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A Storm is ComingA storm has come to a dear friend of mine and his family. He has been diagnosed with cancer – one of the most challenging and threatening storms a person can face. The peace he has in the midst of his storm is noticeable and encouraging. It is the mark of someone who trusts in his God.

There are other storms, and most in the body of Christ have faced them. There are personal storms, storms that affect families, and storms that impact an entire fellowship community. The way we live through these storms says much about our faith – the depth of our trust in God.

The next storm you face may be personal, familial or broader in its impact. Your trust in God will be evidenced by the peace you experience, and the peace others see in you. Inexplicable peace will be one of the strongest characteristics in those whose houses are standing in the storm. It will draw others to Him.

With that in mind, I would like to share the promise, provision and way of peace for every child of God. It starts with the prophecy of His coming.

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5

This much quoted verse contains something I had not noticed until recently. Not only was the Messiah to be wounded, bruised and scourged, but he was also promised to be chastised for our peace. He took on our chastisement (correction, reproof, rebuke) of the Father; that we might have peace with Him. Read the rest of this entry »

A Storm is ComingWith a storm on the way, it is more important than ever to find the center of God will. That place is the safest place. It is the place where chaos turns to adventure; where fear has no place; where our houses will stand as a refuge for others. This is the place we want to be; so how do we find it?

God’s eternal will is for the restoration of the three things that He lost in man’s rebellion: His reign over our hearts, His intimacy with us, and His habitation in us. I believe that our pursuit of His purpose in these three areas will supernaturally propel us into His will for this strategic season.

This article relates to the restoration of our intimacy with God. The articles and assessments for the remainder of this series can be found at the following locations:

Our Preparation as His Habitation

Our Preparation under His Reign

Many in the body of Christ are recognizing the inevitability of the storm. That recognition has created urgency for preparation; and a desire to know how we are doing in that preparation. Assessing our preparation for intimacy with Him is critically important.

Is there a biblical way to assess our preparedness, and receive wisdom and revelation in the ways God would have us strengthen our house? I believe so. In fact, we are encouraged and commanded to do exactly that: Read the rest of this entry »

Military Salute from iStockI know a young man who, having run afoul of the law in a city over four hours from his home, has had to appear before a judge twice; only to be told that the court was postponing his trial date. In the meantime, his life is on hold. He cannot start a job; nor can he start attending college. He has no idea what his punishment will be: Jail time, fines, public service, or a combination of all three. In short, failure to face the consequences of his actions is inhibiting his life.

It occurs to me that the same can be said for many Christians. We have sinned and refused – in one way or another – to face the consequences of our sin. The result? Our failure to face the consequences of our actions is inhibiting our life in Christ. Some would go so far as to say we are giving our enemies the right to deceive and oppress us.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe, as the Good Book says, that Jesus Christ has paid the price for our sin, sins, and the sin. However, this does not change the fact that we reap what we have sown. We do have planks in our eyes that must be dealt with. We must lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus laid hold of us. We must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Read the rest of this entry »

A Storm is ComingAs a follow-up to What I Believe – The Storm is Coming, I would like to get your input on a couple of other things I have come to believe. First, I believe that my title for that first article is a bit misleading. I don’t believe the storm that is coming is “The Storm”, meaning the Great Tribulation. As we see in Matthew 24 and Mark 13, Jesus taught that there would be small “t” tribulations before the big “T” one occurred. This should be sobering news, particularly for those that think they are going to avoid suffering via a pre-Tribulation escape plan.

Secondly, I want to encourage you that spiritual preparation is paramount for everyone that believes a storm is coming. This is contrary to our protective nature; and contrary to what most of the world is promoting. Even in the church, many are encouraging – and selling – physical preparation (e.g., freeze dried food, hedge funds, guns and ammo, leaving the country). When you look at it from their perspective, you quickly learn that there are hundreds of things each of us could do to protect ourselves from the storm.

And that is the problem!!
Read the rest of this entry »

264898981_0514e29018I am so very grateful for community. God speaks there. Where two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name (i.e., with His agenda), He is there with them; and He has something to say. I would like to share one rather large example.

I have known for some time now that many other Christians have a deeper appreciation than I for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, on Calvary’s Cross. It has been a wonder to me; sometimes a concern. I believe it affects my relationship with the Father and His Son. Consequently, I have been asking God to help me understand what I have been missing.

In a meeting this week, a friend asked to share a concern he had with the church. It was profound; and I hope to share it with you soon. There was one thing he said, in particular, that has been an epiphany for me. It is simply this: Read the rest of this entry »

hearing-from-godIf you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you have experienced, or will soon experience, the blessings of chaos (aka, tribulation, trial, affliction, persecution, etc.). Furthermore, I can assure you, there is more on the way. This is not a bad thing. How do I know this? God’s prescription for the maturation of His children is found in 2Corinthians 3:18.

 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

“Being transformed” is a chaotic experience. The Greek word – metamorphoō – gives us a perfect word picture. Being changed into another form must be quite a chaotic process for the caterpillar; much more so, for the once rebellious human being to be transformed into the image of the glory of the Lord. Yes, chaos is intended for our ultimate good.

God uses the chaos in our lives in a very intentional way. Considering the chaos that is going on around us in these unsettling days, it is easy to imagine that God is up to something dramatic and glorious. We owe it to ourselves, and those in our spheres of influence, to do what we can that the chaos is not wasted. As I heard someone say, “You cannot avoid the pain, so you might as well make the most of it.” Read the rest of this entry »

Compass

Finding purpose in life is one of man’s greatest pursuits. It is a part of our DNA. Regrettably, we seek to find purpose in many of the wrong places. Don’t misunderstand; it’s not necessarily because all these places are wrong. Many are quite noble – work, family, church, service to others. God wants to give us purpose in all these areas.

The challenge is discerning from where, or whom, our purposes in life originate; for that thing or person will then govern the motivations and measures for our success. If our purposes center on our work, then we will become performance driven and prideful. If they begin with our relationships, we will become controlling and self-indulgent. Even service toward others – if it is the source of our purpose – will result in people-pleasing codependence.

For our purposes to be right and virtuous, they must originate in the One that has ordained and orchestrated them. This is a worthy saying: Your purpose is not to be found in a place or activity, but in a Person. Only God is the source of the purposes that are good, praiseworthy and worthwhile. Therefore, it is critical that we discover God’s purposes for each season of our lives.  In this lesson, we will explore the relationship between God’s eternal purposes and the formation of Workplace Ministry.

This is the second of six lessons designed to encourage, edify and equip a Leadership Team in the formation of a ministry to the Workplace. Please study Lesson One – The Workplace Mission before continuing here. Read the rest of this entry »

Military Salute from iStockMost serious Christians recognize that most media is of this world (at enmity with God). That includes what we find at the theatre, on television, and on the internet. Even “clean” content can be dangerous, in a most sinister way. Here are two examples:

  1. The time we spend being entertained and informed by media outlets subtly takes the place of the time we should be spending with God, seeking His pleasure and revelation. I have found in my own life that “just 30 minutes” of winding down can easily turn into a couple of wasted hours. Think about it. Making such a poor investment of our time is truly self-destructive behavior. It might even be a sign that media has become an idol – providing what we should be seeking from God. If we are not very careful, Satan will use it to draw us further from the Lord – as in my second example.
  2. Do you think that the rise in the popularity of reality TV is a coincidence? I have come to believe that it is a sinister tactic of our worst enemy. The whole premise of reality TV – the draw of it – is that it allows us to live our lives through other people. This is, at the very least, a distraction from our living our lives through Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:13, 1Peter 2:5). Worst than this is the potential it has to engage our heart in such a way that we begin to prefer the lives of others – further separating us from the life we are called to live in our Lord.

It is important to recognize that media is developed to conform the mind to the philosophy and world view of the media provider. This is more than psychological conformation (as if that were not bad enough). Scientists have proven that the “wiring” in our brain is physically changed by what passes through it.

Most importantly, this is a spiritual matter; for we are commanded to avoid the conforming power of the world (Romans 12:2). The next time you are watching reality TV, or VLOGs on the internet, consider the damage you are doing to your mind. Recognize that you are under attack from the one who seeks to steal, kill and destroy. Fight the good fight. Resist the Devil (and his schemes) and he will flee from you.

 

Humbly yours and forever His,

 

205790488_b590fe6fc4_m.jpgGod is interested in every aspect of our lives. Consequently, planning God’s way includes the spiritual, personal/family and vocation portions of our lives. This is sometimes called whole life planning, or balanced life planning.

Furthermore, for Kingdom people, planning God’s way must be done in the context of His ultimate purposes. These are the restoration of His reign, habitation and intimacy with His children. This is all review to make the following point.

As we look back on the accomplishments and disappointments of 2014, it is important to review what has happened in the same holistic way that we planned. It would be easy to focus on one area or another. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, as they say.

For many of us, failure and disappointment tend to get an inordinate amount of our attention. If we are not intentional, we may miss what God has done and the opportunity to praise Him for it. We may become trapped in regret and sorrow, failing to see how God has positioned us for the future.

God works all things to the good of those that love Him, to those that are called to His purpose. The activities of our past, and God’s involvement in them, help us discern the path He desires for the coming season. Even when He is doing an entirely new thing, our perspective of the past can either blind us to the possibilities of the future, or encourage, edify and equip us for the adventure of a new year.

Marketplace Ministry Tip: I hope and pray that you consider all that God has allowed in your life in 2014 – the good and the bad; and that you will consider it in the context of His eternal purposes for your whole life, and for those in your spheres of influence. Be intentional to involve God and others in your review. He speaks in community.

Humbly yours and forever His,

 

Bible with Cross ShadowIt is ironic that the most obvious thing can be the very thing we get wrong. If someone were to say, “The story is about Him”, we would all nod our heads. Of course the story is about Him; it’s His story. But is that the way we live our lives here in the Western church?

No one would say, “The story is about me.” Right?

What about, “The story is about us?”

Now we are getting a little closer to the truth; I mean the truth about ourselves.  Think about it.

Why did we pray that first prayer? Why do we continue praying? Is it for God, or is it for us? Be honest with yourself. What is our motivation for reaching the lost, and serving those in need? Is it for Him, or is it for them? Who is it about?

I think you understand where I am going with this, but let me say it clearly: The church in the West has become self-centered. Consciously or subconsciously, with intent or not, we have come to think, believe and act like the story is about us. It is time we shook off this deception and began living like the story is about Him. Read the rest of this entry »

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