Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Where You Are, What You Have & What You Can

I was talking to a friend this week and she told me something rather disturbing... She saw a flyer printed about some sort of kids camp or weekend at a church that said "Lead by non ministry [insert name here]."  Ummm... "NON MINISTRY!?" I'm not sure who had that flyer printed but it got me thinking and wanting to write a little something about the subject, so, here it is:  There are a few problems I see, not only with the "non ministry" discription in the flyer but with that thought coming out of the minds of people I care about... First, ministers should never feel, act or speak as if we are better, more righteous, preferred or higher than others and when/if we do feel, act or speak in those ways it is sin because we are taking self credit for God's work in making us qualified ministry.  "By ourselves we are not qualified in any way to claim that we can do anything. Rather, God makes us qualified. He has also qualified us to be ministers of a new promise..." 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 (God's Word Translation.)

For my friends and those reading who don't consider yourself ministry... Or, for that matter if you consider yourself ministry but not others, please allow God's word to change your mind about that... Scripture is quite clear, we are all ministers the moment we've established our own relationship with Christ.  "Whoever is in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence. 18 God has done all this. He has restored our relationship with him through Christ, and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships... 20 Therefore, we are Christ’s representatives, and through us God is calling you." 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 & 20 (God's Word Translation) The first word spoken in this passage is "whoever" and that word implies no exclusions... Whoever has a relationship with Christ, this scripture applies to you! And if you want to argue with me, don't bother, "God has done all this" so if you don't like it so far, talk to Him :o) "What has God done?" He has given whoever has a relationship with Him the "this ministry of restoring relationships" He has made us "Christ's representatives" and He has "called you!" We all know restoring relationships takes A LOT of work! Can I get an amen? ha! There is enough work to go around and we all have that ministry description directly from God! No matter what part you're working on, you are ministering!

I know some of you, like me, probably have big dreams and prophecies of how God can/will use you... You may think, there is no room for me to minister in my church, the positions are filled, they would never think of me to be appointed to minister in that area... Whatever the though, stop worrying over it! There is a definite process and I can tell you what it is because the Bible explains clearly more than once, and it was one of the best lessons I've learned!  You could be right, you may not ever work in the church you are at with a title or position, maybe God will move you out and use you somewhere else... But you are a minister now, where you are at. I know you've heard "occupy til I come" and that's exactly what you do while waiting! Find something you can do now, where you are! Sometimes God is has us in a waiting pattern in order to see if we can and will occupy, be faithful when we have little and find ourselves some way to minister to others whether it's serving, speaking encouragement or anything else you can think of... Even what you speak is considered to be ministry "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." Ephesians 4:29 (KJV.) If we prove faithful in little, even in our speach, He will give us more responsibility "...because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority..." Luke 19:17 (KJV.)

So that's it in a nut-shell, we are all ministers once we've entered into a relationship with God...  Find a small way to minister and start now, where you are with what you have! Lastly, another friend, Tonya, posted this picture:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Grace is His Plan

My uncle, Lloyd, wrote a song for his new CD (Can't Hold Back) that I have not been able to get out of my head lately. Really it's one line I keep concentrating on over and over... "Grace, everybody needs grace..." I hope he will lend me a bit of creative grace (pun intended) to share why this one line is on my mind...  The rest of the chorus speaks of the love of God and how His love is so strong and there is so much of it the whole world can be saved... While I definitely agree with that fact I want to talk about another grace that seems to be appearing a lot less frequently in this world.

Yes, we ALL need the grace of God to forgive our sins and save us from destruction and pain we also need the grace of those around us... Once God has stepped in and vanquished sin from a life we need others to support us, to give us the grace to change.  People, forgive one another! If someone you know has given their life, that certain sin, those evident problems and God has given them a second, third, one hundredth chance then we need to do the same... You may not even like that God has given another chance to him or her but the truth is, if you're honest with yourself and God, you have needed just as many chances yourself... "Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don't qualify as citizens in God's kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I'm talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you've been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit. " 1 Corinthians 6:10-11  Not one of us is better than the other, not one is pure, not one is perfect, not one is deserving of one ounce of the grace God brings to us every day but He is sovereign and grace is His plan for our lives! GRACE IS HIS PLAN! "God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
his merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left" Lamentations 3:22-24 Far-be-it for us to stand in the way of the plan and desire of God!

"...he doesn't want anyone lost. He's giving everyone space and time to change." 2 Peter 3:9 So, don't be angry when you see the grace of God where you think there should be chastisement and judgement... Be thankful that he is giving someone the space they need to grow just like he gave to you and show that thankfulness by giving that person some grace and space from you as well!

Basically, that line in the song is true, we have all needed and continue to need grace, both from God and from others so if in fact we need it we must give our grace to others. You reap what you sew: "Don't be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he'll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God's Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life." Galatians 6:7. If you show no forgiveness or grace to others you cannot be forgiven: "In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God's part." Matthew 6:13-15. If you judge others harshly you will receive the same judgement: "Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor." Matthew 7:1-5... It really doesn't get much more clear than that...

If you want to be a little more like Jesus, If you want Him to do his part in your life, if you want eternal life, if you truly want to help others clean up their lives then take Jesus' lead on the cross and each time you repent again, spread some undeserved grace around! Grace is His plan, after all...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Born This Way - President Obama Supports Gay Marriage

With all the talk of President Obama supporting gay marriage and all the "Christians hate gays" statements flying around I've been thinking I needed to write a blog to somehow explain the true Christian stance on the issue... Being true Christians are "little Christs" that's where the word was originated after all... And being a "little Christ" means we a true Christian has no place in them for hate toward people! However, being a "little Christ" also means we have no place in us for sitting silently, much less supporting lives being torn apart and ruined by sin.

First of all, if you are homosexual, transgender, bi or any other sort of sexually oriented person let me be possibly the first Christian to say while I do agree with the Bible which does state clearly the Christian position on your sexuality, I am so sorry for any other Christian who has harmed you in any violent way... That is not what we were taught by Jesus. Let me also say that Jesus loves you He just hates the sin that is harming your life... And before you stop reading because you are offended I call it sin or say it's ruining you life please, take a moment to think of the struggle you are going through or have had to go through, think of the people you've lost from your life and every other tragedy your orientation has brought on you and please know this post is here to offer you understanding and hope.

The preface above being stated, I have a guest post for you! My friends at The Journey Church in Henderson, NV, USA (just outside Las Vegas) have put beautifully into words my thoughts and the Bible's opinion on the matter people you don't want to miss out on meeting so if you are ANYWHERE near them you must check out their new church meetings in Henderson and if nothing else stop by their website and leave them an encouraging word! Here is the post:

How many of you have ever found yourselves pondering this question: What do Lady Gaga and God have in common?  Ok…so that list is probably pretty small. And really…I’m just making light. But really…there is more here than you might think. You see she has this song that has, for some reason, garnered quite a bit of popularity. And in it she actually hits on a few points that Scripture can agree with…here are a few examples:
  • Lady Gaga believes in God: “It doesn’t matter if you love him, or capital H-I-M.”
  • The Bible believes in God: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
  • Lady Gaga believes God is perfect: “’Cause God makes no mistakes.”
  • The Bible believes that God is perfect: “But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
  • And finally, Lady Gaga believes that loving yourself and others should be a high priority in life: “Don’t hide yourself in regret, just love yourself and you’re set.”
  • And so does Jesus: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).

So there you have it…who would have thought that God’s Word and Gaga’s words would line up in agreement? But sadly…sadly this seems to be where the similarities end, for there is a definite point of disagreement on a very key issue:

Lady Gaga:
No matter gay, straight or bi
Lesbian, transgendered life
I’m on the right track, baby

The Bible:
Don’t fool yourselves! No one who is immoral or worships idols or is unfaithful in marriage or is a pervert or behaves like a homosexual will share in God’s kingdom. Neither will any thief or greedy person or drunkard or anyone who curses and cheats others (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

The Scriptures clearly disagree with Lady Gaga in this area. In fact not only does it clearly state these folks are not on the ‘right track’ but it comes right out and says what so many modern church folks try to skirt around. If you live one of these lifestyles you will not share in God’s Kingdom. That’s not the end of the story, though. Neither myself or this Scripture are targeting and singling out the ‘gay, bi, lesbian, trans-gender’ folks. Notice, here, that homosexual behavior and other types of immorality are in the same list as thieves, drunks, and cheaters. So the Bible isn’t singling out any of these so called ‘alternate lifestyle’ folks any more than any other types of self-destructive behavior…and neither should we, because we have no room to judge since we all share in humanity’s sinful condition.
And that’s what it comes down to, doesn’t it? That’s one more thing Lady Gaga got right! We really are all “born this way”!  What way, you ask? This way:
All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. (Romans 3:23).
We all fall and fail. We all do and say things that bring physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual destruction. Lady Gaga might sing about a sinful lifestyle being the design God had for her, but I promise you He has something infinitely better for her, and you, and me.  How do I know? Because Jesus had an encounter with the “born this way” guy of His time.  His name is Nick, well actually it was Nicodemus…but we can call him Nick.  You see, Nick, for most of his life was quite confident that the state of pride and religious passion that he was born into would get him into heaven. But Jesus’ response surprised him…maybe it’ll surprise you too:
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:1-3).
Jesus was telling Nicodemus that nothing short of a complete spiritual rebirth would save him and secure his place in heaven. Nick thought that being good and following God’s law would earn Him favor with God, which is why Jesus needed to reveal a critical truth that we all need to hear.  We truly are all born this way…but being born again is the only way to heaven.  What Nick didn’t realize is that the human labels don’t matter. Straight, gay, lesbian, drunk, thief, boy scout, pastor, priest, or just plain normal person…we all have one thing in common. We are all sinners separated from God and in need of a rebirth. And at the moment we are born again through trusting in Jesus Christ as our only hope of salvation, God comes in and remakes us into the beautiful and unique people He intended us to be!  And there is so much more than just a place in heaven, because this new birth gives us a brand new perspective on life:
We are careful not to judge people by what they seem to be, though we once judged Christ in that way. Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new. God has done it all! He sent Christ to make peace between himself and us, and he has given us the work of making peace between himself and others.
What we mean is that God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world. And he has given us the work of sharing his message about peace (2 Corinthians 5:16-19).
Did you catch that? We see people in a different way, and our primary goal in this life is to help others find peace in this crazy life through trusting in Jesus Christ for salvation.  I encourage you…when you walk the halls of your school, or you’re hanging out with friends…engage in conversations with people about the whole “born this way” idea, and how we are all born with a predisposition towards behavior that breaks God’s perfect design for life. Pray for an opportunity to share how you’ve been born again and example it by how you don’t judge people. Christian people need to stop being afraid to talk to people. If your friends, family and coworkers know you’re a Christian, they already know that you hold an opinion on things! You might as well share it.  We need to stop arguing that folks aren’t ‘born this way’! The fact is that they are! Scripture told us so, long before they figured it out! The fact is they were born that way…they were born into sin, just like the rest of us! So many people are trapped in the mindset that because they were ‘born this way’ or ‘raised this way’ that things can’t change! A relationship with Jesus changes EVERYTHING! We ALL need to be born again to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Trust me, God desperately wants the people who are trapped in the “born this way” mindset to find true freedom in realizing that being born again as the only way! We have an obligation to introduce everyone we can to Him with the same love and compassion He did when He walked the Earth!

Yes Lady Gaga, we were born this way…
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me (Psalm 51:5).
But the story doesn’t end there – I was born again!
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:4-5).
Born of Water and Spirit?
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:37-38).
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:4).

Gaga may have managed to fire a few straight arrows, but as a whole she missed the target by a long shot. It’s just not his plan for us to live a life of sin, no matter what that sin may be, separated from truly knowing Him.
God bless,
The Journey

Thursday, June 7, 2012

RUPO! No, no no, not Ru Paul!! RUPO

Hi guys! Long time not post... Okay, I only missed a week so not really but I have to have some kind of introduction, no? ahha! As you can tell my life is a wee bit nuts today and it's putting me in a strange mood. Anyway, nothing strange about this post, basically it is just a phrase I saw over and over last night and I took it as a sign (mystical of me, huh?) to pass this short and sweet thought along to you all!

Ever have one of those day where for whatever reason you could just collapse anywhere and immediately be sleeping? Those draining days where all you want to do is fall in a heap and sleep? That would be today for me haha!

What about a day filled with tears? I know we've all experienced those days either through exhaustion, bad experience, loss or some other traumatizing life event...

I must admit, I often have a hard time staying focused on the important things in my life. There are so many distractions these days, both good and bad, that pull my thoughts away from what I should be spending time on into things I really should just not worry about at all... Let the chips fall where they may... STOP WORRYING (this is one I'm definitely getting better at but still creeps in every once and a while...)

Suffering, no one wants it but we all experience it on many levels, sometimes in seasons of pain and others just fleeting moments...

In any of these cases (or others for that matter) don't you just sometimes wish there was someone to defend you... Someone to speak up for your reputation and fight for you if necessary? And how many people who are brave enough to defend do we actually have in our lives? Not many!

Depressing blog, huh? Wait a minute, I'm turning this ship around! I read the answers to all of the above and have to share it! One answer for so many situations, how easy is that!? Now, just before the big reveal I do want to qualify that you actually have to absorb not just practice the answer on the surface... Also, It's not really a fix all but it definitely is a ease or help all... So in other words, it may not stop what you're dealing with but it will definitely make it easier on you! 

"I collapse in the dirt.  Revive me with your word!" Psalm 119:25

"I collapse from grief. Sustain me by your word!" Psalm 119:28

"Turn my eyes away from what is worthless! Revive me with your word!" Psalm 119:37

"I am suffering terribly. Oh Lord, revive me with your word!" Psalm 119:107

"Fight for me and defend me! Revive me with your word!" Psalm 119:154

Pretty much this whole chapter is talking about God's word, reading it, understanding it, praying it and obeying it... And if we are missing any one of those we are not in a great spot... We must read the Word of God (Bible) daily, I mean why would we not if we have promises it will help us out when we just need to collapse we are so tired or when we are overwhelmed with grief or when we need to stay focused, when we suffer and need defence... Sounds kind of crazy to me to turn away from such a help!  But if you're having a hard time understanding what you're reading don't just skip through it, wade into it! If all else fails google a different translation to get some help! Pray the word of God over your life! I actually have an app on my iPhone that allows me to highlight verses in different colors and I use a specific color for verses I want to pray and frequently select that color during prayer so I can see all the scriptures I want to pray and go from there... This also will help your prayer life, I'm sure we've all had those times where we think we've been praying for an hour and when we look at the clock it's only been 13 minutes!? ha! Lastly, and probably most importantly, OBEY God's Word! Don't pick and choose what you are going to believe and obey out of the Bible, believe and obey the total Word! How can God respond to our praying the scriptures, how can He allow the scriptures to help us and guide us if we know something we are not obeying out of the same Book?

So this week, it's simple: Read, Understand, Pray & Obey = much help and relief in your life! So RUPO everyone!