Monday, January 23, 2012

Our New Home Group

 We have taken on a new Challenge this month of starting a home group for those 18-30 years of age, those that are either in College, starting a family or just trying to find their place in this world. It's something new for us because we don't know that many in this age group. Plus it's one of the hardest groups to reach.. Also, if you look at church statistics you will see that this group is the largest group leaving the church and not coming back.
  So, why is this.??? And if this is the case, shouldn't this be our biggest out reach? As I have been talking to various people about this, for the most part everyone has shared with me how they have "tried this"; how difficult it is to work with this group; or how impossible it is. One person spoke to me and said, "Do you always have to go for the hardest things?"
  I listen, and they have valid reasons. They are right in many senses.. But, if very few people are reaching them, then isn't it more of a mission than something that everyone else is doing?  We don't have the answers. I'm not a prophet. But I'm just trying to do something. Anything. It's not that I have had a great vision for this. Its that I see a need and want to make a difference in someone's life.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Flame: The Desire of your Heart

The Flame: The Desire of your Heart

The Desire of your Heart

 A Scripture I have always loved and cherished, Psalms 34:7 "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the Desires of your heart." I have always taken it that if I seek God, He will give me what ever I want or desire, like a Genie in a bottle. But something our pastor said made me stop and rethink the other day. What if our hearts desire is to know God? What if like the Psalmist wrote, "one thing I have asked of the Lord, That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all my days of my life and behold the beauty of the Lord." What if that was our desire?  Even God said, "You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for me with all your HEART." And there are so many more.
  So, What I was thinking is, if our heart's desire is to know Him, then He will grant to us the ability to Know Him. Not just know about Him, but to KNOW Him.. And then that allows Christ into our Hearts, when He gets into our Hearts we change. When He gets into our hearts, then He gives to us HIS Desires.. "HE will Give to You the Desires of your heart." God starts giving us desires, hopes and dreams; (which maybe totally different than what we wanted.) He starts planting in us what He wants. He starts fashioning us as He wishes, as Paul writes in Philippians 2:13 "For it is God who is at work in you bot the WILL and to WORK for His good pleasure." We become that which He molds and Makes and we are no longer living for ourselves but for that which we were created for.
  For it's God who is at work for His good pleasure, "Christ in you, the Hope of Glory."

Monday, January 9, 2012

Hope Deferred makes the Heart Sick

 Proverbs 13:12 "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but dreams fulfilled is the tree of life."
    There is nothing more discouraging than making plans, having dreams and goals that you set out to achieve to only have them fall apart, or crumble, right before your eyes. So many times I have set out to do what I thought God was calling me to, or just wanting to follow my heart, and not just to be told No, but to have what seemed to me, the whole world and all of creation, along with God, shut those doors.  I remember all to often curling up in the fetal position just crying my eyes out. Not just because one set back, or two, and not just for a month or two, but for YEARS.. Wondering if I was ever going to do anything that I wanted to do.   In those Dark times, Oswald Chambers called them "the Dark night of the Soul", we lose ourselves. In these times we find despair a closer friend than joy. We find hopelessness covering our nakedness, more than the clothes we wear. We long to be clothed with something more. We wish for light to break thru to us, because we can't crack the shell that envelopes us and keeps us in the darkness. We wonder, as Ken Gire writes, "I don't know who I'm fighting anymore, God or Satan, but I know who lost... I surrender."
  Ken later on in Windows to the Soul, goes on to say, "This is how we grow: by being defeated decisively by constantly great things." 
   I am constantly being defeated.. 
2 Corinthians 4 : 
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
  So, why am I defeated? Why do I feel crushed?  I know that in my brokenness I can speak to the broken. I know that in my defeat, the Life of Christ can be manifested. It is for the sake of those around me that I am being defeated by greater things. It is from the pit that I can look up and say, "Where does my help come from? My Help comes from the Lord." Psalms 121. and I can say to my soul, "Why are you cast down, O My soul and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall Again praise him, my salvation and my God."
  So know that in the darkness, God is still light, and night is as bright as day. That these momentary afflictions are for but a moment, to produce that which God is desiring, and to reach those whom He is trying to help. He is so arraying your life not to fit you, but Him.  Romans 15:13 "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in Hope." "And Hope does not disappoint for the Love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit." "And this hope we have as a sure Anchor to our souls, Firm and Secure."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Bread of Life

 Ever smelled fresh baked bread?? Bread has this character about it that when you smell it you begin to salavate and want it. The aroma feels the room, and no matter if you are hungry or not, you want to to taste it. The great thing about bread is it can come in so many different ways: French Toast, French Loaf, Italian, or in dessert form: Cinnoman, fruit filled, glazed, ect... (makes me want to bake now. Leslie, Where are you?)   Jesus came saying, " I am the Bread of Life." Also, John 6:51, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” Then at the last supper, He also took the bread and broke is saying, "This is my body which is broken for you."
  We have tasted the bread and its left us wanting more, but the bread is not just for us to hold on to. It's not fo us to stockpile and hoard. It's been made to share; to break and give to others. If we are getting our Bread daily then others should be smelling the freshness of what is rising, and in smelling they should be wanting to taste. In tasting they should be made full. To often we aren't getting our bread fresh. To often we are not giving it to others. Oh we will share them the recipe at times, or tell them where to go to find it, but never taking from what we have to give to others.
  Let us be that frangrence as Paul writes, "a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God." and "to those that are being saved, A fragrant of Life to Life."
   Let's Eat... 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Wishing to Hold

  If you know my wife, she loves to shop, and when she shops she loves to touch everything.  She will say, "I want to see that," which means she want's to touch that. ( Jason, my BFF, just interrupted my blogging.) We all like to hold things, to see if we like the feel, the weight, the smell, or what ever. It's not just looks, but if a bond is formed while holding, its the experiencing of.. So it is with the things of God. We want to hold, feel, touch, try it on, see if it fits, and if a bond is formed. We want to experience it.. But most of the time it's never holding, feeling, but seeing from a Distance.  Never really holding, but sometimes feeling. Never really seeing, but catching glimpses from afar.  "For we walk by faith and not by sight." and "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things Not Seen."  So, we have these moments when we sense, pause and hear the echo of our souls longing for a home more glorious than this we have. Wanting to be Clothed in something non parishable, more than this latest fad.  Yes, We all want to touch, feel, smell, experience, this life God has called us to. But the cares of this world drown the sounds of the heaven from us. The things of this world numbs our touch of the world not seen; our eyes become weary of looking, but never seeing. Our ears become dull of listening without ever hearing. 
  "I want to see that." It forever echos in my walk of faith.

"These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had left, they would have had opportunity to return."

(Hebrews 11:13-15 ESV)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Releasing the Artists

  Ernest Hemingway where are you? JR Tolkenn, are you still writing? Michelangelo, show us God touching man. Van Gogh, give us another "Starry Night" to behold. Robert Frost,  give us a path less traveled.
For to long our schools have celebrated these people and their work, but we haven't allowed our kids to inspire to be them for "practical" reasons. Our churches have not celebrated them because of tradition. Our society doesn't value them because of monitary value, the lack there of. Our kids write, and we tell them that's nice.. Our kids paint us pictures and we hang them on the fridge and tell them to take their school work seriously. They join a theater group and we ask them when they are going to grow up.
 Yes in the church we are no different. Have we stopped to listen to their hearts? Have we helped free that which is inside of them? What is the fire in their soul?
"There may be a great fire in our Soul yet no one ever comes to Warm himself at it and the Passer-by see only a wisp of smoke comin through the chimney and go along their way." Vincent Van Gogh
Are we stopping by the fire of our kids' souls? Are we warming up to them?
Van Gogh's last words "the sadness will never go away", what is this sadness he speaks? I believe it's the loneliness, The sadness of expressing the unexpressible and no one knowing, hearing, no one stopping to see what is being told.
 Artists take their giftings from God. Van Gogh said, ""Christ is more of an artist than the artist, he works in the living spirit and the living flesh; He makes men instead of statues". Jesus drew our attention to the sower in the field, the birds of the air, flowers and lillies, the faces of the poor and widows.
  Let them paint their Sisten Chapel and have God touch man once more that we may see more clearly the colors of Creation. Let them write and read like the poets of old to express the pains and joys this life offers, and philosophers they are. Let them tell the tales of the heart and soul that grap our attention and tell us of things we have not yet seen.  Yes, let's warm by the fires of their souls. Let them Express the Unexpressible in our churches and give the Great Artist His Art Back in return.