Quantum Spirituality

thCA1AKKQHLet’s talk a little bit about math. Yes math. I think the history of math is really interesting. It started out with adding and subtracting then multiplication and division; today, quantum physics. And still mathematicians have ultimately uncovered that there is infinitely more to be known about math. The important part of math, and the reason mathematicians don’t find their work to be done in vain, is that it produces application along the way. Math has facilitated the most phenomenal inventions of the modern world and even many of the simplest things that we can’t seem to live without.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.       

And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.   James 1:2-4

In the beginning of James we find that this pattern is not foreign to God’s design. We are commanded to consider trials a joy and this because trials produce endurance. The more that we are tested by God, the more endurance we have. And as a result of that endurance comes the perfect result. The result is the spiritual maturity that we gain from the trials—the result itself being the perfect result of the trial, not a perfect man.

Now the more we experience trials, the more endurance we get. The more endurance we get, the more perfect results we get, that is the more mature we become spiritually. And the more mature we are, the more trials we will have and so on and so forth, so that a perfect result is continually being produced in us.

All of this takes place, ultimately producing spiritual maturity, so that we may actually be [or become] perfect and complete. This will take place on the day of the Lord when we go to be with Him in eternity. We will have become, through His blood perfect and therefore be lacking in nothing. For He who created all things will be among us and we will have no needs: physical, spiritual or emotional.

This is ultimately the same as the mathematician. We, as Christians, work our way through trials in life, the same way mathematicians work their way through the trials or problems that math presents. In a micro-chasm, we attain maturity, but there is infinitely more maturity to be gained. In a micro-chasm, the mathematician succeeds as well, solving one problem at a time, but there is infinitely more problems to solve.

The take away from this passage is that we should find joy in trials. When we suffer in this way, we can be confidant that we will gain endurance and ultimately more maturity. And ultimately, we will attain perfection when we go to be with Christ for eternity. Therefore take joy in the trials that you encounter in life.

Photo(s)/Resource(s):   Anthony Delgado

Maybe It’s Tyme to Rock the Boat

rock the boatThese words from Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson’s book Rework keep reverberating in my mind:

When you stick with your current customers come hell or high water, you wind up cutting yourself off from new ones. Your product or service becomes so tailored to your current customers that it stops appealing to fresh blood. And that’s how your company starts to die.

That’s consistent with one of the key attributes of churches in decline. When churches become inward focused and start making decisions about ministry to keep people rather than reach people, they also start to die. In Luke 15:4, Jesus said it this way:

If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?

Why do you think some churches slip into the mode where they’re so focused on keeping people that they neglect trying to reach people who are outside the faith? As I was reading the Bible, I stumbled upon 1 Corinthians 10:33:

I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.

Fascinating perspective, isn’t it? Typically, we don’t operate like that. We put personal conviction or preferences ahead of what may be best for others. Think about it …

  • It isn’t worship if the music is too loud or too fast or the wrong genre.
  • It isn’t discipleship if the content is delivered in a home or online instead of in a classroom.
  • It isn’t missions if we help a neighbor who has wealth instead of focusing on people who live in poverty.
  • The message is good if it calls out the sin of other people, but we’re offended when it’s our sin.
  • Rather than embracing the ministries that are impacting the most people, we want the church to embrace our personal projects and passions.
  • We’re more inclined to give when we can direct how the money is used.

Crazy! You’d think we’d be intentional about living out our faith to do what’s best for others. Instead, we make ministry decisions to try to keep people happy. That’s how we end up with churches full of happy Christians. That’s why churches stop growing. We start doing church for us instead of trying to impact the lives of people outside our walls.

The reality is that if we’re going to reach people outside the church and outside the faith, we’re going to have to be uncomfortable. And, once we figure out what’s best for others today, it’ll be different tomorrow. That will involve change. That means we’ll have to get uncomfortable again.

Let’s face it. It’s a lot easier doing ministry when our only goal is to keep people happy. Doing what’s best for others makes life and ministry messy. We have to be willing to rock the boat. We have to be willing to watch people who don’t have a “1 Corinthians 10:23-33 ” mindset leave the church.

When I stop doing what’s best for me and focus on what’s best for others, though, that’s when real life-change happens. It’s worth making “happy Christians” mad so that many may be saved. People who walk through the doors of our church every Sunday may look okay on the outside, but many are dealing with some tough stuff on the inside. Addictions. Marriages collapsing. Kids heading in a wrong direction. Medical challenges. Financial crisis. Lack of purpose.

Let me challenge you with these thoughts:

When you teach on “felt needs,” you aren’t watering down the message. You are helping people find forgiveness and healing and a new direction for their lives. It’s easy to preach through the Bible. It’s much harder to preach to hurting people who need to understand how the Bible applies to their lives.

When the person sitting beside you is dealing with a marriage crisis that’s leading to a crisis of faith, it makes your preferences of music and volume seem pretty insignificant. When you neglect the mission field in your neighborhood because of your sole desire to help people across the ocean, I wonder if you’re just choosing the path of least resistance.

When you choose to focus on your theological differences at the expense of helping people find healing and hope, could it be that you haven’t spent enough tyme living out your faith because you’re too busy defending your faith?

I’ve looked in people’s eyes and heard many stories. They are the real stories of real people experiencing real pain. Let’s not forget why we do what we do.

*Photo(s)/Resource(s0: Tony Morgan, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

The man I want to be.

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Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments. His descendents will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed.” (Psalm 112:1-2)

The man was speaking of his father: A man whose Godly example will pass down through the generations, providing a rich heritage for those who follow. A faithful, obedient, merciful man, who shines like a light in the darkness. He trusts in God’s protection and provision remaining calm in the storms of life. He is given to good deeds, a man whose righteousness endures forever. Praise the Lord for such a man!

I’m quite familiar with this uplifting Psalm. A about eleven years ago I fell from my agnostic perch like a burned out star falling from the heavens. I crashed into the realization that I was an empty soul without a measure of integrity. Though I had nothing to give, I gave myself to Christ, trusting His promise to make something of my life. He began leading me upward on the path of righteousness and we stopped to read the 112th Psalm. My heart, my whole being, soared within – “Lord, that’s the man I want to be!”

I am not the man in the 112th Psalm. I’m more like somewhere around “the chief of sinners.” But, the Apostle Paul says, “…He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) Our strength is totally insufficient to produce the fruit of the Spirit which we need to live a Godly life. The believer’s Christ-likeness aspirations will never be realized and manifested apart from Him. (John 15:1-11)

No matter your age, gender or place on the Godly path, read Psalm 112, and fill your heart and mind with its message of hope and encouragement. And remember this, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (I John 3:2-3)

I want to live as close as my wonderful almighty Father did. Like him, the most important gift I can give to my children and my grandchildren is to be the man in the 112th Psalm. That’s the man I want to be.

Photo/Resource: cbcirwin

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Is your Church full of Dry Bones?

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So i was just thinking about some things….. well i was thinking about how dead some churches have become… so i got me a piece of paper and wrote a few things down… i wasnt going to blog them, and had completely decided against it… but today omg !!! i was amazed!!it is just amazing how God works… i guess He wants this out, so here goes!God is just so amazing!! God has me in a season of reading, studying and breaking down the book of Ezek. Mainly Ezek 37!

As I was on my way for a lunch with some fellow church leaders, on the radio came on asong that says “you see dry bones, we see an army….” the we in this is Christians, talking about a generation of people.. but i have a simple question…… how are we supposed to see an army, when there are so many of us that are dry bones??see in Ezekiel 37 it speaks of a valley of dry bones.. it says in Ezek. 37:3-5 And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord GOD, You know.” Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. (v.7) So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. (v.8)Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but [there was] no breath in them.

Ok.. i’ll stop right here for a min.. see the bones had come together as prophesied to do… but they were still just dry bones….even though they had flesh, and they looked alive they weren’t….. they didn’t have the breath in them… they were no more alive than what they were before…..so many Christians think they look alive in Christ, but is it just a look?? do you have the breath or the anointing in you? can you truly say I have the breath/anointing of God flowing through me….

So moving on with the scripture now… (v.9-10)Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. (v.13-14) Then you shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves.I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken [it] and performed [it],” says the LORD.’

See just like God had Ezekiel to prophesy to the dry bones, we as Christians are called to prophesy to the dry bones—our lost generations….we have in us what can bring them to life!! however, i think some of us have been hanging out in the graveyards a little to long without getting some life into use every once in a while..so in turn the dry bones had an influence on us instead of us having an influence on them, and many have lost their breath…it’s a sad condition that many Christians have gotten themselves into…. they might have been full of the breath of God at one point, but slowly just started slacking off from going to church,their prayer life started slipping,started hanging with the wrong crowd……and before they even realized they lost their breath….they came to the valley of dry bones just like so many others…. now they are just waiting on something to happen for breath to be prophesied back into their bodies… will you be someone to step up and prophesy breath into the dry bones? or will you become like the other dry bones?
just thought this was very thought provoking.. yeah i know i wrote it, but it made me think!! so hopefully it will make some of you think……

Don’t lose the breath/anointing that God gives you…. because trust me, you do not want to just become dry bones….. that would be a horrible state…. if you’re a Christian pray harder than ever before for our generation!!! something powerful can come of us!!!! but breath has to be prophesied into them first!!

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The Coming Spiritual Explosion

explosion_of_lightAs many of us can attest, there has been so much more of the presence of the Lord in our Gatherings as of late. There is a greater expectancy, hunger, fire, and passion for the Lord than we have known since being here. This is especially true in our worship and around the altar. At the same time we are beginning to hear testimonies of how God is moving upon so many people and in so many places. No doubt there is the sound of abundance of rain in the land and a remnant is responding to Him in expectancy and abandonment.

While we would do well to remember that Jesus emphatically told us that the time will come when, “they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved”.

We must also remember that Jesus also assured us, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come”. (Matthew 24:9-14) In other words, we must never forget that to whatever degree He is pouring out His Spirit in our midst, it is so we will be both prepared for the times Jesus referred to and is now upon us. But more importantly, that we would be ready to be the vessels He accomplishes His purposes through.

Maybe ours and the prayers of many others have filled up a bowl containing the intercession of the saints in heaven and are now being overturned with answers from above. Maybe it’s because many are turning to the Lord and examining their lives yielding to His holiness. Maybe it’s just God’s mercy because we are such needy people. That’s what I tend to believe more than any other reason. But most of all, we want to grasp these times of visitation and we want more of HIM more than anything else. We have a new reason to meet together and that is we want to gather together to honor His presence among us.

Some might wonder if are we in the beginnings of revival or more so a genuine spiritual awakening that will sweep our nation in this eleventh hour. As tempting as it is to try and define what is happening, this move of the Spirit will not be defined nor delayed any longer. Let’s just jump in and ride this wave as far as He has determined it should last. We might just be surprised where this wave takes us! Whether we will be a part of the great falling away, which has begun and is increasing, or we will be among the remnant He is calling, equipping and sending  in this hour is mostly up to us.

Last week a friend and leader of an intercessory prayer ministry from Mobile, AL, and someone whose relationship with the Lord I trust and greatly respect, as has become her custom, was a part of our live web stream congregation. While watching she heard these words for us:

“There is an explosion coming. It will not be like you expect or suspect. It will be coming sooner than you think. As much as you have prepared for it, you will be surprised as to how it comes.

Yesterday I got more:  A part of the explosion will be an explosion of love and humility in you midst.”

Some Scriptures that are shouting to us right now are: Isaiah 55:6-7 “Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon”.

James 4:8-10 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

Let’s keep seeking, knocking and asking. This is the time we have endured, prayed, dreamed about, waited and have been made and positioned for. Remember Jesus told us about coming wars, darkness, deception, false doctrines and teachings, lawlessness and a great falling away. But He also encourages us to keep our eyes upon Him, the One who is the Author and Finisher of our faith, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. He is the One who is, who was and who is to come!

An explosion is coming!

“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” Rev 7:9-12

 

Photo(s0/Resource(s):  David White

 

In Due Season

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up~Galatians 6:9 (ESV)

in gods tymingI can recall a tyme in my life when I was in middle school, and I talked to God about my dreams. I prayed that God would answer my prayer, and that God would help me to be patient while I waited. Over the years, my mind would go back to that prayer, and sometymes I would feel doubtful because tyme had passed and my prayer was still unanswered.

Finally, after 15 years, the prayer was answered and I experienced mixed emotions. Part of me was overjoyed that God answered the prayer, but another part of me was also saddened by the fact that it took so long. I began to think about other prayers I had prayed, remembering when I first prayed them, and how long it took before they were finally answered. Sometymes they were answered quickly, and other tymes, it seemed to take longer than my patience would allow me to wait for.

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever prayed for God to do something and along the way, you felt discouraged, frustrated, and wanted to give up because it wasn’t happening as quickly as you had hoped? I believe we have all felt that way. The waiting process is never easy because we can’t put a time stamp on when something will happen. As people of faith, we say that we trust God and believe that God has the ability to answer our prayers. But truthfully, it scares you when you know you have to leave it in Someone’s hands and you surrender your control over it.

Galatians 6:9 tells us not to grow weary in well doing. It is frustrating when you’ve been putting in the time, effort, commitment, sweat, blood, and tears. Yet, you’re at a standstill when it seems that your prayers aren’t being answered. In addition to that, maybe you’ve had to sit back and watch others receive the same blessings you’ve been praying about, and feel you have worked harder to get it. But the Scripture goes on to say that in DUE SEASON, you will reap if you don’t give up. That means that at an appointed time, all of your hard work, prayers, and tears will pay off, and the blessing will be right on time.good-wallpaper-free

So whatever it is that you have been praying and working hard for, DON’T GIVE UP!! You may become weary and feel that what you’ve prayed for will never happen. And there is no concrete answer as to how long your “due season” may be. It could be weeks, months, years or even decades. But be comforted in knowing that God has not forgotten about you. For in God’s time, you will reap bountiful blessings if you don’t give up.

*Photo(s)/Reosurce(s): KP White, Paul Garrick

That Thing We Don’t Like To Think About

big-sky-with-small-lightning-strikes-in-the-distance-james-bo-insognaIt’s that thing we don’t like to think about.  

It’s like the weird uncle locked in the basement.  Every now and then we hear him knock around down there and we try to ignore him.

It’s like distant lightning.  Every once in a while it flits across the horizon but we quickly look the other way.  Because we get uncomfortable when we think about it.  Oh we know it’s coming sometime, a long, long time from now.  There’ll be time to think about it later.  What is “it”?  Death.

As a culture, we do a pretty good job of hiding death from ourselves.  When someone dies, we quickly whisk them off to a mortician who makes them look as good as possible.  We have a few hours of viewing the body, we hold a funeral, close the casket and everybody goes to a luncheon.

We don’t like to think about death. At least not our own. We’re a funny people – we have all kinds of TV shows about murders, police and emergency rooms, yet we don’t like contemplating our fragility. We think we’re going to live forever. If we just work out, don’t eat too much fat, and buckle our seat belts, we’ll be the next Methuselah.

It wasn’t always like this.  For example, when Jonathan Edwards lived:

“Colonial citizens of the 17th and 18th centuries knew a world much different from ours. They had no hospitals. They possessed precious few working remedies for illness. They knew very little about the causes of sickness – germ theory, for example, did not emerge until the mid-19th century. Pregnancy and labor were potentially fearful undertakings: scholars have estimated that one in six children died in colonial America, meaning that most families would mourn the loss of at least one or two children in their lifetime…. Attacks from Native Americans posed a constant threat in many places. American colonists did not study death out of a perverse fascination, but practical necessity. Where we try to cheat death they prepared themselves to meet death.” Strachan and Sweeney, Heaven & Hell, The Essential Edwards Collection

People in  Jonathan Edwards’ day didn’t believe they could play the “Get Out of Death” card. They were more aware of its reality. And they prepared for it.  If we thought more about how uncertain this life is, we might prep more for the next one.  Reality check:

As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field… Psalm 103:15

Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow. Psalm 144:4

In college I felt invincible. It might have been the drugs.  As invincible as we can feel, all it would take is for one tiny blood vessel in our brain to break to launch us into eternity.  I think many of us tend to be like the man in Jesus’ parable:

And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ Luke 12:19-20

So what should we do? Sit around with long faces? Dress in black and wear Grim Reaper masks?  No – believers in Jesus Christ have hope of everlasting life in heaven.  We should be the most joyful people on earth. But we can so easily adapt the world’s mindset.  So here’s what I’d suggest:

  • Consider often how tenuous this life is.
  • Be ready to die.  Be certain Jesus is your Lord and Savior.  Make sure all your relationships are good – ask forgiveness of anyone you need to. Forgive anyone who has sinned against you.
  • Make the most of your time.  Grab any opportunity you can to love and serve others.  Encourage people. And be patient with them. Bless them. Give to the kingdom and the poor.  Overflow with thanks and praise. And live a holy life.

I love this life as much as the next guy.  But I don’t want to forget it’s field grass.  There’s an infinitely better life to come.