Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gift of Knowledge - God is Watching and He Loves You

Have you ever met someone and known something about them, even though you had never met before? If so, you may have the gift of knowledge.

Have your children ever done something, denied it, but you knew the truth? If so, you may have the gift of knowledge.

Here is a story about the gift of knowledge. At a retreat in Searcy, Ark. a couple of years back I was doing a 1/2 day retreat for a congregation and was teaching the prayer of agreement. Basically, the prayer of agreement is when someone vocally agrees with the person praying....taken from the scripture "I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done by my Father in heaven. For where two or more come together in my name, there I am with them."

I had divided up the group into groups of 7-10 and had them start praying the prayer of agreement, asking God what to pray for then agreeing with each other...simple enough, right? One group seemed to be having difficulty so I came over to the group to help them. They were laying hands on a brother and asking the Lord for a word for him, so then they could agree in prayer over him. So I laid my hand on my brother (who I had never met and did not know) and all of a sudden I knew things about him that God revealed to me. The men around him started praying as I spoke to him.

So I spoke his name (which freaked me and everyone else out) and spoke to him about specific things God revealed to me. He had three sons and I described each one in detail. I said that he had broken every vow he had made with his wife, and I named them specifically. (He and his wife were separated at the time). I talked about the affairs he had and the sexual immoral things he had done, specifically when and what. (At this time, he was wailing, loudly because God was revealing the secrets of his heart to him). I talked about his wife and their relationship and named the specific problems they were having. Again, I had never met the man or had ever spoken to him before.

After about three to four minutes of laying him wide open, God wanted him to know he was loved, and that God wanted him back. (He kept on wailing...loudly, and the men around him prayed louder and more fervently). And I spoke to him the words God laid on my heart for him. He was loved. He had a ministry that God wanted him to be in. He needed to repent, be open with his sin so he could be healed. God had plans for him in his marriage that were greater than he could even conceive. He needed accountability for his sexual sin, so he could grow beyond it.

After speaking to him, we took a break and he left the room. I found him in the next room, crying, talking to his wife. He said,"God just spoke to me and now I know I need to change. I am sorry for the way I have treated you and things are going to be much different." He called me few days later and said he was together with his wife and that God had worked a miracle in their marriage.

I still think it is so cool how God used me in this man's life. Do you have questions about it? Have you ever had an experience like this? If so, please share it so people can see that God still speaks to us in the modern day.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Why do sinners have more fun than Christians?

Have you ever noticed that most people who are not Christians seem to have more fun than Christians. Why is that? We are the ones who are saved! We are the one who should have joy pouring from every pore of our body! We are the ones who have freedom in Christ! We are the ones who have a fellowship of brothers and sisters that support us and love us! Shouldn't we be having more fun that those who aren't saved! Who came and stole our joy, our passion and fun?

I know an unsaved guy who is very moral. He drinks beer without guilt and doesn't care that people know about his sex life. He has a slew of friends (I am one of them) that care about him and like him. He doesn't go to church nor does he read his Bible (but I think I saw one on a bookshelf). I have tried to talk gospel with him but he isn't interested (He says, "God and I have an understanding"). I am OK with him. I figure that God will soften his heart some day and I am just waiting for that to happen. But until then, he sure seems to be having a whole lotta fun.

So are Christians supposed to be fun loving and passionate or dour and solemn? Did Jesus have fun and pull practical jokes on the disciples or was he hyper-serious, "nose to the grindstone" and serious all the time? What do you think?

Friday, May 29, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

I scream like a girl when I watch intense movies and the bad guy jumps out of the closet.
I can not watch human on human violence...I will walk out because it is too disturbing to me.
I am a gardener and can actually get excited over a begonia or a new variety of Japanese Maple.
Asparagus is my favorite vegetable.
Salad is my favorite meal.
My favorite vacation is going to Colorado in the summer and hiking in the mountains.
I really like watching my 12 year old play select baseball...I like it even more if he wins.
I really like watching my 15 year old play golf...I like it even more if he plays well.
My 16 year old special needs son is one of the neatest people I know...and he thinks I hung the moon.
Creative writing was my favorite class in Paonia High School.
I have climbed 48 of the 14,000 foot mountains in Colorado, before it was cool.
I sleep with 4 pillows; two regular pillows and 2 body pillows.
I love being a father of three boys; I couldn't be prouder of my sons.
I hate large crowds of people.
I love my wife with all my's hard to believe she's still with after 21 years. I haven't even liked myself for that long.
I still enjoy watching cartoons with my sons.
I hate being hot...ironic, since I live in Texas.
I have horrible thoughts. I am a sinner. I am in need of grace.
I think Jesus is pretty cool.
Poison Ivy, Asiatic Jasmine and Boston Ivy are the bane of my existence.
I love Honey Mustard but I am going to have to switch to something with less fat.
I eat twice as much low fat foods.
I sneeze when I go from a dark place into bright sunlight.
I watch home improvement shows, sometimes to excess.
I love chainsaws, gasoline-powered lawn equipment, and the newest of gardening tools.

What about you? Give me 5 random things about you.


"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."

Devoted. adj. to center the attention or activities of....

I struggle with this whole devoted thing. I have interests. I have things I enjoy doing. But am I devoted to those things...hardly. I don't think I pour myself into anything that much. Why? hmmmm........maybe I don't want to be disappointed or hurt. Maybe I don't want to put myself fully out there to have it taken away. Maybe not being devoted to anything is self protection, it keeps me from going "all in" and losing. Maybe Satan has numbed me from being passionately and wholeheartedly dedicated. Maybe I am just a man who is out of touch with his emotions. Maybe aliens came and removed that part of my brain during the night about three years ago.

I am devoted to my wife and sons. I would fight to the death protecting them and trying to give them what they need. I am also devoted to my family, my brothers and sister and mother and father. There are some brothers in Christ that would also fall into the "devoted" category. OK, so I am not devoid of devotion.

But I need and want to be devoted to prayer. I realize it is the lifeline I need to stay connected to God...I just realize I am not there right now. I need and want more devotion to my Savior, to the Father that loves me. How does one get there? Can I get there? If you are there, how do you do it? Mentor me.

To whom or what are you devoted to? What gets the bulk of your attention? How do you devote yourself to things that are important to you?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What's Wrong?

It is easier to be critical than least that is true for me. It's not that I see the "glass half empty instead of half full," I'm overall a pretty positive person. But I wonder why it it easy for me to be critical of "church." What makes it easy for Christians to be critical of their church? Critical spirit? Suppressed anger? Unresolved hurt? Gift of discernment? What do you think?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Changing How We Change

Change is a funny thing..not funny ha-ha but funny...ironic. So let me explain what I know about change. There are three different types of change that I will cover here:

First Order Change:
First-order change is doing more – or less – of something we are already doing. First-order change is always reversible. It is relatively shallow change. Here are the characteristics of this type of change:
Adjustments within the existing structure
Doing more or less of something
Restoration of balance (homeostasis)
New learning is not required
Old story can still be told

In church, first order change goes from chalk boards to dry erase boards, sings more contemporary songs, goes from formal to casual dress, from KJV to NIV, order of worship variations, offering members the option to pay by automatic draft or credit card, offering use of building to 12-step groups or community groups, updating building with new carpet and paint, visitor parking, being "seeker sensitive," adding mood lighting, adding new service or more options for Bible classes, allowing more members to participate in worship planning and execution, etc. First order change is mostly cosmetic but does little to make lasting change.

Second Order Change: Deciding – or being forced – to do something significantly or fundamentally different from what we have done before. The process is irreversible: once you begin, it is impossible to return to the way you were doing before.
New way of seeing things
Shifting gears
Often begins through the informal system
Transformation to something quite different
Requires new learning
New story is told
We fix how we are going to fix what's wrong.

In church second order change would look like: going from a capella to instrumental, having member testimonials of faith, electing progressive men to eldership, allowing women ministers and deacons, Doing praise and worship for entire length of service (no sermon), ministers disciple others for ministry and leadership, impliments change in problem areas even if solutions are being used by other denominations, having small group, supporting new ministries and missionaries, becoming missional, etc.

Third Order Change: Coming to realizations that changed your lives profoundly.
Changing their cosmology of how life works, what happens to them when they take actions and what it pays to do.
Reframes the problem as a solution in use.
Radical change in how we see the problems/solutions
Use of a new system or way of doing things outside the realm of possibilities of second order change.
Irreversible and universal (it changes those around as well)
The new stories from second order change have caused unplanned and unpredicted changes elsewhere in the system

Employing prophetic worship and prophetic ministries, allowing the presence of God to dictate order and length of worship, allowing all members (from children or seniors) to speak what God is moving them to speak or use spiritual gifts, allowing time for the gifts of healing to be utilized in worship time, having a fellowship meal for communion, equpping every member for ministry, every member is discipling and evangelizing, encouraging and supporting cell churches and house churches within the membership, etc.

It is rare that a church change. But I think change is possible if God is allowed to change the hearts and minds of the members and is radical change.

What changes would you like to see in your church?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Faith and Miracles

Matthew 13.58 "And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith."

Huh!?! Jesus' (God' son) ability to do miracles depended upon people having the faith that miracles were possible? What's up with that?

Is it that different today in our spiffy, ultra modern world? We have churches that the Holy Spirit is moving in and churches where they got nuthin'. Although the theology in many churches is sound, reasonable and rational, there is no movement of the Spirit there, no miracles, no prophecy, no healing...but they got theological correctness. Wasn't it the same back in Jesus' time?

You had the Pharisees in one corner and Jesus in the other. Pharisees were the star students in the law but didn't score so well on freedom, love and joy. The law interfered with their ability to see Jesus as the Messiah...they had faith in their religious beliefs but no faith in Jesus. Who had the faith? Those who were desperate for healing and had no other options. Who got the miracles? The ones who needed the miracles and believed that Jesus could do it. Perhaps that is why so many stories of miracles come out of Africa, South America and India today...they got nuthin' else but hope in a resurrected Messiah. Can we say that? Is it possible that cold, rational theology has missed the point of Jesus? Perhaps we have lost our desperation and have settled for rationalization instead of demonstration.

This post is for all the rational theological sceptics out there. Your faith may be keeping you from seeing Jesus, I know that was true for me. If you are not experiencing the active working of the Spirit, then perhaps it is your belief system that blocks it. There are people out there that are experiencing so much more because they believe it will happen (not can happen). There is a huge difference in faith in those two. It seems that scripture would agree that one must have the faith before the evidence of miracles can happen.

Despite faith, God still gets to be God and still does what He wants. I know some faithful brothers who have prayed and prayed for healing but it hasn't happened. God is still God. He doesn't give us everything we ask for because He can see the bigger picture. But we still can keep on asking in faith, hoping the Lord will use circumstances for His glory.

Father, in the name of Jesus, show us the way of trusting you. Give us faith so we can see you working around us. Help our unbelief so we can serve you. We bind every religious thought, in the name of Jesus, and rebuke the dark forces that skew your Word. Give us childlike eyes so we can see your glory. Jesus is Lord!

What do you think?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Elijah Streams

I just wanted to make you aware of a great resource for Ambient Christian music. It's called Elijah Streams It is 24/7 'soaking' music, worship and praise music. Good stuff. If you have 10 minutes or 3 hours, this is great music to play while surfing the web or for a deeper worship time with the Lord.

Try it and then come back and tell me what you thought about it.

Turn Your "Wanter" On

My son wants a lot of things. Each and every day, he tells me about something he "needs" or "has to have," each item costing at least a thousand dollars. This week...electric cello...amp for the electric cello...electric guitar....amp for the electric golf club (or two) you get the picture. I have told him numerous times to turn his "wanter" off (or to get a job). I think it is good that he wants things but he needs to learn how to handle those desires.

Which brings me to my other point...God says we "don't have because we don't ask." What do you need that God can provide? Spiritual gifts? Wisdom? Love? Affection? Money? God says to ask for them and he will provide. He wants to bless us but we gotta ask for it.

So...pray that God will give you your spiritual gifts. I Corinthians says to ask earnestly (like you really mean it). Try it and see if God will give you what He has promised. Turn your "wanter" on.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Iron Sharpens Iron

Tonight, I ate dinner with a passionate man of God. I first met him twenty years ago when I was working at a nursery in Abilene while in college. We quickly became great friends. I guess a better way of putting it is that God put us together 20 years ago in Abilene. And, even though I haven't talked to him in 14 or so years, we were able to pick up again where we left off.

Fourteen years filled with striving, failure, successes and trauma. Fourteen years of living life and seeking God...and finding a truely vibrant and passionate relationship with Jesus. Fourteen years of the challenges of special needs children. We have both gone through personal losses, personal tragedies and personal growth in our relationship with Jesus. I love this brother.

We talked tonight for two hours...I could have gone another 6 hours without batting an eye. We traded stories on how the Lord has seen us through and how God has been using us. We both started as conservative religious and both ended up being passionately changed by the Gospel. What are the chances?

Do you have anyone in your life like that? Or better stated, has God placed anyone in your life like that? What has that relationship done to you?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Five Books That I Read that Helped Me Grow Spiritually

"Prophetic Worship" by Vivien Hibbert.... This book explains the difference between praise and worship and teaches the reader how to allow God to lead the worship service.

"Open Church" Rutz....Gives explanations and specific instructions on how to effectively lead house church or small group.

"Pagan Christianity" Frank Viola....Just read it and see how you change your religion.

"The Beginner's Guide to the Gift of Prophecy" Jack Deere....Shows how God speaks to us and how to listen to the voice of God.

"The Safest Place on Earth" Larry Crabb....Shows the reader how to create safe "spiritual space" where people can flourish in the Spirit.


"The Final Quest" Rick Joyner..This was the first book I read that began my spiritual journey. Great allegory about the final battle between God and evil. After you read it, you will want to read the other two books in this series.

What books (other than the Bible) have changed the way you see and do your spiritual life?

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Seven Best Things About Wives

I have read many lists in my life and very few of them are flattering or positive. So today, (and today only) I decided to create a positive list about wives. Since I have a very small pool to draw from (I have only been married to one), I also asked a few friends to pitch in to help me. So here is the Top Ten Best Things About Wives:

1. Wives get their husbands out of their shell. Most women encourage (or force) their husband to get out of their head and communicate. Although this is akin to torture most of the time, it is badly needed. I think it is interesting that God created women as intimacy machines, getting men to to talk....exactly what God wants men to do with Him.

2. Wives encourage their husbands. Whether it is to pursue a hobby, home improvement project, a new life pursuit or maintain an old one, wives help their husbands to see their own worth. Just having my wife nearby and supportive makes whatever I am doing, better.

3. Wives give love. Husbands need love. They need someone who will be patient, kind, gentle and forgiving. Wives are typically good at all those.

4. Wives are affectionate. Whether snuggling in bed, hugging in front of the children, or holding hands at the mall wives touch their husbands often. The warmth of a hug melts away the stress of the day and restores peace. Life can't be so bad that a little affectionate flirting can't make it a skosh better.

5. Wives work hard. Whether at a job or in the home, wives work hard to make life easier, cleaner, more organized, and prettier.

6. Wives are connected to God. The value of a godly woman cannot be measured. Her prayer life is the glue that holds the relationship together.

7. Wives make celebrating more fun. Bowling or playing golf by yourself isn't much fun...neither is celebrating. Wives are a party looking for a place to happen, bringing a smile and a "well thought out" gift into any celebration. As Emeril says, wives "kick it up a notch." They want others to feel special.

Husbands, what is your favorite thing about your wife?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The 20 Most Scenic Places I Have Ever Visited

These are just places I have been that are the most beautiful places I have been.

1. Kebler Pass, Colorado. The road between Crested Butte and Paonia is filled with aspen trees, beautiful mountains, and stunning vistas.

2. Rainbow Bridge, Utah. WOW!

3. Azaleas blooming in Knoxville, TN and Tyler, TX.

4. Lake Tahoe, NV

5. Black Canyon, Colorado

6. Crystal River, Colorado

7. Devil's Backbone, Texas

8. Lake Ten Killer, Oklahoma

9. Mt. Elbert, Colorado Standing on the top of this 14,433 foot mountain, you can see the entire state of Colorado...breathtaking.

10. Maroon Bells, Colorado

11. Malibu Beach, CA

12. The cardinals on my birdfeeder in Irving, TX.

13. Smoky Mountains outside Knoxville, TN

14. Scuba Diving off of Cancun, Mexico

15. Independence Pass, Colorado

16. Paonia, Colorado....Because I grew up there and it feels like home.

17. Lost Lake, Colorado Right off Kebler Pass, worth the 2 mile hike to get there.

18. Glenwood Canyon, Colorado

19. Marble and Crystal City, Colorado I love the old mill on the Crystal River and the Devil's Punchbowl.

20. My backyard Its home, its beautiful, its mine.

What places are in your top 20? Name one or name them all.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Gift of Prophecy...The Ozell Story

Have you ever looked at someone in a store and had a thought go through your mind like, "Man, she is having a rough time with her marriage?" If so, you may may have the gift of prophecy.

Have you ever had the urge to start praying for someone, perhaps an estranged friend or someone at work or church, random...a thought that just won't go away? If so, you may have the gift of prophecy.

Have you ever been teaching or preaching and, out of nowhere, new knowledge that you did not have comes to mind that needs to be taught (that was not in your notes)? If so, you may have the gift of prophecy.

Have you ever known someone was sick (without previous knowledge) and felt an urge to pray for them? If so, you may have the gift of prophecy.

Have you ever had a burden laid on your heart for someone, to the point of experiencing the hurt or loss that person is going through? If so, you may have the gift of prophecy.

A prophet is one who speaks the words of God. In I Cor. 12, it is the message of knowledge and the message of wisdom. It means knowing something you wouldn't or couldn't ordinarily know about someone. God gives you knowledge about them so He can minister to them. He may want you to speak what he gives you to let the other person know He is watching, that He sees what is happening in that person's life and cares. And sometimes, the message is for the speaker as much as it is for the listener.

An example from a newby. I was doing my morning walk, praying that God would use me (my walking time is my prayer time). I was walking around a trail at a park and passed a large (6'4, 260) black man that I had never seen before in my life. I heard God speak to me, "Talk to him." So what did I do? I said nothing. I am new at this whole prophecy thing!

I was walking on a oval trail so I passed him again and again I heard the same thing, "Talk to him." So I said, "Hey." He said,"Hey" back. I felt God say to me, "Say more," but I was afraid of making a fool of myself, so for several times passing him, so I said nothing....OK, so I am more like Jonah than Elisha here...Read on. Self preservation over proclaiming resurrection.

Finally the press for me to talk to him was so great that, as he passed me, I turned around and started walking with him and found the courage to talk to him (and learned his name was Ozell). I chit chatted with him (which is NOT in my nature to do) for a half lap then said, "I am being chicken."

"What?" Ozell said.

"God wants me to give you a word but I am chicken to say it!"

Ozell said," If you are my brother in Christ and God is giving you a word for me, I need you to talk to me." Wheew...good he at least won't beat me up because he is a Christian...

Ozell wanted me to talk, so I said,"God wants you to know..."

I pause here because God only gives me four or five words at a time to speak, not the whole message. As I am faithful with a little, He gives me four or five more words. God wants me to know that it is HIS message, not mine.

"...that He heard your prayer this morning .....for a new job you can spend more time with your family ....and He is going to answer your prayer..." I spoke with him about 5 minutes, giving him the message God laid on my heart.

Ozell's jaw dropped, he started crying and praising God...LOUDLY...right there in the park. Ozell said, "I don't normally walk at this park, but God told me He wanted me to walk here today. The Lord said He had something for me. When I passed you the first time, God said you were going talk to me, but to be patient because you were new at this. (Now I am crying.) I needed a new job because I don't get to see my daughters. I was desperate this morning because I can see how my kids need me but my job keeps me from being involved in their life." I also learned his daughters went to the same school as my son.

He talked about overcoming his addiction to drugs and how he became a Christian. He talked about how God had constantly met his needs and how much he loved the Lord.

Then we both laughed because we had both walked 7 miles, just waiting for me to get the courage to speak to him. He said, "Next time just come right out with it, or you'll wear yourself out trying to be faithful to God." We sat down on a bench and I laid my hands on him and prayed for him (not in my nature to do so). He wept loudly and proclaimed the goodness of God, loudly....remember...public park...Ozell didn't care who knew....God was speaking to him through me. So we parted ways.

So, fast forward three weeks...I am sitting in the parking lot at school waiting for my son. Out of nowhere, a large black man shows up in my window, scaring me half to death. Ozell is LOUD...real LOUD...He had a new job, better hours and twice the pay. He was really LOUD...too loud for my Caucasian comfort zone...But God had been good to him and he didn't care who knew.

That is one story about how God used me. Do you have a story? Have you received a word or given a word from God? Please post it so our faith can be strengthened.

Monday, May 18, 2009

"I Just Don't Feel Close to God" or "Bring Back that Loving Feeling"

I have a friend who says he just doesn't feel close to God. Now, my friend is a faithful Christian of 26 years and has been to church most of his life. He believes. His theology is sound. He teaches Bible class and is a deacon in his church. He serves others faithfully and selflessly. He reads his Bible daily (more than I do) and says he prays a couple of times a day. He worships at a conservative denomination and does everything he's supposed to do. I don't know of any hidden sin. So what's the problem!??!

There is no "life" in his spiritual life. He doesn't feel close to God or even feel anything toward God. Committed...check. Faithful...check. Understand God...check. Religious...check. Passionate...not so much. Loving God...uh...what's that? Feel loved by God...hmmmm.

So how does one bring back that "loving feeling?" Here's 5 ideas:

1. For 7 straight days, when inside your car by yourself in the driveway, yell for 30 seconds straight. Neighbors will think you have lost your mind and will likely call the "guys in the little white hats." But this exercise helps express any emotion that is clogging your system.

2. Share your personal testimony of faith with someone. Talk about how God has saved you, how cool Jesus is, what sins you were committing and how God saved you, etc. Get personal.

3. Dance while singing praise songs. Now this may take some getting used to but allowing your body to express emotion helps your heart connect. Raise your hands, take a "praise pose" sing from that position. Get your body into it.

4. Get a spiritual mentor who is passionate about Jesus and learn from him. Get him to help you to open up your heart.

5. Make at least 5 emotional statement to God daily during prayer time. Learn to express excitement and happiness to God along with the anger, hurt and fear. Be courageous, let it out.

Do you have other ways of connecting that have worked for you? My friend reads this blog. What would you tell him?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"You Never Talk to Me" -God

How often do you pray? Really. Is your prayer formal or casual? Is it more scripted (similar to the prayer you said yesterday) or is it original material? I think the content of a person's prayer is a good indicator of their spiritual health. What do you think?

Here's the skinny on my prayer life. I pray at least 20 minutes a day, most days. Sometimes more ...gulp...and sometimes less. I always pray out loud (because if I think my prayers, they last less than 10 seconds). I used to talk to God in a more formal, scripted manner (because that was modeled for me in my spiritually formative years). Now, I talk to God as a friend, a friend who knows me inside out and who likes me (and I dig Him as well).

When He lays someone on my heart, I pray immediately for them. I pray until the thought of them passes, sometimes a minute, sometimes an hour. I pray boldly. I believe God moves mountains and prayer moves God. I ask for things that take a miracle like healing or well...miracles. I pray like, "Well of course God will do this, He likes me and wants to give me good things."

Sometimes I kid around with God. He's my friend, right!?! That's what I do with friends so why not with God. I try not to barge in on Him in prayer (He is busy being the ruler and creator of the universe) so I ask Him if I can talk. So far, He has said yes. Sometimes I ask Him goofy questions to see what He says. Sometimes I feel a "spiritual" smack upside the head.

I don't say "In Jesus name, Amen" at the end of prayers. I always put that in the beginning, "In the name of Jesus, Father I ask that you heal..." And I bless God alot and praise Him alot during prayer (because I think God is cool and awesome).

So there's the skinny on me. How about you?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Earthquake in Texas??!!???

We had an 3.3 earthquake in Irving Texas this morning. FREAKY. Things shaking a little but other than that no damage. Nothing like feeling out of control for 10 seconds. You ever been through one?

Friday, May 15, 2009

This is only a test....

I have a question that I would like to ask you, no matter what your religious background. Please take a minute or two and answer.

From your perspective, what does it mean to grow spiritually? Understand more? Experience more? Sin less? Something entirely different? What are the benchmarks of spiritual growth to you ? How do you know you are actually growing? How do you go about growing spiritually? Be specific.

What do you think?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

No Fear

The only consistent thing in life is change.

Life is like a mobile hanging from the ceiling. Each part has fallen into it's place based on balance. I am a part of that mobile and equilibrium has chosen where I feel most comfortable. Everyone in my life, from church, work, family, and neighborhood (and ultimately the county, state and country) knows what I am like and I have a place there.

But what happens if I change. What if I don't like where I am? And what if I do things differently? What happens to the mobile? If I change my weight on the mobile, the entire mobile must readjust to compensate for my change. If I change, the entire system must change!

Here are two examples that I have seen in my life. Fifteen years ago I was happily a part of of a conservative church. I was a cog in the church machine as a deacon, Bible class teacher, small group leader, and was actively involved in ministry. Through balance, I had a place among the church members. Then it fell apart....

I went to a Promise Keepers meeting at Texas Stadium and worshipped amidst charismatic, fundamental, Pentecostal, and conservative brothers from varying denominations and churches. That was the first time I raised my hands in worship. That was the first time I felt the presence of God in worship. It changed everything for me. I could no longer sit idly during worship without being there with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. It illustrated for me, the passion I had always wanted for Jesus.

So I go back to church the next day. I raised my hands in a non-hand-raising congregation. People looked at me (I was the one with my hands in the air during praise and I was pretty easy to see). People started talking but a few others started raising their hands too. Classes talked about it and the elders had to meet and say it was OK. That is how one person changing can change a larger group.

I live in a quiet neighborhood. A developer bought a house on our closed cul-de-sac to gain access to a large parcel of undeveloped land behind our neighborhood. We didn't want another 175 cars on our street per day. So I did something. I went from being quiet man in a quiet neighborhood to talking to the neighborhood and city leaders about it. I stood up against the developer, even under the criticism of others close to me. I spoke at the City Council meeting and the City Council agreed with me. Our neighborhood won. I changed what I did and it changed a neighborhood.

You wonder why your church won't change? Perhaps they need someone who will change themselves. You can be the agent of change in your family, church, neighborhood, city, state and nation by changing what you do and how you think. But you have to have the courage to act on what God is leading you to do. If you want to see God do more with you, you have to be faithful with the little things He leads you to do. What change is God leading you to make and how do you think that change would change those around you?

Ask God to give you the courage when you can't muster enough for yourself. Jesus is Lord.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Are we having fun yet?

Is church supposed to be fun? Are we supposed to enjoy it or endure it? Should church be interesting? Emotional? Rational?

I look our ministry model (Jesus) and I don't see alot of sermons (yes, I know about the sermon on the mount). I do see alot of life experiences demonstrating the power God. I do see SHORT stories (parables) that were thrown out there for consideration. Communion was not in little cups passed around on a was a part of a meal. Prayer was not lead by one person only nor was there a hired pastor to do all the "church work." And whatever happened to speaking in tongues...wouldn't that make things interesting?

If I were a disciple, I would be interested in what was going to happen next. Another trip to a temple or brothel? Who would the master heal and would he do it again on the Sabbath? Jesus seemed to be unpredictable, adventurous and to the point. Couldn't we mimic that in our churches?

Have you ever wondered if churches are in a gargantuan rut, doing the same stuff over and over in the name of orderliness? Do you think that is what Jesus intended?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

God in the Small Things

Many people, myself included, may think God only shows up as a booming voice from heaven or a "split the Red Sea" sort of event. Although God may reveal himself in a "made for TV" event, usually it doesn't happen that way. God usually shows up in a whisper instead of a grandstanding extravaganza. And the anticipation of a spectacular event we are waiting for can cause us to miss Him completely.

God uses people and nature (or anything else He wants) to reveal Himself to us. Examples:
After the flood, He showed up in a rainbow,
to Moses, a burning bush,
to Gideon, a wet fleece,
to Elijah, a consuming fire,
to the widow and her son, a prophet and a never ending jar of oil,
to the people of Israel, quail and manna, a dry path through the Red Sea, a column of fire at night and a cloud by day,
to the people of Israel, Jesus who healed the sick,
to the world, the apostles who healed like Jesus and raised the dead,
to your community, you are......

How does God reveal Himself to you? What have you seen or heard that reveals a personal God?
I see the hand of God in the flowers that bloom around my house,
I see Him in nature,
I see Him in the answered prayers.
I feel His presence when I praise Him in song,
I sense His pleasure in me when I sing the Psalms,
I am awed by Him as He provides for me and my family,
I have heard Him tell me He loves me,
I see Him in the butterflies and cardinals,
I see Him in His Word, simple yet deep, clear yet revealing, universal yet personal.

Over the weekend, my 15 year old lost his school notebook. It has all his work in his core subjects at school. It was panic time. We looked high and low to no avail. So I prayed with him about it. We asked God if He would show my son his notebook. So he went to school this morning and found it in a classroom at school. The first place he looked, there it was. His school has 3,000+ students and one of them brought it to the classroom Friday afternoon after school. God is good. God answers least this one, He did. I saw God and thanked him this morning for the notebook. No big deal. I just noticed.

Have you seen God lately? Leave your testimony here for others to see.

Monday, May 11, 2009

How to say "Sorry," and mean it

"I'm sorry." Two very simple words that require no pride to utter successfully. Asking for forgiveness is about as difficult as granting forgiveness.

I wish I could be blameless, but I am not. I, like almost everyone, have hurt people that I care deeply for, have said things that were monumentally insensitive, stupid, occasionally mean, and have acted in ways that left pain and hurt in my wake. I have tried to get attention at others' expense and I end up feeling pretty lousy about myself. I wish their was a human 'reset' button that we could push and have a do-over. I wish I could blame others, my ADHD, my upbringing, painful life experiences, solar flares, or global warming but I can't. I have to take responsibility for my mistakes and admit that I have willfully hurt others. I am truly sorry for my actions. Ever been there yourself?

I have talked to so many people in the same boat. They feel stuck in a relationship because of something they said or did. Now, the cat is out of the is much easier to let the cat out of the bag than it is to get back it into the bag. Shame and guilt have caused many a good man or woman to stew in their own juices because they feel really bad about what happened...and can't move on. One must swallow their pride to apologize and ask for forgiveness. Saying, "I'm sorry" is a spiritual discipline.

Here are five things to do to say "I'm sorry" and mean it:

1. Ask God to give you a full understanding of the wrong you have done. "Jesus is Lord. Father show me how I have wronged xxxxxxxxxxxxxx. In your infinite mercy, help me to feel the true impact of my wrongs."

2. Make a list of your sin. Whether by accident or if it was intentional, make a full accounting of your wrongs. Write it down. Take full responsibility of your feelings, actions, and consequences. Pray for the person you hurt. "Father, comfort them. Heal the pain that I have caused and allow them to move beyond what I did."

3. If possible, talk to the person. Take responsibility for all your actions. Allow your emotions to show.

4. Ask for forgiveness. God says to ask. Leave it at that. Let the person you hurt think about it and do what they want. Let the healing work of God surround them. It takes time to work through the process. Just do your part. Continue to pray for them.

5. Forgive yourself. Move on yourself. If possible and appropriate, offer restitution. Resolve to do things differently. Ask for forgiveness for yourself of God.

To err is human. To humble yourself and work through is of God.

What are your experiences with, "I'm sorry?"

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

My youngest son is in the midst of a baseball tournament today and it is supposed to rain. His team did really well in pool play yesterday (won both of them) so hopefully we will do well...for the Mother's.

I hope you have a relaxed Mother's Day, filled with of happy memories of your mom. Like the time your mom shot the water moccasin with a shot gun and screamed so loud that people in the next county could hear. Or maybe you fondly remember the time when she got lost after coming home from the rodeo, even though the four kids in the car, all under age six tried to direct her home (and actually knew where they were). Or the time she fixed Rocky Mountain Oysters for your college friends and didn't tell them until after they ate. Or remember the countless meals she prepared or the times she supported you in your endeavors.

My sons rely on their mom for math tutoring because they both passed me years ago. And there is an endless supply of hugs as well. My sons were teasing my wife concerning her consumption of Dr. Pepper (her only vice). My middle was watching a television program that said the human body is 80% water. He said my wife was 80% Dr. Pepper. She could not be a blood donor but rather she could donate Dr. Pepper. She is DP+.

I have heard that we marry someone who is alot like our own mom. I hope that is true. I hope they can find a woman who is as spiritually attuned, emotionally supportive, intellectually equal and as loving as the woman I found.

Do you have any great stories about your mom?


Friday, May 8, 2009

Jesus, the Trapese Artist

About five years ago, I went to the circus with my sons. The two things at the circus which caught our attention the most was the "Globe of Death" (motorcycles running at 50 mph in a sphere) and the trapeze. The trapeze always fascinates because it is death defying...well, with a safety net they might break a nail if they fall...but it could be death defying.

Sometimes I think of Jesus as a trapeze artist. Hanging on by his knees, swinging out with His arms reaching out, wanting me to let go of what I know and reach out in faith for Him. The problem is,.....well, .....I have to let go of what I know, of what feels safe. EEEK! But isn't that a requirement of faith? "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." There is no safety net. Only trust that He will catch you.

Now, I know He will catch me...I really do believe that.....really!??!! But it is hard for me to let go. I could just hang on to my bar and not take the leap but then what have I accomplished? I have proved that I am not willing to trust that the Master will catch me. I have shown that my fear of falling is greater that my faith that he will catch me. If I choose to hang on to my bar, I cannot honestly say, "I believe God will see me through," or "God didn't answer my prayers for...." Trust requires letting go.

In this light, I have a new respect for Peter stepping out of the boat...he's the only one who did so. You didn't see "Show me and I will believe" Thomas or "The Master loves me the most" John doing that. Not even the "I will die for any good cause" Zealot or the "I must follow the rules to the letter of the law" Pharisee did..but Peter did. As a fisherman, Peter even knew the dynamics of water and still stepped out.

So the question is: Are you just going to go through the motions? Are you all talk and no show? When are you going to let go of what you know and leap toward a Savior who says He will catch you? What do you think? Where do you need to step out in faith? What keeps you from letting go?

Here is a song (its even a capella) that proves my point...I love Rich Mullens Screen Door.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Open Mouth, Insert...Praise

Praise is exalting the characteristics of God. When entering a time of praise, ask God to give you the words to praise Him. There are certain things God wants to hear from each of us, words He created us to say. We want to give God what He wants, not what we think He wants or what we feel comfortable with saying. God, in His infinite grace and mercy, not only wants us to praise and worship Him, He gives us the very words to speak to Him and will help us engage our hearts in a way that will please Him. We can't naturally do it ourselves (conjure it up in our flesh), we need God's help.

I could post some praise statements that God digs here but I would rather each person ask God (with the faith to know He will answer) to provide the words to speak, shout, or sing. God wants our hearts to be engaged. Say the statements several times until your heart gets into it, which is an old Jewish tradition. Rabbis ask their students to repeat scriptures 3 or 4 times (or more) until the Rabbi hears their heart engage into the words.

So try this:
1. Say, "Jesus is Lord."
2. "Father, in the name of Jesus, I ask you to place words of praise on my heart and on my lips."
3. Say the things that come to mind out loud.
4. Repeat until your heart engages or God gives you something else to say.
5. Enjoy.

Here is a song to help you by Chris Tomlin.

And another song by delerious?

Try it and see if it works for you. You may have to try it several time before it works. Report back about your results.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wednesday Praise

Here's some music to go along with my other post. Sing it out loud. Give Him a shout this morning.

I love the rustic, passionate sound of Third Day...and these dudes know how to praise the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Hillsong Music is a blessing to me. When I am one of God's adventures in my life, I am encouraged, comforted, and refocused by their music.

Chris Tomlin gets it. Enjoy.

"Jesus is Lord" (Say it out loud)

When you read this post, do something for me. Each time you come to the statement, "Jesus is Lord," say it OUT LOUD. Vocalize. Form the words and say them. Try it.

Romans 10.9-10 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

As a confession of faith, "Jesus is Lord," is all you need to be saved. But saved when and from what? Do we have to wait until we die to be saved or is there some savin' on this side of the grave that needs to happen? When I say "Jesus is Lord" I believe we are saved each and every time we confess it. In fact, I Cor. 12.3 says that you can only say "Jesus is Lord" is the presence of the the Spirit. You want to experience the fire of the begin with "Jesus is Lord."

"Jesus is Lord." Jesus is Lord over my church. "Jesus is Lord" over my relationship with my wife. "Jesus is Lord" over government and he is Lord over my sin. In fact, if I say, "Jesus is Lord" when I do sin, I am that sin. "Jesus is Lord" over my finances and "Jesus is Lord" over my anger. "Jesus is Lord" over pornography and he is "Lord" over alcohol and drugs. When we declare "Jesus is Lord" the power of salvation and redemption becomes possible.

"Jesus is Lord" of shame and guilt. "Jesus is Lord" over those who seek me harm and he is "Lord" over past abuse. "Jesus is Lord" in my quiet time and he is "Lord" in my chaos...when I have a flat tire, have plumbing adventures, "Jesus is Lord." Say it in your prayers and add to your praise time. It's easy and free.

So try it today. Place as many things under the Lordship of Jesus today and experience the salvation of the Lord. "Jesus is Lord." Feel better?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Life Can't Be So Bad....

Perspective. Its what we all need in our lives. You think of all the things we take advantage of in our lives...water, food, safety, bed, etc. Things can go wrong, sometimes horribly wrong, and throw your life into adventure. Chaos keeps us from being bored (although I would like to try bored for a day or two) and makes life interesting.

My dad used to say that trauma builds character (exactly what you need to hear when things are going wrong), ....What!?!? This it is good for me?? Yeah right. But you know (and I hate to admit it), my dad was right. I look back on my life and see how each hurt, each disappointment, each rejection and injury has made me a humble man. It has given me perseverance, wisdom and maturity. I look at others around my age who have good lives and I see that I am different than they are, that somehow I have grown in ways they haven't because of what has happened in my life.

James 1 talks about that. He calls them tests. I call them adventures...times when my life went off the road and free-wheeled for a while. It's like playing golf and never being on the fairway (trust me I know that feeling). It's an adventure that the wusses who play the fairways can't know. God says he will not give us more than we can bear and sometimes I think God overestimates what I can bear...but so far so good.

When I feel overwhelmed I just remember....Life can't be so bad that a speeding ticket or hemorrhoids can't make it a little bit worse. God is protecting me from things that He knows would push me over the edge while the "tests" are being taken.

Thank you Lord for giving me what I need, not what I always want. You are my provision and my comfort. I trust you in knowing me and bringing me to where you want me. Keep me in mind for mercy and hold back the tide of evil that constantly wars against me. Jesus is Lord of all the adventures happening in my life.

Now I am going to go check on the plumber fixing an adventure in my master bathroom.

P.S. Three hours after writing this post, I had a flat tire adventure on a very busy highway, taking my son to a golf lesson. It took an hour to change the tire...and I was remmebering what I wrote the entire experience....Life is an adventure!

Tuesday Worship Songs

"He Knows My Name" is one of my wife's favorite worship songs. It is such a comfort to know God knows who I am and is interested in me. Enjoy.

"Your Name" by Paul Baloche is one of my favorite worship songs and I have been blessed by it many dark days in my life. I hope you enjoy it too.

Finally, Annie Herring has blessed me so many time with her songs. "There's a Stirring" reminds me of the wind of God that stirs our hearts and moves in ways we cannot describe but we know it is Him. I hope you enjoy it too.

Be blessed by God today and earnestly seek the Spirit.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Orangely Morely

I grew up in a small town on the western slope of Colorado on a small farm right outside of town. This story happened in that town after I graduated high school and was in college. And I will never be the same.

My mom and dad had a cat and, as cats are prone to do quite often, she had a litter of kittens. It was up to my nephews to name the cute puff balls and here are the names:

Orangley Morely
Orangely Leslie
Orangely Ollie
Orangely Nunly

I had never heard such names...bizarre....until I saw the kittens.

Orangely Ollie - Solid orange kitten
Orangely Morely - Mostly orange with some white kitten
Orangely Leslie - Some orange but mostly white kitten
Orangely Nunly - Solid black kitten

Through the eyes of a kid, these names made perfect sense and you could tell which was which.

Now, God says we are to be like children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. He wants us to be as unsophisticated, uncomplicated, and trusting as a child who would name a kitten Orangely Morely. When our theology has to include more than simple faith in Jesus, it paralyzes us intellectually because we can't figure it out . When we make things too hard we end up frustrated and give up because of the hopelessness of perfectionism. And when the questions don't have answers or we don't like the answers, God wants us to trust him more than we need to figure it out.

I know most of us think our religious beliefs are important and we cling to them as if our lives depended on them. But do they? Are we willing to go back to the simple yet profound "Jesus Loves Me?" Are we willing to ask more questions than have all the answers? Or better yet, depend on the simplicity of praise and worship to change our hearts and lives without all the other "stuff?" Do our "5 steps to this" and our "three steps to that" really change non believers more than if we just loved them as a child would? Would we suffer a great deal if we scuttled 90% of what we knew about God if the remaining 10% we really all we needed?

Children are simple, trusting and loving. Is that all God wants from us?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

My middle son is getting good at playing cello and golf. When he first started orchestra in sixth grade, his playing sounded like a combination of cats fighting and/or a explosion in a rubber band factory. It was awful. He rarely practiced for the first year and it sounded like it.

I told him if he would practice, he could be All City and All Region. And, for whatever reason, he took my advice and started practicing... alot. He has since been All City two years and All Region one year. As a freshman, he has played second chair in the upperclassmen orchestra. In fact, he just got through playing Michael Jackson's "Beat It" and I could understand what he was playing. Awesome!

His daily practice of golf has also helped his game. He shot an 84 a couple of months back and has really taken to the game. Now that he knows he can play well, his practice has increased. He can now beat me everytime (no huge accomplishment).

I think our spiritual gifts require the same amount of practice. First off, our flesh tends to thwart our spiritual life by staying overly busy and demanding Spiritual Perfectionism right off the bat. But for most spiritually gifted individuals, it took years of deliberate practice, mentoring and mistakes to get to where they are now. In fact, most would say they are still developing their gifts even after 30 years of practice.

For example, if God says to lay my hands on someone and pray for their healing, I have to learn to obey. Then I have to learn to listen to what God wants me to pray. Then I have to speak that prayer. Each step requires months or years of building the ability to trust God and carry out what He wants me to do.

I am a blessed man. I have had several godly men mentor me, one for 7 years on the art of praise and worship and listening to God's voice. He was gentle (most of the time) yet insistent that I take the necessary steps of courage and action to obey God. His years of experience at practicing his gifts gave me the courage to go after mine.

So, if you think you might be a bit rusty at your spiritual gifts, start practicing. Get someone to mentor you and meet with that person weekly, going over your progress and process. You need someone who will push you and encourage you to go farther in your spiritual gifts and not let you stagnate along the way.

Who is your spiritual mentor? What areas do you need to grow spiritually?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

80% Communication, 20% Words

Several years ago I was reading an article on communication. This particular article said that 80% of communication is nonverbal communication, 13% was tone, volume, timber of voice and the remaining 7% was the meaning of the actual words spoken. Crossed arms, furrowed brows, pursed lips and a cynical snarl communicates more richly than saying whatever words come to mind. I do know that if I walk into the house and my wife has "that look," I know I am in trouble without her saying a word. Our nonverbals are stronger indicators of how we really feel than the words we speak.

So....Let's take this lesson to church. What do your nonverbals communicate to God? Crossed arms (detached or angry), hands in pockets (guilt) and somber faces (Are we having fun yet?) may be communicating an entirely different message than our words say. So here is something to help if you are having a hard time connecting during church:

1. If you were a statue and the name of the statue was "PRAISE," take that position. Now sing a praise song from that position. Experiment with different positions and see which one feels the most congruent with what you want to communicate to God. Do this in you own private praise first then take it to church and try it out.

2. If you were a statue and the name of the statue was "I need you" take that position. Now sing a worship song from that position. Experiment with different positions and see which one communicates best the words you are saying. Do this in your own private worship first then take it out to church and try it out.

3. Be conscious of crossing your legs and arms during a sermon or Bible study. Uncross them and see if there is a difference in how you feel....perhaps more vulnerable? Do this for a month.

4. During prayer, nonverbally communicate with God. Learn to be more expressive verbally and nonverbally. Try it. It really makes a difference.

The reason many people raise their hands during praise is to be more congruent with the praise message. I know for myself I can express my praise better in that position. You the body position that expresses what you want to communicate.

So lets start communicating the other 80%. Try it then report back and let others know how it went.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Why Ask?

God says if we ask in faith, He will give it to us. Scripture says we do not have because we do not ask. So what is the deal with asking?

Chris Siedman at Farmers Branch Church of Christ spoke a couple of years back on the the subject of asking. He spoke about asking his wife for things that were already his by the covenant of marriage. We ask our wives for what we want and need because we love them, we don't want to take advantage of the covenant we have with them. Yes, our body is hers and her body is ours, and out of love, we ask. We have promised each other to give of ourselves yet we still ask. What does it say about us if we quit asking? What if we wait until our wives give to us without our asking? How long will it be until our needs are met? What if we don't ask because we begin to meet our own needs independent of her?

In the same way, God has promised us help, provision, healing, spiritual gifts, Holy Spirit, Wisdom and many other things if we but ask Him. He has made a covenant with us to give us what we need. We ask Him because we love Him. We ask Him because He has promised us that He will give to us. We ask because we love and respect Him. Yes, our body is His (we are His bride) and His body is ours (we are the body of Christ because His body was broken for us) and out of love, we ask the Lord for what we need. We have promised God to give of ourselves and He has promised the same thing. What does it say about us if we stop asking for what we need? Lack of trust? What if we wait until the Lord gives to us without us asking? He tells us we do not have because we do not ask. What if we do not ask because we are meeting our own needs "independent of Him?" What does that say about our relationship with Him?

What do you think about this?