Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Radical Change & Radical Obedience (Recap of Sunday's Fusion Message)

This past Sunday I got the distinct honor of preaching for our youth (Fusion) here at Element Church. The last time I spoke at Fusion was April 14, 2009.  I remember the date because it was significant for 2 reasons: 1 - it was 3 months EXACTLY after God confirmed my call to ministry and B - it was the very first time I got to preach...EVER! So Fusion holds a special place in my heart and when Pastor Andy asked me to teach on Paul, he didn't even finish the question before I answered, "Abso-freaking-lutely!!!"

The first part of the message was just laying out Paul's life.  I pointed out some facts about who he was before his conversion, what happened during his conversion and what his ministry looked like.  Then I got to share the stuff that God revealed to me about Paul's life.  There is so much in Paul's life that God used that absolutely applies to our lives today as it relates to living a radically changed life marked by radical obedience.

1.  Paul responded to Jesus’ call.

Jesus called him on the road to Demascus and instructed him to go into Demascus and wait (Acts 9:6).  So Paul got up and went to Damascus (Acts 9:8).  Then he didn't wait to be told to preach the Good News.  Instead he immediately began teaching about Jesus (Acts 9:20).

I think for some of us we struggle to hear from God.  So how do we hear what He wants to say to us?  Through spending time with Him.  Prayer is how we talk to God, the Bible is how he talks to us, and spending time with other believers (The Church) is how we get to see Him move and work.

2.  Paul acknowledges his sinfulness (1 Tim 1:15), but also acknowledges his righteousness in Christ. (Phil 3:8-9).

In 1 Tim 1:15 Paul says, "This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners'—and I am the worst of them all."  He calls himself the worst of all sinners, but he doesn't leave it there. He doesn't wallow in the guilt of who he used to be or what he had done.  In Phil 3:8-9 he says, "Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith."  Paul acknowledges that his righteousness is in Christ.

Not only does he acknowledge where his righteousness lies, but he also understood that Christ was making him different, new. He got that Jesus had radically changed him and that he was meant to look like Him.  In Col 3:10, Paul tells us to, "Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him."  So it isn't enough to just acknowledge our righteousness in Christ, but we must also reflect it to others.

3.  Paul was obedient even though he suffered.

The Holy Spirit told Paul time after time that he would suffer wherever he went, but the thing is...he still went.  And the flip side to that coin is even though he was obedient, God still allowed him to suffer.

In 2 Cor. 12:7-10, Paul tells the church in Corinth, "even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

You see, the fact is that neither our good times nor our bad times are evidence of how much God loves us. God’s grace and what Jesus did on the cross is THE evidence of how much He loves us and our obedience (regardless of our circumstance) is evidence of how much we love Him.

4.  Paul lived a missional life.

Paul lived his life for the purpose of seeing others brought home to God. Here's how he says it...

Rom 10:1 - Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved.

1 Tim 2:7 - And I have been chosen as a preacher and apostle to teach the Gentiles this message about faith and truth. I’m not exaggerating—just telling the truth.

Not only did he desire to see people saved, but He trained others to preach the Good News and sent them out to tell others.

You see, Paul knew that Jesus had radically changed him and wanted to live his life with the same radical obedience. So Paul responded to Jesus’ call, acknowledged his righteousness, he was obedient (even through suffering) and lived a life on mission for Jesus. That is Radical change…and the ONLY response to that is  radical obedience.

So if you want to know if you’re living a life that has been radically change and desire to live a life marked by radical obedience here's some questions you can ask yourself:

1.  Am I responding to what God is saying to me?
2.  Do I acknowledge and reflect the righteousness that I have in Christ?
3.  Do I trust Jesus through the good and bad times?
4.  Am I living my life on mission for Jesus?

Asking those questions,

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

REPOST: Dreams...And All That Come With Them

This is a blog I posted back in October after my friend Ricky died from leukemia.   After he passed I took another look at my life and reevaluated where I was headed and what I dreamed for my future.  Anyway the result was this blog about having big dreams and the things that come with that.  As I read it, I just felt like this it needed to be re-posted.  Maybe it'll speak to someone.

Here's the link DREAMS!

Still Dreaming Big,

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

We Did Because We Do

<----------------------It started with this guy (that's me). 

If you've read any of my other stuff on this blog, then you know that over the last 2 1/2 years God has laid a beating on my mind and heart.  Jesus has done quite a work in changing the person that I was into the person that I am.  Although I am a completely different person, He's still working things out in me, but the point is He's made me into a Man.  After I became single I wasn't actually looking for a wife. I did make a list of what I wanted and needed in a wife (you can read about that HERE), but I didn't put a ton of effort into looking.  Regardless, I was settled on the idea that God was preparing me for the perfect woman.

Then I met her (that's Sarah, grogeous right?)------------------------------>

Our story is in that link above, but to make a long story short...she was kinda in the same boat as me.  God was teaching her patience and she was just waiting for what He had for her.  We met at as co-workers at our church (she was the Pastoral Assistant and I was the Director of our College ministry, theSHIFT check it out HERE).  Actually we met just over 1 year ago, during Staff photos...and barely noticed each other.

So there was him (me) and her (Sarah), but the more important part of this blog is that him and her is now THEM (us).

That's us. 
I like to call this picure "On The Rocks...but in a Good Way"

So now that you know that they are them and them is us, let me tell you about the amazing wedding they, we, had.  The first thing we did was reserve our wedding photographer (coincedently it was before I even proposed...Sarah is pretty slick).  We booked the amazingly talented Charity Remington (who took all these stunning photos - website HERE).  She initially suggested that we elope, to which we both promptly responded, "Psh, yeah right."  As we started planning and realized the magnitude of the task, one of us jokingly said, "We SHOULD just elope."  The other responded, "Let's do it." Quickly followed by a, "Are you serious?" Confirmed with a, "I don't know. Are you?" And finalized with a, "Yeah, I think so." That doesn't seem so final, but it was.  So started our super secret plans to elope (which noone knew about except for those that "called it" and the ones that my big mouthed kids told).

We decided that the perfect place to elope had equal parts sun, sand, water and The Grand Bahams fit the requirements.  We arrived on a friday evening (after quite a little adventure) and rested that night in preparation for the big day.  Honestly I barely slept, I couldn't wait!

That morning as Sarah dolled herself up, I met with the pastor from a local Christian church and we picked a spot on the beach.  When Sarah was ready, I walked her down the super awesome boardwalk and led her to that spot on the beach that God would bind our hearts and souls together for all time.  Then the pastor commenced our ceremony.
Isn't it perfect looking?

Pastor Duncanson offitiated an amazing ceremony for us.  I think the best part of the ceremony were our vows.  I had always heard of people writting their own vows and often thought about how amazing that would be, but having been able to actually write vows that I got to promise my whole self to the woman that I love maddly far surpassed any of that.  It was PERFECTION.  Then Pastor Duncanson ended with the traditional...You may kiss your bride. And...

We were Mr & Mrs!

We spent the rest of the week lounging on the beach reading and sunbathing, on scooters (checking out the island), in caves and in tide pools, snorkeling and parasailing, browsing shops and tasting the local was amazing. 

God even made sure the weather was perfect for us.  The sun started shining the day before we got there and the rain stayed away (literally) until we boarded the plane to come home.  Really though, the sun started shining for us last June, we just didn't know it then.

So here we are--------->

This is the start of our "Happily ever after" and I can't wait to experience all of what it takes to get to the end of that.  Really I'm in no rush, I'd rather revel in all that is amazing and beautiful about her...and us.  We have a lot coming over the next few years, a move, one kid in high school, one in Jr High and one starting kindergarten, maybe a bigger family ;) much coming.