Thursday, September 30, 2010
But of course I've had plenty of questions for God throughout my life. Questions about what certain things mean in the Bible, questions about how church is supposed to be, questions about why certain things have happened, questions about what I was supposed to do. Sometimes God has answered my questions with distinct clarity, and sometimes it would appear that I may never have the answer this side of heaven (and I often think that by the time I'm on the other side of heaven, and in the presence of the greatness of God Himself, I probably won't care any more).
I'd have to say the biggest questions in my life right at this moment in time have to do with my job circumstances. In a nutshell it's like this: I worked as an assistant administrator, and then when I obtained my license, as an administrator, for a large health care company at a few of their locations for 7 years straight. Then I re-married and we moved to a small, mountain community and I worked a interim stint for that same company, and then a permanent position came open within a half hour drive from my home and I took it. It seemed that God was really blessing.
Then a year after starting there, for the only time ever in my entire life, I was terminated from a job. That was in April 2009. I was devastated; I felt that I had given my heart out in all the years I'd worked for that company, and been a faithful employee who went way above and beyond what was expected. I knew God was in control, yet I struggled with feeling hurt, betrayed, and bewildered. Then, in the 17 months since then, I've encountered rejection upon rejection in my job search. Where I once was sought after and considered valuable, it now would seem that I was not wanted. Of course the fact that the nation's economy started tanking in 2008, and that California's unemployment rate is at 11%, and that jobs at the top end of the job market are always hit hardest, all factored into my experience. Because I made good money when I was working, and we're committed to a life of simplicity, I was able to save money when I was working; we've been able to utilize those saving and have not suffered financially. But it's been difficult for me on an emotional level. I've come to realize how much of my identity was derived from my work. I've struggled a lot with feelings of being a failure.
Right now as I'm writing this, a job related decision is weighing on the back of my mind. My current questions of Jesus are - do you want me to take this job I've just been offered? Even though it will mean an hour commute each way each day? Even though it pays 58% less than I made before? Even though it's a huge "come down" of a job from what I used to do? What do you want from me Lord, what is it that you want me to learn though all this?
In my morning times with God I've been enjoying a slow process through Genesis. Sometimes during this time, in addition to the Bible, I'll read other books that stimulate my thinking about the scriptures I'm studying. One of such books I've been reading and working through, is Beth Moore's The Patriarchs. As I've been reading, re-reading and thinking about Genesis 40 -41:13 these last couple of days, I've found Joseph's predicament extremely interesting. This is when Joseph was in prison, he'd interpreted the dreams for the pharaoh's baker and cup-bearer who were also in prison, he'd asked the cup-bearer to remember him to the pharaoh when he was released, and had been promptly forgotten by the cup-bearer. Then Joseph had waited for two more years in prison until the day came that the cup-bearer did remember him. I found these two comments that Moore made in regard to Joseph's two years of waiting, to be of great encouragement to me in my current work circumstances:
"Time can be a liar. Heaven is replete with angelic activity as God faithfully completes in the spiritual realms what He will release in the visible realms when the time is right"
"Sometimes we can be so busy looking for what is missing in our lives that we miss Who is busily present in our lives. We're looking for God to do us future favors when He is trying to open our eyes to present ones. Remember, God purposes to use every second of a divinely-ordained wait to build us into the individuals our future demands we be. One most peculiar and exquisite experience of faith is realizing that while you haven't seen answers or the way you should take, you've learned to see the light of God Himself."
Guess that describes where I'm at right now. I don't have the answers with regard to this current job offer, or my career in general, right now. I don't know the way I should take. But may I learn more and more with each passing day to see the light of God Himself.
What about you, do you have any unanswered questions and requests before God right now? How's the Holy Spirit encouraging your heart? What's God teaching you during this time?
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Hebrews 4:15
Jesus has never really given me any good answers to these questions. Jesus is sometimes difficult like that. Most of the time, He is just silent. When He does answer, He says:
Joyce, just trust Me.
Monday, September 27, 2010
This week your faithful Kingdom Bloggers are going to write about a question they have asked Jesus.
The Lord has answered many questions for me over the decades. I am comfortable with salvation, Heaven, and with who's going and who's staying. Spiritual gifts and answered prayers are common place for this Christian. I know that God is preparing a move for us, but I don't know how He is going to accomplish it, but I am certain He will carry it out just as He has spoken.
I have kids of various ages. Like most parents I am concerned about the choices they make, yet I know He is in control. Another prophetic word that I received in 2000 is fulfilling itself for the older two as I type this. I am secure in knowing that He loves them, and they know where He is. I am excited about where they are going in life regardless of the path they take.
It is interesting as I was thinking about the topic, I didn't have any pressing questions - well except this one.
Jesus, what must I do to see more people healed? I see some healing, and yet, compared to the meeting that You did where every one was healed, I am seeing only a small percentage of folks that ask for healing prayer, get healed. What must I do?
I know the Bible says desire the gifts. Let me say "Oh God I want this one!" The Bible says to have faith, and I have seen enough healing that I know it happens; it happened again at church yesterday. Glory! And of course, if you want to see folks healed, you have to pray sick people; I do. Jesus, what must I do to see more people healed?
I don't know about you, but we are commanded to heal the sick (Matthew 10:8), and I want to!
Here is video from Mobile, AL. Delia Knox who was 22+ years in a wheelchair from an accident had no feeling in her legs. Here she is walking after all that time. God healed her. HERE is the original video shot when she was still in a wheel chair, check it out about 4:51!
How about you, do you want to be used by God to heal the sick?
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Trust me on this one - he could have a very long list of complaints. Because as much as I try, I sometimes mess up. I have defects of character. I'm sure grateful that God loves me, forgives me, and empowers me to change. I'm grateful that I'm a better person today than I was three years ago. But I'm still in process.
All of us are in process.
One of the things John frequently says that has kind of become our marriage motto is that we've got to give each other a lot of mercy, grace, and forgiveness just like Jesus gives us. I've found that having this mentality, knowing that I annoy myself sometimes so of course my beloved husband is sometimes gonna annoy me, and when he does I need to just let it go and choose to focus on all the good things about him - this attitude changes our day to day existence. Gone is all the drama and upset about what the other person did wrong. Gone is the need to convince the other person how right I am. In it's place is love, forgiveness, and the choice to say words of gratitude and praise. I've learned that I really can make that choice.
Because of the world we live in I want to clarify that I'm not talking about stuff like addictions such as gambling that leave the family without money for food, or physical abuse, or repeated cheating. These kind of things can not be over looked while one chooses to focus on the positive. These things must be dealt with and typically require assistance (counseling by a pastor or therapist, 12-step groups, etc.). What I'm talking about here is the fact that none of us are perfect, and sometimes we do the wrong thing, so, since we're in this business of life together with our spouse - why not just engage in a lifestyle of overlooking offenses, forgiving, and loving?
We're all different, but for me, I do not talk with my friends if I'm upset with my husband. Anyone who has ever been in a small group setting with me for long almost inevitably thinks John is absolutely wonderful (of course that's because he is), since it's only the good things about him that I share with others. If I've got a problem with John, the only one I talk about it with is God. If I were to ever encounter a problem that I needed outside help, then I'd get it; but I'm not going to go around complaining, venting, or just being negative about my husband.
I recognize that sometimes, even with two well meaning people, we do need to talk about things that the other person did that upset us. But I've found that I don't need to have these talks as often as I used to think that I did.
It's only after I talked with God and get what I feel is the go ahead, that I will ever bring a problem between "us", or that I perceive to be with John, to my husband John. Lots of times I do not get the go ahead from God; lots of times I get the sense that John has issues, just like me, that he's working on and what he needs most from me is forgiveness, support, praise and love. What he doesn't always need is some big long discussion. I can tell you account after account where I've brought something to God, I have not sensed a release to talk with John about it, I've continued to pray about it, and God has worked in John and brought about changes or God has worked in my heart to see the situation differently, or change how I feel about the thing.
I've heard that Abraham Lincoln once said that a person is about as happy as he chooses to be. I think that's true. I think that thought applies so well to marriage, we're as happy with our spouse as we choose to be. It's up to me if I want to focus on what may annoy me, or I may think is missing, or on my husband's imperfections, or I can focus on his strengths and how God has blessed me with him. Having done so many things wrong in the past, I'm grateful that today I can live choosing to enjoy the good things.
What about you, what do you choose?
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
You might not know it, but all of your Kingdom Bloggers are married - some more than once. We range from a few years to 30+ in matrimonial experience. This week we are each going to share one thing that helps us maintain our marriage.
What's so cool about date night and why does a middle-aged couple need one? It's interesting, if you talk to someone that has been divorced - especially when it is not due to one of Dr. Phil's deal-breakers; addiction, infidelity or physical abuse - they often say they "fell out of love." A question a lot of marriage counselors will ask is: "How did you fall in love?" The answer invariably starts with, "while we dating..."
My experience is that most couples go the extra mile while dating and for a short time after the honeymoon. Then things change. You live together awhile, he leaves his socks on the floor, she leaves the kitchen cabinets open, and you don't need to go out as much - after all you are together a lot more now.
For Mary Anne and I, the 5 Love Languages really helped us learn about meeting each others "love" needs. It was a way of learning to express love that the other person received as love. It also helped us to understand our own needs better. Sometimes, you don't get what you don't ask for.
My love language is time together, and hers is words of affirmation. In order for us to spend time together, we instituted date night. It is our night, and we do not schedule anything else in it's place. We get a babysitter for our 6-year-old, and go out on the town, take a walk or grab dinner and movie. I look forward to it very much.
After folks have been married for awhile and the honeymoon is over, it is important for couples to get some time alone, like when they were dating. After the kids come along, it is easy to get in a rut.
The fruit of our date nights is personal emotional intimacy. It's a time to discuss us, our needs, our hopes and our dreams. We try to leave the bills, the kids, and the jobs out of it. Sure, it often starts with how school and work is going or an occasionally a pressing need. What I enjoy is that we talk about our future, vacations, retirement, moving to a farm - the things that we hope for.
Jimmy & Karen Evan' of Marriage Today, have been another resource for us. We have used many of their ideas on marriage and parenting - but we like the idea of getting away alone. They recommend every few months. For us, it is just for our anniversary. These "retreats" from the rat race of work, school, and trying to squeeze out time the family are always refreshing.
As I guy, I didn't really feel married until the wife says "you bought what?!" All joking aside, my wife is always on my team, always supportive, and we try to discuss every aspect of our lives. no one is perfect, especially me - but on date night, I get a chance to redeem myself.
How about you, do you take a night every week to be with your spouse , if you have one?
Thursday, September 16, 2010
When you hang one of these in your home, you are putting the world on notice...if you truly mean what it says.
We live by a few simple principles or creeds in the Tony C household. One of the most important of those is the Big Three List of Priority:
Of course, the list could be expanded to...say...10 or more listed priorities, but I've found there's enough conflict created by just these three in the order we’ve placed them. But since this post isn't about household priorities, I'll focus on #3 in the list - education.
Both my wife and I are college graduates and the first in both cases to hold baccalaureates in our extended families. Others have followed, but we were the original trailblazers for education in our families. I give credit in both cases to our parents for motivating and supporting the endeavors. Education was important to both families, and we continue to carry that banner today and maybe even put some added emphasis.
There are, however, two distinct reasons that education is stressed. As far as secular academic education goes, the importance is placed on excellence and the choices in career paths that come with that commitment. I didn’t stop after my baccalaureate and have continued with graduate work with the ultimate goal of a doctorate (you’re an inspiration fellow Kingdom Blogger Joyce). My wife, Candice, also plans to work on a graduate degree in education once the house settles down a bit from baby-dom. Still, it boils down to the more emphasis and dedication being placed on education, the more choices there seems to be when it comes to employment and the types of employment.
Biblical education takes on a completely different impetus. Both Candice and I grew up attending Sunday School. Like our girls are now, we learned a lot of the fundamental stories central to a solid Christian belief system. We both feel, however, that continued biblical learning is essential to a strong, faithful walk with Christ, and we try to emphasis to the teenager now (and her younger sisters later) that reading God’s Word is important…but more important is LEARNING from God’s Word with every opportunity.
Some people have a hard time with the concept of learning something new from reading the same book repeatedly over the course of a lifetime. As a matter of fact, I was once one of those people. I finally came to realize and accept just how vast the knowledge of God truly is and understand that even learning something new every day from His Word over the course of a thousand lifetimes…well…wouldn’t even be a significant start to enlightenment. Sorry my Buddhist friends.
Education counts…secular and biblical.
So I started thinking about what school starting meant to me this year. The biggest deal for me this year is that my middle son is now a senior in high school.
This is my very large son (he's currently 6ft 3 1/2 inches & weighs 260lbs & is very muscular). My son whose life revolves around football. The one who in every area of his life besides football, examines the situation and determines what can he do to satisfy the needs/requirements while investing as little time and effort as possible. My son who can't stand to be alone for long and who's always got to be around people. The one who's always got all kinds of people coming over to our home and who hates to stay home at night. The one who freequently tells me that he loves me, and who's a total romantic when he falls for a girl (he writes them poetry & engages in all manner of creative things for them from having the announcer at half time during the football game ask the girl to homecoming for him, to making her go on a treasure hunt to locate her Birthday present). He's the one who is a Christian and very open about that and very clear about wanting to wait til marriage before he's sexual; yet he only goes to church because he knows I really want him to and doesn't read the Bible on his own on a regular basis. He's the impulsive one who I've seen make lots of poor judgment calls but has yet to realize this himself. This son is a senior. This son will most likely be off at some college on a scholarship next year; away from home, making all his own decisions. Rather a disquieting thought.
Since I know God is in charge of the universe and is totally trustworthy, I don't need to worry - right? Since I gave my son up to God from the moment of his birth; promising to look to God for grace, wisdom and ability to be his mom, I should experience peace - right? Since I've raised him in a home where he has had ever increasing amounts of freedom and have not shielded him from the natural consequences of his behavior (both good and bad), I can feel confident that he'll do fine - right? So how come the thought of this son off at college, off on his own, brings anxiety where as I never had a worry concerning his older brother?
A part of me thinks that perhaps it's because he is so social and I see him influenced by ungodly practices around him. Or because he's such a big heart and I hate to think of him being hurt. Or because he's so impulsive and I've seen him do really dumb stuff that he still thinks, even after experiencing the consequences, were so worth it. But maybe it's because I really don't trust God. Or I only trust God when things go the way I want them to. Nothing is so black and white when it comes to parenting; at least not for me.
What about you, do you ever struggle with trusting your kids' future to God? Do you experience anxiety about your children's choices, or are you at peace in the knowledge that God's in control?
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
- I don't need a title to minister Jesus.
- I don't need a degree to teach Jesus.
- I don't need is a building to serve Jesus.
- I don't need a pulpit to preach Jesus.
- I don't need a doctrine to qualify Jesus.
What I need is to be obedient to Him.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
"You can't ask. Play it, and we can challenge you if we want." my mother snapped.
I rolled my eyes looking at my tray of letters. "I'll never be good at this," I thought to myself. "I only know two words that start with "x" - well, I don't have the "x" anyway.
Lots of folks are back to school, my little one just started first grade. Your Kingdom Bloggers are back from their Summer break, and ready to write inspired and uplifting blogs with a personal touch.
Education was a big deal in my home. My mother had attended some of the world's best schools including: Wells College, Yale University and the New School in New York. It seems she had more degrees than a thermometer. Dinner time included a lot of grammar correction, as well as intellectual talk. It sort of bored me - I'm no intellectual. 4 out 6 of those who sat at that table were of the certified on paper, genius variety.
In that sort of environment, school was not fun. I was just an average kid, trying to carve out an existence amongst intellectual giants. My mother, an educator, tried everything she could think of to get me to read. She bought me magazines: Hot Rod, Motocross Weekly, and American Photography. It worked a little bit.
In middle school, when grades mattered; I wasn't getting very good ones.
Since that time I have earned to enjoy grandiloquent writing, and do a little of it myself. At age 19, two years after I graduated at the bottom of my class, I finally decided to go to college. I studied 2 years at a 4-year school, and then transferred to another school where I triple majored. I took some classes a few other colleges to round out my education. In 1988 I decided to study art, and went two more years. Oh, and then there was the seminary classes and Bible school. Oh, and more school for computer science - I turned out to be a lot like my mother.
Recently, I spoke to my wife about entering a master/doctoral program that included some online classes. After all, I just paid off my student loans. My wife is my biggest cheerleader, and was very supportive - she always is.
I looked over the courses, downloaded the application form, and because there was no rush with school starting months down the road, I went on about my life. Last July I was in church, and woman named Sarah came over to me. She said, "I was watching you during worship this morning, and I felt led to share the following: You are an educated man, and you've compared yourself to others - you want to know what they know. But I feel the Lord wants you to know, that he is training you, and he will provide the very knowledge you need to succeed. I don't know if it is God or not, but I was a very strong impression."
If one were to intellectualize this "message", it isn't very meaningful. For me, it was the "word of the Lord." I have done just that which she said. All they way back to my first Scrabble game, I wanted to be as smart and educated as others. I already have 9 years of college. I fantasized about having Phd after my name - that sort of thing. All of my favorite teachers have doctorates.
The words Sarah gave me changed that. What I really want is to know Jesus.
A few days later, I was feeling relieved. School is a huge sacrifice when I am already working full-time, trying maintain a family, and play in a band. I constantly tell my wife, "I don't need more to do."
I am thankful that God has plans for me, and as I sit and blog, and meditate on his word, He teaches me.
Philippians 3:7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
How about you, do you feel you have enough education to serve God, or do you need to go back to school?
Friday, September 10, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
If you know me at all, two adjectives that could well describe me are "shy" and "reserved". That's just me. I'm not a person who likes getting up in front of others and being the center of attention. It's a total turn on for me to get to work behind the scenes and bless people when they don't even know about me. I'm one of those people that is sometimes practically invisible, while I notice a lot about others.
A couple of years ago the woman in charge of women's ministries at our church approached me and asked that I be on the women's ministry core leadership team. After praying about it, I accepted. I adore women and enjoy getting to do things to reach out to them both in the church and community. A big part of the team is to pray and receive the vision/direction for what God wants to do for, and through, the women in our local church for the coming year. Then take that vision and plan out the calendar and "events", and do all the stuff required to make these things happen. Planning and administrative type activities come naturally for me. Plus I get to do lots of work that no one ever knows about but that blesses people - just my thing.
But several times, for more than a two year time period, I kept being asked to lead one of the large women's Bible studies that meet at our church. While there are few things that I enjoy more than studying the Word with other women, the idea of being the person who was in front of, or leading a large group, sounded totally unappealing to me. I kept thinking about how anxious I tend to feel in social settings, how tongue tied I get, how I don't at all perceive myself to be a particularly likable, charismatic, or popular type person. So I kept refusing.
But then God used what Daniel shared to make me think about the fact that God obviously doesn't expect me to be a super star (trust me, I have NO super star qualities), but He does want me to be faithful. He also kept bringing the apostle Paul's words from 2 Corinthians 12:10 about how when Paul was weak, then God could be strong, to my mind. It seemed to me that God was speaking to my heart that He wanted to use weak, shy, reserved, me and that because of my weakness it would make me rely more on Him and that way it would be a God-thing instead of a me-thing. So I finally agreed to lead one of the large women's Bible studies at our church.
And you know what? I absolutely loved it!
I know that lots of women from both our church and our community came faithfully. The study was set up so that there was a workbook with homework during the week prior to our meeting. We had a discussion time when we broke into small groups and shared, and I heard women tell about how God was working through His Word and His spirit in their lives during the time between our meetings. God was using the curriculum, His Word, relationships, and circumstances to cause change and growth, and produce faithfulness, in their lives. I never cease to be excited about God working in the lives of women!
A woman who was new to our church made sure to tell me later how comfortable, welcome, included, and accepted she felt. Another woman went out of her way to let me know that she really liked the atmosphere; that she appreciated that we had an agenda and (by the grace of God) didn't constantly go off on "rabbit trails", but at the same time were open to God's work, leading, and ministry to specific women in their lives. She felt like the agenda was never more important than herself of any other woman in the room.
I noticed that between or before meetings, that if I thought about me facilitating the event, I felt that sick oh-I-don't-want-to-be-visually-obviously-up-frontedly-in charge feeling. But if I kept my focus on the individual women in the group,that God kept giving me an intense love for each woman there. I'd find myself thinking about them, praying for them, seeing exciting things that God had in store for them. I got to write them notes during the week, or pray for specific things for them as the Holy Spirit prompted. Then we'd meet and I'd find out why God had me pray, and what He was doing. God was working in their lives, God was ministering to them, God was blessing them - and He let me be part of it!
There's a new women's large group Bible study starting in the end of September, and this time I didn't have to think twice before I agreed to facilitate one of the two times it will be offered. I'm looking forward to what God's gonna do.
What about you, can you think of a time when God seemed to be prompting you to serve in a way that was totally not you, that was outside of your comfort zone? What happened?
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
In the process of all this reading and living in a dorm on a college campus for the first time, I’ve found new hope. I may be old but God isn’t finished with me. Like Sarah, I laugh at times to think that God still has more for me to do or that doors will open.
This doctoral program really got into my personal business this summer. We were pushed not just academically but personally. We were pushed to look at ourselves, know ourselves and change ourselves. One of the biggest changes for me was I committed myself to exercise. I am now doing 5 miles in a half hour on an exercise bike, 6 days a week. My goal was 20 minutes 3x a week. Most of us don't think about our physical discipline as part of our spiritual discipline. But it is. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) You can see a little video I made for class here. Turn the sound on to hear the song at the end.
So I'm on a new adventure. God willing in 2013 I'll be Dr. Joyce Lighari. I'll still be me, but hopefully I will be prepared for whatever God has next. For my "Isaac." What about you? I’ll bet you have a dream. God’s not done. What’s your dream?
Monday, September 6, 2010
There is nothing in life richer than knowing God. I could care less about theology or church stuff or religion or anything else. What I care about is Jesus, and knowing him deeply.
This week your Kingdom Bloggers are back from summer break with some testimonies about how God has worked in their lives. Welcome back, Joyce, Tracy, Dave and Tony. Here's mine:
If you read Waiting for the Rain - Acting on a Promise, you know that just as the Lord promised, the rain fell after three and half years. Since that time I found a new church - one that I decided to visit one morning during prayer. The pastor and I have become friends, and we meet together every other week for a few hours. He encourages and loves, as well as appreciating my ministry and spiritual gifts.
David has had a rough time with church. In spite of both seminary and bible school training, as well as completing a certificate class "The Art of Hearing God" and 3 levels of Denny Cramer's prophetic School, I could not find a "place" in church until now.
I have been asked to co-lead one of the ministry teams. I am excited about the possibilities.
Well over a year ago, I wrote about my passion: The equipping of the saints by a 5 part team. I am so certain that God is working towards something called the 5-Fold Ministry model, I can hardly contain myself. I finally had a two hour meeting with the pastor and told him about a vision I had for an "apostolic school;" one where I would teach about, and train others to be part of this type of church. Our vision was so similar, that we had a high-five to end the meeting - a sign of complete agreement. He said that I would have to organize it, and take care of the details. I knocked out a web site during a few lunch hours, and wrote a 15 page booklet to be used for the class.
Cool, right! The best part is that God brought us together, and he is opening all the doors.
And there is more... one day I was driving home and I saw a house up on wheels that was being moved. I clearly heard the Lord say, "you are moving." In one of my chats with the pastor, he mentioned in passing that none of the elders lived in the town where the church is. I heard the Lord say, "This is your town, David; you'll live here.
In June, my wife and I went away for our anniversary. As we were talking, she said that no one seemed that happy in the town we live in, and asked if I would be interested in moving? Wow, I never thought we'd get to the conversation, never mind agree that it might be possible.
We decided to get a small horse farm (2-4 stalls), or move near the ocean. All of the listings that we found on the Internet that were in our price range were at the beach, or; coincidentally, in the town where my new church is. We did look other places, but the farms were taken off the market. Go figure.
A few weeks ago, I was driving to Cape Cod for our family vacation. I have a friend from the Pacific Northwest who is a prophet. He knows stuff, amazing stuff. Because I had time on the two-hour ride, I decided to call him - we hadn't talked in a few months. As I was pressing the SEND button on my cell, I got an email from him. I called him and thought it some what of a coincidence. Joseph said, "Hey, I was praying for you and the Lord says that you are moving northwest - well north then west. Interesting, the new church is northwest of my current home about 55 miles.
So there you have it, a move of God in process. We have decided to move, and have no clue as to how it is all going to work out - just a few promises from God. Here is where the faith comes in. In the midst of waiting, Joseph called me again and said he felt that the doors would open in about 3 weeks. Well, that narrows it down God. Thank you Jesus.
How about you, do you have any promises from God that you are waiting on?
Friday, September 3, 2010
So, what about the change? I had to ask myself that dozens of times during the process. Maybe this was meant for me, I don't know...but I hope you are as moved as I was to self-reflect on the lyrics.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
I've watched Daniel really struggle over the past couple of years with football. We live in a small town and football is a huge deal at the local high school. Daniel is on the team at the high school; but he doesn't do well. He works really hard; he even stays after practice and does extra running, working out and weight lifting to try to increase his ability. Because he tries so hard the coach does periodically give him chances, but he frequently messes up during those times. He's talked to me concerning this more than once. To make matters worse, his older brother who is just one grade ahead of him in school, is really good (of course this particular son happens to be 6'3" and 225lbs as a Jr in high school, so he's practically made to be a line man). All I've told Daniel is that I see such a spirit of faithfulness in him and that I think God honors that, and that I think this faithful, hardworking attitude will serve him well throughout his life. I never comment on the actual football part because I don't know much about football, he does seem to mess up, and the truth is that not everyone is good at every thing they try.
Daniel plays drums with the worship team in our small church. As part of a get-to-know-the-folks-up-here-on-the-stage-every-Sunday kind of thing, he was asked to give a testimony during church. What he shared both humbled and blessed me. It's also really had me thinking about those truths ever since he shared.
Daniel read the passage from Matthew 25:14-30 where Jesus told the parable of the talents. In a nutshell the parable is about a man who was going on a journey and gave 3 servants varying amounts of talents/money to watch while he was gone. When he returned he called the servants in to see how they had done with the money he left them. Two servants had invested and done well and they were rewarded, the servant who was given the least had done nothing with what he was given and he was punished. Daniel pointed out that not everyone was given the same amount of money to invest and that the man was most interested in what they did with what he gave them. Daniel shared about his struggles with football and then shared how the bottom line was that if God had wanted him to be the best at football he would have given him that talent but that obviously that was not God's plan for him. But that he believes God is very interested in how he uses whatever it is that he is given. He said he plays football because he thinks it's fun, and he's to the point where he chooses to do his best and just leave the rest up to God. Daniel talked about the fact that there most likely will always be people who are better at whatever it is that we each like to do, but that the talents other people have is not the really important issue. The really important issue is what we each do with what we are given.
Gee sometimes my 15yr old is smarter than me.
What Daniel shared has got me to think about, and look at, what I am doing with what God has given me. It's made me check to see if I'm using my meager talents in some areas as an excuse to not step out and serve others in these areas. There's one area in my community where there is a need and I was approached about serving in it a while back; but I turned the opportunity down because I had focused on my deficits. Recently I was approached again, but this time I'm stepping out in faith in that area simply because there is a need and I'm willing to serve. I'm choosing to rely on God's greatness instead of my giftedness.
What about you, do you ever let what you perceive to be your lack of talent keep you from serving? Do you ever refrain from participating in things that you think are fun just because you think you're not good enough at them?
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
I am aware of how hypocritical this entry is.(Romans 14.22??) I am hating on the Christian haters. I am so disgusted with the 'gospel experts' sitting behind their keyboards and pulpits declaring everyone else a pharisee or a phony. How many people have accepted the Gift of Eternal Life because someone pointed out a 'flawed' theology? Contrarily, how many people have become confused or bitter because of all the negativity and finger pointing?
Yes, I have had conversations come up with others about Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, the Christian haters online and local preachers. Yes, I have been asked questions about what those people preach. And yes, I have volunteered my opinion what those dudes are preaching. There are things about each one these dudes that I can disagree with and agree with. It is tough to not get caught up in threads and debates about who is right and who is wrong. I like to post something totally irrelevant in the threads, such as Project 86 is the greatest band ever. Or if you don't know Mars Ill, you don't know Hip Hop. Or even something as stupid as my favorite color is snot green.
With such easy access to express an opinion, its kinda hard not to spout off what we believe about Faith, sports, politics, work. I believe it comes down to each persons motivation. (Romans 2.16) Why do we do what we do? Why do we preach what we preach? Is it share Jesus or is it to argue and debate about things that only time will tell?
I think anyone that chooses to limit Holy Spirit to the doctrine of one person is a fool. I think anyone that wants to spend their time and talents tearing down other peoples doctrines instead of praying for those people is a bigger fool. I think anyone that wants to preach hate instead of preaching the Love and Grace of Jesus (yes, that includes confession (1John 1.9)and repentance (Titus 2.11-14) of sin) is the biggest fool of all. I think there are too many Christians playing the role of a fool. And too many times I play the fool.
better—they think—for them.
Philippians 1.15-17 The Message