Archive for September, 2012

Would You?

Acts 20:22-24 “But there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I’m completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. I do know that it won’t be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead. But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started; the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone Imeet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God. (MSG)”
 
Would you still go? I guess that’s the question. Would you still go? In the sermon yesterday, we were challenged to do whatever for the Kingdom. We were challenged to quit thinking so much, and praying so much, and just do whatever. When I say this verse from YouVersion for today, I immediately wondered if I would still go. 
 
As Christians, we know that we should not value our lives above the Gospel. We know that dying for the Gospel is an honor and a privilege.We read the stories about missionaries in dire situations, facing certain death, singing praises to God as they are herded towards the chopping block.Would you still go? If the Holy Spirit told you to go to the town just next to yours, and as you’re packing He comes back to you and tells you that when you return, you’ll be minus a limb, would you still go?
 
When did we become so comfortable? Gosh. Taking stock of my own life, I have played it so safe that it sickens me. I’m a thinker. I ponder every possible outcome of a situation and then decide which aspect is the safer route. It’s a trait that I have had my entire life. It’s why I allow my son the freedom to be impulsive, because I admire that spark in him. My reluctance toseize the moment has lead to me never trying out for American Idol, or anything like that. It’s paralyzed me with fear of failure, when I know in my heart thatthe only failure I could ever encounter is to never try. But as my Pastor spoke yesterday. I realized that the types of things that I desire from God will never come to me unless I can find a way to throw caution to the wind and put my mouth where I claim my faith to be. At some point, our actions must line up with what we confess! God has not called us to live lives that read like cautionary tales. The Christian life should be one of excitement, daring, risk.It is in those things that God really shows himself, and provides the resources to complete the mission. I believe that God will never allow a Christian who acts in faith, to fail. Even if we aren’t doing the exact thing that God wants for us, as long as we are doing SOMETHING to further His Kingdom, He will uphold that faith and provide the results HE desires.
 
I always believed that God will reveal His will if we wait.I’m beginning to see the error in that. My philosophy is changing. I nowbelieve that God will reveal His will if we act. Get out there and see what we can do to change the world. Get out there and see how we can change our household. See how well we interact inside of a ministry. See how well we workin a church department. Cultivate our skills and talents for God and then wait for Him to show specifically how He wants to use us in that arena or another,because He will shepherd us into His will. But we first have to get up and go! Paul understood this intricately.
As a Pharisee, Paul was a learned man. He had the benefit of the best teaching that money could buy. He was a brilliant thinker, and already had a penchant for being impulsive. God simply took these traits and put themto work in building the Kingdom. Paul was always willing to go, do, preach, and model. Even when he got it wrong, he was still ready to go, do, preach, and model.  Read Acts 16:6-11 to see what I mean. God had to put this brother to sleep in order to get through to him! But I’m sure that the entire time, God was laughing and proud of Paul’s insistence on spreading the Gospel. He lived with urgency, yet his own public ministry was longer than 3.5 years.
 
So, would you go? Would I go? I can tell you this. Jesus came. Jesus went. He knew what the outcome would be. He knew that He would not just suffer hardship. He knew that he would pay a price that only He could pay.Yet, He didn’t flinch.  He wanted to finish what His Father had started. He wanted to the world to know about the incredible extravagance of God’s grace! He only had 3.5 years to accomplish His mission.  How many of us spend 3.5years wallowing in self-pity and self-doubt? I can only say this because I have done the same at times. We wait on the assurance that God is with us before acting, when God has already said that He will never leave us or forsake us.When we read the Bible, what are we really understanding about God? Is He a charlatan? Is He not truth? Has He not sent us out to go and be a light and to preserve a dying world? Do we really believe Him? If we really did, I suspect that our world would be completely different. If we really believed God, we would never be comfortable, and at the ends of our lives the pages of our epistles would be littered with tears, rips, blots, and stains, because we lived our lives without regard for our lives in order to ensure that His name was made great among all nations.
 
In my heart of hearts, I want to do the same thing. I pray that I can get out of my own way, and God’s way, and just do whatever. I pray that I will allow the Holy Spirit to direct me, but that I would take advantage of every opportunity to spread the word about the Savior of the world. Whether this takes me into situations where I may be harmed, who cares? Jesus poured his life out for my sins. That is a debt that I can never pay, but I can be willing to give of myself in whatever way I can, to prevent this generation from seeing hellfire and brimstone.
 
So, would YOU go?
 
Until next time, be blessed.

Getting out of your comfort Zone: 2

There is a place of comfort, but we aren’t called to always be comfortable.

Every successful person decides to aggressively go after what God has for them. We aren’t called to wait on the world to come to us.

” Learning to do whatever”

1 Sam 14: 1, 6 – Jonathan raids the Philistine camp with his armor bearer.

How many of us would get out of our comfort zone if God provided the resources?

The Israelites were waiting on more supplies, but Jonathan decided that he couldn’t wait anymore.

How many of us are waiting on God to provide before we move in faith? God’s not gonna provide anything until we decide to go into battle. We have to do something, be willing to go it alone.

God resources people who step out in faith, not those who sit on the sidelines waiting. As we step out, God sends resources. God always multiplies small beginnings.

We choose everyday to do what we decide is necessary. We make choices that either advance or decrease the Kingdom of God. There is no standstill. We either increase or decrease.

Adam and eve had many good choices to make, but chose thr bad one.

Ecc. 10: 2- a wise man’s heart is at his right hand. But a fool’s heart is at his left.

God wants people who choose to go down the right path. We act like we are waiting on God to speak His will over us. But we don’t need to wait on God to reveal to us that we have to wait on working for the Kingdom. There is only one calling: to be a Christian going hard after God and His Kingdom.

God’s will is for us to give up out comfort zone ad choose to do the right thing.

We use prayer as a reason to stay comfortable. Well…keep praying about it while a generation goes to hell around us! We don’t have to pray about serving and helping others. Quit using prayer as a way to be lazy!

We pray “if God’s will be done” but we really are telling God to just do it without us. It’s possible that you are the only person to do what God needs done.

Phil 4: 8- 9…Simply means do whatever. Not merely thinking and meditating, but do some thing. Don’t just sit there dying!

Acts 16: 6-11 – Paul and Silas travelling and the Holy Spirit denying them access to certain areas.

Paul didn’t always have clarity on where he was going, but he knew that he needed to be going somewhere to do the will of God. It was his willingness to just be about action. God can use willingness and passion.

1 Sam 14: 8- they cross over so that the Philistines can see them.

9-10- if they say go up and fight, then we will go up. That will be the Lord’s sign that He will help us defeat them.

How To Save A Life

http://soundcloud.com/literati_sage80/how-to-save-a-life To me, this song has some evangelistic properties to it. Sharing with a friend who doesn’t want to hear it.

Lucky Ones?

Christian Hip Hop Artist Lecrae has an album called Gravity. To me, it is an exploration of the many ways in which sin acts like gravity and  hold us down, keeping us from seeing and reaching higher heights in the fashion that Christ died for us to achieve. There are many noteworthy songs on the album, but I would really like to draw attention to this song, “Lucky Ones”. Here is the link, followed by the lyrics:

“Lucky Ones”

Hook (Rudy Currence):
When it’s all said and done
You and I are the lucky ones
We fought many
And we’ll fight the night until we see the sun
We are the lucky ones
We are the lucky ones
We are here

Verse 1 (Lecrae):
Under the sun, I found we were left to drown
Evil abounds, weight is pullin’ us down
No sight or sound, impaired to His care
Chasing after the wind, running after the air
Deserving of desertion, servants of destruction
And everyday we taste of a grace that we’re unconcerned with
My sin I should be burned with, I’m guilty, filthy, and stained
But He became a curse, drank my cup and took my pain
And for that he reigns, through faith I’m changed
And I don’t have a reason why he loosened up my chains
I don’t believe in luck; I believe in Grace
But they say we’re lucky cause we seen your face
And we heard Him call us, and He heard our answer
And He gives us second chances when we throw our hands up
So weary and broken, hopin’ His arms will be open
Unconditional love has got us locked into focus
(I guess we the luck ones, huh?)

Hook:

Verse 2 (Lecrae):
You’re greater than my shame, guilt, my doubt, and my past
Fortunate to trust in you cause I’ve doubted your plans
I’ve questioned your ways, every question I raised
Is foolishness compared to mountains, the wind, and the waves
You’re so mindful of us, we rise from the dust
You love these cheating, beating hearts and these eyes full of lust
Gave us power to fight it, though we cower in quiet
We have the faith to start a riot; how can we deny it?
Fire inside us that you kindle when it starts to dwindle
And simply put I’m sinful so your love is essential
I don’t believe in luck, no, I believe in Grace
But they say we lucky cause we seen your face
Lord, we heard you call us, You heard our answer
And you give us second chances when we throw our hands up
I’m weary and broken, but your arms will be open
Unconditional love has got us locked into your focus

Bridge (Rudy Currence):
See, I’m not sayin’ I’m always right
And I ain’t sayin’ that I’m perfect
And I know I don’t deserve it
But I’m glad I got this life
I’m glad that I got it
And it makes me a lucky one

 

I feel the Holy Spirit so strongly on this song. It’s weird. I’ve listened to hip hop, specifically Christian hip hop for a long time, and while I have always loved it, I have not found a song that speaks so to the heart of God as this one. I listen to it every day, sometimes twice or three times per day. There is just so much richness and encouragement here. I especially love the part of verse two where Lecrae raps,

“You love our cheating, beating hearts, and these eyes full of lust”
Have you every stopped to think of the magnitude of grace that has been extended to us from God? To me, that line sums up the human race. We cheat on God with other lovers in the same way that Gomer cheated on Hosea. Our lovers take multiple forms, each one a god that infringes on the territory that we say that we set aside for the one, true God. Our eyes can find things on a daily basis that threaten to tear our focus away from God. We look at bills and despair not having the money to pay them. We look at our present circumstances and despair not being where we want to be. We look at others and compare our plights with theirs, growing angry with God when we think we are serving him better, but are blessed far less. I know I’m not the only one who deals with this kind of ingratitude!

But the fact remains is that if Old Testament people could see us now, they would call us the lucky ones. Why? Because God has revealed Himself to us in a personal way. No longer is he kept behind a curtain in a stuffy, dusty room. No longer are the works of His Holy Spirit confined to outward manifestations. No longer do we have to depend on lambs and cattle to receive atonement month after month and year after year. No longer do we have to depend on a priest to be the sole way to approaching God. They would marvel at what we have.

Yet what we have is not luck. It’s grace. And I know that we sometimes are loose in our lingual descriptions, but there is no such thing as luck. There is God’s will, and there is our will. The wages of our will usually lead to death of some sort. The rewards of God’s will are more than we can count. And even as we many times take for granted what we have as opposed to what the Old Testament people had, God loves us. He is still jealous for us. His love is still surrounding us, ready at the drop of a dime to completely consume us if we are open and willing to receive it.

All of this and more; that’s what I hear and feel in this song. Gratitude for a grace that abounds. Gratitude for forgiveness that surpasses atonement. Awe for a love that defies any explanation that we can come up with in our limited human language. This song places me in complete awe of my God. I’m so undeserving, but He still loves me. I hope you all can enjoy this song for the message that it conveys as much as I do. Yeah, I know not everyone likes and can understand hip hop, but the words really speak for themselves.

Until next time, be blessed.

Happy, Happy? or Joy, Joy?

I saw a question posed on Facebook today and it really made me start thinking. Here is the question:

“Are Christians supposed to be happy people? Is that something we should be known for?”
I don’t know why, but this question really caught my thoughts. I’ve actually spent the rest of the day thinking about that very thing.
Here is my first response. I don’t believe that Christians are always happy people. To me, happiness denotes something external. For example, ice cream makes me happy. A nice, cheesy pizza makes me happy. I have the thought that happiness is dependent on something external happening to me; something which I choose to allow to make me happy. Happiness can be physically seen through smiles and such. That is what I think happiness is. Some people may think otherwise, but to me, Christianity is not defined by being happy. Sure, we have many reasons to be happy, but I believe the words that should more define us are joy and love.

Joy is something internal. It is a guarded thing. The Bible speaks of joy over a thousand times from beginning to end. Happy or happiness only appears around 30-40 times, depending on the translation. In every instance, I look at the verses and happy does not feel right as a substitute for the word joy. For example, peep this:

John 16:21-23 (MSG)

The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming joy is also similar. When I see you again, you’ll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you.”
In this passage, we see that there is a joy that is ours if we will have it. For me, happiness does not fit accurately here. It feels a little more fickle, or superficial, and comes short of the full indication of what Christ was speaking about. Joy is what the Christian has to give him and her strength when everything around seems to be falling to pieces. It’s the joy of the Lord that upholds us. And in those moments, we may not be able to smile. We may not be able to dance, but that doesn’t mean that we are despairing or sad. The world can not understand our joy, because true joy is only found in Christ Jesus.

SO, I can see why the world would mistake our joy for simple happiness. We try to find ways to explain that which we don’t understand. But we are assured time and time again that joy is a gift from God, one which we can never fully understand, but one which makes our hearts glad and causes us to continually rejoice in the God of our salvation.

Should we be known by our joy? Sure! But the trademark of any true Christian is known in the way we love. Christ even says this, that the mark of a Christian is found in love. The reasoning is simple. God is Love. So, if we are in Christ, then we are in tune with the greatest love in the world. Whitney Houston sang about the greatest love, but her song didn’t even scratch the surface of Christian love. It is because of this love that we can have peace and joy. It is the linchpin of our entire existence in Christ Jesus. Simply put, the world should look at us and think, “Man, that dude has some serious love in his heart! I want some!!”
So, that’s my answer to that facebook question. Maybe I’m just splitting hairs here, and I suspect that I am. But to me, it’s important that we not get caught up in finding connections that might minimize the work of Christ in our hearts. Now, the person who asked the question is full of the joy of the Lord. This manifests itself in his being perpetually happy, but that is the outward manifestation of the inner joy that is working within him. I know this for sure.

What are your thoughts? Am I crazy? Does any of this make an ounce of sense to you? Am I crazy (again)?

Until next time, be blessed!

My Prayer

This is a poem that I wrote a few years ago. It’s still very true today.

God, I need you

In my days, in my nights, in my seconds, minutes, hours
In sunsets, in sunrises, in twinkling skies, when storms rage
In my smiles, in my tears, in my triumphs, when I fear
When I’m right, when I’m wrong, when I come up short or shoot too long
In my thoughts, good and bad, funny and serious, pointed and pointless
In times of stress, strain, times of relaxation, light joyous and peaceful
In my downfall, my highest height, my deepest depth, my self -despair
In my depravity, in my sinful nature, in my life, and certainly at my death

In my heart, for the lost soul that can’t feel you as I do
In my eyes, for every sight of a world decaying without You
In my ears, in every cry out for You from those who have refused You
In my hand, that every touch be from You through me to others
In my feet, that I can walk away from that which is not good for me
In my words, that I speak only what I hear from You.

In my community, that I may be the salt that preserves what’s left

In my love, that mine may become as perfect as Yours.
In my spirit, that I may be as one with You.
In my prayers, that I may pray Your will and not my wants.
In my relationships, that I may nourish and not break them
In my community, that I may be the salt that preserves what’s left

In darkness, that I may be the light that leads others to You
In heartache, that I may understand how You must feel when we break Yours.
In loss, that I may remember the greatest loss that You suffered for our sin.
In defeat, that I may remember how to triumph in You.
In my air, that I am always breathing Your spirit.
In me, because without You, I am nothing.

Amen.

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

For many of us, we spend our days in a place of comfort.

“Breaking the La Z Boy spirit”

Matt. 10: 16- sending you out as sheep among wolves.

Matt. 28: 19-20- go and make disciples of all nations.

God wants us to have comfort in Him and His Spirit. That’s our place of comfort. He doesn’t want us to always stay in a place of comfort. He wants us to walk from safety sometimes. Jesus did just that. He left the safety of heaven to live here in through difficulty of earth.

Jesus didn’t live in a comfort zone. We have been given eternal comfort, but we can’t get caught up in pursuing comfort on earth. God wants us to step into areas of faith that God has for us.

We are called to advance the kingdom of God. At times, this will stretch us. We must be ready to be uncomfortable for Jesus, because He became uncomfortable for us.

Jesus came to kick us out of our recliners.

1. We must learn to become uncomfortable. Acts 1: 8- you will receive power…and you will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth.
We must get up in order to walk in His power. He has so much more for our lives.

2. We must sow the seeds.
Matt. 13: 1-8 -Parable of the Sower.
2 Tim. 4: 5- do the work of an evangelist.

The word of God did not come to bring information, but transformation. It pushes us out of our comfort zone.

When we refuse to step outside of our comfort zone, we condemn the world to hell.

Jesus came to mess us up and stretch our lives!!