Monday, January 31, 2011

You Are Not

I would like to be able to give credit to the author of this piece*, but I honestly don't recall where I picked it up. I believe it might have been Rick Warren's blog, but I could be wrong. I do know that it encourages me each time I read it and it had an impact on several people at our Sunday services when I read it as well.
You are not your past
You are not your failures
You are not your parents
You are not your sister
You are not your regrets
You are not your sin
You are not your weight
You are not your divorce
You are not your unemployment
You are not the choices someone else makes for you
You are not your brokenness
You are not your bitterness
You are not your abuse
You are not your loneliness
You are not your marital status
You are not your tax bracket
You are not your crisis

This is who you are:

You are loved
You are forgiven
You are redeemed
You are destined
You are set apart
You are a new creation
You are valued
You are gifted
You are chosen
You are prized
You are reconciled
You are called
You are noticed
You are pursued
You are a child of The King
You are a co-heir with Christ
You are a royal priesthood
You are adored, cherished and treasured by the God of this universe.

When you choose to stop living out who you are not and start to live in who you are, it changes everything.

*Thanks to Kristen Brooks for researching and finding the true authors of this entry. You can see the original posting on their blog HERE.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Creative Genius

With apologies to Tony Morgan who posted this on his blog today, I thought this was too creative not to share. Enjoy Smooth Criminal in a way you've never experienced it before.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Violent Prayer

I recently read a book called Violent Prayer by Chris Tiegreen and was really blown away by the perspective on prayer that the Holy Spirit provided through him. Instead of reviewing the book I thought I would blog some things that I thought were worthy of writing down.
  • Violent prayer = aggressively and fiercely challenging the enemy's agenda
  • In our relationship with God, getting in line with His will is a process.
  • Prayer is often a conflict resolution process between us and our God.
  • If we don't pray intensely, we lose.
  • Christians tend to view prayer as a means towards personal comfort, agendas and peace. The bulk of New Testament prayers are about the battle.
  • "Thy will be done" is in opposition to satan's will. This is said to give us a heavenly perspective.
  • Jesus told His disciples repeatedly that faith was integral to prayer. If we don't have it, we aren't really praying.
  • Prayer is often a matter of intense and unreasonable perseverance.
  • We can pray "Not my will but yours" because we know it and submit or because we don't want to go to the trouble to get direction and make a stand.
  • Bless vigorously, insistently and emphatically.
  • Love for a Holy God demands anger towards an unholy agenda.
  • When we pray for God's Kingdom to come, we're praying for satan's and all others to go.
  • We confuse our mission as Kingdom warriors when we judge invisible battles by visible signs.
  • The world uses intimidation, control, manipulation and condemnation to control situations. We use faith, humility, patience and mercy to defuse them.
  • Minimal investment, minimal results.
  • We either pick up our weapons and wage war, risking becoming casualties, or we ignore the war and become casualties anyway.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Work It

Galatians 5 makes it pretty plain that we are in a battle everyday-the battle of our sinful nature and the Spirit. It creates conflict in us and sometimes (far too often if you ask me) makes for very difficult days. They are in opposition to each other and cannot coexist peacefully.

Anyone who intends to feed both animals and expect to do so successfully is only fooling themselves. It has to be an honest effort (although that effort will most definitely be futile if attempted by our own willpower and strength) to do the things that lead to a Spirit-filled life. It's obvious throughout Scripture that what we put our efforts into, talk about, think about, watch, listen to, dwell on and act on will influence what we end up as. If a Spirit-filled life is what we intend to have then there must be a desire and an effort on our part to end up there. You don't "accidentally" become Spirit-filled. You choose now which team you will be on and then we trust in a God who wants to make His strength evident in our weaknesses. As He works in our willing spirits we will see the godly results He desires for our lives.

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

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr.

In honor of a great and godly man and the work that he did in his too brief time with us. We should celebrate the heart behind his efforts and the love of God for all peoples every day.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Evidence of Grace

In Acts 11, the church at Antioch is growing tremendously and growing through outreach to Gentiles. This is not the standard practice of that day and causes some concern amongst the church leaders.They decide to send Barnabas to investigate and see exactly what is happening. The text tells us that when Barnabas arrived he was able to see evidence of the grace of God in their church.

This should be a defining characteristic of all God's churches. We should be a center of grace and hope for all people in the community. It can't happen in the church if it's not happening in our own lives though. We have to strive to make the way we live a reflection of the grace that God has given us. That is a message that the rest of the world is searching for and that God's people have readily available.

Imagine how much more effective the church would be if we were committed to allowing the evidence of grace to be highly visible to all who interacted with us.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I am reading in the book of Acts and it is obvious that the early church was growing-often by thousands in a single day. It is also obvious that as they grew they faced serious opposition-sometimes to the point of death and imprisonment.

The formula is still true today: a growing church will face opposition. Sometimes this will come from the community around it and unfortunately it will sometimes come from within.

Understanding this principle of spiritual warfare leaves leadership with a decision to make. A church can desire to avoid conflict so much that it refuses to grow and instead becomes a dried out husk of a building that is more social club than a thriving, active extension of Christ. Leaders can also choose to accept the trials that will face God's true church and look to the strength and vision that comes from the Holy Spirit to persevere and fulfill our calling here as centers of hope, grace, repentance and redemption.

Not really a difficult decision when you think about it.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


It's often said that the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Organizationally speaking, this often means that the person who is willing to express their displeasure the loudest is going to not only be heard, but to receive the response they are looking for.

The problem with providing "oil" for this squeaky wheel is that it doesn't actually solve the problem. Especially when what you are really dealing with is a squeak toy. You can keep applying oil to it, but it isn't going to change the true nature of what it is. That squeak just isn't going to stop.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Get Violent

Too often I forget that we are engaging in a high stakes battle everyday. I attribute difficulties and struggles to the fact that when you work in the public arena that sometimes things just aren't easy (which they aren't). What I should remember more often is that many of the hardships we go through and resistance that we face comes straight from the enemy. He is actively working against us ('The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy..." John 10:10) and won't hesitate to use everything he has to undermine and discourage us.

What we also need to remember is that we too can fight with intensity. God has given us the weapon of prayer-not to use against each other (as some churches & Christians do), but to use as an unstoppable weapon against satan. For us to see true success the way God has it planned we need to ramp up the intensity. We need to start praying with a passionate fervor for the souls of our friends and families. We need to pray hard for God to bring favor to our missionaries. We need to pray to the point of exhaustion for the Holy Spirit to be unleashed on God's church in such a mighty way that the world has no doubt that the King is still on His throne.

When we aggressively seek God and His power we find ourselves propped up by His power and ready to fight for His people and to follow His will.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." Ephesians 6:12-13

Monday, January 3, 2011

Status Quo

Maintaining the status quo. Too often this is a life goal-to just keep things the same without causing too much upheaval, without being disrupted, without causing our own lives to be any different.

As a Christ follower this really isn't an option. We can rationalize as if it were a viable choice for us, but the simple truth is that each day is a decision to live in one direction or another. Our thoughts, words, actions and attitudes reflect which path we have chosen to follow.

Each day we are either moving closer to Christ or farther away, we are either building God's church or breaking it down, we are working for the King or against Him. There is no middle ground when it comes to following God. It certainly makes me think more carefully about how I will spend today and how my energies will be focused.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Primary Concern

I've been thinking about a lot of things as 2010 has wrapped up and 2011 has now begun. I'm not a huge fan of the resolution format of starting a New Year. I do like the idea of growing as each year passes and hopefully moving even a little bit closer to Christ in the process though. As a way to kickoff a return to blogging after the holidays and stimulate some of my own thoughts for this year, I ask the following question. "What is your primary concern in life?"

I've actually been thinking about this question since I read it early this week and I decided that the correct answer is "me." I am my primary concern in life. I do what pleases me, I listen to the music that I want to listen to, I engage with people that make me feel good, I eat the foods that I enjoy, read the books that I want to read, watch the shows that entertain me and go the places that I truly want to be. If you (dear reader) are honest with yourself, you will admit the same thing.

None of us likes to admit this selfishness (I can assure you that I take no pleasure in confessing this narcissistic attitude), but I think that I must realize it if I am to work towards a different motivator for 2011. As cliche as it might sound, my primary concern must shift from my desires for family, hobbies, church and career to what God wants. My biggest motivator should be to live a life that has God as the central focus and then to let Him work through the rest of my life.

What a difference there will be a year from now if we could all agree to set aside our egotistical agendas and simply be concerned with pleasing God in thought, speech, action, habits and character.