The Guaranteed Way to Find Your Purpose... Or Your Money Back! 

As a Pastor, one of my passions is helping people discover their God-given purpose. For some that journey is easy but for others, it can be difficult to ascertain our “why”. While there is no shortage of books or sermons on the topic of finding your destiny, there really is no guaranteed way to discover why you’re here… except this. 

First, let me tell you about a conversation I had this past week with a friend and member of The Dream Center Church, we’ll call him Sean. Sean had been struggling lately with a growing sense of discontentment concerning his work. He was growing discouraged and his words began to shift to the negative. After some prodding, Sean and I discovered much of his dissatisfaction had less to do with his position and more to do with his purpose. 

I asked Sean, “What are you here on Earth for?” He couldn't answer. It’s not that Sean doesn't have gifts or abilities that give him meaning, in fact he’s very talented. The issue is that Sean’s not sure which of those skills, gifts or callings are really his core purpose. And because he hasn't been able to discover his purpose, he’s been having a hard time measuring whether he’s succeeding. 

Have you ever felt that way: you’re good at what you do but you still don’t feel fulfilled? Have you ever found yourself asking if what you do actually matters? If so, that’s a sure fire sign that you’re not walking in your purpose. Now if you don’t now your purpose, how can you succeed? 

Sean and I chatted a little more about what he was made for and we quickly discovered that answering that question is far harder than any book, or sermon will ever tell you. Then Sean asked me a question that made finding purpose so simple, “So, how did you do it?” 

Interestingly enough, in my time spent helping others discover their purpose, I guess I never really used my own life experience to help with a strategy. Yet the answer is so simple, you’ll roll your eyes. 


In the very early days of my recovery from meth addiction I started to pray a prayer that was really more of a desperate cry for God to takeover my life than anything else. The good news is that he did and that prayer has remained my inner monologue ever since. It turns out this simple prayer, and the daily walk of surrender that accompanies it, are a guaranteed way for anyone to discover who they’re really created to be. 

Now don’t be mistaken, surrender is not a fun journey and the pray of surrender that I pray may be too difficult for some. In fact, when God answers this prayer it gets even harder to keep moving forward on that surrender path, but the results are perfect. 

The one guaranteed way I know to find your purpose is to surrender to God and allow him to do WHATEVER he wants to change you. It’s hard I know, but when you’re desperate to live a life worth living… it’s worth it. 

My prayer of surrender goes like this: 

God, I give you complete permission to do whatever you want in and with my life. Break what you want to break, remove who you want to remover and change what needs changing. Relieve me from the burden of leading my own life and please take full control. I will do what you want me to do and be who you want me to be. Amen. 

Purpose is on the way.

Start Telling People Your Secrets 

We overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. - Revelations 12:11 

I was once taught to “never let them see you sweat”. As I was learning my faith and on the path to recovery from addiction, I believed that it was important not to let people know about my past, lest they judge or be upset by it. I was hiding my past in hopes it would heal on its own. 

Then, in an AA meeting once, I shared briefly about how it was hard for me to pretend that my past didn't haunt me, that I had it altogether and that my future was bright. Truth is, I was terrified of relapse and going back to my old life. I didn't have anything together in my current life, I was a mess and because of that I was worried about my future. I was pretending to be someone I wasn’t and it was driving me crazy. 

Once I was finished speaking, an old man leaned over to me and whispered 4 simple words that changed the way I spoke about my past forever. As it turns out, this phrase is actually something of a cliche in recovery circles but their truth is undeniable. 

Secrets Keep Us Sick 

That is to say, whatever we hide from has the potential to hurt us. 

If you’ve ever had a cut or abrasion you’ll remember your mother giving you some pretty clear instructions around treating the wound. The first step is to clean it; you’ve got to get the bacteria out of an open wound in order to prevent infection. Then you’ll need to dress the wound and whether that means stitches or a simple bandage, you need to close the wound to allow the tissue to begin to heal. After some time, the wound must then be uncovered and exposed to the elements. You cannot keep a wound covered forever or you, again, risk infection. 

Often times, people in recovery think it’s important to keep their past struggles hidden because it could hinder us further down the road… and that’s a totally normal response. Often times when people hear about my previous life as an addict they are confused and even disgusted. I’ve definitely had my feelings hurt a time or two when people find out what a bad person I was. 

Sharing my past, helps me to remember just how far I have come and how great God has been to me. More importantly, sharing with transparency gets everyone I talk to involved in my recovery. Whether they like it or not, everyone who hears about my 15 year battle with drugs and alcohol now has an intimate knowledge of what my failure did and can look like… and that helps to keep me accountable. I could keep my past a secret but if I fell back into it, people wouldn't really know what I was going through. The more people know about my wounds, the more people I can count on to say something or do something should things go bad.

In my case, no secrets mean less chance to get sick again. 

The same things can be said about leaders. Many leaders believe it’s important to keep our wounds hidden forever. God forbid someone see our imperfections and then use them against us or think we’re less capable, less gifted or… GASP… less anointed because we’re human. This is so common for spiritual leaders that many of us insulate ourselves from the real world with people we can “trust with our secrets”… put in this context, that seems very unhealthy, doesn't it? 

The real problem for leaders and their wounds is not that people would use those wounds against them, it’s that by hiding those wounds they prevent themselves from being their authentic, human selves. When leaders hide their failings they create a false sense of self that they now must live up to and when they don’t live up to that image, they have no one they can confide in. Imagine, being imperfect, flawed and dying inside but being forced to fake it. That’s one reason so many leaders burn out.

In this instance, keeping things a secret leads not to sickness but death. 

Maybe you have something in your past that you’re ashamed of. Maybe you have a history that shocks other people and maybe you’ve believed the lie that you can't share that with others. Stop believing the lie. Your wounds need to heal but once that process has begun, they also need to see the light of day, to air out and breathe. Keeping things hidden for too long will only cause you undue stress, shame and eventually sickness. Bringing things out in the open helps us address our past and move on from it. 

Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. The means, you are allowed to live to the fullest, without regret, guilt or shame. There’s no need for those emotions in Christ. We overcome, because of Jesus life, death and resurrection AND our own story. So start telling yours!

Finding Hope in a Hopeless Place 

God loves broken people. Let’s just make that clear. I know it sounds cliché but the truth of the matter is that Jesus is quite obsessed with those of us who make mistakes with regularity. That’s one of the most encouraging parts about the Gospel: Jesus’ relationship with those who betray, lose faith, fall down and give up.

As a leader in our church I’ve been working in Prison ministry for almost 4 years and I’ve been blessed to lead our Young Adults Ministry for the last 3 & ½ years and in all that time I’ve never been able to connect the two. Until last month!

On a cold and rainy night, here in Denver, almost 20 of the LFTD Young Adult leaders joined my wife and I as we ventured to the Fox Community Corrections Facility in Denver. The Fox Facility is a short term residential treatment center and diversion program for those trying to avoid long-term prison sentences or those who have been newly released. Many of the men in the Fox Facility are there for drug offenses and most all of them have a history or recidivism… they’ve been here before.

As a former addict, I remember all too well the shame and depression that sets in when you're handcuffed and given your new orange outfit for the next few nights. I remember what it was like to walk into a treatment center because I could no longer make healthy choices on my own. In all those situations, I just wanted some hope. Something or someone to assure me that I wasn’t stuck and that there was a way out for me.

As a millennial and leader of millennials, it’s easy to get distracted with the usual laundry list of afflictions that our generation faces: sex, relationships, money, mission, etc. and it’s equally easy to lose sight of the fact that as Christians, we are called to leave the comfortable confines of our church and hit the streets with the Good News that has changed our life. I’ve found that the best way to overcome the former is to engage in the latter. Simply put: evangelism strengthens our faith. I don’t how it works, I just know it does.

So there we were last night: 20 faith filled young Christians in a treatment center, amongst men who’ve been through hell, men who’ve been forgotten and men who’ve all but given up and that’s exactly where we needed to be. With nothing more than a guitar, some old songs we all know and a story about Jesus, we saw salvation, deliverance and healing… and it wasn’t just for the residents of the Fox Facility it was for some of us as well.

There is something powerful about stepping outside your comfort zone that forces us to re-evaluate what we worry and care about. It’s in those moments of discomfort that I believe we realize just how much we have in this life. It’s in those times, we are called to bring hope to the hopeless and we FIND hope too.



CB Barthlow

CB is an Elder at the Potters House Church of Denver and Leader of the LFTD Young Adult Ministry

Follow CB on Instagram or Twitter @cbbarthlow

Your Calling Card 

Are you a Quitter? 
Why is it so easy to get distracted from doing good? 
Have ever been inspired to truly step outside your comfort zone and do something great for God? 
Have you ever noticed how quickly and easily it is to lose that inspiration and let that thing fall by the wayside? 
It’s so common for us to start doing good and quickly fall off that even the Apostle Paul had to tell the Jewish church, in his letter to the Hebrews, to make a conscious effort to continue to gather together, to keep their fire and to keep moving forward. 

Paul knew then, what many of us have discovered in our own lives: It’s human nature to grow lazy and stop doing better. Heck, it’s even nature’s nature to devolve over time. The second law of thermodynamics states that eventually any system will continue to slow, decay and decrease in function until it stops. 

I look at periods of my own life when I would start a project and then stop before I finished it. I would commit and then quit. I dropped out of college for a semester (Thanks God, I went back). I quit grad school right before my thesis was due. I joined a church plant only to leave before they ever got off the ground. I fell in and out of love before the girl even knew what hit her. I was always committing to something, only to find myself quickly bored and quickly quitting. 
Have you ever done that? 
Why Didn’t Paul Quit? 
That’s why I’ve always wondered how Paul could do what he did… how we could be so radically converted and then take such a powerful leadership role and keep moving forward through his entire life despite all he went through. Why did that guy never quit? 

When Paul had his white-light, conversion experience on the road to Damascus, he was moved, change and commissioned all in one moment. It seems as though Paul never even had a period of grief over his past failings like so many of us Christians do when we get saved. In fact, Paul goes right to work after his life change and very quickly takes the lead in fulfilling the great commission even though he never even heard Jesus speak those words directly. 

Paul’s conversion is interesting in so many ways but most applicable here is because he wasn’t given clear direction on what to do with his life (but Paul seemed to know). Jesus blinded Paul and then told him to stop his old way of living, go to a nearby city and await further instruction. When Paul came to the city the instruction came from Ananias who told him he was to help him see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit. 

Paul went to work preaching immediately and he moved as though he already had authority regardless of the distrust of his peers or their plots to kill him. Paul wasn’t really even accepted in his new life-mission until he was vouched for by Barnabus, and even then he was not officially commissioned until almost two years later at the church in Antioch. Two years of work, with no formal commission, no clear direction just a simple conviction. And Paul NEVER quit or even indicated he was disenchanted with his new found calling. 

Then, for the rest of Paul’s career, there is sheer mayhem. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 he describes his trials as such: “I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. 
So how could face such horrible life experiences and still keep moving forward, fulfilling his purpose? Why didn’t he give up? Why didn’t he quit? Paul had every reason to ring his hands and quit. Millions of us would have quit after all Paul went through and few of us would criticize that decision. But Paul NEVER quit. Why? 
It's in his identity. Paul knows exactly who he is and precisely what he’s called to do. When you know these things, there is no reason to quit. Let’s look at what Paul writes about himself in Romans. 
What Did Paul Know? 
The book of Romans is the first letter written by Paul found in the New Testament. It was written somewhere between 57 & 58 AD, just before we learn of his imprisonment in Caesarea. Romans is actually the last letter that Paul writes and many see it as a summary of his thoughts on Christian life. At the time Paul writes this letter, he’s never been to Rome and as such, he’s writing to strangers, just like us.

Here’s how he opens his letter: 
I, Paul, am a devoted slave of Jesus Christ on assignment, authorized as an apostle to proclaim God’s words and acts. I write this letter to all the believers in Rome, God’s friends. The sacred writings contain preliminary reports by the prophets on God’s Son. His descent from David roots him in history; his unique identity as Son of God was shown by the Spirit when Jesus was raised from the dead, setting him apart as the Messiah, our Master. Through him we received both the generous gift of his life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Jesus. You are who you are through this gift and call of Jesus Christ! And I greet you now with all the generosity of God our Father and our Master Jesus, the Messiah. (Rom. 1:1-7) 

Notice how Paul starts the letter with a greeting in which he describes himself as a devoted slave of Jesus Christ. Notice how few words he spends on his identity and how low his identity is, he’s a slave. It sounds like the apostle knows full well that the last shall be first but I wonder if he was ever concerned about whether a slave’s letter would be received by the church in Rome. 

Paul goes on to describe his mission saying he is on assignment, authorized as an apostle to proclaim God’s words & acts. Paul here describes his drive, his role and his goal. He spends more time detailing what he is called to do rather than who he is and he clearly outlines everything we may need to know about his work and his purpose. 

Lastly, Paul describes his Savior and he does it so deeply and so passionately that we could stop the letter right after verse 7. He lays out who God is, what he’s done through the life of Jesus and what that means to the recipients of this letter. 

Notice that Paul does not spend any time talking about what he was or what God did for him. When introducing himself, Paul talks about his work, his mission, his calling. He doesn’t fall back into “testimony syndrome” like so many Christiians do. You know, when the bulk of your discussion on God relates to how bad you used to be? Paul is all forward thinking. It’s as though Paul is starting this letter to the church in Rome just as if he were at a networking event. Think about it, when we meet someone in a business setting, we don’t ask, “who are you?” We ask, “what do you do?”. Paul is talking about what he’s called to do and who employs him. 
There’s a great lesson here from Paul to focus our sights and our words on what God has for us in our futures not just what He did for us in our past. I believe that too many Christians, have spent too much time discussing what they were and what they did and not enough time talking about what they are called to do. Most millennials of faith find it challenging to clearly determine their identity; they don’t know who they are in Christ because they don’t know what they are called to do for Christ. 
Do You Know Your Calling? 
The reason most of us are so easily distracted from doing something great for God is because we don’t really know what we’re called to do. When we’re unsure of what we’re called to do it becomes very easy for us to go after any number of opportunities, few of which are in-line with God’s purpose for our lives. Something to ask yourself, “If I don’t what I’m called to do in Jesus, how will I know if I’m succeeding?” Maybe all that distraction and boredom is really God trying to remind us that the has something greater in store, if we’ll just focus. 

That’s why Paul is able to do all that he does, without quitting… he knows who he is and what he’s called to do.

So how do we determine who we are and how in the world do we know what we’re called to do? Well, we can notice that Paul’s identity and his calling are directly tied to his past.

Look closely: 
Paul says details his identity: he is a slave to Christ, fully submitted to the will and mind of Jesus. Paul goes on to say he is on assignment as an apostle meaning his job is to help build the body of Christ through church planting. Lastly, Paul says, his underlying mission is to proclaim the acts and works of Jesus. All of this current identity is the exact opposite of who Paul was before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. God completely turned Paul around and used everything that he delivered Saul from to determine who Paul would become. 

Because Saul sought to persecute Christ, Paul became a slave to Christ 
Because Saul set out to dismantle churches, Paul was called to plant churches 
Because Saul diminished the life and works of Jesus, Paul amplified and spread the life & works of Jesus 

Jesus turns Saul’s mess into Paul’s message. And He does that for you too. The question is not, “what has God called me to?” The question is “what has God delivered me from?” What mistake can God make my mission? What failure can God flip to be my future? 

So what is your mission? What are you called to do? What’s on your calling card? 

This is Mine: 


When Black People Die, Where are the White Christian Leaders? 

You would be hard pressed not to know that our country is in a crisis at the moment. Almost every news outlet and every other social media post is discussing the nature of policing in America. To some, it appears that African Americans are under attack by the very people and organizations charged with protecting them and perhaps you’re shocked at what could be a nationwide genocide. To others it appears as though the ones who claim to be victimized are creating further chaos and disorder and perhaps your fears of a lawless cultural subset have been aroused. No matter your paradigm, no matter your rhetoric reasoning or rage, it’s clear something is wrong in America.

What if you are a white, Christian leader? Perhaps you’re a minister, evangelist, preacher or pastor. Your charge is to lead people in times of trouble, to point to supernatural solutions in the midst of natural problems. Your job description is to show the love of Jesus to those in need of comfort, healing and salvation. You are called to live righteously, obey the laws of the land, respect those in positions of power and affirm order amidst chaos. You are driven to see social justice carried out and yet the justice system as it stands seems skewed. You are commissioned to serve those in need, love the least of these, care for orphans and widows, feed the homeless, clothe the poor and visit those in prison. You are compelled to stand for what is right and to call sin by its name and yet those who are called to uphold what is right seem to be in the wrong.

Your friends on the right will tell you that the officer who shot Tamir Rice had no choice and that the real issue is those darn airsoft replica guns. They’ll tell you that Michael Brown died because he was a thug who lacked respect for authority; suggesting the young hooligan stole cigars from a local convenience store and viciously attacked an officer simply doing his job. They’ll tell you that Eric Garner died because he refused to obey orders; they’ll mention his weight, health problems and how he fought with officers. They’ll tell you that Trayvon Martin died because he was high and in that haze attacked a Good Samaritan trying to protect the community. Your friends on the right will suggest that the recent protests are really just thinly veiled riots. They’ll point to additional violence, and looting as evidence of an out of control group of people that need controlling. They won’t use those words, of course, but you’ll get the drift when they elbow you in the ribs and say, “you see what I mean?”

Your friends on the left will tell you that the country is in crisis and even though it’s been like this for hundreds of years, they’ve finally had enough. They’ll tell you that what you see on TV is nothing new, that blacks and browns have always been victimized by those in power. They’ll remind you of the civil rights movement and how vehemently white people fought against it. They’ll remind you that the very backbone of this country was built with the bound hands and gagged mouths of generations of stolen Africans. They’ll point to the vitriol and the rhetoric of police and lawmakers who continually victim blame and shame as evidence that white America and those in power do not care about black lives. They’ll remind you that the only person indicted surrounding the death of Eric Garner is the man who videotaped the killing. They’ll show you that even when a coroner deems it murder, justice is not done.

So you stand at the cross roads while your black and brown clergy friends stand at the forefront. When Pastors like Samuel Rodriguez and Jamal Bryant fight for paths to citizenship and an immediate stop to victimization you remain silent.

Why are we silent? Do we feel like we don’t need to say anything? Do we think our black counterparts have it covered? Are we afraid to say anything because we don’t know what to say? Do we feel like we’re not an expert on race relations so we should remain silent? Are we afraid to anger one side or the other? Do we even see the problem? Or are we so confused by the tug and pull from both sides that we feel constrained to say and do nothing?

How dare us. How dare we call ourselves leaders or representatives of Jesus Christ and remain silent. How dare we tell our congregations and our groups of the love of Christ and not also take an opportunity to talk about justice. How in the world can we remain silent when the world is looking to us for an answer? We represent both the perceived problem in white authority and the absolute solution in Jesus’ authority. We have an opportunity to make a stand with those who have been victimized and yet most of us haven’t done anything. Not one thing. Not a march, not a sermon, not a prayer, not a tweet, NOTHING.

Where is the reconciliation, the comfort, the counsel, the healing? Where is Jesus? Why are we only sharing the Jesus who spoke of blessings and not the Jesus who stood in front of the woman who would be stoned? Why are we not standing in front of those who are being killed? Where are we?

Recipe for Relationship Part 3: Serving Love 

Last week, I shared part 3 in our Recipes for Relationship series in JProject. We focused on the interactions we have with those with whom we build a life. Here are the notes from that session.

Song:  Fake Love - O’Conqueror

We are Social creatures: Meant to be in relationship with each other
Relationships cause great joy And they cause the most horrific pain

Often the Pain is because we put relationships together using the wrong pieces

  • we put the Wrong people
  • in the Wrong positions
  • we commit the Wrong actions
  • holding the Wrong expectations

Today we’re going to talk about the people, positions, actions and expectations so we can ensure that we have healthy and Jesus centered relationships.

The Three types of People in Life

  • Those we meet in life
  • Those with a place in our life
  • Those with whom we build our lives

Who are the people with whom we should build a life?

What do we do? We love them? How!

(Ephesians 5:25)

Before that we must first understand the nature of Christ himself.

John said God is love (1 john 4:8)

Furthermore he tells us that Jesus’ is the embodiment of that love (John 3:16)

And jesus himself tells us that He came to serve not to be served (Matthew 20:28)

Jesus purpose was to serve himself (love) as a sacrifice for us to have life.

The people in our inner circle are those we love by serving ourself on sacrifice

When both parties do this we build a life together.

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For 

I’ll be preaching to the men at the Colorado Correctional facility tonight! I’m excited about this Word from God! This message focuses on the 5 people we all need in our life to become a new person!

1. A Ride or Die

2. A Seer

3. Seekers

4. Worshipers

5. Fighters

This Should be fun!

1 Samuel 10:1-7 


  • Saul and his servant are looking for the donkeys of his father
  • They are searching for something valuable to someone else
  • Many of us are chasing the values and dreams of someone else
  • When they can’t find the donkeys they decide to see the seer
  • They take him a gift
  • If you’re lost go to god
  • Take him a gift
  • He’ll show you the way


  • Samuel anoints saul  (the call of god) (1)
    • God changes sauls heart (10)


  • Then saul finds the donkeys (path to purpose) (2)
    • The donkeys are his work (god provides your purpose & gives you what you need to do)
    • He finds them on the fringe of his tribal territopry
    • Your work will start with the things you’re most familiar with (not at home, but close)


  • Then saul meets two men going to worship god, they give him bread (out of the overflow) (3,4)
    • God provides sustenance, and sustains him in the fellowship of other brothers
    • You need to surropund yourself with people who will worship god
    • Your fellowship with other believers is fuel on your way


  • Then saul goes to the enemy’s camp, the philistine outpost (5)
    • There he meets others prophesying and he is given power to prophesy
    • Power is found in people who fight
    • You don’t have to fight every fear you just have to face every fear


  • When you cant find what you’re looking for
  • Go to god
  • God will change what you’re looking for and help you find so much more
  • You’re not satisfied because you’re not who god has called you to be

Recipes for Relationships Pt. 2 

Here’s Part 2 of the Recipes for Relationships Series!

Song:  The Size of Grace -  Beautiful Eulogy

We are Social creatures: Meant to be in relationship with each other
Relationships cause great joy And they cause the most horrific pain

Often the Pain is because we put relationships together using the wrong pieces

  • we put the Wrong people
  • in the Wrong positions
  • we commit the Wrong actions
  • holding the Wrong expectations

Today we’re going to talk about the people, positions, actions and expectations so we can ensure that we have healthy and Jesus centered relationships.

The Three types of People in Life

  • Those we meet in life
  • Those with a place in our life
  • Those with whom we build our lives

2 Corinthians 8:7: But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

What is Grace?

  • Grace is withholding punishment and rewarding relationship
  • Grace is when we do not get what we deserve and we get more
  • Grace does not negate the wrong,
  • Grace rewards the person in spite of the wrong
  • Grace sees the wrong and moves forward without it, and provides incentive with no reason
  • Grace does not expect a reciprocal relationship
  • Grace does not keep a record of behavioral infractions
  • Grace does not hold a list of appropriate sanctions
  • Grace blesses the relationship
  • Grace looks past actions and sees intentions
  • Grace fills the gaps in the other person: (2 Corinthians 12:8-9)
  • Grace is humble and never proud (James 4:6

So How do you Give Grace?

  • By providing what is needed not what is deserved
  • By taking the first step
  • By reaching out to those who betray us
  • By checking in on those who ignore us
  • By meeting the needs of those who always take

Why Give Grace?

  • You may be the only Christ that anyone ever sees
  • The people in your life are there for a reason
  • These people may need to see more Christ on a more consistent basis than any other
  • Your consistent example of Christ is the model for their salvation and their change