Thursday, February 26, 2009

ONE of those DAYs

This past week I had a conversation with an incredible woman in our church who is 90 years old. She's been a part of our church as long as I've been there (13 yrs), and she was describing a procedure she has coming up to regulate her heart. Now... she is always got a smile on her face; ALWAYS! Full of life, upbeat, positive, and brightens up any room she enters. As we were talking, she said: "How did I get so old?" I laughed and replied: "One day at a time!"

It's amazing what can happen in your life when you line up a bunch of those days. Until one day something causes you to evaluate THIS day. This day isn't what you would have anticipated several or hundreds of days back: day after day, after day, after day... You wonder what has happened? How did I get here?

It's not like one single day got you to where you are at today... but a series of those one days did. The sad thing is you can't just erase all those days, BUT this day you can make some corrections to get you back on track. I feel like I have had ONE of those DAYs (a few days ago). A day that allowed me to rediscover something that I have misplaced... ME!
Jeremiah 1:5, 12 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born i set you apart: ...for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled."
This verse did it for me...I've been reminded of who I am, and that sense of destiny and passion that got lost in filling all those previous days trying to do things and be things that weren't me. Being more aware of what others would say or think of me. Trying to please others and make them like me by me not being me. Not compromising my values, doing bad things, or wrong things... but just not being me!
I want my days ahead to be lived once again with boldness, daring to dream, not afraid to fail, not being cautious and safe. I'm not talking about living selfishly... just letting me be me. Unhindered, unashamed, without feeling like I've gto to explain myself. Being who I am, the age I am, the way I am, true to myself, the way God made me to be!
I hope I keep having days like this...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Guests on Grace

There has been some great conversations and thoughts shared with me on GRACE from those in our church. It's exciting to see the revelation and thoughts from other people! I was encouraged from their thoughts and decided it would be cool to share these 2 thoughts will all of you... WE'RE ALL ON THE ROAD GROWING IN GRACE! Thanks guys for your thoughts.


Guest on Grace: Tim Lunde

“But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful kindness (grace) became more abundant”, Romans 5:20b

Since Adam’s first act of disobedience to God, man has been born into sin. This means that we are born with the “me first” attitude that that Adam and Eve displayed in the garden and that we are born facing the wrong direction: away from God. As our focus on ourselves, which is the basis of all sin, grows, our distance from God increases and sin is a simple by-product of this distance from our Father. If we try to live a sinless life—try to live the Law—we are taking it upon ourselves to treat the symptoms but leave the fatal disease—our distance from God—unchecked. It is only through grace that we have a mechanism to grow closer to God.
As Bishop [that's what he calls Pastor Greg] said, Grace is Jesus Christ. When we accept Christ we open the door to a new and closer relationship with the heavenly Father. As we apply grace, this relationship can grow closer and richer and the selfishness into which we are born comes to be replaced with His love and mercy and forgiveness as we see His grace at work in us. Grace allows not only the treatment of our symptoms by the forgiving our sins, but a means for the treatment of the “disease of man”: our distance from our Lord.

Guest on Grace: Bob Scott

I participate in the men’s group that meets ...on Monday nights. We are currently reading a book entitled “He Loves Me!” by Wayne Jacobsen. In Chapter 18, page 147, the author writes these words which go so well with your series on GRACE. The subsection is entitled, Grace With a Purpose. It reads as follows:

Those who distort grace do so because they see it only as a ticket to heaven. If the reason Jesus died on the cross was to save us from hell, then how do we get people to live the Christian life?
Such thinking misses the greater point. God did not extend his grace to us merely to forgive our sins and let us into heaven. Those are secondary benefits, not the primary objective. The purpose of grace is to grant us access into his presence every day. Grace qualifies us for the relationship we could never earn on our merits.

This grace doesn’t let us get away with sin, but in fact “it teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions” (Titus 2:12).

God knows that as we grow in friendship with him and discover how to trust the fact that he loves us completely, the root of sin will be destroyed. Grace doesn’t diminish God’s desire for our holiness but clarifies the process. Righteousness doesn’t produce relationship. Relationship produces righteousness.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Capacity - form it and fill it

The night with Bishop TD Jakes was absolutely amazing! From the very beginning the atmosphere was charged, ready, filled with anticipation. There's something about that energy that makes the presence of God tangible...

One of the treasures that impacted me was the thought of CAPACITY. God is only able to pour out to the measure of ones capacity. Like a glass: I can have an unlimited resource available to me (water faucet), but the size of my glass can only capture what it was formed to handle.

Everything that God formed, He filled, but only after He formed it. Creation: He formed the sky then filled it with it's creations, the seas were formed then the creatures to fill it, mankind was formed then He filled it with the Breath of life. CAPACITY - form it then fill it.

I believe that my capacity of life is expanding. My faith, His Grace, my family, my marriage, our church, finances, relationships, my worship, leadership and influence, wisdom, discernment, gifts and abilities...

The Bible gives us this insightful prayer in 3 John 2 - I pray that you would prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.

This is growth. It requires learning, change and going beyond my realm of comfort. Although it is God's desire for all of us, it requires my cooperation with God.

Lord Jesus, I submit my life to you and ask that your Holy Spirit would enlarge my capacity and fill it!

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Deep Heart of Texas

Angie and I come to Texas every year for a time to refuel and leadership coaching. IT HAS BEEN MORE THAN AMAZING! God has touched us and other church leaders so powerfully here at C3.I've been reminded once again of His call on my life and that He believes in me so much to give me the most important job in the world...leading my local church;which is part of His glorious Church; and to reach people with the message ofJesus Christ.

Tonight is the last night and Bishop TD Jakes will raise the roof and bring the house down all at once!I'll let you know how it goes...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bubble Bath

We are doing tons of swimming on vacation, which also means we takes lots of baths. So, we decided to have some fun and put soap in our jacuzzi tub. Not only was it fun, but it was good way to launder our bathing suits.

Our time away has been a blast! Like I said earlier, lots of swimming, play games, just relaxing. This morning we did tye-dye shirts, we'll see how they turn out tomorrow. We only a few more days left before we come home, and all I really want to accomplish is some reading: IT by Craig Groeschel.

I almost forgot... for Valentines day I made a seafood pasta (shrimp and scallop) with lemon garlic butter, heavy cream and white wine sauce with crab legs and bacon wrapped scallops on the side. Needless to say, it was delicious!
That's all for today... we're heading off to Port Townsend. IT'S BEAUTIFUL OUTSIDE.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Vacation - Can't Get Away

The family is enjoying a little time away. We arrived yesterday and met some friends here that we did ministry with in Everett:Jon and Karly Weitzel with their kids; Reagan, Ella and Jack.

We woke-up to a beautiful sunrise! I read Psalms 5:3 NIV and it reminded me again of God's GRACE - In the morning O Lord, you hear my voice, in the morning I lay my request before you, and wait in expectation.

Each new day I can expect His gracious attention in my life. Even if I can't see the sun behind the clouds, I know that it's there. No matter what darkness or shadow may be cast upon me, because of GRACE I can have expectation instead of dwelling in depression and gloom.

Even on vacation... you can't get away from His GRACE!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hard to be Bold

In the Old Testament, the only people who could be in the presence of God was the priests, and only after a very intense and complete cleansing process, physically and spiritually, and put on special clothing. If the priests were not completely 'clean', they would be struck dead when they went behind curtain into the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was and the presence of God dwelt. Their outer robe had bells that hung from it to indicate if they were still moving. If not, the other priests would pull the dead and unclean priest out by the rope which was tied around the waist.

Imagine the heaviness and stress that weighed on those who were about ready to go behind the curtain. I don' think they entered in with boldness, or confidence. At best, I would be full of fear and my mind constantly racing if I got everything covered in the ridged cleansing process. When Jesus died, that curtain which separated the presence of God was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51). Since that moment, everyone could be in the presence of God because Jesus was that ultimate sacrifice made on our behalf. So, listen to what the instruction is for us; found in Hebrews 4:16.

"Let us then approach the throne of GRACE with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find GRACE to help us in our time of need."

READ THAT AGAIN! Did you see it... His GRACE, that became my GRACE, allows me to come into God's presence with confidence... just as I am, that I then can receive mercy! No longer do I need to be someone special, or be clean in order to come to God... HE CAME TO ME, and He wasn't offended by my faults, failures and sin.
Don't allow condemnation and shame to keep you from the GRACE that is readily available. There is freedom and mercy available to all of us... by HIS GRACE! This wasn't something initiated by us, but by God. He's the one who is beckoning all of us to come boldly, with confidence into His GRACE.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Can't Earn It

Romans 4:4-5 NLT When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.

There's something rewarding about working hard; a sense of accomplishment, usefulness, contribution and value. There are people who are filled with so much pride or 'self respect', that any sort of assistance or hand up is viewed as an insult to ones ability to provide. No matter how hard I work to do good and not sin, I could never pay the debt that Jesus paid for my life. To reject His gift because I'm determined to 'do it' myself, is prideful and a mockery to His generosity.

I'm finding myself seeing God's GRACE clearer now than ever before, and yet it's still beyond my ability to comprehend. His amazing love and unconditional acceptance is coming more alive and giving me a joy and peace that is hard to describe. It's compelling... like discovering for the first time that someone 'likes' you; and they're someone you considered out of your league. Suddenly your flattered and feel wanted, desirable and worth something. Maybe that's why the Bible calls it "your first love".

God, I'm blown-away by the enormous GRACE you have for me. Although there are times when I feel broken or discouraged, You have already made me whole. I boldly and gladly accept your GRACE... there's nothing more I can say, but thank you.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Grace Revolution

Luke 7:50 And He [Jesus] said to the woman [a prostitute], "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."

The message of Jesus Christ was revolutionary, and anything revolutionary is controversial in nature... that's the nature of change. This message of GRACE was such a paradigm shift, that it got Him crucified. Here's a question for us to ponder: Who had the most difficultly embracing this message of grace? Answer: those who were fully devoted to a system of religion.

Today, this same message of GRACE is still a difficult thing for may people... including me! If we stop and really think about how most Christians live out their faith and measure their 'success', it's usually based on what good things they do and what bad things they have the ability to abstain from. This is a deep rooted issue that goes beyond faith or religion. Think about how we find value in ourselves, or where we get our sense of identity. Our world functions and measures things based on achievements and a system of rewards.

GRACE addresses something deeper than what you believe about spiritual things; although it heavily impacts this perception, it really comes down to discovering the real me. If I as a person find my sense of value, worth or identity as one who can pastor a growing, successful church, what is my identity if my church doesn't grow or even declines? This can be used in any profession or area of gifted ability (athletics, arts, business, etc.), as well as ones understanding of faith and their personal relationship with God.

If I read my bible, or read my bible more, God is more pleased with me. If I pray, show kindness to others, don't do what other bad people do... then I'll be making God happy or happier. In reality what we are saying is that I'll feel better about myself! GRACE single handily removes this performance factor mentality from God's standpoint. Jesus told the woman to "Go in peace" because of her faith that saved her. When we find true GRACE, we can walk in true peace!

Wayne Jacobsen ~ Religion offers us the illusion of earning acceptance, but is only a cheap substitute for the reality of life in Him.

The apostle Paul says: For He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJ)

GRACE says: You did nothing to become righteous, just as Jesus did nothing to become sin. All our efforts to achieve God's approval in what we do or don't do doesn't lead to peace, only more religion and anxiety. Religion is anything but peacefully! Walk in the peace that is found in God's GRACE.