Posts tagged ‘Missouri’

A Year in Reflection

So where do I start. I haven’t blogged in a long time. This has been some kind of year for my family. My first year teaching. My wife switching school districts. My daughter switching school districts. My middle son starting public school. My youngest switching to a new sitter. We find out we’re having baby number four, Zyla. We are asked to serve on our church pastoral staff as Outreach Pastors. I preach TWICE at church, and really get involved in Wednesday night class discussions. Yes, there has been so much to report. However for the purpose of this post, I really want to focus in on my experience as a first year teacher.

Today was the last day of school, and while outwardly I was happy that it was coming, because I was ready for a break, in my heart, I knew that I was not ready to let these students go. In truth, I loved them…hard. I gave them all of me everyday for every class period of the past 8 months. I began to know them, what made them tick, what made them smile and laugh. I strived everyday to make each student laugh at least once. Sure, my antics could be chalked up to being new and inexperienced, but I choose to think that they are just a part of my makeup that God gave me specifically for this task. And as I look at all of the letters that I have received from students and the messaged from parents, I just sit back and wonder “How?” How could a guy who up until two years ago barely liked children have fallen this in love with a profession that he previously despised? How was it that I cared so much about these kids? How did I let them into my heart? How was it that my classroom, a classroom with a man who really had no idea what he was doing, become a place where kids felt safe telling me their secrets and confiding in me? How’d I even get this job? lol. My students proclaim me a great teacher, but I know better.

God is truly great. It was only by His Spirit that I made it through this year. In every instance, God gave me the words to speak, whether in correction, or encouragement. He helped me navigate all of the emotional swings of these 13 and 14 year old students. I prayed for them. They ate in my class. We pranked each other. Students who weren’t even mine were attracted to me. I know it wasn’t me that they were attracted to. It was God. They saw God in me, and while some of them don’t know that specifically, it makes me so happy that I was able to be Jesus to these kids every time they saw me.

And so, as I watched them leave today, my eyes were dry, but my heart cried a bit. 8 months. Everyday. Now, nothing. It’s sad, but in my heart I really feel that the work that God wanted me to do with them was done. Now I have to trust Him to continue it as they head into high school. In truth, these students aren’t really mine. I was simply someone God placed into their lives at this junction to steer them towards Him as much as possible, and plant seeds that will hopefully bloom into success and a relationship with Christ. But, I love them just the same. They will forever be a part of my heart, a part of me.

My heart is full today. Thanks be to God for this wonderful year. I’m praying for many, many more as He grows me professionally and spiritually to be a lighthouse in the classroom.

The Power of Words: top ten ways we speak death

Isaiah 59:1-3- surely the arm of The Lord is not too short to save, not his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God. Your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, you tongue mutters wicked things.

1. Lying- Proverbs. 6:16- these six things The Lord hates…..a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil…

Proverbs 12:22- lying lips are an abomination to The Lord, but those who deal truthfully are his delight.

When we lie, we go against His very nature.

2. Sowing discord- Proverbs 6:12-14- a troublemaker and a villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth, who winks maliciously with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his fingers, who plots evil with deceit in his heart- he sows discord. Therefore….he will suddenly be destroyed without remedy.

If we sow it, we reap it.

3. Gossip-spreading intimate or private rumors or facts

Proverbs 20:19- a gossip betrays confidence, so avoid anyone who talks too much.

2 Corinthians 12:20- separate yourselves from those who gossip.

4. Slander-false or malicious statements or reports about someone.

Psalms 140:11- May slanderers not be established in the land; May disaster hunt down the violent.

Proverbs 10:18- whoever hides hatred has lying lips

5. Tale bearers -proverbs 11:13- a tale bearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.

We must create an atmosphere where we can share freely without fear of hearing it again from another source. We must pick each other up when we fall, and not condemn them and spread that around. When we break confidence with another, we lose that connection sometimes for good.

6. Cursing- Romans 3:13- their throats are open graves, their tongues practice deceit..”

Psalms 109:17- he loved to pronounce a curse-May it come back on him. He found no pleasure in blessing. May it be far from him.

If we want to walk in the blessings of God, we can’t curse.

7. Blasphemy- using Gods name in an unscarred way

Ex. 20:7- you shall not take the name of your lord in vain, for The Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

we use Gods name as a curse word, and we also use God’s name to get what we fleshly want. We can easily learn to insert God where we want our will to move. There is a fine line here. God is not to be used to manipulate anyone or anything.

8. Filthy Language- put off all filthy language out of our mouths.

9. Contentious speech- a hurtful, hateful, malicious, disagreeable, and argumentative speech.

Proverbs 21:9- better to dwell in an attic than in a house shared with a contentious woman.

Proverbs 26:21- as charcoal is to burning coals….so is a contentious man to kindle strife.

10. Unbelief coming out of our mouths- what’s in our hearts comes out of our mouths.

Hebrews 3:12-13- see to it that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily.

Faith is not denying the facts, but it is stating the truth. Faith looks at the mountain and sees the mountain mover!

The Power of Words: 4 things you must know about your words

Proverbs 18:21- the tongue holds the power of life and death…

We need to stop trying to get God to agree with our words, and get our words in agreement with God.

James 3:1-2- dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. Indeed we make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every way.

Basically, if I could learn to control my mouth, I can learn to control every other thing in my life. When my mouth is out of control, my life is too.

1. The tongue is disproportionately powerful.

James 3:3-5- when we put bits into the mouth of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships for example, although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small speck.

James 1:26- if you claim to be religious, but don’t control your tongue then you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.

Too many times, we have allowed our lives to be capsized by our little tongues.

2. The tongue is inherently evil

James 3:6,8- the tongue also is a fire , a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body , sets the whole course of ones life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. …but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

3. The tongue is divinely tame able. The only way that we do this is via the Holy Spirit.

Exodus 4:10- but Moses pleaded with The Lord, “oh Lord, I’m not very good with words. I’ve never been me I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue tied nd my words get tangled.” Then The Lord said to Moses, ” who makes a persons’ mouth. Who decides whether we speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, The Lord? Now, go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what you say.”

When God changes us, he begins with our tongue. Satan wants to occupy our mouths. As a believer, Satan can’t hurt me, but he can try to get you to turn your mouth against yourself. By doing this, he makes us powerless and helpless.

4. The tongue is contrastingly productive.

James 3:9-12- with the tongue, we praise our God and curse human beings. Out of the same mouth come praise and curses. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water slow out of the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Bad news: we can speak death.
Good news: we can speak life.

We have to make the choice. Either control our tongues, or our tongues will control us.

Change Your Sound pt 7 : what sound does Jesus want you to hear?

1. Jesus meets you where you are

John 20:19- on the evening of that first day of the week, when the discuss were together,with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “peace be with you”

Many of us find ourselves in this situation, closed off an locked away from the world. Maybe not for any other reason of that we have been hurt and betrayed. So we find ourselves locked away with our fear. Then Jesus shows up in the midst of the disciples’ fear. Jesus always shows up in the middle, and He releases their fear .

2. He gives us encouragement

John 20:19-“peace be with you”

Jesus says nothing more than peace. He didn’t address anything other than their storm and speaks peace into their lives. The doors were locked, but they could not lock Jesus out. By the same token, no matter how much we lock ourselves away, Jesus still can come through with his peace.

The last thing they were expecting was Jesus to come in and say what he said. He had just been beaten and crucified. Why would he show up? Besides, they had all left him alone. They had betrayed him. If anything, they expected him to chastise them for abandoning him in his darkest hour. When God shows up, he doesn’t bring condemnation. He brings peace. We often wonder what God thinks about what we do and who we are, but God comes in love to bring us peace. He can relate to our fears. He understands.

Philipians 4:6-7- be anxious for nothing, but in everything make your requests known to God;and the peace of God…..will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

3. He shows us his love.

John 20:20- after he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw The Lord.

Instead of condemning then, he showed them what he gave up for them. He gave them undeniable proof of his love. It is love in action. His love for us is not performance based. We don’t have to earn it, because we can’t earn it. He gives it freely through grace. He comes into our hearts and addresses our guilt and resentment. He covers them in his great mercy. He models this for us so that we can learn to let go of guilt and resentment. We can be free of them; no longer a slave to them in our lives. Because of this, Peter goes from wanting to give up to preaching a historic sermon that adds 3000 people to the new church.

Psalms 32:1-2- blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven,whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin The Lord does not count against them

4. He wants to fill us

John 20:21- and with that he breathed on then and said, ” receive the Holy Spirit”

He comes to us, meets us, loves us, and then he fill us anew. We need a continuous, constant, daily filling of the Holy Spirit.

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”

Change Your Sound

Mark 2:22- and no one pours new wine into an old wine skin. Otherwise the wine would burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.

This verse is a metaphor for our lives. We can not receive newness from God into our old lives. We must be made new. We must become fresh now, so that God can pour His newness into us. We keep waiting on God to make a move. God is waiting on us to prepare ourselves first.

Sometimes church is the last one to let go of old things. We hold onto traditions, living inside of time warps. But we must crave something new. We can not get stuck in a rut. God is waiting on us to make a move.

-God will not pour out something new into our spirits until we have prepared ourselves to receive it. You can’t put a new move of God into an old tradition.

Ps 33:3, 51:10- these scriptures command us to sing a new song.

1 Cor. 1:25-28- for the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom…..but God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise…..

Faith makes you ignore what your physical eyes see, instead of trusting them. You have to see in the spirit before it happens.

Your miracle starts with what you hear and choose to see in your spirit, long before you see it with your natural eyes,

I’m a Survivor: Is Your Mind Made Up?

Job 1:1-3;6- there was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and he was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. He had 10 children and vast possessions. He was the richest. Of all the people of the East. Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before The Lord, and Satan also came among them. And The Lord said to Satan, “from where do you come.”

True greatness is not measured by possessions, but rather by what you have inside of you. Job did not come from wealthy beginnings. He made wise decisions and put God first, thus God blessed everything that he did.

Matt 7:13-14- enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

You can’t reach heaven by following after the crowd. Job decided to cling to what was good and shunned what was evil. Job walked in favor, but understood that what he had did not make him. He understood that his source for everything was God. The sooner we take on n attitude of clinging to the goodness of God and shunning evil, the sooner we can walk in God’s favor.

Two things determine what we will become in life:
1. Our decisions
2. Our response to God

God lets us decide how we will live. He gave us a choice.

We have the power to make our own choices, but our choices have the power to make us.

Ecc 12:1- remember now your creator in the days of youth, before the difficult days come,

We cannot choose the environment we are born into, but we can choose our reaction and our response.

You don’t wait till you’re in the middle of a storm to make your decision to follow Christ. How you respond to Him now will determine how you handle your battle or storm.

I’m a Survivor: What is your faith level?

Heb 12:1-2- therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…..

It takes consistency to build endurance. Condition yourself.

By faith we access everything that God has for our lives. Those things don’t just come by hard work or by random happenings. Faith determines how God responds and if He responds.

How do I perceive God? What is my depth and breadth of who He is? How we perceive God affects our faith.

Mark 6:3-6- the story of Jesus back home in Nazareth- his family could not perceive Him as God. So, He chose not to do miracles there, because of their lack of faith. But He did heal a few sick, because even among all of the unbelief, He responded to the faith of those who hd it. They accessed it when most missed it.

There are only 2 things that moved Jesus: compassion and faith

Luke 17:5- the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith, and then Jesus tells them a parable about faith.

Rev. 12:11- and they overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.

It’s one thing to know and believe, but to hear another tell you about it is empowering!

We should always be ready and willing to share what God has done in our lives.

2Cor10:5- casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God…bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

Provoke your faith by crying out to God!

God will so,strikes remove crutches in our lives that we didn’t realize we’re crutches, so that we learn to lean on Him.

God doesn’t just want you to have your mothers faith, He wants you to have YOUR faith!

We have to cast aside every thought that will keep us from having faith knowledge of God.

The strength of our faith is determined by the reliability of the object we put our faith in. That’s why it is important to know God.

Our faith level will never outgrow our knowledge level.

Trust comes when you know who HE is.

Romans 10:17- faith comes by hearing me earring by the word of God.

5 things you need to know about God

1. Existence- Heb 11:6- he who comes to God must believe that HE iS!
Rom 1:12- through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities….so they have no excuse for not knowing God.

2. Gods nature- Heb 13:8- Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

3. Character- Heb 6:16-18- god also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change His mind…..it is impossible for God to lie.
Rom:4:17- ….God, who gives life to the dead, and calls those things which do not exist as though they did
Rom 10:23- for He who promised is faithful!

4. His Ability- Gen 18: 13-14……”is anything too hard for The Lord?”

5. His Willingness – Matt 7:7-11

An Honest Assessment

We just recently returned home from a trip to our home in the South. Being down there raised so many emotions, and it was really surprising to me that I had to filter through so many conceptions and misconceptions concerning ministry and my role in it.

I can still remember sitting in my car and telling God yes. He called me to preach. he called me to minister. For reasons unbeknownst to me, He saw something in me 10 years ago that He wanted to use. Now, 10 years later, I still can’t quite figure out what that “something ” is. There is a stark difference in the way ministry is looked at between where I’m from and where I am now. If we had remained home, I would most certainly be a Pastor of a church by now- probably would have been pastoring for a few years now. I was being groomed for it, and my wife was being groomed to be a Pastor’s wife. It is almost like a farm system, where you are trained to preach. The saying is that the only way to grow a preacher is to let them preach! When I was home, in my first church, I came up without any pastoral leadership. Our church was without a Pastor, so I had all of the opportunity to preach that a new preacher could ever ask for. They licensed me, and I was sure that I would be the Pastor of that church one day.

Then I lost interest, because God was moving me into something new. I left that church and went along with my wife, because God wanted to show me that the Holy Spirit was real. It was in that church that I first received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It was in this church that I proudly served as an Associate Minister with 7 other dynamic, spirit-filled men. We sat in the pulpit. We preached with fire and intensity. We prayed in loud voices until we were hoarse at the end. I lead an intercessory prayer ministry. I co-lead with my best friend in a class that saw so many get baptized in the Holy Spirit. I was fine with the status quo. I knew that I’d go through classes soon, and then get an assignment to a church. I would be a Pastor, which is what God was calling me too anyway. I was fine with that.

Until I wasn’t anymore.

What I saw many times were young preachers put in churches where the congregations were not growing, and were more interested in upholding the traditions and stories of the past, than building new stories in the present. It was frustrating. I felt like God required more. And when He moved us to Missouri, I finally saw that there was in fact MORE to being a minister than simply preaching. Over the last 6 years, I’ve had to repent several times, because at times it has felt like the wheels have been spinning, while no distance was covered. I have been hard on myself, harder as I have gotten older.

So, this trip home was a little difficult on my psyche. I don’t mind admitting that. See, for every question of how we were doing, there was another question as to whether or not I was a Pastor yet. Reminders of those of my spiritual kin who were now pastoring were never far away. Ministers younger than I, working dutifully in churches that were growing and thriving. I began to feel the old feelings of jealousy and insecurity began to resurface. Cause see, where I live now, there appears to be a way to work up into Pastoral ministry. It seems to begin with working as a youth pastor, and then being granted more responsibility from there. But in my case, I have never felt the leading to work primarily in that capacity. So what does that mean? Was I not good enough? Had I not been chosen after all? With every fiber of my being, i want to feel as if I am some use to God, but by that same token, I harbor deep-seated ambition. I recognize, and admit to that. I’m flawed.

Despite my honest feeling here, in my spirit I know the time will come when God will say “NOW!”. If I have matured anywhere, it’s in knowing how to separate what my feelings are telling me versus what I know to be true in my spirit. My life these past 6 years has been filled with a richness of life experiences that have shaped my personal view of who God is and how faith works. I have a personal theology that is dear to me. And while at times, it really feels like maybe God hasn’t called me at all, I also know that had He not called me, my life would have probably been a bit easier to this point. lol. I know that’s not really a concrete thing to say, but I know that it is true.

So, how do I reconcile all of this? I mean, God has called me to minister and Pastor one day. I serve, and I serve, and I watch. I celebrate those who are working according to the vision that God has given them. I serve within their visions until God shows me my own. I counteract any jealousy that comes up with praise for what God is doing in lives via those ministers and Pastors. Just in my own church, the youth Pastors are putting something really special together, something that will shape a generation for years to come. Our JR High Pastors are working to develop identities in those kids that will counteract what culture tries to tell them. Our elementary and preschool Pastors are pouring into those kids hardcore. Until further notice, my job is to serve with them.

Finally, I trust God. He knows what He is doing. He is preparing me for something that I can’t handle right now. And while that just feels so counter to what I have been raised with my whole life, it’s where I am right now, and I’m at peace with it.

finally.

God be praised.

I’m a Survivor: who will promote the next generation?

1 kings 1:1-2;5-7- when King David was very old, he could not keep warm even when they put covers over him. His attendants said,” let us look for a young virgin….she can lie beside him so that our lord the king may keep warm.” Now Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, put himself forward and said I will be king.” So he got chariots and horses ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him…..Adonijah conferred with Joab and Abiathar….

Psalms 75:6-7 for exaltation comes neither from the east not the west, or from the south. God is the judge. He puts one down, and exalts another.

Competition often drives men to be self promoters,but that is unhealthy spiritually. We are not called to be promotion seekers, but God seekers. Promotion follows people who do what they should be doing. God is against self promoters. Become good at what you are called to do now, and let God promote you later.

Every generation is looking for what’s next. We are called to promote them.

In the verse above, David was looking to promote Solomon.

Psalms 145:4- one generation shall praise your works to another. And shall declare your acts.

*every generation must pass the baton to the next generation. *

Adonijah had a self promoting spirit, just as Lucifer had one in the beginning. When we operate in a self promoting spirit, we are acting in a satanic spirit. Pride comes before the fall. But when we serve faithfully and humbly, God takes notice of it and promotes us.

Adonijah became king, but only for one day.

Sometimes, God will give you a promise, and it feels like somebody else is sitting in that spot. We see a false promise sitting where our real promise should be. If God has given you a promise, HOLD ON, because false promises only last for a day.

Adonijah making himself king was just a ploy to keep the real king from taking the throne, too many times, we allow falsehoods and false promises to take what God has promised us. Don’t give up…ever! Only God can put down and raise up. When a promise is near, the enemy will throw things in front of you to sway your focus.

If we are going to raise up a new generation, we have some enemies to deal with who are trying to kill off that new generation, some enemies are outside the church, but many are inside the church too.