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“Soul Caffeine” has moved to www.DaveWillis.org

Hey Friends, thank you for faithfully following the blog here at “Soul Caffeine.” I’ve created a new website where I will be putting all of my new content and I hope you’ll check it out. The site is http://www.DaveWillis.org and I pray it provides a consistent source of hope and encouragement to you!

I’ll still be doing my best to deliver “Caffeine for your Soul,” but I’ll just be doing it from a different address. Thanks again and God bless!

The Face of Courage

Tonight, I got a phone call from my friend, Lewis Sport. On top of being one of the nicest guys I know, he’s also one of the most inspiring. Lewis and his wife have a five-year-old son named Tavi who has been battling Leukemia for the past two years. Here’s a picture of Tavi at his Fifth Birthday Party. He’s definitely the World’s Most Courageous Pirate!

This family is so inspiring not just because of what they’re going through, but because of how they’ve chosen to respond. Instead of letting this daily struggle bring them down, they’ve chosen to trust God, lean on each other and look for opportunities to bring hope to others during this trial. For instance, Tavi often visits a friend of the family who is battling breast cancer and on his latest visit he encouraged her with the words, “Stay Strong!” 

Even in the midst of his own pain, this remarkable young man is giving strength and hope to others.

Tavi and his family are able to stay strong, because they’re relying on a strength that can only come from God. They’ve made a decision to trust God no matter what! They know that even though we live in a broken world, we serve a Perfect God who will one day set all things right, and in the meantime, they can cling to His Promises which include these:

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the LORD; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

“And we know that God works everything together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.” Romans 8:28

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 

If you are going through a difficulty in your life right now, whether it’s Leukemia, or Divorce, or hardship of any kind, I pray that you will rely on the same Loving God that has brought so much Peace and Strength to Tavi and his family.

For all of you, I ask that you join me in praying for this amazing family. Pray for Tavi’s healing, pray for the family’s strength and pray that God would use their trial to bring strength to them, Glory to Himself and inspiration to millions around the world!

I’ll close with Tavi’s own words from a recent prayer…“God is Great, God is Good, God, please help me feel better, because I love you.”

Tips that will Strengthen (and maybe Save) your Marriage.

*Husbands, Love your Wives Well! Your children are noticing how you treat her. You are teaching your Sons how they should treat Women and you are teaching your Daughters what they should expect from Men.

*Someone once said, “Being in love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Whoever said that is probably divorced! The Truth is that husbands and wives must be quick to forgive and to humbly seek forgiveness from each other. “I Love You,” “I’m Sorry” & “I forgive you.” should be said often.

*Be VERY careful about having friends of the opposite sex. If you have a “friend” that you tell things to that you don’t tell your spouse, then you are creating toxic situation. Affairs don’t start in the bedroom; they start with conversations, emails, texts and communication that lead down a dangerous path. Protect your Marriage!

*Don’t be jealous of somebody else’s Marriage; invest in your own! If the Grass looks Greener on the other side, you need to stay home and water your own grass.

*Don’t complain about your Spouse’s flaws…they are the very reasons why he/she didn’t find a spouse better than you!

*Husbands and Wives must love each other regardless of their imperfections. Loving your spouse does’t mean that you approve of everything that they do, but it does mean that your commitment to them is bigger than all of their flaws.

*”If you want to travel fast, go alone, but if you want to travel far, go together.” -African Proverb

*A marriage only works when both partners are fully committed. When only one spouse is doing all the work, it’s like trying to swim with one arm tied behind your back…you only go in circles. Work together. Serve each other. Always Love each other.

*If your Spouse breaks their Vows, give them your Forgiveness instantly, but give your Trust Slowly. The first part is called “Grace” and the second part is called “Common Sense.”

*Dont try to fix your spouse or change your spouse; just Love them and let God take care of the rest!

*Husbands and Wives must love and accept each other unconditionally…“Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.” Romans 15:7

*Hey Husbands, if you want to improve things in the Bedroom, start by serving your wife in other rooms of the house. Something as practical as doing the dishes or folding laundry could end up being good foreplay!

*Don’t build your Marriage on your feelings which will constantly be changing. Build your Marriage on your Faith in God and your undying Commitment to each other and your feelings will usually catch up.

*When you make your marriage vows on your Wedding Day, you didn’t use words like “Maybe” or “Unless”. Marriage never works if we’re thinking of an Exit Strategy. “Til Death do us Part” is the best and only way.

*If you’re willing to leave your spouse for another person, in terms of your Character, it’s not much different than taking your children to an orphanage and trading them in for other kids whom you find more attractive or polite than your own kids.

*Don’t focus on improving your Marriage…Focus on improving Yourself, serving your Spouse and growing daily in your relationship with God and your marriage will start improving on its own!

*Married Couples often say things were more fun “back when they were dating.” Don’t stop dating your spouse just because you’re married! Bring the fun back and make “Date Night” a priority!

*Your words have the power to build up our spouse or to tear them down; to bring out the best in them or the worst in them. Choose to be their biggest Encourager. Choose to forgive and seek forgiveness from them. Choose to speak words of Life and to build your marriage.

FOR MORE encouragement and practical tips for your marriage, please connect online at www.facebook.com/strongermarriages

Which One is Your Team?

I live in the South where college football is practically a Religion for a lot of folks. People look forward to Saturdays where the tailgating and trash talking leads up to a battle on the field, and if your team wins, then you’re going to have bragging rights in the office on Monday!

Now, there are all kinds of Life Metaphors you could draw from sports, but something happened with my kids at a game last years that changed my perspective. We were living in Florida at the time and some good folks at our church had given us tickets to the Florida Gators game agains the Kentucky Wildcats. Since I’m a Kentucky grad, they knew I’d be interested in the tickets, and even though UK is more of a “Basketball School,” I still cheer for my Wildcats all football season long (even when they’re getting beat by every other team in the SEC)!

This was a big family moment for us, because our two young sons had never been to a College Football game. We let them pick out whatever they wanted to wear, and because their team loyalty hadn’t really set in yet, they chose an outfit that really confused me. They wanted to wear a Kentucky Jersey and a Florida Gator hat. They wanted to cheer for both Teams.

I didn’t take the time to explain to them that this was crazy, because we were already running late. Once we got to “The Swamp” in Gainesville, Florida and started weaving our way through drunk college students to get to the stadium, people started noticing my kids’ creative wardrobe choice and then looked at me like I was committing some form of child abuse! Few things will confuse an intoxicated football fan like seeing somebody cheering for both teams at the same game.

As the the night went on, and my boys saw that everybody there was cheering for one team or the other, I used it as a teaching moment to explain that in life, we need to know which team we’re on!

In the scope of eternity, which team you like on Saturdays won’t make that much of a difference, but when it comes to our allegiance to Christ, we have to be all in. The World needs to know that we’re with Jesus. We can’t wear a jersey that says “I’m for Jesus” but then wear a hat that shouts “I’m following the World!’ 

We’ve got to be consistent. We can’t be on “Team Jesus” on Sundays, but then follow the World’s value system the rest of the week. That kind of division only confuses the people around us and causes to live with a Schizophrenic sense of Loyalty. Over and over in Scripture, Jesus invites us to be on HIs Team, but He cautions that it means letting go of all allegiance to the World.

It’s a choice that we all must make and in the end, it will have eternal significance. Live your life in such a way, that when you step from this life into Eternity, Jesus embraces you and tells His Father…”This one is on My Team!” 

The World’s Most Beautiful Homecoming Queen

We’re in an Election Season right now, so most Americans are being bombarded with commercials and newscasts covering Candidates in local and regional races as well as the Presidential Race. Sadly, we as human beings have a hard time looking past the external when we’re voting. We’re drawn to folks who look a certain way and are eloquent in their speech, but those external factors aren’t always an indicator of the Heart and Character that’s underneath.

What if we approached every decision and every election by looking at people the way that God does…“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

I’m so proud to live in the community of Evans, GA where the students of Lakeside High School just elected Jessica Giddens as their Homecoming Queen. Jessica is a beautiful young lady, but she’s not your stereotypical candidate for this honor. She has Downs Syndrome. Her peers and friends don’t look at her as someone “different” or someone with a disability; they simply see beautiful heart radiating through that beautiful smile.

Jessica was escorted by her father who is a soldier who just returned from Afghanistan. This is truly a remarkable family and a remarkable moment made possible by a group of high school students who realized that whomever received the honor of becoming their Homecoming Queen needed to have more than just a beautiful crown…she needed to have a beautiful heart!

Congratulations, Jessica! Your entire community is so very proud of you! And, to the students of Lakeside High School, we’re very proud of you as well!

Please Read this Before You Get Married!

As a Pastor, one of my favorite job perks is having the privilege to Marry couples. It’s such an honor to be s small part of their “Big Day” where their dreams of “Happily Ever After” begin in a beautiful exchange of vows and rings. It’s usually one of the happiest moments in a person’s life, and I get a front row seat.

Sadly, I also talk to a lot of married couples whose love for each other has drifted and “Happily Ever After” has been replaced with Divorce Papers, Custody Battles and broken hearts. As a bride and groom say “I Do” with hearts full of joy, none imagine that they will end in divorce, but far too many do.

I’m convinced that the best way to prevent divorce is to enter marriage the right way. Couples need a solid foundation on which to build their lives and that preparation largely happens before the wedding ceremony even takes place.

Here’s a checklist that I wish every couple would follow before walking down the aisle.

1. Fall in Love…with Jesus! Until Christ is the primary relationship of your life, you’ll never be able  to fully commit to marriage the way that God intended. Our spouse can’t “complete” us; only God can. Once your life has been made whole by Him, you will be able to fully commit your life to your spouse that way God intended.

2. Marry the right person. Choosing a partner is so much bigger than just physical attraction or “feelings,” it goes to a deeply emotional and spiritual level. For more info on how to make sure you’re marrying the right person, please read this short post on “6 Questions to ask before you get married” https://soulcaffeine.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/6-questions-to-ask-before-you-get-married/

3. Know where you’re going. It was Yogi Berra who once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else!” You need to know where you’re going in life before you can ask someone to take that journey with you. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page with your life’s mission, then decide in advance how you can help each other get there.

4. Throw away your “Exit Strategy.” When I see couples enter into marriage with separate checking accounts, separate last names or separate dreams, I know that it’s probably just a matter of time before they’re separate in everything. If you can’t fully commit your hopes, dreams, finances and life to your spouse, then you shouldn’t get married. If you need a pre-nuptual agreement, I believe you’re better off not getting married in the first place. Be willing to say, “Til death do us part” with no Escape Clause or you’re undermining the sacred foundation on which marriage must be built.

If you’re willing to follow these four simple steps before your Wedding Day, I’m convinced that nothing will be able to come between you. I wish you all the best in your life together! God bless and Congratulations! 

 

 

 

How do Christians “Reproduce”?

I remember sitting in my seventh grade Science Class feeling both terrified and excited as the teacher announced, “Today, we will learn about Human Reproduction. That’s right boys and girls…we’re talking about SEX.”

The whole classroom started to giggle. Even as I think back on it now I want to giggle. I guess, in some ways, we never get too far away from the Middle School version of ourselves!

The point of this post isn’t to explain to you where babies come from (hopefully, you’ve figured that out by now). What I do want to explore is how Christians and Churches reproduce. I draw the parallel to babies being born, because I believe that God designed every physical reality to illuminate a Spiritual Reality.

God designed a child to be conceived through the most intimate and passionate physical act that can unify a husband and a wife. The Bible teaches us that we (The Church) are the Bride of Christ. In a beautifully profound mystery, we are “One” with Christ through a relationship that is even more intimate than a human marriage. He loved His Bride (The Church) to the point of laying down his Earthy Life for Her and we are called to live our lives in full devotion to Him.

I believe that Churches that aren’t growing and reproducing are barren because they have lost intimacy and passion for Christ. As we give ourselves to Him in Worship, The Holy Spirit binds us together with Him and through that bond, He gives birth to a Spirit of Revival and Renewal that ultimately brings about new Churches and new Christians.

Perhaps this is an oversimplification of the process, but the bottom line is that God desired to have a vibrant, loving relationship with His Church. He wants to draw your heart to His. Through that relationship you will discover both our purpose and your identity. Apart from that relationship, you’ll find only emptiness.

For those of us who are already followers of Christ, let’s commit together to “renewing our vows” so to speak with our Savior. Let’s remove anything from our lives that is hindering our relationship with Him. Let’s pursue Him with Passion and let our love for Him and for each other touch the world for His Glory!

Running to Jesus in your Underwear

When you really love someone, you won’t let anyone or anything keep you from them.

I remember a time at a Pool Party when my oldest son, Cooper, who was around five years old at the time get stuck upside down in an intertube. It is every parent’s worst nightmare to see your kid in danger! In that moment, I didn’t think to myself, “If I break off this conversation I’m having right now, this person might get really offended.” or “I wonder how long he can hold his breath? I’m going to time this!” or “You know, he was disrespectful to me on the way to the party, I should just let him struggle for punishment.”

I didn’t think about what anyone would think or about my cell phone and wallet getting wet or the fact that I wouldn’t have any dry clothes to change into; I just dove in after him! 

I swam faster than Michael Phelps until I reached him and pulled his head up above the water. He coughed for a few seconds and then said, “Thanks ,Dad!” and went back to swimming like nothing had happened. I climbed out of the pool where the hosts graciously offered me a towel and some new clothes and we all had a good story to talk about as I dried off.

I think any parent would do that for their children, but what I find sad is that most Christians, don’t seem willing to chase after Jesus with that same type of unhindered enthusiasm and devotion. We get worried of what others might think and we consider how it might change our own plans and then we decide to let Jesus remain on one side of the water while we stay safe and dry on the other.

We miss out on the most important relationship of our lives when we don’t throw everything else aside to pursue Jesus.

I love the story in the Bible where Simon Peter sees the resurrected Savior standing on the seashore and literally jumps into the water in his underwear to swim to him!

“Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.” John 21:7

Peter loved Jesus and wouldn’t let anyone or anything stand in his way of being with his Savior. He didn’t care about getting wet or looking foolish. All he cared about was being with Jesus! Because of that love and devotion, God literally changed the world through Peter’s Faith.

God wants to do the same in your life, so don’t anything hold you back…Dive in!

The Power of “No!”

I have a hard time saying “No.” I’m really more of a “Yes” kind of guy, but I’ve found out the hard way that saying “Yes” too often can lead to disaster.

“Dad, can we have ice cream for breakfast?”Sure! I think I’ll have some too!”

“Dave, can you please take on this big commitment that you don’t have time to do?“Okay! I’ll find time.”

“Sir, could I talk to you about how purchasing a Time Share could be a great investment?” “Sounds awesome!” 

Without a healthy amount of “No’s,” I end up overcommitted, broke, burned out, stressed out and ineffective. Maybe you can relate to what I’m saying. Perhaps you’ve gotten into the habit of saying “Yes” a little too often and it’s time to push the “No Button” a little more frequently.

So, how do we do it? How do we restore balance and healthy boundaries into our life? Here are a few tips that I’m learning the hard way…

1. Always take time before committing. Get out of the habit of immediately saying “Yes” and replace it with “Maybe” or “That sounds like an interesting opportunity. Give me some time to think it over.” There’s wisdom in thinking before committing. A quick decision is rarely a wise decision.

2. Realize that every “Yes” means “No” for something else. Every time I commit to something, I’m taking time and energy away from other relationship and priorities to do it. Every “Yes” comes with a cost and I need to be intentional and wise about investing in the right opportunities.

3. Don’t Give Excuses. When I do say ‘No,” I find myself immediately wanting to rattle off a bunch of good reasons why I can’t say “Yes” and might ultimately talk myself into changing my mind. The bottom line is I don’t need to justify my decision. A simple, “Thank you, but I can’t commit to that right now,” is plenty.

4. Remember what Matters Most! Don’t let too many “Yes’s” redefine your priorities. My Faith, My Family and My Health have to take priority and I don’t want to jeopardize any of them just to appease or impress people. If you don’t set your priorities, someone else will set them for you!

I’m writing all this as a guy who still has a lot to learn, so I would love to hear from You. What have you done to bring balance to your schedule? How have you protected yourself and your family from overcommitment?

6 Questions to Ask Before Getting Divorced

As a Pastor, nearly everyday I talk to someone whose marriage is in crisis. They often feel desperate, exhausted and alone. It’s a heartbreaking scenario when the dreams of “Happily Ever After” are crushed, and in the midst of all the pain and confusion, it is nearly impossible to think clearly about what next steps to take.

For anyone considering Divorce as an option, I would strongly encourage you to ask yourself these questions:

1. Have I done everything in my power to save this marriage? Granted, you cannot control your spouse’s actions or their desires, but have you done everything in your power to bring healing and hope? If not, write down a list of things you could do and start doing them. Marriage is always worth fighting for!

2. Am I trusting my Faith more than my Feelings? Feelings are fickle and in many divorce scenarios, people are pursuing an illusion of happiness instead of trusting God’s plan to bring wholeness, health and peace.

3. Is Divorce the healthy choice or the selfish choice?  I believe that in some scenarios where there is a pattern of broken trust through adultery or physical abuse, the only viable option is Divorce, but in most scenarios, Divorce is a Permanent Solution to Temporary Problems.

4. Who are my biggest influences right now? When you’re in the fragile state of marital breakdown, your support network is vital and they will have a tremendous amount of influence in your decisions. Surround yourself with people who will love you enough to give you Truth, encouragement and support based on God’s Word, not their own shallow opinions.

5. What am I teaching my children by getting a Divorce? There is never a scenario where Divorce doesn’t devastate the children involved. Their faith and their security are often shattered and the fallout lasts for decades. I know because I deal with those devastated from their Parents’ Divorce constantly. If you’re leaving your spouse for another person, in terms of Character, it’s not much different than taking your kids to an orphanage and trading them in for other kids who are more attractive or who will  treat you better.  

6. Am I willing to stay single for the rest of my life? If you answer “No,” then your motivation for the divorce is unhealthy. If you see Divorce as an opportunity to play the field or to find someone who will appreciate you and do all the things your spouse isn’t doing, then you need to stay and fix your own marriage. If you Grass looks Greener on the other side, you don’t need to move; you need to stay home and water your own grass!  

If you do find yourself in the midst of a heartbreaking divorce, please know that God loves you, He is with you and He has extraordinary plans for your life. Seek Him and let Him be the one to bring healing to your heart. You may feel Alone, but God has never left your side.