Get out of the Boat!

After returning from our Big Oak Mission Experience trip, Martin Houston challenged each of us to “get out of the boat.” Reminiscent of Matthew 14:26-31 which reads:

But when the disciples saw Jesus walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when Peter saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of Peter, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  

As we apply this to our lives, getting out of the boat is like getting out of our comfort zone. Peter spoke to Jesus asking Him to command Peter to come to him (walking “on the water”). When we ask Jesus to give us courage to witness to people, it is like asking Him to command us to come to Him on the water. It is scary at first; we think we can’t do it. But we soon find that it is possible. And really a little fun. Just as you receive joy from telling people about your day, it’s a joy to tell people about what Jesus is doing in your life.

As one reads this, it is evident that Peter, who got out of the boat began to sink. Unfortunately, this will also be true in our lives. Even if we do get out of the boat (witness for Him), we will eventually sink at some point. Something will cause us to take our eyes off Jesus (just as Peter did), and we will begin to fall. However, there is good news…!

Just as Peter began to sink, he cried out to Jesus: “Lord, save me.” Then, “Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him.” Although we will stumble and/or fall in our walk with the Lord, He is there to reach down, pick us up, and take hold of our lives again. Jesus is always there, available anytime to help us out.

But first…, we must get out of the boat. We must be willing to follow the Lord. We have to take the initial step toward Him. Some people make fun of Peter because he began to sink. However, he was the only disciple brave enough to go to the Lord in times of trouble (the storm). Reach out to the Lord today and go to Him. Even if you do sink, He will be there to rescue you.

Who is God? Part 2…

If you’ve read The Shack, then you probably have already had much of your thoughts about “Who God is” challenged. The Shack takes you on a journey that requires some imagination, but allows you to open your mind to God in a whole new way.

The author, Wm. Paul Young, helps the reader, as well as the main character Mack to abandon some “religious conditioning” that we have typically been taught in church that causes many of us to “stereotype” who God is (p. 93).

Mack had “beleived, in his head at least, that God was spirit, neither male nor female, but in spite of that, he was embarrassed to admit to himself that all his visuals for God were very . . . .” (p. 93). We can probably all fill in the blank here, as to who–or what–our stereotype of Who God is based on our past religious teachings.

But the bottom line, the truth of all-of God, is that He is the supreme creator and ruler of the universe. He is the Redeemer of our souls, and the only perfect and holy being. Through God the Son, – Jesus, born of the virgin Mary – we have eternal Salvation because of His death on the cross. He was buried, rose 3 days later, and now sits at the right hand of God in Heaven. Now, through God the Holy Spirit living in us, we are called to righteousness before God the Father who is Heaven.

However, sometimes we let our “religion” get in the way of our relationship with God. With churches on almost every corner of the nation, we sometimes fail to remember that our belief is not about who the pastor is, what activities the church supports, or how nice the building is. Our future rests solely in our relationship with God.

How is your relationship with God? Is it growing or fading? How do you feel when a child, or friend stops calling on you, and starts spending more time playing video games and less time with you?

Remember, we are God’s children, and He wants us to spend time with Him. Take time everday to be with Him. Show Him that you WANT to be His child.

{quoted passages taken from The Shack.}

Big Oak 2009

Wow, if you missed this year’s mission trip to Big Oak, you missed a real blessing.

Although this was only my second year to attend, this year’s trip was over the top compared to past trips (ask the students!). What normally happens on the 4th night at the barn, happened on the 3rd and 4th nights, and in a much bigger way! The Holy Spirit was present all through the house!!!

This year’s theme was focused on Ephesians 5:1-2 .  

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Martin Houston led as Camp Pastor and spoke to us about being a “carbon copy” or imitator of Christ. His illustration focused on Christ as the top copy, while we are the bottom copy. The Carbon paper in the middle is the Holy Spirit, and the Pressure of writing is applied by life with its ups and downs. The transfer of pigment happens as the transformation of becoming like Christ occurs in our life.

This year, we had an extraordinary service on the 3rd night as we had a “mock funeral” to our old ways of life and gave up the sin in our life. Malachi 3:2-3 reinforces this notion of refining our life:

But who can endure the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appears? For He islike a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap. And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver. And He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may be offerers of a food offering in righteousness to Jehovah.  

I never really thought about this much before – but as the refining process is done, the refiner knows it is complete when ALL the impurities have been skimmed off the top through the process of heating up the precious metal. We are the precious metal in God’s eyes, and we are undergoing a process of refinement. As we live through life’s ups and downs, we are being refined, having all of our impurities removed from lives so that we can be imitators of Christ.

Where’s my mansion?

A man died and went to heaven. He was met at the Pearly Gates by St. Peter who led him down the golden streets. They past mansions after beautiful mansions until they came to the end of the street where they stopped in front of a shack.

The man asked St. Peter why he got a hut when there were so many mansions he could live in.

St. Peter replied, “I did the best with the money you sent us.”

The Shack, Part 2

If you haven’t heard about the The Shack by now, or even if you have – hopefully this will help you.

The Shack is story about a man’s growing relationship with God. The book starts a little slow, but by Chapter 3 it speeds up and by Chapter 6 I couldn’t put the book down – I just had to finish it quickly.   

If you are currently struggling in your Christian walk, I highly encourage you to get a copy of The Shack and quickly undertake the journey that it will lead you on. As a Christian of 18 years and two years into Seminary, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of my relationship with God. 

However, I realized that there are many more facets to the relationship than I ever imagined. When someone talks about God being involved in all aspects of our lives, they’re telling the truth (we just can’t comprehend it).

Through your journey of reading The Shack, I pray that you will reflect on your relationship with God. I believe you too will find a new link with God and grow your relationship with Him in many ways.

The Perfect Pastor

Does Your Church Expect the Perfect Pastor?

The Perfect Pastor preaches exactly 10 minutes. He condemns sin roundly, but never hurts anyone’s feelings.

He works from 8 a.m. until midnight, and is also the church janitor.

The Perfect Pastor makes $40 a week, wears good clothes, drives a good car, buys good books, and donates $30 a week to the church.

He is 29 years old and has 40 years’ worth of experience. Above all, he is handsome.

The Perfect Pastor has a burning desire to work with teenagers, and he spends most of his time with the senior citizens.

He smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his church.

He makes 15 home visits a day and is always in his office to be handy when needed.

The Perfect Pastor always has time for church meetings and all of its committees, never missing the meeting of any church organization. And he is always busy evangelizing the unchurched.

The Perfect Pastor is always in the next town over!

 

God is awesome!

Why do I just not get it?  What I mean is…I know God is awesome…but some days I realize how awesome He really is!

Yesterday, I was led to post a blog about the The Shack, and the relationship we have with the Trinity. Then, I discovered that July 12, 2009  Sunday School lesson is about God the Son. As I researched the lesson for today (I was teaching SS), I read a question that said, “if you had to pray without using the name Jesus, what would you do?” 

It made me stop, and really realize the importance and significance of the Trinity. Without Jesus, we have no Salvation (John 3:16). Without the Holy Spirit, we have no one to be our advocate (John 14:16-17). Without God, we wouldn’t be here (Genesis 1:26-27).

I never really took the time to sit down and think of the critical nature of each part of the Trinity. As I study God the Son (Jesus), I realize that the religions of this world that do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God have really missed out on a key part of God: the part that provides Salvation – through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus’ crucifixion paid our debt IN FULL. Without Jesus, we are not reconciled to God. Without Jesus, we cannot get to Heaven. Without Jesus, we can do nothing.

Next time you stop and pray, take a moment to think about Jesus and why we pray in His name. He is our intercessor, our link to God the Father.

Who is God?

So you’re wondering who God is? Well, if you’ve read The Shack, you already know that the writer of it has taken a much different approach to ‘who God is’ than what most churches and Seminaries teach. He challenges your assumptions in many ways and forces you to take a step back and look at the trinity in a much different way (a way that is really different).

In upcoming blogs, I will include some details about the writer’s view on God and His actions, but I promise not to spoil the book for you. If you’re interested in purchasing it (and I would highly recommend it to anybody), Amazon has it at one of the cheapest prices you can find around: The Shack.

Please remember that this book is strictly FICTION, but it has some VERY USEFUL insights into a proper relationship with God.

Here is what Patrick M. Roddy, ABC News Emmy Award winning producer wrote:  “The Shack is a one of a kind invitation to journey to the very heart of God. Through my tears and cheers, I have been indeed transformed by the tender mercy with which William Paul Young opened the veil that too often separated me from God and from myself. With every page, the complicated do’s and don’t that distort a relationship into a religion were washed away as I understood Father, Son and Holy Spirit for the first time in my life.”

Conformed or transformed?

The Bible tells us we should be “transformed,” not conformed: 

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2) 

So, then, what does this mean, and have I violated it?

Recently, I decided to get a Facebook account. Is that conforming to the world? Some would say “I’ve given in to worldly things.” However, I declare that there is some advantages to “being conformed” for the purpose of helping to transform others.

Essentially, I plan to very closely limit my usage of Facebook (conformance to the world), in order to prevent myself from being totally conformed. However, just like Jesus, I still need to be in the presence of the world in order to witness. Jesus did not only go to the rich in spirit, but to the poor in spirit. (I’m not saying that those who use Facebook are poor in spirit.) However, there are many people out there on Facebook that are spiritually poor. Hopefully, as more of us use Facebook to witness to people, we can all help each other be transformed and not conformed.

Praise the Lord…

An elderly lady was well-known for her faith and for her boldness in talking about it. She would stand on her front porch and shout “PRAISE THE LORD!”

Next door to her lived an atheist who would get so angry at her proclamations he would shout, “There ain’t no Lord!!”

Hard times set in on the elderly lady. She stood on her porch and shouted “PRAISE THE LORD. God, I need food! PLEASE LORD, send me some groceries!”

The next morning the lady went out on her porch and noted a large bag of groceries and shouted, “PRAISE THE LORD!”

The neighbor jumped from behind a bush and said, “Aha! I told you there was no Lord. I bought those groceries, God didn’t.”

The lady started jumping up and down and clapping her hands and said, “PRAISE THE LORD. He not only sent me groceries, but He made the devil pay for them. Praise the Lord!”