Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Saturday, June 3, 2017
I can't help but think the Wachowski Brothers were on to something very real when they wrote the script for the Matrix. No, I don't believe we are all asleep in a pod somewhere in a scientific laboratory, hooked to a high tech computer system, living a simulated life. That's not what I mean.
What I mean is people have been programmed to think and behave in a very systematic manner. We have been taught that certain actions are safe and reasonable and anything other than that accepted system is suspect, even dangerous, and should be avoided like the Black Death. We are so indoctrinated to accept this matrix inspired reality that any person that chooses to go another route other than it is looked upon as stupid and deranged.
We hear the young progressive regurgitating what they've been taught by our government run educational system, shake our heads, and say, "Liberal indoctrination". We hear the twenty-something quoting the latest verse from a "super intelligent" Hip Hop star or mega-rich, mega-stupid actor like Cathy Griffin or Matt Damon and say, "Hollywood indoctrination". We can see the matrix being played out in everyone's life but our own.
It is because of this that false doctrine prevails so readily. I was raised up around a segment of the Holiness movement that is tongues or nothing. They taught you were an out right, hell bound, sinner until you spoke in tongues. When making my way out of that movement, it wasn't the doctrine itself that made it difficult to get free. In fact, the doctrinal side was the easiest to see my way through. The most difficult hurdle was the cultish teaching that, not only were they the only ones Biblically correct, everyone else were evil deceivers teaching false doctrine, seducing the souls of vulnerable men and women. Once I began seeing the truth of God's Word, I had no where to go. I was afraid of everyone, including those that could've helped me. Thank God for the Holy Spirit.
I see churches choked down by tradition. They won't move or change because no one they know has ever done it any other way. Grandpa did it a certain way and it worked for him (in 1950)! It doesn't matter that their church is dying. It doesn't matter that they are surrounded by dead churches and dying ministries. They just keep doing the same things over and over expecting a different outcome. It's insanity.
I see this every day in the business world. People have been taught the only way to earn a "decent and honest" living is to work for someone else. The accepted approach to life is to work 40 hours a week for 40 years, retire and then try to live on 40% of what you made-if you're successful. Everyone else will be dependent on the government, trying to live on $500 a month in Social Security and Medicare.
We become like worker drone ants. We punch a clock, do what the boss man says, when he says it, earn what he says we can, celebrate a 3% annual raise, get paid like an automaton every Friday. We live inside the "box", buy from within that box, and then die. It feels kind of like institutional slavery to me.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. If that's the life you want, it's safe and acceptable. It's honorable and you will get everything your factory or boss allows you to have. You will live and die with a fair amount of security, but I wonder if you will die truly happy.
People fear change, they fear anything different. When they're approached with something that's outside the matrix, outside the box, they cower from it. They fear the unknown. They run from it. They fear failure, yet live a life they feel is a failure. So they stand still, trembling, waiting for this weird, large possibility to pass. They want to get back to the matrix as soon as possible.
The Bible says God hasn't given us a spirit of fear. He's given us a spirit of power, love, and a disciplined mind (2Tim 1:7). What is the purpose of this verse? Why do those that live within safe zones need such a powerful weapon? People snuggled up comfortably in their beds, inside the safety of their homes, talking about not having a spirit of fear, look kind of silly to me.
If you do nothing that requires courage, what is the purpose of praying against fear? You need to rise up. Expect those that have accepted the matrix to mock you. Expect peer pressure to come. Expect the fearful to try to keep you within "their" comfort zone.
You can do all things through Christ. You are more through Christ. You are made in the image of God. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. The ship is safe in the harbor, but it wasn't made for the harbor. It was made to sail. You can stay docked for the rest of your life and never incur shipwreck. That's true. But you'll also never enjoy the high seas. You'll never really embrace your purpose. You'll never sail.
We told God we want to go to the next level, but we don't want to leave the one we're at. If you go to the next level you may have to go alone. You will have to leave behind those that won't go with you. They will laugh at you. They will mock you. Some will cry and say they're worried about you. Almost all of them will wish they were you.
We are stuck in a box. It's time to break out. It's time to stretch. It's time to become everything we were called to be!
Peace. Love. Hope.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
A preacher friend of mine and I were discussing this verse. He told me James was not talking about sins, just “faults” (lapses in judgment, car wrecks, forgetting to pay your phone bill, and other benign things like that). That’s the safe approach, but that’s not what the word fault means. Well, it does mean that, but it goes much deeper ... and darker.
First, what is a "fault"? The definition is simple: a side-slip (lapse or deviation), (unintentional) error or (wilful) transgression: – fall, fault, offense, sin, trespass. The word fault means any error or deviation, whether it’s innocuous or grossly wicked. Robertson, the linguistic master, simply translated it “sins”. Faults are sins according to every Greek lexicon in the world (or at least the dozens I’ve studied).
I love how the Amplified Version renders this verse:
James 5:16 Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].
James 5:16 tells us there is healing in confession. The opportunity to admit to another human that you have sinned and then have that person pray for you–not destroy you with that information–is priceless. It is deeply therapeutic. My question is: Who do you confess your sins to? Who can you trust? Who can you sit down with and say:
“I have failed miserably. I’ve done the unspeakable. I need help. Will you pray for me?”
There are men that are drowning in pornography addiction. They want out, but are now enslaved by it. Sure. I know. All they have to do is repent and God will help them. That sounds great! But it’s not always that easy. Every vile image they’ve viewed has been etched into their memory. The affects of pornography are powerful and lingering. Some of these men would be healed if they could share their issue with another man, be held accountable, and then have that other man pray for and with them. There’s a reason James 5:16 was given to us. It means exactly what it says: there is healing in confession and prayer.
The Church should be the one place we can speak openly of our issues. Christians should be humble and reflective of where God has brought them from. Some professing Christians seem to forget they were once sinners. They can be judgmental and hypocritical. Gossip is their second language and they speak it fluently. Deadly poison is in their tongues. This should never be.
We have to change this, but how?
1. START TAKING ABOUT IT. Discuss this subject in Bible studies. Start talking about why we don’t or won’t confess our sins to each other. Talk about the danger of gossip. Talk about being trustworthy. Put this issue on the table for discussion.
2. BECOME THE SOLUTION. Be faithful. Be trustworthy. Stop gossiping. Stop listening to gossip. Pray for those that are in trouble. Make yourself available. Stop using other people’s faults to make yourself look better. Chopping other people down only gives you the illusion of rising. You’re not. You’re only destroying your neighbor and making yourself look like a fool in the meantime. Try to remember where God has brought you from and where you would be if He left you.
3. FIND SOMEONE YOU CAN TRUST. Find someone that’s proven themselves to you and ask them if they will be your accountability partner. Ask them if you can talk to them about the hard things. Ask them if they will pray for you and not use your confession against you. Try it out, little by little. Let them gain your trust. Do the same for them.
Friday, March 17, 2017
Friday, March 3, 2017
The following thought has been on my mind for several days now: You cannot allow yourself to be angry or bitter with those you've been called to love and save (1Co 9:22), regardless of how difficult or disappointing their actions are.
Then Pastor James Coffey posted the following yesterday:
"Ministry has the potential to be discouraging and lonely at times. It is easy to allow that frustration to shine through inadvertently if we aren't careful. One valuable lesson that I've learned about working with people is that they are much more likely to put their faith and gifting into action if they are inspired. Jesus had the same life changing impact on his culture that we experience when reading the scriptures. He spoke truth that was convicting to the core of humanity, yet he did so with a love and compassion that inspired people toward faith and action. If you are a pastor or leader who has become frustrated by the inactivity of others, be careful that you don't allow it to develop into anger or bitterness. An angry leader will not inspire change or increase productivity. You will appear to others as someone who is angry and discontent. You will only push the people following you further from their calling and responsibility as believers. People feel compelled when they see us as leaders finding joy and fulfillment in our calling and purpose. Setting the example will propel others toward pursuing the same. True leadership doesn't dictate, it inspires. Correction and conflict will be necessary at times, but it will be counterproductive 100% of the time if it is done in anger rather than love. If you say you love them but appear to be angry, they will interpret your appearance more often than they will your intentions. Make sure they see your heart and not your frustration."
Then Brother Todd Sloggett posts this quote from Mother Teresa today:
"People are unrealistic; illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway."
Then I remembered what Paul told Timothy nearly 2,000 years ago:
2Tim 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
There's a deep, life and ministry altering message here.
Monday, February 27, 2017
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
WHAT WILL YOU DO WHEN YOUR VISION IS NAILED TO A CROSS?
When the heat was turned up, John Mark went home to Jerusalem (Acts 15:37-40); Demas went back to Thessolinika (2Ti 4:10); Cleopas and his wife took the Damascus road home (Lu 24:13-35); and Peter went back to fishing (John 21:3).
We need to seek God for His will. When we get ahead of God we set ourselves up for failure. When we get ahead of God we miss His will. We become discouraged and sometimes depressed.
We can lose our purpose and direction. When you sink your heart into doing what you feel is God's will but it falls apart at the seams ... it can rock your world. It can make you question everything. It can open up doors for Satan to shake your faith.
Here's five things you can do when your will is nailed to a cross:
1. Be merciful to yourself. God's will is far above ours. We love Him and want to work for Him with all of our hearts. When He speaks we take off running to what we think He wants. We miss everything else He said because of our zealous desire for Him.
2. Don't immediately discard what you felt God spoke to you. It may happen at a later date, in a different place, or slightly different manner.
3. Don't be afraid to start over. Better men and women have had to.
4. Learn every lesson you can from your mistakes and try to not make them again.
5. Pray for a greater sensitivity to the Spirit. Ask Him what His will is before you come to too many conclusions on your own.
Watch the following Devotional Video on this subject!
Monday, February 13, 2017
I don't mean to be a pessimist, but the American church of today is not what it was a hundred years ago; much less what it was in the book of Acts 2,000 years ago. Genuinely powerful Christianity is dying in this country. I have dedicated my life to seeing it revived.
As I travel the world preaching, I find that some want revival, some don't, and some don't think they need it. But whether we see it or not, our churches are losing their hunger for the lost and are almost powerless. We have grieved the Spirit. Where are the signs, wonders, and gifts of the Spirit? Revival would restore the church to what it's supposed to be and if the country as a whole will not seek God for revival, then I'm looking for congregations, or individuals that want revival. If the saints at Revival Tabernacle don't want revival then I'll pray for the Lord of the Harvest to send laborers into our vineyard.
Revival will come when we adhere to 2Chronicles 7:14. And if the American church does adhere to it, we may see another great awakening.
This is just a brief description of the burden of my heart.
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
The answer? You need to remember that you're a Christian before you're a pastor! Let's spend more time in prayer and the Word, talking to God about men; and less time on Facebook, answering text messages and counseling people to do what we've told them a hundred times from the pulpit.
If you're tired, sleep. If you're on the verge of burning out, shut your phone off, take a few days off, spend time with God and your family. Learn how to say "NO"! If you're overweight and your health is breaking down ... man up! Get some discipline. Eat right and exercise! It'll pay off in the long run.
Let go and let God!
Peace, love, hope!
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Homosexuals put on massive parades and celebrate their "pride" in every major city in the country. 200,000 "women" marched through the streets of Washington, D.C. telling every one how nasty (and stupid) they are. Where's a Margaret Thatcher when you need her? She once wisely said, "Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't." Can I get an "Amen"? While the heathen flaunt their debauchery, daring anyone to say anything lest they be a racist, the "saints" hide in the corner of the church ashamed to speak the name of Christ.
In 2Ch 7:14, God said, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
For the most part, technology is awesome! Where would we be without it? On the other hand, I have lost a few things because of it. Do any of you know more than five phone numbers by heart? Nope? Me either. I have three phone numbers memorized: mine, my wife's, and the church's. I used to know a hundred, but it isn't necessary for me to memorize numbers any more because I have them all logged into my smart phone under the person's name.
I also have no idea how to get any where outside of Madison County. PRAISE GOD FOR GOOGLE MAPS! I follow my GPS. I don't pay any attention to landmarks or road signs. I follow the GPS! Without it, I'm pretty much lost regardless of where I am. That's terrible ... I know.
One of the beautiful things about a GPS unit (or google maps) is it won't allow you to go 127 miles past your destination. Have you ever got caught up listening to music, talking on the phone, or simply zoned out and drove 20 miles past your turn? Yep, me too! I love (and sometimes hate) the fact that when I overshoot an exit, the GPS unit is extremely stubborn. "Recalculating! Take the next left. Take the next left. Make a u-turn in 200 feet. Recalculating. Take the next left."
I know everyone of us have missed a turn here and there. We set out to achieve certain things, to accomplish certain goals, but we zoned out and overshot our exit. We feel as if we're useless or have lost so much time that we can't get caught up; we can't make it there on time. Although we've missed many turns, God is merciful! He'll RECALCULATE our route.
Many of you feel as if you've dropped the ball with your spouses and children ... maybe you have, but God's not finished with you! Perhaps you've wasted money and time on drugs and alcohol, hurt your family and friends. You've overshot your turn by 100 miles. If you can stop for just a second, you will hear the voice of God saying, "I'm recalculating the best route for you to get to where I intended you to go. RECALCULATING!"
Brothers and sisters, God is recalculating our journey! You may not have been obedient in the past. You may not have paid attention in the past. You may have even intentionally took wrongs turns, going in the opposite direction that God wanted you to, but His mercy endures forever!
The Apostle Paul said:
Php 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Be encouraged! God is RECALCULATING your journey!
Peace, Love, Hope,
Saturday, January 7, 2017
1. GREAT LEADERS KEEP LEADING (JUDGES 8:4-8)
Gideon and his men were weary from pursuing their enemies, yet the Scripture states they continued their pursuit. He would not give up just because leading wasn’t convenient.
Leading can be a grind; it can snatch the life right out of you. We often find ourselves weary, but we cannot stop pursuing. This doesn’t mean there aren’t times we need a vacation, but strong leaders keep pursuing long after they feel fatigued. They don’t quit when the going gets tough. Great leaders keep leading.
2. GREAT LEADERS ADDRESS OPPOSITION DECISIVELY (JUDGES 8:16)
Gideon wasn’t afraid of or ignore opposition. He dealt with internal (his son) and external (his enemies) problems quickly and decisively.
If I’ve learned anything over the past 20 years it’s that most problems don’t go away just because you ignore them. Sidestepping contentions only allows them to pile up, creating a synergistic effect that makes conflict resolution exponentially more difficult. Deal with stuff right, but deal with it immediately. Great leaders deal with opposition decisively.
3. GREAT LEADERS INVEST IN THEIR FAMILY (JUDGES 8:19-20)
Gideon was invested in his family. He took time to teach his sons. He took the treatment of his family seriously. Great pastoral leaders are invested in their families.
I don’t want to sound cold or accusatory, but most people are fickle. Church members will cut you off in a second. You can be the big kahuna today and the scum of the earth tomorrow. You’ll spend weeks, months, even years, pouring into some people who tell you they love you, only to find them walking out, turning on you, and that without warning. Invest in your spouse and children. They love you unconditionally and will be there long after the people have left. Not to mention your family is your first ministerial priority anyways. The Bible teaches us if we can’t lead our own houses we have no business leading others (1Ti 3:5).
4. GREAT LEADERS EQUIP OTHERS (JUDGES 8:20)
Gideon delegated and trained those that fought with him. He gave his fellow laborers an opportunity to win. He gave them the opportunity to participate in their victories.
Delegation is one of the hardest things to do, but it must be done. And ... it must be done right. Trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way. I’ve spent much time asking people to do things that they did not know how to do. When people don’t have the necessary knowledge to fulfill the task you’ve asked them to do, they become frustrated and quit. After several experiences of delegating jobs to people, only to watch them quit or do them half-heartedly, the knee-jerk reaction is to just do it yourself. This invariably leads to burnout. Do yourself a favor and train the people you’re delegating responsibilities to. It may take weeks, even months, but it will be worth your time. You will be able to cover far more ground with TEAMS working together as opposed to you working alone. And don’t forget to allow everyone to share in the victories and successes. No man is an island. You didn’t get where you are by yourself, unless of course you’ve swam out to an island.
5. LEADERS ARE CONCERNED WITH THE KINGDOM OF GOD, NOT THEIR EMPIRE (JUDGES 8:23)
Gideon was successful. He led his men to many great victories. God’s favor was with him mightily, therefore, the people responded by asking him to rule over them; to be their king. Gideon said, “No. God will lead us.” Gideon was humble. Gideon knew who had truly given them the victory. Gideon was a man of God. This point is what prompted me to write this article. My heart was filled with the utmost admiration for Gideon. He didn’t even hesitate to point his men toward God.
There are far too many dictatorial pastors in our churches. They pastor “their” church; “their” people; and operate “their” ministries. They want glory. Everything they do must be seen of men or they feel like they’re a failure. Listen, we work for God. We use His provisions. We breathe His air. His life keeps our heart pumping blood through our veins. Give God the glory for everything. Stop trying to lord over God’s heritage (1Pe 5:3). I see this over and over with pastors who think everyone has to come to "their" church. Real pastoral leadership isn’t about building your own kingdom, it’s about building the kingdom of God. If your labors cause someone to yield to Christ, yet that person attends another church, so what!? God rules. The Church is His and it's much larger than our littler congregations.
6. GREAT LEADERS MESS UP (JUDGES 8:24-27)
Gideon messed up big time! Even after all of the great things he did-even after pointing to people to God-he caused them to err in their faith. He asked them to give him their golden earrings which ended up yielding about 71 pounds worth. By today’s prices, that’s approximately $1.2 million dollars worth. He took the 71 pounds of gold and made it into an ephod (a sleeveless garment worn by Jewish priests) and a breastplate. You talk about bling bling–a 71 pound golden garment! The ephod was so amazing the people of God started worshiping it. Wow!
Don’t get me wrong, Gideon didn’t mean for this to happen. He would have never made it had he known what they would do, but he didn’t discern the heart of the people and made a terrible judgment call.
You and me are going to have lapses in judgment resulting in mistakes. You might as well get ready, it’s just part of leadership. But be humble. You have to learn to repent, apologize, and then move on! Do better the next time. Don’t allow your failures to paralyze you.
8. LEADERS ARE A BLESSING TO THOSE AROUND THEM (JUDGES 8:28)
God’s favor on Gideon was a blessing to the Israelites. Despite Gideon’s lack of discernment and Israel’s idolatry, God honored Gideon’s faith and humility. He gave Israel 40 years of peace.
Stay holy. Stay humble. You may stumble here and there, but God isn’t fickle. He knows your intents and motives. If you’ll stay faithful to God and His kingdom, the blessings of the Lord will overtake you and those blessings will overflow, saturating everyone around you.
I hope these 8 lessons help you!