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In The Beginning, God

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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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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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God Thinks I’m A Loser

 

I was standing in the front of the church, weeping. Sobbing. I had been through the whole church service – from the first song to the final prayer. A nice lady sitting in front of me went and got me a box of kleenex, which I used up. So in addition to being screwed up, I thought I also owed God a box of tissue.

The man I was standing with had a gold badge on. Don’t remember his name. He held up his hand, and a man with a silver badge came to stand with me. He said some things I don’t remember, but one thing I do remember, quite well. “How do you think God sees you?” And my answer was, “God thinks I’m a loser.”

I came to this point in my life after years of struggle. I was a pastor in a church, and the staff was fired. I had sent out resumes, had interviews, had some hope, too – at first. As the months and years went by, I lost all hope, gave up and didn’t even care anymore. Then we found ourselves standing in front of the church at Gateway.

The minute we walked into the building, my whole family sensed something, but we didn’t know what. Later we knew, but at first it was foreign, but a good feeling. When the service started, we just stood there listening – we knew a few of the songs, but the impact they were having in our hearts prevented us from saying a word – we were broken and alone and for the first time we actually understood that.

And when it was all over and the pastor invited people to the front for prayer, we were the first ones there. I think we even ran a little bit. We didn’t even see it at the time but for the first time ever we were actually running toward God.

For years as a pastor, I thought I knew everything. I always knew what to say and do – several times in my 15 years, I was called on to preach at very last minute (like right before the service started!) and I would take my bible and go up and the words would just flow out of me. That’s part of who I am – I just always know what to say.

In all of that, I looked good on the outside – like I had it all together – but on the inside I questioned everything – my calling, my salvation, if God was really real. What I discovered was, although I was saved, I never really knew Him at all.

That changed, quite dramatically I should add, that day standing down in the front of Gateway Church.

I found out that God created me as I am on purposed, for a reason, and that He loves me no matter what. That pastor went a step further – He said, “God is love and He loves you, but you know what? He LIKES you too!”

I never felt like God liked me. I thought my purpose was to be an example to others of what not to do with your life. Believe me, that was the enemy. I had listened to his lies for so long that they became who I was. I was living a lie.

It took almost 2 years to work past those lies. Some victories came immediately – healing started that first day at our new church home. Others were fought for and won the old fashioned way – with heavy artillery. AKA prayer, fasting, more prayer, counselling and prayer. And lots of praying.

Now, as opposed to thinking I know everything, the only thing I am truly aware of is this: I am God’s, He is mine. I can see who I am to Him, and I am wonderfully made, powerful because He resides in me – I am the temple! And I take His power and His image and His Kingdom with me everywhere I go. And wherever I go, I am called to do the same thing Jesus did – make disciples, bring peace and rest – and to take dominion. Not to dominate, but to let His Spirit so work through me in every place and every situation, that all those around know that His Kingdom is at hand.

“Come to me,” Jesus said, “And I will make your burdens light! When you can’t carry your load any longer, I will give you rest!” Can you believe that, for yourself, right now? Can you begin to see who you are, through God’s eyes? Take a minute and ask Him right now – “Who am I?” And listen for His answer – you might just be taking the first steps on an incredible journey to freedom!

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Pursue God

Francis Chan said the following, “We never grow closer to God when we just live life. It takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness.” What are some things you do to pursue God? Click the picture above for a great article on practical things you can do to strengthen your relationship with God!

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“What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”

– C.S. Lewis

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Zephaniah 3:17

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Strength through God

http://www.freefallingonline.com/63/

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Restore