Wednesday, December 16, 2009
This is one of those occasions.
This is from a blog of a church planter in New York who some of our people here at Gateway were able to go up there and help them before they launched. His name is JR Vassar and I've heard only great things about him.
This is his response to finding out that a dear friend has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Those of you who know me well, know my love for Matt Chandler, who is the pastor of The Village Church here in the Dallas area. Matt has been one of my teachers for the past couple of years. I appreciate his uncompromising approach to the Scriptures. The fact that he has labored tirelessly to help people understand the Gospel on a deeper level.
Here's the post:
"December 16, 2009 - Thinking of my friend Matt Chandler and the difference between Hope and Desire
I write this today because I need to. I need to tell myself these things. I just read the pathology report from the Village Church on Matt Chandler (http://ow.ly/MM81). I have known Matt for many years and love and respect him deeply. I am praying for him and for his sweet wife Lauren, and their kiddos, and the Village. And, I am praying with this in mind: there is a difference between desire and hope.
I am praying with great desire. My desire is that God would heal Matt, hand him to Lauren and the kids to be her husband and their daddy, restore him to the pulpit, empower him to preach his heart out for the magnification of Jesus, and one day let him play with his grandkids. I think God wants me to desire those things and ask Him for them, knocking until my knuckles bleed, making it clear to God how I desire Him to respond. And, those desires are good. But those desires are different than our hope.
Sometimes desires are not fulfilled. But, our hope is. Hope does not disappoint us (Romans 5:5). Our hope is certain and sure. Our hope is that none who trust in Him will ever ultimately be put to shame. Our hope is that in Jesus we are forgiven, given his Spirit, adopted as sons and daughters of God, and will one day be revealed as such (Romans 8:14-16; 1John 3:2-3). Our hope is that Jesus has defeated our greatest enemies of Satan, Sin, and Death and through Him we will triumph (Romans 8:37). Our hope is that God is sovereignly moving heaven and earth to secure the good of his elect and bring about their glory and joy (Romans 8:28). Our hope is that we who are in Christ are the eternal objects of God's love and that nothing, absolutely nothing, can change that status or rob us of its privileges (Romans 8:38-39). Our hope is that these momentary and light afflictions are preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2Cor 4:16-17); that the things we suffer are not worth comparing to the glory that God will reveal to us (Romans 8:18). Our hope is that God will not leave us nor forsake us so that even as we experience ten thousand shadows of death come over us, we shall not fear because He is with us (Psalm 23). Our hope is that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us into his presence (2Cor 4:14). Our hope is that if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united to him in a resurrection like His (Romans 6:5). And, our hope is that Christ, who is our great treasure, will be exalted as such whether by life or by death (Philippians 1:20). This is Matt's hope. He knows this hope; he lives this hope; he preaches this hope. Lauren knows and lives this hope as well, and Matt is blessed to have her at his side.
I just needed to tell myself that today. I need to remember that as I voice desires to be fulfilled and as I plead with the "God who is able," for Matt's strength and healing and restoration, I must not confuse my desire and my hope. I am holding tightly to hope and finding my comfort in the God of Hope. Praying we all will. Apostles Church will be praying for the Chandlers."
Thank you for taking the time to read and consider what Mr. Vassar writes. Again, I hope this clarifies the Gospel a little more for you.
Please continue to ask God for healing for Matt, but ultimately we know that God will do that which seems good to Him and brings glory to His Holy name.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
When we pray for wisdom, what is it that we are expecting God to do?
No seriously, think about it...
James 1:5 says that if anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
Now, this is where I get caught up in my mind...I ask God for wisdom and He gives it to me generously without finding fault in me. HE gives it...without finding fault in ME!
So, I began to ask God specifically to give me clarity in this verse...and this is what He taught me...if I am asking God for wisdom then I need to be ready for something supernatural to happen.
Why is this true:
1.) because I, left to my own devises, am an idiot
2.) if God is active in it, it is automatically supernatural
3.) if He is looking at me as though I have no fault then He is seeing me through the redemptive power of His Son's blood which has rescued me from being the wretched man who has no hope outside of the cross of Christ. There is nothing more supernatural than the Gospel.
All of that to say, if you are truly seeking Godly wisdom, then ask Him for it...but you must be ready for Him to do something supernatural...which, let's just be honest, makes us all a little uncomfortable...
Asking Christ to make me uncomfortable as He stirs my affections for what is close to His heart tonight.
That's all I got...
Monday, September 14, 2009
"If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him."
You get it now?
Seriously, how difficult is it to forgive? And not only to forgive but to continue to forgive over and over and over and over again?
Please Jesus, I'm going to need more faith!
Christ response, faith the size of a tiny mustard see will allow you to say to the mulberry tree, get up and get in the sea.
I love the conclusion of this section in Luke 17:10, "...we are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done."
It's time we all understand that we do not need or deserve praise for doing what we are commanded to do...just simply do it.
We praise our King because He is gracious and worthy - why would He even allow us to serve him?
Precious Christ, increase our faith...
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Prayer for God's Mercy upon the Nation.
For the choir director. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.
1O LORD, You showed favor to Your land;
You restored the captivity of Jacob.
2You forgave the iniquity of Your people;
You covered all their sin. Selah.
3You withdrew all Your fury;
You turned away from Your burning anger.
4Restore us, O God of our salvation,
And cause Your indignation toward us to cease.
5Will You be angry with us forever?
Will You prolong Your anger to all generations?
6Will You not Yourself revive us again,
That Your people may rejoice in You?
7Show us Your lovingkindness, O LORD,
And grant us Your salvation.
8I will hear what God the LORD will say;
For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones;
But let them not turn back to folly.
9Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
That glory may dwell in our land.
10Lovingkindness and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
11Truth springs from the earth,
And righteousness looks down from heaven.
12Indeed, the LORD will give what is good,
And our land will yield its produce.
13Righteousness will go before Him
And will make His footsteps into a way.
A couple of things that really jump out at me in this text:
1.) The declaration of what God has done. "you showed favor...you restored...you forgave...you covered all sin...you withdrew you fury...you turned away from your burning anger"
2.) I love verse 9, salvation is near to those who fear Him and it is through those who fear Him that shows His glory throughout the land.
3.) I'm not sure I have ever read more beautiful poetry than that which is found in verse 10. Only by the grace of God.
4.) I am praying for my family, our community of faith and for myself personally that we would see the footsteps of our Gracious God as our WAY.
For The Praise of Your Glory!
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Obsessed - To have the mind excessively preoccupied with a single emotion or topic.
*People who are obsessed with Jesus give freely and openly, without censure. Obsessed people love those who hate them and who can never love them back.
*People who are obsessed with Jesus aren't consumed with their personal safety and comfort above all else. Obsessed people are more about God's kingdom coming to this earth than their own lives being shielded from pain or distress.
*People who are obsessed with Jesus live lives that connect them with the poor in some way or another. Obsessed people believe that Jesus talked about money and the poor so often because it was really important to Him.
*Obsessed people are more concerned with obeying God than doing what is expected or fulfilling the status quo. A person who is obsessed with Jesus will do things that don't always make sense in terms of success or wealth on this earth. As Martin Luther put it, "There are two days on my calendar: this day and that day".
*A person who is obsessed with Jesus knows that the sin of pride is always a battle. Obsessed people know that you can never be "humble enough," and so they seek to make themselves less known and Christ more known.
*People who are obsessed with Jesus do not consider service a burden. Obsessed people take joy in loving God by loving His people.
*People who are obsessed with Jesus are known as givers, not takers. Obsessed people genuinely think that others matter as much as they do, and they are particularly aware of those who are poor around the world.
*A person who is obsessed think about heaven frequently. Obsessed people orient their lives around eternity; they are not fixed only on what is here in front of them.
*A person who is obsessed is characterized by committed, settled, passionate love for God, above and before every other thing and every other being. (I love this one)
*People who are obsessed are raw with God; they do not attempt to mask the ugliness of their sin or their failure. Obsessed people don't put it on for God; He is their safe place, where they can be at peace.
*People who are obsessed with God have an intimate relationship with Him. They are nourished by God's Word throughout the day because they know that forty minutes on Sunday is not enough to sustain them for a whole week, especially when they will encounter so many distractions and alternative messages.
*A person who is obsessed with Jesus is more concerned with his or her character than comfort. Obsessed people know that true joy doesn't depend on circumstances or environment; it is a gift that must be chosen and cultivated, a gift that ultimately comes from God.
*A person who is obsessed with Jesus knows that the best thing he can do is be faithful to his Savior in every aspect of his life, continually saying "Thank You!" to God. An obsessed person knows there can never be intimacy if he is always trying to pay God back or work hard enough to be worthy. He revels in his role as child and friend of God.
Holy Father, allow me to be completely obsessed with Jesus and may the Gospel always be on my lips.
Monday, August 17, 2009
"Some times I wonder, what do people do without the Lord in their heart and life. What do people think, when their mortality knocks on their door and all they have before them is darkness. I am amazed at the comfort that my wife, Eileen, and I are receiving in our spirit by the Holy Spirit. My natural mind is wondering, Why aren't you going crazy? Don't you know how scary this is? But inside of me I know that I am good either way. How strange is that? How strange is it that I know that the Lord of creation loves me even to the point of knowing my name, and all my stumbling, and yet He comforts me in such personal ways that I don't wonder I know I am loved. Amazing."
Ray, I am praying with you and Eileen for a miracle. Love ya brother.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
"O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, 'Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.' Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long." - A.W. Tozer
Monday, July 6, 2009
What kind of person would take the Holy Spirit of God into a tattoo parlor? I can hear the questions...
To which I would rebut, what if the Holy Spirit of God takes you into a tattoo parlor?
Today I took a message that has been carved on my heart for 13 years and tattooed it on my arm. A simple message that has profound and eternal impact.
By Grace Through Faith
As I sat in the chair (at Fine Lines in Garland)and Casey (the artist) was getting things prepped I was just chatting with Trent Brown. Casey asked me what we were out doing today...this is it, just getting tattooed. I introduce Trent as my pastor and told him that we started a church in Royse City about 3 1/2 years ago.
Casey told me how he really enjoys studying different world religions and said he guesses that he connects to Christianity the most because "as an American it's what we know the most."
I guess Casey, like the vast majority of Americans, has some head knowledge of Jesus but doesn't exactly know what to do with Him.
Over the course of the half hour or so that I sat there...I explained to him why the Gospel was important enough for me to etch in ink on my right forearm. We talked about Christ's teachings a little, we talked about the early church in Acts and we even talked about what seems to be another reformation of the church in the 21st century. We spent a great deal of time talking about how important authentic community was. Casey continuously repeated these words, "Good for you guys, man...I'm glad to hear that". He also told me how beautiful he thought Christianity was when he's actually seen it in someone. I'm assuming the problem being that he just simply hasn't seen it very often.
Even as I write this, I can still feel a little bit of a burn from the needle...but, at the same time, I can't wait to take Casey some more business and talk to him about a Savior who would go into a tattoo parlor with a sinner SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH...
For The Praise of Your Glory,
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
This post is from my buddy Bobby Minor. Thanks for your story Bobby. I know this will be real talk for a lot of people.
I know this one is longer but please read it all...such a powerful story of Grace and Mercy.
"I am 42-years old and have live my entire life in Fort Worth. My life started out pretty much in Leave it to Beaver fashion. Me, my mom and dad, sister and brother lived in a two-story house on a tree-lined street near TCU in South Fort Worth. Life was good. That is until I was six-years old and found out one day when I came home from school that my dad no longer lived with us but one of his buddies from work did. He would become my mother's second husband. I also found out later that even at this time my mother was already selling drugs and had been arrested in a big drug sting that was written about in the FW Star-Telegram. We would soon be lose the house to foreclosure and would be forced to move to a place we could afford, right in the middle of the hood. Here's a summary of the next six years or so...mom arrested again for selling drugs, being evicted and having everything we own thrown out on the curb and coming home and seeing everything after it had been picked through, having our utilities cut off numerous times, going without food, our house was like a commune with hitchhikers being invited to stay at our house as long as they would like. I remember a time watching cartoons in the living room with a group of my mom's friends and while they are getting high someone passed the joint to me. I just passed it to the person sitting next to me and when they realized what they had done they all just started laughing. I was 11 years old at the time. Another that stands out around this time is not having any gas or water for two months and running a water hose from our next door neighbors backyard to our backyard where we would bathe in our swimsuits. There's a lot more but for the sake of time I'll save it for later. Here are bullets that can summarize my life up to now:
Ultimately my mother would marry and divorce four times before passing away at the age of 48 (14 years ago) after years of drug and alcohol abuse...
I came home from school in the 6th grade to be greeted by my mother's third husband (still a family friend to this day) who told me that she had moved out of state with the man that would later become her fourth husband...
I started running the streets, selling drugs, hustling and having sex frequently by the age of 13....
Had a felony arrest on my record by the age of 19...
Would be arrested twice more over the next couple of years...
Committed many felonies that I never got caught doing....
Always had some sort of hustle going on...
Got married at the age of 24 and had my first son later that year...
Still continued selling and using drugs, keeping it from my wife. All she knew was that I always had a lot of extra money...
Committed adultery numerous time throughout our 12 year (10 years together, 2 separated) marriage...
Up to this point in my life I had always made it about me. On the surface I seemed like a nice guy but I can look back and see all of the lives I destroyed along the way...
The ironic thing is that while I lived a lifestyle that was a complete 180* from that of a Christ-follower if you would have asked me if I thought I was going to heaven I would have said yes and actually believed it. I wasn't that bad of a person, besides, I never robbed a bank or killed anyone...
I pretty much lived my life for today and if anything good was happening in my life I didn't think it would last and it didn't, usually through self-sabotage...
I figured if I didn't let myself get close to anybody I couldn't get hurt (like I was hurt by my mother)...
While I was separated from my wife I ran into a childhood friend that had been a partner in crime on many occasions that wanted to share with me his newfound joy and peace...
I avoided him at all costs because I thought I had it all figured out and didn't need what he had "found"...
He tried to minister to me for two full years without giving up...
Finally, on September 11th, 2001 something happened that would change all of our lives....
As I saw mothers, children, wives, crying wondering if they would ever see their loved one again it made me think of all the people that also thought "they had it all figured out" that got up that Tuesday like it was any other day and got dressed for work, only never to return...
It made me think that maybe I didn't know everything that I thought I did, that I didn't have it all figured out, that it wasn't all about me...
I called my friend and asked him what time church started that Sunday and on September 16th 2001 I walked through the doors of Waves of Faith for the first time...
I was blown away by everything, the presence of God, the people, the music, everything...
I didn't change right way though, for several months I had one foot in and one foot out...
I would go to the club on Saturday night and be in church on Sunday morning (with a stamp on my hand)...
Got tired of playing the church game and on April 15th 2002 I pulled my car over in downtown Fort Worth and made a commitment to put God in the drivers seat and stop playing games...
Got baptized in July of 2002..."
More to come...stay tuned...
Thanks for your heart Scott...your story is always a great reminder to me of the need for us all the work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.
"I once stumbled into the basement of a church that had been set apart for their college ministry, and an amazing teacher told me about a time when Jesus healed 10 lepers, and one of the 10 came back and thanked him for healing him. I had wrestled with salvation and what that meant for a long time, but this was the first time I realized salvation was an amazing gift, and demands a life time of thanking God for healing and restoration in our lives. From that point on, I knew I had to stop questioning how God could forgive such a sinner, and get on with doing good in his name. I pray daily that he would give me an opportunity to make a difference, in my neighbor's life, or in the lives of people in need. Jesus is amazing, how will you respond?"
More to come...stay tuned...
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Another incredible story of faith...because of His Grace:
"Here ya go, man:
On July 7th, 1991, I quit drinking. The days prior I experienced numerous close calls with death. It is by the Grace of God that I am alive today! I've been blessed with an incredible family, great friends, an awesome job, an education, and a personal relationship with Jesus.
Before being saved days were shrouded in darkness without interlude. My life was in shambles. I'd flunked out of college, divorced, burned the proverbial bridges with family, and neared skid row. One step further surely would have brought insanity or death! ... Read More
However, God intervened. He picked me up, placed me in the care of people that truly wanted to help, and forgave me. From the jaws of death I emerged, victorious, by nothing other than the power of His divine intervention. Today he has placed a calling on my heart which I strive to perform. It's a great challenge. But, as they say in AA, "But for the Grace of God, there I go!"
More to come...stay tuned...
Here's the first story I received:
"I was a "regular kid", but wondered what this "Jesus", "saved", "Heaven" was about. I was scared that I was going to miss it. I think it was the summer before 4th grade.....my best friend and I were attending VBS. I kept hearing stories from the Bible and they all were about Jesus, Heaven, and being saved. I remember wondering how I could make sure that I had all of those things. While finishing a craft from the VBS in my friend's garage the Friday evening of that week, I asked, "How can I know for sure that I am going to Heaven?" She simply answered, "It's easy. All you have to do is tell Jesus that you believe he died on the cross to save you." That evening in her bed. I remember telling Jesus, "Jesus, that stuff Amanda was talking about.....I want that."
He answered my cry, and has continued to lead me with wisdom and lavish blessing, upon blessing......I don't know why. Every desire of my heart thus far, He has given! (His timing of course!!)
Through years of growing pains, I've grown to understand grace and understand how small I am in comparison to Him. He's brought me to a place of perfect peace in Him. And even though I'm understand that I'm am a "worm" He has given me the gift of walking in freedom, for that is why Christ has set me free....and I am free indeed.....
Christ has given me a new heart that longs for people to know Him so they may be free as well. He's challenged me to truly rely on Him for my every need, not just claim to. He's challenged me to be a giver to meet needs. He's challenged me to look my fears in the eye and overcome them through His strength alone. He's shown me what He can do when I obey and let Him have control.
Stay tuned, more to come.
The past few days I have been posting this status on Facebook: " to all my FB peeps I want to try something...any of you that would like to, I want as many stories as possible this week of how Christ has impacted your life...it doesn't have to been a long (there is no word count) but it may be (don't hinder inspiration)...if you will type out your story about Jesus and message it to me I will post it to my blog, with your permission of course (www.zachsnow.blogspot.com)"
I have started getting some in so I will be posting them over the next few days.
To anyone who is RSS'ing the blog and not on facebook feel free to just email me your story (firstname.lastname@example.org). I would love to hear it and also love to share it.
My hope is that this will be faith building for many. There is so much power in stories of Grace and Mercy.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
I love being a dad! I've said this before but seriously, there is nothing about being a dad that I do not love. The list includes but is not limited to wrestling in the living room floor, taking batting practice in the back yard, quiet moments of snuggle time (which are few and far between), watching TV with them in my lap, waking up during the middle of the night because they need me to "lay down with them for a few minutes", changing diapers (which we are almost finished with), making lunches which usually consist of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, taking drives, going to the day care on Saturday morning to set up the church, camping out (even if it just consist of setting up the inflatable mattress in the living room), taking bike rides and pulling them in the stroller behind me and of course learning new things about Jesus from them.
My children have taught me more about Jesus than any of my professors in Bible college. I continue to be overwhelmed by grace.
Thank you Jesus for my boys and giving me the opportunity and the incredible weight of nurturing their faith while they learn more about you. Allow me to simply be a tree that they may climb in order to get a better glimpse of you.
For the Praise of Your Glory,
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I love laundry days! Laundry day makes me slow down. I will often spend the day sitting in the living room floor folding clothes (which I'm quite good at by the way...I can fold a t-shirt in such a way that it will not have wrinkles in it when you take it out of the dresser to wear). I also use laundry day as an opportunity to catch up on podcast.
I've spent the day today doing laundry and listening to a three part series Matt Chandler did on repentance. In the second part he spent a great deal of time talking about the difference between worldly grief and Godly sorrow.
Worldly grief simply put, says that "I'm sorry for what I've done because now I look bad. What will the people at church say? Will I lose my job because of this decision? Will my wife leave me?"
Godly sorrow is David in Psalm 51 after he's been outed by the prophet Nathan in his sin with Bathsheba. David says in verse four, "Again you, and you only, I have sinned". David understood in this moment that it did not matter what the people in his court thought about him, it didn't matter what the people in his army thought about him, it didn't matter what the prophet thought about him. He understood that it was not against those people that he committed this sin but against God.
I think it is so vitally important that we begin to see ourselves in the way God sees us...rather than being so concerned with what others think of us.
Worldly grief typically comes out of panic. We've been exposed and now we are really really really sorry for what we've done...however, we weren't really really really sorry while we were doing it. Godly sorrow allows us to not be so concerned with what others think of feel about us. Where are we with God?
Godly sorrow will also help us answer this question..."is God okay with me the way I am?" Are you asking the question, "does God love me?" The answer is yes! No doubt! Or are you asking the question, "is God happy about the way I am choosing to live my life?" Let me ask you this question, is your life making God more famous?
Repentance is such an ugly word in today's culture. I know it's not popular and there will be people that see this either from their google reader or because it post as a note on Facebook that will not like this entry because it talks about repentance. Repentance is life giving! It's the running away from what you want for you life and chase hard after the heart of God and what he wants for you. Even if it doesn't "feel right" or "make you happy".
I will close with this...also an unpopular thought. God's will for your life is not your happiness, but His glory. God may call you to do something that makes you miserable (read the book of Hosea). But what if that makes Him more known?
Friday, April 17, 2009
1Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity,
And I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
2Examine me, O LORD, and try me;
Test my mind and my heart.
3For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes,
And I have walked in Your truth.
4I do not sit with deceitful men,
Nor will I go with pretenders.
5I hate the assembly of evildoers,
And I will not sit with the wicked.
6I shall wash my hands in innocence,
And I will go about Your altar, O LORD,
7That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving
And declare all Your wonders.
8O LORD, I love the habitation of Your house
And the place where Your glory dwells.
9Do not take my soul away along with sinners,
Nor my life with men of bloodshed,
10In whose hands is a wicked scheme,
And whose right hand is full of bribes.
11But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;
Redeem me, and be gracious to me.
12My foot stands on a level place;
In the congregations I shall bless the LORD.
There is one thing that I hear my pastor say all the time and it's this truth, "Integrity is costly and it can be lost in a moment".
I love how David runs down the list of wicked things that he sees all around him every day. His response to that is to remain faithful and simply desire to be in "the place where Your glory dwells".
Holy Father, give me a heart that chases hard after you and you alone. Your name is more important than my own desires or fleeting pleasures. I pray as David did, that I shall walk in my integrity.
So that you may become more famous and that I might be forgotten.
For the praise of your glory!
Sunday, April 12, 2009
The weekend was a blur, but man, what a great ride! We were able to connect with over 500 people at our Egg Smash community event on Saturday. Then had a great crowd of over 120+ come together this morning to celebrate the empty tomb.
As a part of our worship gathering this morning I did a reading from The Voice that I would just like to share with you as I put this day to rest. I hope you enjoy and if you are reading this in the Royse City area come back next week as we continue to dive into this thought that, "It Didn't End At The Cross".
We were a band of fishermen who were lost and lonely. But just when we thought things couldn’t become stranger, Jesus showed up. He told us to fish on the other side of the boat. We did, and we were suddenly overwhelmed with fish. The nets were bulging. What He showed us here, is that not only would our old ways of living leave us as empty as our nets, but our old habits were not going to work for us anymore. He had impacted our lives in a way that changed us forever. We couldn’t go back. And He knew we didn’t know how to go forward.
After spending time with Jesus, I realize there are no coincidences. He revealed to me a world where God is intimately involved, the main actor in the drama of history. It was no accident that we caught the fish. It was no accident the nets didn’t break. These fish, all 153, were a sign from God representing the community of believers, men and women transformed by faith. Some of us sat down and didn’t say a word as we pondered all of this. Others busied themselves in work, their hands moving quickly to stack the catch in baskets and untangle the nets. Each in his own way thought, wondered, and prayed. I have to admit, the prospect of it all still makes me smile. That’s how I always begin and end my stories of Jesus. I remind my little children that through faith He gives us the authority to become the sons of God. Brother Paul said it’s all grace. He’s right. We are what we are because of His wonderful work in us. The challenge we face every day is to become what we are—His loving, devoted children. To do that, we have to strip away every vestige of our old lives. Like worn out clothes, we find our former lives aren’t able to contain the beauty of this new creation. Before we can put on the new life and take up our new calling, we have to set aside every ugly and broken aspect of our lives. Repentance, Jesus told us, is not just about what you put off. It’s about what you put on. In the human spirit, there is no vacuum. Something will always occupy you and fill your life. It is either life from above or death from below. If the resurrection of Jesus taught us anything, it’s that He is the resurrection and the life. I’m not talking about life after death. What I mean is that through Jesus we can have abundant life, a full and meaningful life, here and now.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
A victorious warrior
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
Zephaniah 3:17 NASB
I have more of a tendency to think like David in Psalm 8, "...what is man, that you are mindful of him?"
What a great comfort it is to know that God loves us exactly the way we are, not some future version of ourselves when we get all of our "stuff" together...but, that God loves you and rejoices over you exactly the way you are right now.
I'm just loving this verse today and wanted to share it with you all.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Ten years ago this week something happened to me that would change the course of my life forever. She said yes...
I was in my second semester at Arlington Baptist College, she was in her third. All I really knew about her is that she was the curly haired volleyball player with the great legs. What else do you need to know?!?!
We were both apart of a campus ministry called the 4:12 Group and we had been working on a project to restore one of the building on campus, the old SUB (student union building...creative, I know). We had already started flirting with each other and through the course of conversation we found something in common...neither of us had any plans for Valentine's weekend. So, because I'm smooth, I was like, "hey, since I'm not doing anything and you're not doing anything...why don't we not do anything together?" Holy crap...did I really say that? What a tool...
Anyway, again, she said yes. So, it was settled...Olive Garden (because it was her fav) and a movie. Now, something happened that could have ended this thing before it got off the ground, an hour wait for a table at Olive Garden...and because we were good Baptist (at the time) and not quite 21 yet, we weren't even able to enjoy a glass of wine while waiting.
We talked and talked and talked and laughed and laughed and talked some more. Having no idea that it was happening at the time...I was falling in love.
We went to the movies and I literally tried the "stretch move" and was rejected mercilessly. Seriously, I have no idea why she went on another date with me???
From there it was back to the dorms. I dropped her off at the back door and told her goodnight. The next thing I know we are talking on the phone for hours at a time, I'm bringing her flowers (little roses from the rose bush in front of the girls dorm cause I was a broke part time youth pastor), she's doing my laundry and typing my papers (just typing them...I would write them first, I just happened to be a horrible typist back then...I have a gimpy finger, however I do type 45 WPM now...what what!)
That was February 13th 1999 and then 364 days later on February 12th 2000 I proposed to her...she said yes again!
I cannot think of anything that God has created in the expanse of the cosmos that is more perfect for me than my bride. I love her heart, the way she has always told me..."I trust you because you talk to God...I may be scared , but I trust you..." To me, she's the worlds greatest wife, mom and teacher...and by the way, she still has killer legs!
Suzie, I love you more now than ever before...which means during those earlier days when it was all new and fresh and every single moment seemed to steal your breath...multiply that by 10 (years). So, if God gives us 40 more years or 40 more days, there will be no regrets because I never deserved the first one...but for the grace of God..
Thank you for being you and loving me.
And thank you Jesus that she said yes...
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
I was sitting in a hospital room with a friend the other day. As she told her story of the tragic events that unfolded in a single day that seemed like ten, a day that turned from sickness and sadness and even an extreme since of losing everything in a moment...God showed up. As the cardiologist ran the scope down to take a better look at her heart...it happened, no aneurysm, no tear...nothing but perfection. She is doing great and the twin baby girls in her belly are doing great!
As we spoke, she said, "it's still amazing that we ask God to do a miracle and then we are still so surprised when he does...". How profound...we petition a God who has this kind of ability and then we are shocked beyond reason when he does.
I confessed to God as I prayed with her before leaving, that moments like these cause me to worship Him.
About a month and a half ago, I was teaching at our church and we spend some time on this topic. What causes you to worship God? I challenged our people to begin thinking about this over the course of their week.
So, what is it that causes you to worship God?
~your children's laughter
~early morning and hot coffee
~being surrounded by family and close friends
~a long jog with your iPod
~being surrounded by nature
~alone in a fishing boat
~sitting in the bleachers at the ball park, scoring the game (okay, maybe that's just me)
Begin thinking about the things that cause you to worship God and surround yourself with them or make sure you are giving time to them. They will press you into a depth of life few find.
Strive for depth...
Romans 1:20 - For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
What I do not want to do is ramble for no reason. I do not want to be accused of being one of those that think they will be heard because of their many words.
So, here is some Scripture I've read tonight...
7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
My thoughts...how can we consider everything loss...everything...in comparison to simply knowing Christ. To look at everything and say, "it's trash..." all because of imparted righteousness. Unbelievable...
15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
My thoughts...just think about this for a second, everything that has ever been created, everything you see around you, your life in general...it's all held together by the word of His mouth. He speaks life into existence and takes breath in a moment. It's all His and anything you have was given to you by Him to push back what is dark in the world.
16But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
My thoughts...deep down I think we are all a little scared of being lonely. Jesus sought out time to be lonely...loneliness for Him meant intimacy with the Father. Oh that we might have more time to be lonely.
6 When I fed them, they were satisfied;
when they were satisfied, they became proud;
then they forgot me.
My thoughts...this has been haunting me for almost a year. God said this about Israel but I fear it is the case with so many of us. God forbid...
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
9But he said to me, "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. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
My thoughts...this takes my fear and anxiety away, I don't always have to know what to do next, I don't always have to have all the answers, I don't have to always be strong.
10 "Be still and know that I am God..."
My thoughts...nothing else need be said...
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
On the corner of first and Amistad
Where the west was all but won
All alone, smoking his last cigarette
I Said where you been, he said ask anything
Where were you?
When everything was falling apart
All my days were spent by the telephone
It never rang
And all I needed was a call
That never came
To the corner of first and Amistad
Lost and insecure
You found me, you found me
Lying on the floor
Why’d you have to wait?
Where were you? Where were you?
Just a little late
You found me, you found me
In the end everyone ends up alone
Losing her, the only one who’s ever known
Who I am, who I’m not, who I want to be
No way to know how long she will be next to me
Lost and insecure
You found me, you found me
Lying on the floor
Why’d you have to wait?
Where were you, where were you?
Just a little late
You found me, you found me
Early morning, City breaks
I’ve been calling for years and years and years and years
And you never left me no messages
You never send me no letters
You got some kind of nerve, taking all I want
Lost and insecure
You found me, you found me
Lying on the floor
Where were you where were you
Lost and insecure
You found me, you found me
Lying on the floor
Why’d you have to wait?
Where were you, where were you?
Just a little late
You found me, you found me
Why’d you have to wait?
To find me, to find me
I'm posting this today because these guys were on with Kidd Kraddick yesterday morning talking about this song. So much of what they said was so profound that I needed to share.
They were asked where "first and Amistad" was? Amistad is a Spanish word meaning friend. The guys in the band said the message they were aiming for here is that God can be and should be our first (best) friend. They were asked specifically why God would be "smoking his last cigarette", to which they replied that it was a symbol of the fact that God had been waiting for him to come. This is so profound. I know it is just a matter of time before some of my fundamentalist brethren take this and make The Fray out to be a band trying to drag the character of God through the mud, but please take some time to understand the meaning before doing what you do.
Joseph and Isaac (the front men of The Fray) went on to talk about where the song came from. As they were traveling almost all of this past year, they said they continued to get call after call from close friends and family members who were going through the worse kinds of things...seemed like tragedy was striking everyone. One of them (again, hard to know who was saying what because I was listening to the radio) was talking about how, growing up in church, you heard people talk about "finding God" and in that moment everything was good, right and in perfect order. He said, the problem with that is life seems to teach something completely different at times. He said, he personally knew people that after finding God, honestly wanted to "go a couple of rounds with Him".
That's what this song is about. It speaks of peoples humanity in that even when they find someone to rescue them (A Savior), they still have the question..."what took you so long?"
There in lies the beauty of "smoking his last cigarette"...He was there all the time, simply waiting for you to cry out to him for help.
Holy Father, thank you for truth that finds us when we aren't even looking for it. Thank you for rescuing me...thank you for finding me. It's for the praise of your glory! Amen!
If your curious, the album drops 2/3/09 but you can purchase "You Found Me" on iTunes...I got mine!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
So, why such a mystery? Why does it seem at times to be so hard to put this Jesus in a nice need package for everyone to believe in and receive? I mean, isn't that what he wants? So, why make it so difficult to present?
I do know this, Jesus was always more interested in the heart of the individual than he was with their actions. You see you can give the appearance of having it all together on the outside, meanwhile your life is falling apart on the inside. The things Jesus said about killing and committing adultery, the righteous indignation he had towards religious leaders and even the fact that he asked that one guy to sale his stuff and give it away before he could follow him...all of these things point back to what is in a man's heart.
These are the mysteries of Christ that at times seem so hard to grasp...
Christ help us...because we need you!
I've just been wrestling with this...just wanted to share...