Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Don't throw away your confidence!

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. Hebrews 10:35

Over the last couple weeks I have found myself going through some difficult things and being involved in things that have caused me to ask God why? For me there is nothing worse than feeling like I’m wasting my time or doing something that does not add value to me or someone else. Selfish I know but just being honest. Following Jesus has been the greatest the decision of my life but anyone that tells you it’s always easy and problem free well, I would go as far to say that there really not following Jesus. Because following Jesus means denying yourself and of course becoming public enemy number 1 of the world and of course of satan.  
But the word I found God really to speaking to me this week over and over again was confidence. Now some may find it hard to believe but sometimes that’s an area that even people like me struggle in. Without going into complete detail about the events of the last few weeks I’ll just say people and situations really cause me to question myself and my ability to do certain things and be a part of certain things. There is  nothing worse than feeling like you don’t belong or that you can be the person that God has called you to be, or that you can’t do the very thing that God has called you to do and those are the very areas I believe the world and the enemy attacks the most. Because there have been many times I have found myself feeling like I was good only to have something happen that rocked my world and really caused me to question or second guess where God has me. Now there is nothing more the enemy wants than to have God and us at odds with each other because he wants to destroy us and the very relationship we have with God. But ultimately we make that choice if we allow that happen just like I would find out.
For the enemy he wants to cause doubt and make situations all about us and that’s exactly what happen to me. Once I allowed doubt to creep in I was no longer listening to Jesus and my attention was focused on me and what I thought instead of what Jesus wanted and what He says. By the attention being focused on me it allowed me to feel and believe like I was owed something or I was doing God a favor which is not the case at all. God doesn’t owe me a thing nor does He need me to accomplish or do anything because He is God and he can do whatever He chooses with whatever he wants. If anything I’m thankful God doesn’t give me what I deserve which is death and nothing more. The confidence I had in God turned towards arrogance which led to bitterness which lead to me becoming selfish and threating God I was going to quit. I’m very thankful God does not always take me seriously and that he has patience and mercy and that one word of his truth smashes a thousand lies. For me it changed when I took it to God in prayer instead of trying to think things out myself or trying to talk to other people about it.
God showed me he had me where I was for a reason even if I thought it was a waste of time and I didn’t benefit from it or if I had no say so in the matter. He showed me the people he had in my life where to keep me balanced and to keep me focused on what He has called me to do which takes all the attention off me and what I think or believe I deserve. I’m thankful for people in my life that speak truth to me even if it’s not easy. God showed me I belong because if I didn’t He would not have me where I was or doing what I was doing. He showed me that results are not up to me but to do only what He tells me to do and leave the results up to Him.  Lastly He showed me not to throw away my confidence because it has great reward and that sometimes that reward is not always seen immediately and that by making things all about me will mean I will always missed the reward that comes with having Godly confidence in him. So like I stated in the beginning don't throw away your Godly confidence because its has great reward. 


Sunday, May 5, 2013

My next generation story

This Sunday Drew spoke on impacting the next generation and how by investing the things God gives us in other people not only could we impact people but we could impact and change future generations for years to come. His message was a reminder of God’s love for me and how thankful I am for the people that step in and believed in me and set the bar high for me even when I didn’t for myself. I am a walking testimony of just how doing that can impact not  only one person but it can spread like a wildfire into the lives of others. I grew up in church all my life and was around it all the time but I never took the time to really give Jesus a chance much less people that loved him and just wanted a chance to get to know me. I guess you could say it was going to take a special person to really be able to deal with me. I was in an out of the youth part because I thought I was to cool for it and the other part was because I wasn’t willing to give it half a chance.
Now it’s not that I didn’t go to a great church or there wasn’t a great youth program it was because at point in my life where there wasn’t anyone trying to invest in me. Now I don’t have the answers as to why but maybe it could have been my parents were Christians and they thought there were doing a good job or maybe because they didn’t think I would amount to anything who knows but at a young age there was not that one person who really considered me worth it or so I thought. 

My middle and high school years were spent going to Central Fellowship Christian Academy and of course that would be probably some of best and most trying times of my life. Now of course we still continued going to Christ Chapel. Now during these times there was this one guy named Drew Winters that was interning at the time at the church and this guy was so passionate about the Lord and the things of the Lord that he felt it would be a great idea to come to my school and eat lunch with me. Needless to say I didn’t think it was cool at all actually Drew was making it hard on me. You see he was doing something that many others didn’t want to do or maybe didn’t have the time to do and that was investing in teenagers that others thought were ok and or didn’t see any reason to invest in. Now I will say this Drew was persistent and he didn’t give up because I didn’t make it easy for him at all, actually I tried to avoid lunch and Drew like the plague because come on I couldn’t  be seen eating lunch with someone that was from my church that isn’t cool at all. But week after week he kept coming back.

Now fast forward a little bit I’ve given my life to the Lord and I’m trying to figure out what God wants me to do and where he wants me to be. A few guys and myself where playing basketball at the church one night and as were going to leave in walks in the next youth Pastor of Christ Chapel and can you guess who that guy is? If you said Chuck Norris you are wrong. That’s right it was Drew Winters the guy I thought was weird because he came to eat lunch with me at my school. Funny part is at first I didn’t recognize who he was I though he was someone I had sold a camera to at my prior job. 

Fast forward again to today this June will mark one year since I’ve been interning at Christ Chapel Sportstowne under you guessed it the youth Pastor Drew Winters. The craziest part about this whole journey I’ve been on is Drew pick up right where he left off with me. You see it was that initial connection and investment he made that allow me to trust and believe the things he told me. Over this last year I’ve had the opportunity to do things I never thought possible or believed I could or would do but with strength and love of Jesus Christ and the support and direction of my mentor Drew Winters I find myself becoming a better Man of God first, a husband and father second, and investing my life loving and preaching the gospel to young people which is something I was born to do. See the gift and call was already there because God had already given it to me. But it took a young reckless and wild intern who loved Jesus and didn’t allow discouragement and frustration to stop him from loving me to bring it out. See I believe Jesus laughs at me every day because the very man I spent my teens years running from I now spend my adult years helping love and grow ECHO youth ministry. I know Drew well enough that I know he’s not a guy that needs or looks to be celebrated for anything he does but I believe God laid this blog on my heart to confirm the message he shared today but also to show others that investing and loving others for the sake and glory of Jesus Christ never goes wasted because this wild reckless failure of teenager is here today trying to stand in the gap for othesr just like myself who need to be invested in. So I ECHO my mentor and my brother in Christ message today INVEST IN THE NEXT GENERATION!!!! Then watch what Jesus will do. Here are some pictures that are memories for me from this last year.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Just a few thoughts

As I had a moment to reflect on last night’s service once I got home I found God pointing out a few things to me that I wanted to share. On side note Cassia was awesome and that oceans song is the jam. Ok one of the biggest battles that I faced as a Christian and even before Jesus found me was it always seemed like other Christians never struggled or had a past like I did and because of that It was always so hard for me to believe Jesus would accept me much less want me. Well I hope last night I painted the picture that Jesus is for everybody and that he loves everyone and that ever person has a past and a story and sometimes you might not always hear it or see it but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I’m where I’m at today because I took Jesus up on his offer and traded all my shame and past for his love and forgiveness. Here is the best part that same gift and love is always available but just like me you have to take him up on it and accept it.

Also when I think about my family life even though there were struggles and hard times  Jesus has shown me the choice is up to me if I’m to repeat or continue those same deadly  and awful patterns that were set before me. Most families have bad things that get past down to them from previous generations, for me it was alcohol, failed marriages, abandonment, and sexual sin. Now according to the world and people that’s what my life should look like and be like and be the very thing that gets pasted on to my kids as well but I’m so thankful that Jesus Christ provided another way not only for me but for my babies as well. I really want to encourage anyone that finds there selves in a tough family situation or feels that they can’t get out or escape a certain thing to trust Jesus and allow him to get you out and let him change you because Jesus makes all things new. I say this with a confidence and because of past experience you don’t have to do things others in your family do or have done. You also don’t have to be what others in your family were. Jesus Christ has a plan for your life and all he wants you to do is bring to him.

Finally my teen and church life. What can I say I was a bad teenager and with a messed up view of who Jesus was. I thought I could ride the coat tails of other peoples relationships with Jesus and I would be ok. But I found out quickly that would not work and it did not work because there was still something missing and there was still that void and hurt in my life. One of the things that bothers me the most when I look back at my older teens years is that fact that people ‘s idea of who Jesus was and what he was about was scared because I lived like hell and slapped the name of Jesus and the title of Christians with it. The biggest advantage you have over me is your still a teen and you still have the opportunity to change and do something about it right now. For many of you there will be people and friends that the only idea or image of who Jesus is will be painted by you and I pray that you give them the real Jesus not the one they world portraits him to be. When comes to a relationship you would not allow another person to tell you how great your girlfriend or boyfriend was you would want to know and find out yourself. But sadly we do this very thing when it comes a relationship with Jesus were ok with hearing how great he is from somebody else instead of finding for ourselves. But just like you can’t receive a real kiss from an imaginary girlfriend or boyfriend neither can you full receive and experience a real relationship with Jesus Christ from someone else. Find out who Jesus is and what he is about for yourself, read his word and pray, allow him to show who exactly what he can do and what he is all about. I promise you, you will never be the same.

Last thing as a quick reminder I feel impressed upon my heart to say this. There is nothing past, present, or future that you can’t be forgiven of. Don’t believe that lie from people or the enemy that says otherwise because it is simply false. Jesus paid for it all and he loves and forgives freely all you have to do is ask and receive.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

My April 25 Devotional.

Here is a blog I read this morning. Praying it give you strength and courage today.

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. Psalm 46:1

YOU’RE SWIMMING in a sea of hurt. Know it or not, all around you are people drowning in disappointment, discouragement, or depression-family members, Christian peers, students in your youth group, non -Christians friends at school. You probably don’t need more than an instant to think of someone who needs a friend who “is always loyal … born to help in time of need” (Proverbs 17: 17). And to be that kind of friend means you must beavailable.
Check the phrases that tell what it means to be an available friend:
_____ Saying, “Call me when things get better for you.”
_____ Taking the time to listen to what someone has to say.
_____ Saying, “Here’s a quarter, call someone who cares.”
_____ Saying, “I want you to know I’m going to be here for you, no matter what.”
Here’s the truth short and sweet: Being available means you are interested enough in people to take time to listen to them and actually care about what happens in their world.
Jesus is the ultimate example of an ever-present friend, and you see his avail­ability best when he helps hurting people. The woman at the well in John 4 was a to­tal outcast, but Jesus made himself available to talk with her about her life. The woman who was caught in adultery in John 8 was a nobody to everyone else, but Jesus was available to care for her. Lepers were despised by society, but when ten lepers came to him for healing (see Luke 17), Jesus was available to them.
So how does it make you feel to know that the God of the universe is available to you as a refuge or “safe place” in time of trouble? Check all that apply.
___ Angry___ Disappointed___ Grateful
___ Humbled___ Important___ Pleased
___ Scared___ Secure___ Worried
God will always be there for you, and he will never fail you. He wants you to be that kind of friend to others too.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Safe House

Safe house, when you hear that word what comes to mind? For me I think of place that is safe and somewhere you can receive not only what you need but even things you didn’t think you needed. Pretty generic I know but that’s what comes to mind for me beside of course gangster movies that mention safe houses where they keep all their stuff. This week I had the opportunity to experience and see a point of view that is so often overlooked. I was able to serve at safe house in Atlanta and see what so many of us in the church may never see or hear about and that’s the stories or lives of our brothers and sisters that are homeless or poor. This was the first time I had ever done anything like much less even thought about that Jesus loved these same people just as much as me and that he was going to totally open my eyes to what he meant when he spoke about the poor and helpless in the Bible.

I meet Pastor Joe who I believe was the man in charge of Safe House and the first thing I noticed was that he loved what God allowed him to do and never one time did I ever hear him call it a job or complain when he shared with us what exactly safe house does or what they were all about. They second thing I noticed was how Pastor Joe knew just about every person by name that walked through the gates of safe house which was very impressive considering that on any given night he could have anywhere from 50 to 100 people show up for service.  The reason that hit me so hard was because today many churches (not all) are all about big attendance numbers and when that happens people and lives seem to get lost or go unrecognized. But not with Safe House and Pastor Joe each person had a name and each time food was served during dinner, breakfast, or even walking the streets late at night handing out food if you listened or if you cared you would meet a person that just like you had dreams and plans but somewhere go lost along the way. People that just like us needed to hear that Jesus loved them and cared for them and had not lost them or forgot about them. People that get overlooked or pass over because of how they look or where there forced to live because of whatever the circumstance.
People like George who the whole time I was there always had a smile on his face and laughing and was so thankful that people cared enough to sit down and talk with him. People like little Davis a young kid that lived with his mother who knows where but was so happy just to hang out and play basketball with a flat ball and a broken basketball goal. People like little Michelle that as father made me want to adopt her and take her home. She was a little girl probably no older than 3 that had no clue what was going on or why things were the way they were she was just content to have people play with her and I’ll never forget the smile and laughter she had that day as she dance around on stage. People just like this women who I wasn’t able to catch her name but she asked could she get on stage and sing and if you took a look at her you probably would have wrote her off but I promise you she had voice better than most church worship leaders today. People like our tour guide Matt that was a manager of his uncle’s multi-million dollar company and decided that since Jesus loved him so much that he wanted to go live with the homeless just so he could share the same love and savior that had rescued him and when I say go live with the homeless he actually lived on the streets with the homeless.

Now I’m not campaigning to find your local safe house or run out and feed a homeless person to make yourself feel better I’m talking about taking Jesus at his word and creating a culture or a lifestyle that is recognizing and doing all we can to help those around us who maybe took a bad turn or made a bad choice and that just like us if given another chance or given the opportunity could turn things around and become another person brought into the family of believers instead of another statistic. All around us are hurting people that have stories and just need someone to talk too or someone to listen but some many times we allow things of no value to replace things of great value like the life of a human being and the changing of a family’s generation all because were too caught up in doing the church thing. As I learn this week the church is more than a building and it’s much more than 2 services a week it’s a relationship with Jesus Christ that changes everything the way we live, the way we view things, and the way we do things because if the love of Jesus is in us we can’t help but love the way He does and love those who He loves. I’ve included some pictures from my few days at Safe House I hope God stirs something inside of you that changes just being ok with living a so/so Christian life.


Friday, March 29, 2013

When It Gets Dark, God Doesn't Sleep.

The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.  
 Zephaniah 3:17

So I have to admit I saw this picture and it sparked something in my spirit and heart. But first I have a disclaimer to make. Blogging is a new thing for me and I believe I have finally found the balance in blogging and preparing a message, odd I know but that’s just me so please forgive me. OK back to the picture it was this week when I saw it and I was like that is awesome and as I reflected on what the picture could mean I felt The Lord send me in a direction that I had not thought about.

 Now that direction oddly enough is something we all experience or we think about and that is the times or seasons in our lives when it is completely dark and cold and it feels like God is nowhere to be found or like the picture alludes to we might ask the question or think God where are you at or are you asleep? It took me back to a picture that my mom had in our bathroom that I read many times as a teenager and that was before you go to bed give your troubles to God, because he will be up all night anyway. So the first thing we can agree on is God never sleeps and he never leaves us. OK well maybe you’re not yet convince so let me hit you with a few verses from the bible to cement it for us Deuteronomy 31:6 or check out Zephaniah 3:17. Now since God can’t lie and the Bible is his word we see that no matter how we feel or how dark it seems God is right there with us.

Now my Pastor preached a message a few Sundays ago about seasons and how they have a beginning and they have an end and sometimes we might hold on or try to stay in a season long after God says it’s over or you might do the reverse and refuse to enter a season because it’s not what you want or how you think it should be. Long intro I know but I’m going to give you what this picture means to me. If you didn’t know David is one of my favorite people in scripture so I use him many times as a reference. But many times in his life even though it’s never recorded I wonder how dark it felt to him as he constantly found himself running for his life from Saul because Saul wanted him dead because God had chosen David as the king to replace him. I wonder how he felt those many of nights living in caves being driven far from home all because God had put a call on his life to be king.

 I wonder how he felt those many of times that he had opportunities to end it all by killing Saul and taking his place as king only to show Saul mercy and have Saul lie and break covenant with David. You see even in the midst of all the running and all those nights in caves and all those millions of question I’m sure David had, God knew exactly what he was doing and I believe he constantly showed David things throughout the journey letting him know he was right there with him and in control. See for God everything is timing and preparation and for David that whole season of living in caves and going through the things he did prepared him to be king. I believe a great gift being given at the wrong time can produces the wrong thing, for David becoming king earlier or later then he was supposed to would have produced bad results. Now dark seasons as we label them are not always fun and not always easy but I’m so thankful that we serve a God who can turn dark into day and take what was intended for bad and turn it into good.

Just like winter gives way to spring and night to day there is always an indication that the seasons are changing for spring it’s when it begins to get warmer and flowers begin to bloom, for daytime it’s when the sun begins to rise and the dark skies turn to blue, and for David it was when the crown of Saul was brought to him and put into his hand. So no matter where you find yourself today I pray that you know a few things God is alive and well and he is very aware of your situation, he’s not asleep nor has he forgotten about you. His timing is perfect and at the right time your dark night will give way to his beautiful light. The question I want to leave you is how will you respond? Will you focus only the darkness that surrounds you or will you look for the for the Son to rise?


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Who am I?

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalms 139:14

This might sound strange to you but I struggle with being ok with who God has called me to be. I know you might not struggle with this same thing but I do. I find myself many of times feeling like I don’t quite measure up to what the world or people classify as a man of God or this image I see portrayed as to what a Christian must look like or sound like. Now once again I know this might not apply to you but it’s something that God has addressed in my life this week. The crazy part about this way of thinking is that it’s not something I believe God intended for us to feel. I mean it says in the book of Acts that there is no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus so why do I feel this way then. 

If you want my personal opinion I believe it is the enemies way of limiting are impact or influence for Christ. I mean if you can’t stop someone you at least limit their ability to do the very thing you do not want them to do right? So that brought me to a very important crossroad in my faith this week and that was do I believe the verse above that I am fearfully and wonderfully made? To answer that question honestly until last night it would have been no. There have been times I found myself feeling like I didn’t belong or that I had to do something that I didn’t have in me or that I wasn’t capable of doing because that’s what God needed me to do. But here is the kicker God never told me that, as a matter of fact he did just the opposite which was he asked me what in the world was going on. That’s when I discovered my actions and my way of thinking was limiting what God was able to accomplish with me and my life. 
Now don’t misunderstand me God is God and he can do whatever he wants whenever he wants and I can be used to accomplish what he wants even without knowing it because that’s how God rolls he doesn’t need my ok or my approval he just does God. But I believe there comes a point in our life where we try to change the very things that God loves about us, we get into a state of mind where we change who we are and who God has called us to be. I love Pastor John and Drew but I’m not like either one of them and that’s ok because that’s not how God designed me and he has given me gifts and abilities they don’t have just like he has given them gifts and abilities that I don’t have and that’s ok to. I’ve learned that God gets the most glory when we allow him to use and unleash who we are and what we have versus us trying to do something we can’t and being something were not. Just like me you are fearfully and wonderfully made, you are just as important as that person you think you want to be.

 I want to leave you with a couple things God used someone to share with me today that and I believe it nails this point home. Acknowledge that God has set you apart and made you different, accept that God has given you different gifts and abilities and that you’re not like anyone else and that’s ok, and finally celebrate that God loves you enough that you’re not like anyone else and that without what God has given you or how he made you. God wants us to living celebrating who we are and I pray today is the day that you give everything to Christ and celebrate the gifts and calling God has given you because nobody else can do and have the impact that God designed you to do.