Perseverance, Character, and Hope

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)

I was reading in Romans 5 this morning, and this portion of Chapter 3 stood out to me…”we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” – Over the last three to four years it seems that I have faced more individual sufferings, trials, and tests than I ever have in my life. The question that popped into my head as I read this was, “Have those issues I have dealt with produced perserverance, character, and hope?” – “Four years and now on the other side of some of these things, have I increased in these areas?”

In my eyes I may say no! Because I live with my imperfections everyday, but my hope is that in the eyes of Christ I have and in the eyes of others, they will see that the Lord has grown me, stretched me, and matured me in perserverance, character, and hope!

Join the Conversation: Are you seeing perserverance, character, and hope being formed in your life? Care to share how God is doing that?

Sunday Recap: Lord Make Us ONE

My church (the church @ greenbrier) jumped on board with the ONE Prayer Campaign as other churches were finishing up, but I am glad that we did. I love hearing our pastor when he shares God’s Word with us, but there was something special with the messages that we were treated to during the last 3 weeks, I truly believe Jesus gave Craig Groeschel a fresh idea of His vision for His church. This week, we watched the message by Craig, “Lord, make us ONE!”

Craig started the basis of his message with Jesus’ prayer from John 17:20-24. Pete Wilson is starting a series on relationship surrounding verses 20 & 21 of chapter 17 in the fall, I can’t wait to check those out on Cross Point’s website. I am sure that series will be just as powerful as this message, and people’s lives are going to be changed because of it. Here are some of the highlights and my thoughts at the end, take a couple of minutes and check it out:

We always want Jesus to answer our prayer, but what if we (Christians/the Church) decided to be the answer to Jesus’ prayer?” – Craig Groeschel

What will it take to unify the church?

1. If Christians/the Church recognize we have ONE ENEMY! Amen & Amen!!!
**Satan is that ONE enemy, not other churches or other believers.** We all have ONE thing in common, the same enemy! (1 Peter 5:8-9) (John 10:10)

2. ONE HEART! Christians/the Church can have different methods or manners in which they do ministry; there is power in our diversity, but we should be united in our passion of making the name of Jesus famous, because it is through Jesus that those who do not know him can be saved. We are not called to be uniform in style and preference, but to be united in Love. (**My Note: I wholeheartidly believe this, but only when it does not cross the line into doctrine of the Gospel and of God’s Word**) (John 13:34-35“Love One Another”)

**Christians/the Church should be united. When “I” get out of place, united become “untied” (which is the state our churches are in), but when “I” is in its proper place we have “united.” – We must stay aware of whether we are in our proper place or whether we are not.

3. ONE PURPOSE! (Matthew 28:19-20) “Go and make disciples” – Church in greek is “ekklesia” which means “called out ones” (**Personal Note: Why do we allow personal style and method preferences stand in the way of this one? No matter which version of the Bible you read or what denomination you are a part of, this teaches and reads the same, so on this point alone, why are we not united here?**)

I encourage you to go watch the video HERE. The illustrations, stories, and videos that were shown with this message are great! I really enjoy messages like these, because growin up I saw and heard so much division due to personal preferences over styles and methods. Through a disagreement on these things people came to conclusions about doctinal beliefs of other denominations or churches that were not true, thankfully I have learned to explore & question on my own and to allow the Lord to free me from the legalism and the bondage these people put me under. I have seen first hand how these things divide the Church Jesus said He was going to build versue building it up and uniting it. I believe the greatest thing is at risk by our churches being divided over petty issues, People’s souls!

Did It Just Randomly Happen?

“…that I may know Him…”
(Philippians 3:10)

A saint is not to take the initiative towards self-realization, but toward knowing Jesus Christ. A spiritually vigorous saint never believes that his circumstances simply happen at random, nor does he ever think of his life as being divided into the secular and the sacred. He sees every situation in which he finds himself as the means to obtaining a greater knowledge of Jesus Christ, and he has an attitude of unrestrained abandon and total surrender about him.

- Oswald Chambers

How many times has something gone crazy in our lives and we immediately start taking a self-inventory of the things we may have done wrong; the sins we may have committed to bring such pain, torment, and suffering upon ourselves? How much time do we spend sitting around thinking about what it is that ‘we’ can do to overcome the circumstances and the situations our lives are in? Each process is simply a step towards self-realization and a step away from a vigorous life of abandon to the cause of Christ.

So did that situation or that issue just happen at random in your life? Is that how we look at our present state of affairs? If you are like me, you start questioning the steps you took to get to where you currently are: ‘If I only would have ignored that email.’ ‘If I only would have turned right instead of left.’ ‘If I only would have…” Issue by issue we act as if it all happens by random chance. I am not speaking as if God brings every situation in our path. I truly believe that we do lead ourselves in many of the directions that our lives take. My thoughts are focusing on when we face these issues and circumstances whether God delivered or self caused is how do we view our journey while in the midst and what is our viewpoint on the backside when we have come through it.

Oswald Chambers proposes that a spiritually vigorous Christ Follower looks at the issues in his life not as a random occurrence, but as an opportunity to grow in our knowledge of the One we say we follow, Jesus Christ. This is a step away from self-realization and a step towards total reliance on Christ. This is not easy, in fact it is very difficult. However, any situation (whether self caused or God led) can serve as an opportunity to know Christ more.

“Lord, I was just lied to, betrayed, stabbed in the back, and wounded…reveal yourself to me!”
“Lord, my parents are going through a messy divorce…reveal yourself to me!”
“Lord, I lost my job and cannot pay my bills…reveal yourself to me!”
“Lord, my child has has abandoned you for the world…reveal yourself to me!”

Oh, how this is easier said than done. If it were up to us, we would remove every circumstance and issue that required faith on our part, we would settle for everything we could handle on our own and only for the things that we could provide an answer for. Christianity is a faith life and that faith leads us to rely on someone who is greater than we are when life is not the way we like it. This faith life is not for the prideful; surrender requires humility to understand that we are weak when standing on our own, but through the life of Christ that indwells us, we can make it to the other side. In the end, do we strive to make it on the other side to say ‘I beat an illness?’ Or to say ‘my marriage was restored?’ Or is our motive to say ‘Now I know Jesus a little more.’

I have recently experienced some things in my life that are rather confusing and I am asking Jesus, ‘how can I know you more through this?’ But also, with a new baby on the way and uncertainty in my ministry and career path, I want to get to the other side and be able to say, ‘I know my Jesus a little more now!’

Join the Conversation: What are you facing right now, that in the end will lead you to know Jesus even more?

Get Reel: Rambo (Sunday’s Message)

Thanks to all who prayed for me this past Sunday as I preached in an Adult service for the first time in 2 years. Yes, I was nervous. Yes, I was worried that I would go over my given time…All a perfect recipe for a disaster. So, who knows the outcome, except Christ and those who heard the message. I had some positive remarks, a few people who conveyed they needed the message at that exact time in their life, and then Chuck emailed me and reported HERE that we had two people mark their communication card that they received Christ in the service. So regardless of how I feel about the message, my main prayer is that the Lord used it in people’s lives.

I am posing the MP3 of the message HERE – the sound is not very good on the recording (Update: I’ve had a few people say it does not sound the same as it did live…its too loudplus some Firefox users have had some downloading issues). We are doing a Summer series called Get Reel where we are doing messages around Movie Blockbusters, I did my message from Rambo, here are a few things you may need to know:

#1 I opened with this clip, so you may want to view it before listening…it may put some of what I was saying into perspective:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-3BgQOusD8]

#2 When I refer to a monopoly faith I was using these as a visual aid (my hot wife made them), sometimes I said some things and was pointing or referencing these so it may confuse you on those parts:

Finally the audio goes silent in one section, its because we showed this clip to close out the message:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtJO6iZUddQ]

Get Reel: Rambo Message


Does God Promise Protection?

I was reading the entry for My Utmost for His Highest this morning and was a little torn. Here is the section that brings me to this blog post:

. . . I am with you to deliver you,’ says the Lord —Jeremiah 1:8

God promised Jeremiah that He would deliver him personally— “. . . your life shall be as a prize to you . . .” (Jeremiah 39:18 ). That is all God promises His children. Wherever God sends us, He will guard our lives.

Now, I am fairly new at reading Oswald Chambers’ stuff. There are times that I read it and I can hear some of his influence or at least an identical influence in some of the people who have helped form my thinking. One of those people, once again today, is Louie Giglio. Yesterday, as I piggy backed on Pete Wilson’s blog, I posted an audio message from Louie called “Prayer-a-Remix” where Louie points out how unbiblical many of our cliche’ American prayers are. [Download the Full Message Here - Requires Quick Time]

In the message Louie talks about how one of the typical things that we pray is “Lord Protect Me!” – However, in the post Cross/Resurrection teaching of the Gospel, we are never promised protection or safety. Louie points out that in the Old Testament all the heroes (David, Daniel, Noah, Etc.) were victorious and lived, but in the post Cross/Resurrection portion of the New Testament all the heroes suffered and died (Jesus, Peter, Paul, Etc.) – The bottom line is that sure we can pray for protection, and trust me I pray for protection for my family daily, but in reality, if you are living totally abandoned to Christ and truly mean that He can use your life to further His mission no matter what, then I believe there is no promise of protection, because sometimes His mission is greater than our lives!

**You have got to listen to the audio message about Louie’s example of Graham Stains – It puts this into perfect perspective – I admit I have used the illustration numerous times now!**

Join the Conversation, What Do You Think?

Chasing Daylight Chapter 6 Thoughts (Part 2)

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Here are my final thoughts on Chapter 6 (Advance) of Chasing Daylight by Erwin McManus. Join the Conversation at the end if anything stands out to you…

  • What is it about our conversations with God that we seem to hear the no more readily than the yes? Many times when we claim we are waiting on God, He is waiting on us.
  • You are called not to be a survivor, but to be a conqueror. With passion and anticipation, you move with determination into the eye of the hurricane.
  • I don’t know what it means for others, but for followers of Jesus Christ, what it means to live on the edge is to stand at the epicenter of where the kingdom of God confronts the kingdom of darkness.
  • On this journey one thing becomes certain: When you move forward on what you know, things become clearer. When you refuse to act on what you know, all that you do not know paralyzes you.
  • When we become a people of the Spirit, we join the wind of God as He moves through human history.
  • Those who seize their divine opportunities move with the God-given yes unless God says no. They work from the go and wait for the stop. They understand that the mission gives them permission. They know that the danger is their invitation to step up to the challenge. [Read more...]

What Will You Do With The Power?

Join the Conversation…

The first time I heard Francis Chan was at the Thirsty Conference in 2006. He did a talk out of Haggai that blew me away. I have to admit, I stole it, changed it up slightly to make it my own, but I gave him credit for the influence. :)

Today in my daily devotional read of My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, I was reminded of the message, and wanted to share a few thoughts (I suggest taking the time to read through the 2 short chapters of Haggai HERE after reading this post to get the full idea of what is taking place.)…

(1:12) Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of God’s people began to obey the message from the Lord their God. When they heard the words of the prophet Haggai, whom the Lord their God had sent, the people feared the Lord. Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave the people this message from the Lord: “I am with you, says the Lord!”

The basic idea from Chapter 1 of Haggai is that God is not pleased with the people because they have put themselves, their desires and ambitions, before pleasing the Lord and doing the things that He desired. Zerubbabel led the people to obey the Lord and its at that point that the Lord tells them, “I am with you.”

Kind of sounds like the promise in Matthew 28:19-20 when we are commissioned to go into all the world to make disciples, to baptize, and to teach others all that Christ has taught us, basically the things He desires. He ends by saying in the NLT, “And be sure of this: I am with you always…”

Now back to Haggai…
(2:23)”…I will honor you, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, my servant. I will make you like a signet ring on my finger, says the Lord, for I have chosen you.

Zerubbabel obeyed the Lord and did what He desired, so the Lord finishes the chapter out telling Zerubbabel that He is chosen by God and that He has made him like His signet ring. That right there is awesome! Pause and think about it…A signet ring is the King’s Seal, it is used to attest the authority of its bearer, the ring has also been seen as a symbol of his power. So that means, Zerubbabel has been given God’s authority, His power, His advanced say-so to do what needs to be done, He had God’s approval.

Oswald Chambers wrote today about “The Never-Failing God” – and his focus is on His promises to never fail us and to never forsake us. “…I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (Hebrew 13:5) – “Neither will I in any way forsake you” – That means that no matter what we do, how bad we mess up, how sinful we are or how selfish we get, the Lord is still there. He has chosen us, He has given us power, He lives with in us, and promises to give us abundant life. Here’s how Chambers closes the devotional:

“We have the idea that God is going to do some exceptional thing, that He is preparing and fitting us for some extraordinary thing by and bye, but as we go on in grace we find that God is glorifying Himself here and now, in the present minute. If we have God’s say-so behind us, the most amazing strength comes, and we learn to sing in the ordinary days and ways.”

So…What have you been waiting for God’s say-so on? Or – What is something in the past that you were holding back on because you were waiting on God’s approval? What will you do with the power God has given you?