Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I was Lame!

He made the lame walk
And the dumb talk
He opened blinded eyes to see
That the sun rises on His time
Yet He knows our deepest desperate need
And the world waits
While His heart aches
To realize the dream
I wonder what life would be like
If we let Jesus live through you and me
~ Big Daddy Weave ~

I heard an interview in which Big Daddy Weave lead singer, Mike Weaver said that the song is meant to get us to consider what life would be like if we let Christ completely consume us and our life, instead of just trying to be better for Him. The chorus of the song is intended to get us to understand the awesome power that is our Savior and that we need to realize that same power is available to us, today. When we understand this, wholly surrender to Christ and allow Him to live in and through us, then life is entirely different. There is no other way to get the same result and once you surrender, there is no way to stop or avoid the change that comes.

I get that out of the song, but the other day when I heard it, God gave me something different (coincidentally it was while showering, again). God told me that not only has He done all that healing before, and still does today, but that He did that to me...for me. He said, I was lame, dumb and blind. At first I was like dumb – absolutely, blind – I could see that (no pun intended...ok, maybe a little), but lame – what? Here is what I realized over the last year (with God's assist): For most of my life, spiritually, I was all three of those things.

For a lot of years I was completely dumb to who God is and what a relationship with Him even meant. I had zero understanding (it's still fairly limited, but I continue to look for Him) as to who Christ was and what He actually did for me, without me even deserving it. Now, I know BDW is really talking about the actual miracle of Christ healing the deaf and mute, but it's the same. I was ignorant about Christ, because I couldn't (probably more accurate to say “didn't want to hear”) hear anything that actually held me accountable to what Christ wanted from me. Anytime anyone would say something that would even remotely cause the Holy Spirit to stir conviction in my heart, I ignored it. That caused me to not be able to speak truth. I was deaf and mute.

Because I never accepted direction, I never saw clearly. I was blind to the fact that the life I was leading was one of death. I had a skewed vision of Christianity and an absolutely wrong image of God all together. I was able to keep my blindness firmly intact by holding on to the darkness in the lie that “I was basically a good person” and Jesus loved me too much to send me to Hell. That sad and warped bit of logic caused my lameness. Because I was blind, staggering through a life of unbelievable darkness, I couldn't walk down the right path. Sometimes not only did I not walk down the right path, I just didn't walk. I sat around in a my misery, too lame and crippled by sin to even try to get up and walk.

It is a sad state of affairs when you finally realize just how dumb, blind and lame you are. The possibility of recovery seems hopeless at best. But, like BDW says in their song, “That it's when I'm at my weakest, I can clearly see.” Just over a year ago I was at my weakest and God showed me this broken, pitiful, sad excuse for what I assumed was a man. But He didn't leave it there, He also showed me this guy that I didn't know. This guy was filled with joy, peace, was in a relationship so perfect and personal there was nothing to compare it to and best of all, he was healed. He wasn't dumb – he could hear the truth, he wasn't blind – he could see Christ for the love and perfection he is, and he was on a path that led to life.That guy was the me I didn't know yet, but I wanted to. Really, God didn't give me some prophetic vision of what life would be like, but He gave me a glimpse and over the last year He has revealed more and more. But I can look back and see it now.

I think that whether you're currently saved or not, the words in that chorus are important to understand. We need to realize that the power from the same hand that formed the universe and actually did all those miracles is available to us today. God wants to pour out that power into and through us. When we “get” that, our lives change. Life becomes different, it has to. We also need to realize that while He heals our actual physical ailments such as being blind, lame or deaf and mute (I believe He absolutely does today), He also heals us from being spiritually blind, lame and dumb. That healing is just as amazing and miraculous.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Measuring Success

There are actually quite a few things that have come together to build this post. Back in May, I attended theLEAD Network (a college leadership ministry of theMILL at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO) and listened to Aaron Stern, New Life Church's college and 20-somethings Pastor, deliver the first sermon in a series titled "Success". During that sermon, Aaron talked about what we consider successful in today's culture and what success looks like before God. He used the prophet Jeremiah to illustrate this. At the time it really didn't strike any specific cord with me. Months went by and really I hadn't thought about it. Then a few weeks ago I got to the book of Jeremiah in my daily readings. Still really didn't think nothing of it, beyond the fact that Jeremiah had a horrible job and life must of sucked.

A short time later God really started prompting me to consider what it means to have a servants heart. It was about that time that I started my Contemporary Evangelism class and Pastor Jeff, Element Church Lead Pastor, started a new series called "Be". The new series is centered on realizing the potential of the local church to meet the needs of their community and BE Christ's love to them. With all that, God helped me to see the book of Jeremiah in a very different way.

Undoubtedly, the task that God gave Jeremiah was a difficult one. Basically God commissioned Jeremiah to be the prophet that told the people of Israel that they were going to be destroyed. He was to warn them that Jerusalem would fall and they would either die from famine and disease or by the sword. And those that did not die, would be taken into captivity by the Babylonians and die in a foreign land. Not the guy you want to be in Jerusalem at that point. Needless to say he was not often received well and often time was rejected and threatened to be killed. Yet through him sharing all God's warnings and pleading for the people to repent, they did not. Ultimately, Jerusalem was destroyed and the Israelites were lead in to captivity in Babylon. By all accounts and outward appearances, Jeremiah was not successful. He never got the Israelites to repent.

But, in God's view he was successful. God didn't tell him to rescue the Israelites, but to simply deliver His word to them. God told him to "Go and shout this message to the people of Jerusalem" and he did. The fact is that God did not judge Jeremiah's success in the number of people that listened to his message, but by His obedience to take the message to them, regardless of his feelings.

Here's the twist, God has given us the same command. In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” He said we will be His witnesses to all and just tell them about Him. He never said you have to convince anyone to repent. It is the Holy Spirit's job to convict people and have them wrestle with God and His word.

In going through my evangelism class and the current "Be" series, it becomes inarguable that our actions must match the words we speak. Jesus did not just talk about being a servant, He lived it. If we simply talk the talk without walking the walk, there is zero credibility in what we say. A pastor friend of mine, Charles Robertson, asked a few weeks ago, "Do people believe that you believe what you say you believe?" The only way to convince people that you believe what you say you do is to live it. Then it becomes real.

The way we live and what we say, must be connected to each other and one must validate the other. In an article titled Incarnational Apologetics, by Dr. David Wheeler, he said, “Think about it, 'informational' apologetics without 'incarnational' validation will often lead to hypocrisy. On the other hand, 'incarnational' apologetics without an 'informational' foundation of biblical truth will often lead to heresy.”

The bottom line is, we do need to tell people about Christ and His love, but without showing them, our words are useless. The best way to prove Jesus is to love people and we do that by meeting their needs. But, we have to go to them to meet their needs. We can't expect them to come to us, that isn't what Jesus commanded.

So, how do we measure success before Christ? Do we measure it by the number of people outside the church that we bring inside? Or do we measure it by the the number of people inside the church that are obedient to God's call and go to those outside the church?

Going for Christ,

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Year in Review

Today marks one year since the day that my entire world changed. One year ago, on September 10, 2008 I discovered some horrible stuff that resulted in my wife subsequently leaving my boys and I. If you know me then you know the story and I've shared my testimony, which include some of the details, on here in a two part blog (HERE & HERE).

So where am I now. To my surprise, I am doing really well. I had assumed that healing would be a LONG and dreadful process. At times it was very difficult, but God has done some amazing stuff in my heart, as well as my life. I am still married, but only because we are waiting for the court date later this month. The point of this post is not to pity party the past. I figured I'd share some of the stuff that God has revealed and taught me this past year. This list is not all inclusive, God has taught me some stuff that is just for me and will stay that way until God says so. So here it is:

1. Obedience is the axis on which everything in God spins. God requires our obedience in every part of our religion and relationship with Him. The ultimate expression of love (and spiritual maturity) is hearing God's word and obeying it. In John 14:15, Jesus says, "If you love me, obey my commandments." Pretty clear, right?

2. If you spend intentional, right intentioned and consistent time with God (everyday) He will direct your steps. If you actually dedicate time to God and talk to Him, get a load of this, He'll talk to you too. This conversation can only be realized through the real, committed, and spirit lead actions of prayer and study/meditation of His word (i.e. reading your Bible). When you actually start spending time and talk with Him, he will offer direction and guidance immediately. Truth and revelation come quicker also. That's one of the bonuses. Not with everything, but I've found I've had to wait far less lengths of time for God to reveal why something has happened and what I should have learned from it.

3. God still disciplines His people, even today. Proverbs 3:11-12 says, "
My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights." Not only does God still discipline, when you actively seek Him and are disobedient to His direction, He is quicker to issue that discipline. He is no longer satisfied with waiting for your obedience and allowing you to figure it out on your own. He loves you enough to offer that discipline immediately when needed, to get you back on the correct path. That's the flip side to the revelation and truth thing. He'll tell you what you needed to learn, but He's still gonna swat you.

4. Not everything that happens is part of God's plan. Bad stuff sometimes just happens. God is sovereign over everything, but He doesn't will EVERYTHING to happen. He does allow everything to happen, but the bad stuff is the result of a sinful world. Sometimes God will allow you to reap the consequences of YOUR actions, as a means to draw you back to Him. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope"

5. Some of the greatest learning takes place in the deepest valleys. At least for me it did. I really feel like God revealed the most when I was in those valleys. At the time they sucked - a lot - but I wouldn't trade them and what God revealed, for anything. Psalm 119:71 says, " It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn your decrees." God taught me a lot while I was broken. I'm still there from time to time (currently I'm in the middle of a valley - but I can appreciate it), and I find myself often looking for what God is trying to show me instead of sitting in self misery and pity.

6. I think the most important thing I learned is this: I love Jesus. Sounds simple, I know. But until I went through that crap a year ago, I only thought I knew my Savior. I knew about Him, but I had NO idea who He was. I am still far from knowing who He is. But I know two things, I love Him and He loves me. He reveals a little more of Him everyday that I'm willing to seek Him. He wants to show us all His glory, we just need to be willing to seek it and receive it. When I got a hold of the idea that relationship is so much different than religion, I was amazed. I wanted to understand it, to unpack it and look at it. But you can't, you have to spend time with Him. That is the only way you can build a relationship, time and talking. When I finally understood that and did it, oh my word how things changed.

Things are different now. God has done some amazing things in my life. I am completely a different person and can't wait to see what God has next. I know there was probably other stuff I wanted to add to this list tonight, but being that it's late and I could probably sit up all night and type, I'm gonna call this good for now. It captures the most important things, for the moment anyway.

Excited for the next year,