Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Birthday!!

Wow! What an awesome day we had last Sunday. To get to have my son Winston’s 9th birthday and our church, Fellowship of Believers (The FOB), celebrating our 1st birthday at the same time was extra special!!

Never doubted Winston would make it to 9, except for a brief moment after the ice storm when he sledded about 150 yards down the hill across the road jumped the curb and into a neighbors shrubs, other than that I never doubted…it was sweet though!! But I have to admit I wondered if The FOB would make it to 1. On several occasions over the last year I’ve said, “God, you picked the wrong guy for this job!” or “God are you sure this is what you want us to be doing?”

Along the way I have kept in my mind Acts 5:38-39 “…If what they are planning is something of their own doing, it will fail. But if God is behind it, you cannot stop it anyway, unless you want to fight against God.”

And after a year, you know what? WE HAVE NOT FAILED!! As a matter a fact we have strived, NOT because of attendance numbers but because lives have changed in the church and the lives we touch outside our church have changed as well.

The people at the FOB are not in the minority because they are meeting in a home. They are in the minority because they are committed! Lots of people attend church but far less are committed to the mission and actually live it out.

For a while I saw the house church as an attractant to the dechurched, then I slowly conformed to a view of seeing the house as weight holding us back. Like a log chain around the neck of an over energized bird dog. (Some of you will get that, many won’t. Ask me later and I will explain.) I felt like, “now that we’ve reached this point, if we could just get out of this house we could do_____” or “we could be reaching ______ if we were in a building” or “we could attract____ if we weren’t still in this house”. I started to lose sight of the impact the group was having on lives and I’m ashamed.

Then it hit me one night when I heard a guy describing to someone who our church was. The reason it hit me was because he didn’t describe us by our building address or even our name, NO, he described us by the work this small committed group of followers has been performing and it blew me away.

And at that moment again I said, “God are you sure you picked the right guy?? Seriously God, it took me this long to figure out, when you want us in a building you will put us in one! Look what we are known for CHRISTIANS BEING CHRISTIANS, THE CHURCH BEING THE CHURCH, NOT THE SIGN IN THE YARD!” That is AWESOME!

Right now, we, not just at the FOB but the entire Church body “we”, needs to renew our focus on the Greatest Command…

Matthew 22:36-39 Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

it completely changes lives and see that as way to open the door to The Great Commission…

Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

I’m so blessed to say I get to pastor Fellowship of Believer, I love my church and I hope all you readers love yours!! But most of all I love the Church, and that guy Jesus who loves it more than I do, died for it and still thinks it is important today!

When people go to church something supernatural happens and lives get changed.

When the church acts like the Church something supernatural happens and lives get changed.

Because people meet Jesus!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Feeling blue or something more?

This will be rather long post this time. Quite possibly the longest post I’ve ever had. This was my Sunday morning message to the church and I was asked to post it on my blog. So in order to make it “bloggie” rather than “sermonie” I’ve tried to shorten it up and paraphrase as much as possible w/o losing the meat of the message.

I hope you will find something useful for your life.

Depression is something I promise every one of has suffered from.

There are mild cases that maybe affect us for a few days, to severe cases that affect us for month or years and totally devastate our lives and the lives of those around us.

Depression effects so many of us and for some reason we think that to be depressed or admit we are depressed means we are crazy.

That is not true!

Lets hit on a few reasons we get depressed and how to get out of it and we’ll use the Bible character Elijah to do so.

First let me throw out this disclaimer again. This is a paraphrase of the Elijah story in case you’ve never heard of him so you’ll be up to speed for the message later. I do not need anyone to let me know each and every detail I’ve left out, hence the paraphrase. If you want the entire story of Elijah detail for detail, and it’s very good by the way, start reading it for yourself in 1 Kings 17.

Elijah is a prophet from God sent with a message for the evil King Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel who are worshipping the god Baal and have allowed it to spread through much of the Israelite nation.

Elijah’s message is, “I serve the Lord of Israel and there will be no rain until I say there will be rain.”

Then God gives him direction to a place of hiding where he provides him with meat and bread brought to him by a raven daily and brook for water.

Then one day the brook dries up. So God guides him to a nearby town and to a widow woman who is to provide him with food.

He finds the woman but she says there’s not enough flour and oil for bread.

Elijah says, “Mama, if you will go home and start cooking, the flour will not run out and oil will not dry up until this drought is over.”

Through God Elijah was given the power to supply the widow with endless flour and oil.

Then the woman’s son dies.

And through God Elijah is given the power to raise him from the dead.

Then God calls Elijah out of hiding and says its showdown time.

Go back to King Ahab have him bring out all the 450 Baal prophets.

The one who worships the real God should have no problem being able to pray and have fire consume their altar.

For a day the Baal prophets pray and pray for fire but nothing.

Thought it was quite funny that the scripture said Elijah taunted them along the way.

Finally Elijah says enough of this, he prays to the real God, our God, and fire not only consumes his altar but everyone else’s as well.

Then he commences to have the 450 Baal prophets seized and he kills them all with his sword!

Wow! That should be a movie!

Look at the how many times God provides and is in control of Elijah’s life. Over and over and over, IT’S AMAZING!

That brings us to today.

So where does depression come in with Elijah?

Why would he get depressed? This guys is a Old Testament rock star!

After all these amazing victories and all the times God held him in his hand; he lets fear creep in.

Jezebel hears about him killing all the prophets and tells him he’s as good as dead too!

So what does Elijah do?

1 Kings 19:3-5 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.

One threat from Jezebel and all of a sudden he’s afraid, on the run, praying that his life will end just before he curls up and goes to sleep.

Does this sound like a bout of depression or what?

Absolutely! I believe any counselor will agree.

But how did Elijah get this way?

-He ran himself ragged.

He runs and runs and runs. Then sends his servant away and runs some more. Basically as far as he could go until he physically dropped.

Do you ever feel like this?

60 hour work week, cooking dinner, grocery shopping, soccer, t-ball, Cub Scouts, honey-do’s, friends, dance, gymnastics, homework (have you seen how much 1st and 3rd graders bring home UGH?), karate, office party, football, the lawn, laundry, cleaning dishes, take out the trash and don’t forget to pick up some dog food!!!

Think about all these things for a minute and I’m sure you can even add to it! NO WONDER we become worn out and sink into depression.

- The other thing Elijah did was separate himself from people.

Elijah ran a long ways then bails on his friend, his servant, then goes on alone.

I had a councilor tell me one time that depression is like slowly wading into a pool of water and basically you submerge yourself one small steps at a time.

One of those steps is when we start fabricating flaws about friends and convincing ourselves we don’t need or want to be around them. Then we stop doing things with the people who make us feel the best. And each time we do we take one step deeper into the waters of depression.

-Then Elijah falls into one of the easiest traps there is, he became the eternal pessimist.

He said I’ve had enough. “I’m no better than my ancestors.”

Elijah goes from the Braveheart to Eeyor in a split second!

We are so guilty of this today aren’t we?

“I can never do anything right.”
“I’ll never get ahead.”
“I’ll never get the promotion.”
“I’ll never make the grade in school.”
“I’ll never be able to wear that again.”
“I’ll never kick this habit on my own.”
“I’ll never be as good as them.”
“I work so hard but will never have what they have.”

-And the final thing Elijah did to get into the pit of depression was, he forgot about the guy who got him this far…God!

Look how God was with him when the king was out to kill him, God gave him a place to go, when he was hungry God gave him food, when there was drought God water, when it’s time to move he meets a woman with little food so God give him ability to make more, when someone dies he brings him back to life, when he’s face to face with hundreds of idol worshipers (like Dan Akroyd in the 80's movie Dragnet) he brings the fire down.

God came through!! God answered!! God never left him!!

But then in a moment he gets a little scared and he forgets God.

Then he curls up, pulls the covers over his head and shuts out the world.

Okay, so now you know how we get in, but how in the heck to we get out??

Verses 5-8

Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you." So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

Eat and rest. Almost seems to simple doesn’t it?

Do you think there was a reason God told us he rested after he created this place?

Do you think there was a reason God told us to honor him with a day of rest in the 10 commandments?

These weren’t just examples and commands to see if we would do them. God made us! He knows that for mental and physical well being we need to REST!!

We don’t do this though. We feel like we’ll never catch up if we rest…the laundry won’t get done, the yard work won’t get done, I need extra money from my second job, I’ll never catch up on my paperwork if I don’t take it home….

Tell me what is the benefit or who do these things matter if they drive us into a state of depression where we can’t function any longer.

We need rest.

Next.

Verses 10 & skip to V. 18

(Elijah)
"I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."

(God) "Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him."

Don’t believe the lies that we make up and put into our own heads.

Elijah fabricated in his mind and convinced himself he was the only faithful one left on the face of the earth and that everyone was trying to kill him. That was just a flat out lie! The truth was there were 7,000 faithful waiting to join him.

What have we convinced ourselves of?

"Nobody loves me, everybody hates me. I’ve been doing all the work and no one notices. I’ve been doing all the praying and God isn’t hearing. I can’t make a difference. I don’t fit in." (Note: You have to say those in your best Eeyor voice and this is where the blog loses the live effect!)

Don’t believe that junk!

There are people who care. There are people who notice. You’re not the only one praying. You can and are making a difference. God has a plan you. GOD HEARS YOU!

Verses 11 & 12

The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

Listen for God.

When you were sick as a kid d0 you remember one of your parents or grandparents or whoever raised you sitting on the side of your bed talking to you in the gentlest of voices?

When we were home sick it was guaranteed that Grandma Georgia was going to be there when you woke up from your sick nap and be sitting there asking if you were ready for the potato soup she had brought over. Potato soup cures everything in the country!

She had the softest and gentlest voice that never changed tones, except maybe during a cut throat game of Skip-Bo. How she could beat me a hundred times in a row and make me feel good about it I still don’t understand. But anyway, because I was at my sickest, because I was at my lowest point, I could hear her the best.

Sometime when we are in the lowest of pits God comes to us not with earthshaking revelation, or thunderous instruction or fiery rebuke…but with a whisper that says “You are not alone.”

And sometimes that’s all we need.

Verses 15 & 16

The LORD said to him, "Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet..."

Seeing through all those names that are very hard to pronounce God said, “Get back to getting’ back at it!”

He tells Elijah – you’re a prophet, step out of the depression pit and get back to doing prophet stuff.

If you are a mom get back to mom stuff.

Business man back to business.

Grandpa back to being grandpa.

Prayer get back to praying.

Giver get back to giving.

I heard a preacher say one time that one of the best ways to fight off depression is if you do something for someone else. Because when we’re doing something for others then we can't possibly be focusing on ourselves.

I know this was a very lengthy but I had several who wanted me to post this because it is something that we all will deal with someday if not now.

Either we’ll be attacked by depression or a loved one will. And if we can understand what’s gets us there or we are there and here’s how we can get out then we can win the battle and kick the devil in the throat when he tries to use this on us.

One last thing I feel like I need to throw out there before I go is this. If you are in the pit depression and can’t get out as hard as you try. Go see a good counselor! Especially a good Christian based counselor if you can find one.

SEEING A COUNSELOR DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE CRAZY!

In case you skipped that line because you speed read like my beautiful bride.

SEEING A COUNSELOR DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE CRAZY!

I have seen one and I will continue to see one for my mental health, the health of my family and to strengthen my marriage.

God gave these men and women a special gift of healing, tap into it!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chambers before bed

Reading some Oswald Chambers tonight and this sentence smacked me up side the head.

"The greatest spiritual crisis comes when a person has to move a little farther in his faith than the beliefs he has already accepted."

Wow! How much farther am I willing to go? Is my next move one I'll take because I know I can do it myself? Or is my next step one that is so big that it will only succeed if God shows up?


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, September 3, 2010

Speak to me.

I'm always jotting down different scripture and posting them in different places when I'm seeking God's guidance and encouragement in my life. Today I gathered up some of my most recent for this post in hopes that one of these scriptures may speak to you at just the right time.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
~ Hebrews 10:23, NLT

I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy mountain.
~ Psalm 3:4, NLT

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.
~ 1 Peter 3:15, NLT

Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers.
~ Proverbs 11:14, NLT

Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.
~ Jeremiah 33:3, NLT (Something about this one gets excited!)

Drop in a comment here or on Facebook if any these hit home with you!