Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Casting and Baking

So I’ve been in Ft. Pierce the past few days; naturally I had to go fishing today. Despite what you may have heard, I am the worst fisherman you know. I mean, if I believed in luck, I’d say all the Irish in my blood floats away from me the moment I get a rod and reel in my hands. I think I’m averaging about one fish a year. And that’s not an exaggeration. (And one of those fish I didn’t even hook; I just reeled it in and took the credit.)

I wish I were one of those people that could say, “Oh, it doesn’t matter if I catch anything. It’s just about being out there and being with nature.” But I’m not. I get annoyed. I get mad at the fish. “You stupid fish! Bite the lure! You’re not better than me, fish!” And of course there’s always some 10-year-old who’s catching sharks and whales like twenty yards down from me. And while I’m not catching fish, I just get to thinking about things and analyzing my situations. And thus, here I am with another journal entry.

I think life is a lot like fishing. It seems like we cast a lot. Always casting. Throwing it out there. Trying. Sometimes it works. The fish bite. People like you. You reel in a big one. Things work out pretty well, and it’s enjoyable. But a lot of the times you just cast. No one bites. You try a different spot; try something new. No bites. Apparently, even the fish don’t want to be around you, and they’re fish. And then you start to rethink mama’s words of wisdom, “Oh, there’s plenty of fish in the sea, Sweetie.”

But we cast on. Waiting. Praying. Just thinking maybe this will be the cast that works. Praying that if God really loves you, you’ll get something on this cast.

And then… suddenly. What’s that?! A tug. A nibble. You feel the rod shake a little. Finally! You start to reel in quickly. This must be a big one! Look at the rod bending! Alright… wait. It’s stuck on a stupid rock.

Once again, it’s disappointment, a moment of hope and excitement, only to be let down again. And it kind of feels worse because you got your hopes up. But maybe that’s life—a lot of casting, and a lot of reeling in seaweed.

When the fish aren’t biting, there’s nothing you can do about it. There is nothing in your tackle box that can make a fish want to bite. And if you’re like me, that is the most frustrating thing in the world. Being helpless to change a situation. And no amount of casts, tries, or even prayers can change it.

Sometimes we just cast.

If we’re real with ourselves, I’m sure we can look back on many times in our lives where the fish weren’t biting, and there was nothing you could do about it. Prayers didn’t change it. Your tears didn’t change it. And of course, your heartfelt words might as well have not even been spoken.

Sometimes the fish aren’t biting.
Sometimes we just cast.

But you know what I started realizing on each cast? I was getting better. Each cast was going farther. In fact, I almost caught a bird. And I would have, too, but I didn’t want to deal with a bird on a hook.

And maybe the Master of the waters knows something we don’t about these fish. It’s hard to see when you’re just standing there feeling like an idiot with a stick and a hook, but maybe there is something going on below the water that we can’t see.

Sometimes there’s nothing you can do, and that is alright.

I’m not much of a baker either, but I do know a few things about cakes. When you’re making a cake from scratch you have to crack the eggs, put in the flour, pour in the oil and the water, add something else I probably don’t know about, and then mix it. Mix it all in. Keep mixing. Then pour it in the pan. But then, you put it in the oven and leave it.

There is nothing more you can do now. It’s the oven’s turn to do something you cannot. You must let it bake.

You must let it go, and let it bake.

In some situations, I believe there comes a time in our process when we must give it over to God, stop working and wrestling with it, and let it bake. It’s a time that the Lord will release you to let it go, and there’s nothing more you need to do but wait. Wait while He does something you cannot do. Let it bake.

Psalm 27:13-14
I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Never stop praying. Never stop casting. But we must remember that God is continually teaching us, and that He loves us very much. If you are doing what you can do, He will do what you are not able to do. And if the fish aren’t biting, maybe He knows something you don’t. I think Jesus knows a thing or two about fishing (check out John 21.)

Sometimes we can’t make the fish bite or the cake bake, but at some point the fish have got to eat, and at some point you’ll be eating some pretty good cake.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Is Coming

I think when I have kids I’m going to make them wait until they are at least 9 or 10-years-old until we celebrate Christmas with gifts and food. I’ll make them watch the neighbors put up lights, and go to school and hear about their friends’ gifts and what they got to play with. I’ll make them sing “Silent Night” when other kids are singing “Here Comes Santa Claus.” And on Christmas morning we will wake up early, run down the stairs, I’ll read them the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke, then go outside and paint the house, mow the lawn, and do some cleaning. But all through the day and the holiday season I’ll simply say to my kids, “Your Christmas is coming!”

Some people will call me the meanest dad in the world (probably my kids will say that), others will call me Ebenezer Scrooge, some will try desperately to bring me Christmas cheer and sneak my kids candy and gifts, but with a big smile on my face I’ll say “Thank-you” and give it all back to the kind people while I tell them, “Their Christmas is coming!” Then, they will look at me like I’ve lost my mind, my children will cry, and Santa will send out assassin elves with my name and address. But if they would just stick around until my children’s 9th or 10th Christmas they would be amazed.

They will stand and watch in jealousy as a semi-truck filled with all sorts of presents and candy pulls up in my driveway and dumps it all on my front yard. And then some will cry in awe and amazement as Mickey and Minnie Mouse themselves land on our yard in a private helicopter and take my children, my wife, and I to Disney World for the rest of December, with special tokens to ride first on every ride. And as I walk onto the helicopter, Mickey will hand me a microphone turned up loud enough for all who listen to hear me say, “I told you their Christmas was coming.” And off we will fly, and my children won’t be thinking about the past decade of present-less Christmas mornings or how they didn’t believe Daddy’s promise. They will only be thinking about how great things are and laugh in excitement about what else is in store for them and their long awaited celebration of our Savior’s birth.

So you’re asking yourself now, “Why are you going to do that?!” And my answer is basically, “I want my children to learn how to wait when they are young.”

Think about it. In the future, when they are grown, while others are freaking out over a couple of months or days and how they haven’t heard back from a job or college or some other situation, my kids will stand like statues in patience and say, “What? This? This is nothing! I once had to wait 10 years for Christmas! I can handle this short amount of time.” Then they will call me and say, “Ah Dad, you’re the smartest man alive! I’m so glad we learned how to wait.”

Man, think about if it actually happened like that. I’m kind of mad that my folks didn’t do that with me. Because here I am, 24-years-old and it’s the same thing over and over again with me. Ol’ Jonnyboy has to learn to wait. And he has to learn how to over and over again, possibly because it never can sink in or stick with him in his head, heart, and soul.

Maybe God is not so far off from this “No Christmas” method as we think. So many times I’m watching people achieve what I’m trying to achieve, get in a short amount of time what I’ve been waiting or saving for, or find so easily what I have been searching so desperately for. And when I look at Father, completely in shock or heartache as to why I don’t have it yet, He just smiles back at me and says, “Your Christmas is coming.”

Why aren’t the promises of God good enough for me? Why do I have to question every word or prompting of the Holy Spirit with responses like, “But how long…” or “I know, but…” or “Well how do I know that’s really even you saying these things?”

Why aren’t the promises of God good enough for us?

God does not speak random words or waste His breath. In Genesis 1, every word He spoke created something. And I think it’s still that same way with the words of the Lord today. Every word of God is a promise.

1 Thessalonians 2:13
“And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, THE WORD OF GOD, WHICH IS AT WORK IN YOU WHO BELIEVE.”

See, that’s the thing I’m coming to see about the word of God. It’s not always God tells you something or promises you something and then BANG! it happens. The word of God is something that “is at work in you who believe.”

Maybe one of the reasons we have so much trouble with waiting on the promises of God is because we don’t realize it is a process. It is “at work” in us, and we are not complete.

God speaks. He speaks life and good things. God desires to bless us. It’s not wishful thinking to believe in something better coming, it is faithful thinking. Yes, sometimes we suffer, sometimes God takes away, and sometimes we lose. But that is also because the word of God is at work in us.

We all know the expression “time flies…” And soon enough we’re looking back on our lives and wanting to go back to certain points, all the while wishing this future with a better life would hurry up and get here. We are never satisfied with now. I want to live a life where I am thankful for my past, excited about my future, and content with my present. That doesn’t mean that I don’t make strides towards bettering myself or wait for more to happen, but it’s very important to not get caught up in the “then” when God is using you in the “now.”

I don’t want to live a life where I’m always saying, “When ‘this’ happens, then I’ll…” or “When I get ‘that’, then I’ll…”

God is continually at work, even if we don’t see it. It may just be a feeling or unction, but He is at work.

2 Peter 3:9
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

The word of God says it—the Lord is not slow in keeping His promise! I believe that He doesn’t want our souls to perish as well as our hope. God is not out to destroy our faith and our hopes, even though sometimes I’ve felt like He was. He’s a good Father, and a Good Shepherd. He knows what we need, as well as what we don’t need.

Let the word of God be at work in you. Your Christmas is coming.

Friday, November 20, 2009

He Knew...

The older and wiser I am getting, I am becoming wise enough to know that I know pretty much nothing about life. Some scholars would call it “diddly squat.” Although I learn from all of my experiences, one of the greatest things I’ve learned is that no two experiences are the same. Yes, it can be quite frustrating. And then throw women into all of this, and it’s enough to make your brain cry.

Now the funny thing about all of this is that my God is omniscient. All knowing. He knows all the details of the past, everything to come in the future, and the answers to the ever illusive question—“Why?” So my God knows all of this, and here I am, ever standing with my hands in my back pockets and my shoulders shrugged. If I am a child of the Living God, it seems we’re not really living up to the “like father, like son” phrase.

But the good news for us pea-brains is that if we lack wisdom, we can ask, and God will give it generously (James 1:5). And I’ve had a lot of moments where I have prayed for wisdom and seen things happen or said that I know for sure I did not have much to do with.

So case closed—you are smarter off with the wisdom of the Lord.

Ah yes, that’s a great thing, but what about those tunnels where the light has just turned off at the end of them? The future. What we can’t see.

I wish there was another verse in James that said, “If anyone of you are curious about the events of your future, he should ask God, who gives generous amounts of info and spills the beans like a little sister who just found out her brother has a girlfriend.”

But apparently that verse was removed by the scribes of old.

What is our obsession with the future? Is it our insecurities that want so desperately to know that we be alright and taken care of? Is it because we are scared of wasting our time on things that won’t last? Or is it just straight up curiosity? I don’t know; I for one don’t want to flip to the last page of my life-book. I’m pretty sure it ends with the main character dying… soooo predictable!

It’s funny how I can get jealous of Jesus and His all-knowing power. “Man, Jesus, you didn’t have to worry about the future, cause you knew it all…”

What a punk I am. Seriously.

Could you imagine knowing everything Jesus did? In Mark 8:31-32 and 10:32-34, He predicted His death. He knew it was coming. He knew, and still He died. He knew, and still He came to earth. That humbles me to no end. He knew…

He knew that I would sin and deny and reject Him, and still He died. He knew that the Gospel would be perverted and churches would divide over insignificant matters, and still He died. He knew that His words would be manipulated and misused to justify wars, slavery, and domestic abuse, and still He died. He knew the sin of the world would fall upon His body, and still He let it be broken.

What a Savior. What a glorious King. I could never have known that and went through with it, so Jesus took my place.

He knows the extent and the disgracefulness of our sins, and He washes them away so we don’t have to see ourselves for the wretched creatures we are. He sees us as forgiven, through the blood of Jesus and His propitiation.

Maybe God is smart enough to know that we shouldn’t be that smart. Think about Adam and Eve and when they “got smarter.” Or even Abraham when he knew he was going to get a son, he tried to take a short cut there with Hagar. That kind of wrecked a lot of stuff. I’m pretty much convinced that if I knew the end result of many things, I would find some way to screw it up by trying to speed up the process.

In M. Blaine Smith’s book, KNOWING GOD'S WILL, he says, “God leads us as much by information He withholds as by information He gives!”

We’ve got to trust that the Giver of all truth and wisdom is the smartest and wisest one when it comes to our lives.

Seek and fear the Lord and make decisions. And be wise enough to know that we don’t need to know everything. The moment you understand that you won’t understand everything, you might begin to understand some things.

1 Corinthians 2:9-10
“However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’—but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit.”

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Knock Knock. Who's There?

They say that opportunity only knocks once, but I think that saying was made up by someone who only had one door in his life. I’ve come to find my life is full of many doors. Many choices. Many directions. And many door-to-door salesmen. And in the midst of all the ringing doorbells and junk mail, Jesus stands at the door and knocks. (Revelation 3:20)

Currently, I am in a battle of who I could be and who I should be.

Have you ever questioned decisions you make in life and analyze every last detail about them? When dealing with a calling of God on your life, you will most likely ask many times, “What is foolishness and what is faith?” Will I look back and say, “Look what the Good Lord has done,” or “Good Lord, what have I done!?”

It’s a tricky journey this life, full of deceptions, ladders that take you to the top only to find out that the top is just the bottom of another level, and greener grass that you may discover burns just as easily as the grass on the other side. And let’s not forget about fear. Fear of failure. Fear of becoming our parents. Fear of having to say, “I was wrong.”

Is there such a thing as a safe bet or a sure shot? And if we choose to stand for what we feel God is calling us to do, that doesn’t mean He won’t let us break. Matthew 21:44 says, “He who falls on this stone (Jesus) will be broken to pieces.” Is that what answering the call of Jesus means? A life full of brokenness? Is the way of Jesus really the wisest way to go? The man was a poor, homeless vagabond. One time He even had to make a miraculous catch of a fish with a coin in his mouth just to pay his taxes. (Matthew 17:24-26) So does a life with Jesus mean we have to depend on miraculous catches and just pray to God the fish are biting today?

Is that really what life is? Saying, “God, I am wholly dependant on you for everything because I have nothing else to rest upon but your words.” That is abundant life?

That is abundant life. And I want to live.

Here’s the deal, at least for me, and I don’t mean to sound conceited, but I really feel I could play “the game” and be “successful.” From what I’ve seen in most of the business world, it’s a matter of meager talent and who you can schmooze over to be successful. Anyone could play the game. People love hearing what they want to hear, and if you tell it to them they’ll love you for it. It’s not hard to find success in you chase after it. But is that success in the eyes of the Lord? I’ve got a hunch that anything the world views as good, God views it as just the opposite. And really, anything I’ve ever done that’s amounted to any form of success is only from God and through God.

Now this is not to say that anyone who brings home a paycheck is not honoring the Lord. By no means am I saying that. Trust me. But when it comes to the calling of God on each one of our lives, we had better make sure we are chasing after His view of success and what He wants for our lives. Many people may give you advice contradictory to what you have heard from the Lord. And I’m not saying don’t listen to advice or wisdom, but be careful what kind of wisdom you are listening to. I’ve come to find fear can sound a lot like concern.

So many decisions. So many knocking doors. A relentless, jealous God who chooses to knock on your door instead of knocking it down.

So many choices. One God.

Matthew 6:24
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.

What is God calling you to do? A decision for what God’s calling you to do may seem crazy, and in the viewpoint of worldly success it may be ridiculous, but God is a Good Shepherd. He knows how to lead His sheep to the right pastures.

Remember Psalm 23. God is such a Good Shepherd. We will not want. A life without God will leave you wanting God. A life with God will leave you wanting nothing else.

Matthew 6:33
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Believe Now

John 2:19-22
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days. The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words Jesus had spoken.

God is huge. Massive. Indescribably big. Sometimes when He would bring His presence to earth He would come with fire or lightning and thunder, or some powerful, visible force.

Exodus 20:18
When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear.

Sometimes it’s really easy to look at the signs and say, “Oh yeah, that’s definitely God.” But sometimes God does not come like you think He will, or even wish He would. In 1 Kings 19, God appeared to Elijah, and there was a great and powerful wind, an earthquake, and a fire, but God was not in them. Then, came a gentle whisper, which was the Lord.

Why does the Lord come in ways that are so hard to be sure of sometimes? Why doesn’t He just write it on the wall or send us angels in dreams? I could give you the answer that most would say (and is correct)—faith. But my honest answer right now is this: I don’t know.

I really have no clue why God doesn’t always speak up loud when we are desperate and broken. Why does it have to be a still small voice?

I really can’t figure it out, but I do know this, God actually speaks to us. He really does.

Luke 10:27
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.”

Don’t even question it. Jesus still speaks.

What sticks out to me from the passage of John 2 is that it wasn’t until after Jesus had risen from the dead that “then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.”

Here’s a phrase we are all familiar with: “Uh huh? Prove it.” “Really? You’re better at this than me? Prove it.” “Yeah? You are friends with Justin Timberlake? Prove it.” Let’s face it, when we get down to it, we are not very trusting or believing people by nature. And those of us that are quick to believe to believe are referred to as “na├»ve.” Maybe the fact that we are so slow to believe can be attributed to years of disappointing moments, being fooled too many times, or maybe we just don’t watch enough Disney movies anymore. Whatever the reasons are, it’s true that we are not quick to believe in most things. The same was with the disciples of Jesus.

When it comes to the words of the Lord, many times all we will have is His words. No other signs. And if your life is like mine, sometimes it seems that things are happening just the opposite of what the Lord’s words are. But those are the times we must look back on our lives and the old stories in the Scriptures, and how the words of the Lord have always been true and done just what they said they would do.

In Isaiah 55, the Lord compares His words to the rain that falls and waters the earth.

Isaiah 55:11
So is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

So it’s a fact: God’s word will never fail.

What if we were a people who didn’t have to wait for the proof before we believed the words of the Lord? The disciples had to wait until Jesus actually resurrected until they believed His words; what if we were a people who took Him at His word?

Jesus told Thomas, “Blessed are those who have no seen and yet have believed,” (John 20:24). It is possible to believe without “the proof.” The proof is the unfailing voice of Jesus.

But the age old question is, “Well, how do I know that it’s God?” We all ask it. I ask it everyday. And really, it’s a good question to ask. But let’s be real, most of the times we ask that, we are using it as a defense to what God is telling us to do. “How do I know that’s God? It might not be so I just won’t do anything about it.” Sound familiar? If it doesn’t, you’re probably lying. Now go repent…

Alright, welcome back. I hope the confession was good for your soul.

I feel that we sell God so short on how and how often He speaks. God is speaking all the time. The question is: are we listening all the time? I’m not saying we never need to pray about anything or seek advice and counsel, but I think most of the reason we are not seeing bigger things of God in our lives is not because we keep mishearing God, but because we aren’t doing anything about what we do hear.

“Prove it. Prove that’s God’s voice.” You prove it! Prove it by doing something with it. And honestly, so what if we get things wrong once in a while? Really, it’s not that big of a deal. Would you rather be a person who never acts on anything because “what if I’m wrong sometimes,” or a person that believes the words of Jesus before He has physical proof?

God is not setting us up to fail. And the devil isn’t speaking words like, “Hey, go witness to that person,” or “What if you just did something radical and crazy for Jesus?” I’m 100% positive you don’t have to worry about the devil prompting you to move forward in the Kingdom of God.

Jesus is speaking. I believe He’s calling so many of us to do great things everyday. It might be a little uncomfortable, it might not make much sense, you might not see a dime in it, but it just might be Jesus. I’d say take some chances, but I don’t feel it’s a matter of chance; it’s a matter of faith.

What could be done for the Kingdom if we learned to believe and act on the word of the Lord? Don’t wait for the proof, prove it yourself.

Luke 10:28
[Jesus] replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Friday, July 31, 2009

You Gotta Know He Knows

Luke 12:22-34

I’m kind of up against the wall here lately. Waiting to see what happens with where I’m going to live in less than 15 days, how I’m going to pay for it if I do get a place, and just other things like my ministry that I feel I’m supposed to be doing. I feel God has spoken to me and given me words and scriptures and al that, but nothing has happened. I’m standing very much empty handed and putting all my hope in something I think I’ve heard from God.

Now this can be quite nerve racking if I let it be. You can very easily start to freak out and think things like, “Well, what if that wasn’t God?” “How do you even know God is speaking to you?” “Are you being lazy and just calling it ‘Waiting on the Lord’?” It’s really easy in these times for the enemy to creep in and blow all of that up even more, too. Literally, I am living on a prayer… ooooohhhh I’m half way there…

So it’s in these times that our faith is put to the test and we realize if we really mean the songs we’ve been singing. Is God really mighty to save? Is nothing impossible for Him? Even the old kid’s song, “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do! (For you!)” You have to pretty much look at yourself and say, “Do I believe these words or not?”

We must believe. We must believe that God ACTUALLY SPEAKS to His children , and that Jesus IS the Good Shepherd and knows how to lead His flock. We must believe that if God’s put it in you, then it will be so.

See, the problem is that so many people give up on the promise and their faith because nothing’s happened. We live in a society where success is measured by time. If you haven’t graduated by [now] it means you’ve been screwing around too long. If you don’t own your own business by [now] you’re not trying hard enough. If you ain’t married by [now] it means something’s wrong with you. In the Kingdom of God, though, it’s not about time. It’s about faith and the voice of the Lord. Don’t be afraid to wait. Patience and laziness are two entirely different things.
Hebrews 6:12
“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”
Faith and patience always get the promise.

If you’re in the middle of July in Florida, how could you ever believe that it will get cold and Christmas will come if we haven’t seen it happen before? It’s like 900 degrees in summertime. You can’t even walk outside without shoes on because your feet will melt into the pavement and you’ll be stuck there to the ground like a statue, waving at people walking by. You can’t feel winter coming. You can’t see it coming. But it always comes. And we know it will because we’ve seen it happen before. In the same way, remember the things the Lord has done in your life and know that He will do it again. He is more faithful than the seasons.

So don’t lose heart because it seems like things are taking forever and will never come about, it’s a testing of your faith.

Jude 3
“I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once entrusted to the saints.”

Sometimes you have to fight for your faith and persevere for your peace. I know there’s been times been times where I’ve been going through something and I’ve prayed and then God has given me peace about it, and then in no time I’ve lost that peace. Does that mean that God never gave it to me? No. it just means that you have to fight to hold onto what God gives you sometimes. We have an enemy that wants to take what God gives you.

John 10:10
“The thief comes ONLY to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

You know sometimes I forget that God is stronger than the world He created. It’s all His. He knows what He has made and how it works. And I think these verses sum everything up:

Luke 12:29-31
“29And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

It’s comforting to know that God knows. He knows what we need even before we ask. So ask. Don’t lose hope just because you can’t see what’s happening or how it all plays out. The only we need to see is Jesus.

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The day after I wrote this, I got a call from two of my close friends, Alex and Mike, about them needing a place to live, so we’re getting a place together now. I didn’t know where I was going to be living in a matter of days, but God provided!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Leggo My Ego

I’ve recently been dealing with a lot of new theologies and theories that have been presented to me. I guess it’s a sign of maturity in your faith when you start to see that life is not one big Sunday School class.

I consider myself open, but also very closed off when it comes to my faith. Certain things I will never be shaken on, they are the foundations of my faith, but some things I am open to at least thinking more about and researching and asking questions about.

But lately I’ve been frustrated because, quite frankly, it is annoying at how many differences we have over the Bible. I wonder if God is annoyed, too. But if He is, you’d think He would have written things out more clearly, where there are no grey areas. But come to think of it, I guess He did that with the Law and all those very exact rules written down, AND STILL people couldn’t get it. And now at least we have the Holy Spirit, the one who helps us understand in our faith.

The more I search for knowledge and the more I look outside of just the scriptures to things like commentaries, preachers, and books, the more I see that things aren’t as clear as I wish they were.

The problem I see in much of it, though, and even in Godly men and women, is there is a three letter word America is quite familiar with… “Ego.” I mean it’s amazing the extent of claims people will make just to say, “Look, I’m right!” There’s an old John Reuben lyric that’s always stuck with me, “We could agree to disagree and move on, but humans love proving each other wrong.”

What is man’s obsession with being right? It’s contradictory to itself because the more they want to be right, the farther they move away from Truth. The need to put someone in their place or be the first to figure something out becomes the obsession, taking away the obsession and desire they should have for the Lord.

Some men have such a desire to break away from the tradition and the acts of being conservative. But I think some people want to be so edgy that they end up falling off the edge. They end up in territory that is completely false, but they’re there so they stick with it and take the “The church can’t hang with me” cross and act like they’re a martyr for their faith, when in reality, they are the ones who have killed it themselves.

Now I’m not saying the pursuit of knowledge of the Scriptures is wrong and that we should all be satisfied with what we learned 10 years ago and leave it at that. But we have to keep ourselves in spiritual check. Keep an attitude of humility. Because the Bible makes it clear-
1 Corinthians 8:1-3,
“Knowledge puffs up but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.”

I think a good way to tell people’s motives behind their pursuit of a deeper knowledge of God is to see how quickly they are willing to get into a debate, and how quickly they are willing to help someone. True wisdom is preceded and followed up by humility.

The thing about God is that He hates pride. So in your pursuit of knowledge, get ready to be put in your place by the Living God. Check your motives for what you do. But yes, seek seek seek after the Lord! Go deeper! There is so much of God that we know nothing about! He wants us to find Him in new ways. But we cannot let our desire to know take the place of our desire to know God. And to be honest, our minds will never fully comprehend God. If you work Him down to rationality, you’ve missed Him. He is not a God of facts, He is a God of faith.

2 Timothy 2:23
“Have nothing to do with foolish arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.”

So lets stop trying to prove each other wrong and start trying to prove that we love each other.

John 13:35
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Well, I can’t think of a better point to prove than that.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Help of Man = Dumb

Psalm 108:12-13
“Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, He will trample down our enemies.”

Nehemiah 5 (specifically verses 5 and 9-12)
5:5 “…But we are powerless, because our fields and vineyards belong to others.”

Nehemiah was trying to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem and some of his workers who were poor were dealing with problems put on them from their own people. (Neh 5:5 – Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our countrymen…) They had their sons and daughters in slavery because their fields and vineyards belonged to others, even though it was theirs.

What in your life has God promised you or given you that seems like the enemy has taken? Love? Peace? Family? Even possessions? I can think of things in my own life.

This is not a prosperity message, but I do believe that God wants to restore and rebuild in our lives. In John 11:25 Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life;” He is life from death. He is the transformation and the restoration. If God has promised you something, then it is yours because His word is good. But someone is always going to want what the Father gives you, because every gift He gives is good. (James 1:16-17, 1 Corinthians 4:7)

John 10:10
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

So Nehemiah goes to the ones who were causing the trouble to his people in verses 9-12 and calls them out and demands that they give it al back and fear the Lord. And verse 12 says that they did!

We must not let ourselves get taken advantage of by the enemy! He is always looking to destroy our faith, love, joy, peace, and our families by using lies and fears of this world. We must not let him, because God has given us His fields and vineyards to produce good things.

See that’s the thing about God. He doesn’t just bless you so that you can sit on it and say, “Look how much God loves me.” He blesses you so you can bless others, and you can say, “Look how much God loves them and me.”

In times like these, we must put our faith in God, not in the wisdom of man, because “the wisdom of man is foolishness to God,” (1 Corinthians 3:19). And Psalm 108 says, “the help of man is worthless, with God we will gain the victory.” Key words there – “With God,” not “with man.”

Go with God and get some victory in your life. It’s coming. It really is coming.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bread and Fish in Hand

John 6:1-13

I feel kind of like the boy that went to hear Jesus speak to the 5,000, and all I have is 5 loaves of bread and 2 lousy fish. Odds are they were not the finest pieces of bread and the most desirable fish that kings would want. But our King did.

I struggle so much with insecurities and what God is and has called me to do, who I am in general, how I look, and my abilities. I really feel like if you put everything together that I have, it probably would not amount to much more than 5 pitiful pieces of bread and 2 plain fish. But for some reason, Jesus wants that. He wants me.

The beauty of it all is that when our loaves and fish are put into the hands, the holy hands, of Jesus Christ, we can watch them become something so much greater. He can use them, multiply them, taken them so much farther, and actually feed people with them.

To me, and everyone else, all we may see is a sorry excuse for a meal, but Jesus sees a great feast. Our gifts, our callings, our desires… they all belong in the hands of Jesus, as well as our lives completely.

I’m putting what I have in the hands of Jesus and expecting to see miracles and watch Him take what I have and use it far beyond what I have ever thought I could possibly do with it.

--Jesus, this is all I have. Some bread and some fish. I wish I had more options to choose from, but I don’t. But I give it to You. Bless it. Use it. It’s Yours. You are the God who made man from the dust, and You can take the dust of my life, my loaves and fish, and make something amazing from it. And I know You never leave anything incomplete. You are a God who finishes what He begins (Philippians 1:4-6). I love you so much Jesus. It’s all Yours. Amen.--

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Miracles

Everyone wants to see miracles, but few believe that they exist. They may say they believe, but their hearts prove them false. Everyone wants to see a light appear out of darkness, but few will open their eyes. Everyone wants to hope in something bigger than themselves, but few will give control over to stronger hands.

There are miracles. There really are, but they must be received. They must be believed in. They must be hoped for. Even if you can’t quite see it just yet, you still have to know that it is there. That is what faith is. “The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Or, it is “being sure of what we hope for, certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Can you believe in someone you cannot see? Can you trust words never audibly spoken? Can you wait for a promise that has not yet come?

Miracles can happen everyday. When someone believes in faith unseen in a world full of doubt that demands proof, a miracle has taken place.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Battlefield Altars

I feel in my spirit that I got this word from the Lord yesterday, and I wrote this down in my journal:
“Your battlefields will become your altars. With what the devil brought about to harm you, the Lord will heal you.”

In Old Testament times, when God would deliver the children of Israel somehow, like in a battle or something, they would make an altar right where that was. So when they passed by it again, it would be a reminder of the deliverance and goodness of the Lord. (Exodus 17:15-16, Genesis 35:7, 1 Samuel 14:35, etc…)

In my life, and in others’, I’m declaring the places we have battled will become the places we break bread. The places we have been wounded will become the places that we worship. The Lord will deliver you out of your troubles, and your heart ache will become your heart’s praise.

Psalm 20:6-7
“Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He answers him from His holy heaven with the saving power of His right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Here in the power of Christ we stand. So get some stones together, I feel like we’re gonna be building some altars pretty soon here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

For She Loved Much

Luke 7:36-50

No one is really put together are we? The way this life seems to work is that you get a little bit of growth and then you are knocked down again. You turn your back on your past and before you can completely turn around, there it is staring you in the face again. Sins that we've confessed, cast out, and condemned seem to hunt us down and have free reign in our lives at times.

Why is this? Why does life work like that? It's as if God made us just strong enough to realize we can change our ways, but too weak to pull that change off. Could it be that God's perfect design is imperfect people?

God makes all things well, but He also makes all things new.

Ecclesiastes 7:29 - "This only have I found: God made man upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes."

God made us upright and in His perfect design, but sin corrupts and perverts perfection. We are born with sinful natures because of the fall of man, and in a sense powerless to the power of sin. Helpless and hopeless.

But through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, we have been given the power to change. The power to be free. The power to be made perfect again the eyes of the Father.

2 Corinthians 5:17 - "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come."

We have been created weak enough to find the strength of our Savior and Healer, Jesus Christ. You see, Jesus is so amazing that He can take our sin and create what is now gain for us; He can produce love from our sins.

Luke 7:47 - "Therefore, I tell you, her [my, your] many sins have been forgiven-- for she [I, you] loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."

And that is why I love Jesus so much. Because I am so weak, because I have sinned so many times, because I am not put together, and I am not ok. But I have been forgiven much, so I cannot help but love much.

Our pasts, no matter how distant or recent, cannot keep us from the love of Christ. For all of the extent of our sins, we can come to know the extent of His love, His great love for His precious children.

He has loved much. So much.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

don't phase me bro

well i just got my 3rd flat tire in about 3 weeks. this is getting ridiculous. but here's the good news, i'm becoming more of a man with each new tire i change. pretty soon i will be able to grow a mustache. i can feel it.

with all the car problems i've been having lately, i feel that i've learned so much more, at least about car problems. feels like i've been to the mechanics about 20 times in the last 19 days. but these flat tires and broken things don't phase me no more. cause you can either get upset, or you can get even... wait that's not right. not get even, i meant you can either get upset or learn something new. you can learn how to rejoice in the annoying bad times, or you can sulk over it.

the night of my first radio show a few weeks back, i got a flat tire on the way to ocala, and i was getting drenched in sweat trying to change it and it was taking forever. i was getting upset, and then what i've been talking about just now hit me, i decided i was gonna just praise the Lord. i turned my speakers up in my car and put on "blessed be your name" and some hillsong stuff and just started singing. then, 2 angels appeared before me and said "do not be afraid." and then lifted the car up off the ground and filled the tire up with air and screwed in the bolts again...
ok that didn't really happen, but I did end up getting the tire changed and i did it with joy in my heart. the Lord really just made things better, that's the best way i can describe it. you see, your attitude affects everything.

what you put in your atmosphere changes everything. if you put negativity and doubt in your atmosphere, then you are going to live in a world full of it. but if you put the joy of the Lord and His words in your atmosphere, that atmosphere of God can protect you from attacks of the enemy and of this world. stupid things that eat some people alive won't phase you. not to say we're never emotionally moved by anything or nothing can ever annoy us, but you'll be surprised what some time with Jesus will do for your life. petty prayer allows petty things to destroy your life. but persistent prayer can bring about persistent joy, a joy that will hunt you down. that's pretty good.

check out the famous Psalm 23, verse 6-
"Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all of the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Notice David doesn't say, "I will look for goodness and mercy and find it," he says that they will follow him, meaning they will go where he goes as long as he is walking with the Lord as his Shepherd.

Put the things of God in your atmosphere. pray and read your bible. praise the Lord even when you ain't at church. spend time with God, and all these dumb things won't phase you like they do other people. and that's good news right there!


trust and obey.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

trust the River

check these verses out...


Jeremiah 17:5-8

5 This is what the LORD says:

"Cursed is the one who trusts in man,

who depends on flesh for his strength

and whose heart turns away from the LORD.

6 He will be like a bush in the wastelands;

he will not see prosperity when it comes.

He will dwell in the parched places of the desert,

in a salt land where no one lives.

7 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,

whose confidence is in him.

8 He will be like a tree planted by the water

that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;

its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

and never fails to bear fruit."

There is so much truth in this passage and so much good stuff. But the first thing that stuck out to me was that the difference to blessing and cursing in life is where you put your trust. Trust in man = cursed. Trust in God = blessed. And I really think it is just as simple as that. What really stuck out to me too was the fact that the Lord said, “Cursed is the one who trusts in man.” He said “cursed.” Not just “out of luck” or “too bad you missed out on this,” but cursed. Apparently God takes this whole trust and faith issue very seriously. I get the impression that He is angered by lack of trust and lack of faith. And that makes sense because the Bible says in Romans 10:17 that, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Ipso facto, God gives men faith. And for us to take the a gift from God and not use it… well yeah, I can see how that would be pretty annoying. God takes faith very seriously, and so should we.

I love the imagery of the tree planted by the river. If our faith is in God, we will blessed and never be lacking any good thing. While the rest of the forest (the world) is depending on rain (the economy, jobs, relationships, etc.) to give them what they need to live, the tree planted by the river (God – the River of life) doesn’t even care if it stops raining, because its roots run to the river. It has more than enough water. And I got a hunch that trees that grow by rivers are the strongest. Run your roots to the River.

Put your hope in the Lord or you will die. That’s blunt, but true.

trust and obey.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Showtime!

Tonight is the night my Monday night radio show starts back up! I've been off the radio airwaves for about 2 1/2 years now. Kind of crazy. I'm really excited. Hopefully I'm a little bit smarter now. I definitely feel older. and much has changed in my life since the last time I was on there. quite a lot. but here goes round 2! and JT is pumped like a pair of pump shoes that I had in elementary school that we bought at payless so they didn't really even work and ended up breaking and i still had to wear them cause we didn't have enough money to get me another pair until the next year of school started.

listen here Monday nights from 8-11pm: http://www.daystarradio895.com/daystarradio/listenlive/


chew on this - "You will either fear God or fear man, but you will not fear both." - Mike Patz sermon www.first-assembly.org

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Bandwagon

It's official, the Orlando Magic have bounced back from Shaq leaving to the Lakers.

Oh... he left like 12 years ago? Well, even so, we're back. FINALLY!

I've been a Magic fan ever since I have been in elementary school. I had the Shaq travel game where, ironically, you shoot 3 pointers with a little plastic ball and a catapult thingy. If it were really a Shaq game, they would have just had us repeatedly put the ball through the hoop with our own hands... or course I guess that's not that much fun. Anyways, I've always played as the Magic on video games, had the basketball cards, etc... I've just always been a fan, especially in middle school. (but you know i've actually never been to a game at the TD Waterhouse, although i did see Salvador play there before, and that was good.) But I'll admit it, i have not followed them that closely in the past few years. I can't tell you what's happened every season or who are all the players that sit on the bench and never take off their jumpsuits. I'm not obsessive.

But, I have been a fan and am happy to see them doing so well. I would not consider myself a bandwagon fan, but rather a fan that has not been obsessed with them. I have watched them in the playoffs though.

But really, i'm sticking up for the bandwagon fans. It's true, sometimes bandwagon fans are annoying and cheeky and think they know all about them, when really they don't. for die hard (or obsessed, or borderline ridiculous) fans, i know bandwagon fans can drive them crazy. But I just have to ask, "Why wouldn't a true fan want more people to root for their team?"

If you hate that people are cheering on your team, maybe you're not quite the fan you thought you were.

The Gators have exploded in the past year or 2 all over Central Florida. you see more apparel than ever before. the answer is because people like a winner. everyone wants to believe in something that is actually achieving success, because honestly they may not feel like the biggest winners in their lives right now. so if they can at least feel a part of something that is on a winning track, well the maybe they just might feel a little bit better about themselves.

So bandwagon fans, feel free to jump onto any caravan I'm riding with. You're welcome. don't try to talk to me like you know more about them than me though, just come along for the ride. and i hope that maybe later i can later jump on a bandwagon you've been rolling with for a while.

but i guess i'll let you in on a secret- i'm actually a stowaway on a few bandwagons right now.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Confidence

Well it's done. I finally graduated from college.
Good-bye University of Florida... but not really because I'm still living in Gainesville.

I have been through a lot of emotions lately about it all. Scared. Nervous. Excited. Nervous again. Determined. Confident. Nervous again. Apathetic. Worried. Happy. Nervous again.

But here's the one i'm going to try my best to stick with - Confidence. its a grand idea and a word that has seemed to run the other way from me for most of my life. I don't know why confidence is so hard for me to wrap my life around. But it is something i have been working on a lot over the past few years.

I think some people are afraid to be confident because they feel like they are just being prideful. but there is a difference between confidence and pride. Pride is self-seeking, self-glorifying, and wants to take glory from God. But confidence is OF God. God wants us to know who we are through Him and in the power of Jesus. confidence is looking at yourself in the mirror and knowing that you have been made for more than just a life headed in random directions. its knowing you are a child of God and that He loves you very much. It's knowing that you have been created in the image of God and you are capable of all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13.) Paul says we should always be confident (2 Corinthians 5:6).

So why is it so hard to be confident?

Perhaps we look to much at others around us and try to line up our attributes and talents with theirs. When really, we have nothing to do with them. Jesus had to remind Peter of the same thing when they were walking on the beach together and Peter asked Jesus, "What about [John]?" Jesus told him that John has nothing to do with what He was telling him to do. (John 21:17-23). When God tells you to do something, you better believe He will give you what you need (or has already given you what you need) to do it. we may not feel qualified or the right person for the job, but God has a way of using our weaknesses to His advantage. (1 Corinthians 1:27, 2 Corinthians 12:10)

Or maybe we really don't know who we are. when the Lord tells you who you are, you have to believe that He does not waste words, and He really means that you are a joint-heir with Jesus.


We are all pretty messed up people. it's true. but that's the good thing about this paradox called walking with Christ. the weak are strong. the wisdom of the world is foolishness to God. Things are always backwards it seems, or maybe God just sees with a different kind of vision than we do.

God may be calling you to do something you don't think you can handle, but that means He just wants to stretch you a little bit and do things through you you never thought you could see. Why wouldn't you want to live to your full potential? Answer the call humbly, but be confident in your God. Humility and Confidence can work quite nicely together.

I've been reading Jeremiah lately and here's a verse I read this morning. its worth chewing on...

Jeremiah 17:7-8

7 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.

8 He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Treadmill Faith?

Here's a post from a Facebook group in in with my church in gainesville (www.first-assembly.com -- watch the sermons, they're really good). we had a discussion about legalism, what it is and is it dangerous, and here's what i had to say, i've been thinking about things like this lately so i figured i'd post this on here.

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Let me just say that I am against legalism, its wrong, its flawed, and its a totally warped view of a life with Jesus. But also, I'm not scared of legalism. I'm also not scared of the prosperity gospel and things like that. I believe we shouldn't just not care when things like this pop up in the church and just be ok with false doctrines and teachings, but i just want to encourage everybody and let you know that I see such a harvest right now that is growing and people who's lives are being changed by Jesus. its amazing what is happening in just our own church!


Yes, we can all increase and grow in the Lord (and it needs to be continuously growing), but man, i'm so excited about what God is doing. When people really live lives full of love, joy, and power, all the false doctrines and lies of the enemy burn away and only the truth remains.

I believe that legalism can be a powerful tool of the enemy and is used a lot to keep people in bondage to guilt and pride and things like that, but when the saints of God start living lives consumed by Him and in His freedom, the powers of death will constantly be shut out by the life of Jesus. So maybe as Christians, its not all about hunting down the lies but more about seeking out the Truth. Continue to live lives passionate for the Lord, seeking His glory out, because God is answering and moving in people who are ready to be moved. and Jesus is freedom from all legalism.
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I'm starting to reevaluate things in my life lately. as to what is good and what is gaining anything worth gaining. is what i am chasing after worth it really?

i was in the gym the other day (or as i like to call it- insecurity's paradise) and I was running on the treadmill for a little while. in between my blackouts, I looked around at everyone running on the treadmills and machines like that, and thought, "funny. everyone's running but nobody's getting anywhere." And i thought about my life spiritually. i'm exuding a whole lot of energy each day towards something, and i am "running", but am i getting anywhere?

are we as the body and bride of Christ (the church) getting anywhere? I think its a question worth asking yourself daily. The Bible is very clear that "not everything is beneficial. (1 Corinthians 6:12, 1 Corinthians 10:23)

I'm graduating college this saturday and I'm trying to pull a lot of things in my life into perspective, and I'm asking the Holy Spirit to search me out and clear me of pointless, unfruitful words and practices.
Psalm 139:23 - "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts."

This for me today meant getting rid of some movies I had that were no good for me. Personally I don't think it means i need to stop watching all movies, but after I watch some I just do not feel ok inside. so that to me should have been a dead giveaway that they are ones i do not need to keep in my possession. And really I don't feel like I am missing out on anything by not having them anymore. It may look like something different tomorrow.

I'm not trying to be legalistic and say "Is this wrong? is that wrong? is this good? is that bad?" But i do want to be conscious of what my hands and feet are doing. The question should be "am I living a life that is immersed in the Spirit of God and in His love?" as we seek Him harder and harder, the sin and the pointless, unfruitful things in our lives i believe will fall away. not to say we will never sin again, but I really think we'd see some greater things in our lives and in the lives we connect to.

So if we're going to run, i say we get off the treadmills.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

First Blog

hello blog world. I'm going to try to get back into this blogging thing. its been a while. i don't know if anyone will ever even read this. but hey, might as well give it a shot.

i dont have much time to write now, so here's a video i finally uploaded from my sister's wedding. its my speech and i hope you dig it if not, then thats ok too.