Wandering away

 

wandering

It happens without notice.  It can happen to the best of them.  It’s happened to me and it’s probably happened to you also.  Wandering.  Questioning.  Searching.  Did God move or was it me?  How did I end up here?  

Here are 5 ways to get back on track in a hurry.  There’s no specific order to these tips, just do them and see what happens.  God wants us to stay the course and never give up.  He is on our side and pulling for us.  God understands when and why we wonder.  He knows our thoughts and motivations.  When we take these 5 practical steps, we jump back on the road to walking with Jesus.

1.  Get into the Bible.  Don’t put it off or come up with excuses.  When we read and meditate on the Word of God, our faith grows and we begin to re-gain our focus on him.  Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.” (NLT)

2.  Call and Encourage a Friend.  When we get the attention off our ourselves and our problems, we are putting others needs ahead of our own.  There’s nothing more uplifting than hearing from a friend who calls to tell you they are praying for you.  You can be that person.  Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another daily.” (NIV)

3.  Talk to God.  He desires to hear from you and wants to speak to you also.  When we pray to our Father in Heaven, we are communicating to the very One who created us.  Part of any relationship is talking and listening to one another.  Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (NIV)

4.  Surround yourself with people who will build you up, not tear you down.  The people that you allow in your life will rub off on you, like it or not.  Choose prayerfully and wisely.  Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.  Proverbs 13:20 says, “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.” (NLT)

5.  Serve Someone.  When we surrender our selfish ways and re-focus on someone else’s needs, we discover joy and peace.  Part of our purpose is to bless others in this life.  We have a great model for this in the way Jesus lived his life.  Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (NIV)

So the next time you feel yourself wandering, questioning or searching, try these 5 steps and watch what God does!!

Groups are where Growth Happens

 

LifeGroup Pic

 

Groups are where Growth Happens.

In my 19 years as a follower of Christ, I have been involved in larger and smaller churches. I have sat in services of 1000+ and services of 150. While both have their pluses and minuses, one thing they have in common is their inability to connect people in relationships how God has wired us.

You may hear a good sermon, listen to some great worship music but when it comes to truly growing in your relationships with God, others must be involved. Growing in your walk with Christ cannot just be vertical it must be horizontal. This normally happens in a Small group, Life group or Community Group, whatever you decide to call it. It is where people can get real with people and talk about spiritual thoughts in their mind and heart. There are not many places where talking about such things is acceptable but in a small group, talking about God is understood and expected.

The conversation should flow about life in general, but always point back to God. After all, He is the rock of our salvation. He is the main reason we are all getting together, isn’t he? Groups all have different ebb and flow, depending on their leader and culture to which the group is formed. But something happens when people get together in Jesus name, lives begin to be transformed. This is done intentionally and takes time.

 Here are 6 things a healthy small group does:

1. Pray. The leader must encourage other group members to have a special, personal time with God daily. They must also pray for ‘one another’. There is nothing more encouraging than knowing you are being prayed for by somebody else.

2. Meet regularly. Weekly is the goal to shoot for. If weekly can’t be done than twice a month can work, but is not the optimum meeting time. A lot of life happens every day, so meeting weekly gives group members a chance to be able to share what God has done and is doing in their lives.

3. Pick relevant material to study/discuss. You won’t hit a home run with every study you do, but you should be close to where people are living life every day in your group. Mix up the topics as well as the method you are choosing for delivery.

4. Making group members feel Valued and Loved. While everybody has a different motive to get involved in a small group, one thing is common, when group members know that you care about them, they will continue to attend group.

5. Plan activities outside of your normal meeting time. Make sure you schedule dates and times just to do life together. Picnic at park, game night, bowling, dinner and movies, you name it; just make sure you do something away from your typical meeting environment.

6. Plan to serve together. A healthy group is not strictly inward focused, but strives towards meeting other people’s needs. When you serve together in the community, it brings a sense of unity to the group that you can only experience by serving others.

These are just a few of the things that will grow your group stronger!

 

 

 

Ordinary

God is looking for ordinary people to do his Extra-ordinary Work. He doesn’t need flash or super educated people to display what he wants to do in others lives, he just wants someone with a willing and obedient heart.

In Acts 4:13 tells us that the priests and the other leaders “took note” at something they saw. They heard two guys names Peter and John telling them that “salvation is found in no one else but the name of Jesus Christ”. How dare they be so bold to say this to them? How could they? They were filled with the Holy Spirit as they spoke with boldness and clarity.

When the leaders “saw the courage” of Peter and John it caught their attention. They realized that these guys did not go to school to be able to talk like this. They knew one thing. They “had been with Jesus”. Oh yea. That changes things…a lot.

When we spend time with Jesus, people take note and notice something different about us. When we get into the presence of the Holy One who created us we are transformed by his Glory. He does something inside us that is reflective on the outside also.

Go spend some time with Jesus….and see what happens!!Image

Running the Most Important Race

About 3 years ago I watched a video of a guy in my church who spoke about running. He said he wasn’t that fast and that he didn’t really feel like he knew what he was doing, he just ran. It helped him in so many ways. He said it helped him in his weight loss and gave him more self-confidence. I remember watching Matt’s video testimony and remember thinking….I can do that. He made it really simple.

We were on vacation in Anna Maria Island, roughing it for Jesus. Yea I know, someone had to do it. it was the middle of the summer in Florida and I decided to go out and run. What in the world was I thinking? I wasn’t thinking, I just needed to go out and see how this works. I ran off and on for about 20 minutes and thought I was going to die. It was hot, my legs hurt and I felt weird doing it. But something happened that day that changed my life today. I found something that I could do without judgement and that gave me so many benefits. I could blame nobody else but my self for my time and efforts. Next, I discovered listening to my Ipod while running and thought this is almost as good as chocolate, well maybe not really, but it helped me notto hear how loud I was breathing and how out of shape I was. Plus I could rock out to some Jesus Music too!!

I will tell you that running and the therapy it brings to my soul has helped me stay sane in ministry. As most forms of exercise does, it takes us into a different mindset and allows us to feel a stress relief like no other. It’s one of the best drugs you can take..LOL. When you are having a bad day, had to much stress at work or simply want to de-program, go for a run.

My friend Matt encouraged me a few years ago but saying out loud to many “I just run”. My hope and prayer is that I have encouraged someone today to just “go run” and see what happens. You never know what God will do as you listen to him.

Feel free to comment and bless someone else by encouraging them to take that step!!

1 Corinthians 9:24 -“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

Running the Most Important Race

Recognizing God’s Voice

With so many voices and lines of communication trying to grab our attention, we long to hear God’s Voice.  There are very few things in this life that are better than hearing they voice of God.  We can flip flop and hear from God one moment and hear something the devil says the next.  Look at Peter and Jesus.  One moment Peter is telling Jesus that he knows that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.  A few verses later, he tells Jesus not to follow the will of God by leaving them.  Are you kidding me….you just said something brilliant to Jesus Peter.  Now you are telling him something that the devil told you to say.  C’mom dude, get with it.  Yea, thats just like you and me as we sort through the thoughts and voices we hear and wrestle with every day.

How do I know it’s God’s Voice?

1.   Does it agree with the Bible?

 God’s will never contradict God’s Word.

He will never lead you astray apart from His Word.  His voice will always like up with His Word.  Many things change every day.  This life we live will always be in some sort of change.  God’s Word will never change.  When God is giving you thoughts that are from Him, it will always line up with his Word.

2.  Does it make me more like Christ?

Is this something that is going to build my character or my trust in God?  Would it represent Jesus well?  

Does it display all the attributes of James 3:17?  

James 3:17-(NIV)“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.

If it fits these parameters, good chances that you are hearing God’s Voice.

3.  Would my church confirm this?

Your church family wants what’s best for you in your life.  They love and care about you.  For many of us, God has used our church family to help us to develop where we are today.  Thanks be to God for the great things he has done!

Make sure you exercise these 3 things before deciding whether you are hearing from God or not…Image

 

Creating Environments

We had an amazing Community Group last night at church. We had great fellowship, good teaching and really good, heartfelt discussion.  We have a group of people that are from a diverse background and have come together for one purpose:  To know God better and to get to know others better.  Pretty Simple.  It works.  

Part of the story I didn’t tell you about was the classroom was met in was pretty dis-organized a month ago.  Chairs everywhere, books on the floor, old pizza dried up on the wall (ok, maybe a drastic example).  We had a vision and a goal.  We set up the chairs in a circle.  Bought a TV & DVD player and put a clock on the wall.  Put in a table for snacks and we were ready to go!!  We simply created an environment where God could move and peoples lives could be changed.  Its already happening!!

Today we are cleaning out areas where in about 10 days we will have people get prepared to get baptized.  It’s exciting!  More Life transformation is getting ready to take place, and all we do is create the environment where God can move and lives are changed.  It’s the simple steps of faith that God wants us to take!!

Invite someone

I am reminded that many will come to church or small group just because we invite them. I think many times we allow ourselves to get in the way of obeying God. He is already working on their hearts and in their lives ahead of us. He just needs someone to step out in faith and invite that person(s) that God puts on your heart and see what happens!!

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God’s Timing

It’s been so long since I’ve last blogged I will just summarize it like this. God has worked in his infinite wisdom and brought us back home to Florida in December of 2013. We couldn’t be more thankful to be back home in Florida close to our family and friends. He has given us a new church family full of generous people who love God and each other. They have been so welcoming and patient with us since we arrived. Our church Family at Faith Family Community Church in Winter Garden, Florida rocks!

Little did we know, God was preparing us when he moved us to Oklahoma. We didn’t see any of this coming, but he did. All of this reminds me that we cannot rush God, nor can we expect him to move before his timing. He is always working “upstream” preparing the way for what he has next for us. He knows the bigger plan and works everything out for his glory and honor.

He has stretched our faith more in the last 2 years than I can recall ever in my life. It has helped me to trust my savior more and depend on him in the good times and the bad times. He is my rock and my salvation, in Him will I trust.

Worry Not

Its something we all deal with in various parts of our life.  Worry.  What is Worry?  How about “anxious concern” for a nicer definition?  Either way, why do we worry when we are supposed to trust God?  Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6 not to be so overly concerned about things.  He tells us that the birds of the air don’t plant or save, yet they are fed.  He reminds us that the beautiful flowers of the fields are taken care of and they eventually fade away.  We are “children of God” and we ought to know that we are even more important to him than birds or flowers.  

In Matthew 6:30 he challenges us to have more faith in Him about specific situations.  Believe in Him, trust in Him and his provisions for your life.  Our faith is built by spending more time in His Word, prayer and fellowship with other believers of Christ.  

Then, he offers up the solution for our worry in Matthew 6:33.  “Seek the Kingdom of God above everything else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”  Seek him, find him and when you do, trust him.

Don’t Worry, Seek Jesus!  That could be a song one day 🙂 

5 ways we can come near to God

Have you ever felt far away from God and wonder what in the world happened?  As most of us have heard, God has not gone anywhere, its us who have moved.  Moved in what way?  The one thing that gets in our way that we never see coming. It happens when we least expect it.  It happens inside the church and outside the church.  In a culture where we are encouraged to stand up and fend for ourselves.  What we are talking about is “Pride”.  First of all, if you think you have never struggled with this, you are just too proud to admit it.  We all struggle with pride in one form or another.  

The key verse in James 4:6 says that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”.  Pride is actually one of the things that God hates.  I am not just making that up.  Check out Proverbs 6:16-19.  The Bible shows us here that there are 6 things God hates and 7 that are detestable to him.  The first one is “haughty eyes” or pride.  Pride says that we are really fine without God.  We don’t need him for our life and can fully take care of things ourselves.  No thanks God.  Pride keeps us away from God.  

So, how can we come near to God?  I would like to give you 5 ways that the brother of Jesus, James, gives us to bring us closer to God.

1.  Submit to God.  (NIV)  Humble yourselves to God (NLT) 

Verse 7 “So humble yourselves before God.”

Whichever version you like its pretty clear what we are to do.  By nature, we don’t want to submit to anyone, especially someone we can’t see.  So to submit or humble ourselves to God is an active step of action.  When we are submitting to Him we are giving up our control over our lives and asking God to take over.  Take the reigns Lord, sit in the drivers seat, I will be the passenger.  

2.  Resist the Devil

Verse 7 “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Notice we are submit to God first, then we are able to resist the devil.  There is an order to this for a reason.  We don’t have enough strength or power to do this on our own.  The devil has been doing this for much longer than we have.  He is a master liar and hates us and any plans God has for us.  All the more reason we should allow God to fight the battle for us.  

3.  Wash your hands & purify your hearts

Verse 8 “Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” 

We are to be cleansed from our sin.  Ask God to forgive your sins and wash you clean from the guilt and condemnation that can stain your heart.  Just as we shower to clean our physical body, we need to cleanse ourselves spiritually come into his presence.  

4.  Grieve, Mourn & Wail.

Verse 9 “Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy.”

Don’t be afraid to go have a good cry.  We are allowed to express real grief for the past sins we have committed.  In fact, God’s Word wants us to do that with a freedom that your creator gave us.

5.  Humble yourselves before the Lord.

Verse 10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.”

When we take the posture in our heart of humbling ourselves before God, he lifts us up.  He brings us to a new place with him.  He knows our heart and the true cry of our heart.  Either we can humble ourselves or we can wait until our circumstances humble us, pick one.  

Remember, we were created by a God who wants us to have a real love affair with him.  To put him first in our thoughts, ways, actions and life choices.  He wants to spend time with him as a father loves spending time with his children.  When we practice these 5 things, we are assured to discover a deeper relationship with Him.Image