot blame your way into a better future.  Blame enables us to smuggle our issues into our future.  Blame allows you to smuggle your dysfunction, your habit, your poor relationship skills, your poor decision making skills, your family issues, your stuff into your own future.  That’s why it’s deadly, that’s why you just can’t do it.  That’s why before you start over you’ve got to stop and ask some really difficult questions.  What was my part and you have to own it.  When you own your part of the past you gain clarity.

At 19:10, Andy concludes this message:

There’s a relationship between purity and clarity.  The purer your heart is, the cleaner your heart is, the more work you’ve done to clean out the junk. To get rid of the stuff you’re hiding, that you’ve never owned up to and are afraid to admit, my part, I can’t stay as mad.  I can’t stay as angry about their part and you begin to see clearly and you’ll make better decisions.  Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.  As long as there’s something that you’re hiding, as long as there’s impurity in your thinking or your past, you lack the clarity you need to ensure that next time is better than last time.  At 20 minutes into the sermon Andy invites you to go home and draw a circle that represents the sphere of blame and put in it everything that contributed to the fact that you got to start over.  This is huge to make peace with your past, to move on without your past dragging you down.  To make peace with your past by owning your piece of your past.   I kept telling myself I could handle this but the truth is it was handling me.  It’s embarrassing, emotional, difficult and I’ll warn you it’s going to take energy out of your story, but you’re going to gain clarity you’ve never had before about your own future.  So, if next time is going to be better than the last time, then you got to own your part of what went wrong.  As you write it down you will think of something else and the more you write the clearer you’re going to see.  Your story is going to begin to lose its energy but you are preparing for the next time around.  Don’t smuggle the past into the future, own it.

»Watch Part 3 – Rethink It

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Starting Over (Part 1) Three Myths
by Andy Stanley

What do you do when life falls apart? This message in his four-part series explains how to pick up the pieces. The title of this series is “Starting Over” and the subtitle is “How to ensure next time won’t be like last time”. How do we be sure next time won’t be like last time? Keep listening to this message for the answer.


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Video Highlights

Here are some highlights from this message about Starting Over from Andy Stanley.

If you are starting over a relationship, you just lost your job, you flunked out of school, these can all be start overs that are completely your fault or other people’s fault.  There are some basic things that if we all just do right the next time, we will all definitely do better than the last time.  There are certain mistakes you only make one time and then you’ve learned your lesson, and in areas that matter the least we seem to learn the quickest.  But we repeat our mistakes in the areas that matter most.  The areas of finances, relationships, things we do with our kids, things we do at work, things we do at school and after we repeat the same mistake a few times and suffer the same consequences we ask ourselves this all important question, “when will I learn?”  Life has enough unavoidable pain, I mean if you made every one of your decisions perfectly, you’re still going to have pain in life.  There are still going to be disappointments in life, things are just going to go wrong sometimes.  So when I see people make unnecessarily bad decisions financially, relationally, professionally, academically, it just kind of breaks my heart.

At 4:39, Andy continues to talk about the Three Myths:

I am going to give you three things that you just absolutely got to do if you want next time to be better than the last time.  Myth number one is that it’s called the experience myth.  Experience does not make you wiser, it makes you older!  It makes you tired, it makes you poorer, it makes you lonelier, but experience alone does not make you wiser.  You’ve watched friends make the same mistakes over and over and over, they never learned anything from the past, so experience doesn’t guarantee anything except that you’ve just possibly wasted some time.  But evaluated experience can be a game-changer.  Evaluated experience sets you up for success.


The other myth is called the “know better” myth.  Since I know better I’ll do better now.  There is an assumption we have, that we know the difference between right and wrong now and then we’ll automatically do better.  But know better does not equal do better, right?  Here’s why this is important when you think about starting over, you can think I’m wiser now that I know from this experience.  In many cases, knowing better doesn’t equal the ability, or the power, or the self-control to do better.  So simply knowing better doesn’t mean you’re going to do any better next time around unless you evaluate your experience and unless you make some personal changes.  This is why for many of you, your last bad relationship reflects your current bad relationship.  You keep thinking what’s wrong with all these people I’m dating?  You have to ask yourself the question, now that I know better what must I do before next time to ensure I actually do better.


The third myth is the time myth and this is the toughest one.  The clock is ticking, I’m not getting any younger, all the other people my age, all my friends, so we think the clock is ticking and I need to get on with it.  Times a wasting, I’ve learned my lesson, I know better, I’ve had a bad experience, I’m ready to jump back in, I’m ready to restart, I’ve learned my lesson and I’ll never go there again.  I got to get with it because the clock is ticking, time is my enemy and that is absolutely false!  In fact, of all the myths this is the most destructive one.  Time is your friend and this is true of just about every kind of transition.  When you’ve gone through something difficult, either because of a decision you made or a decision someone made about you, the truth is, you’re a little bit out of balance.  Before you make another big life decision you need to find balance.  Emotions are like a temperature, they go up and they come down.  You’re carrying a little anger, you’re carrying a little bit of resentment, you’re carrying a bit of jealousy, you’re carrying stuff you don’t know about so consequently you’re a little bit off balance.  When you are in pain emotionally you become very self-absorbed.  It’s not your fault, it’s the nature of pain.  Some friends going through some tough times end up talking about their tough thing every time you have a conversation with them.  That’s part of the healing process, but self-absorbed people make self-absorbed decisions.  So consequently, jumping into whatever’s next before you’ve allowed the temperature to come down is a dangerous thing.  When you have clarity, you make better decisions and until you have clarity you have no business making decisions.  There are things that you need to hear before you move on to whatever’s next.  The reason people rush is because they are convinced personally that their situation is different.  Your circumstances and challenges may be unique, but you’re not.

At 20:50, Andy concludes this message:

What I want for you because many of you are going to have to start over with something and you might as well get it right.  You might as well allow God to redeem (which means add value to your past) instead of you looking back and thinking what a complete waste of time.  In round one of everything it’s just really about us.  Then we discover life’s not perfect, there are no perfect marriages and there are no perfect kids or perfect families and life is just messy.  If you will allow God to do something between round one and round two before you start over, you will move into the next phase or season of your life with a sense of destiny, there’s a sense of divine destiny that God’s up to something and there’s a sense of humility.  I’m going to work hard, I’m going to set goals, I’m going to do my best, but I’m doing this under the canopy that God is up to something and I’m giving God all the credit.  I don’t feel like everything hinges on me anymore, I already did that once.  The next time can be better than the last time.  God’s grace is as big as anything that’s happened to you or anything that you’ve done.  God can work and use all things in  the future and potentially benefit you and benefit someone else.  In all things God works for the good of those who love him.  God can leverage purpose out of anything if you invite him, but if you rush, there will be nothing good that comes from it until you’re finally willing to submit and to surrender to the Heavenly Father who loves you.

»Watch Part 2 – Own It

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He Loves Us
by Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley asks what God thinks about when God thinks about you.  What you think God thinks about you really has a huge impact on what you think about when you think about God.  I generally think that God thinks about me basically what I think about me.  We live and think as if God takes his cues from us.  Here’s a big idea, what if God doesn’t take his cues about you from you?

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Here are some highlights from this message about prayer from Andy Stanley.

We learned a long time ago as children that our behavior matters, doesn’t it? Our behavior influences the way people think about us. Our behavior sets us up to keep and make great friends. Our behavior sets us up to be successful relationally, whether it’s in romantic relationships or just relationships in general. So, it’s natural for us to think, well since behavior matters to everybody around me certainly my behavior must matter to God.  I bet when God thinks about me he picks up the filter of my behavior and he looks at me through the filter of how good I’ve been. The other thing that’s similar I think that influences the way we think God thinks, when God thinks about us, it’s just culture in general. If you don’t perform well things don’t go so well. You’ve got to perform at school, work, in the marketplace, relationships and marriages. You may have never ever have experienced love that was not performance-based. What I think about me, what people think about me and the way the culture treats me all revolve around this little word “do”. We tend to operate emotionally as if God looks at me through the lens into the filter of what I do. But what if that’s wrong, what if God doesn’t take his cues from you?

At 7:17, Andy continues to talk about what God thinks when God thinks about you:

Here’s what God thinks about when God thinks about you. Ready, he loves you and he couldn’t love you anymore. Nothing you do (there’s that word nothing), are to do, or have done, or planned to do could make him love you less. God loves you no matter what you’ve done, but God doesn’t love you because of what you’ve done.

Maybe it’s more unconditional than you ever thought unconditionally possible. Now everybody struggles with this idea of what does God think about him. Is it possible that God could really love me no matter what I do and that God couldn’t love me more? Nothing I could do could make him love us less.

Jesus found himself between two groups of people, the law keepers and the law breakers. The people who felt like they were close to God because they did everything right, and the people that felt like they would never know where they stood with God because they did most things wrong. Both groups thought God’s opinion about them was shaped based on their behavior and Jesus did everything in his power to explain to them, you’ve got it all wrong.

At 17:49, Andy talks about Jesus using three parables to teach:

Jesus begins by telling them three parables. A parable is a made-up story Jesus made up to make a real point to teach something that’s absolutely true. The third parable was a father who had two sons. The younger son asks his dad to liquidate his share and write him a big check so he could go and spend it however he wanted. The son took everything (his inheritance) and he spent it. Eventually he had to get a job and there was a famine and he lost that job. He was hungry and his friends left him and they came and repossessed his things and the only job he could find was feeding pigs. Luke 15:17 says, “When he came to his senses he said, how many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare and here I am starving to death.” He realizes his father treats his servants better than his boss was treating him. He said I will go back to my father. He’s not expecting to go back and be a son, he’s just looking for a job. While he was still a long way off his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:18 says, “Father, I’ve sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” The father said to his servants to bring the best robe and put it on him, put a ring on his finger, sandals on his feet and instantly he’s the son again which means the father never withdrew him being a son in the first place. Verse 23 states that the father has the fattened calf killed so they can have a feast and celebrate.

At 41:54, Andy concludes this message with the following statements:

If this big idea goes from here (head) to here (heart), it will impact every single one of your relationships.  You will forgive faster, you will forgive yourself faster.  I’m eyeball to eyeball with someone that God loves so much he sent his son to die for, how dare I mistreat someone who’s the recipient of that kind of love.  You’ll think different about poor people, about people who are ethnically different than you or speak a different language.  You may begin to see your kids different, your spouse because suddenly you realize, wait a minute, we were all hopeless and God loves us all.  He couldn’t love us more and he has taken sin out of the equation and his salvation is available to anyone who receives it. But even for those who don’t receive him, God loves you and he couldn’t love you any more.  Nothing you do could make him love you any less, but he doesn’t love you because of anything you’ve done.  What God thinks about when he thinks about you and me, is that he loves us, He just loves us!

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Discovering God’s Will 3
by Andy Stanley

God has a will for our lives and he wants us to know and in most cases He wants us to know it worse than we want to know it. One question is how in the world does God speak to us through Scripture and how are we to use the scripture to determine and discern God’s will for our lives?

God’s never going to lead you to build a boat and put in a couple of all the animals. You probably won’t be in a situation where you are to march around a building or a city seven times and it fall right down.

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At 11:23, Andy Stanley’s Message talks about how God doesn’t do anything the same way twice:

God doesn’t do anything the same way twice.  Have you noticed that we just look around the room at all our different faces?   You know there’s never an exact same snowflake and there are over 600 kinds of beetles.   I mean God is a God of variety and so the odds of your situation paralleling the situation of someone in the Bible and therefore you do exactly what they did that that’s not the best way to use scripture.

Isaiah wrote, he said for My thoughts and speaking for God for My thoughts are not your thoughts in other words God saying and this isn’t new news you saying we don’t think alike but we don’t think alike about anything.  My thoughts are not your thoughts and my ways are not your ways.  In other words, the way you would normally do something is not the way I would normally do it.  The way that you would normally respond to circumstances is not the way I would normally respond to the way you handle yourself and finances and family.  What comes very natural to you and what seems very logical to you God would say is not my way at all declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts then your thoughts.

Before you start making decisions and before you even entertain asking the question God what is your will you need to know right up front we don’t think alike.  What is naturally intuitive to us may actually lead us astray in the situation since we are using our own reasoning powers. When it comes to discerning God’s will our logic from God’s perspective may be illogical. To make a decision as it relates to relationships when our heart is telling us something and our heart is leading us in a direction it may very well be that that’s not the direction God would have us lean it all.  We can’t necessarily trust our hearts, and we can’t even necessarily trust our ability to reason, and we oftentimes can’t trust our intuition when it comes to discovering God’s will on all three accounts we come up short because God’s ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts.

At 13:57 Andy Stanley talks about three things to consider on decisions:

There are three things that come to bear on the decision one is you know the context in which are making the decision, the second is your perspective and the third is the outcome.

Every time we make a decision it is limited to what we know and what we’ve experienced.  So there’s a limitation in terms of perspective.  Our perspective is impacted by our desires and our fears.  What if we had the perspective that started in eternity past and went right through this life into eternity to the future? What if we had the opportunity to peer into a mind that knew the outcomes of every one of our options and outcome of every decision.

In the scriptures what God has given us is a slice of His thinking, and in the scriptures God has given us a piece of His mind.  In fact He’s giving us more here than we will ever comprehend in a lifetime and in doing so here’s what He said. I want to broaden your context, I want to add to your experience, the experience of hundreds of thousands of men and women who have come before you.  Here is page after page of what happens when men and women trust me and what happens when they don’t trust me.  God has invited us to look into His thoughts and look into His ways to become so familiar with His thoughts and His ways that over time our thoughts become His thoughts and our ways be become His ways and in doing so we learn to discern and sort out God’s will for our lives.

At 26:50 Andy Talks about What You Reap is What You Sow:

Whenever you make a decision it is going to cross with or intersect with one of the principles of God’s Word. You reap what you sow, in other words whatever you put into something you can expect to get something similar out.  The second one just an example this is the book of Proverbs says he who walks with the wise grows wise the companion of fools suffers harm. The third one is to raise up your children the way there to go and when they’re old they won’t depart from it.

The principle of unconditional love. Unconditional love is the most powerful force on the human soul.   Nothing leverages change at the level of unconditional love that where there’s hurt and where there’s rejection and where their sorrow massive doses of unconditional love have the power to change and reshape the human soul.

Whenever you make a decision, it is going to cross with or intersect with one of the principles of God’s Word, the way things work, and the more familiar we are with the ways of God the easier it is to discern the will of God when it comes down to making a decision.


When you become familiar with my thoughts and familiar with my ways your ways will begin to mirror my ways your thoughts will begin to mirror my thoughts you’ll become more like me and you will be able to figure out my will for your life which is my heart’s desire.

Heavenly Father I want to figure you out and to learn to anticipate what you would have me do as I learned to sort out and discern your will for my life.

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Discovering God’s Will 4
by Andy Stanley

Why is this important to me? Why should I keep listening to this message?

God wants you to know what He wants you to do.  He wants to be involved in the decision making process.  It’s not the big decisions that get us into trouble allot of time, it’s the small decisions that not only get us into trouble, but also determine the direction of our life.

God will direct and guide you in your life by giving you a big picture vision for your life.  God has a picture of what He wants to see happen in your life, your dating, your marriage, your finances and all areas of your life.

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Video Highlights

Here are some highlights from Discovering God’s Will by Andy Stanley:

Lord, what is the big picture for my marriage?  God what do you want to see down the road in terms of my relationship with my children?  Give me a vision for what you want to see happen to me professionally.  Give me a vision of where you think I need to be financially, and as you begin to ask that question, and as you begin to draw on the resources that you already have you will begin to bring into focus a mental picture of what could be, and you will believe should be in each of these areas of your life and here’s what happens.  The vision gets clearer and the options get fewer and the decision gets easier and that’s how it works.  A vision is the big picture and its destination is where things are going to end up.

At 8:19 Andy continues on the vision of marriage:

As you define what marriage could be, and what should it be, you begin to define and describe that so it gives you a clearer vision of what marriage could be and should be for you and it automatically eliminates allot of potential people from your life.

What could be and should be for us as a family financially.  What could be and should be in terms of how we give and how we save and how we prepare for the future and the clearer the financial vision comes into focus the fewer options there are.

At 20:12 Andy teaches on Nehemiah Chapter 6:

As Nehemiah said in chapter 6, “I am doing a great work right here and I cannot come down”.  Anything that would distract him from rebuilding the wall was not going to distract him.  This guy, Nehemiah, clearly know what God had called him to do, rebuild the wall.  Anything that contributed to rebuilding the wall was a yes and anything that would distract him from rebuilding the wall was a no.  Decision-making was very easy for Nehemiah because once he had the big picture of what God ultimately wanted to have happen all the options prioritized themselves.  There were very few options so it was easy to decide, the message was simple, “I’m doing a great work and I cannot come down”.

Three quick points of application.  Number one is would you be willing to at least being praying that God would give you a vision for your life and the key areas?  Just ask Him to help you see your finances in three to five years the way You’d like for them to be.  Give me a picture of what You would like to see my marriage or my relationship with my kids 35 years from now.  Secondly, write it down as a sentence or paragraph.  Over time and years it will change and God will shape it and conform it.  He shares at 32:58 in the sermon the third thing is to act accordingly, you begin making decisions based on what you could be and should be in your future and anything that moves you towards what it is that God has called you to be.

At 33:24, Andy concludes with thoughts on the vision for you life:

The good news is that the crisis is the bad news.  The good news is that God allows, creates, causes and endorses overwhelming scenarios in our world so that we can discover God.

The problem may not be gone, but you handed it off because the battle is not mine.  The battle is the Lord’s.  We bless your name Lord, not because the enemy has disappeared, but because you handed it off and you’re going to let God run with this.  You’re going to call Him down from heaven because heaven rules in spite of the situation.

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God Wants to Talk With You
by Rick Warren

Without communication there is no relationship. How do you tune in to hear God speak to you? Rick Warren shares three reasons why it’s important to hear from God. He also shares how to grow in your relationship with Jesus.

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Video Highlights

Here are some highlights from this message about the importance to hear from God by Rick Warren.

Rick shares Luke 8:8 “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Why is it important to hear from God?

  1. It proves I’m in God’s family.
  2. It protects me from mistakes. Proverbs 3:6 “Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, and everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.
  3. It produces success in life. Psalm 32:8 “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  I will advise you and watch over you.”

At 7:54, Rick says there is a best pathway for your life:

Rick Warren says there’s a best pathway for your life, but there’s a different pathway for everyone else’s life.

How do you hear God speak?

In Luke the farmer represents God, the seed represents what God wants to say to you, and the soil represents my heart or my mind and how receptive I am to hearing God.

At 10:40, Rick asks If I want to hear God speak to me I must:

  1. Cultivate an open mind.

Be willing, ready and eager to listen.  Luke 8:5 says, “A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up.”  The footpath between rows gets compacted and pushed down from foot traffic so any seed scattered there has no chance of taking root.  The birds come along and eat the seed.  Luke 8:12 says, “Those along the footpath are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes along and takes away the word from their hearts, so they cannot believe and be saved.”  There are three barriers that represent a closed mind that are shared at 14:28 minutes.  Number one is pride.  We don’t want to listen because we don’t think we need His help.  Number two is fear.  We are scared of what God might do.  The third is bitterness.  A heart grows hard and cold when you hold onto a hurt and become defensive.  When you forgive someone you are the one that is liberated, not them.

  1. I must make time to listen.

When you are in a hurry you cannot hear God.  You have to slow down if you are going to hear God.  At 20:28 minutes into the sermon he shares Luke 8:6 “Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock.  This seed began to grow, but soon it withered and died for lack of moisture.”  Luke 8:13 says, “The rocky soil represents those who hear the message with joy.  But like young plants in such soil, their roots don’t go very deep.  They believe for awhile, but they wilt when the hot winds of testing blow.”  The shallow soil represents a superficial mind.  You get excited and react emotionally, but are not transformed.  At 26:15 minutes he explains how you develop spiritual roots.  First you spend time daily with God.  Second you get involved in a weekly small group.  Hebrews 10:25 says, “Don’t give up the habit of meeting together; instead, let us encourage one another.”

  1. I must eliminate the distractions.

Luke 8:14 “The seed that fell among weeds stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way, they are choked by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures, and they don’t mature.”  You can’t always be on the go if you want to hear God.   Three things that choke out hearing God is shared at 32:00 minutes.  They are worry, riches and pleasure.  The soil with weeds represents a preoccupied mind.  If you are so busy making a living you don’t have a life, there is nothing to live for.  God rarely yells, He whispers so you need to be listening.

  1. I must cooperate with what He says!

God speaks to people who decide in advance that they are going to do what He tells them to do even before He tells them.  God doesn’t give you His will and His word so you can debate it.  In advance you need to say your will be done.  I am saying “yes” Lord in advance.  Luke 8:15 says, “The seeds that fell in good soil stand for those who hear the message and retain it in a good and obedient heart, and they persist until they bear fruit.”  The good soil represents a willing mind.  How do you bear fruit?  You tell somebody else!  At 41:18 minutes he shares Luke 8:15 “…they listen to God’s words and cling to them and steadily spread them to others who also soon believe.”

At 46:54, Rick Concludes his message:

Rick Warren prays, “God, I want to hear your voice.  I want to be good soil.  I want to cultivate an open mind.  I want to be receptive, to listen to you every day.  To be quiet and listen.  Saying “yes” in advance to you Jesus.  I want to follow you and know you and trust you.”    He shared the story of the Chilean miner that was trapped with his fellow co-workers in the mine.  He was the only believer but before they were rescued he had led twenty-two others miners to find faith in Jesus.  He was spreading to others who then did believe!

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Claiming Your Legal Rights
by Tony Evans

It is clear that you and I live in an environment in a world that has been contaminated by sin bringing about a smelly way to live.  A polluted world which leads Jesus to identify a widow in a parable, a woman to make an astounding principle.

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Video Highlights

Here are some highlights from Tony’s message about the world we live in:

When you are in a putrid environment because you’re breathing it and so there’s no way to get away from it, in Luke 18:1b it says, “Men are to always pray and not to faint.”   Men are always to be in communication with God because your ongoing breathing in prayer will keep you in good air even though you may be living in a bad atmosphere where the vultures are circling.   Men are always to maintain contact with God like breathing.  It should be so normal that you’re doing it even when you’re not conscious you’re doing it.  Prayer is an atmosphere of operating in connectivity with God.  If prayer is an atmosphere, if it’s a breathing, then that means you’re in contact with God as a normal way of functioning, not just as a scheduled activity that you do.

At 7:46, Tony talks about a judge who does not fear God nor men:

In Luke 18 we’re told there is a judge who does not fear God nor men.  In other words he doesn’t care what God thinks and he doesn’t care what people say because he is the judge.  There is a widow in the story and we know that her husband has died.   When Jesus tells the story he picks the weakest scenario he can pick because in the Bible the lowest of the low are the orphans and the widows.  The fact that she has to plead her own case means she has nobody in her circle of influence who can stand up for her, she must stand up for herself.   This widow needed legal intervention, she needed the law to work for her.  For awhile the judge was unwilling and didn’t want to be bothered.   The judge didn’t fear God nor man, but if he didn’t do something about this lady’s problem she’s going to keep coming to me.  Every time I show up, she shows up, every time I have another person’s case she brings up her case. He said I’m going to give her legal protection, not because I want to give her legal protection, not because I care about this woman, I want her off my back and I want to protect my reputation.  So therefore, I’m going to intervene in her circumstances.

At 20:19, Tony talks about how God brings justice to his children:

Luke 18:7 says, “And will not God bring about justice for his elect, who cry to him day and night?  Will he delay long over them?”  If an unrighteous judge who doesn’t care about God nor men will bring legal protection to a stranger to protect his reputation, how much more will God bring about justice to his children.

Luke 13:11 says, “And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years.  She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself.”  Jesus saw her and said to her, woman you are freed from your sickness.  He heals her on the Sabbath and she began glorifying God. But the synagogue officials indignant because Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath began saying to the crowd in response that there are six days in which work should be done.  They’re saying Jesus you’re out of order for healing this lady on the Sabbath.  Jesus said there is a legal relationship I have to this daughter, because there was a covenant made with Abraham by God that God would bring healing to his people in covenant with an Abrahamic agreement when the problem came from a spiritual source.  The woman was bent over, but her medical condition was tied to a spiritual condition.   Jesus told them this woman is a daughter of Abraham who Satan has bound for eighteen long years.  The devil had so intervened in her life that her physical problem was tied to a spiritual dilemma.

We wonder why God hasn’t come through yet because we have not yet appealed to our legal right.  Why haven’t we appealed to our legal right?  We don’t know our legal right and if you don’t know the law you can’t appeal to the law.  The widow knew the law and says because the law is in place I am going to bring the law to bear.  If an unrighteous judge will submit to the law, even though he doesn’t have regard for God or for man, how much more will a righteous God who is committed to the law appeal to the legal cause of his people.

At 23:48, Tony concludes his message on Claiming Your Legal Rights:

What gets God’s attention is not him simply feeling sorry about you in the situation you’re in.  It’s not merely Him seeing you cry.  It’s not merely him seeing you’re depressed.  What brings heaven down to earth in the situation you may be facing is calling down your legal right.

God has obligated himself to his own word.  God is always going to operate in concert with his own law.

Some of us have been struggling a lot longer than we should be struggling.  Why?  Because we’ll talk to God about stuff, but we will not call on God in terms of what he has written.  God is committed first and foremost not to your feelings, not to your circumstance, he is first and foremost committed to his rules, his regulations, his guideline and his law.

So you ought to speak to your situation, but in the name of God.  By your words you ought to speak his words into the situation because God is not bound to what you think, he’s not bound to what other folks think, he’s not bound to how you feel, he’s not bound how other folk feel.  He’s not bound to what you’ve been raised to believe or what other people think you ought to believe.

He’s bound to his own words and that’s the only thing that he will commit himself to.

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Trusting God In The Darkness
by Tony Evans

What do you do when uncertainty is in front of you. When you feel like you’re falling apart at the seams? It’s only human to be afraid but Christians have the option to be superhuman. You have to choose to trust God in the dark.

It isn’t hard when life is sailing along, but when your problems pile up to the point where you can’t see where you’re going it can be difficult to hold on to hope.

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Video Highlights

Here are some highlights from this message about Trusting God:

Habakkuk is a prophet who’s confused and he has some questions.  Habakkuk 1:2 says, “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?”  Anybody ever felt like God is taking too long?   One problem that he is facing is that God is taking too long to come through.  Even the prophets struggled with the slowness of God.   God was not only moving too slow but his movements were very confusing.  God responded in verse five “Look among the nations, observe and be astonished, wonder, because I am doing something in your days you would not believe it if it were told to you.”  So now there’s a double problem, God is taking too long and Habakkuk couldn’t understand what He was doing, and the little bit I do know it’s not fair.   Habakkuk 3:2 says, “Lord, I have heard the report about thee and I fear.”    Habakkuk felt God was taking too long, he was confused, it’s not fair and he was afraid.  Habakkuk 3:16 says, “I heard and my inward parts tremble at the sound, my lips quivered, decay in my bones and in my place I trembled.”  He was a wreck as he knew the future looked dim.

In the last three verses Habakkuk shares, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, though there be no fruit on the vine, though the yield of the olive should fail, though the field produced no food, though the flock should be cut off from the field and there be no cattle in the stall, yet I would exalt in the Lord.  I will rejoice in the Lord of my salvation.  The Lord God is my strength, he has made my feet like the deer’s; he makes me to walk on my high places.”

At 8:43, Tony talks about viewing negative situations in your life:

From the world’s standpoint there are three options given as they look at negative situation in their life.

  1. Resign yourself that that’s the way it is.  That’s the way it’s going to be.
  2. Detachment…they distract themselves so they don’t have to think about it.
  3. Bravado…I can take it…I can handle it…I’m not going to let life get me down

Habakkuk in verse 18 says, “I will exalt in the Lord.”  He says even though I have questions, even though I have my confusion, even though I don’t see a solution in sight, and even though God does not make sense rather than pretend that nothing is wrong I am going to exalt in the Lord.  I am going to trust in the reliability of God even when I can’t see him or what he is doing.

When you trust in the reliability of God you appeal to two things.  One is his character (what he is like) and his works (what he has already done for others).   His methods vary but His abilities don’t.

At 18:56, Tony concludes his message on Trusting God:

Everyone has the choice as to whether you will choose to believe God.  Don’t get a headache over it when you can’t solve it.  Don’t stay up all night trying to figure it out.  God knows how to tell you what he wants you to know.  If he’s not informed you anything you need to go to sleep and stop fussing, cussing and complaining and be silent before the Lord.   Let him do what he’s going to do.  In your confusion, lack of clarity, emptiness, your despair, you worship.  You simply say Lord, all I can do is adore you because I have no explanation for anything that’s going on right now.  God calls for an act of faith.  God invites you to keep your eyes on him as he did Peter when he invited him to walk on the water.  He may not get rid of the storm but you’ll be walking on it, it won’t be walking on you.

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