National Youth Workers Convention in San Diego, CA this weekend is going to be a blast. I’m mostly excited because of the brothers that will be going with me. I enjoy so much the friendships that are created through the ministries that we all share, and even enjoy being ganged-up on during our frequent theological debates.
But I hope to learn…to be taught by someone. The prospect is awesome, and no matter how many times it happens, or how often it happens, learning is a great, and powerful thing. When we learn, we are then able to apply our knowledge to help change the world.
I am confident that what is to be accomplished this weekend, will be effective for the ministry of the Gospel, and will impact our nation, as well as the world.
Please pray that we, and all others traveling, will be safe and that we come home equipped to take on our enemy.
If home is truly where the heart finds its rest, what must we believe about the restless heart that beats inside of us? Our being begs to be somewhere else, and our heart beats fast within us at the proposition of flight. We beg to be somewhere, anywhere else; only to find that this earthly relocation does not satisfy…
As the old song tells, this world is truly not our home, and we are simply passing through. Our restless hearts beat for our home that is beyond the shore, beyond everything here, beyond pain and death, and beyond the vale. We, as believers, long to be in the presence of the father. Our souls have tasted the fruit of the gospel and have been invited to the marriage supper of the lamb. Just as it is with our earthly engagements, we are anxious that tomorrow will find us, and find us ready. Our souls attempt to overtake us, and cause us to boast in our frailty and weakness.
May our longing to find rest for our souls be the spark that ignites other’s hearts as well, and may we know the joy of extending the invitation of grace and mercy to everyone we meet.
The sharpness of an individual is based on his or her knowledge of the scriptures and there applicability to life’s struggles. But can a person apply scripture to life without being aware of life’s struggles? Does a tool or instrument of the Lord need to have experienced the world in order that it be able to withstand the world?
As a home schooled child growing up in a godly household, I was well versed in the scriptures and in its theological application. I entered public school in the 7th grade and found my faith to be useless. Some may cringe when they hear me say that, but I mean it. My issue arose from the fact that my faith was built on everything but Jesus’ redemption. I had never really had to run to Him, never had to hope on him, never had to feel the guilt of my transgression be swallowed up in to the great abyss of His forgiveness. Sure I did stuff wrong, but I had never tasted the blood spatter of the lamb who was slain by my sin. All my words made no difference to my peers, because my life was lived in the body and not the spirit.
A darkness began to build in my heart and all my knowledge was not enough to shed light on the shadows inside of me. Forgiveness was a foreign concept because of my unwillingness to accept it. I failed to understand the “sinner’s” aversion to the church and her message of forgiveness, but had never offered forgiveness to anyone. I refused to allow my heart to be consumed by Him. Moments of great revival found my heart, but it seemed as though the world would grant me that excuse to neglect Him again.
Entering my first year of college I found myself searching for value. Seeking and finding pleasure in the world; but for all my seeking and finding, I never felt the satisfaction I remembered from simple moments of closeness to Him. Conspiring for my destruction, prayers of saints found the ear of the Spirit, and my masquerade found its humiliating end.
Seeing the sickness of my lifestyle laid open for the world to mock, and smelling the gangrenous decay of ministry and message, my ability to withstand the weight of condemnation was cut incredibly short by the broken fragments of my own faith. The knowledge that my actions were finally meeting the perfect justice of the Father was greater than my experience of the forgiveness of the Son.
Guilt welled up in by heart and eclipsed whatever darkness had remained, and I wrestled with the idea that I had nothing more to offer the Father for payment for my sins. But it was not the church that displayed openness to the prodigal. Nor did they convince me of the fact that indeed Jesus’ death was enough. It was instead my earthly father and mother that displayed the grace and mercy of the Son as they reflected the embrace of the Father.
The sharpness of a blade is irrelevant if it cannot withstand the force with which it is applied… tempered steel, that has been folded a hundred times by the spirit makes for a far more reliable weapon with which we strike the sickness of the evil one than does the stained glass standard which crumbles under the weight of both reality and eternity.
Is it our intent that others come to know the Lord? Do we design our day to allow for, if not create, opportunities to present the gospel, that others might believe?
Do we do more than simply avoid curse words and the smoking section?
My good friend Dusty Ledbetter and I had a conversation yesterday about many of these very questions. In which we discussed the desire that we both had to make a difference in the lives of others. But how? Shouldn’t we endeavor to be the most effective witnesses that we could possibly be? Or should we content to live out our lives and let the Lord do the work?
If our intent is to bear fruit, then we must make provision to bear fruit. Leaves, branches, trunk, and roots are all formed to bear fruit. We make possible the bearing of fruit, by creating an atmosphere wherein we can speak the truth of the gospel, and allow the Spirit of the Almighty manifest faith for each who hear. If a tree fails to make provision for fruit, it will never come.
Live with intent! Live with the understanding that by whatever means necessary, we must deliver the saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to ALL we are able.
Scripture tells us a story about Jesus’ reaction to a tree that didn’t bear fruit. It has always seemed to me that the tree got some harsh treatment from Jesus, but after some consideration, the actions of Jesus were perfect.
The creator, Jesus, designed the tree to bear fruit. It failed to do so. Therefore the proper response from the creator is to cut it down and throw it into the fire. But why?
The tree found its way into the fire because it failed to obey the commandment of the LORD and attempted to become like God by creating its own commands. In much the same way, we are like the tree. We become discontent with the commands of God and attempt to improve on His will and way. When we do this, we speak as though we were the Morning Star and our pride clouds our eyes. We approach the throne of the Almighty with covetousness in our hearts instead of fear and trembling. We have believed that equality with God is something that we can attain. The proper response from the LORD is to cut us down, and throw us into the fire
We were created in the Image of God not gods ourselves
The tree bears fruit…that is all…we were meant to bear fruit in the image of Him. We don’t because we want to be God. To lose that desire and replace it with a desire to be EXACTLY what he wants of us will cause us to bear fruit once again.
The tree that bears fruit is pruned; the one that doesn’t is cut down and thrown into the fire
The first step is always hard, and it is believed to get easier after that. That being said, I think a great deal of the time I try to take the firs few steps in my head so that I don’t get dirty if this thing is not going to fly. But that isn’t what we are supposed to do. Scripture says that we are to, “walk by faith,” not ‘think by faith’.
Even though I’m the one writing this, I don’t like where this is going.
I will be entering into a new realm of ministry over the next few months and years, and need your support to be prepared. I am refusing to try to out think the Father, and am relying on my conviction and connection with the body of believers. Please pray for this new ministry, and I promise that I will let you in on the particulars…just as soon as I know them.
I have a new niece as of today. Her name is Summer Shay she is said to be as healthy as possible. Even in the excitement of the day and the realization of new life, I am burdened for this young life to come to know Christ. I spoke about this burden to some in my church and we shared in the passion for the lost.
Some may wonder why we should be concerned about the faith of such a newly born baby.
The reason is that we as believers must never qualify the urgent message of the gospel. The gospel is not confined by any of our restrictions. Therefore, we must be ready to pursue each individual with whom we come in contact in spite of their place in this world.
‘Lord be with this new child, and entreat her to your presence. Place men and whom of faith in her path, that she might hear the word and believe.”
A good friend of mine and I have were discussing the idea of vision. When we look around us we see the world at work. We see stuff…
But should we be seeing more?
I think that when the scriptures say that we should, “work out your faith with fear and trembling” it is referring to, in part, the weight of the gospel message. The message of Jesus Christ is more than just important, it is the purpose of our existence. If we begin to understand that each encounter with another person in our lives is an opportunity to engage a dark place with the light of Christ, we will begin to understand the gravity and seriousness of the message we deliver, as well as the eternal nature of the human race. As believers, we should never neglect the reality of eternity.
Leadership requires relationship, not mere commonality. A leader must understand that the in order to focus on the future of the group, he must be willing to create long-standing and unshakable ties within his group. Without such ties, the group will begin to splinter and fall behind. Without a group that is focused both inward as well as forward, progression is almost out of the question.
Leaders see the value of investing in the future, while others live in the glory of the moment. Making reference to the future is a great way to ensure that people who follow you know that they are on a journey. Also, being able to achieve short-term goals between here and there helps to keep the group mindful of the journey.
How do we lead a group when the group is content with their stagnation? If a group cares nothing for the future and only lives in the moment, is there anyone who can save them? Can you hold a spark under water?