Not Even A Little Bit

 
How much does God want to see you suffer? Not even a little bit.

He is for, beside, around, inside you. A lot. It’s his peace that carries you past the point of understanding the incomprehensible. His joy that flexes in the face of the frailty of our fear.

How much does God want to see you fail? Not even a little bit.

His Word is the way that lights up our every possible step. It shines into our every season. His Spirit is the still the small voice that pierces uncertainty and calms the raging of tumultuous emotion. 

How much does God want to see you quit? Not even a little bit.

His hope is our help. His Son is our sure thing. His favor our final word. His Church is our cheerleader. His mission is our motivation.

God wants every bit of who you are to love and lean into him. How much is he willing to leave to you for yourself? Not even a little bit.

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Braille In The Mirror

Maybe it is a very common practice among businesses. Perhaps it happens all of the time and has so far gone entirely unnoticed by your’s truly. Even so, I have never before saw a Braille sign in the top corner of the mirror in a bathroom. But just the other day I saw exactly that while my family and I were out for evening meal.

Why!? Why would anyone put a braille sign in the top corner of the bathroom mirror? Sure beats me.

I don’t want to sound insensitive or anything. Maybe it’s completely entirely a common practice to put Braille signs in places that seem strange to the non-vision impaired. Or maybe proprietors of this establishment put the sign up because it was a sign they are required by law or health code or something to display. I feel that this is probably the case.

Sometimes in our society we seem to do a great many things like this. We take things that have a purpose and we use them in ways that make no sense simply to fulfill some obligation. In our rush feel some requisite obligation we missed the point of the thing itself.

Haven’t you seen things like this? Have you done things like this? If I were to speak for you, and I would—if only for a moment, I would say yes. Yes, you have done this too. I most certainly have.

The government does it all the time. People in a mad rush to finish whatever they’ve begun do it as well. And oh man! Does the Church ever do it.

We never stop to think if the thing we’re doing that makes so much sense to us is in fact completely nonsensical. No we have requisite obligations to fulfill. We have behavior to police. We have culture to overwatch. We have morality to guard. We have judgment to pass?

How about we just stop right there. I’ve said enough. What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments.

grati–W–O–W–tude

What an EPIC week! Weeks like this are rare indeed.

We had the Grand Opening for the church we have been so privileged to help start here in our hometown. It was crazy. Like awesome crazy. The only way I have been able to describe it to people is that it was “happy chaos”.  It wasn’t chaotic because we weren’t prepared. It wasn’t chaotic because anything bad happened. It was chaos because over 910 people showed up…in an ice storm…in Arkansas.  That might not seem like a big deal to you, but in our little River Valley paradise nestled between mountains and the Arkansas River, people just don’t get out in the snow and ice.

And last night we launched our student ministries with an incredible night. It was so good. 

So now I’m sitting here in my “mancave” enjoying the breather. I’m looking forward to my weekend (Friday & Saturday) and getting ready to start it all over again in less than 72 hours. Life is so stinking good right now. I feel blessed beyond my capacity to handle it. It pushes me in the best possible ways. And before I head upstairs to get some sleep I am just trying to share this inexplicable sense of gratitude I am feeling.

It’s always good to be one of God’s kids–but it doesn’t always feel this good. 

December 17 – Who Are You?

Acts 19:11-20

But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15 ESV)

The powers of darkness might know your name. They knew Jesus, they were with him in eternity past before being tossed out of heaven during their attempted coup. They recognized Paul. He had made such an impact for the Kingdom that they had taken notice. Word had spread throughout the demon ranks about the preacher Paul.

Are you on their radar? When your life takes you into contact with a new group of people do the spirits of darkness there get nervous? I think they should.

Jesus told Peter that his church would be an advancing church. We don’t just sit back and wait for people to come to us, that’s fool hardy and pointless. No, we need to step up, step out, and step into enemy territory.

Maybe the enemy will know your name. Maybe not. But when you step into the role that God has for you you will wear the adopted identity of the name above all other names, Jesus. Who are you? You are his!

December 10 – Gentiles & Jesus

Read: Acts 10:34-48

And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. (Acts 10:45 ESV)

If you’re reading this then chances are pretty good that you can be classified as a gentile. No, not gentle—well maybe, but a gentile. A person of non-Jewish heritage.

Christianity began with Jews. Jesus was Jewish. He came from a Jewish family, as a descendant of a Jewish King, as an answer to a promise given to the Jewish patriarch Abraham. However, his penultimate charge to his followers was to spread the Gospel to the world. The plan was always that Jesus would redeem all of humanity! All people groups! Not just the Jews.

God does not discriminate. He loves all people, in all places, in all circumstances. He longs for them to return to Him. Instead of being surprised by the differences of the people who come to Him, we should enthusiastically embrace the opportunities for diversity that the Kingdom of God affords our church family.

July 17 – What She Could

Mark 14:3-9

She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. (Mark 14:8 ESV)

As Mary anointed Jesus with the costly perfume people grumbled at the apparent waste of such an action. Jesus chastised them, declaring her sacrifice to be a beautiful and selfless act of worship. She had done what she could with what she had. It was her way of offering all that she had to God.

What does God ask from us? Better yet, what has God already done for you, or given to you, that He might be asking for you to use for His Kingdom? Mary did what she could, whatever she was able to do she did for Jesus. Furthermore, her faithful act of worship had a part to play in God’s work of salvation.

What can you do? I think it’s high time that we in the American Church stop showing up to sponge off of the insight and experiences of the few. God still speaks to us, He still reveals Himself to our hearts, He still challenges us to take up His cause. What are we going to do about it? When will we cross the line and stop merely being consumers?

Mary did what she could. I don’t know what we can do, but I think it’s time we found out.

Venezuela 2013: Shirt Off My Back

We’ve all heard it. “I’d give you the shirt off of my back.” Tonight that really happened.

It would be impossible for me to adequately articulate just how special the people at Iglesias Filadelfia made our team feel this week, and especially tonight. They celebrated us and the work we have done together to the glory of God in a remarkable way.

Tonight as we concluded our time with them the church threw us a special going away party. There were so many people at the church that it was impossible for everyone to fit into the alleyway where we were hosted. Dozens of people waited for pictures with various members of the team as email addresses, mementos, and social media info were swapped.

During this time a young man about twenty years old approached me with his friend who translated. He had been especially blessed by the nightly services we were able to take part in. He wanted to offer me a token of his appreciation. And so, he literally gave me the shirt off of his back because it says “Venezuela” on it.

I was touched. Admittedly, I feel as though my contributions have been small this week. I am mostly here to encourage and document. I offer pastoral input when the opportunities present themselves, but in the grand scheme of this adventure I am a behind-the-curtain kind of guy. Still, he insisted on giving me his shirt. It was an incredibly humbling gesture.

What it taught me is that what I may see as small others see as magnificent. What I might see as routine could be something that is life-changing for another. The next time someone tells me, “I’d give you the shirt off of my back” I’ll have to tell them about this dear fellow I met at a place called Filadelfia in Venezuela.

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