post

Not Yet

“Loved ones, now we are God’s children; and it has not yet been revealed what we will be. But we do know that when it’s revealed, we shall be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” I Jn 3:2

not yet

I went to a class on healing last week. I believe in healing mostly because I’ve actually seen people get healed. I’ve experienced it myself as well. I know God heals! Hopefully you do to. Either way, I went to the class about healing expecting to learn more about it. How it works, why God does or doesn’t do it, maybe the right words to say. We didn’t really talk about any of that – it wasn’t really a class about learning how to heal people as much as it was about what tends to happen in an atmosphere where God is present. And Because God was present, I experienced some healing myself.
I didn’t go there to be healed of anything. I didn’t expect anything to happen except my knowledge of a topic might increase. I am a curious little cuss… For instance, I have so many books. And I’ve read them all. And I know all the stuff in them. It’s like there’s and avalanche about to happen in my head sometimes. Or maybe an aneurysm. Sometimes it seems like all the crap I know doesn’t matter but it’s jammed up between my ears and its clogging up my head.
Anyway, I didn’t expect to get healed I expected to learn something. But I got both things really.
The speaker asked if we could ask God anything and know we’d get an answer what would we ask. So I asked. I asked God why he’d make me good at something AND give me the desire to do that thing AND give me no opportunity to do that thing. And he answered. He said I’m not ready to do the thing.
Um. Excuse me. I did the thing for 17 years! Brilliantly I might add. There’s tons of people I’ve led that I interact with on social media every day that thank me for what I did for them, who share memories and pictures and tell me how awesome things were back then. Every. Single. Day.
How is it then that I’m all of a sudden “not ready?” I really don’t get it.
Then he showed me something I didn’t understand one bit. I can’t even describe it to be honest. But it felt like something that’s right and whole and good and complete. And it felt like it was for me. A me without fear. A me without hindrances. A me unleashed.
I’m not that me. Not yet.
And those are the words God said to me. “Not yet.” I saw it in my head like a big, red neon sign. “Not yet” it said. “Not yet.”
Dude. I’m like too old already. I’ve gone too far and done too much. Too much. Too much good and bad really. Too much questioning. Too much worry. Too much doubt. Too much wallowing. And still God has a perfect plan for me? Yes. One that I’m not ready for, apparently.
I wish I didn’t want it. I wish I didn’t know about it. I wish I could take an ice pick and jab those parts of my brain and make the thoughts go away. And I told God all that. And he laughed. Not a cruel laugh. An amused laugh. Like he’d heard that before maybe. And then he healed me.
I don’t actually care anymore about any of that. Not in the bad way. I care. Obviously. But I care more about learning to be content in being his son than anything – and in an order of magnitude that dwarfs anything else I’ve ever felt. I just don’t care about that other stuff anymore. I don’t care if I ever have that dream because I’M HIS AND HE IS MINE. And nothing else matters.
I prayed months and months ago for God to remove the desires I had. To lead, to teach, to be a pastor again. And in my heart I had such longing for those things. And they are not bad things! But I was hurt and angry and bitter and I was saying “forget it – whatever you want for me I don’t want it because I can’t have it anyway,” and no matter what I did I couldn’t forget and I couldn’t get over it. But I’ve been healed in my soul! I’m free now! I haven’t given up on anything. But I’ve been given everything. I have hope. I have a promise. I have peace. I have God!
I understand that I’m not the only one who has been through what I’ve been through. Many of my good friends have been through it. Some have quit ministry for good, others are doing something different for a while, a few are back on staff in churches again.
That’s what I still want for me – that last thing I mean. I didn’t leave by my choice. And I guess I won’t get back to it by my choice either. For now all that matters for me is that God is building me up. He is making me whole, he is making me new. He’s making a place for me and when it’s time, I’ll be ready to step into it.
So for once “not yet” is ok. I gladly accept God’s not yet. It doesn’t mean never it means not yet. As in something’s coming! I have no clear idea of what it is but I know it will be awesome! Because he is awesome and he loves me!

Who is jesus, is jesus god, Christian forums, faith in god, jesus is lord, what is Christianity, who is jesus Christ, lord jesus, spiritual journey, who was jesus, teaching of jesus, finding god, belief in god, about god, lord jesus Christ, story of jesus Christ, how to know god, is there really a god, who is jesus to you, gospel of jesus Christ, the me I want to be, how to have faith in god, blessings from god, truth about jesus, Christian blog sites, searching for god, jesus pictures,

post

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 –

 

post

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!

post

Heart Disease

Just recently, this world lost a good man. His name was Robbie Yandle, and I had known him for almost 43 years. Longer than I have known anyone except for immediate family.

Robbie wasn’t my best friend, but I consider him my first friend. Yeah there’s a story attached, and I’m pretty old so my memory is fuzzy but some stuff stands out. I hope I tell it right.

I was born in Southern California to some pretty standard run of the mill hippies. I think of myself as an accident. Or I used to. Product of free love and all. By the time I was old enough to understand some things, I’d been back and forth between Oklahoma and California about a dozen times and lived with a variety of family members.

I was with my mother, living in Midwest City when I started kindergarten. Things seemed to be good at the time but one day nobody was there to pick me up from school. No biggie. I’d never walked home but I knew the way. When I got there, nobody was home except my not quite 2 year old sister. It was strange but I did my best. I knew how to make toast so that’s what we ate that night. And for the next four days.

The food I knew how to make was gone, Hannah was crying and sick, we were all alone. And out of the blue, my aunt and uncle showed up and rescued us both. We lived with them from that day on, and they eventually adopted us both.

Because of that experience though, something happened in my heart. It’s taken me most of my life to get past it.

When my aunt and uncle took us from that place, we went to a little town called Harrah, Oklahoma. They had a little house on a hill, a place we learned to call home. Regardless of all the places we moved to because of my dad’s job, Harrah was always my home. Still is. Here’s why –

Right after we were rescued, my (new) mom took me to church at Harrah First Baptist. I went into the kindergarten class. Mrs Grimes was the teacher. And I sat by a boy named Robbie Yandle. He was the first person I met, my first real friend ever. It was enormous for me. It started a lifelong process of healing a heart that was broken, sick, stomped to pieces.

I met others as time went on. I was in kindergarten, first and second grade in Harrah before we moved. And we moved a lot! After moving four times between second and sixth grade, we moved back to Harrah.

By then I was as closed off as a person could be. I didn’t know who I was, I didn’t know where I belonged. On top of that I was a skinny asthmatic who did poorly in social settings. I didn’t trust anyone and I held people in contempt because they always ended up hurting me somehow. So I looked for ways to make people stay away from me.

But some very good people took an interest anyway, and the healing began again. The thing about it is, I have never told these people just how important they were to me, or why.

Who I am today is partly due to those people having a role in healing my diseased heart – and just who am I?

I am a minister to the broken, a lover of those who have been hurt. There is not one single thing in my life that the enemy tried to use to destroy me that God has not redeemed. Not one single moment of time has been wasted – it is all His and now I share these things and who I am – saved, healed, set free, discipled, equipped, empowered and serving The Lord.

It took 40 years for me to get over what two people did to me in my first five years of life. But there were a lot of people involved in my being set free from that terrible past. And like I said, not a minute of it has been wasted. I want to thank some very specific people right now – because you should know just how important you are to me –

Robbie Yandle, Wes Brewer, Kevin Harkey – you guys were the first ones I got to know when I started school in Harrah. And even when we moved away, we still came back on the weekends. I’d see you in church or go to your house or birthday party or whatever. And when we moved back you were the first to welcome me home.

Tony Sossamon – do you remember setting all that land on fire right behind your house? When I broke my arm skateboarding but your dad wouldn’t give me a ride home? Prank calls, playing football in your back yard, baseball cards, OU games, rock fights and a bunch of others stuff – you are a true friend!

David Byers – wow what can I say about the coolest guy I’ve ever known? I tell my kids stories about you! You put up with a lot from me and I’m glad! Seriously – I thank God for you often! Plus you still have a great head of hair!

Marc Bell – I truly admire you. You have the best heart I’ve ever known. You are one of the most genuine people I have ever met. There’s nothing about you that is not awesome.

Curt Munger, Todd Caldwell, Jay Ramer – you three were like brothers to me. I love you all and would do anything for any of you any time. You said what needed to be said – you spoke encouraging words over me, you spoke the truth in love. You may have even beat the crap out of me for my own good a time or two.

The Gobin family, Middleton family, Deaton family – any time I was at your home, I was home. You took care of me, you treated me like I belonged right where I was – at your house eating your food, fishing in your pond, pealing out in your driveway, staying way too late, getting there way too early, and in at least one case blowing a hole in your floor with a 12 gauge shotgun. Steve told me it wasn’t loaded so not all my fault. I love each and every one of you!

Danny King – you’re my brother from another mother. Possibly the most important person in my life when I was a kid. I think about all the crap we got away with and wonder why we are not in prison. I just flat out love you man. And I’m proud of you – you’re a great dad, husband and a good man!

Jim Dillingham – you live like 5 miles from me and I never see you! What’s up with that? You’re as much my brother as any. You’re funny as crap and I love your stories and your funny voices. Do Theo for me!

Donovan Ward – high school friend, college roomie. You put up with stuff no person should have to put up with. I’m truly sorry. Your friendship meant the world to me!

Troy Caldwell and Randy Maxey – like two younger but not by much brothers. You guys had a friendship I envied. Two of the funnest people ever. I always knew I’d be laughing when you guys were around.

Deni Staples – one of the best people on the whole planet. To this day you encourage and challenge me. I love you and think you are awesome!

Donna Link – the first girl I ever loved for real. Well, who loved me back anyway. You just accepted me as I was and made me feel important.

Jimmie Parker – another great guy from high school who lives right down the road from me. I remember some trouble making, a lot of laughing, some foreign liquids introduced into the radiator of your car, sitting in opposite corners of the room in chem class and a bunch of other stuff. And that one ski trip where I got into some trouble. I blame the Methodist youth group to this day for most of what they say I did.

Mark Thompson, Branch Staton, David Staton, Clint Gray, Thomas Halsell, Brian Wideman – true Christian brothers who sharpened me and did their best to keep me on track. I was a mess in college. For the love of what all is holy I tried to stab a man with a fork in the cafeteria! I’m glad you were there to pull me off of him and for a million other things!

That’s all I can think of right now. Plus it’s gone on about two days too long. If I think of more I’ll add to later. I love you all so much! Plus don’t think if your name isn’t here you didn’t mean anything to me because you’d be wrong!

post

(R)Evolution

evolutionJust a few words about why we are here (Cheryl and I, I mean. You’ll have to develop your own origin back story. Sorry.) and what we are doing. It’s a short tale, so just hang on with me for a minute or two.

I first started blogging about seven years ago – my first website was called “Rich’s Blog-O-Rama.” I posted funny stories, stupid fail videos, ranted about life and work and it was, generally speaking, a mess. Kinda like tumblr, minus the naked people. In spite of that, the site was visited, on average, 78 times a day. I had a lot of comments, and several other bloggers linked to things I had posted. This was all before twitter, and before most people knew what facebook was. I felt good about it, but I also felt like I could do more, but I was in no position to do what I wanted to do – more on that in a minute…

So basically I just got sick of it at some point, and closed it down. I kept writing – joined facebook about that time and posted long rambling posts and decided I needed another blog so I started “My Dreams They Aren’t As Empty” where I whined a lot about the state I was in spiritually, physically and mentally all the time. Not a lot of people got anything out of that, but I kept posting. I have deleted some of those posts, but the first one was 2/21/10, about the winter olympics.

Somewhere in all that, we started going to a new church, Gateway, and we really loved it – felt at home in church for probably the first time since I was a kid growing up in Harrah. And somewhere in all that, we started finding freedom – freedom to be all that we were created to be. My blog posts, and facebook and twitter posts began taking a turn toward more spiritual things, encouraging things, and somewhere in all that, I changed the name of my blog to “Not Ready For Prime Time.”

I called it that because I knew that God had a place for me in ministry, but I didn’t know what that would look like. I had been a pastor for 15 years – and it ended badly and we were hurt badly and I didn’t ever want that to happen again.

Anyway – the more we learned about who God is and how He sees us – as His children, as important enough to die for, dearly loved and adopted into His family – the more we wanted others to know God in this way. So, yet again I changed the name and the theme of my blog – to “Free Falling.” April 25, 2012 was my first post, called “Matt Foley, Lucifer and You.” It was actually a pretty popular post, and defined my style for the next year and a half – funny, goofy, catchy title, but some pretty good content. I would include a few very serious topics with some funny ones and had a great time learning and growing. Cheryl had started a blog around that same time, and we shared each other’s links a lot and were doing ok as part time amateur bloggers.

But, God was asking us to do more. We didn’t know what, but as we grew in Him, that vision began to firm up a bit, and last year, as we prayed and fasted, it really took a shape that we began to love and long for. We still weren’t there yet…but we knew something very cool was coming.

And that is this – rebuilt from the ground up, brand new website, new focus, new ministry right here on the internet. Freefallingonline.com. This is place where you can come to be encouraged, to discuss what is on your heart and mind, to find hope, healing and freedom. Freedom like Cheryl and I have found. Freedom to be everything that God created us to be. Instead of each of us having our own blog, we are both going to be posting to this one, and we have designed it to be simple – simple to post, simple to have discussions, simple to make friends and simple to meet needs.

So – that’s our evolution. The love and grace of God has brought us here, and we are here for you! Now, take a minute and reflect on your origin story – how did you get where you are right now, and where do you think God wants to take you from here?