Archive for December, 2011

Evan and I were reading this Scripture last night as we have been going through the book, “Every Young Man, God’s Man” by Kenny Luck and Stephen Arterburn.  (I would encourage all dads to take their sons through this material).
The book went on to say,
“….many of my younger brothers miss God’s ultimate blessing—they are simply too impatient.  They give up too easily in the name of fun, because they are demonstrating the emotional and spiritual development of a twelve-year-old.  Maturity is recognizing that sometimes you need to do the very thing you don’t want to do to become the man you need to be.  God’s men have this perspective:

 “But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best.  At the time, discipline isn’t much fun.  It always feels like it’s going against the grain.  Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. (Hebrews 12:10-11, MSG)
We got to talking about the battle that we are both in…that the Scripture in Ephesians about us “fighting not against  flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
We talked about the battle that Evan has been in and how it’s been rough.  In talking about this, it’s as if God gave me a birds eye view of why we are losing the battle, especially teenagers losing the spiritual battle:
Many teenagers find their significance in video games that seem like reality but are in essence just make believe….the same with the church and youth ministries–we’ve made this spiritual war we are in a video game.  We don’t take it seriously because we really think it’s all make believe.  This is found in the idea that church is to make us feel good rather than to give us resources to fight in the war.  So, have we, the church presented the spiritual war we are in as a video game rather that an all out real war with a real enemy who wants to destroy us?
I propose we have……we have believed lies that:
  • We can get up and pause the game at any point
  • It doesn’t really matter how well I do because it’s not real
  • I have multiple lives
  • We can nonchalantly eat chips and drink root beer while in  a battle(we can have an entertainment mentality in our youth groups when it comes to this war that we are in)
The reality is:
  • This war is real
  • This war is hard
  • This war costs us
  • This war is time consuming
  • This war can literally cause us to lose everything
WHAT IF WE TOOK THE SAME TIME, EFFORT, AND ENERGY THAT WE SPEND IN A VIDEO GAME INTO THE SAME BATTLE WE ARE IN SPIRITUALLY?
Parents…..Students….this is WHY I am so focused.  Youth Ministry is not a video game where I try to get to see how many kids we can get through the doors(rack up the points), it’s not me trying to see who can down the most rootbeer and pizza….it’s not a responsibility I take lightly because I am the one who will be responsible for how I led this student ministry, so am I going to lead us to apathetically go through the motions and just hope students get it?
Hell No!  The lives of our students are too precious to waste!  God has created all of our students for significance and to make Him famous!
I am tired of walking around as it seems with my tail between my legs when the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in me!
I read a slew of promises that says who I am but live in defeat and because of my defeated life I encourage others to live in defeat by saying things like:
  • Hang in there
  • God will work it out
  • Praying for you…..man!
  • Just keep plugging in
  • God will provide
It’s a passive way to say–I don’t really care or I just hope God will come through!
God has given me the gift of mercy and I am thrilled that God has given me this gift BUT I get so frustrated because I feel like with my mercy gift I have no backbone to speak the truth.
With the mercy gift, one can definitely be taken advantage of and sometimes with the mercy gift(actually a lot of times) I will help with a physical need but never address the glaring truth that needs to be addressed and so the individual gets back into the same predicament.
Through this I am essentially caring more about me than the fame of Jesus and literally telling them to go to hell.  What do I have to lose if I tell them truth—they don’t like me?  Isn’t that worth it?  Jesus was humiliated even up to death!
What if I share Truth and they get it and grow closer to Christ–it’s a win-win.  If not, their blood is on their hands (Ezekiel 33)
Now I know what some of you are thinking and honestly, I have thought about it too, but “Where’s the love?”
I speak the truth because I love them! I don’t want to be a jerk who just speaks truth and has no love–there has to be a balance. I guess what I am saying is I am tired of seeing professing followers of Christ make intentional stupid decisions on their own, having cheapened the grace of God.  God didn’t create us or save us to live life the way we want but to die to ourselves!
From Every Young Man, God’s Man by Kenny Luck and Stephen Arterburn:
  • When certain situations arise, young men keep truth at arm’s length because they still want to dance with sin.  Depending on how you look at things, truth can be perceive as:
  • an enemy of fun
  • an enemy of certain adrenaline rushes
  • an enemy of cool
  • an enemy of acceptance by those you want to like you
  • an enemy of sexual gratification
  • an enemy of your plans to deviate from your faith for an evening
  • an enemy of a guilt-free high

The worst habit a young man can get into is telling himself lies that give him enough wiggle room to continue participating in activities that he knows are harming his relationship with God and others.
I reprint all of this to say, “We spend all of our time fighting the battles of believers and Satan uses this tactic so we are always having to deal with the problems of believers rather than rescuing the lost.  When can we get to the point to know that the victory is already won?  Students (and adults) are still wavering between the world and Jesus and that is what the church spends 90% of it’s time on–trying to get believers back on track.
I can’t do it anymore–I am going to be held accountable myself and be challenged, but I
am no longer going to “just hope” that fellow believers get it.  God has called us into a real war with real consequences and it’s time to get out of the video game mentality.

The following is a video of the life of BJ Higgins who understood that the battle was real!  For more information on him and where he served at in Peru, please contact Awe Star ministries at http://www.awestar.org.

Spiritual Amputations

Posted: December 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

My dad had two leg amputations both above the knee.   It started with a sore on his big toe.  It turned gangrene and caused it first to get amputated.  The infection didn’t go away–it slowly crept us his first leg and ultimately made it’s way up.  The doctors decided to amputate to keep the infection from spreading.  A similar experience happened with his other leg.

I remember shortly after one of his amputations, while he was in the hospital, he asked me to scratch his foot.  Looking a little shocked, I told my dad, “Dad, you don’t have a foot…there’s not a foot there to scratch!”  The doctor later came in and told us it was phantom pain–this occurs when amputees feel as if they still have their limbs attached.  It can be quite frustrating to the amputee because their is no relief for a period of time for the itching and it can sometimes be painful.

Is there such a thing as spiritual phantom pain?  It occurs when God amputates sin n our lives whether it be a part of drugs, sex, selfishness, pride, gossip, or gluttony.  These things start as small problems in our lives.  A lot of times, we think that it’s not a big deal but in reality it’s doing something in us(gangrene is setting in) and then BOOM!….we all of a sudden are coming face to face with a part of our life that is totally gangrene and God has to go through the painful process of amputation.

We go through the amputation–God forgives us and completely removes the sin.  We think, it’s a done deal and we can move on, but every once in a while, there is phantom pain.  The reality is the sin has been completely removed as far as the east is from the west and totally gone, but Satan brings it up and even though we’ve been forgiven through Jesus, it makes us itch and certain things trigger the need for our old limb to be addressed and itch.

Is that you today?  You’ve sough forgiveness and you got that sin amputated–but it haunts you?  In the most inopportune time, something triggers pain from the past or a sin from the past?

As believers, we have to go to war against the enemy and we must believe, receive, and OBEY the Word.

The Scripture says, “He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west”!  Is this true or is God just kidding?  In 1 John 1:9, it says, “If you confess your sins, He is faithful to forgive your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness!”

Believe, Receive, and OBEY!  Obey is not always an action, but it is an agreement and understanding it is true.  Walk in victory today knowing that you are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ!

Can I say though, if there is sin in your life and you are trying to justify it, you must really be careful.  There are many people who have thought they confessed their sin, yet they only said a bunch of words that really had no commitment behind it.  I am a living testimony of many times where I have sinned and I say words to appease me–thinking that I have sought forgiveness, yet in reality, I am still stuck with a spiritual gangrene limb.  Gangrene causes a limb to stink.

There have been times in my life where I have not smelled real good.   Thinking it’s bad breath, in reality, it is sin in my life that I have not really taken care of.

In 1 John 5:18, it says
“We know that those who have become a part of God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot get his hands on them.”

Do you have a habit of practice of sinning?  Now, the temptation will be to justify our sin.  Much like sticking up for our kids in front of other parents when they clearly have crossed a line.  We want so much for them to be seen in a good light, so we justify the actions of our kids.

The same way with sin. We stick up for ourselves thinking that the God of the universe has no idea of what we are going through, but He knows our thoughts and words and deeds and one of these days we will be judged by these things.

Maybe it’s gossip, greed, hate, envy, murder(anger), quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, backstabbing, insolent, proud, boastful, disobedience to parents….(Romans 1: 29-31)  If you constantly struggle with sin and it has become a habit…..an immediate amputation is needed.

Amputation comes following the directions through the Word of God (1 John 1:9)  Check out Psalms 51 as an example how David received an amputation in his life.  It wasn’t pretty, but death to the gangrenous limb was necessary for him to move forward after sinning.

So, what do you need to give to God that he healed you from years ago that is coming back to haunt you?  What is it that needs to be amputated in your life in order to move forward with God?

I know the title is a little extreme, but I am hoping it caught your attention!
YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS WILL SUCK IF…..YOU DON’T LIKE TO READ THE WORD OF GOD!
I have danced around this thought for the longest time not wanting to offend anyone, but as I read the Scripture and listen to the Scripture, this is the greatest excuse from people of God, especially MEN of GOD, for not getting into the Word.
Let me explain from the Scriptures as I was reading Daniel 7.  After I read Daniel 7, I wrote the following questions down and it led to the above statement:
  • What countries are they talking about when speaking of four kingdoms?
  • Is America involved in any way in the end times?  If so, what part will it play, if any?
  • Will I be ready?  Ready to give an answer to the hope I have in Christ?
  • If we are ever controlled by a Muslim dominated culture–will I be ready and in opposition, stand up for Jesus?
I think I know what the answer is to these questions and I am preparing myself for these things to happen.  My response is to draw near to God and He will draw near to me–I need to walk so in tune with Jesus so I can discern his voice and that comes through READING THE WORD OF GOD.
Matthew 24 talks a lot about the end times: earthquakes, wars, rumors of wars among other things and it says in verse 26, “So if someone tells you, ‘Look, the Messiah is out in the desert, don’t bother to go and look. Or ‘Look, he is hiding here,’ don’t believe it.  For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so i till be when the Son of Man comes.”
Some who don’t know what the Word says have thought Obama is the Messiah–many will believe stuff like this because they are not in tune with what the Word of God says.  Many just rely on the preacher on Sunday mornings to deliver the Word and that is good enough for them.  The Word of God is the very heart of God yet it’s the One Book that never gets read–it is the result of many excuses.
Just take a look at Psalm 119–it reveals how David longs, loves and HANGS onto the very Words of God.
When I am away from my family, I recall times of being together and recall conversations we have had that have made me, laugh, cry or think, but I am always reminded of their love for me and my love for them.
The same goes for us.  Jesus is not physically with us, but spiritually inside of us and there are times when we laugh, cry and go through great times and difficult times.  During these times, I open the Word and am comforted, challenged, and equipped.  I am reminded of how much Jesus cares for me.  I recall times when I was disobedient and I seek forgiveness.  I am reminded that I am not in this alone.  I am reminded of my future and this time away is temporary and sometimes lonely, but the Word gives me visions of being home and one of these days I will meet my Creator face-to-face.
Again, the biggest excuse of getting into the Word….I don’t like to read.  Your relationship with Jesus will always suck if you do not read the Word of God. You will continually be n the hospital and survive on an IV solution of milk!
I can no longer stand idly by and say that’s okay.  I can’t sugar coat it any longer and be okay with my brothers and sisters in Christ who say I don’t like to read.  Now, I do know that there are those who have learning disabilities, but with YouVersion, you can now listen to the whole Bible!
Can I ask you a question?  Do you read the advertisements in preparation for the Christmas season?  Do you read directions to your favorite game or latest toy?  Do you read the roadsigns as you drive?  Do you look at the internet and read all of the news and other fascinating stuff on it?  Do you read the newspaper at home or on your phone?  Do you read all of the texts that come across your phone?
There is no excuse….let’s be honest and say, “I am just lazy!  My relationship with Jesus really isn’t that important.  I could care less what Jesus has to say to me. I’m going to live my life the way I want it.  Jesus only interferes with my life.”
I cannot stand idly by and say this is okay any longer and allow my “friends” to just walk in apathy.  I’ll keep feeding you–that’s the purpose of church–that is CRAP!  If I were to keep spoon feeding my 13 year old daughter, you would probably think I am crazy.  I stopped spoon feeding her when she was two or three years old.
If you have been a believer for more than 2 or 3 years, and you are still being spoon fed, there’s something wrong.  When my kids started learning to ride their bike, they didn’t stop because they fell off one time.  For some it took days and weeks for them to really learn how to ride their bike.  The same way it is with reading the Word.
  • You may fall off and be tempted to never open it again.
  • You will encounter difficult passages that you have no clue what it’s talking about.
  • You will not be able to pronounce every name or word in the Bible.
  • You will usually have more questions than answers after reading the Bible.
  • You will get bored at times and it will seem to be just another routine.
  • You will get so enthralled with parts of the Word that it is difficult to put down.
  • You will get so mad sometimes at God as to why He did certain things in the Bible.
  • You will have dry seasons.
  • You will have awesome seasons.
  • You will be challenged to get rid of idols in your life,
  • YOU WILL EVENTUALLY BE CHANGED BECAUSE THE WORD SAYS IT WILL NEVER RETURN VOID(Isaiah 55:11)
In Daniel 9:2, it says,
“Daniel was studying the writings of the prophet.  I learned from the Word of the Lord, as recorded by Jeremiah the prophet, that Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years, so I turned to the Lord and pleaded with him in prayer and fasting and he answered my prayer.”
I read this Scripture and thought, “If it was so important for Daniel to study the Words of the Lord and it says he “LEARNED from the Word of the Lord”–how much more important is it for me to READ, STUDY AND LEARN?
This characteristic and the fact that God used him sooo much was not because he was good looking or popular–it was because he put the effort and energy into his relationship with God and God knew David sooo well, God knew He could trust David!
IT ALL STARTED WITH DANIEL BEING A MAN OF GOD AND READING THE WORD–IT STARTED WITH HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD!
Could it be that the reason God hasn’t used you in the way you think he should is because you haven’t been faithful with this simple part of a relationship with God.  If we cannot simply communicate with Him, how in the world will he ever trust us?  If the simple desire to get to know Him is not there–why trust you and me to carry His name more?
I close with this Scripture from 1 Timothy 4:7,8:
“Instead, train yourself to be godly.  Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”

To find out more information on studying about the end times, check out the books of Daniel and Ezekiel, Matthew 24 and for other resources I suggest checking out Joel Roseberg, a messianic Jew, who focuses on end times.

May your eyes be opened through the very Words of God!!!!!  If you need help, please do not hesitate to respond through this blog or catch me at Ridgeway and we can do coffee! Check out the following videos: Word of God Speak and a real resource that you can use starting now: YouVersion!


THIS WILL ROCK YOUR WORLD!

Posted: December 1, 2011 in Uncategorized
We showed this video on Wednesday night to our students at Revolution.  I must warn you that this video will step on your toes and it may downright offend you, but as I told our students last night, I(we) have nothing to lose in showing this video….why you ask?
We are in a battle and as believers it seems that we are losing. (yes, I know that it says that the gates of hell will not prevail, but).  I sense we are going through the motions as a church and as the American Church.  We can’t keep going through the motions expecting different results.  We have to come back to the foundation!  We have to revisit our lives and examine our lives in light of the Scripture, not in light of the person who says they are a Christian sitting next to us in the pew or cubicle.

We HAD to show this to our students because much of this semester we have gone through the motions and we have created a false fire.  We have become our own idols and to be frank, if you walked through our doors, you wouldn’t really see much difference between us and the world.  We started looking more like the world than Jesus and we presented the challenge that this has to stop!  We are drawing a line in the sand.  We have come to the understanding that in order to really follow Jesus, our youth group may shrink in numbers, but in spiritual might and through watering seeds of faithfulness, God would grow His army…not programs, not slick worship, not my teaching, not cool stuff.  So, we had to show this video.  It’s really nothing new.  It’s getting back to seeing and calling it what the real problem is.

We are in desperate times as the Church and we can sit idly by and pretend everything is okay or we can take bold action….call sin-sin…repent….and move forward as an army ready to advance His kingdom!
To set the stage, this event recorded was in 2002 to a group of thousands of teenagers at a Southern Baptist Youth Evangelism Conference.  It will take about an hour of your time, but I believe it will be worth it.  I’m tired of going through the motions…..Jesus didn’t die for my sins for me to go through the motions–He died to set me free and live for Him.

I remember watching this video two or three years ago during the bad ice storm that kept us from church and I was looking for something for my wife and I to watch since we couldn’t go to church.  I ran into this video and it rocked my world!!!!  I am praying it will knock you to your knees in repentance and will encourage you to renew the joy of His salvation in your life.  If you sense after watching the video, you need to talk, please contact me through this blog and I would love to have coffee with you and talk about these things.

You can also check out one of our Students’ blogs, Ashley, and check out her response after watching it @:
http://icallitlif3.blogspot.com/2011/11/matthew-713-23-paul-washer.html?spref=fb