Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

Last night, my family went to see the African Children’s Choir. This was about the third time we have seen this choir perform and each time has been amazing. Last night was no exception. The group of children made the entrance with shouts of jubilation as they danced on the stage. The enthusiasm and power they showed were quite impressive. We clapped and cheered and sang along as they performed their songs and dances.

One of the most touching moments for me personally took place a little over half way through the evening. The children came out one at a time saying their name and what they wanted to be when they were older. I loved hearing about their dreams of being pilots, police officers, teachers, bankers, and pastors. I thought about what life must have been like for them early on. Most came from a home with at least one parent deceased or not present for whatever reason. Many had no running water, no substantial source of income. They all came from poverty. These children had seen and experienced more heartache in their young lives than most people experience in a lifetime. They could easily have the mindset that they have no real future. We may look at people of similar circumstance and have little hope they will become anything significant. Yet, they had the dream and vision and hope of becoming the best they could. They refused to buy the lie that they were insignificant.  They refused to let their dreams die. They desire to beat the odds and become someone of great significance.

The true reality is they are already significant. They were created in the image of God. They were deemed worthy of the blood of Jesus as he died to give them hope and a future that far exceeds anything they could ever even dream. The stage presence of these children possessed such power that you believed they would become all those things they said they wanted to be. Yet that fails in comparison to the awesome power of our Lord working in the lives of people. His power is available to all. He is the source of all power and all hope. As the children sang He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, I could not help but recognize how true that really is. He holds it all together. The stars, the land, the sea are all held together by Him. Mankind finds hope in Him. He’s got the homeless in His hands. He’s got  the widow in His hands. He’s got the child walking 45 minutes for water to do laundry in His hands. He loves the fatherless. He loves the single mother struggling to love and care for her kids and pay the bills. He loves the dad who works long hours to provide the best way he knows how. God loves the athletic and the uncoordinated. He loves the educated and uneducated. God loves the prostitute and the nun. He loves the rich and the poor. He loves you and me. He’s got the whole world in His hands. Therefore we can dream. We can hope. We have a future. We have love and acceptance no matter what this world throws at us. We have God, therefore we have all we need.

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A week and a half has passed since the 2012 Tulsa Workshop. The theme was Good News For a Broken World. The weekend was amazing.  Lots of encouraging and thought provoking lessons. I posted a lot of tweets from the weekend on twitter and facebook. As I was going through those quotes, I was reminded of the overall experience. I loved seeing the joy on my kids faces as they would sing the songs they learned and recall the Bible stories. I recall the singing that encouraged. I recall the words that lifted my spirits. The following is a series of quotes from the workshop. they really encouraged me. these were spoken by ,many different people. i will not include who said what in this post for the purpose of flow. These are in the order I heard them. I think it is beautiful how God speaks. There seems to be a certain flow to these quotes. Thank you to all who worked on this event. thank you, Lord, for this annual event that I always look forward to. I hope those of you who read these words find encouragement from them just as I did. now for the highlight (at least in my opinion) quotes:

God is greater than our past.

 
Freedom is applied forgivenss
 
The greatest miracle Jesus performed was the granting of forgiveness.
 
Do not let your past wounds define you.
 
In the economy of the Kingdom, it never pays to play it safe.
 
The greatest risk is to never take a risk.
 
We have lost touch with our touchstones.
 
Everyone dies, but not everyone lives for something.
 
Being authentic is the antidote to anxiety.
 
We cannot fix this cracked world with anything in this world.
 
We are called to live among the broken body of Christ until Jesus perfects it.
 
I am a new creation, not an upgraded version of my old self.
 
I want to discipline myself so I can be fully free to God.
 
Thank you, Lord, for all I am comes from you.
 
Jesus calls me to be all in for Him.
 
Good news is not to be studied, it is to be celebrated. 
 
Christian life is not a pattern, it is a person.
 
Where there is fear there is no love. If there is no love, people will not know we follow Him.
 
God loves when His children talk to Him.
 
Teach us to count our days so we can make our days count.
 
Live passionately. Love completely. Learn humbly. Live boldly.
 
God knows me fully and loves me fully.
 
Do not all your view of yourself get in the way of god’s work through you.
 
I surrender my right to say anything about myself that my God would not say about me.
 
It’s great to preach to the multitude, but we must not neglect the one in need.
 
Compassion minus action is not truly compassion.
 
If the community only knows us by our location, we are failing.
 
The church should be colorFUL, not color blind.
 
My brokenness is never beyond the healing / restoring power of God.
 
Be assured that your history is HIStory.
 
Lord, may I live worthy of your calling.

The Ransom

Posted: January 26, 2010 in Uncategorized
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The note arrives with a demand to be met. “If you ever want to see your son alive again,” it reports, “you must pay the ransom.” How will you ever come up with such a large amount of money? Somehow you must find a way, your son’s life is at stake. You do everything within your power, and finally you come up with the ransom. Your son’s life is spared, and you are reunited.

What if it had turned out differently? What if the ransom was so high that you couldn’t pay it? What would happen then? The scene is too painful to think about. We find it hard to think about anyone being kidnapped by a stranger. We get sick to the stomach when we think about someone who would take a life just for payment or revenge.

The fact of the matter is that there are a lot of people who are held captive for a ransom. In fact, we are all held hostage at some time or another in life. We have been kidnapped by Satan. He has held us captive and has demanded payment that we just can’t pay.

However, we have a reason to celebrate, for one came to pay the ransom. His name is Jesus and he came into the world to be a ransom for us. He paid the price and crushed the head of the kidnapper. Doesn’t that excite you? The sad reality is that there are many who have decided not to allow Jesus to pay the ransom for them. They have tried to pay it themselves and as a result, Satan still has them captive. There are also many who do not realize that the ransom has been paid and they live their lives as though they are still in slavery and captivity to Satan. It’s our responsibility to tell them the good news, Jesus has paid the ransom. We didn’t deserve it, but we are his and he loves us and he paid the price so that we may live freely and no longer be afraid of Satan.

I pray that you are one who has allowed Jesus to pay the ransom for your life. If not, I plead with you to stop trying to break free from the slavery on your own. He is the only one who can pay it and he has already paid the price. Remember that you are free. You are no longer bound and held captive by Satan. As I close, I’ll let Jesus tell you in his own words, for they are far more powerful than anything I could ever write. Jesus said, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Have you allowed him to pay the ransom for you? I pray you have.

Christmas – It is one of my favorite holidays. I love the excitement surrounding Christmas. The music, the chill in the air, and the smile on children’s faces, are all great reminders of the joy many experience at Christmas.

One of my favorite things about Christmas (besides the cookies) is the wonderful traditions handed down from my family. I recall all the family and extended family in our living room celebrating with cookies, punch, singing silly songs, and playing Christmas games. Christmas Eve was always our night to have a big family celebration. We have a talent/no talent time before we exchange gifts. Each person or family group will perform in some way. Some sing, others do a skit, someone may tell a joke, we all laugh and have a good time. I look forward to passing on some of these traditions to my children. My parents always went out of their way to make Christmas a special time. I want to do the same for my children. We have started our own family traditions and will probably add more along the way as our family grows.

While I enjoy and cherish these special memories and traditions my parents have passed down to me; there is one area of life my parents passed down that I cherish above all others. They passed their faith in Jesus down to me. As a child, I recall my mom and dad praying with me and talking about God to me. They taught me songs about Jesus and sent me to Bible class. Their example of living a Christian life became a solid foundation for me to build my life upon. While my faith in Jesus is now genuinely mine, it is the example of my parents that caused me to seek after God. I am truly thankful for their guidance and example of how to live a godly life.

As 2009 comes to an end and a new year quickly approaches, I pray that we be active in sharing our faith. If you are a parent or grandparent, let the children see you living a life that is totally dependent on Jesus Christ. If you are an older brother or sister, find ways to show your younger sibling the way to act and live in the body of Christ. Whatever your situation in life, look for ways to share your faith in Jesus and to grow in your own faith. And if you are able to do so, call the people in your life that shared their faith with you and thank them. And whatever you do in the coming year, make a commitment to grow closer to your Heavenly Father.

Joseph and Mary began the search. They traveled about looking for a room so that baby Jesus could be born in some type of dignity. They arrived in Bethlehem only to find there was no room. The hour was drawing near for the time when our Lord would enter the world, and there was no place for him to be born. Instead of a room at the inn, there was a stable. Instead of a crib, there was a manger. Jesus Christ, the Savior of our souls was born in a stable. There was no room for him.
As I look at the world around me, I find that there is still little room for Jesus. People fill their lives with so many other things that there is no longer room for Jesus. I want to have room for Jesus. I want to stress to those whom God has called me to minister the need to make room for Jesus.
Lord, I’m sorry there was no room for you. I’m sorry there is still no room for you. I want to give you room in my life. I want to empty out all the junk I hold dear and make room for you. May my purpose always be about making room for you. Search deep within me and find room in my heart. Do you see room, Lord? If not, please show me what I need to get rid of in order for you to have room. Fill my life. Be my only desire. Lord, please find room.

Making a Mark: Part 2

Posted: November 13, 2009 in Uncategorized
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In case you missed part 1 of this post, you can find it here. Adam and Eve were taken captive to the idea that there was something more to be had. When their eyes were opened to the sin they committed, they tried to hide. They covered their bodies and they ran and hid from God among the trees in the garden.

There are some of you reading this post who have pursued more for so long that you are hiding. I know I have been guilty and if I look really deeply and honestly their are still area where I good at hiding my pursuit for more. I guess one of the differences between Adam and Eve and us is that eventually they confessed they were hiding.  Perhaps we think we are too smart to get caught or we are too proud to admit we are hiding – or maybe we are just ignorant. Maybe we have been pursuing more and hiding for so long, that we do not realize we are hiding – that we are fake.

There are times that we walk into a church building and sit in a pew. We sing songs of praise to God; we bow our heads and pray; we partake of communion; we drop a check in the offering plate – yet we are hurting. We are hurting because we are hiding. We are hiding our broken marriage; hiding our lust; hiding our addiction to pornography; we are hiding. We hide the fact that we have broken and disconnected relationships with our parents, our children, our spouses. We hide our jealousy and insecurities. We hide the fact that we are jealous because your car is newer, your house house is bigger, you have a better and happier marriage. This hiding tears us apart. It weighs us down. It is a burden, but it is all we know. We have been carrying it for so long that it seems so normal, so natural, or even comfortable.

We become so busy trying to our mark in life that we fail to realize that God has already marked us. He has already given us a way and a place to leave His mark. The mark we are seeking to leave must not be our mark, but God’s. Our mark is too small a thing to live for, but God’s mark is worth dying for. We are all living a mark. We mus decide what that mark is and whose it is.

The sin of Adam and Eve left a mark on all of us. Their mark of sin has affected every generation of mankind. Our pursuit of more leaves a mark on the world around us as well. We all want to be successful. We want to be the best. We want people to look to us for the answers. We want others to say, “wow that person really knows how to manage money. They know how to build a company from the ground up. That church really knows how to throw a big event.” Yet at what cost?

Paul’s letter to the church of Corinth deals with some issues that I think are relevant to us today. In 1 Corinthians, he writes how people are divided. The church is made up of these groups who each believe they are superior because of who they learned the gospel from. Some say they follow Apollos; other follow Paul or Cephas; some say they follow Christ. They are all falling into a trap. They are all seeking and pursuing more. They are all leaving the wrong mark.

In 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Paul writes “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred.”Paul uses the plural form of “you” to mean the body as a whole. In other sections of his letter, he uses the single form meaning the individual person is the temple of God. If we are truly the temple of God; the place His Spirit dwell, then we need to seek to leave His mark and not our own.

If we are to leave His mark, then we must be honest and see where we need to grow. So now, let the examination begin.

Are you taking a time of rest? The Bible refers to this as sabbath. I want to encourage all of us to take a sabbath. Take a time to rest. It is so easy to get caught up in work, in life, in our pursuit of more, that we fail to really seek after God. Take a time of rest. Take time to reflect and refocus.

Is there anyway you have not loved yourself? Have you honored yourself as part of the temple of God? Or have you given yourself so much to your task that you are burned out, stressed out, and frustrated. Do you have that time when you cannot be reached; when you will not return a phone call, when you will not respond to an email; when you are having uninterrupted time with God?

How long has it been since you have taken a rest? Has it been a while? Are you tired? Frustrated? Overwhelmed? Burned out?  Do you need to rest? Now is a good time. Stop what you are doing. Don’t worry about that email or answering that phone, you can reply later. Stop and focus. Tell God what is on your mind. Let Him know how tired you are. Tell Him how you need to rest. Admit that you have been pursuing more for so long that you forgot to rest. Be real with Him. He already knows all about you. He loves you still. Tell him how sorry you are for trying to hide. Ask Him to help you be real. Let Him make you into what He wants you to be and not what you think others need for you to be. He knows far more. He knows you much deeper. He is all that matters. Take some time to rest in your Heavenly Father’s loving arms.