Monday, April 25, 2011

No other name...

It's Easter! He's alive! C4 was so awesome tonight...not only did Tyson deliver a phenomenal message, John Parker and Ashley Stafford got engaged!!!! Congrats!! AND worship was absolutely incredible! Love worshiping and joining voices with the heavenly choir.

Easter is important to Christians because it is the day that Christ was resurrected, he arose...and Heaven and earth were reunited. It's important because if Jesus had not risen from the dead, our faith would be in vain...but Jesus did rise from the dead...and our salvation is assured if we believe. Tyson taught from several scriptures tonight but all to point back to Ephesians 4:7-10 which talks about how Christ descended to the lower part of the earth and then ascended to be seated at the right hand of God the Father.

He descended...(he died)

In Genesis, God gave man dominion over all of the earth, all the animals and plants and things...that is until we sinned...Satan wanted the dominion and authority that we had...we gave power to the enemy when we chose to sin. When Jesus died, he descended into the lower parts of the earth and took back the power that sin and Satan had over us. When he rose, his resurrection gave us life and hope and power over sin. It was a symbol of our strength being restored...but the strength given to us is not mortal strength...it's God's strength. We have power over death and sin because of and through Jesus! We are no longer enslaved to sin...we are free!
Isaiah 53: 1-7 - Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
Our story is a lot like Jesus'...he was despised and rejected...maybe life has beat you down...maybe you feel like every time you make one positive forward movement...life knocks you backwards two paces. He was beaten until he was unrecognizable...maybe you don't recognize who you have become. This world...sin...it will beat you, confuse you, disorient you and make you feel lonely, despised and rejected...BUT! His story didn't end there...

He ascended...(he rose again!)
Isaiah 52:13-15 - See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted. But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man. And he will startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not been told; they will understand what they had not heard about.
The same God who was broken, bruised and bloodied will come again and startle the nations...he will rule over it all! No matter what you've gone through, there is one who loves you and knows what you have been through. Even if you have been pushed to the point where you're ready to give up and say "I can't go any farther!" Remember, Jesus has been there - and even further! Just as he fell under the weight of the cross - God provided someone to carry the cross for him...God is our provider - he will carry you through!
Isaiah 6:1-3 - It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!”
Tyson shared a bit of history that put this verse into context...and rocked my world...In ancient times, when a King conquered over another town/city/country...he would rip part of the fallen King's train off and attach it to his own. The train of a King's robe told you how powerful the King was by how long it was...and if you look at Isaiah 6 again...it says "the train of his robe filled the Temple" (!!!!) God has victory over sin, victory over death, victory over my past, victory over cancer, victory over hell, victory over addiction, and so much more!!! IT FILLS THE TEMPLE!!!! I cannot get over this!!! No building is big enough to contain all of the battles he has won! ALL the power is in His name!
Acts 4:12 - Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.

We worship His name because He is the only God who had the power to die and come back...he is the only God who came back for us...no other name is worthy of our praise!

Tyson shared a vision that he had...the Cross...connects Heaven and Earth...there are 4 points on a cross...one for the head, one for each of the arms, and one for the feet. The cross is a symbol of the reunion of God and his people - the restoration of fellowship between humanity and divinity. Tyson said that every time he looks at the cross, he sees the trinity...the place for the head, is God the Father, and at his right hand is God the Son - Jesus, and at the left is the Holy Spirit...and the last point is where heaven is reaching down to humanity...reaching out toward us. He died so that heaven could reach earth.

You cannot announce his death without announcing his resurrection...there is no other name more powerful than the name that set the captive free...there is no other name that gives salvation and life and hope...there is no other name that conquered death and sin and came back to claim his own. There is power in the name of Jesus. Praise God!!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Guard your Heart

Thursday night, Joe Lechner brought us an incredible message...one that challenged all of us. I am so grateful for Joe...he's served Mission28 for so many years, and even though his role as a pastor is changing, he still takes the time to come and serve us. Joe opened talking about the book of Proverbs itself and how important it's words are. We need to "get wisdom" in order to live because the wise live and fools die. Thursday night's message was called "Guard your Heart" from
Proverbs 4:23-27:
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

It's important what we do with our heart, mouth eyes and feet. The heart is the most important because it is the core of who we are...our essence. Our heart is where emotions, thoughts, desires, values, and morals come from. Our outer appearance is not what defines who we are, but it is our heart...our inward self...our real self that is the wellspring of life.

1 Samuel 16:7 says "But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”"
"You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body." - C. S. Lewis
Joe talked about how the heart is important to the commandment to Love your God with all your heart, soul and strength. For a non-believer this is impossible because their heart is spiritually hard. Even for Christians...it's still hard, it's a struggle between our old sinful nature and our new, born again heart. But if we don't fight to keep our hearts in love with God, then it will be in love with something else...and if our hearts are in love with something else, then we are guilty of idolatry.

Do the daily choices I make foster a love for God or steal it away and give it to something else?

What we do with our mouth, eyes, and feet are crucial to guarding our hearts.

Mouth:
  • The kinds of things you talk about have an effect on your heart.
  • Even if something (songs, lyrics, gossip, anger, complaining) bypasses your brain - it does not bypass your heart
  • How wise are you being with your mouth?
  • Guard your lips
Eyes:
  • Keep your eyes on things that are above and away from things that draw your eyes away
  • Obvious: Pornography/ Subtle: Chick-flicks (playing to desires for relationships)
  • If packaged right - it doesn't look like sin...and it lets your guard down.
  • What daily choices am I making with my eyes?
  • What things do you regularly expose your eyes to that leads you away from a love for God?
Feet:
  • Who are you walking with?
  • What are you walking towards?
  • Is it a level path? A straight path? Who is on the path?
  • Where are you going? What are you running after?
  • Are your friends encouraging you to walk in the ways of the Lord or causing you to stray?
What comes out of your mouth, goes into your eyes, and where your feet take you, helps you love God more or leads you directly away from Him.
Guard your heart...and your mouth...and your eyes...and your feet.

Good Friday

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Ugly Truth

There's so many thoughts racing around in my brain right now, it's hard to know where to even begin. I just got home from C4, and I tell you...God is seriously at work. Tyson did a great job with the message tonight and was brutally honest...which is something I think we all needed. Tyson's message tonight was called The Ugly Truth...and I have to say, my head is spinning...it was an incredible message...

John 8:31-32 "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”"
  • Our perception of ourselves and reality can be two completely separate and contrasting things. It may not be fun to hear but the truth is the only thing that will give you freedom.
  • As Christians, we are notorious for putting on a religious facade and making our lives look wonderful even when inside, our lives are the farthest thing from wonderful and we are struggling and hurting.
Matthew 23:25-28 "“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness."

  • We are so concerned with how people see us than with how God sees us. Our image tends to be more important to us than being honest and real. "As long as everyone thinks it's all good...then everything is okay." We have a tendency to act like nothing is wrong. Unbelievers see us and think "what's wrong with me?" because all they see of us is happiness...all they are looking at is a false image. We’re like the Pharisees who make sure the outside looks good, while the inside is broken and nasty. When you deal with life at the core…when we clean the inside – the part that no one sees – the outside cleans itself.
  • As long as we hide our pain and our sin, we'll never be free. Jesus laid it all down...he gave up all of his fame, all of his glory to come down to us. We will never experience freedom if we hide when we are hurting and dying inside. We all have things in our lives that hurt us and try to drag us away from the cross...we need help to surrender those things. 
  • We can't minister to people when we act like nothing is wrong. If you want God to use your life to minister to others, then you have to be real...stop acting like you've got it all together. Be humble about your weakness and struggles...2 Corinthians 12:9 says "“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." 
  • The devil wants to isolate you - he wants us to keep everything inside, he wants us to push people away and hurt alone...but this is the opposite of the gospel! If we rely on our own strength to get us through this season of life - we won't make it. We have to be open enough to love each other. We are the body of Christ - we need support and help. No matter how dark our past is...no matter what we've done or been through, we are not alone! 1 Corinthians 10:13 says: "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."
  • That way is truth...
  • So often we become familiar...we just go through the motions with our switch on "Happy" so that people don't ask questions...and it's a dangerous place to be. We think we know it all or have heard it all before...but God still speaks to you - are you still listening? We don't just get familiar with church...we get familiar with our sin. When you sin...the first time it hurts, it crushes your soul. But after a while...after repeated offenses, our conscience wears down and gets weaker and quieter until we become numb to sin. If we ignore it, it makes us numb to it. 
  • Proverbs 28: 13-14 says "He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble." If we confess and surrender what is inside of us, then God is merciful and forgives us.
  • The truth can be ugly but when we deal with it...it sets us free. Though the truth in your life may be ugly (either your past or your present truth)…the God we serve…he is the God that makes ugly things beautiful. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Everything is made beautiful in God’s timing…we don’t have to stay bound and hidden…God’s name is the only name that breaks our chains…it’s the only name by which we are saved.
Tyson’s message really got to me…I’m realizing there are some things in my life that I need to be honest about if I’m ever going to be free or ever effectively going to minister to anyone. I think that my happy fa├žade has been a hindrance to my relationships with other people…perhaps even preventing me from sharing the gospel effectively. By hiding what’s going on in my life, I’m not accurately portraying life as a Christian. Even as a Christian, life is still painful and rough and sin is still an every moment battle. If I put up a front that says life is perfect and I never sin or struggle – then I’m not serving anyone (including myself). If I hide my struggles, I’m creating a false image that will be disheartening to an unbeliever. When they look at my “life” and compare it to their own, they will lose hope and think “what is wrong with me!?” If someone buys into that happy front, then they will be disappointed that life was not magically transformed and their troubles automatically dissolved…they need to come to Christ based on an honest understanding rather than a disillusioned image.
We condemn others if they see “perfect”. They think that there is no hope. They need to see the truth, the ugly truth – they need to see that we don’t have it all together and our lives are not where they should be. We have to surrender what is dying inside of us. It’s okay to be weak. No matter what decisions we’ve made or things we’ve done…God’s strength can still be made perfect in our lives. We have to be weak though. No matter how ugly it is, stop hiding it…share what is dying so that you can be free. You don’t have to be perfect for God to use you…if God waited until we were perfect to use us…he’d never use any of us…ever. There is hope…because of Him I have reason to live, to be a part of something greater.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Reality Check

Jon Shea did a great job Thursday night. He taught on Psalm 139 and said, "Our biggest misconception is that God is uninvolved in our lives...that he's disconnected. It's not true. God is a gracious judge, involved in every aspect of our lives, so our only acceptable response is joyful submission to Him."
  • God knows all about you - you have no pride with God because he knows every motion, thought, word...all before it happens...you can't get away
  • There is nothing dark to God - he sees everything because everything is bright...there is no constraint to his sight or knowledge.
  • He is everywhere...always..
  • You can't ignore God - he knows you better than you know yourself
    • If you know Him...this is the greatest comfort you will ever know
    • If you do NOT know Him...this is the greatest horror.
    • If it scares you that He knows you that well...then it proves you don't know Him through his Son...Jesus Christ.
  • He is your creator
We so often say that "He can't be in control because bad stuff happened in my life and He's a good God so He must not be invovlved." But God is in control - it doesn't mean we understand everything he does.

Our response is to:
  • Trust in Christ and Christ alone
  • Let His nearness be our joy
  • Repent
He loves you - whatever is going on in your life he is intimately involved with it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Further Reflection

Today I was thinking over Sunday night's message on perception and trying to discern where in my life have I bought the lies that Satan tells me. There are so many. It reminded me of a message from Rekindle that talked about how Satan is a sneaky enemy...he uses the same techniques and yet we continuously fall to them. I feel like lately, I've let my guard down and have listened to the lies more-so than normal. I could make the excuse that it's because I'm so busy or school is stressing me out...but there are no excuses. For so long I've bought into what the world tells me...that I have to be a stick figure to be pretty or dress a certain way to appeal...and there are pressures that I've even put on myself...if I don't get really good grades, I'm a failure. There are so many things that bring me down each day, and the biggest struggle I have is that in those moments, I don't rely on God...I buy the lie that I can get through it on my own...I just have to study harder, or do my hair a certain way, or wear a certain brand, or lose weight. Needless to say...it steals my joy...and it hinders my relationship with God. I spend so much of my time worrying...needlessly...even so much as to worry about worrying a lot. In those moments, I've got to learn how to stop and ask for God's help...in those moments, my perception is flawed. I'm seeing the world through my sin, and not through the grace that covers my life. God's grace is sufficient...it's more than enough for me...and like Tyson says, "If God never did another thing for me, He's already done more than enough." Since I've identified some of the lies that are constantly clouding my view, I know that God will sustain me as I fight against these lies. All the glory to Him because it is He that will be made strong in my weakness. Praise God!

A Matter of Perception is based on John Parker's Message at C4 on April 10, 2011

Yesterday felt like something true.

I'm aware of how strange of a statement that is. What i mean is that i tend to spend far too much of my time listening to the world and everything and everyone in it, and barely any time at all listening to God. I buy into society's image of beauty and success that tells me that I'm not alive if I'm not in love, that only personal gain is worth pursuing, that i don't have the right skin tone or body type or hair color. I've listened to the lie that says I'm not worth the support of a community and that I just need to keep quiet about the things that hurts me and haunts me and steal my sleep. I've listened to the lie that says I'm beyond help.
And those are a lot of lies to be listening to day after day.
I heard somebody once say that if you tell a lie big enough, loudly enough, and often enough, then it ceases to be a lie; and it's a fact of the human conscience that if we hear something often enough, we internalize and believe it completely.
Lies are like that. They're dangerous because they're subtle and they sink in and twist around the little bit of truth that might have existed before. The truth that our purpose in life is that we were made in God's image to reflect God's glory.
But, as JP said in his message last night, once Satan manages to distort that reflection, he can manipulate us into believing (and therefore doing) anything. And he seeks nothing more than to destroy us by telling us and making us believe the lies until we can't hear the truth anymore. But here's the greater truth that i came away with in yesterday's morning message: the power of the world and it's lies are great, but God is greater than all of that.
Joe Lechner used the example of the demon possessed man And it illustrated 2 things. First, he showed the intensity of the war that's going on between God and Satan, truths and lies; even the intensity of the wars that we tend to fight within ourselves.
I mean, think about it: the disciples had just gotten to shore after making it through a giant storm that almost killed them, only to end up in an unclean place (cemetery), surrounded by unclean animals (pigs) and unclean people (gentile pig herders), trying to help this man with not only an unclean spirit, but a "legion" of demons, only to end up being asked to leave immediately! For a Jew, it would have been like stepping straight into the threshold of Hell itself! That's pretty powerful stuff!
But again, God is greater than all of that, so great that the demons were begging him for mercy.
The second thing the passage illustrates is the most amazing truth, in my opinion, that Jesus went through all of that just to save that one defiled, unclean, demon possessed man.
The message really was an example of the human condition. It showed that Jesus was and is willing to walk straight through Hell and break through every single wall that we have to save us from the lies and the struggles and the dangers of this world!
All the lies of "you're not good enough, pretty/handsome enough, strong or sane enough", all the lies that "you're unworthy, unloved unwanted", all the lies that say that "you will never amount to anything" take away the only true source of contentment/happiness that we have, which is that we were made to know and love God, and to be known and loved by God. And when we can't see the truth, we are in desperate danger of spiraling so far down into the lies that all we can see and all we focus on and believe to be real is our own pain. Our pain ends up defining us. And we no longer see our hope and our strength and our salvation.
And the world is just too dangerous of a place for that.
The truth is that God loves you so much that he sent his son all the way after you to break your chains, set you free, and love you completely.
If you could see yourself the way that God sees you, you would not allow yourself to so easily believe the world's lies.
Do not let one moment go by that doesn't remind you that your heart beats a hundred thousand times a day, that there is a springtime that somehow always manages to show up after every single winter. Do not give up.
Do. not. give. up. please.
please.
God loves you, there is hope.

Thoughts on Tyson's message "Tempted and Free" from February 23, 2011

Tyson said something in his message last night that really got me thinking. He said that when you follow somebody; you end up where they are going. And the more I meditate on that, the more nervous it tends to make me, because it's too easy to follow the wrong person or the wrong idea. Being the A.D.D. person and relatively baby christian that I am, and living in an age when soul searching couples with deceit on a universal scale, i find myself looking for anything that promises answers or giving some sort of path to follow. And that's not a bad thing, until i start following paths that are clearly not of God, thinking it will work just the same, if not better. Then i wind up so turned around and more lost than i was before. I end up dependent on that path or on that sin that lead me to the mess in the first place. And i drift further and further away from God until there's an inch of dust on my bible and God's voice is barely abaove a whisper.

But here's the miraclulous part, where the story takes a dramatic plot twist for the better. All it takes to turn a bad situation like that around and turn away from sin is to listen to that "still, small voice". And I'll be the first to admit that with the volume generally turned up on the things of the world, that whisper is not alway the most audible. But i have come to realize that God is never on mute.
Tyson also shared that we should view every temptation as an opportunity to stand up for what we believe in, and by doing so, glorify God. And when we do that, unbelievers will take notice. And that's good, because one of the big reasons people don't believe in Christ is because christians don't stand up for righteousness, which is just a fancy way of saying that we don't practice what we preach. We "blend in so well that people can't see the difference (between the way we relate to God and the world) when it's the difference that sets the world free" (casting crowns).
I left C4 last night really convicted, but also really inspired. I've been challenged to truly live out my faith, battle temptation and false paths that the world throws at me, and to thereby glorify God, instead of just squeaking by on the bare minimum christianity. And i think that it goes without saying that i think it would be a good challenge for every christian around the world. Just think about what the world would look like if we all lived according to God's will. Because the world has nothing for us.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Perception: Life through tainted glasses

C4 was really incredible tonight...worship could have gone on forever and I would have been totally fine with that.
Anyway, tonight's message was really intense...John Parker spoke on Perception.
It all started with creation.
  • Before sin, we walked with God...we were close to Him, we knew Him...and He knew us. Genesis 3:6-10 tells us about the invasion of sin in our lives, when Eve first listened to Satan, he planted a seed in her head that changed her perception and made her question her purpose in life. Sin changed our perspective...our view on life...it blurred our vision.
  • Because of sin, we should have been statistics long ago(in jail, pregnant, on drugs, etc)...BUT GOD...we are able to worship Him boldly because he created us and he sustains us. If we don't understand the creator...then we don't understand his creation. We are not the creation that God intended us to be, we've strayed so far from the original relationship we had with him in the Garden...we have to be honest with ourselves and with each other when we see sin...Satan tempts us, he lies to us and he makes sin look good...we have to despise sin and fight against it.
  • Satan has so many ways to get inside of our heads...after the fall, our view of the world and ourselves were changed...we no longer see ourselves how God sees us. We were created in the image of God, we were created for greatness...but we've fallen...we are like a broken mirror...we don't accurately reflect God's perfect image. We were created to glorify God and shine His light...but if we aren't careful...the sin in our lives will tint the light. We have to regularly examine ourselves.
  • John 4: 17-24 tells the story of the woman at the well speaking with Jesus. He points out areas in her life where she's gone in the wrong direction and reveals her sin to her. She is standing in the presence of the Holy Son of God...and she doesn't cling to Him...she doesn't fall on her face before Him...she reverts back to religion. "I perceive that you are a prophet." When we are confronted with our sin, too often we hold onto it and don't humble ourselves and cling to God. When God reveals who He created you to be...what will your response be?
  • We were created with a void in our lives that can only be satisfied by God. Nothing else can satisfy or fill that void. Sin robbed everything, it tainted the world. We are in constant need to be made new. We need to meet with Him, run after Him...you can't be in His presence and stay the same...He is the Fountain of life, He is the only one who can satisfy. Our God is the only god who came back for us! He loves us...There is only one name that can save us...all we have to do is come!
Tonight really made me think about how I see others especially...when I see people around me acting in sin, I often look down on them...or think "wow, do they know how stupid that is?". But in reality, if they don't know God...then they really don't know how stupid it is or how crazy they're acting. Because of sin, we look to the things of this world to fill the void in our lives...drugs, relationships, clothes, parties, alcohol, sex...all of those things, and even our best efforts, are tainted with sin. Even the way I look at others has been ruined by sin. In order to change my perception, I have to know God...and know what he wants for me. In order to reach a dying world, my vision has to be clear...I have to catch a glimpse of Him, to see through His eyes what he wants for his creation. In order to understand creation, I have to know my creator. Know Him. Knowing Him will change your perception...it will change everything.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Calming the Storm

Last night, I saw the wind and rain raging outside my window. I heard sticks and things being hurled against my window and felt the house shifting against the wind. As I watched the storm, I felt so small against the power around me. Sometimes I feel like my life is raging out of control just like last night's storm...I feel like things are overpowering me and I'm drowning in the pouring rain. Even now, there are days when I see how many things I have to do and wondering when I'm going to be able to squeeze in an hour here or there to get everything done in between class and work and church/ministry events. Life seems to be blowing by and I'm lost in the shuffle...it's so easy to get overwhelmed and try to keep my head above water in my own strength . But it's in those stormy moments of life that we have to be weak in order for God to be strong. His strength is what gets us through every obstacle, every trial, and every heartache. This song has been on my heart since the storm and I think it really captures God's power in the storms of our lives.

Sometimes He Calms The Storm
Scott Krippayne

All who sail the sea of faith
Find out before too long
How quickly blue skies can
grow dark
And gentle winds grow strong
Suddenly fear is like white water
Pounding on the soul
Still we sail on knowing
That our Lord is in control

Sometimes He calms the storm
With a whispered "Peace be still"
He can settle any sea
But it doesn't mean He will
Sometimes He holds us close
And lets the wind and waves
go wild
Sometimes He calms the storm
And other times He calms His child

He has a reason for each trial
That we pass through in life
And though we're shaken
We cannot be pulled apart
from Christ
No matter how the driving rain
beats down
On those who hold to faith
A heart of trust will always
Be a quiet peaceful place

Sometimes He calms the storm
With a whispered "Peace be still"
He can settle any sea
But it doesn't mean He will
Sometimes He holds us close
And lets the wind and waves
go wild
Sometimes He calms the storm
And other times He calms His child

Monday, April 4, 2011

God, Why? Part 2

So tonight was part 2 of God, Why? at C4 Charlotte. I have to say, I'm completely speechless. God is so good. So good. Tonight was such an incredible night...God was so present...and the best is yet to come! Tyson did a great job with answering students questions tonight.
  • If everything has a beginning and an end, where did God come from? In our understanding, everything in this world has a lifespan...a beginning and an end. However, God is not bound by the physical limitations of this world, he has no boundaries. He has always been and always will be, he is limitless and in order for us to even begin to understand, we must seek him in spirit. God is a supernatural God, he cannot be put in the box of our understanding. There is no one greater than our God, his throne was established throughout eternity...if he were nothing else but eternal, it would be cause enough to worship Him with complete abandon.
  • God why aren't you more clear? In 1 Corinthians 13:12 it says, "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." Sin separates us from God. Our view of God is obstructed by our sin. Because of sin, we must pursue God through darkness. We chose our own way and not His way, sin changes our perspective and now we have to pursue God through the darkness of our sin. John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." There is no mystery anymore, the cross has given us an image of God, he is not a secret. If we want to know him, if we want him to be clear...we have to read the word of God. The reason he isn't more clear to us is because of our lack of pursuit...our lack of seeking Him. God is clear, crystal clear...He reveals himself in his word. The Bible answers everything we need to know on this side of eternity...you'll never know it all because we cannot fully understand...but he is clear enough for us to be redeemed and saved.
  • How do I know God's will for my life? Psalm 37:4 talks about God giving us the desires of our hearts. There are desires in your heart that were put there by God. Not dirty sinful desires, but desires to use our gifts and our talents to glorify God. He gave us those gifts and talents and our identity lies in who God created and gifted us to be. Follow the desires(the good ones) of your heart, don't force it for someone else's sake...be who you were created to be. Don't give up because God doesn't say in the Bible "You must be a lawyer, or a doctor or whatever"...Psalm 119:105 says, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." If you're on a journey and you need a light, it's the Bible. The Bible isn't a beacon that shows you the end from where you are, it gives you just enough light for your next step, the next decision. Your calling is to follow God. He wants to use you wherever you are, shine your light where you are right now.
  • God where are you? When are you coming back?
    • God where are you? Matthew 6:9, God is in heaven. God is also omnipresent: Matthew 18:20 says, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." He is where we are. He lives in us through the Spirit. In the old testament, the Ark of the Covenant was where God dwelled on earth. The Ark is symbolic of what our generation has now. On the Ark were 2 angels and in the middle was where the presence of God literally was in the midst. When a group of believers gather, God is there...he is with us.
    • When are you coming back? Matthew 24:3-14 talks about how nations will declare war on each other and the earth will shake. You don't have to look far to hear about these things happening all around us. He is coming. We are 2000 years closer to the fulfillment of his prophesy. He will come unexpectedly, the only reason he waits is so that the lost can be brought to his kingdom. (cue our job to get out there and spread the word!)
  • Will God forgive me? John 3:16-18 says:
    "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
    God so loved a broken, dying, and distant world that he sent all of heaven's glory and worth, the only possession, so that we could find life! As long as we live, there is a purpose for our lives - to draw near to God so he can draw near to us. Jesus became sin so that we could be made righteous...made whole again. He took our place so that our judgement(death) would be placed on his shoulders...he carried our sin and shame. He is the only one who has the power to surrender his life and take it back again. God sent Jesus so that we would not spend eternity apart from him...he makes ALL things new and we worship Him because He has washed our past away! He can change your life! He loves you! We can't do anything about our own condition - he wants you to come to him just as you are...don't wait, don't try to clean up your life before coming...he wants you just as you are. He is everything you need, every answer, and the Hope of Glory! His blood was not shed in vain, it was shed for you! Don't reject it. Don't be ashamed. He is the one who has set you free!
Such a powerful night, I hope that many people were touched by tonight and through God's word. I was completely shattered by that last question. When I heard Tyson read it, I could hear the brokenness of someone who is uncertain, someone who feels lost and hopeless. As Christians, we sometimes take for granted all God has done for us, but to others, they don't know the grace we feel...we aren't doing our job...they still feel lost. After Tyson ended the message tonight, I felt God speaking. I feel like he's talking to anyone who asks "Will God forgive me?"
He sent Jesus specifically with YOU in mind. He knows your specific circumstances and He cares! He loves you and He would say to you, "My child, you are loved and you are mine. I sent my son so that I could call you mine for all eternity. All you have to do is believe. I'm here - I want you - I've given everything for you - I love you no matter what." And all you have to do is answer His call.
God is so good.