Posts tagged ‘religion’

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 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.

 

 

Hour of (No) Power

I sit here calmly,

Observing from the pews.

Pastor’s spitting Scripture like the 10 o’clock news.

The brother on the organ sublimating his views

With a coy mix of gospel laced slightly with blues.

The words go forth, penetrating dead wood,

Hearts disengaged, this ain’t doing no good.

Soil rocked and hard, fertile? Long since passed..

Eyes rolling back, bodies limp

They’ve been gassed.

An hour or so later, it’s handshakes and all love

“Blessed and highly favored”, tongues focus up above

Yet when the keys fit into ignitions like gloves,

Those tongues turn to hisses, disses flying like slugs.

Sunday’s Saints becoming Sunday afternoon’s sects.

Flexing their theology to fit lives lived bereft.

Manipulating the gospel to fill hearts so far past broken,

That nobody knows the tears flowing behind glad tidings that are spoken.

Monday becomes Tuesday, sermon in the rear view

At Wednesday night service, no voices, simply glares too.

Thursday, full force, sin rife, walking in darkness,

Cold shoulders issued with glee, almost like parkas.

Friday it’s the club scene, the boo thing, the new thing

It’s that drink in the bottle-thing, and the high that that thing brings..

It’s God becoming god as the rods get wrapped around,

Then shattered on Saturday morning when the glasses hit the ground.

Then Sunday comes again, one hour of mundane power,

The Pastor speaks and screams, yells, twists, turns, and glowers..

Spit showered, Hell fire and brimstone thrown for 60..

if you can relate to this…

Then something is really missing.

See, the Gospel is no God-spell, sent to brainwash the heathens

The same wash the Jews got is the same wash that I needed.

That same Christ rises within me, nails sin against that knarled tree,

So how can I ignore him weekly, and meet Him so infrequently,

That I can’t even decide what to call Him when I see Him?

The church is not blameless, cause less and less of us stress

the importance of the fact that we be dressed in His righteousness.

Acting so holy with our Christo-political jargon,

Often getting caught within the traps that we circle in.

Only an hour of power can leave your life sour.

Only one hour of power will leave your walk dour.

We need Him daily, a minute by minute walk with our..

Powerful Maker, Almighty Savior, the Dream-giver…

Wonderful God, so mighty that words escape men when we meagerly try to praise Him.

Forget traditions, put down programs and church bulletins.

It’s time to unleash the Body and represent Him.

 

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!

True Life

Today was a day, not unlike any other day. I woke up in a good mood. I had a chance to steal a nap with my wife. We had a good breakfast, and a good lunch. We worked in the garage for our garage sale this weekend. Then my wife told me what she had planned for dinner, and suddenly my mood shifted. AS I traveled to the church to pick up a few tables for the coming weekend, I began examining myself. I felt angry. I was frustrated. But why? Because we weren’t having pizza or some other delectable delight for dinner?

No. My wife is a great cook. Even if I don’t really care for turkey legs, they will still be good, cause she is just awesome like that. So why are my thoughts cloudy? A sequence of thoughts really sums it up.

 

Me: I’m so tired of being broke. I wish i could take my wife out, take my kids out. why is it that every time we have money, we don’t really have it, because we are always catching up on bills from when we didn’t have money before.

(my mood is steadily worsening)

Me: I know I’m complaining, but I can’t ask my parents for rent this time. They’ve helped us till they can’t help us anymore. Maybe we shouldn’t have made that trip home a few weeks ago. We left with a little money, and came back with none…and we didn’t even spend money on anything but gas.

(I can feel my spirit being pulled down even further)

Me: God, my parent’s get sick of me asking them for money. Shoot, I’m always praying to you to meet our financial needs. We don’t have money for rent. Our light bill was extended to Monday, and we don’t have that money yet. So much stuff is due. We can’t even get the kids’ school supplies. What gives? Don’t you get sick of me ALWAYS coming to you with ALL of these desperate needs ? Don’t you get tired of hearing from me? I know my folks do. They probably hate me and think I’m a failure.

Now, during this diatribe, I feel God interrupt me with such force that I still have the wobbly feeling in my stomach. After that last part, God simply says, “No.”

“No, I don’t get tired of you coming to me with your needs.”

“No, I don’t think that you are an abject failure.”

“No, you don’t like having to come to me every time you need something.”

It comes to me on a personal level that God’s strength is made perfect when I’m at my weakest. Well, I’m weak now. And even while I feel completely helpless, by the same token, I can strangely feel better. Peace. God has spoken to my storm with one simply word, “No.”

In one of his recent sermons, my Pastor said that we have to believe that God CAN meet our needs, even if He doesn’t meet our need for some reason. Our job is to believe that God IS able in EVERY circumstance. By that same token, we, I, have to keep believing in my heart that God never tires of hearing from me. My complete and utter dependence upon Him is what He wants most of all from my life. Thusly, I MUST believe  that God will come through. And He will.

I know that I come to you all usually with something encouraging. Even in this mood that I was in, I hope that God’s response to my weakness encourages you all the more. I don’t mind admitting my failures and shortcomings. It’s all truly life.

You all be blessed.

Illumination

Hello all. I have something that has been burning in my heart for a couple of days. I want to share it with you all, and I hope that it blesses you.

We all know this verse:

 Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
This verse has been echoing through my mind nonstop. It has been a sermon preaching in my mind. And while I usually wouldn’t preach a sermon from just one verse, God showed me something very simple here, but it is something that could be explosive in our hearts and spirits if we can grasp it. Now, I don’t claim to be a “deep” thinker. I’m only sharing what I believe God would have me to share with you.
Now, think about what is being said here. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And earth was without form and void. It was an unorganized ball of something floating in a defined spot in the universe. It was dark. it showed no potential for anything. I wonder what you or I would have seen had we seen the earth in it’s infancy? Could we have even imagined the sequence of events that would lead to the planet that we know now? I mean, it was without form. It was void. It was dark. It had substance, but no meaning. It existed, but was void of a purpose. It was dark, and there was no light in it. It can’t be stated any simpler than that, folks. Earth was a mess. It was nothing but a newly created thing. But all of that changed when God said, “Let there be light!”
With 4 words, God took what had been darkness, and illuminated every ounce of possibility that this newly formed mass held within itself. God called it forth. With every word that God spoke from that point on, He pulled forth what could only have been conceived in His dreams and by His will. What had been formless took form. What had been void, became a living, breathing thing. What had been empty because full. What had no purpose, now was brimming with it.
And see, it is SO easy for us to look at our lives in the mirror and see a reflection of the early earth staring back at us. Perhaps what we see is a life that has no form. A life with a void in it. A life overrun with darkness. Perhaps we see a life without direction; a life that is nothing more than an unorganized mess of something that God put in a defined orbit for who knows what reason. And thus, we begin to ask God why we were created. We question His plans and purposes for us. We challenge Him to show us where He is taking us, wondering from sun up to sun down about the reason we even exist right now.
We search for definition. We search for meaning. We search for purpose. we search for someone, ANYONE, to take this mess of our lives and make it into something meaningful. But, we forget so much!
 Genesis 1:1 says that God created the heavens and earth. So first off, God created you. That counts for something, actually, that counts for EVERYTHING!! See, while earth appeared to be formless, without purpose, a galactic mess of epic proportions, God saw organization. He looked at the void and saw every single step of His imagination being played out in perfect order. He saw the difference that the light would make. He saw what would come out of that spoken word. He saw how the darkness would relent when the light came bursting onto the scene. How often do we forget the light? That same light that sits in our skies, illumining our days and sending stars to twinkle sweetly at night. it is that LIGHT that God uses to begin our lives.
You might see only darkness and peril. You might be depressed beyond measure. You might be addicted to all manner of sin. You might feel hopeless. You light feel despair. You might want to give up. You might want to die. But guess what….
God says,” NO!” There is a specific purpose for you to live where you live right now. There is a specific purpose within you that is carried within your blood. There is a divine appointment and anointing that has been created for you to uniquely walk in; an anointing that only fits YOUR skills and abilities. Where you see mess, God sees a beautiful creation that was fearfully and wonderfully made. Where you see a void, God sees a space created by Him FOR Him. Where you see no form, God sees a perfect specimen, one suited to carry His LIGHT into the darkness.
See, when God says let there be light, He is essentially saying, “LET THERE BE YOU!” We are the light! I wish that I could show you what God has been speaking to me adequately. You are created for a living! Existing is not nearly enough, nor should it be acceptable.
Our definition is found in the LIGHT! Our joy is found in the LIGHT! Our peace is found in the LIGHT! Our destinies are found in the LIGHT! And in case I need to spell it out for you, JESUS is that LIGHT!
Your life is not a disaster, no matter how low you feel. No matter what is going right and wrong for you at this very moment, I want to challenge you to allow God to release and unleash His LIGHT into your life. Is it easy to feel like nothing and then trust this seemingly amorphous God to cause you to become someone?
It’s as easy as your next breath.
I bet the earth trembled with excitement as it awaited it’s Creator to fill it to the brim and allow the potential lying dormant within it to finally become a living, kinetic energy.
It’s time to live. It’s time for Light.
God says, “LET THERE BE LIGHT!”
Amen.