Sunday, February 26, 2012

Manhood 101...

     So last Thursday kicked off the Alpha Summit 2012 at Gateway Church. To me, personally, this is more than just an annual conference. I was raised in the church and was on fire as a youth. I went to Peru doing missions and was all about sharing the gospel message and introducing others to Christ our Lord. Then as much a cliché as it is; I went wayward as the prodigal son had centuries before me. However, it was on May 15, 2009 (during the first Alpha Summit conference) when Pastor Robert Morris spoke, that I surrendered my life to the Lord. I decided that evening to stop smoking, stop living out actions of sexual immorality, surrender my pride, and die to self. It was the most important evening of the last fifteen years of my life. I have grown much since then and fallen at times as well.

     In the last couple weeks I have picked myself up and brushed myself of and I am on the journey once again. Then came Alpha Summit. An anniversary or birthday even of the day I surrendered my life back to my creator (even though it was moved up to February I still count it). I have been crying out to God and in the last two to three weeks He has been bringing Godly men into my life...a band of brothers to walk with me. I previously had several guys I was open, honest, and fully transparent with and we were walking life out together. Then one was called by God to move to Colorado, another to go to Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, others were simply a case of scheduling conflicts whereas we all have busy lives between work, ministry, etc. Regardless, I was wondering through life without that close knit support group I once had. I was not replacing these men of God with others as life and change occurred. This is yet another reason why I was so looking forward to this conference whereas I was in need of being filled up; I was tired of running on empty.

     Thursday night of the conference Tim Ross kicked things off and went straight in Psalm 101; which I will now forevermore call The Guide to Manhood 101. Just as Tim stated, these eight verses in Psalm 101 are very concise in how we can live lives of integrity and be mighty men of God. I would encourage you to read this chapter and study it in depth. Meditate on it yourself and see what God tells you about it all. There are many points in this chapter and I am sure they will mean different things to different men and different things at different seasons in our lives. A few points that stood out to me at this point in my life are as follows:


  • Continuously praise our God for who He is and His love for us. (Praise & Worship) 
  • Behave the same at home or when no one is looking as you do at church, work, etc. (Integrity)
  • Protect the windows to your soul and what enters. (Entertainment, conversations, etc.)
  • Eliminate unhealthy relationships whether emotionally, Spiritually, etc. (Guard your heart)
  • Surround yourself with other of integrity and greatness. (Birds of a feather)
     Those are just a few points that stood out to me. Again I encourage read, study, meditate on this chapter and see what God speaks to you. If you instill the points in this chapter to your life it will lead to good fruit in all areas. God's ways work. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gregarious errors...

     So yesterday after church I checked my phone to discover a text from a friend who was very near and asked to meet for coffee. I called and we worked out the details to meet at a nearby Starbucks. It was a great time of fellowship and I got to meet someone new as well! However, this time of fellowship was gregarious victory and not an error, so on to the point.

     As we were walking out there was a woman standing outside her vehicle with arms full of several coffee travelers and pastries. She said, "I could use a good deed about now!" I responded by running over to assist her by first getting the door, except it was locked. I took a coffee traveler from her so she could get to her keys. She proceeded to unlock her vehicle and I opened the door. At that moment a woman came out of Starbucks saying, "That is my car! That is my car!" I turned thinking it was a friend of the woman I was assisting and she just could not see her friend. But, again she said "That is my car!" growing a bit disgruntled. In that moment the woman I was assisting realized we were in fact at the wrong vehicle. We both apologized and walked over to the correct vehicle. I helped her get everything in and then she went on her way. I then went and said my goodbyes to my friend and my new friend.

     As I walked back to my car I was asking God what that whole occurrence was about. I am trying to be better about listening to God lately. I know every moment of every day God can speak to us through every circumstance if we only listen. I was praying in the Spirit and asking God, but I was getting nothing. I just let it go whereas I know God deposits a lot of what He wants us to absorb while we are sleeping. He will seal up things He has previously deposited in our hearts. That is why sometimes when we are speaking to someone and we begin ministering we say things and do not know where they came from! The Spirit sealed those things in our heart, oftentimes while we were sleeping. OK OK as a common occurrence in my posts I digress...

     Last night as I drove home God began to speak to me about the previous situation. He pointed out how throughout a Spiritual journeys in life there will come times when we stop to enjoy where we are and reap the benefits from a place of rest. God places people in our lives intentionally and it is our job to steward those relationships in Godly ways. However, we cannot jump ship from our journey and jump in theirs. We are all at different places in our journeys. Sometimes when we stop for rest we get into the vehicle of one the other individuals. In other words we hastily put all of our hearts into the relationship with that individual regardless of what level it is. The problem being they may have a different route, be traveling at a different speed, have more or less stops along the way, or any other difference in their journey that will greatly impact our own. I am not saying you cannot be in relationship with these individuals, just do not hop in their vehicle and leave yours behind. In time as you build upon the relationship with that person, you may merge onto the same freeway and your journeys be aligned.

     I recently jumped into the vehicle of someone God brought into my life. Hastily I might add. I then progressed to act in ways which were not Godly. As a result the relationship disintegrated, whereas disobedience always leads to consequences. More than the loss of a good friend I am more concerned with the poor witness I presented as a result of my actions (or lack thereof). I struggled tremendously with guilt of how I could have hurt the relationship this individual has with our heavenly father. I have since released it to God whereas He is the only one ultimately controlling it all. I pray daily for this individual in hopes they press into God and not allow my poor stewardship of our friendship to push them away from Him.

     The great news is as I have been running to Him the last few weeks. As a result He has covered me with His love. Whereas one person is pushing me out of their life, God has rekindled an old relationship with some individuals I have missed tremendously the last few months. He has also brought some new individuals into my life the last few weeks. He has also blessed me with not just one, but three Godly mentors. Godly mentors are something I have been lacking for a long time. The best part of it all is every one of these people speaks life into me and exhorts me. Anytime I leave from spending time with them, get off the phone, or even read a text I received from them I feel so encouraged.

     I am on foot right now walking back to where I got out of my vehicle, but the point is what God is showing me along the way. More importantly, I am heading in the right direction. Our God is so great that He never leaves our side, even when we do things outside His will. (Psalm 139:7-10) This was yet another valuable lesson I have learned. Due to the consequences I have suffered I hope to never repeat this error again. We should move beyond basics and progress to maturity. (Hebrews 6:1) I allowed my sociable personality to lead me rather than God and I then allowed my emotions to have more control than necessary. I am grateful for God's grace though.

     I do not know if any of this makes sense, but I feel better having written about it HAHA

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The apathetic cultivation of wisdom...

     I believe at times (well I know for me anyways) we gain wisdom from experience yet we fail to apply that wisdom to our lives. This results in us making the same mistakes or going down the same roads we have gone down time and time again. Even if it is a road we must frequent we should learn the road and be able to avoid the ditches or any other form of an accident. God speaks to me often through regular physical things on this earth. He created the world so does it not make sense that there are specific parallels with this physical realm and the Spiritual?

     Saturday evening I went with a friend to get food and when we got back to the house we realized the order was incorrect. I drove back to the establishment to right the wrong. During this drive I was having a conversation with Jesus when He began to speak to me about being a doer (James 1:23). Through my life I have experienced many things and learned tons of valuable lessons. However for decades I would repeatedly make the same mistakes. The difference now is I have more wisdom; heavenly wisdom. Wisdom from the Father. This wisdom comes from the Word and acts as a light (Psalm 119:105). So whereas I would stumble in the past I no longer have a reason stumble over the same obstructions that held me in bondage for so many years. I have a light and whereas I live in a world of darkness I no longer blindly walk through the darkness. I have been given a lamp and a gift so I too can be a light.

     As I was driving (and as you can see above) the light only extends so far in front of me. Now I have been down this road several times so there is some familiarity with it. In this case the familiarity symbolizes wisdom. So I apply that wisdom which allows me to more boldly drive this road and not be concerned or fearful of what lies ahead. If I were on a dark, country road for the first time I would be more cautious whereas I am unsure of where the hills and turns are. So we should be more cautious (but not fearful) when we are venturing into a new season. During this time we should use discernment and always keep an open line of communication with God so as to do His will. I like the symbolism God spoke to me as well of how the light only shines so far. Beyond the light is darkness which allows us to practice faith in that we have no idea what lies beyond. Now what would happen if we simply drove recklessly down these roads even though we have been down them before? Speeding around turns and over blind hills. That would be the opposite of applying our wisdom which is what I believe many of us do in life.

     So how are you applying wisdom to life and the paths you walk down? Are you tripping over the same stones as before or do you use the light and step over them? Are you consistently reading the Word which will strengthen your light?

Monday, February 13, 2012

The lover of my soul...

     So the last couple weeks had been difficult for me. I felt a lot of pain and heartache. But God is faithful! This weekend during worship at church God was speaking so clearly to me. Luckily I could hear Him over the sobbing LOL I am grateful for how loud it is whereas I was literally on my face crying out to God. In that moment I felt like David in some of the Psalms when he is so over it all he simply screams out for God. Then a surprising event occurred when the message from Pastor Jimmy Evans was on David. Aside from that subtle confirmation God reiterated some things He had been trying to get me to hear for a couple weeks. First, he reaffirmed His faithfulness. He was telling me to let go of things and trust in Him. He reminded me that I never walk alone and He is always with me. It was comforting. In that moment I could feel the hand of God reaching deep down into my soul and pulling the roots out. It was painful (as it always is) but I know the end result is freedom I have never known. Those areas are still sore and easily hurt just as with any fresh wound, but the healing process is something I am excited about.

     Another message the Lord has been repeating to me over the last two weeks is "I AM the lover of your soul." This amazes me! In the world it is not difficult to find an individual that loves your Spirit whereas our Spirits are beautiful things once Jesus Christ renews them! It is even an easy task to find someone in the world to love our body. But, to find someone that loves my soul...
You do not know what is in this soul. It is much cleaner than it was three years ago; even one year ago for that matter, but there is some disgusting things in this soul of mine. The fact that He loves my soul is so incredible to me. This same soul that in the past lead others astray, this same soul that continues to this day to hurt others (albeit unintentionally). He is the lover of my soul! He has communicated this to me through four or five different songs; some of them I have heard several times before and never even realized that statement was contained within the lyrics. It has been in messages being preached when I turned on the radio driving to work. I think He was truly wanting me to get the point...and I have.

     Then today I had three different friends (none of which know one another) reach out to me simply to give me encouraging words and see how I am doing. All of them acting out of obedience from the Lord putting me on their heart. Then even as I was leaving the gym today an acquaintance of mine came in and spoke even more life into to me.

     Well, that is all I have for you this time around. Hope I did not bore you, I just felt the need to share these things. God bless anyone reading this and may you feel the peace and love of our heavenly Father.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sanatory movements...

     The removal of weeds within my soul is a painful thing, but ever so worth the freedom it brings and the healing that follows. Progressive sanctification is such a beautiful thing. There are many different ways people reference this work of the Lord. The "peeling of layers like an onion" and "softening the heart and removing scar tissue" to name a couple; in this case I am using the analogy of removing weeds from our lives. Just as in the physical realm when you takeover a rental property that was not maintained you will not eliminate all weeds in one attempt without further damaging the lawn. My soul was full of overgrown weeds and other garbage because rather than stewarding my body, soul, and Spirit as a gift I treated them all more like a rental property for a number of years. In the same way God will not remove every weed in our life at once whereas we would likely not survive such an action from such a glorious being. He will remove some weeds from our souls and then allow time for healing and further growth in our relationship with Him.

      However, there are ways in which we can assist in the process. Have you ever been out in the yard and the weeds kept breaking at the root? What was your plan? I believe it would be safe for me to assume you planned to water your lawn once or twice daily. Then you can see if the moist soil will release the weed, root and all. 


     Spiritually there are ways we can keep the soil of our souls moist. Praise, worship, reading the Word, and prayer. These can all combine to create an atmosphere full of "Spiritual rain". 


     Then through relationships (work related, dating/marriage, family, etc.) things will occur which will evoke emotions and draw up insecurities from our past. At that time we should get away from everything and ask God what is causing these feelings/emotions. Be diligent in this time and wait for God to show you the root cause.  I have had God bring memories back to me that had long been forgotten and realize they have caused  decades of pain which I had (potentially) passed on to others out of my responses to situations. Just like the now famous quote "Free people free people, but hurt people hurt people". Once we acknowledge the root cause we can then ask God what lie we believed and ask Him for the truth. During this process He will wrap His loving hand around that weed and pull it out. Once it has been removed simply pray to God to fill that void with His Spirit and begin the healing process. Obviously this is a short overview of the process and it will differ for everyone whereas God loves you and knows you so well He will handle this process the best way for you. But, it is not complicated. At times, God will do an amazing work in the most calm, peaceful ways. There are a lot of resources out there for this; feel free to contact me if you are interested in some of my recommendations. 


     Below is a poem I enjoyed reading I found in a book which belonged to my grandmother who passed last year. I hope you enjoy it. 




Prayers Can't Be Answered Unless They Are Prayed

Life without purpose
          is barren indeed –
There can't be a harvest
          unless you plant a seed,
There can't be attainment
          unless there's a goal,
And man's but a robot
          unless there's a soul...
If we send no ships out
          no ships will come in,
And unless there's a contest
          nobody can win...
For games can't be won
          unless they are played,
And Prayers can't be answered
          unless they are prayed…
So whatever is wrong
          with your life today,
You'll find a solution
          if you kneel down and pray
Not just for pleasure         
          enjoyment and health,
Not just for honors
          and prestige and wealth...
But Pray for a Purpose
          to make life worth living,
And Pray for the Joy
          of unselfish giving,
For Great is your Gladness
          and Rich your Reward
When you make your Life's Purpose
          the choice of the Lord. 

                   - Helen Steiner Rice 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sayhear...

what I say is not what you hear
at times my words have brought you tears
it pains me deeply to know I caused
anything resulting in loss

what I say is not what you hear
tearing you down is what I fear
I only wish to build you up
positively filling your emotional cup

what I say is not what you hear
my intentions are exhortation and cheer
oftentimes it comes out all wrong
I wish I spoke as a beautiful song

what I say is not what you hear
I promise you I truly care
only God can translate my part
allowing you to see my heart

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Occluded heart and vaccilation...

     Last night at VII Pastor Stephen spoke on deceit. A powerful message...

     I would like to think of myself as a man of integrity and actually would pride myself on my integrity. However, as you can likely tell from my recent posts I have struggled with some sin over the last few months. I rationalized my blogging about my struggles as my "confession". The thing was I was being disobedient whereas I clearly heard God telling me to go to pastoral leadership to confess these things. I had avoided it by going to other leaders in the church. Well today I finally did it! I actually confessed it all to two pastors and last night to other leadership in the church and I have to tell you James 5:16 is in full effect. I am hundreds of pounds lighter. In fact just two hours before I began writing this someone at church came up and said, "you look great!". He then went on to tell me he could tell something was not right in my heart and I was struggling the last time he saw me. I realize I wear my emotions on my sleeve, but it was obviously quite apparent even to someone from a distance.
Anyway I went off on a rabbit trail there...this is not about me. This post is meant to hopefully speak to someone reading it.

     Holding in those things which block your heart is a form of deceit. God knows all we do so to not confess those things to others will cause several things to occur. A few of those were covered in last nights message. (Which should be available for viewing and/or listening in a few days via the website or iTunes)

  1. Deceit conceals the heart
  2. Deceit Chokes Spiritual Growth
  3. Deceit Corrupts Relationships
     I can assure you I was experiencing all of these every day. I woke up for several weeks and it lead to a constant vexation that was rapidly growing as a malignant cancerous growth. I had heart disease...and occluded heart...and it hurt. It was affecting every area of my life: work, relationships. ministry, church, sleep, etc. My Spiritual Growth too was being choked, I had a feeling I am sure we have all experienced. Feeling I was in a rut and could not claw my way out of no matter how much effort I put into it. I was only wearing myself down and growing weary. I also, sadly, experienced major corruption of relationships...especially with someone I care for deeply. I do not even know if the relationship is even reparable at this point and this person is an amazing friend (if that was not lost). I can only pray God heal any damage I have caused that individual. 

     Now I choose to end this post on a good note. After some ministry last night after VII and my time with pastoral staff today I have loosed myself from the bondage that has held me so tightly for weeks (maybe months). The restoration process is in full effect and I can move forward with confidence and focus on what I can do from day to day to submit and be a vessel to further the Kingdom. 

     My wish for anyone reading this is that you too will find a good Godly individual you can talk to about anything and not be judged. A friend whose hands are free of stones and their heart is full of love...true love as reflected below. This will keep the enemy from quenching your dreams and hindering you from your destiny!


1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;t6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ad infinitum...

      Many decisions we make have an eternal impact upon our lives and the lives of our children (our legacy) whether good or bad.





     Making a decision is a cognitive process which results in a choice.  Progression in life (maturity and growth) is directly correlated with our daily choices. Our choices also control our attitudes which impacts our behaviors. Our choices also impact those in our lives. I have just gone through a season of making poor choices. Falling victim to temptation in areas I had previously conquered. Self condemnation is an easy thing to fall victim of after these setbacks, as well as guilt of how we affected others as a result of our sin. I myself was falling into both pits when God, through friends of mine, reminded me of His loving grace.

     I have a wretched past full of addiction (both sexual and drugs) I would not even say I struggled with it. Because for years I was intentionally and habitually partaking in these activities on a daily basis. Thank the Lord for grace and mercy and His blood which can wipe that all clean in one moment. The most difficult part of it all is accepting the forgiveness and leaving the past behind us. The whole point of the cross is that when we approach the altar, confess, and pray we are to leave what we released to him at the altar. Do not walk away continuing to hold on to it. He came to earth in the most vulnerable scenario, as a child to allow us eternal freedom.

     Aside from my desire to please God my greatest motivation to make good choices is my son Andrew. Being that the choices I make have the eternal impact on my legacy I want to make the right choices and in doing so build a house of greatness to leave behind for him. Whereas I would love to leave behind nice things I am speaking more in the Spiritual realm. I want to build a house whose foundation is strong. Something he can be proud of. One that encourages him to be a great brother, son, husband, friend, employee, etc. Although I have failed in the past I have today, tomorrow, and the next day to make the correct choices. In doing so I hope and pray he does not make all the bad choices I have made in life. 

     Everyday is a new opportunity for correct choices. So I do not know what your thoughts on the subject are, but I would prefer to not repeat the same mistakes over and over again (although I have more times than I would like to mention).
     I digress...
The point is that every moment of every day and especially every new day you can awaken and make the choice to make better choices.   

 

     Now what choices will you make?

     Ad infinitum...