Posts tagged ‘Christian living’

A Return to Self

I think that I need to get back to blogging at least semi-regularly. Too much happens in my brain when I don’t do it like I should. I’ve been thinking here lately about the difference between my former self and my present self. When I preached my first sermon, the Pastor of the church that I was attending had just left. That left me to serve alongside two Associate Pastors. i think the problem with this was that I became arrogant. it was my home church, and I really felt like I could do no wrong. While preaching was still new to me, and I felt a deep awe that God would choose to use me as He did, I can also see clearly where pride began to work it’s way into me, because there was no one there to check me, and hold me in line for accountability purposes. When I felt God move us into my wife’s church, shortly after we got married, I was joined in ministry by several young men of the same age who were on fire for God. These guys mentored me in the ways of the Holy Spirit, and together, we felt like the Avengers- super-powered Saints in the pulpit with a license to speak what we felt the truth of the Gospel was, even though we had not experienced much of it ourselves. Pride.

Back in those days, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was headed for spiritual stardom. I saw a church in my future with thousands of members. I was going to be the next, young BIG thing in ministry. Sure to be an authoring, cd-releasing, fireball of a preacher and Pastor. That is where I was headed, and no one could convince me any differently. I even had nicknamed myself the “Rainbow Reverend”, because I wanted to have suits in every color of the rainbow, much like my then idol, T.D. Jakes. I was a TBN junkie back in those days, of course. Pride.

I was sure that I always had a word from the Lord, and I was unafraid to give it. Truth be told, most times God had really given me relevant words of wisdom and knowledge for people, but I can see so much arrogance in my life. I laugh at it now. I laugh at it now, because it is 10 years later and I am not the man that I thought I would be. I’m not doing what I thought I would be doing. In actuality, whereas 10 years ago I was a young, arrogant minister, now I look in the mirror and don’t know exactly what I see. Back then, i was sure of myself…even while I had no idea what areas of ministry God desired me to work in. Now, I’m as unsure of myself as I have ever been in ministry. I question everything. I question my calling. I question my purpose. I question if I’m right about anything that I do. I sometimes feel afraid to move when I know God is wanting me to move. I don’t take risks. Now, this is a constant over the course of my life as I have seen it. I was never taught that there were good risks. I was taught that risks weren’t worth it in general. Can you teach an old dog new tricks? The only thing I know for sure these days, most days, is that I love God more than ever, and just want to serve in His church however He allows me to.

What I know is that there needs to be a balance. I need to find elements of the young man, but temper him with the wisdom of experiences of the man who has battle scars to back up every word God allows me to speak, when the need arises. I know that I can’t be afraid. I know that I need to take risks. I know that I need to believe in myself again. God believes in me. I’m surrounded by people who believe in me, and there is something in me. I feel it there.

It is time for me to quit focusing on finding aspects of others to emulate, and instead find the parts of me that need to be cultivated and grown so that instead of being a carbon copy amalgamation of others, I can finally be comfortable being the individual me. I am convinced that this is where God is taking me- down a painful road of self discovery again. God is telling me that it is an insult for me to think so lowly of someone He thought so highly enough of to create and die for.

Pride. Arrogance. Brokenness. Uncertainty. Self-doubt. Identity Crises. Rebirth?

I understand that it is not popular for those in ministry to be this transparent, but I assure you that you can’t question me anymore that I already question myself. All I can be is who I am, and hope that others learn from me how not to repeat my mistakes and life experiences. Be better, and then some. I know I plan on being better. The best, ever.

It’s Already There!!!

Isaiah 61:3- “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison door to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness..”

 

Luke 4:16-22-“So He cane to Nazareth where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’ Then He closed the book and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ So all bore witness to Him and marveled at the gracious words, which proceeded out of His mouth. “

 

Jesus told his disciples that the works that He did while He was with them would be the same works and greater that they would do by the power of the Holy Spirit if they believed. Keep that in mind in light of the two verses above. I’m one of those people who believe everything that the Bible says. I believe everything that Jesus says. Thus, I believe Him when He says that we will do greater things. Now, that implies that we already have found favor with God. It implies that we already are anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit if we have received Him.

 

I think we waste so much time praying and asking God for the very thing that He has already given us. We ask for favor. We pray for anointing. Double portions of anointing. We pray for more power. I believe that God has equipped us with all of the favor, anointing, and power that we need to ruin every one of Satan’s schemes. When Jesus stood up in the synagogue and took that scroll from the attendant, he searched for that specific prophecy to read. It was not by accident. By the same token, I believe that it is no accident that this is found in 2 places in the Bible. Jesus fulfilled that prophecy many times over, but I believe that those words are still active until Jesus comes back again. So, what does that mean?

 

It means that you and I have been anointed by the Spirit of God to preach good tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to give sight to the blind, to proclaim liberty to the oppressed, etc. Don’t believe me? In Jesus’ final instructions to His disciples, he tells them to go into all of the world and preach the gospel, and as they went forth preaching and baptizing, signs would follow them. They would cast out demons, heal the sick, be bitten by snakes and not poisoned. Basically, he summarized the same prophecy from Isaiah that He astounded the synagogue dwellers with. He put it into their hands. They didn’t have to pray for it. As soon as they were filled by the Spirit, they went right fulfilling the work that they had been charged to do.  Nowhere do we read after that, that they spent time asking for more power or for more anointing. They just did the work, and as they did the work, the power, favor, and anointing came out of them.  Sure, they waited on the Spirit to direct them, but they were forward thinking and forward moving, intent on accomplishing everything that they could while there was still breath in their lungs!

 

I used to spend so much time on my knees, begging God for favor and anointing to change the world for Him. Standing in prayer lines to receive a prayer from the Pastor that would somehow change my life and make me a superhero for God. Maybe some of you have done it as well.  I’ve seen people on television charging money for items that are sure to “unlock God’s power in your life, or reveal God’s destiny for your life.” Ugh, it makes me sick to my stomach. As the magician in Acts learned, you can not purchase the Spirit of God. All you need is to receive the Spirit of God and allow Him to do His perfect work in your life.  While I was listening to a song yesterday, God hit me so hard with the fact that it’s already in us. It’s in us. Favor is in us. Grace is within us. Anointing is within us. Love is within us. And all of this is made possible because the Spirit of God is within us. So, all we have to do it just get to work! Do the work, and the power will show itself. Do the work, and the gifts will follow.

 

Man, this just makes me excited. Let’s get busy!

Band of Brothers

When I get the inspiration to blog, sometimes I resist it because the topic is too personal, or I feel like it points back to me instead of pointing back to God. I realized something this morning though, and I just briefly want to share it.

 

Psalm 133 talks about how good it is for brothers to dwell together in harmony. Also, the Bible talks about how Jesus sticks closer than a brother, and also how iron sharpens iron. It occurred to me that there is something really, inherently Godly about a brotherhood. Men need brotherhood. So, here is the back story.

 

My family is going through a tough time at the moment. Thinking about it woke me from my sleep before the alarm clock. Now, I’m not one to talk to other people very often about what ails me. I just try and deal with is like a man, which is to say I don’t deal with it. Usually that ends up allowing it to eat me alive. There have been instances in the past, with more frequency since we moved, that I feel comfortable enough to share with brothers in my church, men who share the same faith and passion for God that I do. And even while it’s embarrassing to have to admit failure and weakness, struggle and heartache, it is also cleansing to know that I can share with these men of God, and trust that they will be praying with and for me. So, I get up this morning and grab my phone. I type out a facebook message to these men, and hit send. Now, while I’m washing dishes this morning, I’m still worrying about our situation, but I begin thinking about a Band of Brothers. That was a series on HBO that I never watched, but God really showed me the strength of a brotherhood in just that statement. The bond that brothers share was designed to be stronger than the strongest steel. And when I think about the friends I have had in my life, we could go without talking for years, and then strike up a convo like it was just a day in the recent past. There is a love in a brotherhood that is enduring and refreshing. In a true brotherhood, we should be able to unveil ourselves without fear of guilt or condemnation from our peers. Yes, it’s hard for a man to be transparent, but there is a blessing in being able to just lay it bare before your brothers and let your needs be known. That’s what I did this morning. My wife probably won’t like it, (lol), but I needed my brothers, and I know that they are there for me.  They won’t leave me behind.

 

Men, we need each other. And women, you should strive for brotherhood in your sisterhood, and I hope you know what I mean when I say that. Lol. I just don’t see the need to suffer in silence, praying to God every night, when He has also given us people to hold us up when we feel weak. Cause sometimes, and we may not admit it to ourselves, we feel lonely even after we pray. Our faith is too beaten down, and our spirit is too weak. I don’t think it’s sin to admit that. It’s the truth. It’s not ungodly to confide in those of the faith. The Bible urges it, and we as a church are commanded to bear one another’s burdens. There is blessing and edification in that. And the strength that I feel, even having not heard from anyone that I messaged, is the strength that comes from God through them to me. God blesses us with strength not just for ourselves, but so that we can share with others. There is a verse in the bible that references how the in the new testament church, everyone had just what they needed, and nobody had more than they needed. This doesn’t just go for finances. It goes for the full gamut of the human experience.

 

So, thank you brothers in Christ. Thank you sisters in Christ. Those of you who willingly show Jesus in your relationships and uphold your fellow brother and sister in prayer and support. God bless you. I pray that we all may become that Christ-like in our dealings with one another.

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Until next time, be blessed.