Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Forgiveness is Hard

I've had many a conversation just this week about forgiveness. So many struggle with this issue. This may be more of a tweet than a blog entry.

Corrie ten Boom said, "God has taken our sin. He has thrown it into the sea of forgetfulness, and he has posted a sign there that says, 'No fishing allowed.' "

We should not choose to remember what God has chosen to forget.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Meager Offerings

Great thoughts from Greg Laurie. Just had to share this with you. Be blessed in the Lord and GO BEYOND: Follow Jesus to a place you've never been!

And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.
— John 6:11

It was a meager offering when the young boy brought his lunch of five loaves and two fish to Jesus. Even Andrew said, "But what are they among so many?" (John 6:9). But Jesus took it, blessed it, and multiplied it—and thousands were impacted.

God can take your meager offering and do a lot with a little. A. W. Tozer said, "The world is waiting to hear an authentic voice, a voice from God—not an echo of what others are doing and saying, but an authentic voice." What the world needs to see today is an authentic Christian, not a perfect voice, not a flawless person (because there is no such individual), but authenticity. That is what people need to see.

John Wesley said, "Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth."

Imagine what would happen if just 100 believers took this to heart. What if 200 did? How about 400? How about 500? What about 800? What about 1,000? What about 2,000 or more? What would happen in our cities? What would happen in our states? What would happen in the United States? What would happen in the world? A lot.

Sure, all of us are flawed. All of us fall short. None of us are qualified in and of ourselves. But God can do His work through imperfect people. In fact, it seems as though He goes out of His way to find imperfect people to work through. What God is looking for today is not ability as much as availability. Are you willing to be someone who will shake your world?

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Little Sheltered

After the elder's meeting last night, one of the elders stayed after to talk to me for a few minutes about a potential church member of Oakwood that I had been talking to. He told me some things that he had seen and heard about this person. I'm listening to this and he threw out a term that I was unfamiliar with. Then he explained what it meant and the intention of it and I was shocked and embarrassed that I hadn't caught on.

I realized after that conversation that I am a bit sheltered. The office that I go to everyday is filled with scripture and prayer. There is no foul language or filthy talk at the office, no innuendo of any type. And I realized after speaking with this dear brother in the Lord that he is exposed to much more worldliness on a daily basis than I am. This awareness has made me pray today and feel for my church members that deal with this kind of stuff everyday of their lives. And for some of them, it's all day every day.

I know that the world is corrupt and evil. I know that people in the last days will become even more filthy with the world. I see that progression happening today and it will probably only get worse.

The lesson here for me and all of us as Christians is to be aware what others may be dealing with in the world. There may be some that have jobs and schools where they are exposed to much more sin and evil than you and I are. I remember working in a secular job before ministry and when I laid out of ministry for a few months several years ago. I remember the foul language and coarse jokes and hearing and being exposed to those all of the time. As a Christian, it's not fun and can become downright annoying. For some it can really become a downer. We should pray for one another and pray for our witness and testimony to remain pure. This is the light that we have that penetrated the darkness of our sinful world. Jesus said, "Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Go Francis!

Great video I saw today!

Since It's Been So Cold Here

It's been over 72 hours since we've been above freezing here in Enid, OK. Looks like we're going to crack it today with a balmy 34. In lieu of this information, I had to share this. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Temptation- Where does it come from?

Have you ever been minding your own business, when boom, you are hit with a heavy-duty temptation? It might be an evil thought, a lustful one, doubt, or the plethora of self-control issues. When this happens you wonder, where in the world did that come from? The answer is: the devil.

Yes, we can play a part in our own temptation, but there is clearly an enemy who comes at us with his enticements. He knows how to "package his wares" and make bad things look good. That's because things forbidden have a secret charm. In the end, it's always bad. Sometimes, it can even get ugly.

It is important to know that temptation and attack often come after times of great blessing. We let our guards down. We begin to relax in the times of ease. We quit praying and calling on the Lord. We stop asking for his protection and guidance because...well...we feel really protected and guided at that point. Then boom, out of nowhere, the devil (who prowls like a roaring lion seeking whom he will devour the Bible says, 1 Peter 5:8) throws some temptation our way.

It was after a time of great blessing in the life of Jesus that He was tempted by Satan. Jesus had just been baptized by His cousin John the Baptist. The Holy Spirit had descended on Him in the form of a dove, and the Heavenly Father proudly said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Good times and times of ease, joy, happiness, contentment, and fulfillment.

But Luke's Gospel tells us, "Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil" (Luke 4:1–2). It was after the dove that the devil came. After the blessing comes the trial. Times of attack often come after "mountaintop" experiences.

We read of when Jesus was on the mountaintop with Moses and Elijah. Once again, God spoke, "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!" As they descended from the mountain, a man with a demon-possessed child was waiting. Whenever God speaks, the devil will be there to oppose.

So what is the solution? It is to be aware of this truth, and always keep your guard up. Then the next time those "flaming arrows" of temptation come your way, you will know to put up your shield (read Ephesians 6:10-20)!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What's Holding You Back?

I received this in one of my pastoral emails that I subscribe to. It's from a pastor named Perry Noble. I think he's right on. What's holding you back from growing in the Lord?

The story of the Rich Young Ruler has always seized my attention. (You can read it in Mark 10:17-22.) Jesus told him in verse Mark 10:21 that there was basically ONE THING that was holding him back from being His follower. (And the guy was unwilling to give up that one thing!)

I’ve been in ministry for about 20 years now, and through my personal experiences and with what I’ve seen in others, I’ve basically identified four “one things” that commonly hold people back.

#1 – Money – Jesus said that money is the number one competitor for our hearts. (See Matthew 6:19-24) Paul gave specific warnings regarding money (I Timothy 6:6-19). And we know from the story that this was the rich young ruler's problem. We cannot be fully committed followers of Christ if greed is the obsession of our hearts. God is generous…His followers should be as well.

#2 – Anger/Unforgiveness – What Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15 does not get a lot of press, but the importance of His statement is VITAL and ESSENTIAL to you and me having a dynamic, victorious walk with Jesus. He flat out said that if we do not forgive, we are not forgiven. (Also see I John 2:9-11) We cannot pursue Jesus with all our hearts if bitterness and unforgiveness dominates our minds and hearts. One of the things that we miss so often in reading the book of Job is that God DID bless Job and more than restore all that he had lost…but He did so AFTER Job forgave and prayed for his legalistic friends who had done nothing but tear him down for days! (See Job 42:10) MAYBE the reason you cannot move forward in your walk with Christ is because you are not willing to extend the same forgiveness you claim that God has given to you.

#3 – Unconfessed Sin – Is there an issue that God keeps coming after that you refuse to let go of? Remember…He will RELENTLESSLY pursue your heart, not your behavior. AND…to KNOW Him intimately is to obey Him immediately!! We’ve GOT to remember that “delayed obedience” is radical disobedience. If He’s coming after something in your life, it is only because He wants to replace it with something better. (Read Mark 10:17 again and notice that the Bible specifically says that Jesus LOVED this guy…and out of that love, He came after the idol in the guy's life!) My advice here would simply be to let go of whatever He’s after…AND…if He’s clearly spoken to you about an issue, then just do what He says…He’s not changing His mind!

#4 – An Ungodly Relationship – You cannot pursue an affair and pursue Jesus. You cannot have sex with someone you are not married to and pursue Jesus. You cannot date someone that Jesus says not to date and be close to Him. Some people have their identity in who they are dating (or having sex with) rather than Christ…and this ALWAYS destroys our fellowship with Him.

I am sure there are other things that we all deal with…but these are four things that so often hold us back from being who God wants us to be!