Posts tagged ‘church’

Jealousy vs the Chosen

Jealousy stems from not feeling chosen, and instead feeling rejected. Therefore your “feelings” of inadequacy manifest themselves in wanting what the other person seemingly has that makes them better than you. This is all perception, but to the rejected heart, it feels like reality. In truth, God’s choosing should supplant every feeling of inadequacy. The truth of God choosing us overwhelmingly implies that He believes we are worth His love and Presence in our lives. What God has chosen, and placed His mark of approval and desire on, can never be rejected, because the One who ultimately chose us will never reject us. Jealousy is dangerous. It can stem and branch off into so many sins and sinful desires. Jealousy makes you covet what is happening in others’ lives. It makes you want what God has not intended for you to have at that time, which is not to say that He never wants to give it to you, rather that it is not your time. Do your best to avoid it at all costs. Why be jealous over anyone, or anything, when God has picked you. God has chosen you. God has selected you. You are special. You are loved. Let your life be filled with God’s choosing, for you are His chosen. That is your identity; not the lie you believe when jealousy and rejection take root.

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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.

Evolution of Praise

First off, allow me to say that however one chooses to praise God is not for me to judge. I love watching all kinds of praisers. It’s all beautiful to me. This post, however, is just a look at my own evolution as a praiser and lover of God, because the way that I give myself to Him now is far different from where I used to be.

I grew up in a Missionary baptist church. I loved it for what it was. I accepted salvation there. I was baptized there. I preached my first sermon there. That church gave me my formative development as a person and as a Christian. I still consider that my genesis. I heard many types of preachers there. There were the fiery ones, the expositive ones, the quietly effective ones, etc. We sang hymns, and had a church choir that actually had SATB voices, with people who knew the technical aspects of beautiful music. SO we praised God with polish and refinement. There was no lifting of hands, merely a quiet reverence for God.

This was fine with me, because at that point in my life, I was not fully committed to God, and so I figured that singing my best was the best way that I could give God praise. Going to churches with “free praisers” scared me. I thought that “those” people were absolutely out of their minds. My friends and I would make fun of people who danced and lifted their hands. We were bougie. “Look at that woman shouting!” “Look at that old man doing that jig!” We were ignorant. We barely knew God. We had no knowledge of the Holy Spirit. We served God out of a duty to the church.

When I got married, I moved over to my wife’s church. We would visit there frequently while we were engaged, and this church was in the midst of a powerful revival in the Holy Spirit. Even while I didn’t understand what was happening around me, I knew that even the air was different. The music was catchy, with a great beat and some great vocals. The singing, while not always pretty and refined, was so sincere. The people clapped and sang at the top of their lungs. This was a raw atmosphere. People danced and passed out. The Pastor of the church walked on the pews when he got “happy” during service. Sometimes, (EGAD), he didn’t even preach and the people just sat moaned for God. What was this? It wasn’t until I joined the church and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit that I really began to understand what praise was. Even then, I praised God out of my emotion. I would dance and do a high step. I would clap and shout. Deep inside of me though, something was missing. I knew it, but I so enjoyed praising in that atmosphere. Man, just thinking about it makes me smile.

When my wife and I moved to the church we currently reside in, something strange happened. Over the last 7 years, I have received training in the knowledge of who God is, why He is so worthy of my highest praise, and how to let go. I’ve spent time in the word with God. I have encountered a God who had been a distant relative before, but has not become my closest friend. I have experience God in ways that I never would have imagined, and He has completely shattered everything that I thought that I knew about Him time after time after time. With each “rediscovery”, I have felt my level of exuberance in praise increase. I have gone from standing completely still and lifting my hands, to jumping up and down like a wild man, crying out so loudly that I can barely sing, dancing on stage. I have gone from being reserved and wondering what everyone else was doing, to closing my eyes and becoming “undignified” in the presence of my God.

One of my favorite stories about David is when the Ark of the Covenant came back. The Bible talks about how David took off his clothes and dances in his skivvies in front of all of his subjects and the people of Israel. When his wife questioned his sanity, he proudly declared that he would become even more undignified, because God’s Presence returning was worth every celebration…and more. Now, David was a king. He went hard for God in front of everyone without a single ounce of embarrassment. He knew that he was celebrating for an audience of One.

And this is where I am right now. The God that I now know is simply too good for me to sit still. I know Him too well now to just give Him a cursory nod and keep on moving. I choose to exhaust my limbs and move my body, I choose to offer up my voice with all of it’s imperfections and cracks. I choose to not let singing the wrong notes bother me. I choose rather, to focus on Him, knowing that He inhabits my praise, and while it is not perfect, it is all for Him, and Him alone.

Simply put, as I’be grown in Him, I’ve grown in my willingness to give Him my all in praise. I do know this, though. However you choose to praise God is a praise that God accepts willingly from you. You don’t have to imitate anyone else. All He wants is a praise that comes from your heart, and however that looks for you, if your heart is engaged, God is pleased.

Have a great evening! Be blessed, peeps.

Follow the Leader

It’s been hard for me to ever think of myself as a leader. I have never thought that I had the “it” factor that great leaders possessed. I don’t have what I consider to be an electric personality. I’m not an extrovert, preferably a wallflower rather than the life of the party. It’s not that no one ever told me that I could never be a leader. In reality, I’ve been told all of my life that I had the potential to be a great leader. Others saw it in me, but I just could not see it in myself. Part of the reason was that I was comparing what I saw in others to what I did not see in myself. It seems that God has really been deconstructing my own self image here lately. A good friend of mine, Dan Clark, once told me during a breakfast meeting that I should embrace the things about myself that I did not do well. At that point, I didn’t really grasp the power of what he was saying. I figured that because I didn’t do the things well that I saw other great leaders do well, I could never be a leader; not even considering becoming an effective Pastor. Our series in church has been dealing with breaking bad habits and cycles in our lives, and the last 4 weeks have dealt especially with breaking the spirits of comparison and poor mental workings. As a result of really allowing these things to sink in, plus having some real eye opening time at our staff meeting over this weekend, I am beginning to see the uniqueness in the way God has created me to lead. It doesn’t look like my Pastor in many ways, any Pastor that I’ve ever sat under. It doesn’t look like our Youth Pastors, or anyone that I see on television. I’m me, and in the past I’ve spent so much time ripping myself for NOT being the people whose lives I looked up to and admired. However, instead of focusing so much on my weaknesses and deficiencies, I am really beginning to see how my strengths can be used by God to be an effective leader.

I have always wanted to be a leader, but the issue has not been with what I was created to be, but rather how I saw who God has created me to be. In the light of respecting and esteeming his creative work in constructing me, I think that I am beginning to understand myself in the way God intended for me to be. Quirks and all, I think I’m actually an ok guy, and I’m growing to be an effective leader as well.

The Power of Words: Do You Value Your Words?

Many times we speak words out of our mouths all the time without recognizing the value behind our words.

Proverbs 18:20-21- from the fruit of their mouth, a persons stomach is filled. With the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Basically, the quality of the words that come from our mouths strongly influence the quality of our lives. In Genesis, we see that god spoke things into existence. Thus, because we are created in God’s image, we hold the same creative or destructive power. Many times, we see people who have the truth and stretch the truth cause us to reject the original biblical truth. Our words must line up with what God is saying.

We need to stop trying to get God in agreement with our words, and get our words in agreement with God. When this happens, we have true power and authority. Our words are either agreeing with life, or agreeing with death. So the question becomes whether or not we are releasing life or death when we speak?

1. Our words connect us to God. They have the power to connect God from the spiritual world to the natural God.

John 1:1- in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word WAS God.

Psalm 107:20- he sent his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

Jesus came as the Word to save us from our sins and connect us, but we only truly connect by the power of OUR words.

Romans 10:8-10; 13- the word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart…if you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that god raised him from the dead then you are justified……everyone who calls on the name of The Lord will be saved.

Example:we declare with our words that Jesus is the Messiah and we accept his salvation. Then we are saved and connected to God. We have to speak the words and believe in our heart. Our words place us into right agreement with God.

Matthew 12:31-37- but I tell you this, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks a word against the spirit of God will not be forgiven neither in this age, nor in the age to come. …..for the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. ….but I tell you that everyone will be judged for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be judged, and by your words will you be condemned.

Blaspheming against the Holy Spirit is taking what God has done and attributing it to Satan or some other source.

2. Our words connect us to each other.

Proverbs 18:20-21- he who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from The Lord.

There is a reason that this verse is here. Our words connect us also to our spouse or to other people. When we misuse our words, or fail to communicate, the relationship suffers. It gets weak and brittle. Stop speaking death into your relationships, family, health, finances, life. Speak life!!

Be a life speaker! Agree with God’s words and his plans.

Ephesians 5:25-26- husbands love your wives, just as Jesus also loved the church and gave himself for for her that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.

Are we cleansing or corrupting by what we are are speaking? Words can either destroy relationships or restore relationships.

Change Your Sound Pt 8 : I know who I am

There is an identity crisis in the Body of Christ. Satan doesn’t have to steal our authority or power, but if he can steal our identities, we effectively stop ourselves.

Matt 3:13- the baptism of Jesus – after he was baptized, the spirit of God descended like a dove….and said,” this is my Son whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

It took 30 years for Jesus to get baptized and begin his public ministry. God affirms Jesus’ publicly before he even begins ministering.

-stop trying to earn or prove God’s love for you. It is important that we believe this and know that God approves and accepts us. As soon as you accept Jesus as Savior, you become loved unconditionally. He will never love you any less or any more. It is a changeless love. So God affirms Jesus before anything of note happens in his life.

Following his baptism, instead of beginning to minister, Jesus went on a 40 day fast in the wilderness. Perhaps this was to get his heart ready and to reveal the full scope and relevance of his ministry. This happens in Paul’s life as well in Acts.

During his fast, Satan meets him and begins to tempt him. Matt 4 details this for us. satan attacks his identity.

He attacks our identity by twisting scripture for his purposes. He only attacks his identity, because if he can get Jesus to lose focus of who he really is! he can render his entire ministry of no regard.

When you know who you are, you will not be….

1. Performance driven-when we know who we are, we understand that we don’t have to win his approval. When I really know that I belong to God, and that he loves me and affirms me, it sets me free.

Satan attacks Jesus first where he is weak because he had not eaten. (V3-4), but Jesus already knew that he was the cornerstone and the bread of life. In verses 5-7, he continues attacking Jesus’ identity again by challenging him to jump from the highest point of the temple. Jesus answers by telling him not to put God to the test.

2. When I know who I am in Christ, I will not be arrogant. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone about what you can or can’t do. When we are challenged, we must rest in who we are in Christ. Our boldness doesn’t come from arrogance, but from a deep knowledge of who we are in Christ.

Arrogance will keep you jumping off of stuff, just to prove that you belong. When we know who we are, we can blow negative things off because we are secure in our identity.

In verses 8-10, Satan offers Jesus the entire world if he will only bow and worship him?! Jesus rebukes him.

3. When I know who I am, I will not be selfish. It would have been easy for Jesus to accept Satan’s deal and skip the pain of the cross. However, he saw outside of himself and saw us, who would need him to endure the torment, so that we could be blessed and restored back to God. He paid the full price so that we could have a relationship with God.

Change Your Sound pt 5

Psalm 16:11- in your presence is fullness of joy

Acts 3:19- repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be washed away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of The Lord.

We need the presence of God, because it brings fullness of joy and refreshment. This is why we need to change our sound, so that we may experience the manifested presence of God.

Isaiah 6:1-4- in the year that King Uzziah died, I saw The Lord, high and exalted. Seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above Him were seraphim, each with 6 wings: two covering their faces, two covering their feet, and two for flying. And they were calling to one another: ” holy holy holy is The Lord Almighty…..”

Three things happen when we are in Gods presence

1. We see how BIG God is. –

2 chronicles 26:14-15 describes how good a king Uzziah was. He was skilled creating ways to help his armies. Thus, his fame spread far and wide.

At the end of his rule though, full of pride, he walked into the temple of The Lord, and begins to burn incense to The Lord. The priests freaked out and tried to stop him, but Uzziah didn’t listen. He felt like he could worship God however he wanted. Immediately, he broke out in leprosy. He saw his mistake., and was declared unclean. So he had to live the rest of his life away from the people.

This is often true of us- that we think we can worship God however we wish, instead of by the statutes that God has given us. We should be humble before God. Our hearts should be in the right place. In worship, God doesn’t judge our sin. He judges our hearts.

So, Uzziah died, and Isaiah goes into the temple to mourn him. But in the midst of this, He saw God. While he thought Uzziah was big, He realized at that moment how BIG God really was. He saw the majesty and splendor of His glory. This is why we need to be in church. We constantly need reminding of how BIG God’s presence is. This is why Satan fights us so horribly on Sunday mornings. He needs us to stay away from seeing The Lord. When god is showing up in our services, we too will say that “we have seen The Lord. ” If he can keep us from the presence of God, he has done his job well. We can’t let him win.

2. We see how small we really are.

Isaiah 6:5-“Woe to me,” I cried, ” I am ruined! For I am unclean, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, Lord Almighty!”

In God’s presence, we see how small we really are. We see every area of our lives for what it really is. Once we see god, though, our problems become so small. Our concerns shrink. In this scripture, we see the angels declaring how holy God truly is, and we see just how unholy we really are. We can’t become holy by ourselves either.

In Rev 4;8- John has a vision of the living creatures, again, declaring God’s holiness.

Psalm 22:3- “but You are holy God.”

It’s ok for us to see our sin and imperfections when we are in God’s presence. He has no issues with our sin. He DOES have an issue with someone who is not upfront about their sin.

When I’m in God’s presence, my eyes are open to the things God wants to change my life.

3. We see how GOOD GOD is.

His very nature is His goodness.

Isaiah 6:7- then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hands, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it, he touched my tongue and said,” see, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

in His presence, we see our sin, but we also see His goodness, and how His grace has atoned for all of our sin and imperfections. He purges our sin. He strengthens us to be holy. He is not trying to make us feel guilty, but He wants to shower us with his goodness.

Psalms 103:12- as far as the east is from the west, so far Has He removed our transgressions from us.

Our redemption and atonement is not based on our performance. It’s based on His goodness and His love. We can only experience God’s grace when we humble ourselves.

Isaiah 1;18- come now and let us settle the matter, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be as red as crimson, they shall be like wool”