Mature Inheritance

What if everything we need is waiting for us to step into our destiny and claim it? What if we stopped gauging what we could accomplish by the provisions we have, but lived from passion and purpose instead?

There is a concept in the Bible that I believe supports and even encourages us to live from this perspective. It is called; a “Mature inheritance”. Basically, this means that God has already stored up what we need and when our passion and purpose are combined, provision appears.

Let me show you a couple of examples of this in scripture.

After God created, Adam, He said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper for him.” He then has Adam name all the animals. When He finishes, God puts Adam to sleep and creates Eve. Now, when God created the helper for Adam, He didn’t present Eve to him as a baby. She was created as a mature woman, equal to Adam at his stage of life. Adam began to function in his role as God’s representative (naming the animals) and God brought a mature inheritance to him.

When the Children of Israel arrived at the “promised land” to receive the inheritance that God had promised them 400 years earlier, it was already mature. God told them they would live in houses they did not build and eat from crops they did not plant. God made sure the enemies of Israel had already prepared the land for them to inhabit. In this scenario, defeating your enemy, releases your mature inheritance.

Solomon desired to make God’s name famous. He wanted to build a temple—not for human royalty, but for Jehovah—something so spectacular that nothing in this world could rival it. Where would he get the gold, silver and precious stones to build the temple? His father David had led a campaign to raise the necessary resources for the temple before he died. When Solomon was ready to release his passion and his purpose, the provision was already there.

Let’s not wait around passively (myself included) hoping for the resources to do something amazing with our lives. Instead lets live with passion and faith, and who knows, when we get to our moment, everything we ever needed may already be there waiting on us. For more on this subject, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1b7ASh0yyQ

 

 

 

 

In His Hands

Have you ever had one of those moments in your life when you look up and God is standing right beside you? You can’t deny it or overlook it. You feel His presence and know that He has the whole world, including you, in His Hands. Recently, I had one of those moments where I could not deny His work in my life.

Four years ago, I met a woman in the lobby of our church. She was strolling in the front door with two little boys in tow. I didn’t recognize her, assumed she was a first time guest, and directed her towards our Children’s facility. As she walked away, I started up another conversation with someone else. As I finished that conversation, the woman returned to the Lobby from our Children’s facility, so I said hello. She confirmed she was a first time guest. I explained to her that I was on an assignment from the Lord to pray every day in the sanctuary then asked her if there was anything I could pray for that week for her. She said, “Sure, pray for my family and please include my husband. He couldn’t be here today.” I asked her what her husband’s name was and she told me. Then she went into the sanctuary for the service and I never saw her again. As far as I know, she never visited our church again.

The next day I went into the sanctuary and prayed for her, her family and her husband. When I began praying for him, the Lord spoke to me. He said He would like me to start my prayers every day by praying for this man I had never met. When I asked God why, He said because I personally did not know this man, and he could not benefit me in any way. Before I prayed for my stuff, He wanted me to pray for this man…everyday…for one year.

I did it. I prayed his name over and over again that year. But, then the year ended. God led me to a different focus and that assignment was over. I never met the man or even heard his name uttered for the next three years. Then recently I was on Facebook and his name popped up on my feed as someone I might like to send a Facebook friend request to. So, I did, hoping he would accept the request and I could encourage him with that story. But, he never responded to my request. Last Sunday morning, during worship, God spoke to me and said to send him a Facebook message and tell him the story. I argued with God, it was obvious the guy didn’t do Facebook very often. But, God was very direct with me, I was to send him a message and do it that day.

That night I pulled up the guy’s profile and went to his photos. I looked for a picture of his wife to verify that this was the right guy. I found a picture of her but honestly I don’t remember what she looked like; it had been 4 years. Her name seemed similar to what I remembered, but not exactly. I felt confident that this was the right guy. So, I sent him a message, told him the story and simply encouraged him that God has been working behind the scenes on his behalf for a long time and that God really loves him. Assignment done!

The next morning…the very next morning…I go to Lowes to buy a gift card. I select the card quickly and I get in line. The woman in front of me feels my presence and looks over her shoulder. You’ll never guess who it was. Yep, it was this man’s wife! I called her by name which shocked her and I asked if she or her husband had read my message from the night before. She tells me that he never reads those messages (that is why God put us in line next to each other). I then had the privilege of telling her the story and encouraging her to ask her husband to read it. We were both overwhelmed at this divine interruption.

This story isn’t primarily about this man and whatever God wants to do in his life. It definitely isn’t about me. It is a story about our God, who loves us deeply and is working just out of sight to watch over us, care for us and guide us in our journey. My faith level is through the roof by the divine coincidence of this story. I pray it inspires you as well. For more on this subject, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1b7ASh0yyQ

 

Leaving it in His Hands

As I journey on in my role as a Chief Repenter, and understand better how God’s justice and mercy work hand in hand, I have found a couple truths worth more to me than gold. One of them is what I call, “Leaving it in His hands”.

When a legal matter between you and another party needs to be resolved you have two options. You can try to negotiate a solution privately that is advantageous for you (and hopefully for the other party), or you can take it to court. If you go to court, it is no longer in your hands. It is in the hand of a judge, a jury, or the judicial law of our land. In the court system, we not only lose control of the situation, but we can end up with an unsatisfactory outcome.

The opposite is true when we deal with God. When we have something between us and God, the best thing we can do is leave it in His hands. There is always hope of mercy, and it is the safest place you could be.

When the woman caught in the act of adultery was brought to Jesus, the Pharisees honestly believed Jesus would judge her guilty and then sentence her to death by capital punishment. Why did they believe this? Because she was guilty and it is what they would have done. They had the stones in their hands to prove it!

When we sin, like the Israelites, offer Him whatever sacrifices He asks for. This allows God to deal with the sin.

Some might say, “Why not just tell people to quit sinning, instead of teaching them to offer sacrifices?” Telling people to stop sinning doesn’t usually work. People struggle with sin. When we leave our disappointments in His hands he changes our hearts. He is a merciful judge and a good Father.

Like the woman caught in adultery who was brought to Jesus, bring your sin to Him. Leave it in His hands. He will judge you, but often by giving you mercy as He extends to you the grace to change. For more on this subject, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkKOJGo3WGw&t=345s

 

 

Two Boats

Have you ever wondered like I do, “Why does God chose to move and work through me?” There are so many more qualified people for Him to partner with. Someone more pure, righteous, devoted and available than me. I look at my struggles and past and want to disqualify myself. At times like this, I think of the Apostle Peter. Forgive me. I know comparison is wrong. But, somehow observing the relationship between Peter and Jesus and seeing all the mistakes that Peter made, helps me feel better.

Here is how they met:

 Luke 5: 1-3 One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. 2 He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. 3 Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. NLT

Jesus is preaching one day near the shore. As He shares the timeless truths about the love of God, people are drawn in and begin to swarm around him. Looking for some space so He could continue preaching, He gets in a boat. He doesn’t get into anyone’s boat. He gets into Peter’s boat. The rest is history. Jesus finishes preaching, then tells Peter to launch out into the deep and let down his nets. Peter obeys and he catches so many fish the nets begin to tear. Peter realizes Jesus is the Son of God, forsakes his fishing career, and becomes a “fisher of men”.

It is a great story. However, did you notice there were two boats? You see God has options. He always has options. He didn’t have to get in Peter’s boat. He could have gotten into the other boat. But, he chose Peter’s boat. He knew how imperfect Peter was but He loves working with flawed people.

The next time the devil whispers in you ear that your not good enough, just say to him, “Well, God must think so; He came looking for me!” God has other options but He chose you and He continues to choose imperfect people everyday. Put to rest all the negative things you use to disqualify yourself and trust in this simple fact: HE came looking for you! For more information, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekYgDb1fQ2E&t=5s

 

 

 

 

Do a 360 and Fully Live

Will you remember what you do today one year from now? I know it is impossible to live everyday in such a manner. I only ask the question to make a point. The point is that life is precious; it is a gift. How many of us are un-wrapping that beautiful privilege—every—single—day?

There is a great quote Dr. Edward J. Stieglitz used in an advertisement in 1947 that sums up my thinking. It says:

“It’s not the years in your life that count but the life in your years!”

I have the joy of living in the Smokey Mountains of Western, North Carolina, surrounded by spellbinding beauty. People travel from all over the world to vacation here—to take in the sights and sounds of our ancient views. Yet, as a local, I can honestly say there are days we get in our cars and hustle from one destination to the other and never drink in the gift we have just outside our front door. I promise today that I will not only get out and do a 360 turn to take in the views, but I will also deeply breathe in our pristine air.

I recently attended the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference and heard a similar thought echoed by best-selling author Yvonne Lehman (57 novels to her credit). A paraphrase of her thoughts went something like this:

“You write from who you are. Who you are is the sum of your experiences. If you come to this conference and meet a mentor, learn a tool that will serve you the rest of your life, or get inspiration for your next book, then you just lived a chapter SCENE in the book of your life. If you came here simply to get information, you didn’t live a scene; you had an INCIDENT. Most people don’t write because they don’t live scenes!”

In the act of experiencing the fullness of each moment—the need to express that with others greatly increases.

Today, you took the time to read this blog. Would you mind telling me in a comment below one thing you are purposefully going to do today that you might remember a year from now? I would like to celebrate it with you. For more on this subject,  go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLrQ3BBs278&t=2449s

 

Suffering Well

I met a worship pastor one time that couldn’t sing. No joke. His name is Bob Sorge and he was serving as a worship pastor when he had to go have a medical procedure done. The surgeon accidently clipped his vocal cords and now he can’t sing; he can only whisper for one hour a day. After this tragedy, Bob asked God what He wanted him to do with the rest of his life. God said, “Be a worship pastor!” Bob replied, “Uh, I can’t sing anymore. We have to do something different, Lord.” To which God said, “I didn’t make a mistake when I made you a worship pastor. I also knew the difficulties you would walk through. Go be a worship pastor.” Bob went on to write many books on worship, raise up worship leaders and he “whispers” (speaks) at worship conferences. I have had the privilege of meeting him and hosting him at our church. He is a hero in the faith.

Recently, a couple of my staff and I had an opportunity to go to a conference. We enjoyed worshipping together, which was led by Bethel Church’s worship team. We were inspired by the main speakers, which included Lisa Bevere, Jimmy Evans & Choco De Jesus. But, one of the highlights for me was a breakout session one morning that was being taught by a guy I had never heard of. His name was Joel Sorge.

Joel was teaching a class on developing an environment that cultivates creativity. While that title intrigued me, I was more interested in his last name…Sorge. I kept wondering if this guy was related somehow to my hero, Bob. Joel taught for about 45 minutes of his hour-long class and then he got personal, real personal. He started talking about all the failure and disappoint that he and his wife had went through. He had everyone’s attention. And then he said something I will never forget. He said, “I have been through all this hurt and pain, but thank God, my father Bob taught us kids how to SUFFER WELL. He taught us to always complain vertically, not horizontally. You see when you complain about God to other people, it is sin. When you complain about God to God, it is worship. Read the Psalms.” Wow. When we complain about God to God, it is worship. What a statement. What a treasure. I don’t like to fail and I don’t like to suffer. But, if I have to go through it, I want to SUFFER WELL. Thank you Bob for teaching your kids this lesson. Thank you Joel for learning it! My life is enriched because of the pain you both have endured. For more on this subject go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekYgDb1fQ2E

The Art of Awareness

Ever deeply admire a trait in people that most others overlook? I deeply appreciate and admire awareness. I respect it when people are conscious of others around them and what they are doing. Likewise, I am absolutely astounded at the lack of awareness that some people demonstrate.

Recently, Tina and I were travelling out of state and were at a local grocery store. When we pulled in the parking lot, we noticed a young lad that worked for the store, collecting about 5 grocery carts. As he was wheeling them in through the front doors of the store, he suddenly stopped right in the middle of the doorway. The couple in front of us pulled up abruptly and so did we. I looked around the logjam to see what was holding him up. There was nothing and no one in the grocery cart holding area. He was apparently daydreaming. I said, “Excuse me”, to which he responded, “Oh, sorry” as he promptly moved to the side (but left the 5 carts in the doorway) and added, “let me get out of everyone’s way”. I laughingly told Tina that I was sure somewhere in the training manual it said to never physically block customers from getting into the store.

Now, this incident wasn’t a big deal and it literally inconvenienced us for a grand total of 3 seconds. But, it was the genesis for this blog because it was a glaring example of someone so self-absorbed that he lost all awareness of the others around him, not to mention his job.

One of the things I regularly say to our staff is, “You can’t fix the problem you can’t see”. If there is a perpetual problem happening in their specific ministry, the first thing I ask is; can they see it? I surmise if it happens repetitively, they cannot. And, if they can’t see the problem, they can’t fix it.

When preparing a team to go on an international ministry trip I stress the importance of cultural awareness. One of the easiest ways to honor the culture of the places we visit is it to pay attention to the way they do things, and then do it like they do. If they sit on the floor when they eat their food, then we sit on the floor while we eat our food. If they eat the bones, we eat the bones. If they kick their shoes off before entering the house, then we do the same.

Being aware of other people allows us the opportunity to anticipate their needs and to serve them. Recognizing their unique way of doing things allows us the opportunity to honor them by trying it ourselves. For more on this subject, go to https://www.newcovenantchurch.com/sermons/2018/4/23/the-names-god-calls-me

 

Taking Evil Out of Circulation

I love this time of year when all of creation springs back to life. It is the season we celebrate the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of our Savior Jesus Christ. And, while the focal point of His story is that a holy God chose to leave heaven to take our place on the cross so that we could become the Sons and daughters of God, His sacrifice did so much more.

Too many people focus only on the gift of salvation but miss out on all the other gifts his death and resurrection provided for us. For instance, we know that Jesus was severely beaten across His back. This act of “suffering stripes” did not pay for our sins, so why did He endure it? To provide divine healing for us and to fulfill the following prophecy:

Isaiah 53: 4 – 5 Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. NKJV

He came to save us…AND to heal us. He also came to deal with poverty, abuse, neglect, and so many other twisted and perverted worldly things.

We live in a day and age where people have lost the art of civility. We answer violence with more violence. We justify our hate because of the greater hate we see in someone else. We blow up people on social media, in front of unbelievers, and justify it by our Christian belief system. So, in celebration of Christ’s sacrifice, I’d like to us to consider this powerful statement made by N.T. Wright;

“God’s plan to rescue the world from evil would be put into effect by evil doing its worse to the Servant – that is, to Jesus Himself – and thereby exhausting its power…Jesus exhausted the underlying power of evil when He died under its weight, refusing to pass it on or keep it in circulation.” N.T. Wright

Wow! Jesus absorbed all that evil could throw at Him and instead of retaliating; He grasped it and fell back into hell, removing all that evil from circulation! Can you imagine how different our world would look if we chose not to pass on hate, violence, anger or fear and instead removed the accumulative amount of all that toxic junk from circulation? Our world would be better; we would be better. Let’s prayerfully take some evil out of circulation this week. For more on this subject, please got to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J03xHlJrnbI&t=2058s

 

Life Overflowing

Are you living your dream? When I was a youth pastor, I asked my students how many of their parents were truly living their dream. Out of about 50 kids, 4 raised their hands. Those four students represented two families in our church. I tell you that story because it breaks my heart when I see people struggling to get through life, not even close to living the dream they were created for.

I believe it is possible to live in such a manner that our life ends up being so full it overflows. This passage from the gospel of John describes the life Jesus intended you to have:

John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to     destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. NKJV

Jesus came to earth so that we might experience LIFE on three different levels.

With Jesus, we should be able to do the basics of life well. He teaches us to be content in all things and how to love. Living at peace and having true relationships is a great level one kind of life.

But, Jesus also promises us abundant life. That word abundant means “to exceed or be more than expected”. Jesus wants you to outlive your own expectation! Can you imagine living a life that is better than you could dream of?

And, finally Jesus offers us eternal life. Eternal life is based on a relationship with Jesus. If you have a relationship with Jesus, your eternal experience has already begun.

This quote from Julia Cameron’s bestselling book, “The Artist’s Way” sums it up;

“We have all heard that the unexamined life is not worth living, but consider too that the unlived life is not worth examining”.

We each have one life to live. Let’s live an overflowing life. For more on this go to  https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2058&v=J03xHlJrnbI 

I Have Been Smoking the Bible

The man sheepishly admitted to the jail minister that he had been doing it; He had been smoking the Bible. “You have been doing what?” the minister asked. “I’ve been tearing out pages of the Bible, rolling tobacco and other stuff in it, then smoking it,” the man confessed.

This infamous conversation took place 20 years ago.

Back in the early 1990s, the State of North Carolina went tobacco free. Cigarettes were banned in our local prison. The prisoners, always known for their inventiveness, started drying out grass, herbs, banana peels—literally anything they thought they could smoke. They would then take the pocket New Testaments that the Gideon’s brought them, tear out a page, and roll whatever they had to smoke in them. The jailers went so far as to ban Bibles from being brought in for a while because they were aiding the prisoners in breaking the smoke-free policy.

My friend, Jimmy Haynes, (the jail minister) recalled how this 20 year old conversation had fueled his passion to become a Gideon (Gideon’s place Bibles in hotels, hospitals, and jails).

The detained man went on to say, “Before I tear out the page, I read the front and the back real good. I don’t want to disrespect the “Good Book”; I just need the paper to be able to smoke. So, I read Matthew Chapter 1, two or three times, then I tore it out, rolled up some grass and smoked it. I ended up smoking all of Matthew. I then smoked all of Mark and all of Luke. But, when I got to John, John smoked me! I was reading those pages so I could roll me a cigarette and the words of the Gospel of John convicted me and I gave my life to Jesus!”

My friend Jimmy was overwhelmed with God’s goodness. This man might never have read the Bible if the State hadn’t went smoke-free. Because it did, this inmate discovered a profound truth. You can’t read His word very long until His Word starts reading you. Or, as our young inmate would say, “I smoked the Bible until it smoked me”. For more on this subject go to https://www.newcovenantchurch.com/sermons/2018/3/10/a-spiritual-awakening