Do you find yourself to be misunderstood by co-workers, your family and friends? Kind of a dumb question really because I know we all at times feel that way, and it is inevitable. It can strike in a casual conversation, through an intended solution to an issue or conflict, when one person thinks something they say is funny when it is cutting. We’ve all been on both ends of the spectrum and it isn’t a pleasant place to find yourself.
The fact is people will hurt you, and you will hurt others. It doesn’t mean that you go out there and make it a willful choice to attack or disregard someones opinion. Then again if you aren’t willing to deal with your own stuff, and those moments you lash out are more about the pain or deficiency in you, then it is personal negligence. It is in the moments of sincere desire to help, and you are rejected, that you gain a window into the true nature we all posses.
We protect our “territory” viciously, erecting walls that cannot be penetrated, and then we lie to ourselves and justify it. How? By thinking we are entitled, or having been wounded we deserve better, by thinking we are above correction or even advice. Yes, there is a multitude of ridiculous reasons for our arrogance, but the result of it is all funneled to one ultimate end; either an awakening, or destruction. Have you noticed that the world advertises very directly to our need for validation? There is a word that binds together every product or service…they say you “DESERVE” it. That car you’ve always wanted, or house, clothes, tech toys, vacations, you name it. I will tell you that I don’t deserve anything. I could not escape what I had become. Selfish, entitled, careless with the generosity of others, a plethora of infectious ME diseases had taken over my life. Maybe you are like me and at times you say, “I want MY time, do things on MY terms, think in MY mind whatever I want.” I know that I want to blame others for this but cannot, and neither can you. If your selfish admit it, and do something about it; what good is revelation without action?
I don’t have answers, I am as confused as you are sometimes, but I am good with that now. False fronts are just that, lies to keep people from knowing us or even wanting to know us! I am a man that is on the same journey you are, I am the same dust that was breathed into by God, and I am hindered by those same things that have challenged mankind from the beginning. So my work-in-progress continues, I’m a fighter, and I will never give up!
Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8 (MSG)
Knowing that, I wonder what you will do with it, allow the awakening to inspire change, or will you ignore the truth and continue down a road to death? If your comfortable with things as they are you are probably deceiving yourself, for none of us has arrived. It will hurt, and quite possibly for a long time, but I would rather confront myself than rubber stamp my foolishness. Why not join me on this road, confront, correct, learn, and really live.
My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence? Galatians 5:15-16 (MSG)
Just a few thoughts to share after having a conversation with my wife this morning, and approaching 6 months in ministry.
This has been the most difficult year of my life. If you’ve kept up along the way you are aware of the many mistakes, and trials, the just plain horror of my life; so making that statement is no small thing. I came into ministry somewhat naïve having had zero full-time ministry experience and no amount of knowledge can prepare you for the reality of what will take place. There have been many second thoughts, sessions of tears, regret, and doubt-just plain feeling that we made the wrong decision. One cannot underestimate the impact of leaving everything you have known your entire life and starting completely over, for the sacrifice is immeasurable.
As we talked this morning it began to sink in. The freedom we gave up when going into ministry is monumental. The way in which you communicate with others has to change dramatically, the judgement and negativity one must withstand, the expectation of every individual being felt as you may or may not live up to what they think you should be. The financial cost, giving up what many of those you serve consider necessary to living. There are many other things to but I have written previously about them.
No, it isn’t anything like I thought it would be, but I know that this had to happen. There is no magical incantation one can utter to bypass the realities we face here, the pain must be endured, the price paid, and the lessons learned. Merely knowing this isn’t enough to salve the open wounds or provide the strength to go on, that is only head-knowledge. The greatest change must occur within, the heart has to be changed, made more loving, forgiving, and understanding, and this is the most difficult transition.
My heart is given to worship the immeasurable worth of Jesus, I am focused and determined to make Him the Lord of my life. It is my motivation and my purpose for living to bring people with me into the amazing presence of God himself. That is where we are changed and made whole, forgiven, we have grace extended to us, and eternity is defined. The challenge comes in leading that revolution of heart. How do I inspire a belief in the tangible power of Christ for each of us in our moments of need, hurts, hope, and despair?
Live it. OUCH!! It won’t happen today or even tomorrow, but over the course of a lifetime of modeling it, speaking it, and living it.
The cost of ministry is the ultimate price of giving your life for others, it is through the example of Jesus that we learn what that means, and that it will require everything. No secretly locked away desires for anything but Jesus, no motivation that is me first, no want for glory that takes anyone’s eyes away from focusing on Jesus. It is long hours of service, prayer, weeping in the night for the hurts and pain of others, it is a life of total personal sacrifice. Even more than that it is doing so with joy, knowing that the effect made upon those you touch is for the kingdom of heaven, and not for earthly gain or honor. With joy, that’s the part that I need most to learn.
I have only scratched the surface of the subject, but in writing I am encouraging myself, and hopefully others. I ask that you pray for those who lead you, that Christ would be glorified through them, and that many would be drawn to the love of Jesus. That you would continue to serve faithfully in your local church knowing that it isn’t just a duty you perform, but that you are partners in service to our great God.
Let Jesus Christ be glorified in and through each of us.
It’s about 5:20 am and I am in my car on the way to work. As I contemplate the day, the past, and the challenges I face; these four words words cut through the stuff. As a Christian, one might think that unbelief has no place in our walk with Jesus, but that simply isn’t the case. I am constantly challenged to believe beyond what I ever thought possible and to act on it.
There are many instances when Jesus walked the earth in which He was limited by a persons faith, or belief. One of the most powerful examples to me is found in Matthew 13: 53-57; he had spent time speaking in parables to the multitudes and His disciples…
When Jesus finished telling these stories, he left there, returned to his hometown, and gave a lecture in the meetinghouse. He made a real hit, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise, get such ability?” But in the next breath they were cutting him down: “We’ve known him since he was a kid; he’s the carpenter’s son. We know his mother, Mary. We know his brothers James and Joseph, Simon and Judas. All his sisters live here. Who does he think he is?” They got their noses all out of joint. And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house.(MSG)
And the result of this was…
58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.(KJV)
Now, I have written about this before, but there is a truth in the saying that we receive revelation, little by little. It is in my weakness that is found disbelief, and causes failure, doubt, confusion, and sin. And ultimately prevents God from accomplishing in me the things that He wants to.
You ask if I am saying we have the power to destroy the plans of God in us? Yes, I am. Even as a child of God, saved by the blood of Jesus, we can walk in unbelief. There are many examples of this, one being among those called as the first to go out and proclaim Jesus. He had risen as He said He would and Mary had seen Jesus and told them.
Mark 16:11-14 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them. Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
Did this unbelief prevent the resurrection? No. But what were they doing as a result of their lack of faith? Mark 16:10-11 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.
Lets make this practical for us today. You are plagued by thoughts and actions that are unlike the God you claim to follow and believe in. Maybe there has been a tragedy and it has caused you to doubt the God you have served these many years. You might even find yourself in some difficulty or challenge that you think you don’t deserve. There are an unlimited number of reasons that imprison us and prevent God from taking us further, and who do we so often blame? Well, sometimes we put it on God, or we bury ourselves in self-pity, anger, accusation, all the time deflecting the reality that is in our hearts.
TODAY LET US BELIEVE. Lay aside those things that constantly cause you to be held back from all God wants to do in you, and through you. Lets stop living far below what God desires for us, lets walk in FAITH, lets BELIEVE. Watch the transformation take place as in each situation you and I face, and spiritual stronghold we confront, FAITH conquers UNBELIEF!
I am praying for you and I today.
You are a person leading worship, you have the hip vibe, the hair, the piercings, the tattoos, and then there’s the shirt. It reads, “Sarcasm, just one of my many talents”.
This thought springs from a picture I found on Facebook of a room full of people worshiping, and one of the musicians is sporting the shirt.
*Note to self, sarcasm is NOT a talent, and should not be a part of our verbal repertoire.
Full Definition of SARCASM
Thinking about the fact your life is very short, and there is an all out war being waged to keep you busy about everything but what is important.
Maybe I am seeing it more clearly because of where I am and what I am doing now, but you cannot dispute this, it is fact. I am now in full-time Christian ministry, and that doesn’t mean I am better than you, or closer to God, it means nothing really, just stating where I am now. I am analyzing everything about me, my motives, my actions, my heart, my attitudes, my drive, my purpose; everything …you get what I am saying.
So, when is the last time you took the time to look at your time? The lie is you can do it tomorrow, or next week, or next year. How many sweet songs are you letting pull you away from your purpose, and the truth. Why are you letting the enemy cause you to accept being a nominal Christian? Are you happy, really happy? By that, I mean are you filled with the peace of God? What kind of movies do you watch, are they full of suggestive content and bad language? What kind of music do you listen to, what is it’s content, do you even care as long as it has a good beat? (Not to mention the agenda of the artist!) What restaurant’s do you go to, and what do they serve there? Can you get through a week without having a few alcoholic beverages? Insert your most addictive behavior here, no matter how much merit it may have, and ask if you are in balance. Then there is the part of your life that is unseen by anyone else, but God. How is that measuring up in comparison to the life you are called to? Can you look back and see where you started to go wrong, believe lies, make the small allowances that literally changed the course of your life? What have you become now?
That’s a lot of questions, possibly difficult questions, and I ask myself these and more all the time. I wish I could say it is always constructive, but it isn’t because I let can let it get me down. But even in that there is hope, when I am honest and authentic with myself.
I have this saying about my life, “God doesn’t let me get away with anything”, and the painful truth of that has been my story. The problem is that I even try, dumb guy!
So you are sitting there and you are thinking what? Blow this off, I’m OK, I’ll go out tonight and deal with this later? One more whatever it is? I don’t know, maybe you just don’t care…
It is time to start caring.
Whew!!! I got through one of the most challenging weeks I have had since arriving in Oregon. Lot’s of hours spent preparing to meet with the music ministry folks, re-launching worship arts at the church. Of course this follows up weeks of work just to get to this point, and go ahead and ad in all the other “normal” responsibilities and it was huge. It is now post meeting, and it’s time to dig in and get things moving. I have learned more every day, taking a college class, leading worship, taking on a little more each week, learning some new technology, just growing. But the coolest thing is getting to know the people; the staff, those I work with each week, the congregation.
Yes, there has been a little push-back, there always is. There always will be whether you are working in a grocery store, or in full-time Christian ministry, because it is about people, and people are just kind of…what’s the word… I’ll just say different. On the whole it has been a wonderful transition with tremendous support, thank you Lord! As I contemplate what has happened and what is ahead I am filled with gratitude, peace, wonder, and awe. It is God who takes us from a place of rebellion and hurt, and pours out His love and compassion on us. He has completely changed my life, and He did it when I had all but lost hope of anything good in my life ever taking place.
There is something that happens when I worship Him. It may make some uncomfortable and cause them to look away, or to think any number of things, but I really cannot help it. I am often overcome with emotion as I sing, it happens in rehearsal as well as on Sundays. I don’t see it coming and I can’t control it, and I don’t want to. I sing and these word’s just break me:
Here’s My Heart by Chris Tomlin
I am found I am Yours, I am loved I’m made pure
I have life I can breathe, I am healed I am free
These words might not seem like much, but when I sing and remember all God has done for me, I just don’t care what anyone thinks. I only want to worship Him.
So here is the challenge I am proposing to all my friends who lead worship, play in the band, sing on the team, or maybe are just participating in the congregation. The next time you are in that privileged atmosphere of worship, and you are singing something like this:
Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me..
Remember the past, and look forward. Don’t distance yourself from the grace that gave you life and changed your eternal destination forever. Own it. Let the reality of all He has done for you overcome the fear of what others think. You may not weep openly, that really doesn’t matter anyway, just let Him do whatever He desires in you.
I hope that you have not come so far in God that you have lost sight of the amazing grace you have personally received. Never forget, never lose your appreciation for your salvation, for the grace given, the extravagant mercy you had poured on your life, and for the power to do what’s just and right. It is all about Him, and so all I really want to say is, Thank you Jesus.
Today marks 3 months that we have been in Bend, Oregon, having answered the call to ministry. But something feels different today than it has to this point of my life. There are many times that we cannot put our finger on a particular feeling or sense we have, but that is not the case today. I am not the same man I was yesterday. God has spoken to me through many events regarding the last few years and it has all culminated in a powerful purpose. Through a lot of what I will summarize plainly as sin, beauty is rising from the abyss. There is significance in the number 3 today, because it ties many life events and purposes together.
We have now been 3 months in ministry. Our marriage is based on the 3 stranded cord from Ecclesiastes 4:12. The intensity of God’s holiness is emphasized by the declaration at Revelation 4:8: “Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is coming. We have three phases in life, Birth/Life/Death It is the numerical signature of God. 3 is the number of personal completeness. It is the number of the Godhead, it stands for the triune God. It is formed by 1+1+1, but if the 1′s are multiplied, the result is still 1. So God is three in one and one in three. A complete man is formed with spirit, soul and body. 3 is also a number of resurrection. The Lord Jesus is resurrected on the third day. In fact, the number 3 is mentioned 523 times in the Bible.
The moments of clarity the Holy Spirit gives are so very important. I hope that you have had some recently because that is the source of our strength as Christians. I have the privilege of being in an environment of learning, now that I am a freshman so to speak. The time I have spent in the Bible, doing research, writing, it’s all stoking a fire that has been smoldering for a very long time. It is the Holy Spirit which fans the embers into a raging inferno that consumes not only my past and it’s regrets, but fuels the purpose of my life. It is all about being in God’s presence, in every and any way I can, for I have found my completeness in Him.
Yes, I still am a part of this world, so I make mistakes, and do and say stupid things, but I am His and He is mine. I now can see what has been a lifetime in coming, that I am called, that it is Christ who has called me, and it is He who gives me strength to do His will. The flailing I have done all my life has settled into an abiding contentment in Him alone. He has taken me beyond my abilities to a place where the only choice to make is to trust in God completely. There is no room for my will, because apart from Him I do not exist, I am nothing.
So here is where the number 3 appears again. In studying for a class, I read the story of Peter in Acts 11, and his dream while in Joppa. It was a message from God about salvation being not for the Jews only, but for all mankind. Peter had this dream 3 times, and then 3 men came from Caesarea to bid him come. He went, and what followed was the result of listening and doing the bidding of God. Peter remarks, “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift (salvation) as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?” This is where our lives and Gods truth intersect. We cannot withstand God and His will. It may be a burning ember but it is still there, and it is your responsibility to answer Him. No one else can do it for you, and you cannot be stopped if it is indeed His purpose.
Pursue the call of God on your life and find His peace and joy, no matter where He leads you.