Jesus loves me this I know. Debra Wants me this I know. My kids appreciate me this I know. My church encourages me this I know. My Life Group cares for me this I know. Everything else I know, I will share with you.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

One more Letter to those who serve at newLife

Yesterday as I was at the church working on a couple of projects, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people who came in through the church doors to serve while no one else was there. One was helping with the filing, one was cleaning up the children's ministry, one was looking for their Life Group paperwork, and another came to help me for just a moment on his lunch break. And this happens every day. People who love the Lord, serving the Church.

Romans 12 speaks of this person. They are the ones who give their bodies to God. Who daily are engaged in Spiritual worship. The Gifted who use their gifts not for their own profit but the profit of the kingdom. They don't pretend to love others, they do, but without compromising good in the process. These amazing people seek to love each other and honor each other.

And while I do not think this of them, I think that its important to speak of Romans 12:11....

Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically

"Never/Do not" means that this truth Paul is speaking of isn't a part of a submissive Christians DNA. You would never want to be known as whatever he is about to say.

"Be Lazy" Really, you want me to explain this? How lazy can we be? lol

"in your work" Remember the context of Romans 12

"but serve the Lord" The answer to the above statement.

"Enthusiastically" Some versions say "Fervent" meaning to boil over.

Let me share a few things today that might encourage those who serve.

#1 Laziness in your ministry can come from many places but I believe its base comes from one in particular.  Selfishness. (FYI: not a fruit of the Spirit)

#2 Laziness in your ministry can be the result of placing the value of the Lords work behind the value of other work. Not that there are not other things we have to do, but I am speaking of how our heart places value on those things.

#3 Laziness in your ministry can come from a lukewarmness to God. I have never seen warm water boil and Ive never seen a lukewarm Christian be anything but lazy.

#4 Laziness usually results in you blaming the ministry for your Laziness.

Jesus spoke of a Lazy man in Matthew 25 who sat on his talent and then blamed God for his laziness and ended up alone and empty. Laziness is easy to fall into, but once there, its hard to be enthusiastic about getting out.

I do not think that you are Lazy, but I know how easy it is to begin to let things slide.
If you are there, please see your Team Leader or one of the Pastors and let us encourage you through it. and in case you haven't heard it lately, thank you for serving.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Letter to those who Lead at newLife

This morning as I was reading my devotions the Lord pointed out a very important truth.  He never promised that ministry would be easy.

I know that this is a foreign thought in a world where many Christians believe that being a good Christian is always easy. Even how we speak to each other in hard times seems to lean towards the thought "it will get better". But what do you do about this..................

Acts 20:18-23 (ESV)

18 And when they came to him, he said to them:
“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by[a] the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.

Paul's words to those serving are powerful but also painful as there are six things I want to share with you out of Paul's Testimony.

1) Paul had to keep a Stellar Testimony so that his word was believable. vs. 18
This is hard for many as they want to serve God but they want to live how they want to live. They use their freedom in Christ as a license to sin rather than a line of truth to others.
If you want to serve God effectively as well as honorably you will need to be more concerned  with what you can't do than what you can. This is especially true when your alone.

2) Paul had to put others before himself. vs. 19
This is Humility. He put his life away for the lives of others. Though he faced many trials in serving and had many plotting against him, his ministry was never about him. People needed Jesus and he was called to tell them.

3) Paul was Fearless in his Service. vs. 20
In a world full of people pleasers this is huge. Paul did not shrink or hide from sharing what he believed that people needed to hear. Whether it was in a church service or sitting in a home with a family, Paul taught without fear of men.

4) Paul's Message was simple. vs. 21
Jews or Greeks ~ Religious or Rebellious the message was still the same. Turn from your sin and trust in Jesus. Our modern Christian wants something deeper and if Paul were preaching today they would scoff at his lack of depth. But I know this to be true, depth in Christianity is not known by how much you know, but how far your willing to go.

5) Paul was truly Spirit Led. vs. 22
I am so tired of people talking about how the Spirit of God leads them here and there but they don't tithe, serve faithfully, or can't even be a committed member to His church.

The Spirit of God constrained Paul ~ Paul could not get away from the truth of God.
The Spirit of God moved Paul to live by Faith ~ Paul had no idea how any of this leading was going to work out. There was no promise of a positive outcome.
A Spirit led person is obedient to the word of God no matter how it works out for them.

6) Paul was Faithful. vs. 23
This is a huge verse. The Spirit of God told Paul that in EVERY CITY he would face IMPRISONMENT and AFFLICTIONS. This was a promise from God. But Paul still went.

God never promised that this would be easy, but He did promise that it was important.  So I say to you thank you for leading others at newLife. I know how hard it is for you. You never have enough people, never enough money and there is never enough time. Your message is often ignored, there are always those who complain and worse there is always the temptation to quit. But don't until you read what Paul said next

 TLB vs 24
But life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus ~ the work of  telling others the good news of God's mighty kindness and love.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Ties that Bind

When Debra and I first met back in 1983 our way of communicating was way different than today. Back then, Phones had cords and to speak to each other you had to be close to another phone because of the cord. In my home the cord was really long and not only kept you close but you could easily get wrapped up in it.

If I wanted to message Debra during the day I would have to write her a note, and deliver it to her either through the post office or in person. Since I was working in the woods I would often write her notes on whatever I had (even a dollar bill) and then at the end of the day present it to her letting her know I was thinking about her.

Yet, She never complained that I didn't call her right back. Nor did she sit around waiting for my messages made of texts. Face time was when I saw her, Facebook was her photo album of her life, and twitter was how birds spoke to me while I was waiting to see her.

That is not true today. A Phone call can be anywhere anytime and is expected to be immediately answered. Messages are instant and continuous and are expected to be immediately responded to. Facebook has become an album of your life that is constant and demands immediate likes and Twitter lets the world know what your thinking every moment of every moment.

I am not saying that these are bad things at all, but they have created an attitude of immediate response. We are becoming a people who think that if ten minutes goes by and there is no LIKEING of whatever you posted there must be something wrong with you or them.

Whats the problem? This is not how God communicates with us and yet because we expect it with Humans we expect it with God.

And this is why People struggle to pray more than a few minutes a day. When God does not pick up, text back, Like our page, or read our tweets immediately we think something is wrong.

and there is, Its our Perspective.

God does not communicate the way we do. He does not care about our need for instant, continuous, and self gratifying responses to our calls.

He is God.
How does God tell us to communicate with Him? What should we expect in Prayer?

Psalm 46:10 (ESV)  “Be still, and know that I am God.

The two commands are important.

Be Still ~ Wait
and know that I am God ~ Watch

God hears and answers our prayers (communication with Him) But He does so in His time. A time that I believe more similar to when Debra and I were dating. Face to Face

God has no interest in meeting our need for instant gratification ~ But He does want us to have a relationship with Him based upon trust and faith that even though I have prayed and He has not answered, He will meet with me.

We just need to be still and know, He is God

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Little Queen Never Hurts

When I was in High School (yes they had them back then) a song came out that energized our football team. Queens "We are the Champions" motivated us to win many victories that year. In the state rankings our football team ended up being the 4th best in the state, our basketball team 2nd losing a close one, and our baseball team 4th as well. While we were not champions as in we won it all, we felt like we were. To us we had done well and Were the Real Champions of the WORLD!

I havent experienced that confidence in a long time. Not that I felt like a loser, no no but to be in a group of people who really believe in themselves has been a rare experience.

and yet last night at life group I heard that song again in my head as they began to talk about what was going on in their lives.

One was conquering her job
One was conquering her fears
One was conquering his bitterness
One was conquering her pain

One after one after one talked not about what was wrong with their lives but what was right and how God had given them such amazing victories in their personal lives.

We are the Champions my Friend

The bible tells us in Romans 8:37 (ESV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

And well keep on fighting till the end.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Last fall I was blessed to attend a conference in South Carolina that changed my life. I know we say that all the time but this one really did. While most of the meeting was filled with amazing helps, it was one conversation with thier worship leader at the closing of the conference that really struck a cord of change in me.

What He said was for me and him, but this morning as I was checking out Perry Nobles blog I noticed that it was written by that very same man who challenged me so deeply. Thank you Lee McDerment.

Check it out and see as he describes our worship leader.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Old Song says, All we need is Love Love Love, Love is all we need

Call me a hopeless romantic but every Sunday is special because anytime you gather Christians together there is the possibility of Love happening. Yesterday was no exception.

Love happened when the teachers gathered to prepare for the children.

Love happened in the parking lot when Shaylynn and others carried out umbrellas to cover those coming in.

Love happened when the worship team pointed us towards our Mighty Warrior who Acquitted us while raining heaven down in Love.

Love happened when you brought your offering to the Lord ~ This one moves me every time

Love happened when God through the word drew you to a life of faith.

Love happened at the alter when people who needed love received it from God and others

But that’s not all

Love happened when a man collapsed from low sugar. Love surrounded him, covered him, cared for him and then called him later to check on him.

And this all happened while two were expressing their love and endless devotion to each other in a wedding ceremony and many were sharing their love with the two.

Still not done.

Love happened when prayer requests were made on Facebook for a young boy’s mother who has cancer. This love came from his most amazing kidsLife teacher.

Love happened when fellowship was happening during lunch.

And while texts were being sent seeking more information on the message and thanks were being sent for serving.

If all we need is Love ~ yesterday was full

Thank you newLife, I love MY Life

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Dull Boys are Troubled Men Continued....

As the saying goes, "All work and no Play makes Andy a Dull Boy". The Play in the saying and the play that I am thinking of is a little different but the point is the same.
Play is a part of life that makes life worth living and really is a part of what allows our bodies and minds to rest. Jesus understood the value of this rest. Lets continue in Mark

Mark 6:45-46

In this passage we find Jesus sending his disciples across the sea in a boat while He goes up to a Mountain to pray. This filling  gave Jesus time to connect to the vine (God) to prepare Him for what was next. A Storm in which endangered His apostles and the strength to walk out on the water to save them.

Mark 9:2-13

Jesus took some of His closest men up with Him on a spiritual retreat. There they saw the Majesty and beauty of the mountain, they talked as they walked, they prayed. Then Jesus went ahead a ways to pray and the men saw Jesus engaged in a conversation with Moses and Elijah and then Jesus Himself was Changed before them. This experience with Jesus changed them forever.

Mark 14:12-13

Its funny but I have missed this for years. Too busy in the work to enjoy a simple meal. But even this Last supper was important for the success of what was to come. The conversation, the food, the laughter, the singing, the lesson, and communion prepared them for the cross. A day that forever changed them and us.

Mark 14:32-42

Jesus again took His most trusted friends into a quiet place to prepare for the next day. While the disciples fell asleep a little early, Jesus prayed through the night. There in Prayer, Jesus surrendered His will to the work God had called Him to. Gathering strength from His heavenly father Jesus could now face the beatings, the mockings, his friends forsaking him, and the cross. Without Jesus Filling Up with God, He could never pour Himself Out.

Jesus was successful in ministry because He understood the value of the Vine Connection. Because of this constant filling He was fully capable of pouring out all He had for others.

Troubled men (women) come from never filling up but always pouring out. If you want to be a successful man or women, father or mother, friend or Christian, you must get into the rhythm of filling up with God.

Let me close this thought out with a few suggestions.

Get Alone with God before anything else
Turn off all electronics (cell phones empty you of life)
Pray, think, dream.
Bring a friend once in a while to bounce prayers and thoughts off of each other.
Make sure that your full of God before you become empty of You

and Finally ~ Repent of Living on a quarter tank of God. It is wrong to think that as a follower of Jesus we would even try to do His work in our power.

Have a Great Day

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dull Boys are Troubled Men

Its funny how often the things you thought you knew about Jesus are wrong. Growing up I always believed that Jesus was kind of like my dad. He worked 12 hour days 6 days a week and took Sunday off. I never saw my dad just take a day off. As long as I was with him on this earth there was never a vacation. What my father did was important to the family and so he worked a lot.

And to be honest, what I want to share today I learned 15 years ago, but because of my up bringing and our culture I never got it until the last couple of years.

Remember, Jesus ministry was Successful. Its still in business. He never ran on a quarter tank and always filled up before He poured out and when He filled up, it was with premium "God"!

But how does this filling and pouring look to us? Well lets check the bible.

In the Gospels there are many examples of what I am going to share but because I'm currently in Mark we will use that as a reference.

I found eight examples of Jesus pouring himself out and filling himself up and here they are. Today you will get four.

Mark 1:9-13

Jesus had just gotten baptized and you would think that He would officially begin His ministry, but no, Jesus spent 40 days in the desert alone praying, meditating and thinking of God.  It was in the wilderness that He was tempted and defeated Satan setting the tone for His ministry. This gave Him what He needed for a strong start to what God had called Him to.

Mark 1:35

Jesus went out to a very lonely place and prayed. This time helped Jesus discern His next step of going to Galilee.

Mark 3:13

Jesus went up to a Mountain to pray. This gave Him the wisdom to make a very important decision. The choosing of the twelve men who would do ministry with Him and later, Eleven, without Him.

Mark 6:30-32

Jesus and the Apostles had just finished a wonderful but painful time of ministry and so Jesus suggested that they go for a boat ride. John the Baptist had just died and so they needed some time to grieve. But every where they went people thronged them creating amazing stress among the apostles. But Jesus, because he had filled up was fully capable of pouring out leading him to feed thousands and little to no real effort.

This is a little different than I was taught. Jesus didn't just work all the time. He filled Himself first, then Poured Himself out. Chew on that a little today and we will see more tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Always fill a Harley with Premium and Hondas with Regular

I have to admit, I am struggling this morning with what to say. and what is funny about this is that I wanted to share with you what God has been speaking into my life about having a successful ministry.

Why am I struggling? Because I spent most of the last two days pouring myself out and I got too busy to fill myself up.

You see the way that Jesus lived His life was in the rhythm of filling and pouring.
in fact in John 15 Jesus says this.

John 15:5 (ESV) I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Jesus taught that the power to pour out for others, comes from an intimate relationship of filling (abiding) in God.

The message bible puts this relationship in clear perspective as Jesus spoke this truth.
Matthew 11:27 “The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge

What Jesus poured out did not come from His own efforts or energies,  but the words and works that bear fruit with little effort came from His connection to our heavenly father.

So this morning rather than pour anything out that might be considered to be sour grapes, I am going to get connected to my Heavenly Father and fill up with Him.

My Suggestion for you, do the same today.

Have an Awesome day

Monday, May 12, 2014

5 Things I loved about Mothers day

I know we are in the middle of a study but I can't go on without saying how happy my mothers day was. So let me give you five things that made it so special.

1. I am Happy because of Faithful mothers who set aside their day to teach children about the value of the Church over themselves.

2. I am Happy because of the Amazing worship God received from the hearts of so many mothers.

3. I am Happy because of the testimony of mothers who have suffered pain in raising their child and at the end of the day struggle to lift themselves up to even get into bed, but you are still able to raise their hands in praise to your Heavenly father.

4. I am Happy because of the Love Mothers expressed to each other by praying for each other. I am never wearing mascara to church again!

5. I am Happy because I know that the women of our church went out of their way to make sure those who are not mothers for whatever reason, still felt loved.

It has been four years since we came up with "I Love My Life" and every year its meaning gets deeper.

Thank you Ladies for a wonderful day

Thursday, May 8, 2014

As the Song Goes, If your happy and you know it clap your hands.....Clap Clap or Clump Clump

I know its taken a long time to get to the Point and we are almost there, but we do know.....

Its easy to let life wear you out, especially if you add ministry work to it.
Its common to live life on a quarter tank constantly living on the edge and fearing failure.
and not all draining is bad as it does get us down to a clean start.

But Jesus said that He came to give a Life where burdens are easy and light. A life that is Abundant. A Life that is full.

And Jesus lived that life. But How?
How did Jesus do so much with so little? How did Jesus change the world with what He had to work with. How did He not only survive but thrive?

Simple. Jesus life was more like a rhythm of Filling and Pouring.

Time and time again the bible tells us that Jesus would withdraw from the crowds and go and pray alone in a quiet place. There, Jesus would share His heart with His father, meditate on the scripture, listen to His fathers voice, then obey His fathers word.

Whether Jesus was a young man or a famous preacher he lived His life in a rhythm of the Filling of Himself inside before He Poured Himself out.

Next week we will look at the basis of scripture to support this truth but first lets stop for a moment because I want you to ask yourself some questions.

Am I Living My life Abundantly? Or am I always on the edge of running out of gas?
Do I find myself tired often not just because of work but of worry?
Is my life easy and light, or heavy and burdensome.
Am I happy?

Next week I promise we will discuss how to fill and pour Jesus way, but right now lets pray

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Every Christian needs a Little Drano once in a while

Don't get me wrong, running out of gas is not always a bad thing, even in ministry.

At times it is cleansing ~ being drained breaks me down to the truth of who I am. It reveals the reality as I am too tired to fake it. It drains me of all the things I may have in my tank that Im holding on to that I won't let go unless I empty myself of them.

At times it is clearing ~ Draining also brings me to a place where I live more simply as I learn what I really need to live life.

Jesus taught us that

The bible tells us that as a child......
Luke 2:52 (ESV) And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

and through His life..........
Hebrews 5:8 (ESV) Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.

Jesus understood what it meant to be drained. Though He is fully God He is fully Man and spent time in the empty zone. But through this cleansing and clearing Jesus grew in grace and learned to trust the filling of God.

In fact before Jesus entered ministry He spent 40 days in the desert being cleansed and cleared of all that would hinder Him from being successful. How did it work out for Him? Every temptation of Satan failed. But there is something I want you to know about this place of draining.

Mark 1:13 (ESV) And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

There was never a time where God nor His angels were far from Him

It was these times of cleansing and clearing that brought Jesus even closer to His Heavenly father and they taught Jesus two things.

The Value of being Emptied of Self
and the Value of being Filled by God

I know that you might think that all of the negitive things draining of you life might sink you, but I suggest you open the drain and let them out. Get down to who you really are and what you really need to live life, and then let God, who is never far from you, minister to you to fill you back up with what can only come from heaven.

Do that today, just don't really drink drano or you might wake up and literally see God.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Fear is a Drain, Faith is a Filler

When it comes to doing ministry, no one was more successful than Jesus Himself. For three years Jesus invested himself into others lives. The Disciples were encouraged, served, taught, and when Jesus was done, they reached THOUSANDS with the Gospel.

In fact what Jesus started was so effective that even today it prospers in our own lives.
2,000 years is a pretty good run.

How did Jesus have such a successful ministry? I mean if most pastors who begin ministry do not end their ministry well, and most Christians who begin serving God so full of faith and excitement end their years sitting in a pew. What have we missed?
What was not translated to us through the last 2,000 years that has caused such a switch.

What did Jesus do and teach that we are not? How did Jesus live with the demands and stress of ministry without becoming depressed and over stressed? Where did Jesus get His strength from, the depth of compassion, wisdom to make right decisions, and the power to do miracles?

Its simple. Jesus filled up before He poured out. While we are always running on a quarter tank. He never ran on the edge.

Have you ever done that with your car? I remember in the Storm of 2007 when Astoria lost power for days and you couldn't get out of town. My truck had a quarter tank of gas. I was panicked because I knew I could not get far and yet I still had to go places and with every mile I could feel the fear drain me emotionally. I know of people who always run their vehicle on a quarter tank and their always looking for a gas station. There is nothing more fearful than running out of fuel in the desert on a Harley. Once your out your walking.

Is that what you are doing with your ministry? With your Life? Are you constantly stressed as you live on the edge of an empty tank. Wondering what happens when it all runs out?

While we will discuss the way of Life that Jesus taught for success tomorrow, I would love to see you seriously consider this thought.

Are you currently living your life and ministry on a quarter tank? Are you going as far and giving as much as you can but wondering how long you can go without running empty?

Pray and let God know that your tired of being tired. Let Him know that fear of failure is draining you. Let Him know, Your Ready to be Filled.

Monday, May 5, 2014

I've Been to the Mountain Top......and the Valley and I get tired of both

I know its been a while since I have blogged but I have been learning about my faith and was working it out not only to share it, but to live it.

Ministry in all forms, full time/part time/volunteer can take its toll on a life. Its not that serving God is bad, but it can be consuming. Most people start out meaning well but few end well. It is said that most Pastors will not retire from ministry but will quit. I don't think that its only Pastors as I have seen over the last 25 years so many people passionately serve God only to quit because of a multitude of reasons but usually because they are weary.

and I know what the bible says.........Galatians 6:9-10 (ESV) 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.  10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

This verse was used quite extensively in my spiritually formative years but as many other things I learned from the bible this passage too can be easily manipulated to guilt people into serving rather than encourage them in their service.

I say all of this to bring you into something that I have been learning and want to share with you.

Successful ministry is not found in the busyness of the work, nor is it found in the size of the work. Successful ministry is found in the faithfulness of the worker. and I am not talking about OUR faithfulness through weariness as some might say the above passage speaks of. But the Fullness of our Faith as we perform the work and the impact that this faith makes on those around us.

So over the next few days I will be sharing  some of the things I am learning on this subject to hopefully encourage you in your walk with Jesus to success.

So if you would, please begin by reading John 15:1-7 and tomorrow we will take a step deeper into the word.