We all know that police all over America are now wearing body camera’s. We have all seen the infamous footage of police dash camera’s. Some of the footage has been infamous, others we would have rather not seen.
But did you know….
If you go to Amazon you can buy body camera’s, sunglasses camera’s and helmet camera’s. You can also buy your very own dash camera for your car. The police started wearing them to provide evidence that was indisputable, one way or the other, of what was going on in the pursuit, apprehension and detainment of those suspected of a crime. Now, there is more to it than that but those issues are not the important point. But today, everyday people are wearing them. I was interested as to why…
What I discovered was that some have begun to wear them as a way of documenting sexual harassment. Others have begun to wear them to create YouTube content from the crazy things they do. Others, just because they think it’s cool. The new surge in Uber and Lyft drivers have spurred the purchasing of the dash camera’s but others have begun to do it as well.
But my question is, what about God? Doesn’t He see everything? What about all the things that the camera’s don’t see? He still sees it. With that in mind, how should we conduct ourselves? How should we conduct ourselves at work… in our daily lives… in the drive on the way to anywhere… in our homes… behind closed doors? And here is the real kicker… He even knows our thoughts ! So what are we to do?
It’s simple but difficult… we surrender! We are never going to get it all perfect… It’s impossible. So we surrender our whole lives to God and ask Him to help. The Bible tells us that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. We must surrender our minds. What about our work life? We should work as thought we are working for Jesus! I know…. I know… your boss here on earth is no Jesus, but… just realize that we answer to Him and who know’s if our godly example doesn’t begin a work in that boss! As far as those crazy drivers go, just pray for them. Praying will help you refocus on what is good and right.
Now, what about the rest of it… realize that you are going to slip up so give yourself so me grace. Yet, don’t allow this to be an excuse that you use to justify bad behavior and ongoing bad choices. In Hebrews 12:1-2a it says …
“Therefore since we are surrounded by such a huge cloud of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run the race with endurance that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith…”
Follow Jesus! We will talk more about this next time – So until then, remember – You are His Masterpiece and you have a Holy Spirit Cam that sees far more than anything man devise.
Have you ever been reaching for something on a shelf that seems just out of reach? How about a goal you have tried to achieve that seems just beyond your capacity? What about that promotion? What about letting go of the addiction? What about moving on past a bad relationship? What about love… just beyond your reach?
So much in life just seems to be out of reach. We want to feel loved, be loved and ultimately give love. Why is life so hard?
I will tell you that at my lowest point, I discovered something – I had been unable to love because I had never received the love of Christ in my heart. You see, God is love and if He is not the Lord of our lives – true, deep and abiding love is impossible. When I came to understand that, I wept…
The beauty of God’s love is that we don’t have to reach for it or earn it. God sent love down to us in the form of beautiful baby born, as foretold. Love came down for you and for me… Thank you Jesus!!
When God calls you to something, how do you know for sure? I mean really, really sure? This is a question that we all wrestle with. I read the call of Saul/Paul and wonder if God will do that for me. I understand how King David was called out of the sheepfold, literally, to be anointed King of Israel.
Then we have Jesus speaking audibly to the disciples as He walked to them. He preached in their boats and performed miracles and then told them you haven’t seen anything yet. Does Jesus still do that today? Lord, will you do that for me?
So is the call just as powerful today as it was then? Lord?
YES! IT IS!
I believe it is just as strong today as it was then due to the power of the Holy Spirit! It’s different today, a still small voice or a gentle knowing, yet still just as real.
How do we know for sure that it is God calling us and not our own will? Well, there are a number of things to look at.
Is the call consistent with His Word? If it isn’t, then the answer is that it is your will driving the car.
If the call is consistent with His Word, is it something you have prayed about? If not, then pray about it now! Ask God to help make it clear to you.
Have others confirmed the call without being asked? What I mean is, have others told you that you would be good at this or that, serving as confirmation of what you believe that God has already told you? God will often provide us confirmation this way. Just today, I had someone tell me that they believed that writing was part of my call from God. I didn’t ask them but they saw my last post and prayed about it. Then they reached out to me today and gave me some much needed encouragement and confirmation.
Speak with you Pastor. Share your heart with him and what you believe you are being called to do. Listen to him.
Don’t allow your lack of experience or training to be a deterrent. If God called you, He will prepare you.
Don’t let lack of resources discourage you. If it is God’s will, it is his bill.
If it meets many of the above points and falls in line with your gifts from God, look out, you have a job to do.
I know that this is a pretty simple list and there can be a lot more to it. What I want to encourage you to do is to simply …
God will help you walk out the rest. I would rather step out in faith and be wrong, than hold back and miss the opportunity due to fear.
One of the things that my seminary professor said that has always stuck with me is,
“If God has called you to do it, it may not get done if you don’t do it.”
But we still have the choice to make – will we say, YES or NO? I will tell you that when you fail to choose, you are saying no. When you say no to God’s call, you will never see peace because you have forsaken it. What we have to understand is that we are either walking with God or we are walking away from God. Answering God’s call will be one of the greatest things you will ever do, along with the hardest. But we have the strength and power that raised Christ from the dead to carry it out! Trust Him!
I hope this helps but if you have questions or comments, I encourage you to reach out to me here or email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Hmmm… So I have declared that I am beginning to write again (see previous post). Now what? I think I need to get back to the books I had started writing. I have thought about articles, more blog posts, short stories…
Lord, what would you have me to do? I feel I am hearing books… So I am going to break out the crates and get to it! The first one will most likely be The Transformation Project – a memoir on my story.
So today, I say YES!
The first step is saying Yes. But I have said yes before but there was no plan. So today, while I say yes to write, again, today I have a plan. The plan means that I write everyday – maybe not a lot but some with a purpose. I have allowed the chains of busyness to hold me back. But today I say no more. I am a writer…
I have been published twice… it is time to do it again and again!
I have noticed that people are often seeking advice from any and everyone. They will post on Facebook a request for doctors, mechanics, surgeons, plumbers or will simply ask a question/discuss a problem and they get blown up with more advice than anyone person can manage.
But is that the best way? God tells us in Psalm 1:1 that…
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…”
Now does that mean that asking anyone for advice on a good mechanic is a bad thing? Not hardly. But on the important matters in life, getting good godly advice from a fellow believer is a good thing. I believe that God takes us through some of the trials we experience to help guide others through the same challenges later. If we share our experience with them, especially when they are challenged to the very core of their soul, it can give them hope in a very dark place.
In my own experiences, I have been through more than a few pits and valleys. I have scars that run deep. Yet, I have used those stories to help others more times than I can count. TD Jakes, pastor of The Potter’s House, once said –
“I was at a pastors conference and they were all telling stories of long lives of faith, never knowing a moment without Christ. Lives filled with strong family histories of faith in Christ going back generations. While these stories are great and wonderful, You can’t help me! You’ve never been to the pit or grown up in a single parent home. You know your father, many don’t. You don’t know what it’s like to visit family in prison or to hear fighting in the bedroom late at night. You can’t help me.”
To often we discount the broken as having nothing to offer. Too many times, the church is the worst about this. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to go to the bar to get advice on how to kick an addiction to alcohol or how to help someone who is. But I am telling you that maybe you should go to someone who is actively winning the battle of sobriety and has done so for years.
One final note:
Christians, do not throw religious cliches at someone who is struggling and in need of your advice. They can be useless, hurtful and lead to alienation. Be practical and specific. Use words that the person can relate too. Don’t just tell them Bible stories, tell them your story. Be real with them, even if it makes you vulnerable and exposed. Lead them through it by being someone who doesn’t try to fix them but encourages them. If the problem or need is beyond you, don’t be afraid to say so. Seek out the counsel of someone else who might know. The main word of advice here is to love them in the pit, let them know that they are not alone.
How can less be more? It seems to be counter-intuitive.
As I look at the growth of this ministry, called The Carpenter’s House, I am asking myself this very question. When I look at a need, I think, “how can we fill that need or fix that problem. Maybe we need a group or a ministry or…” The list goes on. When is it too much? As a pastor, my job is to lead people to Christ and help them to get to know Him better (aka – disciple). There is no limit to the need for that work. But what about the other issues? Jesus fed the hungry and healed the sick. So how does that translate to us today? When do we say, No?
What I have learned is, that as individuals or churches, we are not built to meet every need. The only one that can do that is Jesus. We are not Him but we are part of His body. So we do have a job to do. What is that job, where do we find it and how do know where it begins and ends? Good questions… tougher to find the answers. But I do know this truth, when I eliminate everything other than those things that I absolutely have to do, I can focus and do a really good job. In those moments, I discover that less, truly is more!
What about stuff in our lives? Whether it is the things that clutter our houses, desks or lives, too much is still too much. Where do you draw the line in your personal life? I’m not going to meddle in someone’s personal house clutter but to say, minimalism is healthy. Clutter free desks are good too. My desk use to be a horrible mess and I would call it “stack management”. It was a mess because I was mess and things fell through the cracks and didn’t get done. I know people will argue with me about this, so enough said.
In your life, you can have so many things going on that you never get to really focus on the most important things. It has been said that “Good is the enemy of Great”. You can be so busy doing good that you miss the truly great thing you were called too. In ministry/church work, there is never any end to the demands. If you get off track and simply become reactive to every demand/request, without funneling it through your mission statement, a ministry/church can drown in the demands and miss their true purpose.
As individuals, we can do the same thing. We have to create priorities and boundaries and filter all the requests we get through it. If it doesn’t pass the check, you must pass on the request. You may think by saying no that you are being unchristian but nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible tell us all we have gifts. One of your filters should be our gifts. If it isn’t in the realm of your gift, pass on it. The next thing to consider is where does this request fall in order of my priorities? You have to know what your priorities are before you can answer this question.
Let me help you a little but…
1. Your relationship with God (not your ministry)
2. Your Spouse
3. Your family
4. Your Job/Ministry
The top three on this list are non-negotiable.
If you will look at anything new in your life through this paradigm of priorities, it will be easier to analyze what you should allow and what you shouldn’t. I also want to challenge you to look at the current list of “to-do’s” and see if you can find some things that need to be eliminated and be ruthless.
To live simply and focused on the highest and best that God has for you is a very rewarding life. It requires daily discipline to remain on course but you can do it. I have to be honest, one of the reasons I am writing about this is because it is a huge personal challenge for me as well. Will you pray for me? If you will comment on this post and request that I pray for you, I certainly will.
I was reading the blog of Meredith King and her struggles with the discipline of writing. Yet, she stuck with it for a solid year or more. She inspired me or convicted me, that I have neglected my call to write….
I read what she wrote and I wrote in my journal, “I’m going to start writing today!” Well that was several weeks ago. Oops! But today… I’m finally following through with my commitment and calling!
I want you to help me hold me accountable. If you don’t see me post something, at least once a week, tell me about myself! I give you permission to call me out!
Today, I am reflecting on all the changes that are taking place in my life, ministry and the message that I shared the Monday at theCarpenters.House. “Launch Out!” We have to be willing to give our greatest possession for the cause of Christ and it begins with our hearts – which is our most precious possession. Will we give that to Christ? I said, Yes! When I say yes to that, it means the rest of me goes with it. Which in turn means that I am going to be writing again!
The changes in the ministry are happening – Two Churches becoming one! It is a beautiful thing. There is so much to write about here but today, I just wanted to …. Begin Again!
Love… is actually a nine letter combination of two words. Agab and Agape the two most important and defining words of love known to man. They are the words that God used to define what love is. He not only used words but He also showed us what these words meant by actions.
AGAB is Hebrew for love. It means to “breath after”. I have to say that when I heard this definition of love, it caught in my throat. You see, I know what it means to be physically required to breath after someone and it is earthshaking. When I was diving in Cozumel a number of years ago, I was at about 70 feet below the surface and I ran out of air. This is not a good thing to have happen anytime but at 70 feet below the water, if you ascend to quickly you could die or become permanently disabled due to the “bends”.
So as a trained diver, you always dive with a “buddy”. As part of your dive training you learn to do what is called “Buddy Breathing”. You approach your buddy and signal to them that you are out of air. You grab ahold of their buoyancy compensator and they grab ahold of yours – so you don’t float apart. They take a deep breath and then hand you their regulator. You literally breath after them.
You have to trust them with your life. They have to trust you with theirs as well.
This is the picture of what it means to be breath after someone in a love relationship. You depend on them for your very next breath and they depend on you for the same thing. If one partner hogs the air… the other will die (the relationship dies). You can’t make it on your own either… IF your partner dies at depth and they were the ones supplying the air, you will never make it to the surface either.
God created love between a man and a woman. He designed it so that they would be this kind of close… this kind of intimate…. this kind of dependent upon one another. Completely equal – locked in a relationship – face to face, arm in arm – attached so closely that their entire lives are on display before the other. Nothing gets in between them. Nothing separates them.
This is the relationship that God designed for us with Him as well.
The second word is the Greek word for love – Agape. There are actually two words here… agape and agapao. One means a love feast and the other is to love with everything that we are and all that we have. Both are used in various situations but the concept is the same. To love is to serve and to give to the point that we have nothing left of our own and that we are then dependent upon the object of that love to resupply our needs – much like the Hebrew – to breath after.
This kind of love should drive out fear because it is real love – a deep abiding love that changes us from the inside out. It come to take up residence through the power of the Holy Spirit. It can turn two people that would never get along into life long partners. It can bring two that are headed for the divorce court into true and real reconciliation and restoration. It is what binds two people together for life – a life full of all that God has planned for them.
There is far more here and we will revisit this topic a little more from time to time. But I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
But just remember that love is not a four letter word, nor is it to be tossed around and used lightly, as this society has become apt to do… At its very best, it brought our Savior back from the dead and breathes life into us. We have been given that breath so that we can then be the very next breath for someone else, who will surely die without it. Perfect love drives our fear because it takes fear out of the equation all together.
We have all heard the song. Most of us know it well. A major Christian recording artist has added verses to it…(Chris Tomlin – My Chains Are Gone). In fact, let’s listen to it now…
I remember one time, above all others, that I heard Amazing Grace, and my soul was moved to tears. It was the evening I heard two men playing those familiar notes with bagpipes. Ohhh, it was so beautiful. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Wait until the end, and we will play this version as well.
Yet, do we understand what the song truly means? I believe one way to understand what Amazing Grace really is, will be to look at the one who wrote it – John Newton. He wasn’t your typical hymn writer, for sure. The history of John Newton is interesting and colorful. He was drafted into the Royal Navy as a young man. In reality, he was forced to serve.
He wasn’t one of those guys who really got along well with others. He was insubordinate to command, and consistently got in fights with fellow sailors. Because of his constant disruption, he spent time in the brig – a lot of time. When he wasn’t in the brig, the captain came up with a song that openly mocked him. The entire crew would sing: “What are you going to do then… the next job is a very long swim???”
Eventually, his time of forced service was over. His search to make decent wages then led him work for slave traders. This was a godless job. The enslaved men, women, and children were crammed into coffin-like quarters for weeks and sometimes months. The ship sailed across the sea from Africa, to various trading outposts around the known world.
The lack of humanity on the ship began to trouble young John Newton, but he didn’t understand it all.
So one day… God helped him to understand. A terrible storm came upon the ship, and everyone aboard was certain that death was imminent. John did what many of us have done – he cried out to God for mercy. The ship was saved. While the ship was being repaired, John Newton began to write the song. The slave trading troubled him greatly. He wrote that the cries of the suffering captives would haunt him to no end. He began to seek Christ but … he couldn’t seem to give up this horrific job. The money was too good and he didn’t know what else he would do.
In fact, history tells us that it was 11 years later before he finally walked away from the slave ships. When he did, he began to study Christian Theology and write. He gave his life to God at sea, but it had taken him 11 years to truly turn from his past…
How many of us can testify to that? How many of can say, “I know Christ but my life still isn’t right?
To me, that is the definition of “Amazing Grace”…the grace we do not deserve. In fact it is defined in the New Testament as “unmerited favor”. To break that down even further, it means: An Exception to the Rules We Do Not Deserve! You see, if John Newton had been judged and condemned by his actions for the eleven years after he was saved, he would have been in trouble. Thankfully, God’s Amazing Grace forgave him.
God knows we are going to miss the mark, mess up, and fall down. That’s why grace isn’t earned by our good works. “It’s the gift of God lest any man should boast”.
We are even told that our best works – the ones we are the most proud of, are like filthy rags when compared to the work of God in our lives, and the perfect righteousness that He imparts to us. That’s grace, and it really is pretty amazing.
So the next time you sing Amazing Grace, think about how you have stumbled in the dark. Think about how lost you have been. Remember the story of the man who got it wrong most of his life. Even after he cried out for mercy, he still messed it up…but God loved him nevertheless. God had a plan for John Newton’s life. He is still using the song John wrote to draw people nearer to Him, two hundred years after his death.
To think… He will do that for you too!
Let the sound of the Scottish Bagpipes touch your soul…