Mind Spackle


A Bigger “yes”
April 26, 2021, 3:51 pm
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A few weeks ago, I received my 2nd COVID vaccine. I did so purely in hopes my job will allow me to travel and serve my volunteer teams in Central Africa. My sister, however, is a staunch anti-vaxer. When I told her that I had been vaccinated, I was nervous that it would affect our relationship. It didn’t. We continue to enjoy almost weekly facetime phone calls despite our differing views on handling the “Rona”.

In a matter of a week or so I have taken notice to multiple conversations that I have been a part of where my Christian brothers and sisters have been very vocal about their dismissal and disapproval of other churches/ministries for one reason or another. The reason for the write off has been anything from “they have a Starbucks in their church” to “they teach some weird stuff . . .” and everything in between. As a result of several of these conversations, I have been keenly aware and sensitive to how quickly and easily we as Christians will dismiss and discredit a ministry, church or believer because of some aspect of their life or vision that we don’t agree with. In other words, our NO is bigger than our yes. Instead of viewing our differences with the eyes of grace we view others with criticism and are quick, with a heart of superiority, to demean and condescend anyone or any ministry who may hold different convictions or different emphasis than us. Look at the words of Jesus in John 17 and notice how often the word “ONE” appears.

‘“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be ONE, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be ONE in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be ONE just as We are ONE: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in ONE, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.’ John 17:20-23

It is impossible to over-emphasize how urgent and important this passage is for us as believers right now in this season. You can hear the ache in the heart of Jesus for his bride to be unified as ONE. Keep in mind what we are saying when we allow CANCEL CULTURE to seep its way into our Christian lives. Let me make a true statement . . . There are true Christians in the ministries of Benny Hinn, Tim Keller, Steven Furtick, Andy Stanley, Bill Johnson, Mike Bickle, Francis Chan, John Piper, T.D. Jakes, John MacArthur, Jack Hayford, Rick Warren, Franklin Graham etc. As soon as we criticize other ministries and verbally condescend what God is doing there we are moving in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF JOHN 17. For many of us it has become a habit to talk down about other denominations and ministries in order to make us feel better about our own. With all my heart I believe that every one of the names listed above will be with us in eternity. John 17 cries out for us to be ONE WITH THEM. Defaming them is easy and delicious. Fighting for what Jesus is praying for in John 17 is the difficult but worthy work of the Kingdom of God.

‘If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.’ I John 4:20-21

This passage in 1 John couldn’t be more clear. What if the Kingdom of God is bigger than our exclusive little Bible club? What if God is actually moving in the hearts of folks in Catholic churches, reformed churches, charismatic churches? I know that most pastors who slam other ministries are doing so with good intentions so as to “protect” their sheep from the “evils” of wolves in sheep’s clothing. From my view, we are doing way more harm by dividing the body of Christ with our opinions than working to accomplish the prayer of Jesus in John 17. So what do we do?

Simply put . . . the next time that one ministry or church leader comes up in conversation, instead of slinging some cheap superior comment, try saying something like this . . . “Some of our Christian brothers and sisters are connected there.” or “What joins us is way bigger than what is different about us.” Join me in working to accomplish the prayer of Jesus in John 17 by letting our YES be bigger than our no.



Move the fridge . . .
December 15, 2020, 11:42 am
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Here in North Carolina the temperatures have dropped over the past couple days. Last night, my wife noticed that the fridge in our garage was not keeping things frozen. Our ice cream was getting soft and we had meat that was in danger of spoiling. For some reason our refrigerator doesn’t like being kept in a freezing cold garage. I don’t understand the mechanics or engineering behind it all but the purpose of that appliance is to create a different temperature than the one found outside. It preserves food that feeds my family by keeping it at a constant temperature, one that is different from the fluctuating surroundings.

So we moved the fridge . . . to the basement.

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Gal. 5:16

It was this morning at the men’s morning prayer meeting at I sensed the Lord help me draw a parallel between lugging my fridge to the basement and this passage in Galatians 5.

Here Paul lays out a choice for us followers of Jesus. We can walk by the Spirit or by the “lust of the flesh” or in other words by our soul. Our emotions, thoughts, desires are subject to the inconsistent worldly environment we live in. If we live our lives this way we will be tossed around and shaken by happenings and situations. Conversely, if we live by the Spirit we will take our lead from the Holy Spirit living in us. The Holy Spirit is constant, doesn’t change and can always be depended on. Moving my fridge to the basement last night felt like some sort of a prophetic act that needs to take place in my heart. Instead of being led by the latest headlines or the waves of our media driven society, I need to “move my fridge” or fellowship with the Holy Spirit in such a way that I can hear His voice and allow His constant presence to lead my day. The Holy Spirit in us is meant to dictate the temperature of our lives not the other way around. My garage has only one thin aluminum door that separates it from the freezing outdoor wind. My basement is well insulated, temperature controlled and contains the innermost places of my home. I am now feeding my family from this place.

In the changing “temperatures” of our world and inconsistent movements that attempt to get us on the roller coaster of emotion and frustration, maybe it’s time to “move our fridge to the basement” and begin to walk by the Spirit.



What’s Rattling?
July 31, 2020, 8:13 am
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person driving car

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Have you ever been driving and out of nowhere your aging car begins to produce a creak or rattle that you haven’t heard before? All of a sudden, your destination, cargo and purpose don’t matter any more. The only priority is to get that noise to stop. Right. Now!!! This has happened to me on several occasions. Sometimes the noise is coming from my multi-tool that is in the glove box. Sometimes, its my charging cable bouncing on the screen of my cell phone with a “tick tick tick”. Every so often, however, it is something else . . . something deeper, something not secured. Those little creaks and rattles become more and more common the older a car gets. It lets us know that the nuts and screws of our vehicle are getting loose and the bumps along the road jostled things into a condition where something needs to be either tightened or removed.

A few weeks ago, my dad sent me a YouTube video of a pastor in Kentucky who claimed he had a prophetic dream about America leading into our November election. After I watched the video, I was shaken. Not even an hour after watching the video, I had friends come to me asking me if I was OK. I’m a pretty up beat guy and I don’t shake easily but for some reason this video rattled my cage.

The next morning, I went to prayer and began to ask the Lord what was going on? “Why did that video affect me so much?” I asked. The answer came pretty swift and direct . . .”You have put your faith in an earthly government.” He was right. I had indeed placed my trust on shaky ground. I love my country and consider myself more patriotic than the next guy but the White house is not solid ground for my faith. I quickly repented and committed my allegiance, faith and trust in the Kingdom of God and it’s King instead of a man made institution. Peace immediately returned to my heart and along with it came confidence for the future. The writer of Hebrews explains what happened in my heart that day and may shed some light on what could possibly be happening in your heart as well.

‘whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.’ Hebrews 12:26-27

I believe we are entering a season where God is removing shaky things. The bumps on the road in this season of history have shaken a few things loose and our fear is making some noise. Our soul is starting to creak and rattle.

The danger of creaks and rattles is if we don’t deal with them right away, we can become accustomed to them and eventually we stop hearing them. If I had not taken my fear to the Lord and asked him where it was coming from, I probably would have just accepted it as normal and the freedom that Jesus bought for me would slowly give way to captivity in my heart.

There is a string of promises in the Psalms 112 that may never be more valid for us than now in this season we are in.

‘Praise the Lord ! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord , Who delights greatly in His commandments . . . Surely he will never be shaken; Psalms 112:1:6a

I truly believe that what happened to me is probably happening to many other followers of Jesus. God is systematically targeting areas of our life and faith that are founded on shaky ground. He is doing this out of love because He alone is the firm foundation that is unshakable. I have met many people that are one circumstance away from being offended at God. Their faith is firmly rooted in a political party or some situational outcome that, if it doesn’t turn out how they want, they will end up colossally disappointed with God and stop trusting Him. This is called circumstantial faith and it won’t survive the days ahead. This approaching season requires a faith that rests on an immovable foundation. There are only 3 absolutely secure foundations for our faith: #1. Who God is. #2. What He has done. #3. His promises toward us. If you are trusting that you won’t encounter any trouble, your foundation is in jeopardy. If you’re security is based on your bank account, you are in for a surprise. God’s nature, work and promises are the only immovable, unshakable foundations for our faith.

Are you afraid? Worried? Angry? Please hear me, the road ahead is bumpy. If the creaks and rattles of fear and anger are getting your attention, bring them to the great Mechanic and ask Him “Why?” It could be that like me, He is graciously targeting some loose areas that need to be either tightened or removed.



Trim your lamps . . .
July 1, 2020, 11:19 am
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selective focus photography of lighted candles

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A while ago I talked with an old missionary who had served many years in Africa. As I listened it quickly became clear he had begun to idolize the past. His eyes gleamed as he talked about what God used to do and and the miracles he saw but no excitement concerning his life since he returned from the field. I remember walking away sad. Sad that this poor man’s present altar is filled with idols of his past. I also walked away determined to celebrate the past but never at the cost of what God is doing now. There are definitely times to look back and reflect on God’s faithfulness and remember how His goodness and mercy have followed us all the days of our lives but it should always be second to our present ability meet our living God on a daily basis.

This truth hit me this morning as I pondered one simple passage in Matt. 25. This is the parable Jesus told about the 10 virgins; 5 wise and 5 foolish.

‘“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. ‘ Matthew 25:6-7

The 10 virgins in this parable were awaiting the return of their bridegroom who had gone out to get his bride and bring her home. I don’t have time to unpack the cultural norms of weddings and betrothals of that time but to put it simply; these 10 virgins were in a season of waiting and the delay lasted longer than expected. Their lamps were crucial in this process to illuminate the face of the groom and to light his path back to the house where the newly wed couple would live. The lamps remained lit through the night and having enough oil for the delay was paramount. When lamps burned, the oil was drawn up a fabric wick which  fueled the flame. Over time, however, the fabric would burn and need to be trimmed. An untrimmed wick would create smoke and diminish the amount of light given off by the lamp. Untrimmed wicks are common in a season of waiting.

An untrimmed wick is evidence of what burned yesterday or last week.

I believe many Christians are living in the spirituality of yesterday. That one time at youth camp, or the one church service where we cried and God met us, or the mission trip we took years ago. Somewhere along the marathon of our Christian life it has become increasingly common for us to live off the memory of how God met us in the past and we allow our hearts to be satiated by former encounters and past blessings. We have stopped trimming our lamps.

We usually don’t doubt the reality of God’s existence but we presuppose that to approach him regularly would be difficult and maybe even disappointing. We know He is able to make himself known to us because He has done so in the past. Once we have been to the mountain top, it’s difficult to live on the plain or the valley. The result is, we remain content with yesterday’s burning experiences and our faith smolders and we rarely allow our devotion to illuminate the face of Jesus.

It is my firm conviction that the season we are in necessitates present, desperate, daily connection with Jesus. We need our hearts to burn today. We can ONLY meet God in the present. The times He met us in the past are great but He wants to meet us now. I believe the days that lie ahead will be increasingly more difficult. The fuel of the past won’t carry us in this next season. Our connection with Jesus last month or last year will not be sufficient to traverse the storms that are approaching. We have an open door now.

So what do we do?

Let us make time. May we stoke the coals of desperation of our hearts. May we humble ourselves enough to be needy and weak before the Lord. Don’t let the spirituality of the past be enough. Trim your lamps. Let the affection of our hearts be the oil that illuminates the face of the Savior . . . Every Day!!

‘“Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. ‘ Luke 12:35-36

 



Our great gardener.
May 14, 2020, 2:55 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
pathway between tomato fruits

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” John 20:15 NKJV 

There is a strange dynamic that I have noticed among my friends since moving up here to the high country. It seems like everyone has a garden and everyone gets excited about growing their own vegetables. During this time of year, there is always that one guy who planted his tomatoes too early and they got wiped out by cold weather and everyone else is talking about it. I have never planted a garden and at the writing of this short blog and to be honest, I really don’t understand what all the hype is about.

For whatever reason when I think of gardens I think of my heart and how the Holy Spirit is at all times cultivating His fruit in there. I will go through seasons where I notice and am hyper sensitive to peace or joy that seems to be taking root in my life during that particular period. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the continual work being done in my heart by the One who loves to grow godly character.

In this season now the Holy Spirit has been growing faithfulness.

‘Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. I Corinthians 4:1-2

Any success or impact I have as a Christian can be directly attributed to the grace of God released over my life through the FAITHFUL prayers of my mom and dad. Everyday at about 5AM, my parents sit in their spots on the couch and pray for me and my sisters and countless others. My mom then goes out for her daily 3 mile walk where she prays even more. My mom is the definition of faithfulness. Rain, sleet, snow, it doesn’t matter, she is out there walking every morning standing her place on the Kingdom wall ensuring that names are being brought before the throne of the King. I am here because she is there. Lately, the Holy Spirit has been planting a desire in me to be faithful like my mom. It didn’t used to matter to me like it does now. Lately my heart has been gripped by a strong desire to be a trusted servant. I can feel roots of faithfulness growing. If God needs someone to faithfully love or faithfully pray or faithfully give I want my name to be at the top of heaven’s list. This is not a selfish thing it’s a worship, gratitude thing. When I look over my shoulder at my past, all I see is the faithfulness of God. Faithful to forgive, faithful to love, faithful to put the right people in my life at the right time.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17 NKJV

If I was God, I would have changed my mind about me. It is so comforting knowing that He sees the end from the beginning. He knows the whole picture. None of my sin, mistakes, or rebellion take Him by surprise. He knows it all and still loves me. That is faithfulness. Seeing how God’s faithfulness has impacted me drives me to have that same impact in the lives of others through faithful loving, serving and praying. 

The scriptures speak extensively on the eternal rewards that believers receive in the next age. No one really preaches about it I think because it can be misinterpreted as self-serving and selfish. This I know . . . God will reward faithfulness.

If my life is a garden and God has done all the hard work of planting, weeding, watering and tending . . . I want Him to know that at any given time, there will be fruit there.

Here are the 9: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness & Self-Control. These seeds are already planted in your heart. They arrived with the gardener upon salvation. Our great gardener is currently cultivating His fruit in our lives.

In the first passage above Mary mistakes Jesus for a gardener. Turns out, He was a gardener all along. Let us have grace to bear good fruit for the world to taste and see how good He is.

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Hey Pastor, whatever you do, don’t forget this . . .
April 30, 2020, 8:06 am
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brown book page

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It’s been about 1.5 years since my life took an unexpected hard right hand turn and I ended up serving with Samaritan’s Purse in North Carolina leaving behind the treadmill of preaching every week and preparing for Sunday mornings. Thanks to COVID-19, I now have the option to watch 3 or 4 preachers every Sunday and without the pressure of preparing a sermon  myself. In this new world of virtual church I have noticed a new dynamic playing out in many of the pastors I watch online. Many communicators, myself included, tend to lean heavily on visual cues from audiences to know if a sermon is landing or not. After more than 2 decades of up front communicating to people, I became an expert at noticing when my sermon was dragging on or when people didn’t understand a certain point I was trying to make. Often I would utilize a story or humor to re-engage the listeners and bring them through to the landing strip of my message. Things are different now. I have noticed over the last few weeks as Pastors are now preaching to cameras, cell phones, and empty auditoriums that they are struggling to know where everyone is at and who is tracking with them. Gone is the luxury of using our eyes to know if everyone is taking the journey with us. I know that this is just a season and soon our auditoriums will once again be full of actual humans, but I believe this time of virtual preaching has something tremendously valuable to offer the weekly pulpit warrior.

I have long believed that there are 2 parts to our words . . . the natural and supernatural. Like a coin with 2 sides, I believe that every time we speak a word, there are the natural sound waves that flow out of our vocal chords but I also believe there is a spiritual component that we cannot hear with our ears but with our hearts. Let me give some examples from scripture:

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Ephesians 4:29 NKJV

Here Paul is explaining that our words have the ability of impartation. In other words when we speak, there is a spiritual component to our language that can supernaturally impact the one who is listening.

Jesus said . . .

‘It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. ‘ John 6:63

Here Jesus contrasts the spirit and the flesh. He then goes on to say that words He speaks are spirit and life. The words of Jesus have to potential to occupy the other half of the “word scale” and thereby impact hearts. When we use our words to speak God’s Word, heaven stand behind them to bring impact to hearts. Every time Jesus spoke, His words were perfect naturally and spiritually. He never uttered one word that wasn’t fully endorsed by heaven’s authority.

One more example:

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 NKJV

The miracle of salvation happens when we confess with audible natural words combined with believing in our heart. It means if we just repeat a rote prayer without involving faith, the words are empty. We must believe what we are saying. We must have both sides of the scale filled for our hearts to be transformed forever.

What does this have to with preaching and COVID-19?

I have preached so many messages where all I did was pay attention to one side of the scale, the natural part. I spent time making sure my 3 points rhymed or all started with the same letter. I spent a shameful amount of time thinking up creative titles, illustrations and and ideas all so that the part of my sermon that human ears hear would be satisfied to the neglect of the other part of what hearts would hear. It’s like spending all day painting the outside of your house to make it look so nice from the road but inside, it is empty and void of what the house was actually created to do. Houses were made to live in not look at. Sermons were made for hearts not ears.  While catchy phrases and alliteration helps people’s minds remember, it doesn’t help if their hearts are not impacted. Back in my preaching days I would spend about 5 minutes in prayer in preparation for a sermon and hours crafting catchy phrases and word pictures. If I had to do it all over again, I would flip the tables. I would spend hours in prayer contending for hearts and believing for life change instead of focusing as much on the actual words themselves.

I am hoping that during this time of preaching to all types of camera lenses, pastors everywhere will lean into to the Holy Spirit like never before. I pray that the scale of preparation time will shift from crafting to contending. I pray that each word that is spoken will carry with it Kingdom weight and authority that comes from the secret place.

I believe if pastors put the time in prayer they could get up and simply read the Bible and hearts would be impacted because each word was filled in the natural AND the supernatural. The statistics of pastors and prayer is pretty bleak but what an opportunity to write a better story. The average pastor spends about 3 minutes a day in prayer. May God use this season of isolation to draw us to our knees.

 



“Oh no, I forgot the armor . . .”
April 4, 2020, 8:58 am
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armor

‘Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; ‘ Ephesians 6:13-17

As a young man I remember hearing several sermons about the armor of God. The speaker would break down each piece of armor, what it does, and why it is important to put in on every day because we don’t want to walk around spiritually naked and vulnerable to the attacks of the devil. It was a convincing argument and scared me into praying on the armor daily . . . at least for the first few days. It didn’t take long before I would forget or miss a day praying and I would think “Oh man, I was spiritually naked all day yesterday!” Also, I never understood how or why my armor fell off when I went to bed.

Maybe you can relate. If you read the passage above, there is an urgency and importance there that probably shouldn’t be ignored.

So what does it really look like for a Christian to wear the armor of God?

First of all, nowhere in Paul’s armor passage does it say we have to do this daily. That is a word us preachers like to add to the scriptures for dramatic effect. Read it for yourself, it’s not in there.

I believe the armor of God represents Kingdom principles that we should always be aware of and leaning on in order to walk victoriously on a daily basis.

For instance, the helmet of salvation isn’t a phrase we have say every morning in order to keep our spiritual head from getting dinged by some demonic assault. The helmet of salvation is a mindset should always be surrounding our thinking. We are saved! The fact that we are children of God should be the filter that our whole lives are lived through. Understanding the revelation of our new identity in Christ should play a major part in every decision, every moment of our day. I approach difficulty and trial differently when my mind is wrapped in the truth of my salvation. Are you getting it?

The armor of God isn’t something we have to religiously pray on every day like a cheap tan. Each article represents crucial kingdom reality that we are invited to live in, understand and enjoy.

This post is not meant to be an exhaustive study of each piece of armor and what it means for us. I simply hope to put you on the trail of truth so that you, with the help of the Holy Spirit, will dive into each individual piece of armor for yourself and allow God to show you the gifts that He has given you in the armor.

What do you think is the purpose of the breastplate of righteousness? Why did God make it the breastplate of righteousness and not the helmet of righteousness? What truth is God trying to cement in your heart through your study of this passage in Ephesians 6?

Enjoy this journey.



Shine
March 23, 2020, 7:15 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

 

Watched the latest Star Wars movie last night with the family. There is a moment in the movie where two of  the main characters are standing side by side underground in the darkness. One character Rey, is holding a lightsaber and the other Poe is holding a dim flashlight.

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It was a funny moment and a great illustration of how we often struggle to shine like we were made to. Its easy to compare our light with the light of others and feel like we are not measuring up.

So what does the Bible mean when it says we need to “Shine”?  There are several places in scripture where we are admonished to shine, I’ve listed 2 more familiar ones below.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 NKJV 

Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. Isaiah 60:1 NKJV

How do we shine? Practically speaking what does that look like?

In my opinion “Shining” for the Christian is to display the glory of God. That is fancy Christian talk that means to display the character and nature of God. This often sounds intimidating and even unlikely but its actually what we were made for. It is our primary purpose for being alive. We were made to shine.  We are God’s lightsabers. Jesus rescued us, redeemed us, filled us with His Spirit so we could go into dark places and radiate His light.

ROYGBIV

Remember that from earth science? Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. The spectrum of light. White light is made up of all those colors. When we look at green grass, it is really the green spectrum of light that is reflected and that is why we see green.

I believe the Fruit of the Spirit is the ROYGBIV of the Kingdom of God.

When God wants to shine through us, it will come in one of those 9 spectrum of characteristics.

‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. ‘ Galatians 5:22-23

As we go through life we will inevitably run into moments of darkness that call for Kingdom Shining. The Holy Spirit will help us decide what wavelength of Fruit will be displayed in that moment.

One VERY important note:

This doesn’t happen by human effort. It’s impossible to squint our eyes, bear down and squeeze out kindness. They are fruit of the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that will cultivate, develop these fruit in the garden of our lives. Our only responsibility is to abide in the Jesus. (John 15:7) Keeping our eyes and hearts focused on and surrendered to our great King will automatically result in us shining to the world.

Imagine the next time you are in the darkness of chaos and out of nowhere, the Peace of God begins to shine out of your heart and peaceful words spill out of your mouth. You may find yourself face to face today with someone who is is depressed and discouraged. Focus on Jesus, and His joy will pour out of your life lighting up theirs.

Jesus said that we are the light of the world.(Matt. 5:14)  He has confidence in us to Shine today.

 



Full of it . . .
February 24, 2020, 4:49 am
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And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 NKJV

John the beloved disciple who had the most intimate knowledge of our Lord writes this verse.

John lists 2 characteristics here that Jesus is full of. Grace. Truth. Of all the rainbow of attributes to describe Jesus, John chooses only two, these two, Grace & Truth.

Grace. Not to be mistaken with Mercy as it often is. Here’s how I remember. Mercy is NOT getting what we deserve. Grace is getting what we DON’T deserve. We are born in and live in spiritual debt. The sins of our ancestors along with our own sins have racked up a tab we couldn’t possibly pay. Because of the Mercy of God, our debt is erased. It’s not just erased once either. The bank account of heaven keeps erasing our debt. The Bible says His mercy has no end. It goes from everlasting to everlasting. Everlasting! What a great promise for God to ascribe to His Mercy. Batteries run out and die but the Mercy of God ever lasts. Hallelujah!!

I thank God for His mercy but that is not what is listed here in John 1.

If mercy erases our debt, we arrive still at zero. We are no longer in debt but our account is still empty. That’s where Grace is enacted. Not only does God mercifully wipe out the handwriting of accusation and guilt, He then, in its place deposits His power, enabling, wisdom, fruit, favor, provision, peace, and presence. This is Grace. While we were overdrawn and facing the penalty of bounced checks, Jesus bursts in on the scene of our lives, pays our bill and then proceeds to deposit priceless articles into our safe deposit box for present and later use.

I believe that the crucifixion provided the mercy of forgiveness . . . but the resurrection deposited God’s Grace into our account that we can access at any time by faith. The cross paid the debt, the resurrection made the deposit.

Praise be to God for His wonderful plan.

Jesus came with Grace and Truth.

The way I see it, truth is a knife that cuts & separates fact from fiction. When real truth is present, falsehood and deception are left isolated on the opposite side.

When truth is applied to our lives it often leaves us bare and vulnerable. When the truth is applied to someone’s life they are left exposed and they often retreat into obscurity because truth brings with it shame, guilt and condemnation.

I think about the news anchor, Matt Lauer the very wealthy, well known news anchor. He recently got ran over by the truth train. The truth came out regarding his sexual deviancy and history of persuading multiple women into sexual acts using his influence and fame. When the truth hit and he was exposed, he retreated in shame, guilt and condemnation. He has virtually disappeared.

Truth can be brutal. If the ragged truth of any of our lives was made available for all to see, not many could stand.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, John listed these two as descriptors of Jesus.

If truth is the sand blaster that removes all the cover-ups, masks and flaked paint of pretense and insincerity, then Grace takes us into the booth and covers us in pure shimmering spotless gleam that reflects the glory of the King.

This is the gospel. The good news.

Yes, God knows all the gory details and disgusting nature of our past and present choices. He knows the truth. He knows and stays engaged. The truth of God lays us bare and His grace covers us transforming us into something altogether different and beautiful.

Jesus came with Grace and truth. What great news.



Hardest at Home
February 5, 2020, 7:33 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

old house

I am a home-body. I love being home. When I get home from work, I take off my tie and work clothes, put on my favorite sweatshirt and sweat pants and slippers. Once I am properly attired for the evening, I enter the family room where I’m greeted by my dogs. It takes a good 5 minutes for the puppy to stop wagging her entire body and licking my face. Home is safe. My family is there, and every part of me can relax. Since my job requires me to travel for a couple weeks at a time, the return home for me has taken on even greater meaning. When I pull into the garage after a long trip nothing beats the hugs and kisses with my family. I’m finally home and can begin to recharge.

While home base provides a great place to relax and recharge our batteries, it can often be the most difficult place to live out the gospel. When I travel, I have an impressive title and tons of ministry experience that evokes a certain amount of respect and awe. At home . . . not so much.

Our spouses and kids are not impressed with our titles or our experience. They just want to know if I’m taking the trash out, or if I can pay for the new techie gadget that the internet tells them they have to have.

My family knows the real me. They don’t have to talk to my co-workers or follow my Instagram to help them get a clearer picture of who I am. As a matter of fact, if anyone else needs to know who I am the best source of knowledge is my wife & kids. They could give all the gory details of my strengths, weaknesses and quirky habits that make me unique. If you did ask them, they would no doubt let you know how weird I am . . . so don’t ask. Let’s look at Jesus’ homecoming.

When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief. (Matt 13:54-58 NKJV)

Jesus’ homecoming in the passage above didn’t quite play out like mine. Instead of being welcomed back and made to feel at home, instead he was questioned, doubted and judged. The people of Nazareth had no doubt heard of Jesus before his arrival and they had probably been speculating long before he showed his face in town. “Who does he think he is? We know who he really is.”

I don’t share this to drum up some sort of sympathy for Jesus. He doesn’t need our sympathy and He endured way more difficult things than just getting a cold shoulder in His hometown. I share this to emphasize the difficulty of making an eternal impact in your own home.

Why is that? Probably because we can’t fake it at home. The difference here is that Jesus left Nazareth a carpenter’s son and returned the Messiah. When I leave for a work trip, I return the same old person and my family doesn’t have to guess who I am.

In Nazareth, the miracles of Jesus were squelched because of familiarity. Jesus had mighty works to do but because the people of Nazareth had no room in their perception of Jesus for change, He had to do them elsewhere.

While Jesus had the option of doing his miracles somewhere else we don’t get the convenience of trading in our family for another one. So what do we do? How do we live out the good news of Jesus daily in front of people who are not impressed with us?

Prayerfully.

Only the supernatural Love of God can cross the borders of familiarity. The Greek word for Love in the NT is Agape. Agape is released as we, in desperation, direct our faith at heaven in prayer and consistently, daily contend for our families in prayer. Agape is literally the most powerful force in the universe. The human heart cannot help but respond to Agape. This Agape Love of God demands a response.

The people of Nazareth responded. Unfortunately, their response was not a great one. Their understanding of who they thought Jesus had no room for Agape. So much time had passed since they knew Jesus that when Jesus finally returned to his home town, there was a canyon between who they thought they knew and who Jesus actually was. So Jesus moved on & took his miracles and healing with Him.

Ministry is hardest at home but it’s also most important at home. 

If I succeeded in ministry but failed as a father and husband the ministry would very soon collapse. This is why our adversary assaults us at home. This is why living out our faith at home is the most difficult. The enemy knows if he can keep our Christianity outside the 4 walls of our own home our effectiveness will be greatly reduced.

Imagine if the people of Nazareth believed the true identity of Jesus? Miracles would have abounded they would have experienced the fulfillment of knowing God in a new way.

It is easy and tempting to rely on past experiences with Jesus. Conferences, summer camps, that one time when you prayed desperately and sensed God’s nearness, that healing you received, the list goes on.

When was the last time you had an emotional, intimate connection with Jesus? When was the last time you simply enjoyed His presence and took time to fellowship with Him? The experience of Nazareth cries out to us from the scriptures to avoid the error that they made. Their connection with Jesus was a matter of past history instead of present reality. They missed the day of their visitation because their mind was made up.

Don’t be like Nazareth.

Just because no one at home is impressed with you doesn’t mean the gospel can’t be lived out daily with no pretense and in complete sincerity. So what does that look like?

If prayer is the first ingredient to living out the gospel at home, the 2nd most crucial ingredient is humility. Humility knows how high the stakes are and desperately runs to Jesus for his help.

We have all heard the stories of the pastor whose marriage crumbled or whose kids are going crazy. When work offers up rewards, ego strokes and fulfillment it’s easy to invest the best of you there instead of at home. I can’t imagine a bigger mistake to make.

Ministry inside your home is a marathon. Make up your mind to live committed to prayer and walking out your faith in humility. Do this, and many miracles will happen in your home.

 




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