Friday, August 9, 2013

Where You Are Determines What You see

Where you are determines what you see. That's a quote I heard long ago on a podcast by a Pastor named Gordon Venturella, but it has stuck with me ever since I heard it.
Where are you in your relationship with God and others. Where you are WILL determine what you see.
If our relationship with God is more of an acquaintance with Him, than a true relationship, His true nature and power will remain hidden.
If our relationships with others remains superficial, then we never experience the life changing power of community. We get lost in our own problems.
Where you are determines what you see, always.
Think of those twelve regular guys that walked and ministered with Jesus. They shared life's up's and down's. One of them even betrayed Him to the temple officials. Yet thousand of years later we see the effects of their ministry.
It's easy to lose focus in this life. Bills must be paid, schedules met, commitments fulfilled. Jesus doesn't ask us to lay all of those things aside, He asks us to include Him in all of those things. Allowing Jesus to lead our lives brings a much different perspective to our existence.
Sharing life with others, takes the focus off of our issues. Those issues remain, but somehow they don't seem as scary.

"For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst." Matthew 18:20

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Letting Go

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14 (NASB)
What "lies behind" you? If you are a normal member of the human race, it's probably those actions or words that caused you grief or embarrassment, we call that sin. We all have things in our past that remind us that we fall far short of God's standards. But Paul says to let those things go. Focusing on our failures only brings to light our fallen nature, which was exchanged (atoned)at the cross. Why would God remind us of things we are already forgiven for? Why would God use the same feelings of shame or guilt, to correct us? He doesn't. The enemy (the accuser of the brethren Rev 12:10) uses this tactic to distract us from the righteousness we have in Jesus Christ. No longer sinners in the eyes of a righteous God, but saints redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Let these things go.
I'm pretty simple (most that know me will agree!). But it reminds of how I've seen raccoons, in their desire to get a treat in a jar, remain trapped because they won't let go of the piece of food they have their hand wrapped around. When they have their hand balled us inside the jar, they can't get their hand out.It's the same with us, we will never truly understand the gracious gift of God, until we let go of who we were, and embrace who we are in Christ. Saints, period!

Monday, July 29, 2013


What is Heaven?
Think of how our view of heaven has been shaped by Hollywood, books, magazines, even from our church services. What does the bible say about heaven?

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He *said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." Revelation 21:1-5 (NASB)

Key word: New. The Bible tells us that our eternal dwelling place with God, will be new. Something not yet created until He creates it. But there's more, much more!

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper.It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west.And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall.The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. Revelation 21:10-16 (NASB)

The capital city, Jerusalem, will be fifteen hundred miles long and wide as well as tall. And that's just the city! Imagine the size of New Earth.
We won't float about in a disembodied state, (1 Thess 4:13-18), no harps and angel wings. We come and go as we fellowship perfectly with God and each other. No bills to pay, no foreclosures, no car troubles, no labor (we will be working), and no world embroiled in the turmoil of just getting by. We will travel, explore our new home, meet old friends, old pets (?) and meet new friends. From the Bible we can see that we can't fully comprehend what heaven will truly be like, but one thing is for certain: God will rule! His reality will be the only reality we exist within.

Friday, July 19, 2013

God vs. Evil pt 2

So let's continue. How can I trust a God that allows us to suffer? I've always wrestled with the idea that God allows (basically condones) evil for a greater purpose. That line of thought, although it keeps intact the idea of an all-knowing all-powerful God, leaves me cold and resistant to Him. I don't deny scripture clearly states that God disciplines those He loves and that discipline is meant to teach us. But I can't wrap my mind around the idea that God would willfully, and wantonly condone the death of innocents to serve a greater purpose. What lesson could possibly be learned from something so horrendous like the death of a child? The common Christian statement during those times when something awful happens is "everything happens for a reason". I agree with the statement, just not the sterile Christian implications of that statement.
Yes, everything happens for a reason. It's called love. God created us with the capacity to love and with this capacity for love comes the capacity for hate. It's true with us and the angels. God is also bound by His words, which say he gives man choices. These choice may be influenced by God but He doesn't coerce us into seeing things His way. Gregory Boyd said it best when he states :Can God create two mountains with out creating a valley?
God risks everything in creating a world where love is possible. For love to be possible so must hate. Why doesn't God just do away with evil? Becuase He himself limits His power over us, to allow us to freely choose Him. If He gives us the free will to choice or not to choose, then becuase He isnt happy with us, takes that freedom from us, then did we ever truly have freedom?
I read through the bible and see a God who loves, and suffers with His creation in the name of love. "Jesus wept", the shortest verse in the bible, shows us a God coming to reconcile a world to Himself, but realizing many would not. God doesn't remove Himself from our suffering,He entered it on the cross and endures generations of people for whom He died, freely rejecting Him.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

God vs. Evil
Many people pose the question, "If God is all-powerful, then why do we still encounter evil in the world"? After all couldn't God stop this evil?For some the answer is simply replying that God knows what he is doing and all things are in His control, "everything happens for a reason". For others, because is supposed to be all-powerful and evil is still present, this God must not exist. Still others tenaciously cling to their faith wondering if God even cares.
The Bible is replete with verses which state that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, eternal and actively involved in the lives of humanity. But there are others forces at work. Dark forces which actively move against God's creation with evil intentions. And then there is the human race.
Where there is the potential for good there is by proxy potential for bad. When God created man he gave man a choice, this choice allows for the presence of evil. But not only did God give humanity freewill he also gave His angels this same option. We know that Satan made his choice and those angels which followed were thrown out of heaven and those evil angels (demons) now occupy this world. While we shouldn't give the enemy more attention than he deserves, ignoring his presence is just as dangerous. Consider John's words in Revelation.
"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: " Rev 2:1
"And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write:" Rev 2:8
 "And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: " Rev 2:12
All of the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation start by addressing the "angel of the church". It's odd that a letter to the church would start in this way. Now consider that John is relaying a message from Jesus to these angels and NOT the leaders of the church and the spiritual ramifications are huge!
I'll continue this thread in my next entry, but for now ask yourself how do I explain the presence of evil in this world? Why does God sometimes intervene and then at other times He doesn't. Isn't God allowing something to happen basically the same thing as willingly letting something happen? If we had knowledge of something that was about to happen and did nothing we would be considered an accomplice. How do we trust a God that "let's" us suffer?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Kingdom Tension

At Discovery Church we have a summer series entitled "you asked for it". Every week we take a question from the members and try our best to answer that question during our Sunday service. This week we had a tough one and I drew the short straw! Here were the questions.
What is God's will?
What is freewill?
Do the two work together?
Is God in control?
These questions are all good and require deep thought, but they also require them to be addressed together. In other words answering them separately would be easy, but not accurate. Whenever the question of will is posed (whether it's God's will of freewill), the doctrines of Calvinism and Arminianism come to the forefront. Simply, do we have freewill or does God control the fate of each person. Tough question. I can't write here all that was said, but I found a statement which I used Sunday morning, that many responded to and wanted a copy of of. It is not mine and I wish I could give credit to the person who made this statement, but haven't been able to find the original source. Here it is:
“God is in charge of what happens, when it happens, how it happens, why it happens, and what happens after it happens. This is true of all events in every place from the beginning of time. He does this for our good and His Glory. He is not the author of sin, yet evil serves His purposes. He does not violate our freewill, yet freewill serves His purposes. We’re not supposed understand all of this. We are simply to believe it by faith." 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

This week my wife and I are preparing for a long awaited vacation. I've spent time ensuring there are no loose ends at church as well as putting our house in order. Then the thought hit me, why am I doing all of this just for a vacation? Shouldn't I be doing this everyday? It reminded me of what James said:
13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit."
14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. James 4:13-14 (NASB)
I can't deny the excitement my wife are experiencing at the prospect of a week away, but I know from experience that at the end of that week, I'll be missing my home, my kids, my friends and family. Even my dogs. The things we miss most are usually the most important. When we strip all of the things away we are left with a realization that our relationships (even with our pets) are what is most important. Which led me to my next question, am I as excited about seeing Jesus face to face? I'm making preparations for a vacation, but am I making those same preparations for eternity? Am I loving and living in such a way that when tomorrow never comes here on earth, the footprints I leave behind lead to Jesus?
So I guess for me the answer is not to live like there is no tomorrow  (I still make plans and have goals) but I'll live with the knowledge tomorrow isn't promised on earth, but eternity is assured with my Savior and friend, Jesus. And I want people to meet this friend I have.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Last week at Discovery Church we had great service. The music was great, both spirit led and filled. We had 9 people professing faith in Christ being baptized and one very special baby dedication. I had prepared a message spending numerous hours on this message, knowing the church would be full because of the crowds which always accompany these sort of events. I wanted make a good showing for Discovery Church. But God had other plans. The sermon I had prepared was wadded up and for the next half hour I shared from 2 Corinthians 5:17. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
I had grown weary of witnessing many believers acting in a manner that mirrored their old nature, not the new nature Christ promises is ours if we believe His promise. Sooner or latter this sort of thing happens to everyone, myself included. The previous weeks had been challenging for me and I slowly began to unearth that buried old man. Up until last Sunday I had never completely thrown out a prepared sermon and spoken without notes. Thankfully I am supported by an awesome Tech Team on Sunday mornings who  can "go with the flow". 
I needed to remind myself that I am a new creation in Christ. My position in the world had changed. I was no longer an enemy of God but was given a place in the Kingdom of God by Christ himself. Those old things had passed away and it was the father of all lies that kept whispering to me "you don't need Jesus, you are more than able to be a church leader, pastor, teacher, administrator, writer, father, grandfather and husband without Him". While those words were not my exact thoughts, my actions mirrored those words. Truth is truth, no matter whether I or anyone else believes that truth. Our belief or disbelief doesn't change the truth. 2 plus 2 will always equal 4 no matter how much I want to believe the total is 5. 
We are new creatures set free from our past actions and thought patterns, PERIOD! Settle that fact and those new things come to us by living and thinking His way, not ours. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

This past weekend we spent preparing for a funeral for one of our church family. It seems no matter how long I am in the ministry, I never get used to them. I wonder if this isn't God's plan all along? We know that death is a part of life. It is something that sooner or latter touches everyone, whether it be a friend acquaintance or family member. But I somehow don't think God wishes us to accept death as a status quo option.
There's a song which has the words "I don't want to go through the motions, I don't want to go one more day, Without Your all consuming passion inside of me, I don't want to spend my whole life asking, What if I had given everything, Instead of going through the motions"? by Matthew West.
By His grace we can live a life that leaves a cross shaped mark on the world. Our lives don't have to be lived in quite desperation asking what else is there? Rebel against death by asking for His life and giving Him ours! He said He would by His Grace!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I can't believe I actually published a book! Below is the link where it can be purchased. All profits will go to Discovery Church.
It all started when I understood God's Amazing Grace! I knew that Jesus died for me and that by his death and resurrection I was made right with God, but the whole idea of living in that grace had escaped me! I wonder how many believers share that story? We know that Jesus gave Himself for us on the cross, but living in His resurrection power seems to be just out of reach. That was my experience. Hopefully this book will begin to explain His grace, but it's not the final authority by any means. If you get the book, please check out the scriptures found there for yourself, in your bible. His word is and always will the final authority. God Bless and Grow in His grace!

Finally done!