Emmanuel, In Chloe’s Words

December 10, 2012

If you read my last blog post, you know that my son’s girlfriend Chloe and her sister, Greta, were in bad auto accident yesterday after church.

We were at the hospital until late last night and this morning I used my “Pastor Card” to get in to see her.  As I talked with Chloe this morning in ICU, I told her that all through the ordeal I was reminded of Craig Groeschel’s message yesterday.  It was about God’s “omnipresence”, or as a child would say, “God is with ME.”  Chloe said that she was also reminded of the message and took comfort from it through the whole ordeal.  (She is still in the ordeal as she had surgery last night and has at least two more this week.)

I thought about “Emmanuel” as I was praying in the car with Marla and Matthew at the accident scene.  Greta had talked to Matthew.  We didn’t know if Chloe was ok or not.  All we could see was emergency vehicles and lights.  The car was behind them.

We prayed desperately and thanked God that we knew that even though we couldn’t see what was going on behind all of the emergency lights and vehicles, we knew that God was with Chloe and Greta.  I also knew that God was with Carl and Jaynie, the girls’ parents.  We asked for God’s comfort on them.  I felt his presence with me.

Chloe’s jaw has multiple fractures but what she said to me this morning, mainly moving her lips, rocked me to the core.   This is what Chloe said:

“When I was still in the car, I was scared.  I had been singing ‘Jesus Loves Me” because that’s all that I knew to do.  Greta was talking to me to keep me calm.

I then heard the paramedics outside of the car talking.  They said to each other that they didn’t know if I was going to make it.  Then I saw Him.  I SAW JESUS.  He was shaking His head ‘YES’ and said ‘You ARE going to make it.’  I knew He was with me.”

I was speechless.  Wow….  “God is WITH US.”  He was there with the girls.  He was with Carl and Jaynie.

He was TALKING to Chloe, giving her hope as she sat in a totally demolished car with so many injuries that the EMT’s thought she wasn’t going to make it.

I asked Chloe for permission to share her story and she said it was ok.

I will never hear the words “Emmanuel-God with us”, in the same way again.

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Sexual Purity

August 27, 2012

The church plant that I pastor is part of the LifeChurch.tv network of churches and Craig Groeschel spoke yesterday about “Staying Pure.”  He shared how we should stay pure whether we are married or not.  (Even if we’re not married, we should strive to be the type of person that we want to marry.)

Scripture is very clear on the issue of sexual purity:

“But among you there must not be even a HINT of immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”   -Ephesians 5:3

Craig talked about how he has put safeguards in his life that close the door to any possibility of slipping up.  He doesn’t ride alone in a car with a lady other than his wife, he has accountability partners, and he has put internet safety programs onto all of his computers and his mobile phone.

Did he do all of this because he is prone to fall?  Craig explained that on most days he is strong but just in case he came upon a weak day, he wanted the door to opportunity SHUT in those areas.  That makes really good sense.

Here are a few internet safety websites that will help you “shut the door” to unsafe areas on your computer in a moment of weakness:

For Mobile Devices for Internet Safety and Accountability:

Other info websites:

I encourage everyone to do 3 things:

  1. Get an accountability partner or partners to walk with you and speak into your life
  2. Shut down the possibility of going to the wrong sites by installing internet safety software, which will send any questionable sites that you visited to your accountability partners.  (I use x3Watch)
  3. Stay out of situations that could encourage you to begin thinking and  “walking” down the wrong road.

Satan is out to destroy all of us.  He roams about as a roaring lion, looking to DEVOUR those who follow Christ.  It’s important to take any opportunities away from him that would give him a foothold in your life.

 

Don’t Even Think About It

January 13, 2012

Ever try to get backstage at a concert without a backstage pass?  It’s not easy.  There is usually a big guy named “Brutus” standing there.  Nobody gets past Brutus unless Brutus says it’s ok.  Brutus is the gatekeeper for backstage.  He opens the gate and he shuts it. One look at his biceps and you know that you don’t mess with Brutus.  He’s the gatekeeper.

You are the gatekeeper of your mind.  There isn’t much that can go there without you saying it’s ok.

What we allow to go into our minds can effect just about everything about us:

  • Our relationship with our spouse
  • Our health
  • Our relationship with God
  • Our attitude
  • How we feel
  • How long we live

As a Christ-Follower, we are told to set our minds on things above and not on earthly things.  (Colossians 3:2) 

Craig Groeschel recently taught in the “Better” series from LifeChurch.tv that there are 3 Keys to having a Better Day.  I believe they are key to setting your mind on things above.

1.    Constant Communication With God

The Bible tells us that we are to “pray without ceasing.”    As we go about our day, concentrate on seeing things though the eyes of God and the lens of Scripture.

Even if we have a quiet time in the morning, which is VERY important, sometimes we walk away from that time and forget what you learned from God during that time.

As you see people and experience situations, pray on the go as you drive, walk, and go about your day.  Stay in constant communication with Him about EVERYTHING that happens during the day.

2.    Instant Obedience to God  (Galatians 5:25)

As my daughter, Rebecca said in yesterday’s blog, it’s crazy to think about what we miss out on because we get distracted during the day.  If we stay in contact with Him, we will begin to see opportunities to serve Him.

Sometimes we may get an urge that we believe is from God.  Take a chance!  If you feel an urging to give someone $10, do it.  If you feel like you’re supposed to go and talk to a stranger, start a conversation.  If you think God wants you to go take a hamburger away from “Brutus,” you might want to pray a bit more about that one.  lol

Could the idea in your mind that you think may be God speaking to you ever be simply a case of bad pizza from the night before?  Yes, but you could also miss out on the leading of God if you don’t act.  If you think he may be leading you, take the risk!  You’ll get better at it as you walk with Him over time.

3.    Daily Desperation for God

If we begin to realize how desperately we need God on a daily basis,  we will draw closer to Him.

It’s easy to go about our daily life with the attitude of, “I’ve got this one God.  I’ll let you know if I need you.”  The Bible talks about how we should passionately desire God the way a thirsty deer longs for a drink.  Passionately pursue God every day and realize your need for a relationship with Him

Finally, when negative thoughts come in your mind, take them captive.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and WE TAKE CAPTIVE EVERY THOUGHT TO MAKE IT OBEDIENT TO CHRIST.”  2 Corinthians 10:5

Stopping negative thoughts at the door is the work of the gatekeeper too.  Work on putting the above 3 habits into your mind but reject anything negative that will bring you down.    Maybe you need to limit certain tv shows, contact with certain people, or maybe even your thoughts when you daydream.

When something negative tries to enter, don’t let it.  Tell the negative thought trying to get into the gate of your mind, “Don’t even think about it!”  

You are the one who decides what goes in. 

What’s one thing that distracts you from thinking the way God wants you to think on a daily basis?

I used to think that church was supposed to be a safe place where I would go on Sundays, learn about God, and then go home and be a good boy.

I’ve walked with God a few years now and my views on church have changed a bit.  I’m not sure that I was out of line with the American view of God, but in view of history and the worldwide church, I’ve still got some things to learn.

Many people are willing to call themselves “Christian” and say that they are willing to do ANYTHING for God.  I’ve found that sometimes we’re willing to do “anything” as long as it doesn’t hurt or cost us a lot.

Let’s not focus on all of the other people in America.  As the great theologian, Michael Jackson said, let’s “start with the man in the mirror.”

Craig Groeschel says in his “Weird” series, normal ways of doing things, seeing life, handling money, and trying to get ahead just aren’t working anymore.   If the normal way of doing things isn’t working, it only makes sense to change something.  After all, if we do the same things again this year that we did last year, we get the same results, right?

My view of church has changed.  I now see the church as a safe place (at least in America) to hear a dangerous message.  Why is it dangerous?  Because if we listen to the message that God has for us in the Bible, it is dangerous to our mediocre, normal life.  The message and life of Jesus Christ, if really followed, would look radically different than what we see exhibited in many churches and by many “believers” in America.

If your family and friends don’t think you’re a bit “weird” or different, the reason is probably because you’re just like everyone else.  If you are overcommitted with work and activities and don’t really have any extra time to help with the mission of your church, that’s normal!  If you find yourself always having something come up that prevents you from helping out in that area that you know that God has put on YOUR heart, that’s ok.  Most people aren’t that involved in serving either. .  Just doing a little ministry will help you feel better until next time.  That’s normal.  If you’re tired of your marriage, don’t worry!  Just throw in the towel and start over with someone else.  At least half of the people do that today.  It’s normal.  Just start over

How about finances?  Normal people would never sell their car or even give it away if they felt like God was telling them to do that.  They would figure it couldn’t be God.  It must be that pizza from last night.  You never should have eaten it that late!  God wouldn’t ask you to do something that crazy…. Or would He?

Man-kneeling-in-prayer

My point is this:  When Jesus called the disciples, they made major changes and adjustments in their lives to follow Him.  When God speaks to a believer in Iran, he risks his life to obey.  Ever notice how a new believer in Christ that is on fire for Him is willing to be called “weird” by his family and old friends?  The old friends don’t get it.  They don’t understand some of their decisions.  It’s not normal.  Jesus isn’t normal either.  Even “experienced Christians” wryly smile and say, “He’ll settle down after he is a Christian for a while.”

Maybe we aren’t supposed to “settle down!”  

Why do we HAVE to loose our passion?  Why do we have to become more “civilized” and “socially normal” in following Jesus?

Look at I Corinthians 2:14:

But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.

 If everyone always understands all that you do and you’re never misunderstood because of your relationship with Jesus, you’re probably “normal.”

If God is not challenging you to make adjustments in your life so that you can follow Him more closely, either you are Jesus (which I know that you’re not) or you aren’t listening.  If we’re never “inconvenienced” and our lives are never interrupted, we may not be following the Master as closely as we think.  Following Jesus isn’t safe.  He was crucified.

What are your thoughts?  Am I out in left field playing basketball?

Normal is out at MJLifeChurch.  We began the series, “Weird,” this past week and we hope that you’ll be going “weird” with us.  What do we mean by “weird?”  Check out this verse:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

Weird

One thing in particular that Craig Groeschel said in week one of our new series stands out to me.  “If we want what everyone else has, do what everyone else is doing.  If we want what a few have, do what a few are doing.”  It doesn’t take watching CNN for very long to see that what we’re doing isn’t working as a nation or as individuals.  What most everyone is doing financially, relationally, spiritually, and in just about every other area in their lives isn’t working.

If we want life to work, we have to do something different.  We have to stop thinking and acting like “normal” people.  We have to get “weird!”

Don’t live any longer the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right… Romans 12:2 NIrV

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out… Romans 12:2 MSG

It doesn’t make sense to walk in faith sometimes.  It’s weird to give your tithe, the FIRST 10% of what you the money that make, to God when we’re in a bad economy.  It’s weird to wait until you are married to have sex.  The world says “if you really love someone it’s ok.”  The world says it’s weird to tell people about God.  They think you’re “judgmental” or “narrow minded” when you really just want them to have a relationship with the King of Kings.

The world probably wouldn’t understand why I would quit my job in Tallahassee, came to Nashville without a job, and started a church.  To some, it didn’t make sense why I spent 10 years in youth ministry, hanging out with a bunch of kids.

We’ve got people at MJLifeChurch.tv that are just plain weird!  Some people:

  • Travel around the country playing music, telling people about Jesus.  Isn’t there more money playing in bars?
  • Go to the Nashville Rescue Mission, feeding the homeless.  Can’t those people just get a job?
  • Volunteer their time EVERY Saturday setting up church when they will just have to tear it down on Sunday and do it again next week.
  • Give the FIRST 10% of EVERY dollar they make to God for His use.
  • Turned down a higher paying job because they had a “feeling” that God didn’t want them to take it.
  • Take their vacation day from work just so they can serve another person that needed them that day.  Aren’t vacation days for going to Florida or at least the lake?

We’re not weird for weird’s sake.  We just see that normal isn’t working and that God has a better way.  If that makes us weird, then so be it.  This world isn’t our home.  We forget that sometimes.

Have you ever been considered weird?  What did you do to deserve that title?