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Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Art of Discipleship.

"Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him" (2 Kings 12:2, NIV).

Can you imagine be offered a job by someone who knew you didn't have the experience, the training, nor the aquired skill, and given the expectation to perform like an expert? Of course not. For the most part, it would be that someone saw potential in you, and knew that with the proper training, mentoring, and guidance, that they would be able to convert that potential into performance.

So it was with Joash. Joash had become king at the age of seven after being hidden in secret for most of his early years after a violent and hostile takeover from his grandmother. When he had become king, he had had no godly example, or any example, for how to be king. There was no prior training. However, "Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord ALL THE YEARS JEHOIADA THE PRIEST INSTRUCTED HIM." Joehoida knew that Joash posessed the potential to be a good king that would turn the heart of the nation back to God. He knew that he could not and would never be able to accomplish this on his own. Therefore, he commited to walking along side the king with a heart and mind to mentor and disciple him in the matters of Lord. And all the while Jehoiada did this, Joash was successful in the eyes of the Lord. 

Do you ever feel as though you the idea of serving God is like running a marathon that you realize a few hundred yards in that you were ill-trained to finish? You begin with all the excitement in the world only to find that excitement alone is not enough to endure in the "long run." So it is in life and in relationship with Jesus. God has called you to be discipled, but also for the purpose of discipling others. You can't expect to do well what you've never done unless one who been there and done that walks beside you. In the same way, you can't expect others to do well in their walk with Jesus, unless you, you have clocked some miles on the journey, choose to walk along side them as well.

What does it mean to be discipled? Get around someone who's been there, who's on the journey, who is closer to the goal that you are trying to reach. Ask them to show you how they've gotten where they are. Don't wait for them to seek you out. See what it is that you want and go for it. Be willing to be teachable, challenged, stretched uncomfortably to the limits. Be willing to develop consistent habits that will not always fit into "your schedule." 

What does it mean to disciple? Though one should never wait to be sought out, choose to seek out those you know could benefit in their walk with God through the art of discpleship. Choose to spend time. Be willing to share what you've learned, what God has shown you, and how He's kept you on the journey. Be open and transparent and willing to share how imperfect you are, but are continuing to seek Jesus in becoming more like Him. Be ready to challenge someone and hold them accountable in the disciplines and the truth of God. 

Remember, mentorship and discipleship is a two-way street. Everyone needs one and everyone should be one.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Purpose in the Forgotten Places.

"I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings" (Psalm 61:4, NIV).

In a time where all he seem to be an expert on was 'flocks' and 'fighting,' David understood from where true strength and rest existed. It was during the days of being overlooked in his father's fields tending the sheep that he began to discover who he really was. Overlooked and underestimated by his family, he had been targeted and apointed by God for a greatness he could have never imagined. It was during the alone times in the field that he connected with God, his maker, his creator, and the lover of his soul in an intimacy that could never be matched by any of the accolades he would ever achieve. 

David's relationship with God was anchored in an authenticity of desire, never to be diluted by a fatiguing sense of duty. David knew that his greatest strength and rest would be found in the presence of God and in the shadow of His wings. 

There are undoubtedly times when you have felt completely disregarded, lonely, overlooked, and considered "put out to pasture" by those you had been certain were on your side. Choose not to give into fear. The One who created you is the One who has called you. He sees all that is within you, because it was His masterful hands that formed your purpose, and it was His lungs that breathed that purpose into your being. See the "alone times" as "your time" to connect with God on a level that is not diluted by duty, but is ingnited by a desire to know that One that has always known you. 

In Him you will find the strength and the rest for the journey ahead. It's in Him you will discover a "new song" when hope seems deferred. It's in Him that you will be discovered by those who once forgot you existed. The purpose God has placed in you will be revealed through you. Take the time to connect with Him. See Him as your strength and your rest. Pursue His presence and find shelter in the shadow of all He is.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Are You Defensive?

"Deliver me from enemies , O God; be my fortress against those who are attacking me" (Psalm 59:1, NIV).

Let's face it. There are times when you are faced with a situation and you are challenged by someone who speaks as though they know everything, but it becomes obvious that they know nothing about the situation in which they speak. When that situation involves your integrity or your intentions, and the challenge comes harshly, it can be very easy to become and want to respond defensively. 

David was no stranger to similar situations. He was hunted down on more than one occasion as though he was prized game by an insecure king who was set on David's elimination. David, like any one of us, certainly struggled with the feelings of wanting to defend himself. In fact, we know, at least on one occasion when in cave and Saul was sleeping, that David strategically inched closer to Saul and cut off a section of his cloak, showing how he could have killed him, but proving and defending his own innocence. He immediately felt remorse for touching the anointed of God. David had to see GOD has his defender. Becoming defensive and focusing on proving his own innocence would have meant taking his eyes off of the One who had breathed purpose into his life. Rather than focusing on the one who sought to destroy him, David chose to focus on the one who would deliver him.

There are those who will come against you. There will be those who speak quickly and challenge you. At times, your intentions, integrity, and motivation will not only be challenged, but falsley assumed as less than you know to be true. Becoming defensive will only had fuel to the fire. Know that those who are quick to accuse are generally those who are in a fight with their own insecurities. They thrive on having the upper hand and putting others on the defensive. Don't fall into the trap. Trust that God has your back. Seek Him. Worship Him. Keep your eyes on the One who delivers you, not those that can destroy you. Be secure in who God is and in who you are because of Him. Choosing to become defensive is choosing to trust in yourself more than trusting in God. Lean on the ONE who is your defense.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Compassion without Compromise

Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith. Grace be with you all (1 Timothy 6:20‭-‬21, NIV).

Have you noticed the growing divide that has become more apparent between the culture and the Church? Like a tug of war to the death, the two pull and tug, fighting for dominance on the playing field of "truth." The trends of culture are changing at a rate of speed that is nearly impossible to keep up with. Truth is under the scrutiny of popular opinion and pop culture in a way that it never has been before. With the loud eruption of social media, unlimited access to news & "psuedo-news," the debate has been waged in ways that have never been seen since the days of Adam & Eve and the serpent in the garden of Eden. What is the answer? How does a Church that is to be the "Body of Christ" maintain relevance to a culture without become irreverant to the Truth of God? Where is the balance between compassion and compromise? Is it still possible to hold to the unchanging truth of God in regards to sin without compromising the truth of God in "loving our neighbor?"

In a world where scriptural truths were once held sacred, there has been a great sacrifice on the altar of cultural acceptance. We have been called to the following:

GUARD. "...guard what has been entrusted to your care." What God has started in you will inevitably come under attack. Satan has been attacking the truth of God since the days of the Garden of God. When truth becomes infected with even the smallest amount of compromise or contradiction, it ceases to be truth. Truth is ABSOLUTE. It has to be. God IS truth and God never changes, therefore truth can never change. Guard the truth of God. Continue to seek Him for clarity, for confidence, and for true understanding. Stick to what the Bible says is true. In everything you do, do it with love and honor unto God. Don't compromise the guarding of truth by turning to judgment and condemnation. Guard God's truth, and He will undoubtedly guard you.

GET AWAY. "Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge." When those who know or have known the truth of God begin to espouse that which opposes the unchanging and unfallable truth of God, it's time to go. In a world of exremes, there seems to be a struggle to find balance. Where the Church has been to legalistic, the pendulum has swung to the side of liberalism. Both extremes are wrong and compromise the truth of God. Neither one stick to the true spirit nor the letter of what has been divinely inspired. Don't engage in fruitless arguments. Stand up for truth, but know when to go. Do it in love. Never let arrogance, pride, or defensiveness be the guiding force for what you do, even in the "name of Jesus," for by that, Jesus is never honored. Love always, but in guarding truth, sometimes you just have to go. Going allows you to pray and God to work. Sometimes YOU have to get out of the way so that HOLY SPIRIT can really speak.

GRACE. "Grace be with you all." Christians have been notoriously labeled at those who have become experts in the art & skill of judgment and condemnation. Let that label be made FALSE in your life. Let everything you think, say, and do be seasoned with the Grace of God that was modeled in and through the life of Jesus. Jesus NEVER compromised the truth of God, NOR did He ever compromise the love of God. He lived to defend both. It was the GRACE of God that enabled Him to live in compassion without it turning to compromise. Grace is showing love to those with whom you disagree or who disagree with you. It's living out the love of Jesus without judgment or condemnation. It's standing up for the truth, but without allowing pride or arrogance to get top billing. It's accepting people for who they, yet never changing who God is, and allowing HIM to be the author & perfector of all transformation that comes through faith.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

God's Amazing Reach

"He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters" (Psalm 18:16, NIV).

God will reach down into whatever deep waters you find yourself in, and He will take hold of you. 

HIS REACH IS LONG. He "reached down from on high..." There may be times when you notice that there is a great distance between you, God, and where you used to be in relationship with God. God is not so ashamed of you that the distance disqualifies you from rescue. His love knows how to reach. Distance is not a disqualifier, nor does it overwhelm the power of God's reach. 

HIS GRIP IS TIGHT. His reach is long, and his grip is tight. Even when you feel as though you are continuing to fall, He is able to take hold of you and allow you to find the safety you've been searching for right in the palm of His hand. When life is feeling grossly unstable, His grip is tight. When you feel as though you've completly lost your own grip on reality, find strength in the power of His grip. 

HIS PULL HIS POWERFUL. God is not just able to reach you regardless of the distance, nor is He limited to just holding you in His grasp. He is able to pull you out of where you are and set you on a firm foundation, rescuing you and restoring you to relationship with Him. He can pull you out of the deep waters of your confusion, of your complacency, and of your doubt. He can draw you out of the deep waters of regret, fear, and uncertainty. 

No matter what the name of your water is, the name of your rescuer is JESUS.

Friday, January 8, 2016

A Call to Fast (...and how YOU CAN do it!)

Fasting has been a part of spiritual disciplines dating back to the times of the Bible. It is a discipline that emphasizes the importance of dependence and reliance upon God. Fasting involves the giving up of something you have grown to rely upon, for a time, and using the pangs of not having "it" to press in, dig deeper, and to hear what God is wanting to speak and to teach.

There are Biblical examples throughout Scripture, including the 3 day fast that Esther and her servants began when preparing to make a decision that would have epic impact upon her & her people. Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness before calling those who would become disciples and carriers of the MESSAGE that would change the world. Daniel led his peers in a fast, now commonly called the "Daniel Fast," of not eating meats and other foods, showing that they had become stronger and were seen better in the eyes of their leaders as opposed to those who had eaten all that had been prepared and presented.

As a church, we have begun a NEW YEAR and have declared steps of faith that we are taking as a church. I know that many of you are doing the same in your own lives, whether it be marriage, family, jobs, personal economy, or the like. As the year begins, we will be honoring a 4 day period we are calling "ReFOCUS 2016" that will also serve as a CALL TO FASTING. I am encouraging all of us, as a church, and as believers in Jesus, to press in, dig deeper, and hear what God is desiring to speak to us and teach us.

THEREFORE, I wanted to equip you with Scriptures and with ideas on how to fast. Don't let the fear or the intimidation of 4 days, no food, or anything else block you from being involved.

Common Types of Fasting.
Water-only. This fast would call you to abstain from all food for a period of time between the January 10-13. Start on Sunday or wait until Monday, but the idea is that you withhold from your body something that it has survived on. The first day of water only might seem pretty fierce. Drink up. You will need it. You will NOT DIE, though you might feel it in moments. The idea is to keep your mind and heart on Jesus. Turn off the TV. Spend time in prayer. Read the Bible. Be a part of the "ReFOCUS 2016" services that week. By the way, how you prepare for ANY fast will help you to enjoy and to endure.

Modified Daniel Fast. The "Daniel Fast" is often referred to as a vegan-diet, which simply excludes meats and animal product foods. This can be a great challenge to those who are dependent upon eating certain things. Take a look online for recipes that will help you to follow this for the days of the fast.

Juice Fast. Just as it states, drink only juices for the period of the fast. Preferably, choose juices that are not full of chemicals and processed sugars that will cause more of a hunger or not be as beneficial for the  health of your body. Alternate between juice and water. You will receive some calories and taste from the juice, but you will still benefit from the denying your body the fulfillment of food.

Media Fast. Some of you, for health reasons or other concerns, will not be able to, or are not ready to engage in a "food-less" type diet. Choose to "fast" turning on the television, not getting on the internet for reasons other than work-related. Take a break from Facebook, YouTube, other other social media outlets. Let the video game system gather some dust for a few days.

Other Fast. Pray & ask God what it is that you have grown to depend on, other than Him, that He would call you to put down, even for this period, if not indefinitely. Are you a smoker? Put them down during the fast. Are you coffee-caffeine-aholic? Lay it down for the fast. Do you like your beer or glass of wine? Set it aside. Set aside SOMETHING that is like "second nature" to you and use that "loss" as a means to be reconnected and ReFOCUSED on HIM who will be your greater gain!

Scriptures on Fasting.
Matthew 6:16-18 (NIV) 16  "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17  But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18  so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Isaiah 58:3-7 (NIV) 3  'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?' "Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. 4  Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. 5  Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? 6  "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

2 Samuel 12:15-17 (NIV) 15  After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife had borne to David, and he became ill. 16  David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground. 17  The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.

Psalm 35:13-14 (NIV) 13  Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered, 14  I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother.
 Acts 14:23 (NIV) 23  Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Taking Over.

The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them” (Deuteronomy 1:6-8, NIV).

"You have stayed long enough at this mountain..." They had been in the desert of their wandering for 40 years. They had doubted God, fought God, complained at God, and had attempted to rebel against both their leaders AND God. Therefore God allowed them to stay in the desert so as to learn from their mistakes and not to believe that their methods had helped them to get there. But now they had learned what they needed to know. God had disciplined them, He had not punished them. His heart's intention was for them to get to where He had promised them, but it would be on HIS terms, and not by their own hand or mind. This, now, was God's way of letting them see that restoration was at hand. Their time in the desert and then on the mountain had been a result of seperation (from His immediate blessing), preparation (for what He had promised them), and restoration (connecting them to original intent). God is not mad at you. He loves you more than you will ever be able to fathom or understand this side of Heaven. There will be times, however, when He will slow you down or even stop you dead in your tracks from reaching what He has for you. He loves you too much to let you receive His blessings on your terms. Embrace the desert seasons of your life. Let God use the times of separation for preparation for restoration.

"Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites..." It was time to go. Their time in the desert and on the mountain had become their launching pad into the hill country of the very ones that had become the "poster-child" of intimidation from decades past. The Amorites were seen as giants, fierce, and mighty, and were the roadblocks that stood in the way to where God had called them. God didn't instruct them to sneak, to creep, or to crawl, but He did call them to advance. There will be opportunities that God calls you to that is going to require you to step out in faith IN THE DIRECTION of that whih intimidates you. Do not fear. Have faith. Take ownership of the opportunity. Stare intimidation in the face with the grace and strength you receive from God. The time for waiting and preparing is over. It is time to advance. It is time to do what needs to be done to receive what God has destined for you. No more excuses. The giants are big, but your God is bigger!

"See this land I have given you..." God was reminding them that His promises had not become lost in the 40 years of wandering in the desert. God is not bound by the time which is a creation of His own hand. He used that time to bring them closer to HIMSELF before bringing them closer to the promise. But here they were. God showed them the land. It was still there. It was also still theirs. He reminded them that He had given it to them. There was nothing that could stand in the way of their receiving the inheritance that had always been purposed for them, EXCEPT FOR THEM. By their doubt, they could miss it completely. By giving into fear over faith, they could bypass the best that God had laid up for them and for generations to come. It was theirs. All they had to do was to trust Him, see what He saw, and receive it in their hearts. If you don't receive what God has for you in your heart, by faith, you will never receive it in your hand, by fact. Look at what God has promised you. Trust Him completely. See it as He sees it. Yours. Let your life, your words, actions, thoughts, and attitudes reflect the faith that reads, "This is mine and I will have it, because God has promised it to me."

"Go in and take possession of the land..." He was bringing them close, not that they could sit, dream, and wonder, but so that they could go in and take ownership of what was theirs. This had been God's promise to them. Since God is sovereign, and God knew before time began what would be theirs, this land had ALWAYS been theirs. It was time to go in and take back what had been inhabited by those that were never intended to be there. To go in and take possession was going to be a matter of war. It was going to take a fight. Those that were there, the Amorites, had decided because no one had claimed the land, it would be theirs, and they would use fear and intimidation to keep out anyone who dared to think otherwise. God had told them that this was the land HE had given them, which meant He was there with them, and would equip them with everything necessary to go in and take what was theirs. What about for you? You're not going to receive the breakthroughs or the answers to prayer you want by sitting by wishing, hoping, and praying faithless prayers. Whatever is rightly yours, given to you by God, but has been invaded and taken over by the enemy, is going to take a FIGHT to get it back. Are you afraid of the fight. Do you have faith to believe that you can achieve EVERYTHING that God has said is yours? It's time to fight, not with the weapons that have become culturally acceptable and justified. The warfare in which you will engage in is on a completely higher level, to the pulling down of every stronghold that even tries to separate you from ALL that God has promised and destined for you. It's time to fight! It's time to believe! It's time to pray! It's time to go in with the battlecry of PRAISE and TAKE ALL that God has for you! The devil can't have your peace. The devil can't have your marriage. It's time to take back the control he has had over your finances, your family, and your faith. Take it back! It's yours! Go in and take possession of the land!!


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A Message from Chris

My prayer is that this site will serve as a tool that helps to LINK you to a loving God who knows you, cares for you, and desires a relationship with you.

This blog is designed to be a daily devotional that helps start your day, continue your day, or even end it as you prepare for the next one.

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