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Prepared To Be Annoyed

prepare

If you were to google “pet peeve” you could spend the rest of the year reading and not come across the same thing twice. I know we all know what pet peeves are, but here’s a definition anyway – A pet peeve is a minor annoyance that an individual identifies as particularly annoying to themselves, to a greater degree than others may find it. The thing is, we can take what is “minor” and major on it the rest of the day.

I have a few pet peeves – the big one is people who don’t turn into the correct lane. Now, I understand if you’re turning left and have to make an immediate right turn that you will not be staying in the left lane very long, if at all. That happens to me every day after picking Zoey up from day care. I turn left onto Davis, then I have to make a right turn in less than 40 yards onto Cardinal.

I also go slowly, make sure nobody else is turning into the lane from the opposite direction, and I USE MY STINKIN’ BLINKER.

When I have to go to the office for some reason, the road I drive down is 3 lanes. It comes to a stop where you either have to turn left or right. The middle and right lane have arrows for a right turn, and the left land has an arrow for a left turn. Sometimes people in the middle lane turn left. I never turn left, so I don’t care about that. But if I’m in the middle, I turn right into the outside lane. Along with all of the people in the right lane who also turn into the outside lane instead of the inside lane.

Every time I have to go this way I end up almost getting my car smashed into, and being the almost smashee, you’d think the almost smashers would wave or say sorry or something. No. They honk and/or throw up an “obscene hand gesture” every time.

I also have a peeve involving spelling, punctuation and grammar. I’m not a nazi about it. I recognize that people can misspell words, throw a preposition or two at the end of a sentence (hopefully not the same sentence though, because they are not good to end sentences with with) and sometimes when a person is in a hurry, spelling is less important than getting an idea on paper.

What bugs the everloving snot out of me is repeat offenders, people who should know better. Exspecially on social media. I’m not trying to offend anyone here. But did you see what I did there?

There’s a difference between a personal style of writing and a person who comes across as uneducated. I would expect it of a child – I lovingly correct my children’s grammar and they both continue to improve. But adults – please – PLEASE – stop just firing off your broken English, garbled and misspelled facebook and twitter updates about the neighbor’s dog or how they put too much whipped cream in your drink at Starbucks.

Now, the last few sentences show you how people can get about their pet peeves – we rant, we become irritated, we experience indignation. Righteously so – how dare anyone do these things!

It just seems like we step out of the house these days already prepared to be annoyed.

I don’t know what’s going on in the world these days. But I know this – we need to get over ourselves a bit and instead of going straight for our guns we need to start letting people off the hook.

Are you perfect? Yes or no?

To quote God here a bit – “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Have you ever commanded the morning to come? Have you ever shown the sun where to rise? Where is the snow kept? Have you seen the storehouses for the hail? Do you send lightning on its way, and does it report back to you, ‘here we are’? Can your voice thunder as mine does? Well then put on glory and beauty as if they are your clothes, and put on honor and majesty as well and let loose your great anger!”

If anyone has a reason to be peeved, it’s God. We were created to take dominion over his creation, to care for it, to tend it. To love and respect it. And that includes people, too. And what we have done is the opposite. We have ruined the earth, we are at war with each other and if there’s one thing this world lacks it’s love and respect.

If I was God I would not be so patient with us. I’d send the lighting. And some giant hail. To all those people who type “your” instead of “you’re” for a start, then I’d work my way up. Or down maybe.

I guess it’s good that I’m not God, and even better that God is love. God is love! And because of that, because he IS love, he is very patient with us. He must be, since we are all still here. Can you imagine God’s list of pet peeves? Since he’s perfect, it would include everything everyone ever has ever said, thought, done or not done.

Not only is God love, but because he is love, we should love one another – because anyone who does not love does not know God.

And, because God is love, those who are in Christ are no longer under a death sentence from God. We are now filled with his Spirit because of what Jesus did. Because he loved us! Because he loved us, we are free from the law of sin that brings only death – we are free to be who God created us to be!

So give me a break if I do my grammar wrong or forget the turn signal. And I will give you a break for your ebonics laden twitter updates. Maybe if we can all start to see each other as what we are – fallible human beings – maybe then we can start to turn this thing around. What do you say? I’ll give it a try – let it start with me, and let’s see where it goes from there –

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In The Beginning, God

nebula

 

The first four words of the bible are some of the most important words ever written. They dispel virtually every thought of the worldly, scientific mindset our culture is enmeshed in. We depend on data. If there’s no input, there’s no progress – that’s one thing that’s never changed. What needs to change is the source of that input.

In the beginning God…But after that, we.

We tried to become our own source. The world we live in was created by the Word of God, but as masters over this creation, we have formed it in our image. God created the world and gave it over to mankind to rule, and then Adam made a choice to trust knowledge over the life-giving power of God. We’ve been trying to get God’s attention ever since.

In the beginning God created. Then with what He created, he formed some things as well. We were formed from dirt by God, then He breathed His Spirit into us. At that time, we were perfect, fully alive, 100% connected to Life. Our choice was to remain connected, or to not.

God placed man in the Garden – the first temple – the place where He dwelled with mankind. The Kingdom, heaven, was here. And at that time we walked the earth alongside God. At that time, we saw as He saw, we thought as He thought, we lived as He lived. Genesis 2 reveals that in the garden were many kinds of trees, and in the middle of the Garden there were two – the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

God said they could eat from any tree except one. They could have apples, pears, bananas, kiwis, oranges, peaches. They could have life and it was all good.

In the middle of the garden were two trees and a choice to be made. They could eat from the forbidden tree or not eat from it.

Rather than call upon God, they chose on their own and did what they thought was right. And then, banished from that first place of worship, physically, spiritually and mentally, mankind has sought to find a way back to God on his own terms ever since.

We try to do good, thinking it matters, but we have forgotten that in the beginning God. We learn all there is to know, and by our observations try to understand even more, but we forget that in the beginning God. We make plans, formulate hypotheses, create, innovate, build, rebuild but in the beginning…God.

We deny what we are trying to do by striving. We say there is no God. We trust the scientific method, we try to unlock the mysteries of the heavens and die in that attempt never having found what is all around us, right in front of our eyes.

For this reason Jesus came to die. To break the cycle of mankind’s struggle to “get it” on our own – to solve the problem of the knowledge of good and evil. Remember, knowledge of good and evil are both fruit from the same tree, and neither bring life. Bob Hamp has said, “When the problem is knowledge, more, or better knowledge is like pouring gasoline on an already blazing fire.”

The more we know, the farther we are from God. Jesus came to give us life, to reconnect us to God, to make us citizens of the Kingdom. And if you’re His child, the Kingdom is here, and you are living in it right now.

You can walk with God, just like in the beginning. You can know Him. He can be your source. The cycle of striving for more can be broken. You eyes can be opened to what is all around you. You can see as Adam saw in the beginning.

We have proved, over and over again, that our desire is to know God, but the means to do so is beyond us. We can’t get to the Kingdom trusting our own way. We have to make a willful choice to not trust our will. We have to make a willful choice to lay down our will and enter the Kingdom of God.

In the beginning, God. It will end the same way. How you walk through the middle part is up to you.

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The Kingdom Of Heaven Is Like A Sand Dollar

sand dollar

Last Thanksgiving, my family took a wonderful trip to San Diego. We stayed in a hotel right by the beach, and almost every day we were there, we were exploring the sandy shores. The weather was beautiful – sunny and warm – and although the water was too cold to get into the ocean, we had plenty of fun on the beach.

One of the things my kids wanted to do was search for sea shells. We have a giant bag full of them around here somewhere. One day while we were out, my daughter Zoey found a sand dollar. And at that point the search was on for more.

We searched high and low for hours, but only found the one sand dollar. I knew, and explained to my kids, that the best time to find sand dollars is right after high tide, early in the morning. But nobody (including me) wanted to get up that early on vacation.

Soon our vacation was over, we came home, time passed, and I forgot all about this experience. Until yesterday.

I worked yesterday until around noon, came home, had some lunch and decided to take a little nap. I fell asleep pretty hard actually, and had a dream.

I generally don’t remember my dreams, but the ones I do remember involve me either chasing something or being chased, falling off a cliff or building, showing up in middle school in nothing but my underwear, breathing under water (seriously – who dreams that?) or that I have a super power such as flight or the ability to turn invisible at will.

This dream was different. Vivid, but partly in black and white, partly in color.

In this dream, my whole family was on the beach again. It was sunny, but chilly. We were desperately searching for sand dollars, but all we could see were shiny rocks and sea shells. They were everywhere – they littered the beach, they hurt our feet as we walked over them.

We came to a low spot on the beach and a young man with long hair and darkly tanned skin asked us what we were doing. We told him we were searching for sand dollars, had been searching for hours and days, but had not been able to find anything except rocks and shells.

He looked at each of us, snapped his fingers and said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a sand dollar.” We looked, and where there had been nothing but rocks and shells, there were now sand dollars everywhere.

I was still dreaming. I could see the blue water of the ocean, the color of the sand, and that the sand dollars were that same sandy color – they had been there all along, but we couldn’t see them because of the rocks and shells.

When I woke up, I immediately knew what was going on in my dream. The beach was the whole world, and our desperate search for sand dollars was what everyone in the world goes through – a search for meaning, for purpose, for peace and rest. The thing being searched for is at hand, but it’s missed because of everything else that’s in the way – the worries of life. Jobs, laundry, dirty dishes, house payments – the day to day things that keep us from seeing what is true, what is real, what is eternal, what is just below the surface and blends into the background.

Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” If you’re a child of God, it is something you take with you everywhere you go. It is on us, the sons and daughters of the King, to prepare the way, to clear away the debris of the day to day so that the world can see what lies obscured in the background. And even for us it can be hard. We have the same worries as everyone else, but we also know that if we are seeking the Kingdom, all these other things will be added as well.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a sand dollar. Not at all hard to find! And people are searching for it. They are desperate, lost and alone. But we can show them the way!

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Give Us Clean Hands

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart.

clean hands

The bible has a lot to say about purity and being clean. Cleanness is a major theme in the law and the prophets. There were rituals for cleansing that had to be followed to the letter for a variety of conditions and ailments, and even the priests had to wash a certain way before entering into God’s presence. The idea was, people had to be clean in order to be in fellowship.

These days, we tend to focus on the outward and let the inward waste away. We have 40 different kinds of antibacterial soap, perfumes and deodorants that keep up appearances, but what is on the outside, what is visible – what we can see – does not always convey what is going on in the heart.

Well, for the inside we have 40 different kinds of therapy, medications, self help books, hypnosis, and feel good messages all around us. All these things help to a certain extent, but just like putting on extra perfume on a hot, humid day, they ultimately only mask the smell that comes from our soul.

We need to stop covering up our uncleanness. We need to let the light shine in to all the dark corners and root out what is rotten. We need to cleanse ourselves, purify ourselves and then we can boldly stand before the throne of God – then we can stand in his holy place and have fellowship with him.

Think about it like this – if you don’t take a bath for a month, who is going to want to be around you? Nobody – you will drive people away if you stink! And if you don’t lay everything down before God – if you keep anything hidden, if you try to solve life all on your own – you won’t be able to stand being in his presence, and you won’t be a light to the world. You’ll be unclean, ineffective, and instead of others seeing Christ in you, all they will see is just another person trying to make it in this world.

We are called to be more than that! Our destiny is not just to get by, but to thrive, to succeed, to flourish! Like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, whose leaf does not whither – yielding fruit.

It’s up to you – you can keep going your own way, or you can lay yourself at the feet of the cross and give up – you can admit that this thing called life is too much and you can’t bear it on your own. You can set doing things your way aside and trust God to do all those things you never could. He is a Father, full of love for his children – and if you set yourself aside and follow him, that’s what you will be – all his!

So – keep covering it up. Keep trying and failing. Keep doing it your way only to see your way blow up in your face again. And again. Or deny yourself, take up the cross and follow him! It’s not even that hard. It’s like taking a hot bath at the end of a long, hard day. You just jump in and do it. Cleanse yourself! It’s your choice – your way or God’s way.

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Rocks In My Pockets

Let the one without sin be the first to throw stones!
rocks-in-pocket

I grew up in the country. My dad had some land, pretty far away from anything civilized. When I was 4 and 5 years old, the road wasn’t even paved – it was gravel. I would walk up and down that road all day in the summer heat looking for rocks. Not just any rocks – different rocks. Shiny ones, dark ones, rocks with what I thought were dinosaur fossils in them. Whatever I found went into my pockets. I was out for several hours one day, and I had so many rocks my pants wouldn’t even stay up!

I loved rocks, and I still do. No matter where I am, if I’m walking, I always look at the ground in front of me for some kind of new treasure. I have a box full of nothing but rocks somewhere around here.

The thing about rocks is, as I mentioned before, they can get heavy. They can weigh you down. If you carry them around too long, they can make you weary, and when you become weary, you can become weak, susceptible to all kinds of things.

Today I was reminded of a story. In John 8, Jesus was in the temple teaching, and a crowd of religious leaders brought a woman to him caught in the act of adultery. They reminded Jesus that God had commanded such a person to be stoned – the Law commanded that the woman be executed by having rocks thrown at her.

After a time, and after being asked repeatedly what they should do, Jesus agreed with the crowd – stone her! But the stipulation was this – that the sinless person in the group be the first to throw.

Well, there was nobody who could claim to be sinless. Not in the presence of the Son of God. The crowd dispersed, leaving Jesus and the woman. He asked her, “Where are your accusers?”

That’s the question I am asking myself. Where are my accusers? Who stands to condemn me? The answer is, there’s me and there’s Satan.

My pockets are full of rocks. I collected them from the Enemy. I filled my pockets with them and I’ve been trying to climb out of a ditch, weighed down by lies.

I look at the people around me, the ones doing amazing things, and I think, I could never be like that. I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m not strong enough. When in reality, I’m just carrying too many rocks.

What I learned from this story was amazing. I learned about grace. Grace is a tidal wave and it just keeps on coming. Max Lucado has told the story of the first time he saw the ocean. He said, “The waves just keep coming and coming!” The waves never stop – they wash over you, knock you over, they surround you and you can hardly keep your balance and they just keep coming and coming.

Grace is what surrounds me, just like a giant, crashing wave. I’m blown over by it. It never, ever stops. It doesn’t stop when I question everything, it doesn’t stop when I have doubts, it doesn’t stop when I wonder what’s next. It doesn’t even stop when I accuse myself.

Jesus stands by the Father, interceeding for me, and because of him, those accusations have no weight anymore. There is therefore now no condemnation for me or for anyone who is in Christ Jesus! I don’t have to go to church and see people doing what I know God has called me to do and think, “I could never do that.” I wasn’t born to carry rocks – I wasn’t created to be weighed down by the Accuser. I was born to run! I was born to soar like eagles!

Jesus stands between you and the rock throwers – even if you’re the one throwing rocks at yourself. Grace – that’s what happened for me today.

If God is not accusing you – and he’s not – and if God loves you – and he does – who can stand against you?

Empty the rocks from your pockets! Don’t be burdened anymore by a weight you were never meant to carry! Let Jesus do his job – let him carry it – empty your pockets and be free!

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Here And Now

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

on earth as it is in heaven

Tonight at church I heard a great message on The Lord’s Prayer. I was taking notes, getting a lot of good information – practical stuff – and it was really good, then God kinda got into my head. I started remembering something weird, something I haven’t thought of in nearly 40 years – plantar warts. I told you it was weird.

When I was 9, we lived in Tulsa, OK. It was summer, and I ran around all day without shoes on. So my feet were totally black on the bottom by the end of the day and I had to scrub to get all the dirt and asphalt off.

One day I noticed a little spot on my heel, but didn’t think much of it. But as time passed, I noticed it was getting bigger, and that it started to hurt. Not when I put pressure or weight on it, but when I wasn’t standing on it. I had no idea what it was, but it was really driving me crazy.

It just kept getting bigger and kept hurting more, so I did the most reasonable thing I could think of. I went to the kitchen sink, got a knife, and dug it out of my foot.

Now, there was pain involved, some blood, I may have had a panic attack as well. But I kept at it. Bear in mind that this was at the end of the day, and I didn’t wash my feet first.

So, now instead of the sore on my heel, there was a giant bloody crater. And within days, there was also a raging infection. When I could no longer stand the pain, I showed my mom what I did. And if I told you she completely lost it, well, that would be understating things.

I had to have a little “operation” in the doctors office. I had to take pain pills and antibiotics. I had to wear socks and shoes! Which, to this day, I still do not like.

As I was thinking about this experience, I began to see also what God had in mind for me to learn tonight. We all have little spots, little sores, in our soul. And we try so hard to cover them up, dig them out, fix them on our own. But our effort is never sufficient. The best we end up with is a crater – a hole that we dug ourselves into and have no hope of getting out of.

But that is not what God’s will is for us! I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says this – “Always be joyful! Never stop praying! Be thankful in all circumstances! This is God’s will for you, in Christ Jesus!” I added the exclamation points, because dang – is that awesome or what?

I think we get to that point by remembering who God is – he is love, he is peace, he is everything that is good, and he is holy. And he wants the conditions that exist in heaven to exist on earth, too. And the way this happens is through us – we bring heaven to earth. When we can see God for who he is, and when we see ourselves as he sees us – not as damaged, but whole; not as sinful, but washed clean; not as losers and rejects, but favored sons and daughters; not as powerless, but as filled with his Spirit – then he fills the earth with life, and he does it through us.

I have never had another wart of any kind since then, and from the time it was all healed up until today, I never once thought about it. God reminded me of that experience so I could remind you all – we need God! We can’t fix ourselves – the fixing we need is beyond us and can only come from a source outside ourselves – it can only come from one who’s very breath is life.

What is the Spirit saying to you right now? Take some time to listen. Just be quiet for a minute. Shut off the TV, set your phone aside, and listen. If you listen, he will speak to you – if you hear his voice, and respond to what he is saying, your entire life will be changed! Your here and now will be completely transformed into something that you could never have imagined in your wildest dreams – you can be free!

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Trust And Obey

When we walk with the Lord, in the light of His Word, what a glory He sheds on our way!

I am bigger

I have never been good at obedience. Just ask my parents. Or teachers. Or bosses. Or friends…or anyone really. I have always chosen to go my own way. As a result, I have lived life going from one painful event to the next. But, oh the things I have learned! I know what doesn’t work more than most, that’s for sure.

Also as a result, I have never really learned to trust. Trust is earned and can also be lost. I never obeyed my parents, as a result they never trusted me to do the right thing, because I would not, and as a result, I never trusted them to allow me the freedoms that other kids my age had, so I just did whatever I wanted. Which earned me the reputation as a rebel. And I was in trouble all the time growing up.

I never did what my teachers asked, which resulted in grades much lower than I was capable of producing. I never did what my bosses asked, which resulted in me feeling like I was in dead end jobs. I could go on and on.

I am 48 years old, and just learning what children already know – obedience produces fruit. That fruit is trust. Between people, it is a mutual trust. When I am doing what I am expected to do, the person I am responsible to learns I can be trusted, and I learn they can be trusted as well – because I am given more responsibility, more authority, increased wages, etc.

Obedience where God is concerned is a little different. He knows who I am, through and through. He knows I am rebellious at heart. He knows I question everything. He knows the questions are deep and can’t be answered with pat answers – “This is the way things are; this is the way we have always done things; just do it this way.” None of those answers will prevent me from continuing to question everything. Not much will – not even a well reasoned, expertly delivered answer. I will peel back the layers and expose the weakness in your argument and expect more. And then even more.

With God, the answers are simple. Trust and obey. I am the way, the truth and the life. You are salt and light. Be a fisherman. Do the work of an evangelist. Love me and love others.

Hard to argue with any of that. But I have found ways. And it has produced a fruit in me that is rotten.

I do not trust God, because I have been disobedient. The fruit of disobedience is anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, not knowing who you are and where you fit or what your purpose in life is.

Obedience to God produces trust. And when we trust God, we will go anywhere, do anything He asks because we know that regardless of the circumstances, whether we live or die, He will be glorified, He will bless, He will give peace and joy. He will sustain us and we will finish the race.

So what now – what do I do different moving forward? I know the consequences of not learning to do things differently – I’m living those consequences. The path to trust is obedience, so that is what I will do. That is who I must become. I used to want all that life had to offer – great job, great family, awesome stuff…Now I just want the favor of God in my life. God knows me – He is not intimidated by my questions – because He has real answers. He knows me – and I want to know Him. So I will seek Him, I will obey Him. And I will trust Him.

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Healed

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

on earth as it is in heaven

(This is the part 2 of a 7 part series of posts on the vision of Gateway Church, which is to see people saved, healed, set free, discipled, equipped, empowered and serving.)

What do you think of when you hear the word healed? Or when you hear people talking about healing, or people who claim to have been healed by God? I’ll be honest – I used to dismiss it. Coming from someone who has led his fair share of Wednesday night prayer meetings, where we spent a significant portion of the time going over the hospital list, that should be shocking. I didn’t believe in it.

But, I found out that God does all kinds of God-like things, regardless of whether I believe or not. And I came to realize that there are all kinds of healing, not just physical.

There is plenty of evidence in scripture that Jesus spent a great deal of time healing people from all kinds of physical ailments. Just read any or all of the gospels. And his disciples did likewise. What I want to ask is, does that type of physical healing still happen today?

Think about it like this – in Matthew 6, Jesus tells the people that they should “pray like this.” And then He says the words from above – “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Does this mean God’s will is not being done on earth? No I don’t think that’s what this means. I think Jesus is saying that in heaven – in God’s presence – things happen in a certain way, for a certain purpose. That purpose is the glory of God. So, all things that happen on earth should be to the glory of God as well.

Is that they way things really are? And if not, what can we do to make it so?

Just taking a minute to think about my day, I can tell you I did not glorify God in rush hour traffic this morning. I’m just going out on a limb, but I’ll bet not many people did, or ever do. And that’s just one part of my day. I didn’t lie, cheat, steal or kill anyone today. But my thoughts wandered away from heavenly things.

I think as a Christian, it should be normal for us to encounter heaven on a daily basis, and to take heaven and the conditions that exist there with us wherever we go.

What do we know about heaven? And not from people who claim to have died and been given a back stage pass and personal tour of the place by Jesus. What is heaven like?

I think it is a wonderful, perfect, awesome, terrifying place – since we are talking about actually being in the presence of God. It should change everything. I think that since it generally doesn’t, it means that most of the time we Christians are not seeking to be in His presence at all.

On earth as it is in heaven. Revelation 21 gives a little insight into what that will be like. These verses describe a new heaven, a new earth, a new Jerusalem coming down as a bride, and God dwelling with man. Then there will be no more sorrow or pain or death.

We are not in heaven, but we are not of this earth either – as Christians, we are straddling two realities. We walk this planet in physical bodies, but we are spiritual creatures and God actually dwells with us right now! And as such, we have access, because the veil is torn, to things we would not otherwise have had access to. We have God’s attention. And He’s big enough to give each of us His full, undivided attention at all times.

To be in His presence is an awesome, terrible thing. We are to approach him boldly and humbly, believing that what we ask, we will receive.

On earth as it is in heaven – words Jesus said we should pray. I think it’s a lifestyle worth living.

And now back to my point – if there is no sickness, no pain, no sorrow where God is, and if He dwells within us, if we take heaven and His presence with us wherever we go, why do we encounter so much sickness, pain and sorrow? Is God doing it wrong? Are the ones who are sick or hurting or mourning the ones who lack faith? No! It is the ones who carry His presence – we are the ones who lack faith, lack boldness, lack humility. Nothing changes because we don’t believe, because we don’t pray, because we hide who we are and try to blend in and be just like everyone else. You don’t want to come across as weird or anything, do you? No. So you do what everyone else does – “Yes I’ll pray for you!” and you think those words carry some kind of power but you never take it directly to the One who can change everything!

I say “you” a lot above, meaning “me” actually. I don’t see healing on earth as it will be in heaven because of me. And I have actually experienced physical healing, and I’ve seen it happen with my own two eyes, and still I have disbelief. Why? I don’t know, maybe I haven’t worked all the “Baptist” out of myself yet.

But I do know this – in my head anyway – that wherever we go, there God is. And just like always, He loves us, and He wants to know us. I think as we learn who He really is, and as we learn to become His sons and daughters, we will also begin to see more and more of His Kingdom all around us. And I think that means people will be healed physically, both because of who we are becoming, and because of who God is.

What do you think? Does God still heal people physically? Have you seen or experienced physical healing? Tell your story below –

 

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Rest

Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

Rest

I rested most of the day today. Read a book, took a nap, watched some TV. This is the first day in about two months we’ve had to just rest. And it was really nice!

In the midst of my resting, I thought about the words Jesus said above, from Matthew 11:28-30.  When Jesus is saying “Take my yoke upon you,” He’s asking us to agree to the terms of a new covenant.

Think about work animals being yoked together – oxen plowing a field, dogs pulling a sled. They all share the burden equally.

Under the new covenant Jesus is proposing, the burden is all on Him! It’s light for us because He knows we can’t bear it. He knows He will have to bear the sin burden for the whole world.

He carried the burden meant for us. His perfect obedience is applied to us through faith, His righteousness exchanged for our sin at the cross.

Our burden in life is either self-righteousness, in which we will fail miserably and forever, or a life of faith and rest.

As Christians, we can help people find that rest! Those who come to us, or that we encounter from day to day – they need what we have on the inside. We can give them Jesus! And they can shed the dirty rags of the world for robes of righteousness!

So – be Jesus! Be the conduit from which his love flows – from heaven, through you and into the lives of the people He loves and died for!

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Saved

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown.

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(This is the part 1 of a 7 part series of posts on the vision of Gateway Church, which is to see people saved, healed, set free, discipled, equipped, empowered and serving.)

I remember vividly the day I was saved. I had no interest in going to church that night, but my friend Brian was persistent in inviting me. Plus – free hot dogs!

It was a Wednesday night – youth night – of a week long revival we had at our church. I didn’t generally go on Wednesday, and to be honest, I tried my best to get out of Sundays as well. Not that I didn’t like it – I loved my church! It’s just hard sometimes to get motivated when you’re 14 years old when there’s so much other stuff going on.

I was not really a good kid. I was a freshman in high school, failing most of my classes, in the principle’s office quite often. There are a plethora of reasons for this, but mostly I just didn’t know who I was or where I fit in. And I was so angry all the time!

Back to that night – the church bus showed up around 6 pm. The same bus I rode on Sunday, same old guy driving, with his wife taking roll, and same guy leading some singing. It was 7 miles from my house to the church, which equaled about 30 minutes with all the stops we had to make. I usually sat in the back where all the “bad” kids sat. And yes, we would do bad things, right there on the church bus.

The fellowship hall was packed with kids! Over a hundred I bet – crazy hungry, too. All I could think about was free hot dogs and all the Coke I could drink! I must have had seven hot dogs that night. My stomach hurt!

As that part of the evening drew to a close, I headed to the back of the line that was going up the steps into the church – my plan was to break away from the group and head out the back door and (to be real honest) go down town to a little place known as Danny’s Bar. They had hot dogs there, too, by the way. I went there a lot for lunch when I was in high school, and always wondered what went on there at night.

But I didn’t make it. I was intercepted by a very tall man named Mr. Childers. It made me so mad to get caught at anything I was doing! I huffed and puffed as I was going up the steps, his huge hand on my shoulder, making sure I ended up where I was supposed to be.

I sat in the back of the church by a friend named Tommy, and we dipped snuff during the service. We also tore up the offering envelopes and made spit balls and flicked them at people’s heads. And made up words to the hymns that were quite a bit unsavory.

You should be getting a picture at this point. I was lost as a goose in a downpour. I had no knowledge of who God was, who I was to Him, or what He had done for me. If I had known how completely different I would be by the end of that evening, I might not have gone. I hated who I was, hated everything about life – but at least I was consistent and I knew what to expect – nothing but trouble!

As the service drew to a close, we all stood up and sang, of course, Just As I Am. About 1000 times. And I was thinking, “OH MY LORD JUST LET IT END!” Then the revival preacher (my memory has him in a light blue polyester “preacher” suit, with brown patent leather, zipper on the side boots. And what looked like either a bad wig or a horrendous comb over) signaled for the music to stop and he came up and started preaching again!

But what he said this time – and this is important – what he said brought something to life in me. Actually it was God, but He used what that guy said. “Some of you here tonight have no idea who you are. You go from day to day to day and nothing changes, everything’s the same. It’s not life you’re living, you’re living in death and Jesus came to change that for you!”

And quite a few people went to the front of the church for some reason. I was not one of them. I just sat there. People mingled after the service, and I sat. People left. I sat. The custodian came to shut everything down and lock up. And still I was sitting there. He asked if I wanted him to get the pastor and I just nodded my head.

Pastor Forrest Sheffield came and sat down by me and we just talked. He took me home since I’d missed the bus. And in my room, sitting on my own bed, on that Wednesday night that I’d have rather stayed home, my whole life changed! I went into that room a dead man walking – and walked out overflowing with life!

I wish I could tell you that everything was all good from that day forward. But this is still life – filled with both wonderful and awful things. But one thing has never changed. I know who and whose I am! I met Jesus that night in my room, and He became real to me – and that thing that happened for me can happen for you!

Think about your life, who you are, what has driven you, what you have made life to be. Have you ever come to the point in your life where you know for sure that you can’t make it another day without some kind of radical change of direction? Have you ever wondered if there is something else? Something bigger? Someone who is watching over everything? There is, and He wants you to know who He is! Jesus said simply this, “Follow me!”

If you feel something right now, that maybe you have never felt before – something deep inside your heart and mind – it may just be that God is trying to make a connection with you! Don’t let the moment slip away – you can have everything that God promised right now! All you have to do, in your own way, is call out to Him and tell Him you need Him, that you can’t make it without Him. All you have to do is follow Him! Jesus also said that His burden is light and if we will come to Him, He will give us rest.

So it may be that now is your time to trust Him to be everything He says He is – will you take that step right now? If you do, please let me know!