April 16, 2012 Comments Off on Box Builder, Box Cutter
But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” -Matthew 19:26
A box is a box, no matter any way you look at it or build it- it will always be a box. One of the most practical uses for boxes is being able to label them to notify you what’s inside for a later time. We write “house goods” and only put house goods in the box, but anything else has to go in a separate place and we won’t allow it in that particular box.
This is the exact manner that we so often times approach God, we put God’s ability to move and use our life in a box. We label our life (or box) and tell God this is what you can use me for today- that is it, nothing else. I am only capable of taking on this task or speaking to these certain people and that is it. We build a box.
Another way we use our box against God is we tell Him our capabilities. We tell God that we aren’t good enough to speak, to sing, to be a witness, to do the right thing- we tell God we are worthless and have nothing to offer. We build another box.
So I have a question to ask: are you a box builder or a box cutter?
I have already laid out the characteristics of the box builder, the one that tries to tell God their capabilities and limits. But the box cutter is someone special.
The box cutter is someone that admits his limits, but acknowledges that with God all things are possible. The box cutter makes a conscious decision every day to trust God, no matter the cirucmstances. The box cutter approaches God on their face asking God to use them in any way and to remove any boxes in any areas of their life. Fully stepping out of their box, cutting their way out.
So who are you going to be today? Are you going to continue to box yourself in your life and rely on your human abilities? Or are you going to step out boldly, in faith knowing whom you serve? The only name under heaven with the power to save, the only one that took a beating so that you could live in freedom and let the past go.
November 28, 2011 Comments Off on Ridiculous Rivalry
GUEST BLOGGER: STEVEN FURTICK
See, where I grew up, in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, there was almost nothing bigger than the Clemson/South Carolina in-state rivalry game. Not Christmas, not your kid’s graduation, not a personal appointment with Jesus for the rapture. I’m exaggerating only slightly.
And throughout my childhood, I just assumed that the football game that was the center of my universe must be the center of everyone else’s too. If I had met another little boy from China, I would have asked him whether he was a Clemson fan or a Carolina fan. Those two categories seemed as universal to me as dead or alive.
It probably wasn’t until my first year of college that I fully realized how little most of the world cared about Clemson or Carolina. Football fans in other parts of the country were consumed with their own rivalries. Worse yet, most of the world’s population didn’t care about American football at all. In fact, they didn’t even consider it real football. They reserved that name, understandably, for another sport.
It was a revelation for me:
All my life, I’ve been obsessed with something that most people couldn’t care less about.
I think there’s a deeper analogy here about some of the dumb stuff that divides so many churches, ministries, and believers in Jesus.
I wonder how many “rivalries” we’ve set up within Christian culture that make us look completely aloof and disconnected to a watching world?
We’re busy drawing battle lines within our bubble:
“Are you Calvinist or Arminian?”
“Are you missional or attractional?”
“Are you a Cessationist or a Continuationist?”
“Are you seeker sensitive or (insert opposite of seeker sensitive)”
“Are you blah blah blah or yada yada yada?”
Meanwhile, most hurting people in the world have no idea what we’re talking about. (A lot of the time, neither do we, if you press us.)
What’s worse, they don’t care.
If the average non-Christian heard some of the debates that dominate many of our “Christian” conversations, they’d be sickly amused, completely confused, totally disgusted, or all of the above.
Bad things happen when we become obsessed with things that most people couldn’t care less about—and become distracted by passions that aren’t the highest priority in the heart of God.
We look like idiots when we launch full-scale wars over battles that Jesus didn’t die to fight. Most tragically, it keeps us from coming together, and really putting the devil on the run in our generation.
Of course, we’ve got to draw lines sometimes. Otherwise we fall off the “all paths lead to God” cliff, placing the terrorists on United Flight 175 on the same grounds of “sincerity” as Saint Peter.
And there’s certainly a place for theological distinction. For crying out loud, I’m part of a Protestant church.
But don’t you think that, too often, our in-church rivalries with other believers and ministries make us look like people with really small worlds?
God help us when we can’t respect one another’s different positions enough to realize:
Hey, we’re wearing the same jersey…
October 9, 2011 Comments Off on Time to Fill Up
Did you know that if you sit on an incline long enough your gas meter will magically go to empty without even going anywhere? The gas in the tank shifts to the empty part of the tank where the meter cannot read it. It’s true and it happened to me this past week.
Truth is, this is more than just a gas problem- it’s a spiritual one. We sit in a difficult place for long enough and we feel like God has abandoned us, feel like we’re empty inside, and that God has forsaken us.
You’ve got to realize that you’re just on a hill, not in danger of losing your faith. More times than not, we begin to believe that God has left us because we can’t see over the hill we’re on. We’re on “E” and can’t make it any further.
We let the elevation of our situation determine how far we think we’re going to go, rather than letting the elevation of our God take us to where we need to go.
Here’s the point: When you’re half full your are in danger of truly believing that you’re empty when you’re on a hill. However, when your tank is full, the gravity of the situation cannot manipulate the meter- full is full, no matter the incline.
It’s time to stop filling your life with everything but God- it’s time for you to receive the fullness of Gods love, mercy, joy, kindness, and peace. God never said He wasn’t going to put you in a in-climate situation, but He did promise He would never put you somewhere He couldn’t overcome for you.
It’s time to fill up, it’s time to embrace who you are and take on the vision God wants to give you for your life. It’s time to fill up on Gods joy and leave in a way that glorifies our King. You are chosen for more, chosen for greater -all you have to do is fill up on the right thing, God.
September 19, 2011 Comments Off on Not So Far
25 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God here in the land.” 26 But Moses said, “That would not be right. The sacrifices we offer the LORD our God would be detestable to the Egyptians. And if we offer sacrifices that are detestable in their eyes, will they not stone us? 27 We must take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God, as he commands us.”28 Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the LORD your God in the wilderness, but you must not go very far. Now pray for me.”
There are instances in our life that on the surface seem good, but end up not being close to what God wants from us.
Moses had been asking Pharaoh for days to be able to offer sacrifices to God, finally Pharaoh agrees but under one condition – that they wouldn’t leave Egypt.
So why does that matter? Moses and Aaron were still going to get to sacrifice to God…Only problem, God didn’t want them to offer sacrifices around the Egyptians. What seemed like a good decision, would have been absolutely awful for Moses and Aaron.
What are the things in your life that are seemingly good, fun, or easy that are actually hurting you in the end? The devil likes to disguise his ways by giving us seemingly good things with faith-killing outcomes.
After so many lonely nights, a cute guy actually came up and talked to you after your campus ministry. He seems nice, even says He believes in God, but is secretly planning to use and abuse you. An attractive girl that puts bible verses all over her status’s seems to not be afraid to show what she believes in, problem is she could care less about her parents and plans to drag you down with her.
The bible tells us to guard our heart for a reason. The devil isn’t afraid to give us great opportunities as long as he can keep his leash on us. And God isn’t going to stop him either, God likes to see just how much we can trust Him and put our faith in His directions rather than our own. We aren’t expected to see the wolf in sheeps clothing from afar, but are expected to run at the first sight of teeth…Not wait around to see if they’re sharp or not.
Pharaoh wasn’t afraid to let Moses and Aaron sacrifice to God as long as they did it in Egypt on his circumstances.
Stand firm in your faith, know that God has a plan for you. You don’t have to settle for average or less than because God has so much more planned for you, even when you can’t see it.
August 26, 2011 Comments Off on Show, Don’t Tell
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” Luke 24:37-39
As I was sitting in World Lit the other day, our teacher was going over a syllabus for the essay we were going to be assigned. One of the main points he wanted us to understand is that he is looking for us to “show, don’t tell” the literary devices in Antigone.
When you show something, there is no room for bias, exaggeration, or false pretenses- it”s there, it’s real; there is no room for any kind of doubt.
Even the disciples, Jesus closest friends didn’t even truly believe it was Him in the room until they were able to be shown the scars, holes, and wounds of the crucifixion. So, if the disciples were doubting Jesus, well what does that tell us? We have a big job to do.
We are called to show the world our scars, holes, and wounds in our life– not runaway from them and keep them in secret. Being vulnerable, for God, in your life allows people to see the amazing God that forgives, restores, and loves. The more “human” someone can see of you, the more of God they can see inside of you.
We as Christians are called to show the love, joy, and freedom God has given us- not just tell. Because if we’re not celebrating the great things God is doing in our life, we are being ungrateful of the God that has blessed us beyond what each and everyone of us truly deserves.
Rejoice in the new mercies He gives us everyday, rejoice that Christ has already come and paid the price for your sin. Worshipping God isn’t about worshipping Him the way that makes us most comfortable with how the people around us see us, but the way that God deserves and loves to be worshipped.
August 19, 2011 Comments Off on Weep No More
20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. -John 16:20-22
Circumstances will come and go in your life. Pain will exceed your expectations and subside again. Your wealth will come and go, your health only a moment away from being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Understanding that failing is OK is a critical part of your walk with Christ. However, I don’t mean just giving up or not giving your best effort. But a definition of failing, through giving your best effort, but still coming up short because God has something better planned for your life.
There are going to be hard times, the bible is full of those warnings, but understanding and truly believing in your heart that God is in ALL circumstnaces will take your anxiety to an all time low.
Whether it’s a potential relationship, job interview, financial payment due, or any other stressful, yet unknown life circumstance- dont worry.
Position yourself in a way that God can bless you. Position yourself in a way that you give your best effort, so that the only reason you could possibly fail is if God allows you to because it’s not the course He wants you to take.
If you aren’t willing to position yourself for God to bless you, you’re just lazy.
Though hard times may lie ahead, God is good in all circumstances. Even though you might not be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, He will light your footsteps. Even though the storm is raging and He’s calling you to take a step of faith and walk on water, you follow. Even though the pain is so immense and He’s calling you to be a witness to the person that destroyed your heart the most, He is there.
God will never call you into a situation that He cannot handle your well being or spiritual eternity. God created the things you fear the most and knows how to handle every situation.
Weep no more because there is a day coming that tears will not matter.
God is good all the time and all the time God is good.
August 18, 2011 Comments Off on Damaged Goods
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” 16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” John 4:1-18
There are times in life when we all make mistakes, we all fall, we all fail God. We’re human.
For some of us, we cary the burden of losing our virginity- losing our sense of purity and self worth. We carry the burden and sorrow of feeling our damaged goods.
You feel empty, selfless, and a desire to feel the void in your broken purity with someone/something else. You crave the feeling of belonging again, but are ushered into the sounds and images as tears stream down your face. You can’t understand it, can’t understand why he would do such a thing and walk away. The lights go out, the tears come out. Alone. Broken. Dejected. Hurt. Ashamed. Forgotten. Broke.
You beg for forgiveness from God, shed tears in church as the Pastor condemns the sexually impure; now fully accepting your new stereotype. You avoid conversations with your parents, friends, anything to do with relationships in fear of shedding tears.
The pain sets in, the devil beats you down with reminder after reminder after reminder of how pitiful you are and what an enemy of God you now are- that you will never go to heaven. Convincing you that You were never a christian.
….Silence sets in. The crack of the whip peals the flesh off, the blood burns his back, the dehydration causing the lips to blister…Nails pierced through his hands, only stopped by the bone before the soldier nails them through the bone, his feet broken from the stakes driven through his ankles. He stands, nailed to a blistery piece of a wood, hardly a body even recognizable as human. Crowned with thorns torn into his skull, spat upon, bruised, dying of agony. The Son of Man nailed to a cross, feeling forsaken by the creator of the universe, feeling broken. Alone. Forsaken. Hurt. Forgotten. Dejected.
By his stripes you are healed. By his stripes you are pure again. By his stripes you know you are loved. By his stripes you know He will remember you in heaven. By his stripes your sin is paid for, in full!
You will never be able to go back in time, what’s done is done. But there is no sin that the cross did not cover. You can never reverse that moment in time, but Jesus can give you your purity back. Just a simple touch can accomplish more than you would ever earn in an entire lifetime. All you have to do is believe.
In the opening verse I used about Jesus and the woman at the well, even Jesus still used the woman that had over 6 husbands (never married) to be apart of His ministry. He still offered her salvation, eternal life.
Next time you are remembering your impurity, remember what has already been done for you. Remember that God loves you, always. Remember that you will fail, endlessly, for the rest of your life but that’s ok because that’s why Jesus died for you. God is good all the time and will never leave you alone.