Posts tagged ‘Sunday’

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.

 

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My Testimony

“Not by power, nor by might, but by my Spirit, says the Lord. “

 

This has become the story of my life it seems. I can remember sitting in my supervisor’s office almost 2 years ago with tears fighting to come down my face. I was resigning. The job was not working out. I was frustrated by my own inability to please them, and torn by the voice of God telling me to do something that seemed unnatural to me. I had just come off of a three day suspension for things that I still don’t understand, and during that time, I felt God speaking to me. He told me that Human Resources was not my home anymore. He wanted me to go back to school. And while He had told me this several times over three years, my actions continually told Him no.  Yet, here I was now, backed into a corner where my only recourse was to finally surrender. In the immediate aftermath, it didn’t feel good. But as I started thje process of getting accepted into alternative certification program, and eased back into classes, life felt better.

 

That first summer, we were good. God intervened a few times, but we still felt self sufficient. Going into the fall was when we thought that the bottom dropped out. We were wrong. I was proud, expecting to get hired just because I felt like I was awesome! That fall and spring were challenging, as we weren’t able to make the kind of cuts that we needed in order to survive. Again, God was faithful, but I still felt like as the man of the house, I deserved to be the one who made the money. It made me feel worthwhile. It was my identity. And with each new defeat, my identity took more and more of a hit. I had to learn how to ask for help. I had to learn how to receive help with the right spirit. I had to learn how to open up to others. And going into the second summer, I was so sure that I was ready for a teaching job. I applied for jobs and had two awesome interviews. Both jobs went kaput, and all of my other applications yielded nothing. At the time I thought that I was settling for a job in the library of an elementary school. Yeah, right. In the past year, God has humbled me. He has built my faith, because there have been some dire needs, needs that haven’t completely gone away month to month, that God has provided for. However, in the process I was broken so badly that I completely gave up at several junctions. My pride was wounded, I was bleeding all over anyone who dare got close to me. I was hurting because I could not understand why God would have me leave a good paying job with benefits, to live out in the desert. I’m no Moses.

 

It turns out, that there is some Moses in all of us. This past year at the elementary school has been one of the most amazing times of my life. I have learned that I LOVE kids. I love watching them succeed. I love watching them struggle and then find solutions to the problem. I love giving them hugs and fist bumps. I love playing jokes on them. I love teaching them new things. Even as recently as a year ago, I didn’t love any of those things. I loved my kids, but I wasn’t all that concerned about others children. God expanded my world exponentially, and enlarged my heart past the point of breaking. He laid it wide open, and allowed 400 children to take up residence. This has happened to such a degree that I have almost shed tears in interviews when I talk about these same kids.

 

Fast forward a bit. Struggling to pay rent month to month. Struggling with bill collectors and collection agencies. A truck that was repossessed. God paying rent on some months. A little money here and there for food and gas. We are surviving…not thriving by any means. Then my wife is told by her school that they are not renewing her contract. WHAT??? So, now both of us are looking for jobs. My wife applies for a job, gets and interview and is hired the same day. I was so happy for her, because she never lost faith. I wouldn’t allow her to lose faith. At the same time, I was so jealous and hurt that God had “apparently” not given me any consideration. Can you imagine driving to a marriage retreat with these issues running around in side of your head? When we had about 20 minutes to reach our destination, I finally opened up to my wife. I told her everything. I expressed my feelings using the words that I knew, but not really finding an adequate way to say to her “I’m proud of you. I’m happy for you. God loves you. Evidently He loves you more than me, because I’m the forgotten one.” Self pity stinks to God. It doesn’t move Him. Just a side note.

 

We get the retreat and the speakers are talking about surrendering to your spouse; putting them above your own wants and desires. I felt so convicted, and as we talked and prayed for one another, I repented to both her and God for my anger and  how it was manifesting, and had manifested over the past couple of years. My Pastor and I were talking a little later, and out of nowhere he told me that I just needed to give up trying to make this teaching thing happen. Where did that come from? Anyway, I did just that. I mean, I REALLY did just that. I gave it up. It sucked to not carry it around anymore, but it also felt so good to not worry about the fall.

 

Now, here is where the story picks up dramatically. Monday after the retreat, I am called by one school district about an interview for the following day. I go to the interview and absolutely nail it. During that interview, a second school district calls. They set up an interview for that Friday. I don’t nail that interview. However, before that interview I have an encounter with God that I will never forget. It felt like His presence surrounded me in the room that I was in. I sang and worshipped and prayed to Him, and His voice spoke to my heart. He told me that for our family, the season of lack had come to an end. As I spoke those words aloud, I could just feel peace entering my heart. I screamed them at the top of my lungs, just to be sure that Satan could hear me. The air was energized with something life changing, something sure to alter our lives for generations to come. Then, God asked me if I wanted this job. Without trepidation, I said yes. Now, I have spent 7 years of my life teaching people how to nail interviews. I was an interview pro. This interview, however, bombs. It angers me. It hurts me. And then I sulk about it. Which brings us back to the original verse..

 

“Not by power, nor by might, BUT BY MY SPIRIT, says the Lord.”

 

I go to church on the following Sunday so that I could repent and surrender again. Nobody else is there but God and I. And in that silence, peace returns to my heart. The following Monday, God speaks to me as I’m praying. He tells me that the school district that I had the horrific interview with will be calling me. So the entire day, I’m looking at my phone every time it rings, only to see people trying to collect the monies that I already know that I owe them. Finally, during the time that I am feeding my son, the phone rings. It’s them. I can’t answer because I am too in shock. I call them back. They want me to interview with the Assistant Superintendents. I freak! Now to fast forward some more.

 

Our church is preparing for God to move in a mighty way. In our current state, we can not take part the way that we wish too. Trying to find an offering has been frustrating, especially when you don’t even have enough money for this month’s rent presently.  But as we praised and worshipped that Sunday, I felt God speak to me again (seems to be happening quite a bit these days). He said this.

 

“I have set this job aside for you so that you and your family can take part in what I am doing in this body of believers.”

 

Then shortly afterwards, I saw a vision of me signing my contract. It was a surreal moment, and I continued to worship God even after church had been released. I didn’t want to move. I wanted to stay right there in that place with God until He was finished with me.  It’s so nice to be able to be pulled away by God.

 

Yesterday, I am at home preparing for this interview. I feel peace. As a matter of fact, the only thing that I can think about if how great God is. And it is that song that stays with me as I go into the building. I am dressed to the nine, black suit. I’m looking good and feeling better. During the interview, the vibe is very friendly. I am still on guard because the questions are just as challenging, but I still feel like God is speaking my heart to them. Matter of fact, I laid my heart bare before those two men in a way that was all at once uncomfortable and cleansing. A few times I almost cried during the interview as I spoke about how God has changed me and how ready I am to show my students the kind of love that they need in order to succeed. At the end of the interview, the Principal from the Jr High walks in. They tell me that we will be moving on to the second part of the interview. She looks at me and says

 

“Justin, I only have one question for you.”

 

I nod my head.

 

She says, “Would you like to come and work for our school district?”

 

All I can do is say YES!!!

 

Handshakes all around. A hug from one superintendent. Then they scheduled me to come in and sign my contract. MY FIRST CONTRACT!!!  As I left the building, I waited until I got into my car, and then I screamed, laughed, cried, laughed, screamed, cried, and laughed all at once. My emotions were so frazzled, the release feeling so good. And God saw my thankfulness. I know that He did.

 

See, in the past 2 years, I have learned that my power and might amounts to nothing. I can not do what God has not willed for me to do. I can not be successful apart from God’s will. I am destined to fail at even my next breath if God decides to take me. But when God’s Spirit enters the mix, everything changes! It is His Spirit that does the work through us. Then, and only then, can we truly know Him, and success. The past 2 weeks, I have begun to dream of the future again. For 2 years, I hated even considering the future. I only saw more pain and hurt, more lack. Yet, even before I got the job, God has already birthed it within me. And it spurred me to dream.

 

This is our story, yet I believe that this is just the beginning. I won’t dare say that we have emerged from the test. I just believe that God has allowed us to experience His goodness in a new and exciting way. I love the Lord. He did it again! I’m a teacher now!!!!!!!!  It still feels like I dreamed this. YES LORD!!!!! HALLELUJAH!!!

 

Be blessed, folks!!

Remembering Nychelle

Today, I would like to remember a young woman who really knew God. I think that even at her young age, she knew God better than many, and had the kind of relationship with Him that made this world seem like some kind of pale imitation. Nychelle Goad was a member of our church, and while I didn’t know her well, I often found myself observing her. I think sometimes when we recognize God in someone, we feel a connection and are drawn to them, even if we never actually speak. Nychelle and I never really carried on a conversation, but the way that she lived her life testified loudly to the fact that she knew that her life was not her own, but rather to be spent in service to others, and glorifying God.

 

In the immediate aftermath of her tragic accident, so many were heartbroken. So many asked why. And while for a bit, it seemed so surreal, sure enough life has gone on. Her parents Carol and Travis are warriors in the truest sense of the word. God has done great work in them, healing them from the pain of their loss. The cool thing is that as God has continued to heal them, He has used them to heal others of other various forms of loss. He has grown them. He has stretched them. He has grown their family. Their girls are awesome. Their son, Noah, is amazing! A future worship leader.  And most importantly, they all live their lives abandoned to God.  I have always really enjoyed watching them worship on Sunday mornings. It blesses me. They have prayed for my family, and our family has prayed for theirs. On FaceBook, nary a week goes by where Nychelle is not mentioned. Still. 2 years after her moving on to be with God. How amazing is that? It’s the kind of legacy that we all wish to leave when we die, not that we were known by man, but that we were known by God, and man could see it in the way we lived.

 

In a blog that I used to have, I wrote about Nychelle’s death, and how it affected so many.  I wrote about the shock and the tears. Today though, I just want to thank God that so much positive has come from her passing on. I would like to think that she is up there smiling, cracking jokes, and urging everyone onward towards the finish line. She lived a life of faith. She loved God. She loved others. What else can anyone want out of a life? There are some days where I see someone who looks just like her, and it makes me smile. She is still a part of us all. There is comfort in that.

 

Nychelle,

 

We still love you and think about you. Thank you for the life that you lived, and for the light that you showed. Thank you for being unashamed of the Gospel of the Kingdom, and breathing it daily until your last breath.

 

And God, I thank you that we were able to witness your wonders through her. I think we are all a little bit better because of it .

 

Until next time, family, be blessed.

I Know..I’m Late.

I hope you all had a very happy Thanksgiving holiday break. I know I’m late, as most bloggers to the cursory “What I’m Thankful For” blog before or on Thanksgiving. In a prior blog, I did the same thing. This year though, I didn’t want to be cursory. I really wanted to think about what I was thankful for. I mean, yes. I’m thankful for my wife and children. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for my church. Those things are a given. But it really hounded me that so many times we give thanks for things, yet we have no real reason WHY we give thanks for them. And yes, we should give thanks in all things, for this is the will of God through Christ Jesus for us. I believe that. But it hit me yesterday what I’m thankful for.

 

When we have worship services, I am usually on stage singing with the worship team. While I have no qualms whatsoever about going after God and closing my eyes to focus properly, there are many Sundays where I don’t close them. I look around the service to gauge the temperature of the people worshiping. This is what I saw yesterday. I saw people who had not gone up for prayer being prayed for by people close to them. I saw people at the altar, totally abandoning themselves to God. I heard people shouting out and crying out to God. As worship continued, our Pastor came up and instead of calming things down so that the Associate Pastor could begin his message, he ramped things up higher and higher. He pushed for more worship, more adoration, more honor for God. And I watched all of this with open eyes, well, tear stained opened eyes.  People were jumping up and down. Hands were stretched, pushing into the air, reaching out for God to touch. It was pandemonium, chaos. Yet, it was beautiful. And it hit me.

 

I’m thankful that I go to Destiny Church. Why? Because at my church, the people, the Pastors, don’t care. Yes, they care that people engage in worship. They care that people grow in grace. But they don’t care how you express yourself in your worship to God. We have had a young man rap on stage. Yesterday, one of our guitarists shredded his guitar in offering praises to God. They don’t care. We jump. We leap. We dance. We shout. We cry. On stage, our Worship Pastor allows us the freedom to prostrate ourselves as we sing. Even people who lead songs have fallen to their knees during their leading. Instrumentalists have stopped playing and just lifted their hands. It’s bedlam. But it’s all for God! We don’t care how we express ourselves to God. We just give what we have to Him, and trust Him to receive it in the spirit in which we offer it. Now, don’t get me wrong. When I say that we don’t care, we understand that there are appropriate ways in the Holy Spirit to express that adoration. We understand that the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet. We’ve been taught. We have been trained. But anything beyond that, they trust us to go forth in the Spirit. It is this freedom that allows God to completely wreck us in our services, and this is why I believe that so many lives are being changed each week. People are growing, expanding, stretching, and running after God.

 

I’m thankful that the Spirit manifests Himself differently in every life. It shows me that God has such an artistic flair. Services where so much is going on, yet there is harmony gives me a picture of God painting a beautiful picture of what heavenly worship will be like. I’m so thankful for a congregation that is moving towards autonomous worship, a response that just pours forth from their lives when in the presence of God. It is encouraging and empowering. I love it so much.

So, this is what I’m most thankful for this year. I count myself blessed. Thank you, Abba.

 

Until next time, be blessed.