Recently, under the weight of insecurities, fears and the inevitable self-evaluation we all perform in the process of transition I came to the place where I was considering to quit writing. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy writing but I honestly felt I have had nothing to say of value. If I were honest, I’d say in many ways I still feel that way. Good thing I refuse to let my emotions keep me down.
I finally got around to listening to an audiobook named “Quitter” a New York Times Best Seller from Jon Acuff. In chapter three, Jon got me good by talking about his two sides “today Jon” and “later Jon.” Today Jon says, “today is a good day to write…I’m gonna hammer out a few ideas.” Then Later Jon interjects, “ya…you could…or you could just do it later…you will have more energy and feeling much more creative…later.” This analogy hit home pretty hard for me. It describes me where I have been.
I can’t, we can’t, allow this mindset to settle in because it is a cancerous thought that will root its way to the place where we want to give in and give up. Regardless of whatever level of success or accomplishment we achieve, we are not immune to its effects. Allowing that conversation in my head almost stopped me from writing…it may be stopping you from your “more” whatever that may be. Whatever it is you feel you should just give up because of this or that I encourage you to join me in taking the risk and invest wholeheartedly into the dream of our hearts. I refuse to be a quitter. What about you?
Things have been ramping up lately here my way in such a fast pace it’s exciting to see what God has been unfolding. There is nothing like the feeling of success in what you do. As things begin to fall in place all I can do is see God’s hand all over things. It proves that God meant what He said concerning us in Jeremiah 29:11-12, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.“
If the fact that the God who created the universe not only hears your prayers but begins to answer them with the details that you’ve been praying for…that’s motivation! The Cross & Resurrection is motivation enough because he demonstrated His great love for me while I was still His enemy, trapped in my sin, He died for me, to give me life! That provides more fuel to the fire…it’s motivation to go deeper in the heart of God, motivation to build His Kingdom, motivation to do whatever He sets before me to do! It begs me to ask the other question: “what motivates you in your relationship with God?” Share you thoughts on Twitter or Facebook!
Recently, a good friend posted this video on her Facebook page and it messed me up in a good way. Please take 10 minutes out of your day and listen to this snipet from Pastor Judah Smith be reminded of Barabbas.
As we have entered Holy Week, the most sacred time of the year for Christians I often ask myself what would I have done if I was one of the 12 disciples? “The Bible” miniseries has been provoking the thought even more in me. We all would like to think that we would be like Peter, giving the sermon on the day of Pentecost, but few ever say we are more like Simon denying Christ. Pastor Quinton really pointed out the big difference between Simon/Peter in a recent sermon that you really should hear.
Honestly, as much as I would like to say I would be a Peter, a rock of faith, I believe I would’ve been the one to betray our Lord. If I was a disciple I would’ve been Judas. This isn’t a self-loathing thing, to appear more righteous, but it’s honestly after much thought how I feel. I pity Judas, he reminds me of how I was and at times I still am: insecure, fearful, weak and selfish etc. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, because he was all these things but I am no fool to think that I am better than he. In fact, on my own, I am worse than Judas ever was. That is the ugly side of this flesh we all live in.
I pity Judas, he lived life with Jesus for at least 3 years of ministry and saw the redemptive work of God first hand and yet betrayed it all for nothing. I believe it was because he never thought Jesus was doing everything for him; it was all for him. Personally, I believe he never truly believed God loved him for who he really was. Jesus came so that we all could know Him and in turn know the Father but I don’t believe Judas ever grasped this for himself. It’s one thing to see the truth (see miracles, prophecies), to know the truth (go to church, be religious), but its altogether different when you experience the power of truth for what it is (John 17:3). Had he grasped the truth of God’s love for him I believe he could’ve resisted the temptation of the 30 pieces of silver but either way God’s plan had to be carried out. Jesus was the lamb slain before the foundation of the world, no changing the plan set in motion…had it not been Judas’ betrayal for the money it would’ve happened another way.
Now Jesus didn’t die just to hit the restart button on the tally of our sins. His purpose was so that we may know life with the Father just as He did! The wall between God and man…our sins…were wiped out because the perfect sacrifice, the lamb of God, “who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2Corinthians 5:21).” Because of Jesus, we have been purchased at a great price (His life), we are redeemed and we are His. This reminds me, the great story of God’s grace, that Jesus came for the Judas in me…and His love far exceeds my faults/failures. Judas didn’t know His love but I am experiencing it and His love has changed and continues to change me.
“This is a piece found on CharismaNews by Pastor Jack Hayford. This is definitely worth a read for all Christians!”
My feelings, following the results of the 2012 presidential race, are not predicated on the relative merits or either candidate. They are borne with facts that are true of Americans’ lives at this time in the 21st century; some of which are flavored by choices by our seated president’s words and actions, but not without difficulties that may be attributed to either of our presidential candidates or their parties. In short, our vulnerabilities and weaknesses as a nation—economically, spiritually, morally or otherwise, have a deeper root than the failures of human management or policy.
It is in the light of that preamble that I make this statement: The re-election of President Obama is yet another landmark of history that reveals the inevitable flow of events which increase in depth and spread when the church mistakes its mission. As one incident, the election outcome holds the portent of being a prophetic announcement of the impending end of the significance of the church in America, unless …
… Unless a reawakening of Christ’s body in America occurs, which heeds the “first of all” priority Paul, by the Holy Spirit (1 Tim. 2:1-2), assigned to the church’s ministry of prayer and intercession for leaders, peoples and nations, no administration or political party will be capable of a solution to our nation’s essential problems.
… Unless the church becomes more persuaded that the fountainhead of its strength is in livingworship—by which we humble ourselves, seeking God’s presence (more than it demonstrates our skill at making music)—no degree of programming or growth will be able to regain the place of influence the once-effective voice the church historically has had in the U.S. as “salt,” to neutralize the toxic issues existing in the arena of morality, justice and family life.
… Unless the pulpits, sanctuaries and classrooms of the church be once again employed as centerpieces of shaping disciples unto transformation with solid teaching and meaty preaching, holding forth the Word of life, the declining percentage of believers in America will be further reduced. “Church Growth” alone will never be an effective substitute for “people growth”; the formation and equipping of committed followers of Jesus Christ, who bear His Cross and who shine as lights in the world.
… Unless a vanguard of today’s American church leadership chooses to take a stand with Israel as the Sovereign God’s chosen people (a theological posture rooted in the Word and our nation’s history), the effect of out present apathy will advance an already increasing global anti-Semitism, and the brash rise in political scorn manifest today will continue to move our nation closer to the edge of self-destruction by reason of its collective choice to pass judgment against and forsake our support of God’s ancient land and people; a choice certain to boomerang cataclysmic judgments upon us via a scenario which may well bring about the finale of our nation’s existence (see Zech. 12-14).
In summary: the bitter fruit of the 2012 presidential outcome is not the party or person who is taking the White House, but in the disappearing fruitage of the church’s inherent, God-given dynamic to affect the spiritual climate of our nation and effect a harvest of the “fruit of righteousness” in a country formerly seen as sufficiently “Christian” to leave a deep enough stamp on the national life to indicate a credible, spiritual presence.
Jack Hayford is founder and chancellor of The King’s University in Los Angeles and a former president of The Foursquare Church. Best known as “Pastor Jack,” he is the founder of The Church On The Way in Van Nuys, Calif., and a prolific writer and musical composer.
We just started Fall here and the weather is getting beautiful. The cool breeze is blowing. There is a fresh crispness to the air and it is just near perfect weather. In my opinion, Fall has to be the best season of all…some like it for the perfect weather…some for deer hunting…some for the deer meat that comes from hunting…and others for the change of leaves and the beautiful scenery. The only downside I can see to Fall is that it means that Winter is not far behind. Fall is meant to be the transitional season between Summer and Winter and here in NC it usually doesn’t last very long. You may have a week or two of fall-esque weather and it will get freezing cold (or just plain hot again).
Oddly enough, I remember the day very well that I learned this lesson for myself. I was in seventh grade and each day I rode the bus to school, walk down my neighborhood to the end of the road to catch the bus. I woke up late and decided to quickly throw on a pair of shorts and a shirt and ran out the door to catch the bus on time. Little did I know that Fall had took that sudden turn and gotten cold over night. I stood at the bus stop, the only guy in shorts, freezing and literally teeth shattering cold. I made the mistake of not being aware of the season I was living in. Had I paid attention to the news, had I known what was predicted in the weather I would’ve responded by wearing what was appropriately needed. As much as this is true in the physical, it is in the spiritual.
In life we face seasons of joy, sorrow, war, peace and tribulation and much more. The writer in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says it best: “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven…” In recognizing that the things that we face are for a season we become aware that there is a reason in God’s purpose and plan for our lives for them. We need not be ignorant of the season that He is permitting us to be in for they are opportunities to grow and draw closer in relationship with Him.
I encourage you, as I am learning this as well, to not just ask God “why?” but ask Him what He desires for you to learn in this season you are in. As I like to say, “any change in ones life always demands a response.” I ask you today, as you go through these seasons of your life whether they be for the good or bad, easy or hard, at the end of the day the biggest question is: how will you respond?
In the last post I shared a question that has been stirring in me: “…are you willing to pay the price to live a life that abides [in Christ]?”Before we can honestly answer that question for ourselves we must first look at what the word abide means. Forgive me but you are about to read the beginnings of how my mind works in studying something but I promise it’s not as bad as it seems…I hope.
Abide means: ”to remain, abide a) in reference to place: to sojourn, tarry, not to depart, to continue to be present, to be held, kept, continually b) in reference to time: to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure, c) in reference to state or condition: to remain as one, not to become another or different, to wait for, await one.“
Simply put it means “to remain” that right there will speak volumes in reference to Christ. Upon accepting Christ we are placed in Him (see Ephesians 2) but to abide in Him is a choice we all must choose. Though He may never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrew 13:5) it is entirely up to us if we choose to stay and abide in Him…if we choose not too then Jesus makes it clear the result of that choice. In John 15:6 Jesus says, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.“
Now that we see what it means let’s tackle the first question that arises…what does this life of abiding in Christ look like? A life that abides in Christ is one that is unshakable in faith regardless of circumstances; no matter what hell is going on around them a person abiding can rest in the fact that God is still God and He is working a plan for their own good (see Romans 8:28). It believes the Word of God (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17) over the opinion of one’s culture, friends and even family. A person abiding guards their heart (see Proverbs 4:23, Matthew 15:16-20) and watches what they listen hear and take part in and let their mind settle on (see Philippians 4:8-9, 2 Corinthians 10:5). A person abiding is firm in their identity and purpose (see 1 Peter 2:9, Ephesians 2, John 17, 2 Corinthians 5:20 etc).
If you haven’t begun to connect the dots this is a small taste of how we as Christians are called to live…we were made to abide in Christ (see John 17:3). There have been far better men to write and go in depth in this subject but my goal is to bring a foundational overview to get you thinking…so now that we know what abide means and a glimpse of what it looks like come back for the next post where we will discuss the price of abiding in Christ.
Have you ever been doing something so mundane without a specific thought in your head and then BAM out of nowhere you are reminded of someone or something from months or even years ago? Often when this happens it is the most odd and bizarre yet strangely important moment of the day. Today it happened on the way to work…I was reminded today, by the Holy Spirit, of a comment made by a pastor who was teaching in my 2nd year at DSOM. After nearly two years later, I remember a few of classes that have left an indelible mark on me and this comment came from one of those days:
“The price is not cheap, nor is it easy…but are you willing to pay the price to live a life that abides [in Christ]?”
When Jesus shared the allegory of the vine and the branches in John 15:1-8, He spoke on a myriad of levels and meaning in such grace as only He could do. Though I probably could write a book on these eight verses (and probably will someday Lord willing), I will resist and settle for a post or two on the subject. Returning to the question that prompted all of this thinking, what is the price that we have to pay to live this portion of Scripture out in our own lives?
Before we can honestly answer that question we need to find out what that means for us…a little more of what God is trying to say through it beyond the surface meaning…and how it applies to us. I encourage you to read this portion and pray about it and write down what you feel God is telling you; doing this will help you better hear His voice [John 10:25-30]. Be sure to come back for the next installment as we begin to answer these questions and more.
Today in class a statement was made that I have not been able to shake in my heart:
“Most people have a desire to look for the exception, instead of having the desire to become exceptional.”
I know lately I am finding myself on a path of a ton of change within me and externally as I see the end of another year in my life, work to finish up school in the next few weeks among much more. In the midst of all this change is a deep yearning desire to be a world changer and not in the Christianese hype sense but in the serious legitimate sense.
When I look at people like Isaiah Saldivar (a young evangelist with a healing anointing on his life), Abner Suarez (a strongly prophetic minister) and others; I see the impact they are having for the Kingdom and I can no longer sit back and be content. I can’t sit on the sidelines and do nothing to bring the Kingdom of Heaven into my own sphere of influence. I can’t be content to do nothing and watch. NO! I refuse to watch these exceptions to the norm of Christianity when I am designed to be the exception myself. WE ALL ARE! We are all called to live a life set apart, a cut above, as members of a royal priesthood and a chosen generation we are not to simply be copies of those we admire.
Maybe this is the man in me wanting to lay claim to my corner of the world; to go forth conquering, or birthday nostalgia thinking over another years passing and things I wish I would’ve done differently but I choose to believe it’s deeper than that. I believe at the end of the day we want to leave this world a better place than the way it was when we came into it and that is most certainly me and this is only done by living as the exception to the norm. In looking at the norm of American Christianity I find it empty and leave in a state of depravity then full of the life promised in John 10:10. In the word’s of Pastor Quinton Self: “There’s More!” I desire to be the exception!
Larry Randolph has a quote that shapes and reinforces this idea: “God has created you as a unique expression of Him in the earth…an original voice and not an echo of another.” As I am learning what this means in my life I challenge you to see in what ways can you break out of the box of just following the ones who have found their voice and the call of God for their life to becoming the exception and be the original voice that God has designed you to be! I don’t think we can begin to imagine our world…your home…your job…your church…your friends and just how different everything would be when we learn to live as the exception.