Tag

God

The Beauty of “No”

By | Blog, Envision, Equip

Three things happen when you say no to an opportunity, invitation or appointment.

First, you create margin in your life.  When we say yes to too many things – even good things – we fill our schedules and lives beyond our capacity.  You’ve probably heard the expression, “the good is the enemy of the best.”  One has to say no to appointments, invitations and other opportunities to leave margin in life.  For the person living within appropriate margins, when something excellent comes along, he or she can say YES.  For the person juggling all the balls in the air, adding another thing simply means something else must fall.  Wouldn’t you rather be ready for the best than under a pile with the rest?

Second, when you say no, you make room for God’s peace and leadership in your life.  Remember the scripture that begins God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble? Just a few verses later, the psalmist prescribes how to find your rest in His fortress: Be still and know that I am God.  The visual of the peaceful, empty park bench also communicates that quietness; He offers us communion with Him when we cease striving.  When we say yes too often, we don’t have time to pray, to connect with the Lord, to discern His path for our lives and relationships.

Third, saying no develops your character.  My friend Don recently shared a quote with me from a Sunday sermon he heard years ago: “The rejection of adversity is the mark of an immature soul.”  Think about it… aside from the unrealistic dream of vast lottery winnings, there really is no “something for nothing” of true value in this world.  Victory in virtually everything with high value is accomplished through adversity.  Even in salvation, we receive Christ by grace alone through faith alone, but remember the price Jesus paid on our behalf.  My character needs me to say no to easy but meaningless ventures and to say yes to challenges with depth and worth.  Too often we shy away.  When we say yes to the boring, the mundane and the mediocre, we reject healthy growth and maturity.

Reject the lie that being over-capacity honors God or is useful.  Good stewardship of my life isn’t visible in a hectic and frenetic schedule.  My decision to say no clears away the detritus and pollution of my life, and frees me up to be the person God wants me to be.

No can actually be very beautiful.  When free to choose, take your margin, peace of mind and maturity into consideration, and ask the Lord for guidance.  He always leads faithfully.

I Met Messiah

By | Blog, Envision, Media

Our big news of the month is the release of our founder’s testimony, filmed by One For Israel and Chosen People Ministries.  This is one of 50 life stories of Jewish people coming to know Jesus that are being watched and shared by millions of people around the world.

Spread the Word - Share the Video

  • This video is being released TODAY and we need your help.  We need you to watch it, and to go on social media and share it.  The best way to do this is to go to facebook.com/oneforisrael, find his video near the top and click on the Share button.  Just write a quick note to accompany it that explains why you’re sharing it.  If you have trouble finding it (for instance, you’re reading this a while after it was written) you can always visit I Met Messiah.
  • Please do this right now and help accelerate the story so that it catches fire!  This has already happened with one story with over 5 million views.  It’s not about fame – we simply want to get the Gospel to as many people as possible!  Video testimonies of Jewish believers are very powerful to both Jew and Gentile.
  • You will see how effective these tools are, as we help the worldwide Jewish community see how Jewish the Gospel truly is.  Jesus is Jewish, his original disciples were Jewish, the Scriptures are Jewish….  The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob wants to use all of us to reach all the world!
  • Without the Gospel, there is no hope.  We are grateful for your agreement and faithful prayer and financial partnership.  Together, we are joining Jesus in seeking and saving the lost!

Hold Your Ground

By | Blog, Envision, Headfirst, Media, Personal

Don’t give in to the Grinch this holiday season.  He’s all over social media telling you how bad things are, then topping the last story with a new video or meme.  Tis the season to pile on, right?  I’m not suggesting this world is good; it’s not.  It’s corrupted by sin, death and disease.  But in God, we have a Father who gives His children good gifts.  We have a Savior who redeems us and brings reconciliation between men and God.  We have the Spirit who fills and empowers us to live righteously for His purposes.  Hold your ground: choose faith, hope and love!

Identify the blessings in your life and celebrate them.  If you can’t find enough, celebrate with a brother or sister who will share them with you.

Here’s my own Thanksgiving offering for you – the video overview from our recent Men’s Mission to Haiti.  Stay till the end – it’s worth every (free) penny.

httpvh://vimeo.com/112757027

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.  Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. (James 1:2-5)

Grinch = bad.  God = good!

Persistence

By | Equip, Personal

Sometimes I don’t even have the persistence of peanut butter.

If you put a healthy portion of Skippy on your PBJ sandwich, you’re going to need a tall glass of milk.  That concoction of starch and spread has the ability to relentlessly bond to the roof of your mouth.  Someone will inevitably ask you, “How’s it going?” when you can’t even mutter in reply.  But with a nice glass of milk, it all washes sweetly down.

That peanut butter has a certain persistence – but it also has its limits.  And that’s the point of my thought at this moment.  What is the limit of my persistence?

God has told us many things about prayer in His Word – here are just a few:

If you’re like me, you have many needs and wants.  Are you persistent about praying for them?  Or have you been more like I’d been recently – lackadaisical, inconsistent, perhaps even lazy or fatalistic? (i.e. if God wanted it to happen, it would have happened by now; He doesn’t need me nagging; my prayers won’t change a thing.)

The Persistent Widow?

Our family has a yellow Labrador retriever.  Gabi is the sweetest pup on earth and extremely affectionate with all of us. (She really liked our boys when they were little – she would clean the extra food off their faces!)  But sometimes the reason Gabi licks me isn’t solely because she loves me – sometimes it’s because she wants something.  Her kisses mean something along the lines of  “Hey, I love you, please take me for a walk,” or “You are so awesome – when you share your steak with me!  Go ahead!  C’mon!  Please?”  She can be extremely persistent.

So I was pondering this morning, as Gabi affectionately (and repeatedly) asked me to walk her, how persistent am I in asking my Master for what I want?  Honestly!  If I’m so aware of my needs, why am I so reluctant to fervently appeal?  God tells us to “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11.)  Stop right now and put this into practice – fill in the blanks with your needs:

Jesus – I need You!

I need You more than anything!

For everything else I need, I ask You now, and will continue to ask You for Your blessing.  For … …  … , I ask You, and for … …  … , I ask You, and…

I don’t know if what you want is what God will give you.  There is no formula.  I don’t know if it’s His answer, His timing, His method.  But isn’t it time to rightly value the power of God, the love of God, and the call of God?  He is able, He gives good gifts, and He wants us to ask!

Let us pray persistently, expectantly, urgently and without ceasing, that the God who loved us enough to die for us would answer our prayers.  Won’t you join with me?

And now I need to go make a PBJ.  Maybe a couple.  As it turns out, Gabi likes Skippy too.

Freed from Fear

By | Equip, Headfirst

I was reflecting on fear earlier this month – how it is harnessed by the enemy to disrupt us as we pursue our vision and try to live out our faith.  We want to attempt great things for God, but fear derails us.

It could be fear of failure, fear of others’ judgment of us or disappointment in us.  It might manifest as anxiety, depression, frustration, anger or a poor attitude.  But it debilitates.  Fear erodes.  It saps and drains.

I tend to conceptualize that faith is the adversary of fear, that if I can muster the proper amount of faith, I will be able to act despite my fears.  I picture a balancing act between them.  Is it faith vs cowardice?  Do I simply need courage – to act despite my fears?

So I find it delightful to discover that God doesn’t agree with me in this word picture.  This is not to discredit courage.  But “sucking it up and going for it anyway” is not the remedy for fear.  Neither faith, nor courage, is the conqueror of fear – love is.  “Love casts out all fear.” 1 John 4:18.

I don’t need to try harder, trust more, or redouble my resolve.  I need to experience more of Christ’s perfect love.  Like a sponge, I soak in His love, and as He permeates the fabric of my soul, there is no room for fear.  I am freed from all else.  Freed from performance, freed from disappointment, freed from judgment.  I am free to trust Him and experience the faith that He desires and provides, and the courage He assures, and free to attempt great things for the Lord.

Community of the Lost

By | Envision

I’m soaking in the beauty and charisma of Florence tonight. As our plane descended earlier this afternoon, my eyes scanned the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside. Trellised landscapes and vineyards interwoven with trees and shrubs bursting with color in the afternoon sun. This is truly a beautiful and amazing city – but filled with spiritual death. Yes, there are troubles in the national economy, in the justice system, in the social welfare system, and the prime minister has committed to step down. But the cruelest truth is that there isn’t a political, economic or sociological policy that can solve these broken and empty hearts and unite them to God.

While my colleague (an Italian national who is an evangelical church-planting pastor) led his staff meeting and provided ministry training, I took the time to wander the streets and pray. I have been asking the Lord to show us what He is doing here, and for The Holy Spirit to lead clearly as to if / when / how we should engage with His work. I spent several hours walking, thinking, observing, praying, wrestling – making a spiritual and mental catalog of the local community of the lost.

Statue of Peter

Statue of St Peter

As I have continued to learn, the cathedrals and parishes of Italy are empty. Postmodernity, Catholicism, moral failings – there are plenty of fingers to point – the Gospel is largely absent here. What a privilege to experience the true faith of a handful of Christ-followers in the heart of the ancient Roman Empire. I learned from these saints about how God is neither known nor spoken of, while a twisted caricature of faith is exhibited through religious traditions and practices. In essence, Italians know the name of Jesus, but they do not know the Gospel. They know how many Euro they must pay the church to have their children baptized, but they don’t know that baptism is a proclamation of faith in Christ’s resurrection. They put off understanding sin and salvation, expecting that when they die they will go to purgatory, and hope that will afford them the opportunity to get to heaven. They cannot taste the goodness of God, but they are deceived by the Pharisees that surround them. They see beautiful art, such as the statue of Peter (shown at right) who is considered the first Pope, but they do not know the beautiful Savior that Peter fought for, preached to the nations, and was martyred for.

So here, in the birthplace of the Renaissance, a different rebirth must take place. Not one of art, but of salvation. Jesus, in Your mercy and grace, pour out Your Spirit here, and bring a revival of spiritual life. And set our hearts ablaze with Your light as we share the hope You offer in the Gospel.

Stand Firm

By | Envision, Headfirst, Involve, Media, Personal
[pullquote_right]This interview’s theme is  from 1 Corinthians 16:13[/pullquote_right]

We filmed this video to invite men to be part of a missions trip to Haiti.  While it was edited for a particular weekend men’s retreat, the honesty and authentic stories shared by these men has been included here in hope that others would be inspired to fully entrust their lives to God, and choose to give their all for Christ.  Along with the exhortation for evangelism and discipleship, we also aim to continue bringing awareness and to recruit involvement to missions work in Haiti and to all the nations.

Among the panelists is our ministry’s international director.

Thank you to Crossline and LifeTogether for the production of this video!

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Intervention

By | Envision, Involve

What would our lives have been like in this world if God hadn’t intervened?

It’s a real question. Stop and think about your life.

I know that I would be buried in a grave marked with 1986 on it. That was the year that I finally quit on life, completely lost heart in trying to live in my own power, and went home one night to end my life. But God…

How and why is a story for another day. I do want to pause to celebrate that Jesus saved my life and gave me a hope for eternity exactly 25 years ago plus one week. The part that’s on point for this post are those final two words: “But God.”

I returned to downtown Port au Prince today for at least the fifth different month in the past fifteen since the earthquake. Some progress? Yes. Still heartbreaking? Absolutely.Haiti Palace

And I’m reminded that if someone doesn’t do something, nothing will change. If God hadn’t intervened through the young shepherd David, the Israelites would have been enslaved by the Philistines. If God hadn’t intervened through Esther, the Jewish people of Persia and beyond would have been annihilated. If God hadn’t intervened through my friend Kim, I would be dead. If God had not intervened through Jesus, our sin would eternally separate us from Him.

But God. He did, He did, He did…

So now, we must. We must be the heroes that He calls upon to intervene in the world. To care for the hurt, to rescue the abused, to heal the sick, to feed the hungry, to rescue the sinner. We must preach the Gospel and live it out.

Food lineToday, I got to be a hero. I was able to help feed hungry people living in tents and on the streets, and do it proclaiming the name of Jesus. It looks different every day.

Jesus has sent the invitation – all you have to do is love people in His power. Come be a hero.

 

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Do Heroes Question God?

By | Envision

Heroes raise the flag at Iwo Jima

What we all want to know is whether it’s okay to question God.  If heroes can do it, then so can I, right?  But maybe I should dig a hole and bury my questions, because if I ask them, somehow that will make me a doubter.  Can a person of faith ask questions – or does that mean I lack faith?

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