Saturday, January 31, 2009

Victory in the Kingdom

As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm on my way to Lima, Peru. Right now I'm in the Miami airport enjoying a five hour layover in the "Admiral's Lounge."

So with some time to myself, I'd thought I'd share with you the message I'll be preaching tomorrow. Pray for me, because anyone who knows me knows I am not a morning person; I speak at 8:30am (that's 5:30am our time)

Qualities of a Healthy Team
The Apostle Paul said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul paints these word pictures to drive home the point that our faith is much like that of a ball game or sporting event. In Peru, soccer is to them what our Super Bowl is to us, so I'm relating my message in soccer terms to hopefully connect on a deeper level.
As Christians, people who follow the teachings and lifestyle of Jesus Christ, there are some things in this sporting event we call life that we need to understand if we want to have a win for the Kingdom of God.

Fouls and Outs
There are some characteristics we need to stay away from or not become in order to win.
1. Being a Free Agent: Believers who have not committed to a local church team.
2. People who want to be on the team but don’t want to play.
3. People who give up before the game is over.
4. People who talk negatively about their teammates and coaches.
Proverbs 16:28 A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.
I really can't say enough about this subject. Too many Christians and churches are loosing and don't even know it because their mouth is so wide open it cause their eyes not to see clearly.
5. People who never practice and expect to do their best at the game.
6. People who quit and give up when things don’t go their way.

Scoring Goals and Winning
1. Commitment: People who are committed to give their very best.
2. Unity: People who recognize we are stronger as a team than we are as individuals.
Philippians 2:2-4 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
3. Diversity: People who have different skills, talents and abilities.
4. Relationships: People who value their friends and teammates around them.
“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2

Think about that for a moment. Look at the words that jump off the page, "caught in sin", "you who are spiritual," "restore gentle", "carry each other", "fulfill the law"......WOW!

What "law of Christ" is he talking about?
The law of sin and death. Jesus came to restore man to God.
God is in the restoration business; which leads to point number six.
6. Possibility: People who say, “We can do it.”
Why? Because it's not easy to stand for love and righteousness. You would think it is, but it isn't. Know that this type of living will cost you more than you know, but at the same time I can't imagine living any other way. It's why the Bible gives us so many challenges and encouragement to live a life that goes out of it's way for restoration and redemption.
A win down here is a victory in the Kingdom.

Colossians 3:12-14
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Roller Coaster of Love

This has been somewhat a roller coaster week.

Here in a few days I fly out to Peru. I have the awesome opportunity to speak in a church of 6000 this upcoming Sunday morning, then the following three days speak to over 300 Pastors on the subject leadership.

While the excitement has been so joyful, I've also heard news that has made my spirit sad.

A few days ago, I sent a letter to a person to try to ease any ill feelings they might have towards me because of a misunderstanding; only to be mocked and to be made out as the "enemy."

I say sad, not because of this persons attitude directed towards me, but because of the "law of spiritual math." See, when anyone is given only partial information or half-truths or even incorrect information altogether, it causes them not to be able to accurately reach desired goals. I say this from personal experience. For example, I came into a situation where I was told "A" --so my plan was to do "B"-- and when I didn't get "C" --it caused great confusion. Unless, this person gets a real understanding of the history where their at, for at least the last 5-10 years, then.....well, like I said, it's sad.
History plays a huge part in ministry, not that it has to ultimately decide your destiny, but it definitely helps you know the future and understand future issues that you may face. I hope this person(s) don't find themselves down the same path in a few years because of bad spiritual math. If so, I pray they will be shown more grace and love than what they are giving.

Here are things that I have learned from God's Word that I want to encourage you with if you are in a situation like this or one day find yourself in a similar predicament.

1. You never have to defend the truth. It may take a while for it to come out. (it took Joseph 21 years before his situation was rectified) This is hard, especially when ever fiber of your being wants to set the record straight, but don't.
2. The moment you try explaining yourself to your accusers, you've made them your judge. When someone starts saying things about you (which they believe are true) and you try to correct them, what you've done is submitted yourself for their approval. God's the judge, not them.
3. Submission to authority is about position not person. This has been the hardest thing to do in my life. Submitting to leadership that you don't agree with is hard; but you can't honestly say you're a person who submits to authority until there is disagreement.
"It is far better to submit to leadership that is corrupt or bad and suffer lies about you and mistreatment, than to rebel against that leadership and suffer judgement from God."--Vince Farrell
4. Wounds bleed blood, scars bleed wisdom. Throughout this recent situation an accountability partner of mine commented on how well I was taking it and was surprised at the amount of love and compassion I showed towards this other person as I relayed the events to them. I explained to them that my wounds are starting to heal up. It's true. The bleeding has stopped, I've moved on and even though I have some scars from it, the scars are a symbol of wisdom learned in this season.

Lessons learned open up new doors.
A door that I'm so excited and humbled to walk through this week in Peru.

Do not owe people anything, except always owe love to each other, because the person who loves others has obeyed all the law.
Romans 13:8

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Journey

Now more than ever people everywhere are worried. Rightfully so, there seems to be a lot to worry about. Loss of job, war, health care, gas, the future. However, I'd like to share some thoughts about the subject of worry and the journey to where God wants you.

Principle of the Path

Your direction in life determines your destination. Simple, I know, but too often we don't stop and really acknowledge this. Because we think "intentions" or "beliefs" can get us to our destination. For example, you may be packed up with the right gear and have every intention to go to the beach. But if you get on 65 North, you will not end up in Florida. Direction plays a huge role.

So the question becomes, "what determines our direction?"
The answer.....attention.
What you pay attention to points you life in a direction and that direction determines your destination.

1 Kings 19:1-21
Read this on your own for the sake of keeping this short. I'll give the highlights of what I believe God has shown me that I would like to encourage you with.
Keep in mind this story has four key characters: Ahab, Jezebel, Elijah and God.

Why do we find ourselves worrying in times of crisis? Looking at the life of Elijah, I want to share some simple truths.

First, Elijah was not thinking realistically and clearly. (1 Kings 19:3-4)
Many times we, like Elijah, fail to consider the source of the threat.
Our response should be, "God is the one who has control over me, not Jezebel."
The same with your job, your kids, your boss, the government, those who speak evil towards you. Don't give them a second thought.

Secondly, Elijah failed to remember the past victories. (1 Kings 19:2)
We see a man in the previous chapter who did such awesome things for God, yet tuck his tail and run at the threat of tomorrow.
We do that too. Just like we can look at Elijah's life and say, "man! look what God has done for you! Remember His faithfulness!" I bet there are things in your life that I can point out to you and say, "look how God has carried you." I can say it for myself, too. The problem is we tend to set our attention on the threat of tomorrow, like Elijah, instead of standing on the victories of yesterday.

Third, Elijah separated himself from strengthening relationships. (1 Kings 19:3-4)
The scripture says, "left his servant" and "he himself" went alone "a day's journey."
For some reason there is something in us that when we are worried or hurt we want to distance ourselves from the very people God has put in our lives to help us on the journey. Don't go alone.

Fourth, Elijah was physically exhausted and emotionally spent. (1 Kings 19: 5-8)
This is huge. I could go into detail explaining this because at this point, who can blame him? I personally can't imagine what Elijah went through in all the years of running and hiding from those who sought to kill him. Here is the simple point, when you're worried your language and mentality changes. You say things like, " I don't know what I'm gonna do" or "I'm just gonna have to..." or " I've tried everything else, I just...."
Just like, Elijah, his focus was on what he had done and what he was doing. We tend to rely on our own abilities instead of God's faithfulness, although we don't say that. Because we "intend" to live by faith, but the "direction" of our lives prove otherwise.

How God Responds

First, God allowed Elijah a time of rest and refreshment. (1 Kings 19: 5-8)
God takes care of our every need. It's true, He's a loving Father who sees us and knows what we need.

Secondly, God communicated wisely with Elijah. (1 Kings 19:9)
God asks him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
Isn't that true with us. What are we doing here in a state of worry? Why have we come to this place of desperation or confusion? How do we end up emotionally where we are at?
What are we doing here?
If you read the story like I use to, then the question come off harsh with disgust, cause really, what is he doing? But that's not how God asks it. Remember God is a loving, providing Father and He asks in that tone. (as stated in verse 13, gentle breeze)
In verse 11-13 it looks like God is showing off with a wind, earthquake, and fire display but why?
This part of the scripture I never fully grasped why God did what He did; however let me share some thoughts that seem to fit.
It's almost as God is saying; "Elijah, Ahab is like this wind, blowing trouble. Jezebel is like this earthquake causing intimidation and you are like this fire fast to burn out. But I, the one true God speak through the gentle breeze. My words and ways far outlast all those around you."
In this display God then gives him vision and a job to do. It's as if God is saying, "you're not alone, and I still have a plan for you." (verses 15-18)

Lastly, God gave Elijah a close friendship, spiritual son relationship. (1 Kings 19: 19-21)
For me personally, I'm looking at the Word of God through a entire set of new lenses. That of the Father/Son relationship.
See in this "journey" of life, the true test to see if something successful becomes significant is in the next generation.
I may be a successful parent now, but whether or not I was significant will show through my grandchildren: how my children raise their children.
God, I believe, wants us to see past our current worry, or situation and look down the road to the people He's put in our lives. In doing so we not only gain a successor, we gain a close, personal friend---someone who loves us and understands us enough to minister and encourage us. Just like Elisha did for Elijah.

The journey is long, but it's not to be filled with fear or worry or lack of direction.
Give God your attention.
Let Him give you direction.
Take someone with you to the destination.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Schedule

The reason I haven't posted the fourth installment of "Father" series is because I've been busy preparing for the next couple of weeks concerning ministry.
It goes;

This Sunday morning (Jan. 25th) I'm preaching at a church in Tennessee.
Sunday night I'll be at a church in Mississippi.
Then I head out Monday (Jan. 26th) for Kentucky to do a youth rally the following Tuesday night.
When I get home on Wednesday, I'll turn around and repack to head out to Arkansas on Friday(Jan. 30th) to catch a plane and head to Peru.
I'll spend five days in Peru, (Jan. 31st--Feb.4th) speaking eleven times. I'll preach a Sunday morning to a church attendance of 6000 then do 10 leadership sessions to over 300 pastors the following three days.


I love this! This is what gets my blood pumping!
I'm so thankful to God for opening these doors and look forward to seeing more doors open!

Please pray for me for safe traveling and to minister effectively.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Father's Voice

Bill Gates revolutionized the computer world by creating a method for all programs on a computer to speak the same "language." Before "Windows" each program on a computer worked independently of the others and had to be separately opened and closed before another program could be accessed.
With "Windows" the programs are unique, but able to "talk" to each other because they are in the same "environment." Thanks to Gates' genius, working on a home computer is now fun, fast and focused compared to life before this revolution.

The Father's Voice
It’s a tragedy for young ministers and sons to align themselves with people who can’t speak their destiny. Too many ministers have been misnamed by those who prophesied their defeat instead of their destiny; because of the lack of a Spiritual Father who can't "speak" their language.

Sons need their father's blessings.
Jacob refused to die until he had blessed his sons. Genesis 49:1, 33
Moses blessed the children of Israel before his death. Deuteronomy 33:1
Jesus didn't begin His earthly ministry without His Heavenly Father’s blessing.

1. Fathers Speak With Authority
A. No one speaks like a father speaks.
B. True authority comes from God. Matthew 28:18
C. Fathers have been delegated by God to represent Him.
D. The abuse of authority does not give us the right to become rebels. Romans 13:1-2
E. Understanding spiritual authority is one of the great conflicts of the church.

2. Fathers Speak With Knowledge
A. God gave us parents to care for us until we are able to provide for ourselves.
B. Parents sacrifice to educate their children.
C. Everything we learn in life comes through other people.
D. “Train up a child in the way he should go.” Proverbs 22:6
E. The education and training we receive as youth equips us to find fulfillment as adults.

3. Fathers Speak With Wisdom
A. Wisdom is the ability to properly use knowledge.
B. “Wise people store up knowledge.” Proverbs 10:14
C. Sin makes fools of us. Psalm 14:1, Proverbs 21:15

It has often been said that, "it's best to learn from your mistakes." I believe that it's "good" to learn from your mistakes, but it's "best" to learn from someone else's mistakes. Thus never having to make that mistake yourself.
Let's be honest, there's not enough time in the world to make all the mistakes possible. I'd rather not waste my time and character learning the hard way. A Father's voice is the safeguard.

This is why it's important to hear and know the voice of a Spiritual Father. In looking at these three points, I have discovered there are plenty of people who speak with knowledge but lack wisdom.
A Spiritual Father is one who has knowledge, speaks with wisdom, with the authority you've submitted to in order to grow as a spiritual son.

We must recognize our father's voice.

(inspired by: Dale Yerton)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Father's Eyes

In Genesis, God introduces a life principle. It's called; Every living thing reproduces after itself.

At this point of my life I have concluded that I'd rather reproduce sons rather than servants.

In my last post, I started sharing some characteristics of a Spiritual Father, mainly because I have discovered there is an overwhelming cry from us young guys looking for fathers. (Malachi 4:5-6)
I pray these thoughts, inspired by one of my Spiritual Fathers, will bring some insight on who to look for as a Spiritual Father and what to become as you raise Spiritual Sons.

Young Warriors Need Old War Horses
Every young man needs someone who has been there and done that because Fathers look at life from a different perspective. Spiritual Fathers looks for sons, instead of enemies. He looks for grandsons, instead of giants. Relationships are his greatest treasures.

1. Fathers See Potential
A. Anyone with normal perception can see who we are today.
B. Fathers have the ability to see who we can be tomorrow.
C. They can see things in us which we can’t see ourselves.

2. Fathers See Problems
A. This is what makes a father’s counsel so valuable.
B. He can’t fight our battles or kill our giants, but he can share wisdom he has learned from a thousand battles he’s won.

3. Fathers See Promises
A. They know God is a good God, and that He’s in control.
B. They’re optimistic about the future.
C. Because of their faith they’re able to inspire future generations.
D. When we place our faith in the promises of God, it gives us the confidence needed to overcome the difficulties of life.

I believe there is nothing more tragic than a youth who has already given up on life. At a time when he or she should be killing giants, they've been reduced to a life of defeat. Scripture tell us that the "young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams." (Acts 2:17)

To me the difference between a vision and a dream is much like the previews to a movie and the actual movie. Spiritual Fathers know their "movies" will be fulfilled by their grandchildren and by helping their sons piece together and work through the "previews."

There are problems in life, but life isn't a problem.
Life is a challenge waiting to be conquered.
Conquering can be achieved with Fathers in our life.

As you look for Spiritual Fathers, also pray about who you can be a Spiritual Father to.


(inspired by: Dale Yerton)

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Father's Heart

I've come to find out that I've been carrying a lot of hurt due to a lack of having Spiritual Fathers in my life. Because of that, I've also caused a lot of hurt by not being and responding to those near me, who looked to me, to be a spiritual father to them.
I didn't know this at first, even though I've been able to quickly point out a lack of "father-ship" in my life, I failed to understand and connect the dots between being hurt and lack of spiritual father-ship.

Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers....(1Corinthians 4:15)

That word "many" is what jumps out to me. I do have one in my life currently, with the introduction to one more that has just been birthed over last weekend.
But many?
Sadly, no.
I personally think that in life it is important to have spiritual fathers that are far and some that are close.

Here is why we all need "many" Spiritual Fathers in our lives.
A Father's Heart
1. Fathers Give Us Identification
A. Children must know who they are.
B. We must know who we are to know where we’re going.

2. Fathers Give Us Impartation
A. When Jesus was baptized in water He received the Holy Spirit. Matthew 4:16
B. Paul imparted gifts to Timothy by the laying of hands. I Timothy 1:6

3. Fathers Give Us an Inheritance
A. It’s a father’s delight to bless his children.
B. It’s God’s will to bless your children to accomplish more. Deuteronomy 30:5
C. They should exceed us.

Perhaps, you're like me and have struggled to fully walk in the destiny God has for you. I suggest finding a person (or many persons) who has a father's heart in raising up spiritual sons and daughters.

I'll share in the next few post more characteristics of a Father.


(Inspired by: Dale Yerton)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Hinges on the Door

In my last post, I asked the question, "what is the most important feature of a door?"
My good buddy, Steven, answered the question with some meaningful insight.

The Hinges on the door are the most important feature. That's not to say the handle or lock or even eye hole aren't important, they are. But without the hinges the other features are useless.

In relating these natural features of a door in spiritual terms the question now becomes,
"what are the spiritual principles that can help us walk through the door of destiny?"

In the Natural
Hinges not only must be attached to the door but also the frame to the building.
Hinges are held to both structures by the use of screws.
(thank you, good night, you've been great...haha....hang with me.)

In the Spiritual
Your future will hinge on your current Faithfulness and Obedience to Jesus.
The three hinges that are connected to the door of destiny and the house are;
Dedication. Distinction. Dependability.

Doors are good. Hinges are necessary. But the hinge must not only be connected to the door, it must be connected to the frame work or STRUCTURE OF THE HOUSE. In the case of the church of Jesus Christ, that would be the PURPOSE/VISION of the HOUSE!

Biblical Truth: Relationships are the screws that connect the hinges to the house.

I have discovered in my life that as I continue to connect with the body of Christ all across the country, that it has led to deeper relationships with Pastors and church leaders in many churches. These relationships have opened doors that have allowed me to take this journey of destiny with great enjoyment and revelation.
Where is the destination? I'm not sure right now. But I do know as I stay dedicated, and dependable to the relationships that God has distinctly brought in my life that He is faithful to fulfill all He has opened the door to.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Doors of Destiny

To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
Revelation 3:7-8

We see here in scripture that God is the one who opens and closes doors.

In my prayers for the last few months, I have prayed for God to open doors that need to be open and close doors that need to be closed.

To be honest, I have not trusted my emotions to be able to make a good decision when it comes to stepping into a ministry position. I've fought the urge to take the first thing that comes available. That is why I've specifically asked God to close doors that we do not need to go through.

I find it comforting that in this scripture it shows just what a loving and caring God we have. He says, "I know that you have little strength..." In the times when we are weak or not able to make clear decisions, I believe God gives us direction with His very hand by opening and closing doors.

Starting with the last post and over the next few post I'll take you through the process of how we have come to find out what God is doing in our lives and how walking through this door of destiny has given me clear and insightful purpose.

I believe that within every human being, there are at least three God-given desires…

1. The desire to worship something bigger than you are.
2. The desire to help other people.
3. The desire to belong to something bigger than you are.

These deep longings inside of us is what begs for attention in the cry to know our destiny.
But before we can proceed through the door God opens for us, we must look at some key components on which to hang these Biblical truths. Here's the first one, I'll share another in the next post.

Biblical Truth: Destination is a place. Destiny is a process.

With that in mind, next post I'll talk about the actual door. Think of an actual door and ponder this question in the meantime; what is the most important feature of a door?