When The Battle Comes

Two Edged Sword

Over the last month my family and I have found ourselves in the midst of a battle. A battle that totally blind side us. Here are a few things that I have learned through this battle:

  • I am not as strong as I thought I was but the armor of God is made to outlast the battle. I have taught that we are equipped to outlast the battle and now I am going through a battle that shows me first hand. When you are in the midst of a battle you must remind yourself of the Armor of God and the importance of every item. When the battle comes every piece of equipment will be tested and at times to what you feel is the fullest extent of what the equipment can take. Be assured the Armor of God will not fail even when it seems that we and it may.
  • Guard your mind and don’t fight battles that you don’t need too. Our enemy will attack our minds. Our enemy will punch you in the stomach (at least that is what it feels like at times) Our enemy will try to make you think you are going crazy with anxiety and that your faith is useless. Our enemy wants us to shut down mentally and to feel overwhelmed. We must remind ourselves that our Enemy is a liar and he is defeated. We serve a Great and awesome God that has never been defeated.
  • We must guard our minds with the Helmet of Salvation.  I believe The Helmet of Salvation has three purposes. First the Helmet of Salvation is the place in our hearts and minds where we hold our testimony of coming to Christ. Second the Helmet of Salvation is there to protect our minds from attack by keeping our minds fixed on Christ. The helmet is the item that keeps our minds on what God has done for you in the past.  Third I believe the Helmet of Salvation is part of our daily walk with Christ. The Helmet of Salvation brings us to a place in our hearts and minds that being a Christian is more than just an occasional thing it is a daily walk. The challenge comes when we remove the Helmet and leave our minds open to attack. We must Strap the Helmet of Salvation on and not let our minds become a battle field.
  • Some things don’t make sense but God is the constant and knows what is going on.
  • Evaluate your walk with Christ and see if there are areas that need to be improved. I believe that if we are all honest we all have areas we can improve in. Sometimes it takes God moving us through things to get us to purge those things that are not needful and to get us to step up things up where we have been lacking. We often let life drag us away from the things that God wants us to do. We all need to spend more time on the things of God. I am convinced that we settle for being a good Christian instead of striving to be a better one and advancing to what God has for us.
  • Remember that the battle effects the whole family. You may be consumed with the fight but so are those that you love. Encourage each other and don’t shut each other out. There maybe times of “intense fellowship” (yelling or talking loudly) times of tears but wrap your arms around each other and know that love is what is needed and meet at that common ground that every Christian home has. Which is God and ask him for strength and help. Knowing that with God all things are possible.
  • Have prayer partners you can confide in. Also ask other to pray for you without sharing much detail about the situation. (Not everyone needs the details of the request) God’s people pray and God answers. I believe that we all should have Prayer partners. Prayer partners a list of five or so people that you can trust to pray for you about anything. Remember to pray for others even though you find yourself in the midst of something.
  • Pray, Pray and Stay in the Word of God. Pray the promises of God. Spend time fasting. Fast because you need God not because you see yourself as some spiritual giant. Study passages that show the awesome move of God in situations. Passages like the story of David and Goliath, The Resurrection and Jesus walking on the water. The bible is full of victories and we need to claim victory. Study the promises of God and even pray them. The promises of God our there for us.
  • Seek advice from those that are wise and in those that have been through tough things. We don’t know all the answers. God has brought people through things and they can help you get through with their testimony and advice.
  • Look for victory and prepare the testimony. I am writing this before we have received complete victory over this situation. I am writing in faith knowing that God is no stranger to victory and therefore being his child I am no stranger to victory. I know that God is with us and has carried us through this situation. I know that God has a purpose for everything. I know that God loves us and will not leave us. I know that we are more than conquers. I am thankful for the victories that we have already seen in this battle. I am preparing a testimony of victory in my heart. We must get to the point in the battle that we see by faith the place where we will drive our flag in the ground in victory. God does not know about losing He is undefeated and therefore so are we.

 

 

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An uncomfortable question

 Hebrews 13

Some will be very uncomfortable or even mad with my question today. Are we over emphasizing the idea of the old-fashioned in Christianity? Some are thinking that I have totally lost it by even suggesting such or that I have become one of those “modern Christians”. I know that this is uncomfortable for us to think about:

1. Jesus was and is not old-fashioned. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever has nothing to do with Jesus being old-fashioned. It has everything to do with the fact that Jesus Christ does not change. (Theologians call this the immutability of Jesus Christ) Jesus Christ is unchanging therefore his principles to live by do not change. This does not mean that Jesus is old-fashioned. It means that no matter what time period we live in Christ fits. We don’t have to keep Christ in a package that only represents a time period of “the good old days” of the church. I believe we minimize the impact we can have on the lost of today if we present them a Jesus that only works if we keep him packaged in years past. Jesus is not afraid of today. Jesus has known what today would look like and he is not afraid of it, he is not running back to the “good old days” of the church. Jesus is standing unchanged wanting the church to present the gospel using what God has blessed us with today. Jesus is standing unchanged wanting us to tell people that he is relevant for today.

2. The Bible calls us to live transformed lives not old-fashioned lives. No where in the Bible are we told to live old-fashioned lives. We are told to live holy lives. We are told to live transformed. I am afraid that some have over romanticized the “old-fashioned way” and they think by doing so they are living holy and transformed. Transformed lives do not come by living some idea of what things were like 40 or 50 years ago. Transformed lives come from following what is laid out in scripture. We are to present our bodies as living sacrifices and we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.  Being transformed means we are made into something new. Transformed lives are continually being made into the image of Christ not the image of some idea of the good old days. Transformed lives scream to the lost that Jesus is relevant for today. Transformed lives are not looking back but looking forward. The great heroes of faith from every generation have lived transformed lives that pointed people to Christ. Theses heroes did not point people to the “good old days” of the church but they lived so people would know the best days are the ones you live in Christ

3. God does not want our worship to be old-fashioned. We are told to worship in spirit and truth. Worship is not about the sound of the music being southern. Worship is not about the sound of music being contemporary. Worship is about the heart and the One we are worshipping. I know people who think worship all about the noise. I know some that think that worship is all about the form. I know some people who think worship is about shout. I know some that think worship is all about doing just like folks did in the “good old days” of the church. Worship is not about any of these things. Worship is about entering the presence of a Holy God and worshipping him for being God. God does not care about the music or style of worship. God cares about the heart of the worshipper. Worship is fixing our hearts on God and how worthy He is. He is worthy of adoration, our praise. He is worthy of us being awe-struck by his holiness, grace, mercy, love, power and his desire to have a relationship with us. No matter what your preference is about music let it be music that leads you to worship a Holy God that loves us. Let it be music no matter the style that brings us to the realization that God is worthy of our worship and praise and not the “good old days” of the church. When we enter into the presence of a Holy God in worship there is no better time in history.

4. Grace is just as great today as it was in the “good old days” of the church. Grace is still available just as it was for Noah or my great-grandmother. There is no shortage of Grace. There are those that may act like it. Grace was there for the lost person of years past and here for the lost person today. Grace is not offended by sin no matter how lost a person may seem. Grace is only limited in the minds religious people.

5.God’s power is not limited in the modern times we live in. God is just as powerful as he was in the “good old days” of the church. God still saves lost people from hell. God still heals. God still answers prayer. The folks of years past did not corner the market on God’s  power. God is as powerful today in 2015 as he was in 1950,1850 or any other time. God is not limited to years past He is a powerful mighty God working in the church today

I am thankful that Jesus is not old-fashioned. We don’t need an old-fashioned Jesus. The world does not need an old-fashioned Jesus. Jesus does not change and is relevant for the times we live in. Lost people need a Jesus for today. Jesus is not locked in the past.

thR9WZIX8T

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Two post in one day???????????

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The thought for this post came from a church membership class at Harvest Ridge Church taught by Pastor Kevin Crow. Pastor Crow asked this question “Have we become such good worshippers that we have forgotten the power of God? ” (this may not be exact but very close) This question has stirred me all day long and has brought me to my own question that I must ask. Have we become so good at being a Christian that we have forgotten……….

Have we become so good at being a Christian that we have forgotten that God does the impossible with the unlikely?

Have we become so good at being a Christian that we have forgotten intercessory prayer and have allowed it to become a thing of the past?

Have we become so good at being a Christian that we have forgotten that we need to have a prayer life?

Have we become so good at being a Christian that we ignore the fact that the New Testament church of Acts was empowered, equipped, enabled and embolden to present the gospel of Jesus Christ no matter the cost and no matter the audience?

Have we become so good at being Christians that we have forgotten to seek the face of God to empower us to change the world and impact our families, friends and world?

Have we become so good at being Christians that we are more concerned about worship style than the One we worship?

Have we become so good at being a Christian that we are more concerned about things fitting a model or program more than what God wants?

Have we become so good at being a Christian that we have forgotten that prayer moves heaven?

Have we become so good at being a Christian that we have convinced ourselves that our traditions are more important than what God wants?

Have we become so good at being a Christian that we are more concerned about pleasing people than we are about pleasing God?

Have we become so good at being a Christian that we have forgotten that our participation in a ministry is not about us or the ministry but about serving others while we serve God?

Have we become so good at being a Christian that we don’t take time to read the word of God?

Have we become so good at being a Christian that we have decided that we are a better judge than God?

Have we become so good at being a Christian that we have forgotten that tithing is a not optional?

Have we become so good at being a Christian that we  can’t handle the reality of lost people and their lifestyles?

Have we become so good at being a Christian that we have minimized the importance of the Holy Spirit working in our lives?

We should be the best Christian we can be. However we can never get away from what is important. We must allow God to empower, equip, enable and  embolden us to impact the world for Christ. We can’t be so good at being a Christian that we forget what is important.

thR9WZIX8T

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Thoughts from the life of Joseph. Part 1

Joseph

Joseph is set on a journey that covers 13 chapters in the book of Genesis. It is a story that covers many topics such as dysfunction in the family, favoritism, jealousy, lying, temptation, prison, God’s favor, God provision, reconciliation and so many other things. Joseph’s brothers hated him so much they plotted to kill him. Instead they sold him into slavery and Joseph ends up in Egypt. Here are a few lessons from Joseph’s life:

1. God moves us from our normal so that we can be transformed. Joseph was moved from his normal way of life when he was sold as a slave and moved to a foreign land. Joseph could no longer hold on to his tradition, his position of the favorite child and way of life. Joseph had to let go of normal and hold to God. Joseph was moved from his normal way of life to a place that God could transform him. Joseph had to let go of his traditions, his way of life and hold on to God. In doing so Joseph was transformed into the one that would save his family and a nation from starvation.

2. When God is all you have you will prosper. Joseph was stripped of all that he had known.He did not have his family, his traditions, his language, his status of favorite child and the comforts of being in his normal everyday life. All that Joseph had was God and Joseph found out that God was more than enough. Many times people think you are prosperous because you have stuff. Joseph would tell us that stuff is nice but God makes you prosperous. Being prosperous has nothing to do with having things. Being prosperous is when God is all you have even if you are blessed to have everything. Being prosperous for the Christian is an issue of the heart. If God is loved more than anything then we are prosperous.

3. No matter how dark the place God has not forsaken us. Joseph is falsely accused and is put in prison a dirty, unpleasant, dark place. Joseph quickly found out that no matter how dark the place God did not forsake him. There will be times when we find ourselves in dark times of life, it may seem like a dungeon or as some have called it the low land of life. We must remember that no matter how dark the place we find ourselves in God has not forsaken us. Those times we ask “why”, those times we feel all alone, those times when our plans were different from what we are going through, those times when nothing makes sense God has not forsaken us. We may find ourselves in a horrible pit as the psalmist wrote. Even in the pit we can take great confidence in the fact that God has not forsaken us. We must remember God is not afraid of the dark and will not forsake us in the darkness.

God was transforming Joseph through all the things he went through. Joseph had nothing but God and found out that God is more than enough even in the darkness of prison. Joseph was transformed from a spoiled kid to a man of God that saved his family and a nation.

www.public-domain-image.com (public domain image)

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The Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit II

The prompting of the Holy Spirit is a term that we hear of often in Christian circles. I hope that all of us know about the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not some mystical thing that we need to fear. The Holy Spirit is that precious indwelling of God that we receive when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior.

The Holy Spirit is our Comforter our sympathizer, reliever, a person that reduces the intensity of fears and calms, a reliever of anxiety and allayer of fears. The Holy Spirit is our Comforter. How many times has the Holy Spirit brought comfort in the midst of the storm that is beating you with its winds and waves? How many times when our enemy is attacking and causing us to question if God really cares the Holy Spirit moves and brings great comfort to our soul. How many times when the world has kicked us around do we find great comfort because of the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is our Comforter.

The Holy Spirit is our Helper. A helper is a person that contributes to the fulfillment of a need, a person that who helps people, a person that trains people. Another definition that I found says that a helper is “A component that the host component relies upon” I like that definition. We should all develop a reliance on the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our helper. None of us that walk with Christ can walk alone. We all need the Holy Spirit to help us. Left to our own we will make a complete mess of things. We all need to rely on the help of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

The Holy Spirit is our Guide. John 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will only tell you what is yet to come.” The Holy Spirit will not lead us wrong. The Holy Spirit will always lead us into all truth. So many times we get messed up because we listen to what we want instead of the leadership of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will guide us. As I was looking at Facebook today I was reminded of a true story that was shared with me last summer by a friend about her son that passed away way too early from a car accident. Her son had been asking her about God several weeks or so before the horrific accident that took his life. My friend would answer his questions. The day of his accident a couple was driving to a retreat and felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to go off the designated path and they come upon the accident scene of my friend’s son. They quickly got out of the car to assist. During this time they were able to pray with and lead my friend’s son to Christ. That couple did not know my friend or her son but they allowed the Holy Spirit to Guide them to a someone who needed to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is our Guide.

The Holy Spirit is our Teacher that will teach us how to be a Christian. None of us know how to be a Christian. Thankfully we have a teacher that teaches us how to be a Christian. The Holy Spirit will transform us into what God wants us to be. Preachers and teachers bring the word of God to us and the Holy Spirit teaches us how to live as God would have us too. The Holy Spirit is our teacher that will teach us all things related to being a Christian. A tool of the Holy Spirit is the word of God. If you want to be taught by the Holy Spirit spend time in the word of God. The word of God will always tell us what is right, what is wrong, how to get right and how to stay right.

John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;

 

Holy Spirit

 

 

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How to thrive while looking for a new church

church

 

My first title was “How to survive looking for a new church” However God quickly reminded me that when He leads the change we can do more than survive, we can thrive.

Here is a list of things I have learned during this process:

1. No matter how the move comes about make sure that you leave on good terms. This may even require a sit down meeting with the church leaders to discuss things.

2. Don’t stop going to church

3. Have prayer partners that help you pray for you. This may mean calling pastors you may know, people you know at other churches to pray for you.

4. Allow God to disengage you from what you want and are comfortable with so He can engage you. Want what God wants not what you are use too.

5. Just because your friends are attending a church does not mean that it is for you.

6. Don’t worry about what other people say. There are always those that will talk about what you are doing. People may even start false stories about you. Maintain your Christian character and move forward. Do not be derailed by useless chatter.

7. God does not move us so that he can watch us fail. God will direct and guide us to where he wants. God wants all of his children serving in a sound bible believing church. God wants all his children serving in a church that has a vision for growth and advancing the kingdom.

8. Don’t let excuses, hurts and even frustration of your past experiences get in the way of connecting at a new church.

9. Make new friends/connect with a small group/life group if a church offers them. This will allow you to meet some great people.

10. Allow your heart and mind to be open to what God wants. This includes allowing God to move you away from what you are used to in worship style and preaching style. The message must not change but the methods can.

11. Don’t be afraid to meet with the pastor of the potential church or churches you are considering. Be honest with the pastor and share what you are looking for , what God has allowed you to do in various areas of ministry such as helping in VBS, teaching, nursery and the list can go on. (this is not a list to brag but to show how you may fit into that church and what they offer) Also share why you left the church you were at. No trashing the other church be honest without gossiping about the church you left.

12. Know that God is not limited to one type of church regardless of what some may say.

13. Remember there are great Christians all over. Remember there is no reason to quit. Remember that people change, churches change but God never changes.

There are many other things that are not included in my list. Questions like how do we help our kids transition to a new youth group? How do we stay connected with friends at the church we left without awkwardness? There are no perfect answers for these things. It will take time and prayer. God will help with these things.

God wants all of us to belong to a church that has a vision for growth. God wants us to follow him and not what we are used to. God wants us to thrive even when change comes and sends your head spinning. God led change does not mean we have to just survive but we can thrive.

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The Potter and The Clay

Pottery 1

I love the visual that we see  in Jeremiah 18 of the Potter and the clay.  Clay being shaped, molded and even remade. So many applications can be from this word picture that is given to us in this chapter.

1. The potter has the vision for the clay.

2. The clay will not take shape unless the Potter touches the clay.

3. The potter knows where to touch the clay to get to move.

4. We must be centered on the wheel

5. We can’t fit into someone else’s mold.

6. The wheel turns slow and steady

7. The clay must be workable

8. God the potter is perfect but the clay is not. God the potter will not throw the clay away.

I read a story about a guy who owned a water-bed. After waking up on morning he noticed that there was water on the bed. So he took the water-bed mattress outside and filled it with water. The mattress got away from him and started rolling down his driveway and landed in some bushes that punctured multiple holes in the mattress. Needless to say the man was fed up with the water-bed and went out and bought a traditional bed frame and  mattress. After a good nights sleep in the new bed he woke up to a water spot on the bed. He realized he tried fix the wrong thing. There was nothing wrong with the water-bed but he had a leaky toilet in the upstairs bathroom.

This little story is a good picture of what happens when we think we are the potter and we try to mold ourselves instead of letting God be the potter. We try to fix what is broke and we end up breaking what doesn’t need fixed. We end up letting the clay get away and it gets holes punched through it like the water-bed mattress did. We end replacing what wasn’t broke with something we don’t need and all the while the problem is not fixed.        (I am not saying we are leaky toilets) I am saying anytime we think we can take the place of the potter we end up making things worse. The potter he knows exactly where to touch the clay to move it in the right direction.

We must also remember that God the potter is perfect even though the clay is not. Clay can at times have an impurity in it such as a stone or hard spot. The potter knows the stone or hard spot is not able to stay  and that the stone or hard spot will cause the finished vessel to fail. The potter does not throw the clay away but he removes the stone or hard spot and remakes the clay. I am thankful that the potter does not throw the clay away. God is merciful and remakes us and continues to mold us into what he wants. God does not throw any of us away. Pottery is messy work and thankfully God is not afraid to get his hands dirty forming the clay.

A great video on The Potter and the Clay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Pa3VuHUuYw

Pottery 2

 

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