The Time is Now

Today has been a good and an emotionally tough day…last night was amazing seeing these young men work so hard and claim the title. You know your heart just bursts for them because of all the hard work and countless hours they put in. However….last night was a reminder that there is still so much work for the people of the church to do. As I wait to go into the gym what I see is tons of people coming into a school…a high school gym and all of them having to been searched or scanned for weapons….

It breaks my heart that we have come to this point. A high school….why….not because of gun control….no not because of a gun ban but honestly the church has refused to step in and become the bearers of hope, love and a way to non-violence. I have never felt so broken hearted today as I reflected on it during this time of lent.

What if it was my son or daughters at a school that had a shooting…what if it was my friends son or daughter, what if it was one of our athletes that we have loved on and prayed over….

My heart breaks because it is time to stop just lighting candles and posting “praying for _________” this city, state or school on social media (I’m just as guilty). It is time for action. It is time for the church to RISE up….It is time for a Great Awakening…It is time for Revival to happen. What does that mean…hearts on fire for a change, hearts ablaze for things to stop and new things to start. My prayer this lenten season is for my heart and the churches I serve to be so passionate about making a difference that we are willing to walk into the darkness and say “No More!” and let the peace of Christ move in a mighy way.

Please Pray with me….Spirit Move and Move Now…

Blessing!  PS #Rev

 

Prayer:

“Holy Spirit, you poured yourself out on the people of the early church, pour yourself out on us now. Jesus, you said you had to go away so that the Holy Spirit, the advocate, the counselor would come and it was so. Come once again Holy Spirit as the advocate that we all need, as the counselor we all need, and as the helper we all need. Come Holy Spirit, fan your flames of love and empowerment, set us on fire for you once again. Bring life to each of our dry bones. Amen.” Rev. Abi

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The Insecure Side of Me

The Insecure Side of Me

Philippians 2

You know sometimes I get pretty overwhelmed with how much I want something to happen and then it doesn’t happen.  Now, I am not referring to anything in particular but that I am and always have been a person with some insecurity. 

I am sure that a lot of people are like me and it sometimes overwhelms our thoughts on certain days and certain days we have no issues.  So it is not something that I am just always focused on it but it does have it’s days.  I think it honestly started with me in my early ages of school trying to find friends and trying to fit in.  Part of that, “fitting” in was to do some pretty stupid things that usually got in trouble or hurt in some capacity.

I wish I could say that it has all gone away but then I would be lying to you.  The insecurity in me looks like me focused on my struggles with self-esteem, failure and acceptance.  I have always had this image of trying to look up to something and then compare myself to that person that I wanted to look up to.  It could have been my dad or mom or even my grandparents, maybe a teacher or two, pastors and even bosses…but it was always something and I never seemed to be good enough.

Then the one thought is, what does good enough look like?  Am I good enough, am I worth all the comments, do I still have value?  These days I think I struggle the most in positions or callings in my professional life.  After a big failure early in my marriage and retail career, I felt at that point that I was never going to amount to anything.   Then God called me out to be a pastor and in that I still feel everyday that I am not worthy of that calling.   

What happens if I am not good enough for the church, what if the church dies or doesn’t grow, what if I make a wrong choice for that particular ministry…what if I let God down….what if?…. So it seems the insecurity is still a real struggle. 

These feelings do play a part in my personal life where there are days I don’t feel that I am a good enough husband for my wife or dad to my kids and I struggle with my physical self-esteem. 

Now…I am not leaving you there or myself there either….through all the tough years, struggling years, and everything else I am realizing that I am exactly where I need to be with everything.   I think that if I don’t have some sort of questioning to what or how I do things and even keep some insecurity then I will have figured it all out and then I would probably not need God. It’s true…when we all figure things out and get out get out of the issues we have the tendency to not need God.  I don’t want that…

You see through all the things…God kept me afloat, God kept me safe, God didn’t let me struggle too much (maybe a little) and God is trying to keep me humble (which is hard for most of us).  Here is why….if I boast because of my success, boast of my accolades or boast of what I survived then my boasting is all about me and not about God.  So in all this I guess it is best that I stay a little insecure….Insecurity allows for God to shine even more.  Insecurity allows for God to work and do amazing things.  Insecurity allows for me to be a lot less and for God to be a lot more.  This is the insecure side of me…

Go in Peace

Crazy this phrase of “go in peace”….I love what this phrase says to us. Go…and in peace. Have you ever thought that the Great Commission is in the spirt of this phrase to go in the peace of God. The peace that passes all understanding is something that has weight, authority and a sense of comfort so it is in this that we are called to go in that same peace into a world that needs the love of Jesus. John 20 when Jesus appears to the disciples he says this in verse 21 “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’” Likewise the Great Commission calls for us to Go and knowing that we will not be alone in the going. So think of this…we are all called to go into the cold, hurting, painful, struggling world but….with an authority, a helper, a peace that outweighs all things. So Go make disciples…Go in peace…and surely I (Jesus) am with you till the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20).  Just Go……..

 

Rest, Reflect, Refocus, Re-center

I have been talking to someone who can help we refocus my life and my ministry.  I have a counselor and a coach and both are encouraging me to rest, refocus, re-center and reflect.  It is easier said than done….I have always been a work-a-holic.  I worked in retail for years and in those years the one who was idle didn’t succeed and didn’t get the promotion.  It is funny that it seems that the world is the exact same no matter what position you may have. Work hard, work 7 days, work 10+ hours a day and then you will succeed.  When my coach first asked me about my days of rest I said honestly I figured my day of rest would be the day I am buried 6 feet under the earth.  Of course she did say well that will come a lot sooner if you keep the pace you are going.  Now this is not for some people to abuse it and say every time you are off it is sabbath rest but there is a fine balance and believe me I am not the best at it.

However…I am trying.  I want to be a great husband, a great dad, a great friend/neighbor and a great pastor but I have realized I can’t be at my best unless I take time to rest, refocus,  re-center and reflect.  This is as important as exercise is to the body but also the soul.  I hit the Scriptures to look for those places where rest was talked about and from Genesis where God rested on the 7th day to Jesus going off to pray and so on.  There is this sense that rest has to become intentional.  It is so hard to just chill  and do nothing.  I feel like it is me wasting time but what I am slowly and I mean slowly learning is that this is extremely important.

Society/the world says work hard, work every day and your value is based on the hours you put in.  God says your value is based on resting at Jesus’ feet.  Matthew 11:28-30 says;  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

This passage reflects the salvation that is in Christ but it is also a reflection of the value that Christ has for people.  Come….rest…my life is a way to release those burdens, those struggles, come and take rest for your soul.  Jesus is the Lord of the sabbath (Matthew 12:8) and it is in this sabbath that each of us (me big time) can find rest, refocus, reflection, and a re-centering.  God made sabbath for us…Mark 2:27 says it was made FOR humankind.  So while the world says work till you die….Jesus says rest so that you may have life and have it to the full.   Come take a rest with me….I need it…..

CONFESSION AND PARDON

This time of year brings a lot of reflection and just pause to think about what life holds and where we are in our own space.  New Years brings resolution but Lent seems to bring more resolve. As people focus on their own spirituality this time of year let us pause to see what we have been entrusted to do.  There is an element of service that we are called to give our best to the world and community.  There is this sense of making the world a better place and how can we do that?  Some might say it is environmental things, serving those in the margins or pouring into kids in schools, etc…  In all these things there is one over ending resolve and that it is to treat others as we would want to be treated.  The golden rule is what some might say but in my life I believe in a greater power and authority that rests in Jesus.  Now not all of you may stand where I stand and that is ok but just keep reading.  I read stories of Jesus trying to make the world better one person at a time and then in the end offering his life to make the whole world better.  Now I know that I will never make the whole world better but I do believe as Jesus did and that I can help one person at a time.  It is leaning on the belief of loving God and loving people.  I want to love people as much as my God loves me.  There are those days though where my life doesn’t look like love and it is in this time of year makes me pause, reflect and find resolve.

Part of my resolve is helping serve every couple weeks at a homeless meal program and I don’t do it because I am trying to serve some kind of penitence or need volunteer hours but it is something that is more of a need.  I need to be in the dirt, I need to be in the ditch, I need to love people, I need to serve those that need love/deserve love.  So why can’t I love them?  Why can’t I value them more than  myself?  That’s it!!!  Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…”  My resolve for Lent is to value and love people no matter what….NO gaps, NO “but those people”, NO “look at what they have done”, NO “they are not like you.”  I will resolve to LOVE and that is it…

Merciful God, I confess that I have not loved you with MY whole heart.

I have failed to be an obedient church person.

I have not done your will,

   I have broken your law,

   I have rebelled against your love,

   I have not loved MY neighbors,

   and I have not heard the cry of the needy.

Forgive ME, I pray.

Free ME for joyful obedience,

      through Jesus Christ MY Lord. Amen!

The Big Wait

You know waiting really…..sucks.  I hate waiting for test results from doctors, scores from school, people taking too long to get ready in the morning, my son in the shower.  Whatever it is I struggle with the wait.  I will be honest, I am ADD and also very impatient.  So let’s just say waiting is not a top priority in my life but God a lot of times forces me there to slow me down.  It really ties into my sabbath and other things as well.  I do not sabbath well at all because I always feel like I have to be doing  something.  So let’s just say that in the waiting I struggle.

So the combination of ADD and impatience is a place where it leads to some of my growing edges.  Staying on track, leading the charge but forgetting the ones behind me and at times some a struggle with really thinking through processes (I’m getting better at this).  Now visioning…I got that down.  it is funny I took a test a few months ago and it classified me as a quick start.  Well that’s stereotyping….just kidding.  Actually it sounds a lot more positive to me.  “Yes I am a quick start!” 

In all this I would like to propose a question:  Can a person be impatient, ADD, quick start be used for a greater good in the Kingdom of God?  Is it good for the church?

Too me…I would say yes.  People like me who are impatient, ADD, hate to wait are the ones who seem to have more of a Holy discontent.  No, this is not a bad thing but it is a good thing, why?  Non-waiting people are discontent with same ole, same ole.  They are discontent with status quo.  They are discontent with radical injustice. They are discontent with the church not standing in the gap for people but are just waiting patiently for the church’s death.  This is where an ADD-impatient person can lead.  This person needs to lead out of their passions.  They need to lead with their “white hot why” (Bill Hybels), in the forefront.  They need to lead people from here to there (another Hybels quote).  You see this can change the world, the church and the lives of people. 

So ask yourself…are you impatient, hate waiting, have tendencies of ADD moments?  Then use it to glorify God.  Run ahead of the pack.  Change the world.  Change lives.  Be a rebel.  God will do some great things in and through you.  Now GO!

The Struggle is Real

Man….so many struggles today and honestly for the past 2 weeks.  It has been a whirlwind of emotion and frustration.  People I know and meet are hurting and struggling. Choices that need to be made, need to be made today.  Hope that people need right now, needs to flow like a river.  Myself I have been dealing with some health struggles and wondering why now….seriously, why now.  My anxiety and worry has been flourishing more than anything these days.

I think a lot of it is from worry about health and also some about future.  I know that Scripture tells me not to worry about tomorrow but you know that is easier said than done.  What will my future look like 5-10 years from now?  What will happen to the denomination I love? Yeah we have struggles but I desire for us to stay together.  My wife of 22+ years is my best friend and true soulmate.  That is not a struggle and I have that going for me.  What about our kids?  I mean one will graduate college in a few years while another will be going through it.  Wow, they sure do grow up quick.  Have I told them everything that I needed to tell them?  Did I share my heart enough with them?  Was I too hard on them as a dad?  Was I a good spiritual dad to them?

I realize that life comes in waves.  Waves of peace and prosperity. Waves of highs and lows and sometimes waves of struggle and worry.  So what else is there to say.  I am in a season of worry about health, ministry and my kids.  I want the best for my kids, I want the best out of the ministry God has given to me (yes God is very gracious and without that I am nothing), I want my health not to be a factor in all this.  So for me to say the struggle is real, is an honest statement and I believe in being honest and open. 

So here is my cry to God today….Send Your peace like no other.  Scripture tells me that it is a peace which passes ALL understanding and I need that right now.  Some joy, some hope, some healing, some peace…needs to flow over me like a river.  I am willing to wade in the water and let the waves go above me but I need God’s peace to overwhelm.  Overwhelm Holy Spirit…I need this struggle to go away. 

Erasing Lines

This past couple weeks has been a whirlwind.  So many things are going on in the political world, church world and my personal world.   I was listening to a song from Bethel today and it talked about “A love that erases all the lines and sees the truth.”  I keep reflecting on this phrase and trying to figure what it means to me.  Erasing lines….society and even the church has created more and more lines over the years.  The lines between race, gender, religion, political views, economic levels and many other things have been around but, I don’t remember them being so defined in my life.  It is like the gap gets bigger and bigger each year.  I would like to say that all the lines are drawn by political officials (honestly they don’t help much) but, I really believe the lines are growing because the church is not helping or stepping up to help.  What is the church called to do?  Here is what Ephesians 1:4-14 says;

Ephesians 1:4-14

4 “just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9 he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14 this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.”

God has called the church to lavish grace as God did.  The church is called to forgive as God does.  The church is called to make know the mysteries of Jesus Christ and the understanding of redemption. All this happens with no lines drawn.  Drawing lines between race, religion, gender, economic status, or other only prohibits people from experiencing the love, the redemption and riches of grace that God pours on each person.  This is a season and a time for all people to radically step up and share the love and light of Christ in this world.  This is a time and a season to say no to the status quo.  This is a season and a time to be change makers and LINE ERASERS.  The church is called to rise up with the hope that Christ gives in glory.  So here is my plea…..no more division, no more hate, no more violence, no more lines.  Let’s learn to love and lavish grace as Christ did through His own life.

The Political Spirit

As I pray, read and listen I get a sense of a political spirit that is roaming this country looking to destroy hope, bring fear, anger and bitterness.  I wonder how much those who call on God are truly calling on God during this time or praying against things.  What happens is that more and more people are praying against leaders (whether you agree or disagree with the leader or not) instead of praying for that person.  Yes, this means we pray for even if we totally disagree with their viewpoint.  Now I am a social justice nut and see a nation that has betrayed race, gender and many other things.  It makes me very angry and upset at a lot of leaders. But in my anger I found one thing…a spirit that wants, desires for all people to have this anger, hurt and bitterness.  This is that political spirit that is not of God.

This is not how we as people of God are called to live.  We are called to pray for, lift up in the midst of our disagreement.  I read this passage today:

1 Timothy 2:-4  2 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

I get this strange feeling that if the people of God pray more against a leader that what they will get is their worst nightmare.  Let me explain…you pray against a leader or pray at a leader then what happens is this political spirit takes over and you get exactly what you thought.  I heard a story today of a foreign nation years ago that thought the elected official was the anti-christ.  So the people started to pray against this leader or more pray at the leader and what they got was an “anti-christ” person.  A leader that was against anything of God or helping people.  What if instead of praying at this leader, they prayed for in thanksgiving?  Praying in thanksgiving changes the atmosphere of how we pray. 

I am like a bunch of you and not real excited about how our nation is going.  But, I am now changing my prayer.  I am praying for the new leaders coming in.  I prayed for ALL the previous ones.  Why would I not pray for the new leader coming in?  I may not like all they do or say but I know that the prayers for the new administration in a spirit of thankfulness to God can change anyone.  I think we forget to lean on a greater power and a greater authority. 

Petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for ALL people, for kings and ALL those in authority.  This is the only way to defeat the political spirit.  Rise up and be a people of love and prayer.  There is and always will be a power that is greater than in this world.

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