FEAR NOT – Fear & Anxiety

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FEAR & ANXIETY

The appearance from this High School Pastor is that those two things, along with stress & depression are ruling and controlling students in ways like never before.  With pressures coming from all angles – like social media, AP Courses, college decisions being made earlier and earlier, select sports teams, parent pressures, comparison, competition choir, cheer and gymnastics, and the heightened image driven culture – these students are overwhelmed and feeling anxious about more and more each day.

The statistics are staggering.  Psychologist are saying that the average anxiety, fear, and stress levels of a typical High School Student in todays society is the equivalent of those that were entered into Mental Health Facilities just 40-50 years ago!  There was a survey given to a collection of High School Students across the US and here are some of the statistics that jumped out at me.

  • Stress levels of a HS Student on scale of 1 to 10 – average 7.2
  • 25.8% of High Schoolers have self-harmed
  • 52.4 % have sought out counsel for anxiety issues
  • Highest demographic for Suicide Attempts in US is among 13-17 year olds
  • 1 in 12 Teenagers have attempted suicide
  • 5 in 12 Teenagers have contemplated suicide
  • 1 in 5 Teenagers are Clinically Depressed

So why do we struggle with fear and anxiety?  Because, Satan uses it as a tool to try to gain victory over us.  Fear has been used as a tool of the Devil for a long time – because Jesus Reminds us that
“The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy”
John 10:10

He did it to those in the Bible and he continues to do it today.  He is the father of lies and deception and wants you to think the worst of yourself and the worst of every situation you’re in.  He wants you to drown in your fears.  He wants you to be rendered paralyzed in your attempt to work for the Kingdom or to add value to this world.  This is one of the ways Satan attempts to gain victory over us.

Just think – MOSES was inundated with fear at the sight of YAHWEH in the burning bush and made all kinds of excuses of why not to go to Pharaoh, because he was anxious about his shortcomings.  JONAH was stricken by fear for the city of Ninevah and how they might respond to God’s prophetic word for them to repent and return – so he ran.  ELIJAH after defeating/humiliating/and killing the prophets of baal and witnessed God move in an extraordinary way – then ran in terror because of a threat from Ahab and Jezebel wanting to kill him.  The RICH YOUNG RULER was too scared to lose his possessions to Follow Jesus, because he was a man of great wealth and many possessions.  PETER denied Christ 3 times, saying he didn’t know him, for FEAR of persecution.  The THESSALONIAN CHURCH was so terrified by the end times and thinking they had missed the second coming of Christ that Paul had to address them not once, but twice.  The list goes on and on of Biblical People that dealt with fear and anxiety.

Which is why God, in all His wisdom, gives us SCRIPTURE and TRUTH to battle the Fears and the Lies.

There are 366 FEAR NOT verses in the Bible

Coincidence?  I think not.

There is this battle for our souls going on – between God & the enemy.  One wants to unleash us for intimacy, relationship, and KINGDOM WORK – the other wants us to be self-loathing, self-serving, confused, scared, lazy, and ineffective.  You see – Jesus told us again that

“The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy” 

BUT

“I have come to give you LIFE ABUNDANTLY”

When you are afraid – you are doing nothing out of the abundance – you are only living in encumbrance.

“Fear tricks us into living a boring life.”
-Donald Miller

“Fear is a self imposed prison that will keep you from becoming what God intends for you to be.”
-Rick Warren

So, who will win in your mind, soul, and body?  Will you be shackled by fear?  or Freed by faith?  “For God did not give us a spirit of FEAR, but of power, love and self-control” –  2 Timothy 1:7  & “You will know the TRUTH, and the TRUTH will set you FREE” – John 8:32

Does the FEAR we have reveal the
VIEW OF GOD that we have?

I understand that it’s hard to have faith in God.  I mean, sometimes I think about my life as a pastor and how I have committed my entire life and well being to my faith in God.  And Faith is in the unseen.  We have to TRUST God is who He says He is without seeing Him.  Not just trust Him, but devote our lives to Him, follow Him, do what He says, and tell others to have the same faith… blindly.  It’s difficult to say the least.

So, when circumstances, broken relationships, tough times, death, sickness, hurt, wars, pain, bombings, suicides, social injustices, and terrorist come in the picture and are VERY MUCH SEEN and right in our faces – it becomes very difficult to have FAITH and not FEAR.

“The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God,
you fear EVERYTHING else.”
-Donald Miller

If we do not have the proper faith, trust, and VIEW of God and know just how big He really is, and just how much in control He really is in, and just how much He loves us and will protect us and ultimately do what’s best for us – we will always have something to fear.  God will protect us.  God will be our shield, comforter, help, and will uphold us.  God already has the victory won!

DO YOU TRUST HIM?
DO YOU BELIEVE HE’S BIG ENOUGH?

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The best way I can describe this is through my own relationship with my Two Year old son named Zion.  I do some crazy stuff with Zion.  He loves it when I launch him into the air and catch him.  He yells out “HIGHER DADDY” when I throw him up and laughs louder and louder.  He allows me to hold him up like he’s an airplane or better yet, superman, as we fly around the house or through Wal-Mart.  And, he doesn’t realize this – but the entire time I am doing these things – I am putting him in life-threatening situations.  He doesn’t FEAR that – because in his 2 year old mind – all he knows is that I have never dropped him or failed to catch him – so he can trust me.  So in FREEDOM, he allows me to toss him around and willingly jumps off of high elevations knowing that his daddy will catch him.

Do we have the same trust in our Father God?  Do we trust that He will catch us?  Do we trust Him to lead us through life?  Do we trust Him enough to JUMP when He says jump and GO when He says go?

God has never dropped us.  God has the biggest, strongest, and most sure hands of anyone in the universe.  So why do we fear?

“For I have chosen you
    and will not throw you away.
 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
    I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

Isaiah 41:9-10

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Christian Stereotypes: Legalism

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For a lot of people – when they think of Christianity or “Religion” in general – they think RULES.  Their thoughts automatically go to the things you have to do to join that “club” or “Church.”  How you have to dress a certain way, talk a certain way, appear to have it all together, and have a certain record or past.  The word for all of these rules and hoops to jump through would be LEGALISM.

Legalism is a common complaint about Churches or Christians.  I know as a student Pastor when I have to “lay down the law of the land” when we go to camp or have an event (i.e. No bikinis/speedos, no cell phones, no guys in girls dorms and girls in guys dorms, drugs, alcohol, weapons, etc) that all the students are shutting down because “THE MAN” is trying to bring them down….

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And if we are being honest – when we see the Bible or Open it’s pages – this is what we see – A RULE BOOK for Life and a bunch of things to Do and Not to Do in this life.

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GOD AND HIS RULES

Perception is reality in most cases.  When people read the Bible they see a God of rules.  Who told Adam & Eve what they had to abstain from.  Who gave moses the 10 Commandments.  Who told the Israelites how to “keep clean” and the exact measurements of the Temple and how should they worship Him.  Then we get to the New Testament and Jesus is telling people how they should act and telling them to sell everything to follow Him and even tells them to “obey everything I have commanded you” in the Great Commandment.  Finally, Paul and other writers are telling the Church how to live this Christian Life in the best way.

Wow – so many rules and guidelines.

That’s one perspective – but ARE WE MISSING THE POINT?

It’s easy for us to get caught up in the rules and the to dos and even transfer that to our own Churches and set the precedent (even without saying the rules out loud) that you have to act a certain way, BEHAVE a certain way, look a certain way to be a part of us.

We want our kids to “Be Good” and have good “Morals” over seeing them enter into a sanctifying relationship with Jesus Christ (which isn’t so Cut and Dry).

So what are we missing?

THE GOSPEL

When we put too much emphasis on Rules – we in turn put too much emphasis on Ourselves.  It is up to US to do this and that to get to belong to a Community or a Church, it is up to US to do good works, it is up to US to look the part, it is up to US to worship well and pray enough and read the Bible more.  But that is NOT the Gospel.  The Gospel KNOWS that we are not very good at being good.  That “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).  That “it is by GRACE we have been saved, through FAITH – and that is not from US, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

So can we stop playing the RULES game and get back to submitting to the Gospel?

Can we get away from the Religion and get back to the Relationship?  Go from trying to look clean to realizing that we have been made clean?  Go from the burden of trying to do it on our own to the blessing of knowing that it has already been done for us?  Go from the hardship and heartache of failing to be “good enough” to realize the HOPE that we have in Jesus because He was perfect and died a perfect death for us?

“For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
Hosea 6:6

“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith”
Philippians 3:8-9

KNOW GOD.  KNOW WHAT GOD DID FOR YOU.  MAKE GOD KNOWN.

God has ALWAYS cared about your Heart.  He wants your heart to beat for Him – not to be veiled by guilt or shame or expectations from man.  Fall in love with Jesus, because He already loves you unconditionally.

**If you want further information on how Jesus really feels about “Legalists and Religious Rule Followers -read Matthew 23:13-39**

Christian Stereotypes: We are Stiffs

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Let’s face it – being a Christian (most like any other organization, club, group, etc) comes along with certain stereotypes.  Some are good…  Some are bad…  Some true…  So flat out lies…  However, I do not think we can just ignore them and just move on.  I think we have to take an honest look at them and learn and grow.

As a Christian – the stereotypes are vast – most of them negative.  Even Ghandi was quoted by saying:

“I like your Christ, just not your Christians”

That is something we have to take note of.  Ask questions about.  Learn from.  So we have to ask ourselves 3 Questions:

1)  What is the stereotype?     2)  Is that stereotype true?    3)  What SHOULD the world see from Christ followers?

Christian Stiffs

So are we stiff?  Are we goody two-shoes?  Are we in our Christian Bubbles?  I can say this – that we have not made a strong case for us either way – and Media does not help.  It seems that every time a Christian is displayed on Television or in the Movie – it’s one of two scenarios.  1)  The really sheltered, perfect, unstained, goody two-shoes Christian that is all put together and clueless to the world around them.  Or, 2) The rebellious Christian kid that is trying to “stick it to their parents” by going away from what they were raised in to go their own path – exploring all the temptations of the world.

That’s it.  One of two extremes.  And I can honestly say – we have a hard time as believers knowing which road/path to take.  We as Christians are supposed to be the “Light of the World, a city on a hill that can’t be hidden” (Matthew 5) – but we more often than not mostly feel like we are choosing the world we live in (and fitting into it) OR Jesus (and going against the world we live in).

So, is the stereotype true?  Sometimes.  Do Christians say stupid stuff?  Yes.  Do we have cheesy Signs/Marquees? Yes.  Do we argue about stupid stuff and make stances on trivial things (like dancing or Christian Music)?  Heck Yes.

But – aren’t there a lot of things that we do well?  Yes.  Aren’t some Christ-followers living out the Great Commandment and the Great Commission?  Yes.  Aren’t some Christians instead of crucifying “sinners,” loving on them and having conversations with them?  Yes.

So – third question:

What SHOULD the World see from us as Christians?

I think the answer is found in Romans 12:2:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

&

John 17: 14-17:

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”

Answer – People in the world should see Christ Followers who, don’t have all the answers or have it all figured out, but who are being TRANSFORMED, RENEWED, and SANCTIFIED by Jesus Christ and the Gospel.  As we walk in this world, and try to walk that line between the World and Christ – that we would do so as people who are being transformed and renewed to discern God’s Will is as they walk.  That we would walk as people who are being sanctified by the Word of God (the Bible) and live in such away that SCRIPTURE is our guide and nothing else.

Lastly – 1 Peter 1:3-9 describes the salvation, hope, faith, resurrection, eternity, and assurance that we have in Christ as a follower of His.  And in verse 8-9 to end this JAM-Packed Section – it says this:

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now,
you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,

for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Let’s not be stiff Christians – but let’s walk around FILLED WITH AN INEXPRESSIBLE AND GLORIOUS JOY!!!!

We have every reason to have that kind of joy.  Let your Light Shine Brightly Brothers & Sisters.

FIGHT Together

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We are not meant to do this life alone.  The world is WAY to tough and unforgiving as it is – and to go through it alone would be absurd.  This is the reason why we were left with the CHURCH and a helper in the Holy Spirit.

We have been talking with our Junior High & High School Students about this FIGHT that EVERYONE is currently in – the cosmic/spiritual battle between Light & Darkness, God & the devil, flesh & Spirit, Good & Evil.  We are all in it.  There is a battle for our time, attention, dedication, and ultimately our eternity and where we will spend it.

Intense right?

So we need to FIGHT Together.  To lift one another up, encourage one another, support one another, be there when someone falls or fails, give a high five and a hug when things are going awesome, and to cry, celebrate, mourn, sweat, etc. with one another when the time calls for it.

So how do we do that?  How do we FIGHT Together?

1) Be INTENTIONAL

FIGHTING Together doesn’t just happen on accident.  It takes strategy, training, vulnerability, planning, and a coming together.  Knowing that everyone is in a FIGHT and that people are struggling should be our only trigger needed as believers – because ultimately God called us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, & strength; and to love your neighbor as you love yourself”  – There are not only a few of us called to this, but ALL of us are called to this.

“Without a sense of caring,
there can be no sense of community”
-Anthony Burgess

Do we care?  Does it hurt us when we see a brother, sister, neighbor, or STRANGER hurting, going through a death in the family, in a FIGHT, or being addicted to a self-destructive sin?  It should – and until we start CARING – we will never have true community.

Luke 10:25-37 tells a story, being narrated by Jesus because a religious leader asked Him “Who is my neighbor?”  – Jesus throws down this scenario where a man is on a road and gets attacked by robbers and they basically beat him and leave him to die.  Bloody, beaten, bruised (something that Jesus can relate to) – this man lies in street.  It is a street going from Jericho to Jerusalem with many travelers so surely someone will see him.  A priest walks by and sees the man – he not only passes by, but because he is holy and clean – he passes by on the other side of the road.  He probably had a sermon to prepare for so he could knock it out of the park in the synagogue.  A levite passes by and what levite would be crazy enough to touch an unclean man?  Not this one – so HE passes by.   Finally – a samaritan man comes in & has COMPASSION on him.  Goes to him and not only helps him, bandages his wounds, pours fine, expensive oil on his wounds to heal them – but he also puts him on his own donkey (he probably had to clean the blood off the blankets later), takes him to an Inn, stays with him all night and in the morning gives the Inn Keeper money and says he will come back and pay the difference of the balance if there are any more expenses incurred.

WOW.  That is intentionality.  That is going above and beyond and not just looking for a way to feel good about ourselves by saying “i’ll pray for you” but with intent and purpose saying God has called me to love my neighbor and loving him means getting my hands dirty & doing EVERYTHING I can to help them.  To have COMPASSION on him, which really is just LOVE with ACTION.

to FIGHT Together means to do so intentionally.

2) Be INFLUENTIAL

The Church has became WAY to passive.  And who can blame us?  It seems like every few days you hear SOMETHING in the news about how either a Christian has done something really stupid, or a celebrity pastor has been caught in a scandal, or a mega-church Prosperity Gospel Preacher’s Wife is up there talking some nonsense on stage to thousands of people, or some religious fanatic is preaching hell, fire, & brimstone using signs.  All of these things UNFORTUNATELY get lumped all together as one big stereotype and we all lose a witness, because of this.  So our response has been to just put our tail between our legs and not say or do anything that might sound “preachy”.  But the Word has given the opposite.

The Word of God reminds us that the Church is supposed to INFLUENCE Culture, not be influenced by culture.

Jesus speaks about the Church twice, yes only two times in all of His ministry.  We can either take that as He doesn’t really care about the Church or we can LEAN IN and pay attention to what He says.  Those verses are Matthew 16:13-20 & Matthew 18:15-30.  Go read those on your own.  Here are my observations from LEANING IN & Paying attention:

1) Our Identity is the CHURCH (not a Building) – we are the Church just like Peters Name was changed

2) The Church is a solid rock to stand on

3) The Church is powerful (the gates of Hell can’t come against it)

4) The Church is a place for healing, reconciliation, and love

5) What we say & do MATTERS (eternally) – we are the Church and God is using the Church to change the world

6) God’s presence is in the Church

All of those tell me that we, the church, are called to FIGHT Together and be influential in our culture!

3) Be INCARNATIONAL

Here is the biggie.  First of all I’m pretty sure I made up that word – but the root word is still correct.  INCARNATION – what does that mean?  It is the act of manifesting into bodily form.  Or a bodily for assumed by God.  It is a HUGE Deal in the Christian religion.  It is what Jesus did when “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).  God sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to earth to be born of a virgin and grow up, take on ministry, and eventually die on the cross for the sins of the world (past, present, and future).  This same God Incarnate was the Jesus who defeated death and resurrected from the tomb in 3 days.  This is the Gospel and the fact that Jesus put on flesh (INCARNATION) is a huge factor in that.

This is what separates Christianity from any other religion.  We have a God who saw our sin, mess, filth, brokenness, selfishness, corruption, and sickness and decided to PUT ON FLESH AND COME TO US, IN FLESH!  We don’t have to try to attain purity or godhood or enter in this relentless to pursuit to be better.  Because the Perfect God died for us and offered up His blood to save us.

 

Now – what does Jesus call us to do?    The same exact thing.  To DIE TO OURSELVES and BE LIKE HIM….

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”

Galatians 2:20

“This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did”

1 John 2:6

We have to be in flesh to FIGHT TOGETHER with people – like Jesus did.  To see peoples mess, sin, filth, brokenness, etc. and go dwell with them in their dirtiness or pain.  To be IN FLESH with them.  To be INCARNATIONAL.

Sounds easy enough – you are already in flesh – all you have to do is go to people when their hurting.

But it is harder than it looks – because we live in a world where most of our lives are spent looking at a cell phone or a computer/tablet screen.  Where our prayers and our bible verses are shared from an app.  Where we don’t fully know how to intentionally pursue someone or be an influence in their lives, like really IN FLESH in their lives, because we have a Fear of Missing Out of what is going on in the digital world – this social network that we have to keep status in.

Our world is broken – we need to learn how to FIGHT Together, face to face, in flesh, in person with one another.

Watch this video and think about how we need to win back this world so we can FIGHT Together.

Enter the Fight: FIGHT SIN

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As a follower of Christ I am very aware of sin and the effects of it.  I experience it each and every day in real and intense ways.  As a Youth Pastor I feel as if I am in a constant battle where my enemy is trying to deceive, destroy, depress, demean, debunk, and demote.

Sin is not now….  It’s been around since the   F

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And I am not talking about the season – I’m talking about Genesis 3 Fall where sin entered in.  Ever since there has been this cosmic, physical & spiritual battle going on for the hearts of mankind.  Every day that you wake up there are choices, moments, and interactions that are pulling you either toward God or away from God.  Ephesians 6 tells us:

be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

Ephesians 6:10-13

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood – but of the rulers, authorities, and powers of the dark world and spiritual forces of evil.

Wow…

I’m not a religious fanatic and I don’t tend to spiritualize everything or even feel the need to take what is “secular” and baptize it – for a fun video illustrating the “SHOOT CHRISTIANS SAY” that usually drives me nuts.

But, I can honestly say that the more I wrestle with sin and experience the opposition that is present in our world – I am convinced that the Devil and his demons are scheming more than ever to end this “christianity” thing once and for all.  Whether it be the Beheadings and Murders of Christians in the Middle East, ISIS and the Islamic State, Sex Trafficking, Rise of Suicide, Muslim Student Association on campus, Sin City, Satanist Groups in Oklahoma, or Religious Freedoms being stripped away in Arkansas – the ENEMY IS HERE.

We have to FIGHT – we have to be able to defend and battle well against the devil and the darkness.  So how do we do that?

1) KNOW YOUR ENEMY

The first thing we need to realize is that our enemy is deceptive, cunning, evil, is like  roaring lion waiting to devour you, walks around earth as he pleases, he lies, he steals, and cheats, and he is a MASTER OF DISGUISE….

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NOT THAT MASTER OF DISGUISE

but, honestly – we must know that satan disguises himself well in our every day lives.  Whether it is chocolate cake, that attractive person of the opposite sex, the temptation of being lazy, or the opportunity to tells some juicy gossip.  He disguises himself in something that seems good at the time, but ultimately leads to distraction.  (Scripture references on Satan – 1 Peter 5:8, 2 Corinthians 11:3, 14, John 10:10, 1 John 5:19, Acts 10:13, Revelation 12:9, Job 1:7, Matthew 4:1-3)

Satan also has no boundaries.  He will come at you whenever, with whatever and however he can.  He will make you choose between your friends, kids, spouses, or other opportunities.  He will ask of a lot of you.  He will make you commit social suicide.  He will distract you in Church (especially) or in the worst possible moments.  HE WANTS TO DEVOUR YOU (1 Peter 5:8).  He doesn’t even care that it’s you.  He went after the Son of God, Jesus Christ for crying out loud (Matthew 4:1-11)

2) KNOW YOUR WEAKNESS

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Know your weaknesses – because Satan does and he will NOT hesitate to exploit them.  Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12 that:

I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.”

You better believe that Satan exploited that thorn in his flesh and poked it, twisted the thorn, pushed it deeper and deeper into Paul’s skin to distract him from the mission that God has set him on. He will not hesitate to “SWEEP THE LEG” and go all Karate Kid on your tail.  Know where you fall short and where you usually stumble.  Whether it be insecurity or lust or drugs or gluttony or laziness or covetousness or jealousy or the list goes on and on.  KNOW YOUR WEAKNESS so that you can protect against the schemes of the devil.

3) KNOW YOUR STRATEGY

Your strategy is a simple but hard one.  Don’t try to do it on your own.  Fight by the Spirit.  Spiritual Warfare necessitates War by the Spirit.  You don’t bring a knife to a gun fight – or even worst a nerf gun to a real gun fight.  We have to realize that we have this Spirit living inside of us that is powerful and that has already claimed VICTORY over us.  This Spirit has the same power that could just speak the earth into existence and that could bring back Jesus from the dead.  This Spirit is alive and is moving and connects us to God the Father and allows us to fellowship with the Son, Jesus Christ.

Our Strategy is God.  Our Mighty Warrior, Savior, Defender of the Weak, All Knowing, All Powerful, God.

Ephesians 6 encourages us to go enter in the FIGHT agains the devil and darkness – not alone, but with the FULL ARMOR OF GOD – the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Romans 8 says that “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”

James 4 says “Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”

Over and Over again – we see that we are not in this battle alone.  We have a God who fights for us.  Do we still have to defend?  Yes. Do we still have to battle well?  Yes.  But, we also need to tap into the power of Jesus.  We need to arm ourselves with truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the WORD OF GOD that will remind us of who we are and Who we serve!

FIGHT WELL MY FRIENDS….

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

Reflections of 9/11: Tragedy and Our Role as the Church

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Cross of Hope in the Rubble

I think we can all remember exactly where we were when the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York, New York.  Then watched in terror as the second came screaming in.  A marker in our Nation’s History that will NEVER be forgotten.

However – in the midst of the tragedy – there was triumph.  In the pain – there was persistence.  In the unspeakable – there was unity.   We witnessed as thousands of volunteers and service men & women went to work in helping those in need and putting this city back together.  It was amazing to watch people band together in unity and serve alongside one another.

There really was BEAUTY FROM ASHES as such love, support, and sacrifice sprung forth from the rubble.

Since this moment – other tragedies have hit our Nation – like Hurricane Katrina, Joplin Tornado, School Shootings – and the efforts that were displayed on 9/11 truly stood as the standard for how people should respond.  Peoples horizons are broadened and there is a sense of widening of our scope of influence.

It is in these moments we decide whether we will steep up and do something to help or continue with our daily lives.

 

Tragedy Hits Us All

We all experience tragedy.  The horrid events of 9/11 that left so many as widows and orphans.  The loss was on a astronomical scale – but remains no less real of a tragedy of a mother or father that lose their child too soon; a wife or husband that loses a spouse to cancer or another disease; a family that is thrown into a spiral as they get word that their soldier isn’t going to be coming home from war.

We live in a broken world where the sting and pain of sin and death is still very much real.  Where loss, brokenness, and suicide exist.  Where tragedy hits us all.  So how should the Church respond to the TRAGEDIES that hit our friends and neighbors?

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
Romans 12:15

 JUST MOURN WITH THEM. Sometimes we try to do or say too much.  We think we have to fix it.  We think we have to be the hero.  We think we have to out serve everyone else and show this grand gesture.   Cry with them. Be angry with them.  Just be with them. Which leads me to my next point.

When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite,heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.  When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.  Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.”
Job 2:11-13

JUST BE WITH THEM.  Your presence speaks and ministers so much into a person going through personal tragedy.  You might have a fear of responding because you don’t know what to say to someone going through tragedy.  You have a fear of them not wanting you there.  Those are lies from satan.  Just go and be with them.  Even if you have to sit on the ground with them for seven days and seven nights.  Your presence is huge.

“he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two denarii[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:29-37

JUST CARE FOR THEM.  We are not called to just do the bare minimum or to give the bare minimum to someone in tragedy.  We are called to cross the road, go out of our way, help them, serve them, and care for them in every way.  And not just those we know – but those who are different from us: different race, color, ethnicity, age, social class, etc.  We are called to care and love and have mercy – because we serve a God and have an example of a Savior that did more than CROSS the road – He died on a CROSS for us in our mess and pain.

We must respond to tragedy as the Church.  We must follow our example.  In the meantime let’s all look forward to a day without tragedy.  Come Lord Jesus Come.

“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said,

“I am making everything new!” 

Revelation 21:3-6

Patient God – Impatient Me

waiting

I am/We are Crazy Impatient

I posted this on Facebook the other day (because it was over 140 Characters) and I have been dwelling on and praising God for His active characteristic of PATIENCE.  Here is what started my thought as I was reading through 1 Timothy:

Thankful that I serve a PATIENT God who loves me through my mistakes, downfalls, doubting, sin, laziness, and stress.

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

1 Timothy 1:15-17

As Paul writes to Timothy and tells him that he himself is the “Worst of Sinners” – I was struck with one part of this set of verses:

“I was shown mercy so that in me…Christ Jesus might display
His IMMENSE PATIENCE
as an example for those who would believe in
Him & Receive eternal life”

I’ve never thought about God’s Patience.  It has never struck me.  I have not been in a conversation with a fellow believer or a non-believer and as we are discussing the many attributes of God where I utter the word PATIENT.

However, when I read this last week – 2 things happened.

1) I was drawn into worship by the many many many times God has been patient with me.  And how even with Saul (when his name wasn’t Paul yet) as he was killing Christians and persecuting the Church – God was patient.  His timing is perfect.  His patience is the ultimate example.  He is worthy of worship

and

2) I was faced with the LACK OF PATIENCE that I have and display in my own life.  It’s sad that as I am made in the image of my creator – I am so very far off the mark of His Patience.

Even now – I sit in a Automotive Repair shop getting the  OPPORTUNITY to grow in my patience as I type this blog out with Spotty Wi-Fi and wait on getting my tires to get aligned and rotated (going on 3 hours now).

I am impatient in…

*The Car (might have slight case of road rage/Dallas-Driver Mentality)
*My relationship with my Wife at times – my flesh/sin nature comes out
*My relationship with my 1 year old son  at times
*Student Ministry – getting frustrated with lack of commitment to Church while over-commitment to Stuff, sports, & others
*Student Ministry – with parents, adults, or even students who always have a better way to do things
*My relationship with my parents & family as they don’t always understand the things of God
*Watching Commercials – DVR has ruined me
*Technology in general – not fast enough, not enough storage, not immediate enough

THE LIST GOES ON & ON….


I MUST GROW IN PATIENCE

LOVE IS PATIENT, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

Galatians 5:22-24

My example is Jesus – He is the mark – the standard.  God is LOVE and LOVE is PATIENT.  My Flesh has been replaced with God’s SPIRIT and the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT is PATIENCE.  I have missed the mark.

So I pray – that Jesus would continue to & IMMENSE PATIENCE to me – so that I may be an example to others of that
same mercy & Immense Patience.

 It is only by His power.