Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Sometimes I think we spend vast amounts of energy, time and money running around tyring to define who God is. This effort is would be the same as trying to explain what water feels like, or what chocolate taste like. God isn't to be defined but lived. We have been called into relationship and relationship is to be experienced not studied. It is a hands on, we get dirty, we have doubts-follow Jesus existence. The relationship that has been given to us through our salvation does not rise or fall on the conditions or events that come from the world. We simply trust God at every turn, at every set back--How could we do anything less?
Acts 1:8 -- But you shall receive power of the kind which God has and exerts after the Holy Spirit has come upon you.
The Holy Spirit is not sent to comfort or prosper anyone who has no intention of actively embracing and walking out this life that comes with salvation. We become the extension of the mission of Jesus when He walked the earth. To make disciples. To teach, equip and send out.
We are not called to mass production but rather, work in the area of craftsmanship. Hands on as the Holy Spirit guides us.
God defines us.
We live it.
God on you.........
I started keeping a journal in July of 1991.
Strange as it is, it is sometimes disconcerting to look back at where I was and the things I struggled with. Some seem childish now and I wonder at the lack of commitment I had in following Jesus. But the entries are who I was at that moment in time.
How much of what I perceive as me chasing God-------is in reality, only a half-hearted attempt. That my heart is never fully engaged in this pursuit of His presence, His purity, His power and above all, His purpose for me and my life?
I fear that my love for Jesus is shallow and subject to the ebbs and flows of my flesh. God, strengthen me, every part of me and let me not cower from what lies with in me. That by your strength and your Holy Spirit illuminating me, every part of me, I will not cower from what lies within me. I simply acknowledge it and say "yes Lord, Forgive me, cleanse me and empower me for your purpose.
I need your grace to pry my fingers from all that is detestable in your eyes. Let your transformation change what I hold to have value. Show me eternity in everything I see, touch, taste, smell and hear. Let me see the eternal behind all my motives that I may walk in your ways.
Some may read my entry and wonder at the things I struggle with. I feel that the more honest I can be in my daily walk, the better I am to acknowledge the help I need and therefore, receive it. I see people who walk around as if they have no struggles. No attitudes that are contrary to God's will. No behavior's that are not in live with the word of God. I do not believe we ever reach a point on this side of heaven, where we do not have struggles. That is why I desire to be as transparent as I can so as not to grieve the Holy Spirit. If something is uncovered in my heart then I want to acknowledge it and ask God's help to be applied.
God on you.......
Monday, February 23, 2009
We make the same mistakes as the nation of Israel did in the Old Testament when we put the interests of our nation before the interests of the Kingdom of God.
God is only god over this nation as much as we will let him be.
We have relegated him to currency.
We have kept his name in order to curry favor when elections are held.
He is no more than an ideal.
The desires of our flesh, our sinful nature, drive us. We are not waking by faith but by lust.
God help our nation. God remember the revivals you birthed in this country and let them be resurrected in the people today.
Remember the men and women you have called over the years to leave everything to follow you. Raise up a new generation. I believe that we are not beyond your reach or your mercy, but we are desperately in need of being awakened and turned from our apathy and sin.
We have lost vision to see the truth that we exist only because yousay we can, O' Lord.
God help me to not loose sight of you today. Not just with my eyes but with my spirit. Let me follow you and hear you as you teach me.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.......
I spend too much time on the Internet some days. I wind up checking out news articles and editorials written by different people. There are a lot of opinions and views floating around out there in cyber space. I think the one view that surprises me is from Christians.
Some have an idea that we are to make ourselves and our churches into what ever appeases the masses and brings (what some suppose to be) unity and community. There are some who have blogs and write about their horror and shock of how society views Christianity. I don't know why this comes as a surprise. Believer's have always been the target of society. The first church was kicked out of Jerusalem because of persecution. I know that we currently don't have to worry about being thrown to hungry lions or having soldiers break down our doors to carry us away in the night. But it doesn't take a prophet to see that our society and world has sold its soul for the sake of diversity. There are many ways to God, many path's that all diverge. Everyone is tolerant to these opinions except when it comes to Christianity. We are viewed as the "fly in the ointment" so to speak because of Jesus' words that "no one comes to the Father except by me."
That really ruffles the feathers of society. The thought that God might limit humanities access to Him and that it can only happen when one accepts God on His terms is offensive to many.
Too many are trying to make God and His church into their image. I know that it is a fine line between being relevant and throwing away everything in order to appease folks. I wrestled with this when I was at Vineyard and we were doing the HOUSE OF BLUE. Part of what we did there was because that was who we were. We were coming from a corporate personality that said, "We are going to do what we know how to do." We didn't set out to create something. We didn't plan on hosting a service a certain way. House of Blue was a by-product of our personality and make up. It's the same with our Saturday night service at Rapha. It looks like it does because that is who we are. I'm very careful to not cross a line in order to make something happen. Or to do it because I want people to respond. I want God to touch us and from that interaction we will respond to God's call. Bottom line to this post is that we should not be shocked when the world hates us. We should not sell our soul to get the world to accept us. It (not good English) AIN'T going to happen.
I have to stick to the basics:
1.) Teach the Word of God / 2.) Equip people to follow Him 3.) Teach how to worship. If I do this, then I have done what God has told me to do.
God on you.......
Friday, February 20, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
We have expended ourselves in this race and have nothing of eternal value to show for it.
To cry out to God, "Save me."
We claim it.
We read it.
We study it.
We believe it.
We know it.
But do we truly live it?
I have wrestled with this in my own life. Do I truly live what I believe? In my case, I have been called by God to be a proclaimer of his word. Do I only proclaim that which I think people want to hear, or do I teach what God wants to be taught?
When you teach contrary to what people want to hear, you are labeled as being mean spirited and mad. You drive people away with your message.
When you teach what people want to hear, you are a wonderful teacher, a true man of God.
I guess the bottom line is you have to ask yourself, "who are you trying to please, God or man?"
The true test of any teaching is did it change those who heard it.
This thing called preaching and teaching truly is foolishness.
To put together some words that formulate into ideals, then stand before a group of people and share it. The people hear and it strikes them in ways and places they have either never thought of or have ignored. The teaching is so much more than that simple explanation. The teaching involves hearing what God wants taught. Allowing God to formulate the message and then, with great fear and trembling, stand before the group and speak it. All the while knowing that you possess no power to change anyone. But for whatever reason, God has chosen to take what was spoken and reveal the hearts of those who heard. Here in is the work of the Holy Spirit as people are lead into repentance. The miracle of teaching the Word of God.
Where are my boundaries on what I teach?
How far am I to go?
I ask this because it is so easy to let my "flesh" get involved. To taint what God is trying to say through me. When my flesh becomes involved in the message, I suddenly have a "get'em God" attitude. That I am separated from what I teach and the only thing that matters is that God gets those who turn away from the truth. This is the behavior I run from and never want to take into a meeting where I am teaching.
That is why I had to repent last Saturday night because I became a pharisee. I judged and found guilty someone who had come to Jesus. I was the keeper of the door and was only going to let in those I thought were sincere and worthy. How sick was that? I guess my wife is right when she says my greatest attribute is that I am very teachable. I may mess up, but I learn quickly from my mess.
I don't believe you can read Scripture and not see yourself in it.
By that, I mean that you will see your short comings, hidden sin, attitudes and behaviors. This is what happens when the Holy Spirit works with you and in you as you do read the Bible.
Seems as though we want to discount the Word (at least our part of reading it) and find someone who will tell us what the Word says. Nothing wrong with being taught. But teaching means there is a responsibility on your part to learn. In the learning, you apply it to your life as you work in cooperation with God on your character defects which manifest as sin.
I'm not saying anything new in this blog that most of you don't know already.
I'm saying it for a reason.
I truly believe that time is short in our country.
America keeps sliding closer and closer to the edge of rejecting God.
Just because God's name is on our governmental buildings and our currency doesn't afford us protection.
We read in Jeremiah where the Jews declared, "The Temple of the Lord, The Temple of the Lord, The Temple of the Lord," thinking that because it was located in Jerusalem, God would surely not allow evil or their enemy to overtake them. Yet America says the same thing. We proclaim GOD BLESS AMERICA. I proclaim "Why?"
We are in need of a true, spiritual, Holy Ghost revival poured out on our country that will shake us to our very core and awaken us to the hour we are living in.
Michael, you are getting to out there. You are sounding like someone who is steeped in the past. Someone who has lost touch with what culture wants. When did culture ever play a part in determining what the message of God should be? Look at the culture Jesus lived in. Roman occupation. A Religious system that was weighed down by "do's" and "do not's". Yet Jesus' message was to the heart of people. Repent! For the Kingdom of God is here but not yet."
Maybe the past is where we need to look.
The future doesn't seem to hold to much for us. In fact, I think out future is going to be determined on what we learn from the past.
Pray for me....
Pray for my family....
I pray for you and yours.
Pray for our country that God would rain down His Spirit that would awaken us from our sleep.
If ever America and the church needed you, It is now Lord.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Message was over and the ministry time had begun.
Prayers were being prayed and God's Holy Spirit was moving over the room.
Invitation was given.
He stood up.
He had been through the program more than once.
He had been with us numerous times.
He had heard this teaching before.
He had even stood before.
The minute my eyes caught his movement and I saw him stand, I thought to myself, "Why are you standing up? You have done this on several other occasions and your life still holds to the love of the world."
God spoke quick and harsh with those thoughts still lingering in my mind.
"Who are you to judge what I am doing?"
It's not my place or authority to say what is going on in the life of someone who has answered a call to be saved.
It is my place to respond and to see this person grow.
To aid them in any manner as one would feed a new born baby.
To correct and help grow so that they can stand on their own in this relationship with God.
Yes, I am to watch their life and look for the change that happens to all who come to God on faith, but my legalistic mind had condemned this one even as he was rising from his seat.
How sick was that?
God spoke and I had to repent.
I learned a lesson Saturday night.
One that I will never forget.
God on you.......
Thursday, February 12, 2009
I hope to post all seven segments here on this post.
Keith's story is a part of my own personal history.
His life impacted me and caused me to burn with the thought that there must be more to God than I was being told and taught.
I soon found out that there were others who also burned with the same quesiton.
God on you............
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Because we live our lives in what we perceive to be order, we think God should arrange his plans similarly. Here in is the mistake we sometimes move toward. Putting human attributes and desires and wants on God, thinking that He will respond in a similar way like the rest of humanity. I have a saying. It goes something like this. In my world, two plus two equals four. In God's world, two plus two equals three hundred and four to the fifth power. What does that mean? It means that God created logic so he could act outside of it. That doesn't mean we are to check our brains at the door and operate like a blind owl. It does mean that because we live in a relationship that is driven by faith, we look to Him, outside of our own strength, to show us what is the right thing to do. The right place to go. The right thing to say. We look beyond our own ability to decipher and decode. I am always tickled when I hear people say that they want to know the deeper things of God. Because of past experiences, I find that what people are really saying is, "I want to have some fresh, new information that I can store away." The crux of what God is saying really isn't the point. The point, in the lives of these people, is that God spoke, they heard and now they can share something with others in an effort to elevate themselves as to being really spiritual. We never ask God if it is o.k. for us to share what has been given. we assume that we are to run to the nearest believer and pour forth what we heard. I have been disciplined by God on more occasions than I care to count about running off at the mouth simply because I heard Him speak. What if the message we heard was for a latter time and for someone in particular? Hmmmm. Never saw it this way.
Since life is given to us to live, we should realize that we, being humans, have an incredible knack for messing up.
Live is messy and as such, there will be times we will have to back track to get it right.
It's about who you know.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
That's a pretty heady statement. It is a declaration as to our position in the relationship we claim to have with Jesus. First off, we recognize Jesus as being Lord over us. We have placed ourselves in submission to Jesus. We have given up our right to seek our own will and we have given him permission to do what ever it takes to keep us from wandering away.By claiming that Jesus is Lord and that, as Lord, He will be my provider.
As a provider that doesn't mean I get to sit around and just "Bahhhh" the day away. Shepherds are always leading the sheep to where they can be fed. Whether they eat or not, well...that's up to the sheep. I don't want to be so blind that I miss the places He has provided for me to graze in.
"I shall not want" is a remarkable statement. In a day and age where we look to the federal government to give us what we need and what we want, God is the only true provider. Notice that it was the sheep (king David) who made the statement of "I shall not want." He could say that because he had seen the hand of God on his life and in his life from the moment that Samuel, the priest, had anointed him at his father's house in Bethlehem. What a comfort we could derive from that statement if we truly believed it. I shall not want. There is peace in those words. It frees us from worry and fear and places us in the position of trusting God whole hearted.
The "not wanting" begins with the understanding and trust in the fact that the Lord is our shepherd. Not until we come face to face with this, can we truly experience the words of the Twenty third Psalm.
God on you....
40 days of this and that.
"How To" expos.
With valentines day approaching, you even find a lot of churches doing marriage programs.
These aren't bad things or ideals.
But you don't hear much about learning to love those that we consider to be unlovable.
Paul in I Corinthians 13 writes:
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angles, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."
If we don't learn to love others as God loves them, we are only making a lot of noise with our efforts. Nothing we say is important.
Paul goes on to write:
"If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains but have not love, I am nothing."
All the gifts that one who has relationship with Jesus could want.
To be able to move in the prophetic and speak the truth of God. To have the ability to know and understand thing that have been hidden and to have a faith that is powerful and operates within the boundaries given to us by Jesus. To move in this fashion. To walk out in our daily lives the very description that Jesus gave his disciples and yet, Paul says, "But I don't have love........I am nothing.
This learning to love as Christ loves must be important.
In Luke 11 we read where Jesus' disciples asked him to "Teach us to pray!"
Maybe we need to do likewise.
Teach us to love.
To love those who are unlovable unconditionally. Why? Because we were in that position at one time and God looked upon us with love. We, who were unlovable, were granted this incredible gift of salvation and a pardon for all of our sins. Now, as being charged with the mission of Jesus, it is we who are to love.
Did you love today?
God on you...........
Thursday, February 5, 2009
The person teaching the lesson made the statement that there was a place of grace to meet God and that there was a pace to grace as we walked with Him. I have never forgotten that. With all my so called wisdom and experience low all these many years I have been making mistakes for God (my mess ups) all I really had to do was be where He wanted me to be, and walk with Him under His direction.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
The struggle comes because it doesn't always look like or sound like what I think it should.
I have all these good intentions of things I want to do. Things I want to teach or share. Programs that I would love to implement. Each time my mind is focused on such things, I am always led back to a great truth. God reminds me that I am merely called to plant seeds. To define it even more, planting seeds is a metaphor for teaching what God wants taught and letting God take the teaching and have it take root or become grounded in the life of the individual hearing it.
Planting seeds isn't a lot of fun.
You don't get to see the harvest when what is taught comes forth and begins to make a difference in the life of the individual. I think the disappointment stems from my own need to feel important. To put it bluntly, sometimes it would be real easy for me to take credit for something that God does. How sick is that?
I remember during a particular hard time that I was angry at God and I was having a really one sided conversation with Him. The time in question was concerning a group we had at Rapha. They were young and ten feet tall and bullet proof. Nothing I said, nothing I taught was making a difference. It may have well been me talking to the wall. I was frustrated and angry and I was taking it out on God. Not really a good idea for those of you reading this post.
I remember saying to God, "You called me out to Rapha, you equipped me to do this. Now if you aren't going to let me or help me make a difference, I'm not going out there."
The answer came back really quick.
God told me, "I didn't call you to make a difference. I called you to obey.""
Wow! Obey. What a concept.
For me to make a difference meant that I didn't really need God. It was all about me.
That conversation with God has served me well over the years and I have never forgotten it. So, next time you are feeling like you're not making a difference, guess what? You probably aren't, but God is.
God on you.........
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Simple truth is always the best truth.
Truth that doesn't need to be decked out in regality or pomp.
Truth that stands the test of time even when it is cast down into the dirt.
Truth that was forged in the heart of one who has endured and overcome.
Jesus...you are such truth.
I see my weakness when I see you.
Yet even in this weakness, I see you reaching out to me, whispering in my ear, "Stand....stand! You can do it because I am going to do it for you and in you."
Blessed be the truth of God that is not phased by the ideology of the world.
It asks no apology for what it is.............it is truth.
God on you............
After all, it's his church.
Scripture says that He is building it.
Maybe we're the ones that have gotten it wrong.
Maybe we took an idea from Jesus and have stamped it with our identity.
Acts 2:42 gives this description of the behavior of the first church.
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
The early believer's placed themselves voluntarily under the teaching of the apostles'. Recognizing that they were the last ones to have physically walked with Jesus and with this new indwelling of the Holy Spirit, those who were believers took the teaching of the apostles to heart. They didn't just study it, they lived it.
Teaching is one of the last things some people look for in a church. Programs, events, other people all seem to take precedent over the teaching. I don't think this should be this way.
Next on the list was fellowship.
The interaction and bond that draws people together. Not an outside interest or hobby, but the bond of the Holy Spirit. That is the glue or bond or whatever you want to call it, that strengthens any church. The personal interaction between people sharing their stories and plans of what God is doing in their life.
I write these things, because of my own wrestling with what our church should be, or how it should operate.
How far do I go in my teaching when I realize I only have 7 weeks minimum to instruct?
Do I try and lead them to places they aren't ready to go, or do I teach the basics and trust that the seed will produce fruit? Good questions without easy answers.
I do know that I have to let God take the lead no matter what I choose.
Pray for me....
as I do you...........
God on you.......
Parking lot was crowded yesterday. It was near noon and people were taking care of their business, hurrying in and out of the building. I...