Saturday, July 30, 2011

Come Out of Your Shell (Part 2)

John Parker finished up our Come Out of Your Shell series on Sunday, he focused a lot on the actual shell...the outward appearance of our lives. He started by saying that if you love God...then we should see your fruit.
Galatians 5:16-26 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Would you ever go to the grocery store for strawberries and when you got there, buy the worst looking ones...the ones that look rotted and molded and nasty? Not a chance, right? Well, our generation has decided that it's cool to look mad...to look mean or sad...sorta like rotting, moldy strawberries. No one can tell who we serve by our countenance. We paint a picture that isn't uplifting...we look tarnished. There is no life in our countenance...we go to church, have amazing experiences and walk right back out with that same dreary countenance. We go to church but we don't know God's world...it's just a culture to us. If you only come for the experience - if your faith is contingent on a cool service or a feeling then you will be disappointed. At the end of the day, God's name needs to be lifted higher than the meeting. (Acts 14:8-10...Paul SAW the man's faith...his countenance was radiating his faith...not his experience of feeling church.)

So often, we as Christians, try to be cool and act like superheroes...we find people to elevate to superhero status.."We don't have Justin Bieber but we've got Chris Tomlin"...and we elevate people to a level that the only thing they can do is fall. We don't realize that we've got the King of Glory...we don't need to idolize people. We want to look cool so we try to live like the world and only do the minimum.

We spend so much time trying to look cool...building this facade...we're so good at faking being a "church person" that we trick ourselves into believing that the shell we're wearing is the shell that God made for us. We're "counterfeit" turtles. We are fake...but a lot of times...we don't even realize it. The biggest problem with being fake is that your witness is gone. If one person finds out that you are a fake...it not only kills your witness but most of the time...it kills the Christian witness in general.

Too often, church services, college ministries, bible studies and we, as Christians, spend more time trying to lead people into a feeling rather than leading them to the King of Glory. We use a flashy environment or tell them about God to make them feel good rather than proclaiming the truth. This is a detriment to a non-believer or even a new believer because once the feeling, once the excitement wears off...when the trials come...they'll be in for a rude awakening.

When we hide behind a fake shell...we are asking for trouble. When predators come(when sin and temptation and trials come) our shell won't hold up. Just like Samson...he thought his hair was his strength. He didn't realize that God is the only way that we can accomplish anything.

If we hide behind our fake shell, one day we'll wake up and realize that there is no power. Take a look at your life and ask yourself where you are. Are you more flesh or more spirit?
1 Corinthians 12:1-11 ~ Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
"The same power that conquered the grave lives in me, lives in me. Your love that rescued the earth lives in me, lives in me." ~ Hillsong
We get too caught up in making ourselves famous, but we need to be humbled because the  Lord came to serve and we are to model our lives after his. He was the chief servant. We have to take off our shell...the one that we created...and start living for God and for his plan...using the gifts that he has given us to further his kingdom. You can't handle kingdom business with a worldly agenda.

Don't think that you aren't important...that spiritual gifts are only for those uber-Godly people...because they aren't. God needs you so that the whole body will work. In the human body, when one tiny minuscule thing doesn't work, the rest of the body is affected. One cell...One person...

Every day in your life is an epic moment if it's lived for God. We must be obedient to the call God has placed on our lives and stop trying to replace God's plan with our plan. We need to stop being counterfeit turtles.
Ephesians 4:11-13 ~ So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Every time you glance at your hand, it's an easy way to remember the 5-fold ministry and the call that God has placed on your life. Each finger represents a ministry.
The pinky is for the Teacher...a lot of times you use your pinky to get in your ear...and that's what a teacher does...they get in the ears of people...they bring the word.
The ring finger is for the Pastor...it's a sign of their love for the church and their marriage to Christ
The middle finger is for Evangelism...it's the longest finger on the hand, evangelism is our biggest tool...and it is used to reach out to people
The pointer finger is for the Prophet...they point things out...God speaks through them
The Thumb is for the Apostle...the thumb might be small but it's powerful, it can touch all four fingers (areas of ministry)

Be who you were created to be.

Give me Faith
Elevation Worship
I need you to soften my heart
To break me apart
I need you to open my eyes
To see that You’re shaping my life
All I am, I surrender

Give me faith to trust what you say
That you’re good and your love is great
I’m broken inside, I give you my life
I need you to soften my heart
To break me apart
I need you pierce through the dark
And cleanse every part of me

I may be weak
But your Spirit’s strong in me
My flesh may fail
My God you never will

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Come Out of Your Shell (Part 1)

Ephesians 3:14-21 ~ For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
We all have a call on our lives...but there are some of us who are reclusive and don't step up to the call that God has placed on our lives. We're like turtles who never come out of our shells. We hide away because we're afraid of hurt. But we have to realize that life is not ours to live. If we are reclusive and hiding away, then God cannot accomplish through you what he wants to.

You can't do it on your own but the Spirit is alive in you. God wants to use you and your past to accomplish much. The things in your life are enough to encourage unbelievers. If an unbeliever looks at the church (us) and all they see is happy people who don't seem to be struggling, they aren't going to feel like they belong. But God gives us challenges to overcome in our lives so that one day those challenges can be used for his purposes.

When you understand who's power we live for, when we understand that he lives in us..there is no obstacle that is greater than you. The Bible is the essence of life, you won't do anything substantial with your life until you realize whose power is in you. Anything you do in your own power will fade away. God's power will never fail and never fade away.

We play it safe even though we know that God has called us. We care too much about what other people think...so we end up not doing what God has for us. We are satisfied with playing it safe. Anytime we are bold enough to come out of our shells and act on God's word...we will be met with resistance...but it will change someones eternity.

When a turtle is scared, it flees...it worries...and it hides. The enemy's number one tactic is fear...to make us afraid to share, to take a stand...because the enemy knows that fear is overwhelming. But we have to stop talking about it and start acting...if you feel like you don't know what to do...ask yourself: "When was the last time I listened...when was the last time I was seeking Him?"
Ephesians 4:4-7, 11-13: There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
In Ephesians, it tells us that there is a 5 fold ministry. This was given to us by God for the perfecting his church...the body of Christ. We cannot put our lives on cruise control. We aren't saved and redeemed to take up space and be shy. We are saved and redeemed to let our purpose, our call, speak through us. Salvation isn't the end of the road for us. Salvation isn't just for you...it's for you to use to show God to a hurting world.

The church in general is constantly being beat down and struggling against the enemy who will stop at nothing to tear us apart. But we don't realize who we are or who has placed a calling over our lives so we don't step out and let God use us. We have to take our place in the church, in our own lives and stop complaining about what churches are and aren't doing "right". We are the church, if there is something that isn't happening...then you need to step up and let God work through you.

A lot of times we just skip over verses 11-13 and say "oh that's not me...I'm not a prophet or a pastor or a teacher or any of that" but we don't realize that the verse is speaking directly to us. It's not talking about a job title or a position in a church or ministry...it's talking about a lifestyle...it's talking about our hearts. The first step to coming out of your shell is knowing who you are - what God has given you that you can use for others.

The 5-fold ministry is made up of Pastors, Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists and Teachers.
  • A Pastor isn't just a position...it's a calling. It is a gift and a talent...but it's not a title, it's an action. To pastor people.
    • John 10:11-14 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—" 
    • The hired hand is not the shepherd...the shepherd is a pastor. A pastor is a leader, an influence. A pastor speaks, guides, cares, longs for, and desires, hopes, encourages and lifts up, makes sure everything is okay and generally just cares a lot about people. A pastor values other peoples' lives. A pastor cares about where you spend eternity and what you are doing with your life. A pastor doesn't need a microphone or a stage...all a pastor  needs is to love and pastor/lead the lost.
Dare to let God use you - you have to make a decision to hand your life over to God. Let him use you...he wants to use all of you!
  • An Apostle is someone who is sent - a carrier of God's presence or spirit, a visionary, and a messenger. An apostle sees potential in any situation or in any human being. They see what isn't there yet and believes that someday God can reach all of UNCC, all of Charlotte, all of the world. They have a vision for other peoples' lives...and are able to encourage and lead others.
If your vision glorifies God and aligns with scripture, then let God use your vision...step up. If everyone was afraid to fail then nothing would ever get done anywhere.
  • A Prophet is someone who speaks before or on behalf of... Someone who is a prayer warrior...someone who intercedes.
    • There is nothing more powerful that you can do than to learn how to pray
    • A prophet is crucial...you can know a lot about the Bible and God - you can know facts and memorize verses...but if you don't know how to hear his voice when he speaks to you - then you don't know him.
    • A prophet is someone who communicates with God
As Tyson talked about these 3 points, it really struck me how much I'd skipped over this verse before. It was one of those "lightbulb" moments when I realized that even though I'm not a great leader of a church, I can still "pastor" my friends. I care so much about the people in my life and it was such an eye-opener to realize that having that love for people is actually part of God's calling for my life. So don't look at the 5-fold ministry and think "Oh that's not me, I can't do that" because that's not true. He chose you to be a part of his plan...he wants you to step up and realize the call he has placed on your life. It helps to know that He is Holy and I am nothing...but to him...he chose me to use in his plan. It is an honor and a privilege to be chosen to convey his message. I don't know anyone who has regretted embracing their calling...letting God use them. Come out of your shell...let God use you.

Reflections: Broken and Beautiful (Part 2)

Reflections...when we look at ourselves in the mirror we don't always like what we see because we see our reflection through filters of insecurities, fear, guilt and pride. But what do other people see when they look at your life?


Luke 19:1-10 - He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today." So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."

Zacchaeus’ reaction to the news that Jesus was coming was to immediately get to where he might catch a glimpse of Jesus. He didn’t say “Sorry, I’m busy, I’ll catch him the next time” – he immediately wanted to catch a glimpse. Something was inside of Zacchaeus that made him curious…that made him want to go and see.

Jesus is irresistible to this world. One encounter with Jesus can change your life. Zacchaeus, even though he had all this world could offer him in the great job and wealth…he still couldn’t resist Jesus. There is something about Jesus’ name that sets him apart – the world saw him and ran to him because he made them feel loved…safe…wanted.

Creation is constantly seeking its creator – we are drawn to him because we are drawn to the truth. 2000 years ago, Christ was here...today, he is here in us. If we could show the world who he really is - they would be drawn to him...and they would never be the same.
Colossians 1:15-20 - He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
He holds all things together and draws everyone to himself. You cannot see a true depiction/reflection of Jesus and not be changed. You cannot stay the same. We were created to reflect his glory. Your reflection should be his...they should not look at me and see Chelsey...they should look at me and see the face of God reflected in my life. We are the image of the invisible God.

We aren't meant to just resemble him. If people don't know what they are looking at, then they will never be changed. We were created to reconcile creation to its creator. Until our life fully reflects His glory - the world will never truly know Him.

To Reconcile is to bring two parties together as one. To be a mediator. Jesus, when he died on the cross, reconciled humanity back to God. When he ascended, he left his Spirit with us so that we could continue to mediate. All 7 billion people on this earth are valuable to God. He has entrusted them to us...if we don't step up as mediators...if we don't reflect his glory, the world will never know who he is!

We are to reflect him, but not just so the lost get found. When darkness sees His glory reflected, it remembers where it's headed. Darkness isn't afraid of you...but they are afraid of Him. James 2:19b says "Even the demons believe—and shudder!" The name of God has all authority and when we reflect Him...darkness has nowhere to stand.

Sometimes, when you feel beat down...when you feel depressed...you need to ask yourself "When was the last time I reflected the light of the Son?" Because when we live like Jesus...when we reflect his light...darkness has no place...and the world can't help but take notice.

Only one thing can stop you from reflecting and reconciling. YOU. Demon's can't stop you but you can...and you are good at it, the devil doesn't even need to try because you are so good at stopping yourself from reflecting His light. If you live how you want to, then the world will never see.
Romans 7:4-6 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
We cannot even begin to reflect Christ until we crucify our flesh. We have to die to ourselves daily in order to reflect his glory. We are made of flesh and spirit and they are constantly at war with one another. Until you nail one of them to the cross...the flesh and sinful nature will always win. Until you discipline yourself and surrender to Jesus, your sinful nature...your flesh will dominate and defeat you...all to keep the lost from seeing. But we have to remember, our sinful nature doesn't crucify itself. We have to fight against it.

Prayer is one of the biggest ways we can fight our flesh. It's harder for sin to interrupt if we are in constant communication with God. We have to have the motivation to want to fight though...we have to actively fight and change. 

You would call a person insane if they kept doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result...but we are no different for blaming God for our lifestyle but never doing anything to change ourselves. God gave us the strength to change, but we have to be motivated to change.
We want to look like Jesus to the world. That requires a lot more than a sign up sheet (this isn't the girl scouts). We can't just pray and expect him to change us...we have to pick up our cross and follow him. If you want freedom in Jesus...you have to crucify your flesh - lay it down and don't ever look back.

Glory to God
by Fee
Before the world was made
Before you spoke it to be
You were the King of Kings
Yeah you were, yeah you were
And now You’re reigning still
Enthroned above all things
Angels and saints cry out
We join them as we sing

Glory to God, Glory to God, Glory to God Forever
Glory to God, Glory to God, Glory to God Forever

Creator God You gave me breath
So I could praise Your great and matchless name
All my days, all my days
So let my whole life be a blazing offering
A life that shouts and sings
The greatness of our King

Glory to God, Glory to God, Glory to God Forever
Glory to God, Glory to God, Glory to God Forever

Take my life, and let it be
All for You and for Your glory
Take my life and let it be Yours
Take my life and let it be
All for You and for Your glory
Take my life and let it be Yours

We sing, Glory to God, Glory to God, Glory to God Forever
Glory to God, Glory to God, Glory to God Forever

Take my life, and let it be
All for You and for Your glory
Take my life and let it be Yours
Take my life and let it be
All for You and for Your glory
Take my life and let it be Yours

We sing, Glory to God, Glory to God, Glory to God Forever

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

There's something about Immanuel


Have you ever just felt like you were distant from God? Like he just wasn't there anymore...or like you were talking to him but he wasn't there? In Matthew, it shows us that even the Son of God - even the image of the invisible God...felt distant.
Matthew 27:45-46 - At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
At that moment, Jesus felt distant from God. What we go through in our lives, He went through it in his life...he knows the pain of feeling separated from God. But just because you feel distant, doesn't mean you aren't important to God or that you are just another name in the crowd. You are not alone....if God's own son felt it, then there is nothing wrong with you. Just because you feel distant doesn't mean he is far away.
Isaiah 7:13-14 - Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well? All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
Immanuel = God with us. He could be called a million other names...Holy, Majesty, but God chose Immanuel for his son - God with us. God with us even when you don't feel him. If you let feelings dictate your life, you'll be a depressed, lonely, messed up person. The bible says to "be still and KNOW(not be still and feel) that I am God"...knowledge goes further than feelings. The NAME of Jesus declares that he is with us when we feel him AND when we don't. Not when it's convenient for him to be there or when we do everything right. God is with us...all the time.
What's also cool about the verses in Isaiah, is that Isaiah was a prophet who lived more than 700 years before the birth of Jesus...and in Matthew 1:21-23, it says:
"And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”
Jesus is the promise fulfilled. He is always with us. When he was alive, he was here in person...now he is here in Spirit and always living through us.
John 14:16-20 - And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
Through the Holy Spirit, God with us becomes God in us and God through us. In the Old Testament, God was with us, before us, behind us, beside us, and in front of us. In the New Testament, God is with us, in us, and through us, in addition to before us, behind us, beside us, and in front of us. The Holy Spirit is our counselor, our advocate and our encourager.
John 14:10-14 says "Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do. “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!"
If we believe in him and the works that he did, we will do all those works and greater because we are sons and daughters of God. When we have his Spirit alive in us, he can use us. He can accomplish great things through us. Just because we pray and something happens doesn't mean we did anything though - it's God's response to our faith.
When it says that we can do the same works Jesus did and even greater works...it's hard to imagine doing anything greater than what Jesus himself did. But what's greater than anything that happened in Jesus ministry? The greater work we can do - is preach the gospel to the lost...to see humanity redeemed. You can pray for healing but the body is still going to the grave. It is so much greater to be able to tell the story of salvation and complete the work he started. Jesus never shared the gospel because the gospel because it wasn't complete yet...he hadn't shed his blood.
Whenever you feel distant from God...all you have to do is remember his name. He is always with us...and he knows what you're going through. Just remember his name...there's something about Immanuel.

Running in Circles
by United Pursuit Band
I'm so forgetful, but you always remind me
You're the only one who brings me peace
You're the only one who brings me peace
So i come, lord i come, i come, lord i come
To tell you i love you
To tell you i need you
To tell you there's no better place for me than in your arms
To tell you I'm sorry for running in circles
For placing my focus on the ways and not your face
You're the only one who brings me peace
You're the only one who brings me peace

Monday, July 18, 2011

Reflections: Broken and Beautiful (Part 1)


Have you ever been caught checking yourself out in the mirror? Some people are really bold about it, some are sneaky, and some don't do it but probably should.
Romas 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
When you evaluate yourself, when you look at your life - do it honestly.

Many of us(myself included) when we look at our reflection...we don't like what we see. I'm not just talking about outward appearance here...we don't like that a lot sometimes, but I'm talking about what we see in our lives...the story behind our eyes...what's behind that smile.

When we look at ourselves...our reflection - we are looking at ourself through these perspectives.

When we look at ourselves, we see INSECURE.
We view our lives through our insecurities...we feel like we don't measure up...that we aren't good enough.
When we doubt ourselves, we aren't just selling ourselves short - we're selling God short...we're saying that God didn't do a good enough job on me.
Insecurity causes jealousy and envy because we become consumed with what we aren't rather than what we are.
We are reclusive and lonely and feel like we don't matter.
We become so insecure that we don't trust anyone or believe anyone even when they tell you the truth.
When God looks at you, he sees more than enough (Romans 8:37 - we are more than conquerors)

When we look at ourselves, we see FEAR.
We see someone who is afraid.
We're afraid of rejection...afraid of failure...afraid of other people's thoughts of us...we're afraid to step out...afraid to speak up...afraid to reach out...we're afraid to be used.
Fear cripples your life
"I can't" controls your life
We're afraid to get hurt again
Fear isolates and defeats you - the enemy uses fear to bind you and keep you down.
God gives you more than enough to be able to overcome.
If you are afriad to fail - you will never do anything to impact anyone's life.
If you live your life in fear, everyone will kick you when you are down.
The enemy uses fear and insecurity to get control because even Satan sees your potential even when you don't...and he knows if you knew who you were, you would cause havvoc on his sinful hold on the world. Even in the face of adversity and rejection - it doesn't feel good - but if you stop there, you are defeated...get up ...don't stop there.
Even if you fail...God will pick you up every time.
2 Timothy 1:7 - For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

When we look at ourselves, we see GUILT.
Sometimes when we look at our lives...all we see is mistakes...our past.
Everytime I feel like God will do something great, the enemy reminds me of my failure...of all the times I've fallen short.
On your own you can't do anything about guilt.
Guilt weighs you down, makes you feel unworthy.
Guilt haunts your future.
We've all fallen - he has forgiven you, but you haven't forgiven yourself
He is faithful and just to forgive past, present, and future - but we don't let it go.
Let your past die. Don't look at yourself as full of guilt or that you won't amount to anything.
If God only used perfect people, every stage, every church would be empty and there would be no one left.
Don't condemn yourself because He makes all things new.
Youc an go to church all you want but never come to Jesus...church can't free you but there is One who can.
He got up from the grave to free you.
You are guilty no longer

When we look at ourselves, we see Pride.
Not everyone when they look at themselves see bad...sometimes we like what we see...too much
We become self-consumed and think that life is about you.
We know in our heads...we say with our mouths that life isn't about us but we don't get it.
We're too busy to love other people
Poverbs 11:2 Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
Who are you that God's word doesn't apply to your life?
A self-focused life leads to depression, lonliness and destruction.


2 Corinthians 5:17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
No matter how many times you try - you can't change your reflection on your own. You can't or you would have done it the first time.
Your reflection is what everyone else sees - you might think it's a secret but everyone sees it because it's written all over your life.
Nothing you can do will be enough...no positive thoughts...only Jesus. Only one person can set you free, only one God came back for you, and there is only one gospel to live your life by. God makes ALL things new...not some things new, ALL things. He hung on the cross so you could be free. He broke the shackles around your life...He has called you and he wants you to see who you really are...he wants you to see yourself how he sees you...you are worth it. The mirror is broken and you are free.

Losing It All for the Kingdom

June 26th was definitely a life-changing Sunday for many people...God is definitely moving and working in C4 in ways I've never seen before. It's been such a wonderful experience and it's definitely impacted my life. Sunday night was so powerful and we just couldn't stop...it kept going. God was in that place and it was so evident...that night we were there for 3 hours, and we did not want it to end.

JP (John Parker) taught a message called "Losing It All for the Kingdom" almost a continuation of the previous week's message LEAD...more in depth on the first point "Lose yourself."

JP started off by saying "If the world sees how I walk or hears me speak and thinks it is on my own strength that I'm walking or speaking then I've done the world a disservice."
Luke 18:18-24(continue through verse 29) A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’" “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!
 The first thing that we notice is what the ruler called Jesus...he called him "Good teacher". The ruler, he was trying to come to Jesus puffed up...full of pride...but Jesus always sees through the "fluff" that we bring him. The ruler acknowledged that Jesus was special...but a teacher is less than a ruler..so he was trying to appear humble but Jesus saw through it.

Jesus doesn't want what we think is good enough to bring him, he's after our hearts. Our material things can get in the way of giving our whole heart to Him...that's why Jesus told the ruler to sell everything he had...because his wealth was preventing his heart from following Jesus whole-heartedly.

Too often, we, like the ruler, want to know the bare minimum that is required of us - what is the least we can do in order to benefit. But the problem comes when in the midst of all our "getting" - we don't seek his face. In order to receive his kingdom - you have to first know the king.

We all have stuff - more than enough. Everything we have has a sense of us. Some of us have as much stuff in our room as we are carrying around spiritually. Hurts, emotions - we haven't surrendered it. You can't move forward with God because you are carrying around so much hurt - you haven't laid it at the cross and it locks you up...you can't go as far as God has called you.

Would you be able to give it all up and be able to go and be content with God? Giving it all up sometimes means every material thing you have...sometimes it means anything that is distracting you from God...and sometimes it's every burden, everything you are holding onto in your heart and in your life that you aren't giving over to God. Sometimes it's all of the above...and more. But God wants you, he wants your heart...he doesn't want you to bring anything but you.

Pride keeps us from completely surrendering.
Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
You can't come to Jesus with fluff. We know we are broken but we still come to God puffed up and proud.
God doesn't care how you look...all he cares about is losing yourself in him...lock your eyes on him. We can't bring him anything...it's all filthy rags to him...it's like bringing him toilet paper and saying "Here God, look what I've brought you." Jesus wants to be real with us...when you stop pride from holding you back - Jesus will use you.
1 Peter 5:5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
Mark 5:25-34  And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
Notice that not everyone who touched him was made whole. Jesus had power over what he was doing. But in the huge crowd, he knew that someone had touched him. That's like being in a huge crowd in a tiny place where everyone is touching someone...and then asking "Who touched me". Sounds absurd...but Jesus knew.

This woman had a condition..she was broken...but she took a step out from everyone and what they said. She believed...she didn't come to Jesus with fluff or pride. It didn't matter how far she had to travel or what she had to give up. She knew something was going to happen...she had expectation...she believed and she overcame. We too often "What if" because we don't have the woman's faith in our own God to do amazing things in us and through us. She didn't have anyone or anything. When she came to God...he was all she had left...and she had put her faith in him rather in medicine and people. She was healed because she believed.

Even in situations where we are totally broken...just like the woman...we've hit rock bottom, the only thing that changes your situation is knowing Christ. The valley is where our faith and character is tested but it's where we grow spiritually. The mountains look pretty but the valley is where growth happens. Even in trials, He isn't far away - he is right there. All we have to do is press our way to the front, reach out, touch him, know him, lay it all down and seek his purpose for your life.

All he wants is you and your heart, not what you do. He didn't hold back, he gave it all so he could have all of you. People in this world, even the church will let you down. Even if you are angry with God, be honest. It's not his fault that a sinner disappointed you. Don't neglect your relationship with God because someone hurt you.
Mark 8:35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.
What can you give God that isn't his already? It's all his and you have nothing - stop trying to do it on your own. You cannot bring him anything. You keep falling because you keep doing it on your own might and not his. Surrender the areas that you are keeping from him because it belongs to him. He didn't die and shed his blood to have a part of your life when it's convenient - he died and shed his blood to have all of you - the addictions, habits, sin and secrets. Let it go - he says come as you are, not come when you feel like it or come when you have something good to offer me...he wants you as you are, broken and bruised...he wants all of you, the good the bad and the ugly - give it all back to him. God has called you, but you can't grow towards what he's called you to if you hold back.

"You called me out of the darkness
You called me out of the grave
You called me into your light
You are mighty to save, mighty to save
You called me into your likeness
You called me righteous and brave
You called me into your Son
You are mighty to save, mighty to save"

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Donuts for the Class

There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr. Christianson, a studious man who taught at a small college in the Western United States. Dr. Christianson taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particular institution. Every student was required to take this course his or her freshman year regardless of his or her major. Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery. Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.

This year, Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve. Steve was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent of going onto seminary for the ministry. Steve was popular, he was well liked, and he was an imposing physical specimen. He was now the starting center on the school football team, and was the best student in the professor's class.

One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him.

"How many push-ups can you do "

Steve said, "I do about 200 every night."

"200 That's pretty good, Steve," Dr. Christianson said. "Do you think you could do 300 "

Steve replied, "I don't know... I've never done 300 at a time."

"Do you think you could " again asked Dr. Christianson.

"Well, I can try," said Steve.

"Can you do 300 in sets of 10 I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it I need you to tell me you can do it," said the professor.

Steve said, "Well... I think I can...yeah, I can do it."

Dr. Christianson said, "Good! I need you to do this on Friday. Let me explain what I have in mind."

Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts. No these weren't the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson' s class.

Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, "Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts "

Cynthia said, "Yes."

Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut "

"Sure." Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia's desk.

Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, "Joe, do you want a donut "

Joe said, "Yes."

Dr. Christianson asked, "Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut " Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut. And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten pushups for every person before they got their donut. And down the second aisle, till Dr. Christianson came to Scott.

Scott was on the basketball team, and in as good condition as Steve. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship. When the professor asked, "Scott do you want a donut " Scott's reply was, "Well, can I do my own pushups "

Dr. Christianson said, "No, Steve has to do them."

Then Scott said, "Well, I don't want one then."

Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked,

"Steve, would you do ten pushups so Scott can have a donut he doesn't want "

With perfect obedience Steve started to do ten pushups.

Scott said, "HEY! I said I didn't want one!"

Dr. Christianson said, "Look, this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don't want it." And he put a donut on Scott's desk.

Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow. Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry.

Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, "Jenny, do you want a donut "

Sternly, Jenny said, "No."

Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, "Steve, would you do ten more Push-ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn't want " Steve did ten....Jenny got a donut.

By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room. The students were beginning to say "No" and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks.

Steve also had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get these pushups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.

Dr. Christianson asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to watch Steve do each push up to make sure he did the full ten pushups in a set because he couldn't bear to watch all of Steve's work for all of those uneaten donuts. He sent Robert over to where Steve was so Robert could count the set and watch Steve closely. Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row.

During his class, however, some students from other classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the room. When the professor realized this, he did a quick count and saw that now there were 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it. Dr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.

Steve asked Dr. Christianson, "Do I have to make my nose touch on each one "

Dr. Christianson thought for a moment, "Well, they're your pushups. You are in charge now. You can do them any way that you want." And Dr. Christianson went on.

A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled in one voice, "NO! Don't come in! Stay out!" Jason didn't know what was going on.

Steve picked up his head and said, "No, let him come."

Professor Christianson said, "You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten pushups for him "

Steve said, "Yes, let him come in. Give him a donut"

Dr. Christianson said, "Okay, Steve, I'll let you get Jason's out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut "

Jason, new to the room hardly knew what was going on. "Yes," he said, "give me a donut."

"Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a donut "

Steve did ten pushups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.

Dr. Christianson finished the fourth row, then started on those visitors seated by the heaters. Steve's arms were now shaking with each push-up in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. Sweat was profusely dropping off of his face and, by this time, there was no sound except his heavy breathing, there was not a dry eye in the room.

The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheerleaders, and very popular. Dr. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, "Linda, do you want a doughnut "

Linda said, very sadly, "No, thank you."

Professor Christianson quietly asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn't want " Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow pushups for Linda.

Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan. "Susan, do you want a donut "

Susan, with tears flowing down her face, began to cry. "Dr. Christianson, why can't I help him "

Dr. Christianson, with tears of his own, said, "No, Steve has to do it alone, I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not. When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book. Steve, here is the only student with a perfect grade. Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior work. Steve told me that in football practice, when a player messes up he must do push-ups. I told Steve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing your push ups. He and I made a deal for your sakes. Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Susan can have a donut " As Steve very slowly finished his last pushup, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 pushups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.

Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said. "And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, plead to the Father, 'into thy hands I commend my spirit.' With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, he yielded up His life. And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten." Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile. "Well done, good and faithful servant," said the professor, adding "Not all sermons are preached in words."

Turning to his class the professor said, "My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He spared not only His Begotten Son, but gave Him up for us all for the whole Church, now and forever. Whether or not we choose to accept His gift to us, the price has been paid. Wouldn't you be foolish and ungrateful to leave it laying on the desk "

Author Unknown

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July

Pledge Of Allegiance, Revisited
by Mac McGovern

I Pledge Allegiance

a solemn vow of obedience,
from the earliest age of grievance,
when found deliverance,
one people, united against,
tyranny and intolerance,
become the model,
of democracy and tolerance

To The Flag

the symbol of once colonization,
come together in celebration,
a new unconquerable nation,
a successful castration,
f oppression and dictation

Of The United States Of America

a conglomeration,
of peoples,
form one nation
coast to coast,
a single relation,
one voice, one oration,
tread on me, expect retaliation

And To The Republic

a democracy, its creation,
the Constitution, its foundation,
agreeable to all, in origination,
fiercely guarded against demolition,
militarization, and impregnation
over all these years, still on station

For Which It Stands

the protector, of all oppressed lands,
the world over, she lends a hand,
her signature, her blood, in foreign sand

One Nation

from sea to sea,
whether rich or poor,
some vocal, others, chose to ignore
those who guard the shore,
those who knock on heavens door,
one nation,
esprit de corps

Under God

in a time, when belief was strong,
today, should not be wrong,
having been with us, so very long,
a few may sing, a different song,
most will believe, as they have, all along

Indivisible

one as a whole number, cannot be divided, by any other,
many have tried, under guise, of brother,
only to be denied, by the mother

With Liberty And Justice For All

the means, to end, all oppression,
infinitely wrong with transgression,
succession, regression,
and repression along

Our Pledge of Allegiance

a pledge of a nation,
a history profound,
one indivisible number,
all it takes,
to be, no longer allowed