Posts from the ‘Thoughts and Stuff’ Category

Year End Reflection

In many ways, I am still in the same headspace at the end of this year as I was at the beginning. This is a headspace of wondering and questioning. It’s not a bad thing, rather I think it is a healthy exercise in checking my own self against what God is wanting me to see and know. For me, the story of this year is not the grand blessings that God showered upon us, and how we are ending this year differently than we entered it. The real story is what God has done in my wife and I. We have matured in our faith in real ways. So, as we look towards this next year, there are a couple of things personally that we are looking forward to discovering.

Number 1, what are the dreams that God has for us, and the dreams that He will give us? Dreams are so important. For a long time, because I was so broken, I did not dream, and therefore my family also ceased to dream. I desire to be a dreamer again, and I know that God desires the same thing. Not just ordinary dreams, but BIG, GRANDIOSE, MIND-BLOWING DREAMS that can only be fulfilled by God. I feel God saying to His people that the time to dream has come again. Don’t be afraid. Dream.

Number 2, we are believing that this will be the year when we finally begin to see parts of God’s ministry within us coming to reality. This won’t be a year of stagnation. We believe that God is going to show us where we fit, and how we fit into His grand plans for our area and beyond. He is going to stretch us, and I really believe that the ways that He uses us will frighten and astound us, not that we are any more special than anyone else, but it feels like the time is coming. We know a very small piece of God’s design for us. More is coming. I believe this for so many people. The evidence is there that so many of you are right on the precipice of something great. As we are believing for our own lives, we are also believing for yours.

No resolutions for me. I’m not going to try to lose weight. I’m just going to commit to working out regularly. My real focus this year is on my spirit and my heart. It’s time to live again. This year is going to be so great. Dream. Be prepared for His instruction. Then let’s do it! You all be blessed, cause we are going to bed. We’ll say “wassup” to 2014 tomorrow morning. lol!!

Happy New Year! God’s Kingdom come, and His will be done in 2014.

Old Memory, New Desire.

I remember it clearly.

That morning, as a minister on staff at a the church that I had grown up in, the very same church that I preached my first sermon in, I told the new pastor that I was leaving the congregation. Looking back now, I didn’t do it right, but that’s not the point of this post. I remember the very first time that I felt the Holy Spirit stirring my heart as we sang a hymn that I had sang all of my life without any emotion whatsoever. I remember fighting back tears, not wanting to look dumb as I sang along with the church choir in my very best operatic voice.

I remember that Sunday, because I had long since recognized that I needed something more. I needed what the people in my wife’s church had. I didn’t just want it. I NEEDED it like a crack addict fiends for that next hit. I had to have it. And so I remember. I remember burning rubber after the service was over, eager to get to the my new church home. When we got there, the Pastor was still preaching. I don’t remember what he was preaching about. It doesn’t even matter. All that matters is when he made his appeal, I remember being so worked up, that I jumped from my seat in the back, and with a vise grip on my wife’s hand, drug her to the front of the church. I wonder what I must have looked like…a man in a suit with the ugliest face EVER! i didn’t care. I wanted what they had. I wanted to know WHO they danced and sang for. I WANTED the Holy Spirit! It was the first time that I had ever felt driven to my knees by the power of the Holy Spirit. I felt hands on me, and I heard people praying, but none of it even translated into my shaking body.

When I rose, I had a new church home. In the days, weeks, and months that followed, I began reading everything that I could find on receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I prayed for it constantly, not quite having it register that it happened from the moment I asked in faith. Whenever I felt the Lord speaking a word for someone, I never hesitated one time to give that word to that person. Most times, it was spot on! I was on a high. i was young, dumb, and full of a desire to please God. My praise went from listless notes to shouted voicings of adoration. My worship frequently involved tears and bowing low in the presence of God.  Every spare piece of change I had went towards buying books that i thought would help me understand what was happening to me. I watched TBN and TCC, and any other thing that i could that i thought would help me become who God was creating. The other young ministers who were along with me…we were so on fire! Those were the days. I think back to those days, how we didn’t want to pastor. We just wanted to work. We just wanted to touch lives and allow God to rock the world of everyone that we met. We frequently laid hands on people. We felt like we had a movement that was centered on the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that was being revealed to us.

Fast forward to today in service. My Pastor continued his series on “Changing Your Sound”. He focused on worship. And while he said many things, there was one thing that stood out to me. It was in Luke, I believe, where the story of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet appears. She worships Him in the midst of men who felt like she did not belong, because of her sinful past. Yet, she worshiped Him with her tears, her hair, and her oil. My Pastor mentioned the fact that the disciples weren’t even worshiping Him at that moment. They had become a little too familiar with Jesus. They had been walking with him for a while now, and had seen Him do all manner of miracles, and preach the most profound messages ever. Jaded? maybe. Callous? Possibly. Either way, they knew Him. The Pharisees thought that they knew what “good living” was. They weren’t worshiping Him. This woman, this harlot, came in and showed them what true worship was. She probably had heard of this man, Jesus, but she didn’t “know” him. But, she worshiped him.

The memory above came flooding back to me. I want that. i need that overwhelming desire back. We get so wrapped up in wanting to know God’s will. Sometimes, all it takes is just to remember that first moment of need for God. Sometimes, all we need is just to remember where He has brought us from; how His blood has cleaned up the wretched messes that we were, and sometimes are. I was convicted on how I have focused on the wrong thing..made mission the main thing, when just worshiping Him should have been. In truth, I have no mission unless He gives me vision. And how can He give me vision without spending real time in His presence to just know Him more?

Lord, don’t let me become so familiar with you that I become callous to Your presence, and forget what I was created to do. I pray that everything in my life concerning you would become fresh. I pray that my heart would be fresh and raw, exposed, and transparent. I pray that my jealousies, ambitions, pride, Lord anything that I would even THINK that i could boast about, I pray that it would be washed away. Make my worship new. Make my need for you new. Amen.

Just Thoughts

I feel like I should piggyback on the whole idea of fit that I blogged about last night. AS I said, it is an area that has really been on my mind lately. As in, How do I fit into my church? What purpose am I serving? How well am i serving that purpose? While some may disagree, I don’t necessarily see myself as a church leader either. The way i see it, I am merely doing whatever I am asked to do, by whomever happens to ask me to do it. Isn’t that what any effective church member would do? In my eyes, that’s the way it should be if it isn’t.  That’s the way that I have always operated, and while my pride sometimes rises up and wants to be recognized with acclaim or a title, it’s easier and easier to beat that back by the strength of God.

I think that I am understanding now that ministry is not for the church. It’s for the marketplace, or where we live, do our business, exist. You may call it the world. Thus, the fit that I have been seeking so horribly over the last few years, this “ministry” that I have chased for so long, is realized when I am obedient outside of the church. Now, all of this is stuff that I have known in my mind for so long, but it is beginning to translate into my heart in a tangible way. The good thing about this is that I don’t have to feel as if I have to earn accolades and approval from man, nor do I have to feel like what I do in church is some kind of job interview. There is a liberty in realizing that my ministry may not fit inside of my church, but it fits in the world because of the training that I have received IN the church. It is just as paul writes, that the 5 fold ministry was given unto men for the equipping of the saints. We aren’t equipped so that we can do things within 4 walls. We are equipped to be world changers once the church dismisses.

So, I may be different. You may be different. We may not fit in any traditional sense inside of a church, but that does not diminish the need fro us to be IN the church. In fact, it increases the need for us to be developed by Godly leadership. Only then can our true fit be realized.

So, if you are like me and feel “different” about your place…my advice is simply this..

GET IN the four walls, so that you can GET OUT of the four walls, and GET ACTIVE in changing the world.

Be blessed.

 

 

Just Middling Thoughts

Officially my teaching career is 8 days old, but I can’t see myself doing anything else for the rest of my professional life. That statement comes with a bit of a caveat however, because I am working through a line of thought that has me a bit troubled, I must admit. You who have followed this blog from the beginning know my story, probably a bit more well than you would prefer too. Thing is, almost 12 years ago, God called me to preach, but it felt like something bigger than just preaching. So in the time since, I have always had in the back of my mind that my primary job would be as a Pastor, shepherding a flock, much like my uncle and others that I have looked up too. Now though, I am really having thoughts about that call. I used to separate my callings. I felt like my spiritual calling was a different thing than my professional calling. call it a separation of church and state, if you will. I figured that while they may occasionally bleed over into one another, they were still two very separate things. Now though, now that I know what it feels like to be operating in my gifts, I can see very clearly that there is something much bigger at work here.

 

I can’t really explain what i mean any better than that, except to say that it kind of comes down to fit. I have had issues with fit my whole life. I have wanted to feel like I fit somewhere, that God would show somebody someplace where I would be of most good to the Body. Lord knows that i admit my failings freely…the times that I have been jealous of someone else’s ministry or calling. But I recognize that it all falls back to my own feelings of inferiority and pride.

But what if, God HAS shown someone someplace where I can be of the most good to the Body of Christ? What if that person was my Principal and not necessarily my Pastor? What if that place where I fit is not within 4 concrete walls, but walking along halls with kids who have no idea that God loves them, except that I show them how much I care? What if when God called me to Pastor, it was to a flock like this? What if when God told me that I would start something, plant something, that it was seeds in these moldable hearts that I encounter everyday? Ministry in the marketplace. Taking Jesus to hearts who either know Him, don’t know Him, or don’t want to know Him.  I must admit that this is quite a shift in my thinking, and I’m not diminishing a need to the organized body in the church. However, this is causing me to think about my role at church in a different way. I don’t quite know what that way is right now, but something is happening inside of me. A new sound is going forth, and God is leading me into something that hits every area of my life. I feel some kind of fulfillment coming soon…the kind of fulfillment that includes both church AND state, because in my life they are one in the same.

Maybe I’m not supposed to fit at church, because to fit would mean that I’m comfortable, and I KNOW that my comfort is of no concern to my Christ.

All I know for sure is that I need to pay close attention to God in this season. As I have prayed that He would make my role in my church clear, I believe that He is really about to. And as i have prayed that He would place me where He wants me to affect change for His glory, I believe that He has placed me there; in a profession where His glory can be seen brightly and joyfully.

I’m sure that none of this makes any sense at all, but as with all of my blog posts, be blessed until next time, fam.

Quick Blurb

I was just checking in here and I saw a message from WordPress that I have been blogging here for 3 years. It just said Happy Anniversary. It really made me stop and think about everything that has happened in 3 years.

I started blogging because at the time, we were reading “A Heart Ablaze” by John Bevere in our men’s group. The book was having such a profound effect on me, that I just needed somewhere to put my thoughts. Over that time, it has become a personal record of sorts. I share my joys and my pains. i share my faith, which is at the root of everything that I post here. I share my tribulations and my trials, how I fail God’s tests, and when I have some measure of victory. I have openly talked about my desire to preach, which has become more a desire to serve. I have questioned God’s plans and desires for my life. I have wondered aloud if I actually have a place, and where that place is.

I guess the point of it all is this- I don’t try to be someone that I’m not. 3 years ago, I had no idea that such an humbling and breaking was about to happen in my life. It has been scary, but it’s also been wonderful. For those of you who have subscribed to this blog, or even if you just read it in passing, I pray that something that I have said either here, or on my first blog, “A Heart Ablaze”, has stirred something for Christ. I pray that you don’t make my mistakes; that you don’t harbor my doubts. Above all though, I pray that some part of you is closer to God as a result of the words and emotions that I have shared here.

And while I never began blogging to gain readership. I thank you for reading. Most of all though, I thank God for growing me, stretching me, and preparing me for whatever is next in this life.

I love you all. God bless you.

 

 

Gideon

I found this among my things and thought it was worth sharing. be blessed and have a great weekend!

 

In my reading over the weekend, I read about Gideon. I’ve heard about him before, mainly him testing God with the whole fleece deal. But, what I didn’t know was how many times he had God proved Himself and that He was calling Gideon to be a hero for Israel. He practically made God jump through hoops, and God jumped through each and every one of them. He encountered the Angel of the Lord underneath the tree and had him wait while he ran back to his house to get some meat and bread so that the Angel could perform a miracle. All my life, I’ve heard people say that we shouldn’t test God or ask for fleeces because that shows a lack of faith, but this morning I was thinking about Gideon and a question came to mind.

I asked God why HE allowed Gideon to put Him through all of those paces. The whole fleece deal to me seemed like Gideon was stalling while trying to find a way out of that responsibility on one hand, but then God reminded me of something. Gideon was a part of that next generation of Israelites who no longer remembered the great miracles that God had performed for Joshua’s and Moses’ people. He couldn’t relate to the sun staying in the sky or the Red Sea parting, or even the conquest of Canaan. I can only imagine Gideon sitting in an environment of idol worship all around him, even in his own household, then hearing the voice of God coming through loud and clear calling him a man of great valor. When God spoke those words to him, it spoke volumes to me. God spoke to Gideon as HE saw him, not as Gideon saw Himself. It’s apparent that Gideon had a very low opinion of himself, or else he might not have been so hesitant to obey, but God saw beyond the present state towards the created state. So, it’s only right that God spoke to Gideon in the light of what he had been created to be in order to shake him from the stupor of what he was! But, I digress. When I asked God why He allowed Gideon to put Him through all of these tests, God answered me. He told me that because of Gideon’s environment, it required actions outside of the way that He was choosing to move at that point in time. Gideon was not used to living a life of faith the way his forefathers had, so in order to get his attention, God moved in a way that Gideon could perceive with his natural eyes that strengthened his spiritual awareness. Each time that Gideon had an encounter with God; it moved him further and further along in his faith to the point where he moved with fervor to accomplish God’s plans.

I’ve always heard that God meets us where we are and seeks to bring us up to His level. God has shown me this so clearly in the life of Gideon. He used whatever means were at His disposal to raise up a new Judge for Israel.

How great is a God who is willing to exhaust His inexhaustible resources to reach a people who have turned their backs wholeheartedly on Him. As unworthy as we are, His grace and mercy still seek to reach into our hearts and grip us; never letting go.

There is a purpose for you that goes beyond what you can see with your physical eyes. God has placed a mantle of greatness on your life. An ordinary life will not do for one of God’s chosen. This world needs extraordinary, and that’s what God’s grace will enable us to do if we will listen to His voice and be willing to step out in the knowledge that God will never leave us, and that God will never lead us wrong. Have faith in God.

I pray that God will continue moving among us. Lord, wake us up from our drunkenness. Awaken us to who we are in You and what you have predestined us to accomplish in Your name. Your mercy is great, but Your love is greater still, and if you have chosen us for a purpose, Lord please love us with such intensity that our hearts burn within us to accomplish the will of our Father, which is in heaven. Amen.

It’s GOOOOOOOOOOD!!!

Romans 8:28-” And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love He, who have been called according to His purpose”

 

Today I had a fantastic encounter with this verse. It’s dangerous to become too familiar with the word of God. When we can spout off scripture without giving it a second glance, we take the risk of becoming immune to the power that the Bible holds within it’s pages. When we say that it is the Living Word, we must take into account that the life really begins once we allow it to live within us. This is a verse that many of us know, but how often do we allow it’s potent truth to penetrate out hearts and affect the way that we live out our days?

 

Consider this exerpt from “Altar Ego” by Craig Groeschel:

“Maybe you can relate to Joseph. Maybe you’re going through some tough times and you’re thinking, “Man, I wish this wasn’t happening.” It can be painful, I know. You don’t understand why things are happening the way that they are. You wish things were different. You’ve even prayed that God would change your circumstances. But the truth is, according to Scripture, if you are in Christ, if you love Him, if you are living for His purpose, He’s working in ALL THINGS to bring about good.”

Now, take a minute and let that sink in.

5…

4…

3…

2…

1…

 

Good? See, as I’m reading this chapter in this book, my mind is filled with so many things. I’m nervous about teaching my first year. I’m concerned that nobody is showing up for our garage sale…even though it IS raining outside. I’m wondering about a post that I saw concerning giftings and how they either make room for you, or become merely a hobby. Yet, when I read this chapter, and this passage specifically, something clicked in my heart. I mean, something finally clicked! None of that stuff mattered.

 

I mean, it really hit me that I am where I am, and I am who I am, at this very specific point in time because God placed me here. I went through the personal hell that I endured so that I could learn compassion and how to overcome struggle. I had to learn how to deal with adversity. None of that diminishes me. In fact, because God is good, He made sure that all of that stuff strengthened me! I had to have a failed career in order to be so excited and dedicated to this new career. This point in time is where God wants me to accomplish His ultimate purpose in my life. Why?

 

Because He is GOOD, and His goodness demands that everything that happens in our lives work its way back to simply giving Him glory! So I no longer need to beat myself up about poor decisions. I learn from them and move on, because He has taken that bad situation and is turning it around for my good. I don’t have to live a life being too high or too low, because God is equally taking every instance and circumstance in my life and making it work out for my good.

 

I’ve always read this, and known the verses. But now, as i realize how truly powerful this statement is, it gives me a liberated outlook. I don’t have to take myself so seriously, because God’s goodness goes before me, and covers me on all sides. This is truly good news for me and you.

 

So, embrace it. Allow God to work unhindered in your life, because in the end, it’s gonna be GOOD!

 

Be blessed family!