Archive for May, 2013

Living in the Zone: How is my Heart

Luke 6:37-38- judge not and you shall not be judged. Condemn not and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your lap. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.

If you want more of God,

4 things that keep our heart in the right place:

1. Deal with a selfish heart.

Deut. 15:9- be careful not to harbor wicked thoughts: the seventh year , the year for canceling debts, is near. So that you do not show ill will toward the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing. They may then appeal to The Lord against you, and you will be found guilty of sin.

First off, wicked thoughts are not bad in themselves. It’s acting on those thoughts and being lead by them. We have to realize that we don’t give to get. We give to please God. We give so that God can change our hearts. Sure there are blessings involved in giving, but the blessing should never be the purpose for our giving. The reason He wants us to learn to give is so at we can be more like Him.

2. God wants to deal with our grieving heart

Deu. 15:10- do not be grieved when you give, because for this thing the Lord will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand.

Selfishness will attack you before you give. Grief will attack you after you give. God doesn’t want us to regret what we give, but to walk away in freedom knowing that we have done His will. In order for us to get to a place where we can give without grieving, we have to realize that everything belongs to God. Anything good we relieve in life comes from God. When we operate in knowing that everything belongs to God, we can give freely back to Him by giving to others. It’s how we thank Him for blessing our lives. When you truly believe that God is your source, it eliminates the grieving process. When we believe that He is our source, our perspective changes.

3. Develop a generous heart.

Deu. 15:14- you shall supply him liberally …
Luke 6:32-36- but if you only love those who love you, what credit is that to you? …….but love your enemies. Do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great; and you will be a son of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful….therefore be merciful, just as your Father is also merciful.

In doing this, it breaks the miser spirit.

4. Develop a grateful heart.

Deu. 15:15- you shall remember st you were a slave in Egypt, and The Lord redeemed you; therefore I command you this thing today.

We must remember what God has forgiven us for, how he has sustained us, how much grace He has shown us…then it becomes easy to give our lives away to others.

Advertisements

Dead Zone? No More!!

Yesterday in church we were debuting a new song, “Break Every Chain”. The version that we did was performed by Jesus Culture, but there is also another version by Tosha Cobb that I absolutely LOVE to DEATH!!! Regardless, this song has such a powerful message to it. It seems to me that God speaks to me more and more Sundays during church worship. I can’t recall a time EVER where it feels like I hear God speaking to me directly as we worship. Please don’t think that I am bragging, or that I think that I’m special. I don’t think that at all. Usually I’m just worshiping along with the rest of the congregation when God “pulls me aside”. It just feels like it is happening more and more frequently these days. I almost put this up on Facebook, but decided to do it here, since not many people will see this post.

 

Anyway, here is the deal. One of the verses of the song simply says “There’s an army rising up.” It repeats several times. As we sang it, I found myself standing within the pages of the Bible at the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37. It was so crazy. I’m hearing the music around me, but I’m staring out into this valley covered with death and decay. Bones that have been baking in the sun for a long time. Then, as we continue singing, I see these bones begin to move and come together. And seemingly in the blink of an eye, there stood before me an exceedingly large army. This morning, I went back and found Ezekiel 37, and this verse stuck out to me,

 

“So I spoke the message as He commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet- an exceedingly large army. “ Ezekiel 37:10

 

I didn’t tell anyone about this vision yesterday. I kept it to myself and kept trying to figure out what it meant. Even as the service carried on, I found myself re-running this vision over and over again in my head, asking God what it meant. I’m starting to realize it.

 

I feel like God was telling me that as we worshiped and praised Him, we were declaring His purpose. We were “speaking as He commanded us”. We were allowing Him to release His will. As this happened, He was raising dead things and dead people. He was raising dead dreams, dead hopes, dead missions. He was reviving dead visions, and dead callings. The things that we have all laid to rest within ourselves, as we worshiped, God was raising them. He was speaking life into those things and us. And as we stood there worshiping, God was raising an army…exceedingly large, and exceedingly powerful! Then God showed me something else. He is drawing dead things. People who are half dead, half alive, He is drawing them. They don’t know why they are coming to our churches. They don’t know what is even placing the thoughts to try church in their minds. Some have not even sniffed a church in years, but for some reason, now they are trying it out. God is drawing the dead things that we might speak life into them. Ezekiel obeyed God, then watched in amazement as God raised the bones to life, symbolizing what He was going to do with the nation of Israel.

 

I get the feeling that what we have seen so far in my church is not even scratching the surface of what God has planned. I get the feeling that what the Body of Christ has seen so far is not even scratching the surface of what He is wanting to show the earth. If the dead can’t come into our churches, or encounter Christians, and walk away living, breathing disciples of Christ, then what are we doing? Everyday, Christ walked among zombies and restored life to them through His words and actions. What are we doing then? If we are truly imitating Christ, there should be an aura of life around us as we walk and talk among those who don’t know Him. We shouldn’t shrink from the moment, but trust God to revive all that we come into contact with.

 

I believe that we are really about to see dead things raised to life. There’s an army rising up., and it will consist of every soul that we have spoken life into.

 

Maybe this makes sense to you, maybe it doesn’t. maybe it resonates with what God has spoken in your spirit. Maybe it doesn’t. All I know is that I’m excited. I’m expecting. I’m ready. Let’s get to work!

Living in the Zone: The Principles of Multiplication (video) Robert Morris

Luke 9:12- Feeding the Multitudes with the fish and bread.

Understand that this was 5000 men, but women and children were not counted. There may have been almost 25-30k people altogether.

Principles of multiplication

1. It has to be blessed before it could multiply. What is the disciples had given out the food without Jesus blessing it? When we give our tithe, the rest of our money is blessed and God multiplies it.

2. It has to be given away before it can multiply. What if the disciples had eaten it after it was blessed instead of giving it away?

Tithing is NOT giving. Tithing is returning.

My Testimony

“Not by power, nor by might, but by my Spirit, says the Lord. “

 

This has become the story of my life it seems. I can remember sitting in my supervisor’s office almost 2 years ago with tears fighting to come down my face. I was resigning. The job was not working out. I was frustrated by my own inability to please them, and torn by the voice of God telling me to do something that seemed unnatural to me. I had just come off of a three day suspension for things that I still don’t understand, and during that time, I felt God speaking to me. He told me that Human Resources was not my home anymore. He wanted me to go back to school. And while He had told me this several times over three years, my actions continually told Him no.  Yet, here I was now, backed into a corner where my only recourse was to finally surrender. In the immediate aftermath, it didn’t feel good. But as I started thje process of getting accepted into alternative certification program, and eased back into classes, life felt better.

 

That first summer, we were good. God intervened a few times, but we still felt self sufficient. Going into the fall was when we thought that the bottom dropped out. We were wrong. I was proud, expecting to get hired just because I felt like I was awesome! That fall and spring were challenging, as we weren’t able to make the kind of cuts that we needed in order to survive. Again, God was faithful, but I still felt like as the man of the house, I deserved to be the one who made the money. It made me feel worthwhile. It was my identity. And with each new defeat, my identity took more and more of a hit. I had to learn how to ask for help. I had to learn how to receive help with the right spirit. I had to learn how to open up to others. And going into the second summer, I was so sure that I was ready for a teaching job. I applied for jobs and had two awesome interviews. Both jobs went kaput, and all of my other applications yielded nothing. At the time I thought that I was settling for a job in the library of an elementary school. Yeah, right. In the past year, God has humbled me. He has built my faith, because there have been some dire needs, needs that haven’t completely gone away month to month, that God has provided for. However, in the process I was broken so badly that I completely gave up at several junctions. My pride was wounded, I was bleeding all over anyone who dare got close to me. I was hurting because I could not understand why God would have me leave a good paying job with benefits, to live out in the desert. I’m no Moses.

 

It turns out, that there is some Moses in all of us. This past year at the elementary school has been one of the most amazing times of my life. I have learned that I LOVE kids. I love watching them succeed. I love watching them struggle and then find solutions to the problem. I love giving them hugs and fist bumps. I love playing jokes on them. I love teaching them new things. Even as recently as a year ago, I didn’t love any of those things. I loved my kids, but I wasn’t all that concerned about others children. God expanded my world exponentially, and enlarged my heart past the point of breaking. He laid it wide open, and allowed 400 children to take up residence. This has happened to such a degree that I have almost shed tears in interviews when I talk about these same kids.

 

Fast forward a bit. Struggling to pay rent month to month. Struggling with bill collectors and collection agencies. A truck that was repossessed. God paying rent on some months. A little money here and there for food and gas. We are surviving…not thriving by any means. Then my wife is told by her school that they are not renewing her contract. WHAT??? So, now both of us are looking for jobs. My wife applies for a job, gets and interview and is hired the same day. I was so happy for her, because she never lost faith. I wouldn’t allow her to lose faith. At the same time, I was so jealous and hurt that God had “apparently” not given me any consideration. Can you imagine driving to a marriage retreat with these issues running around in side of your head? When we had about 20 minutes to reach our destination, I finally opened up to my wife. I told her everything. I expressed my feelings using the words that I knew, but not really finding an adequate way to say to her “I’m proud of you. I’m happy for you. God loves you. Evidently He loves you more than me, because I’m the forgotten one.” Self pity stinks to God. It doesn’t move Him. Just a side note.

 

We get the retreat and the speakers are talking about surrendering to your spouse; putting them above your own wants and desires. I felt so convicted, and as we talked and prayed for one another, I repented to both her and God for my anger and  how it was manifesting, and had manifested over the past couple of years. My Pastor and I were talking a little later, and out of nowhere he told me that I just needed to give up trying to make this teaching thing happen. Where did that come from? Anyway, I did just that. I mean, I REALLY did just that. I gave it up. It sucked to not carry it around anymore, but it also felt so good to not worry about the fall.

 

Now, here is where the story picks up dramatically. Monday after the retreat, I am called by one school district about an interview for the following day. I go to the interview and absolutely nail it. During that interview, a second school district calls. They set up an interview for that Friday. I don’t nail that interview. However, before that interview I have an encounter with God that I will never forget. It felt like His presence surrounded me in the room that I was in. I sang and worshipped and prayed to Him, and His voice spoke to my heart. He told me that for our family, the season of lack had come to an end. As I spoke those words aloud, I could just feel peace entering my heart. I screamed them at the top of my lungs, just to be sure that Satan could hear me. The air was energized with something life changing, something sure to alter our lives for generations to come. Then, God asked me if I wanted this job. Without trepidation, I said yes. Now, I have spent 7 years of my life teaching people how to nail interviews. I was an interview pro. This interview, however, bombs. It angers me. It hurts me. And then I sulk about it. Which brings us back to the original verse..

 

“Not by power, nor by might, BUT BY MY SPIRIT, says the Lord.”

 

I go to church on the following Sunday so that I could repent and surrender again. Nobody else is there but God and I. And in that silence, peace returns to my heart. The following Monday, God speaks to me as I’m praying. He tells me that the school district that I had the horrific interview with will be calling me. So the entire day, I’m looking at my phone every time it rings, only to see people trying to collect the monies that I already know that I owe them. Finally, during the time that I am feeding my son, the phone rings. It’s them. I can’t answer because I am too in shock. I call them back. They want me to interview with the Assistant Superintendents. I freak! Now to fast forward some more.

 

Our church is preparing for God to move in a mighty way. In our current state, we can not take part the way that we wish too. Trying to find an offering has been frustrating, especially when you don’t even have enough money for this month’s rent presently.  But as we praised and worshipped that Sunday, I felt God speak to me again (seems to be happening quite a bit these days). He said this.

 

“I have set this job aside for you so that you and your family can take part in what I am doing in this body of believers.”

 

Then shortly afterwards, I saw a vision of me signing my contract. It was a surreal moment, and I continued to worship God even after church had been released. I didn’t want to move. I wanted to stay right there in that place with God until He was finished with me.  It’s so nice to be able to be pulled away by God.

 

Yesterday, I am at home preparing for this interview. I feel peace. As a matter of fact, the only thing that I can think about if how great God is. And it is that song that stays with me as I go into the building. I am dressed to the nine, black suit. I’m looking good and feeling better. During the interview, the vibe is very friendly. I am still on guard because the questions are just as challenging, but I still feel like God is speaking my heart to them. Matter of fact, I laid my heart bare before those two men in a way that was all at once uncomfortable and cleansing. A few times I almost cried during the interview as I spoke about how God has changed me and how ready I am to show my students the kind of love that they need in order to succeed. At the end of the interview, the Principal from the Jr High walks in. They tell me that we will be moving on to the second part of the interview. She looks at me and says

 

“Justin, I only have one question for you.”

 

I nod my head.

 

She says, “Would you like to come and work for our school district?”

 

All I can do is say YES!!!

 

Handshakes all around. A hug from one superintendent. Then they scheduled me to come in and sign my contract. MY FIRST CONTRACT!!!  As I left the building, I waited until I got into my car, and then I screamed, laughed, cried, laughed, screamed, cried, and laughed all at once. My emotions were so frazzled, the release feeling so good. And God saw my thankfulness. I know that He did.

 

See, in the past 2 years, I have learned that my power and might amounts to nothing. I can not do what God has not willed for me to do. I can not be successful apart from God’s will. I am destined to fail at even my next breath if God decides to take me. But when God’s Spirit enters the mix, everything changes! It is His Spirit that does the work through us. Then, and only then, can we truly know Him, and success. The past 2 weeks, I have begun to dream of the future again. For 2 years, I hated even considering the future. I only saw more pain and hurt, more lack. Yet, even before I got the job, God has already birthed it within me. And it spurred me to dream.

 

This is our story, yet I believe that this is just the beginning. I won’t dare say that we have emerged from the test. I just believe that God has allowed us to experience His goodness in a new and exciting way. I love the Lord. He did it again! I’m a teacher now!!!!!!!!  It still feels like I dreamed this. YES LORD!!!!! HALLELUJAH!!!

 

Be blessed, folks!!