Archive for November, 2012

I Know..I’m Late.

I hope you all had a very happy Thanksgiving holiday break. I know I’m late, as most bloggers to the cursory “What I’m Thankful For” blog before or on Thanksgiving. In a prior blog, I did the same thing. This year though, I didn’t want to be cursory. I really wanted to think about what I was thankful for. I mean, yes. I’m thankful for my wife and children. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for my church. Those things are a given. But it really hounded me that so many times we give thanks for things, yet we have no real reason WHY we give thanks for them. And yes, we should give thanks in all things, for this is the will of God through Christ Jesus for us. I believe that. But it hit me yesterday what I’m thankful for.

 

When we have worship services, I am usually on stage singing with the worship team. While I have no qualms whatsoever about going after God and closing my eyes to focus properly, there are many Sundays where I don’t close them. I look around the service to gauge the temperature of the people worshiping. This is what I saw yesterday. I saw people who had not gone up for prayer being prayed for by people close to them. I saw people at the altar, totally abandoning themselves to God. I heard people shouting out and crying out to God. As worship continued, our Pastor came up and instead of calming things down so that the Associate Pastor could begin his message, he ramped things up higher and higher. He pushed for more worship, more adoration, more honor for God. And I watched all of this with open eyes, well, tear stained opened eyes.  People were jumping up and down. Hands were stretched, pushing into the air, reaching out for God to touch. It was pandemonium, chaos. Yet, it was beautiful. And it hit me.

 

I’m thankful that I go to Destiny Church. Why? Because at my church, the people, the Pastors, don’t care. Yes, they care that people engage in worship. They care that people grow in grace. But they don’t care how you express yourself in your worship to God. We have had a young man rap on stage. Yesterday, one of our guitarists shredded his guitar in offering praises to God. They don’t care. We jump. We leap. We dance. We shout. We cry. On stage, our Worship Pastor allows us the freedom to prostrate ourselves as we sing. Even people who lead songs have fallen to their knees during their leading. Instrumentalists have stopped playing and just lifted their hands. It’s bedlam. But it’s all for God! We don’t care how we express ourselves to God. We just give what we have to Him, and trust Him to receive it in the spirit in which we offer it. Now, don’t get me wrong. When I say that we don’t care, we understand that there are appropriate ways in the Holy Spirit to express that adoration. We understand that the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet. We’ve been taught. We have been trained. But anything beyond that, they trust us to go forth in the Spirit. It is this freedom that allows God to completely wreck us in our services, and this is why I believe that so many lives are being changed each week. People are growing, expanding, stretching, and running after God.

 

I’m thankful that the Spirit manifests Himself differently in every life. It shows me that God has such an artistic flair. Services where so much is going on, yet there is harmony gives me a picture of God painting a beautiful picture of what heavenly worship will be like. I’m so thankful for a congregation that is moving towards autonomous worship, a response that just pours forth from their lives when in the presence of God. It is encouraging and empowering. I love it so much.

So, this is what I’m most thankful for this year. I count myself blessed. Thank you, Abba.

 

Until next time, be blessed.

 

 

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Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Are We Ever Good Enough? Its the question in the backs of our minds everyday. We compare ourselves to others, what they are doing or not doing. We even bring this over into our Christianity. We compare and justify ourselves, but according to God’s standard, we are never good enough. Scripture says we all have sinned…so we are all not good enough. We can’t qualify ourselves according to what someone else is doing.

Mark 10:17-22- Jesus and the rich young ruler. Jesus told him to give away all his possessions amd give the money to the poor. The young man went away sad.

1. Good is not good enough.

Matt 19:16-17- same story. We are constantly weighing our good and bad..trying to have more good than bad. The fact is that we are never good enough on our own. We only become good when we accept Christ’s righteousness. When speaking to the young man, Jesus lists the 6 commands that deal with how we treat each other.

Rom 3:12- there is none who does good, not one. We have to quit having the argument as to if we are good enough. We arent. Nuff said. Goodness only comes through Christ.

2. God requires total commitment.

Would you give every thing away to go to heaven? Now, have you given everything away to God? Its a mindset that nothing we have is ours; that God controls everything that comes in and goes out. God was asking this young man to give up the most precious thing to him. He was asking if the young ruler was all in, 100% committed.

Mark 10:21- Jesus asked him to give away his possessions, take up his cross and follow Him. Being a Christian entails more than a prayer. It’s being sold out and ready to leave the comfort zones in our lives. What are the things we are holding on to the most? Jesus is asking us to make space, to create room for God’s will to be done. If we want space for more of God, we have to give up space that is cluttering our lives. It’s not easy, but it must be done.

1Cor 15:58- always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain. Not everyone is called into full time ministry, but we all are called to life long ministry.

3. Jesus Loved him. When we don’t measure up, God still freely loves us.

Mark 10:23-27- Jesus talking to the disciples about what had just happened . He told them that nothing is impossible with God. They were talking about who could be saved, and Jesus told them that they could not do it by themselves, but only through Christ.

Who Ya With???

I need to go ahead and get this out of my head before it leaves me completely. Ive posted the sermon notes from our service yesterday. You can find a couple of posts down. Essentially, our Pastor was talking to us about submitting control to God. It’s easy to say, but many of us have some real control issues! Then, there are some of us who maintain a stoic public face, but behind our eyes, we are doing this to God,

“GAAAAWWWWWDDD, WHHHHHHHYYYYYYY????!!!!!! WHHHYYY GAWD!!! WHY ME, WHY NOW, WHY NOT HIM OR HER? I”M LIVING MORE RIGHT THAN SALLIE MAE AND FREDDIE MAC!! WHY ARE THEY SO RICH AND I”M SCRAPING TO GET BYYY!!! WHYYYYYYYY!!!!”

Know how I know? I’ve done it. I do it. I used to tell people all of the time that I was a patient man. LIE. I asked God for patience one day, and God showed me that I’m the most impatient person that I know. Even in times when it seems warranted to ask God why, it’s still not cool. If we are taking off our shoes and completely submitting, then what good does WHY do? Either we are going to trust Him or we aren’t.

So, this is what I’m looking at, and this will be the only political statements that you will EVER hear me say. This past election got on every last one of my nerves. The left, right, center, moderate, celibate, deliberate, and any other “ate” out there just really and effectively put the world on notice that we don’t have ourselves together. The ad messages, debates, interviews, phone calls, etc just made me sick to my stomach. The Facebook pundits, touting freedom of speech, torched so many relationships, and for what?? Just to say that they were right?? Just to try and get people onto their side? Yesterday, our Pastor made it plain.

“There is no our side and their side. There is on GOD”S side.”- Gene Bebee
When the elections went final, the rhetoric was just as bad. And in the end, it’s all about control. We want control. We lust after control!

During worship service eysterday, I was so convicted on that point. Control. I want to control when I get a teaching job and where. I want to control when I take the pulpit and where. How stupid am I? Even in a time of great trial and tribulation, the timing on it is still God’s to control! Even when our accounts scream EMPTY, like they do most days now, God is still in control.

So, here is the thing that I really felt God speaking to my heart yesterday. I felt like telling you all here, rather than putting it up on Facebook. I know it won’t be read nearly as much, or “liked” as much, but here it is anyway.
I believe God impressed it on me to stop asking why! Plain and simply, trust God. Take off your shoes, realize that there is a God above who care and plans out every aspect our my life, and quit asking WHY! That hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m so quick to ask God why; to demand answers. God is not beholden to me. It is the complete opposite. I am dependent on His omnipotence and love just to take my next breath.

Here is the second part to that though. As Christians, we are instructed to pray for our leaders and those in authority. I truly believe that God is calling all Christians to the carpet on this one. Your calling as a Christian supersedes ANY affiliation that you may have with a political party, sorority, fraternity, or whatever. And as a Christian, we are supposed to pray for our leaders, respect them, and uplift them. I felt God telling me that what happens to our nation during the next 4 years will fall on us. Will we free God in our governments to counsel our leaders? Will we pray that our President does God’s will, whether he knows it or not? Or will we tear down and destroy this country that was built on being under submissiveness to God?

This is what I know in my heart to be true. God wants to bring His Kingdom through us. Our role in this is to model Christ to the nations. We must pray. We must pray. We must pray. Dare I say it again, we must pray.

Prayer is not a political issue. We can’t waste our time engaging in meaningless pursuits. God’s will must be done regardless of who is leading. As Christians, our job is to intercede and pray with all of the power of the Holy Spirit, realizing that no matter who sits in the White House or any other place of “power”, God sits on the throne of Heaven. He is our source! He is our Provider! He is our banner! He is our Redeemer! He is GOD!!!!!

Woo (wipes forehead). Sorry for that hastily written blog, but I knew I needed to write it. I was just putting it off. The sermon yesterday just reinforced what I knew God was already speaking to me. Oh, and if I offended anyone, I’m sorry. It still had to be said.

Until next time, be blessed!

Papparazzi

“Clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of flesh, that is of the heart.” 2 Cor. 3:3

 

Something that I have never really been able to wrap my mind around is the idea of paparazzi. They trail celebrities, snapping pictures at a mind numbing rate. They invade privacy, interjecting themselves into even personal moments, just for the purpose of grabbing the next big picture. Many times, these photographers are depending on this picture to get money to pay rent or other things. The kicker in this entire situation is that we as a culture have become so invested in the lives of actors, musicians, athletes, and politicians, that we crave knowing every aspect of their lives. We infringe in ways that we would cray bloody murder on, if it were us in that same way. Magazines and other publications make waves with salacious details of lives that are not meant to be lived out for our display. Then again, I suppose that is the price of fame. Still though, I feel bad that paparazzi have earned and been given the name that they have. In truth, we all have paparazzi, especially if we choose to live out our public lives according to the will of Jesus Christ.

In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul is talking to the church at Corinth about humility. In verse one he begins by asking if they were beginning to praise themselves again, while asking others to write letters of recommendation about them. Isn’t that a curious discussion? Why is it that we, and I wholeheartedly include myself, want to be recognized for what we do? Many times, it’s not even an expressed thing from our mouths, but more an inward yearning for attention. Perhaps we desire a prophet to give us a word from God for our lives. We pressure our Pastors and Teachers for guidance from the same voice who speaks to all of us indiscriminately. This is a quirk of human kind that I laugh at when I see it manifesting in myself. It’s real. We want to be noticed, when in the end, the only noticing that we need is from Christ. The only stamp of approval has already been given in blood when he died on the cross. And Paul goes on to say just that. In verse 2, he talks about how no letters are needed. But verse 3 is the kicker, because Paul basically says that the same letters of recommendation that they are looking to send are found in their own lives. THEY are the letters. Living epistles set before men.
Think about that. We are living epistles. So many times, we read the letters from Paul and the other apostles with a detached feeling. Little do we realize that every day of our lives, there is ink being written along the pages of our lives. So when we go out, people see us and see the words inscribed on our hearts. There is a saying that we may be the only God that some people see. In truth, we may also be the only Bible that some people ever read. And if we think that nobody is watching us, we are sadly mistaken. You can comb the internet and YouTube to find clips of people outing those who profess to be Christians. The paparazzi is out there watching us. They are snapping mental pictures, not looking to cash them in, but they are looking to see who this Christ is that we claim. Who are we showing the world? What do our lives say about God?

See, we aren’t just epistles, but we are also dictionaries, thesauri, and encyclopedias. We are living reference materials. We define what Christianity is. We define what the resurrection is. Before most people even set foot in a church, they see the pages of our lives and read. If they like what we have to say, they perhaps, without any words on our part, they might come to Christ one day. Inversely, if our pages are rife with public malfunctions in the name of God, then these are people who may never find Him.
And I don’t write these words as an indictment. I write them in love, because this is something that we need to be cognizant of. Our lives are not our own. The mark we wear as children of God is one that we must guard.
The world is our paparrazo. It watches and judges based on the pictures that they snap of us. Don’t be fooled. Don’t take it lightly.

Until next time, be blessed.

Getting out of Your Comfort Zone

Who’s in Control?

In life we want to be in control. It starts at a young age and carries over into adulthood. We want to control what happens to us and when it happens. Part of getting out of our comfort zone is giving up control to God. It’s not easy. When things go bad, we wanna take the reigns back from God.

Josh 5: 13-15- Joshua asked a man, ” are you with us or against us?” The man was a messenger from God and told him that the land was holy.

1. Who’s side are you on? Moses had lead Israel to the Promised Land, but could not enter. Joshua lead them in and the first city was Jericho, a city of giants. He encounters a man with a sword, and theologians believe it was Jesus. Joshua questions him, and Jesus answers that He is the leader of the army of God. Jesus didn’t show up to take sides. He showed up to take control!

We have to stop asking Jesus to get on our side. We need to get on His side!! Jesus wants to take control.

As Christians, we must understand that there are only two sides, and neither of them is “our”side. The two sides are God’s and Satan‘s. We must align ourselves with the side of the Lord. Give up your right to be right and go with God!!

The church needs to quit taking sides and just align with God!

In verse 15, Jesus told Joshua to take off his shoes if he was on HIS side. There is significance in this. Moses was told to take off his sandals when he came to the burning bush. Now, the same happens with Joshua.

2. Have you taken off your shoes?

Some people have chosen to be on God’s side, but havent taken off their shoes. In Ruth, we see Naomi taking her daughters in law back to Israel. Boaz sees Ruth and wants to marry her. Ruth tells him that there is a relative who is in line fo dibs. The relative says he will marry her. Boaz convinces him not to do it.

Ruth 4: 7-8- a sandal was removed and given to another for confirmation. The relative took off his sandal, signifying his giving up rights to Ruth.

Deut. 25: 7-10- if a relative doesn’t want to marry his brother’s wife, the elders speak to him first. If thr answer is still no, the widow comes in and the widow must remove his sandal, and spit in his face. He is given a name was that indicated his loss of rights.

Jesus asked the disciples to remove their sandals and He washed their feet. Peter objected according to the law.

John 13: 8- Jesus answered, ” If i do not wash you, you will have no part with me”.

Peter had to give up his right to be right. Removing our shoes means we give God complete control!

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Moving Beyond Our Past

Many times we allow our pasts to keep us stationary, but God is calling us to move forward. We can’t allow past hurts to keep us in a place that God no longer wants us to inhabit.

We use our past guilt and hurt as a crutch, and build walls around ourselves.

Phil 3: 12- forgetting whats behind, I strain for what’s ahead.

Basically, i can’t relate to the present if I’m still reacting to the past. God has better in the future, but when we stay devoted to the past, we miss out.

We end up taking our past hurts out on people that we meet in the present and future. We have to choose to no longer be stuck! God can and will heal our hearts.

Focus your thoughts on God’s desire for a greater future. This can help you move beyond your past.

1. First i must give up my grudges.

Eph 4: 31-32- let go of everything just as God has let go of your own sins. Be kind and compassionate to one another.

When i hold resentment in our hearts, we give the other person power over us. They live life disregading you, but you can’t live your life.

Job 5: 2- to worry yourself with resentment is a foolish thing to do.

Job 18: 4- you are only hurting yourself with your anger.

2. I must give up my grief.

Children are good at mourning immediately and then refocusing. Adults refuse to mourn, and this creates problems. When our mourning becomes moaning, we get stuck.

-accept what can’t be changed.
-play it down and pray it up. (Is.6)- in the year that King Uziah died, Isaiah saw the Lord. During a time of grief, Isaiah had a life changing time with God.
-focus on what’s left, not what’s lost.

3. We must give up our guilt.

Some of us wanna keep ourselves in punishment for the rest of our lives. We can’t stay in the time out box forever. In the Bible, almost every great person messed up, and then God rebuilt them to do great things.

-the wrong way is condemnation.

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Learning to take Risks Taking risks is essential to growing our faith. God will often ask us to do things that rips us out of comfort. Fear is no excuse. God has called us to walk in His fear busting power. Its in the times where we do what we fear the most, that we grow the most.

In Scripture, there are 365 instances stating that we should not fear.

1. What step are you afraid to take that would result in depth or closeness to God? Whats the one thing God is asking me to give up that scares you the most?

Acts 3: 1-7- Peter and John heal the lame man. Peter seized the opportunity to show the power of God. Then in verse 12, he takes advantage of the opportunity to preach to the masses about what had just happened.

How many of us miss opportunities every day? There is always risk involved.

Acts 4: 1-3- Peter and John were arrested after Peter’s speech. Sometimes obeying God will get you rejected or misunderstood. Sometimes you set people free, and you end up in trouble.

In v 7-8, Peter preaches to the leaders and elders about Christ and his resurrection. In the end, Peter’s risk afforded him the opportunity to witness amd testify in the presence of leaders of the nation.

Takeaways:
1. Seize opportunity.
2. Take a risk.
3. See an opportunity.

To face my fear of risk:
1. Identify my personal fear.
2. Confess my fear of risk to someone.
3. Take one risk at an opportunity that will challenge my fear-then take another one soon after.
4. Feel the pleasure of God in my risk.

The more we are obedient to do what God tells us, the clearer we will hear His voice.