Friday, September 28, 2012

Dialogue {Worshiping God In Spirit And In Truth}


(John 4:13-24) 

//Jesus:  Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 
//Samaritan Woman:  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” 
//Jesus:  He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 
//Samaritan Woman:  “I have no husband,” she replied. 
//Jesus:  Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” 
//Samaritan Woman:  “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 
//Jesus:  “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

*~*~*

Is Jesus not the best teacher? Even tired and in His moment of rest Jesus gave the most profound, deep, words. Many have interpreted His words in various ways but the Lord revealed to me, as He reveals to all His children, something new (new to me anyways). The beautiful dialogue that took place between Jesus and the Samaritan woman radically changed the way we should see worship. One conversation handed us the key that we would all need to enter into a real relationship with our Father.


Nothing to do with music or singing or playing an instrument, worship has all to do with a direct connection between us and the Father—a relationship reconciled by Jesus Christ. Jesus compared the Holy Spirit to a never-ending, eternal spring here to quench our thirst. What a sweet, sweet exchange. As the Samaritan Woman willingly shared an embarrassing truth with a man that to her was a perfect stranger, Jesus was pleased with her honesty. When I read this, I felt the Holy Spirit just confirming something that I've known for a while but that I've never fully understood because it's been taken out of context: God is looking for genuine worshipers who want to hide nothing, yet give everything. These Worshipers are more than willing to lose the shame of a "what will people think" mindset. This calling is not just for guitar players or singers. Though we might express it in various ways, we are all called to worship.

When looking at a tree, each and every tree branch stems off of one giant tree trunk. A love and adoration relationship forms its trunk and the singing, playing, acting, painting, and dancing are its branches. Nonetheless, worship is worship. Jesus left us the Holy Spirit so that we wouldn't have to live a life of emptiness and constant refueling, but rather a life of constant "pouring in and pouring out." It's not a two-day thing...it's a life-long dream. Jesus made it clear that worship is not defined by location nor contained between four walls because our hearts are the secret place where true worship begins to blossom. It's time to worship God for what we do know instead of what we don't, and those truths can only be found in His word. The only way that the word will become flesh in us is if we spend time reading and meditating on it. How can we worship what we do not know? We must always remember why we thank God, why we love Him, and why we need Him. The Father wants those who will worship Him in the spirit and in truth. To do this we must be filled with His Holy Spirit and walk a genuine walk, wearing the truth on our sleeves. This is what we've been called to wholeheartedly do.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Season {Daniel Fast}


So many little and big things are changing all at once. Do you ever have any of those moments in your life when the ordinary just isn't the same? You're being drawn in deeper and deeper and deeper into something that you can't even imagine. It's about that time around here in my life and all I can do is seek God's plans and tune into His comforting voice. Exactly four days ago, on Monday, I felt God just snap His finger. I could clearly hear with my heart God saying, "It's time for a new season...get ready." If words could express my every emotion pages and pages would cover the face of the earth. I know, I know, a little too dramatic but in all sincerity I know, that I know, that God is getting ready to surprise me again and this time  my hands are going to be to small to sustain such a blessing and my cup won't even stand a chance against God's loving out pour. When these moments come we have two choices: either embrace them with open arms or run away and miss out on God's purpose. I choose the first one. 

So again, four days ago I began the Daniel fast, just seeking God's perfect direction. It's almost like I reached that crossroad and realized that taking another step is useless without God's sweet, sweet presence and guidance. I've dealt with being stripped of all that I held near and dear but this, this is different: I'm looking for true worship and communion that no human can ever take away. A beautiful relationship. I want more and more of God each day, hour, and second. So far, the fast has been going great because I feel the Lord's strength, otherwise this would not be possible. These past four days I have embraced fruits and veggies and now call them friends. Thank God for our local Farmers market and my 1.5 liter water bottle is not too shabby either. The plan is to do a 21 day fast with prayer and word as my true food source. Some might view a fast as torturous, I know I used to. I would bring up any emotion or medical excuse to why this was illogical (apparently I thought myself more brilliant than God at 13). Ever since I fell in love with Jesus all my inhibitions and doubts went down the toilet because I would follow Him with eyes wide open anywhere. The truth opens your eyes, it does not bind you and blind you more and more. Why would the devil want the children of God to fast and pray? The result is excuse after excuse. But in all honesty when God calls us to do something He provides us with the strength to overcome all obstacles. I'm a full-time student and still have the energy to walk to and fro from my classes and then exercise every night. I give all the glory to God for this. Medically this is impossible but with God all things are possible. I don't care what the world frowns upon because I am not of this world. Because we are here for a purpose we have to strengthen and feed our "spirit man" so that we have the faith and conviction needed to move mountains, love one another, forgive, and rejoice. It's possible my friends and if God is tugging at your heartstrings then fall into His arms with eyes wide open. I just wanted to share with you all a little of what's been going on in my personal life. Hopefully this'll inspire somebody out there to know, I mean really know, that we can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us.

(Daniel 1:17) God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Among The Living


When we hear God calling will we respond? When He says, "I want more," will we give it to Him? As His love rains down to us what wholehearted worship will we offer up to our Father who is worthy and mighty to be praised?

(Romans 12:1) Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Because Christ is amongst the living, our worship should be a living and breathing sacrifice. A song does not have life nor does a painting but we do. It makes sense. How can we honor the living God? with life! We are the worship that God desires and longs for. Everything else is a passionate way of expressing to God and others the magnificence and glory of our God but we have to present ourselves before Him first.

God has sent the call out before but some have slept, while others have risen from the dead. He's making the call once again saying, " I want you. A relationship with you I seek...come to me." The Lord wants to overtake our hearts and bring us to a deeper devotion, a wider relationship, and a higher revelation. If our living and breathing bodies are our sacrifice to God then what are we offering Him? Anger? Sadness? Bitterness? Frustration? Burn out? Or is it Love? Compassion? Mercy? Joy? Faithfulness? Whatever it is that we're bringing Him should be given at every waking moment. Of course we'll have trouble with this and that is why we have Jesus, but are we going to try again, and again, and again, or are we going to offer whatever we have left? When there is no constant overflow from our relationship with God we just dry up and burn out. If our God is among the living then we better be among the living. At church our words represent our Father. At school our hard work represents our Father. In the quiet of our rooms when the door is shut we represent our Father. When we watch T.V or go to the Movies and watch a film, there we represent our Father. If you were to add up all of the things you do daily who would the people around you see as your Father? Who would you be a reflection of?



God? Or the devil...?


We have to live in Spirit and in Truth to worship God in Spirit and in Truth.
They are one in the same.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

To Read or Not To Read—That Is The Question



Gasp! What to do when you have to choose between what you know you should do and what you know you have to do? As Christians we are faced with this in our public school setting, with friends, and maybe even with family members. We find ourselves at a crossroads.
This past week I faced my own trying moment as I had to choose between reading an assigned book for my English Lit. class or walking away by not doing the work and S.N.ing (Spark Noting) it all to oblivion. Knowing right from wrong I decided to do the most logical and appropriate thing‒Pray. My professor assigned our first reading, Flannery O'Connor's book, "Wise Blood." Not before long I began to notice that this "easy read" wasn't going to be so easy because it went against all that I believed in speaking every horrible thing one can think of to call Jesus. It's a very dark piece that I would never recommend any Christian to read because you will literally get a headache after a few pages...one's spirit just can't take so much. Once I started noticing these issues I began to just pray for God to give me the strength to just do this and represent Him in the process. We will have to face difficulties in which we must choose but what I have to say is this: just because you don't like what you're reading doesn't give you the right to walk away because where would our testimony lie then? It's so easy to run away from the world to escape sin but we're really running from what lies within us. Our foundation must be well secured in Christ Jesus because if it isn't we will easily be shaken. The word of God tells us not to conform to this school but never does it say to get away from it because we have been sent here for a purpose. When you face these sorts of things my advice to you would be to pray, pray, and then pray some more. But ultimately what the Lord showed me was that I have to obey my professor and do what he says but not act in the ways that the rest of my classmates act. I've met some great people but yes some do cuss and others do blow off assignments, but does this mean I should escape and flee to the middle of nowhere? No. Jesus wouldn't and didn't do that. By His testimony and His message of truth lives were changed. (Romans 13:1-3) Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. It's almost like there's this constant fear in us to not do anything wrong and from respecting the Lord we go to being terrified of Him.  We've got to strive to do what is right but we can't live in terror and condemnation. This is not the kind of relationship that God wants to have with us because His perfect love casts out all fear. Like His word says, if we are afraid then we have not been made whole by His love because we live thinking that we are going to be punished at any moment. I read "Wise Blood" up to where I had to in order to get enough information for the essay that I had to write in class. Had I not read this book, what sort of opinion could I have given? How would I have represented my God? I could have dropped the class or simply failed my exam by not taking it but that would have impeded the over all purpose that God has for my life. There are things that we have to do that we won't want to do. Are we going to run away like Jonah, or are we going to confront our giants like David? The only way to know what God wants us to do is by asking Him. There are times in everything, meaning that sometimes God will give us the green light and other times He won't because He knows what He's doing. How will we know the difference? (John 10:3-5) The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”

In order to move in God's perfect timing, to know when God wants us to do something, and recognize when He doesn't we must do three important things:


       1). Recognize Jesus' voice
       2). Follow only His voice
       3). Know His voice

This means that we've Got to have a close, intimate, relationship with God so that we can hear his voice constantly, listen to the Holy Spirit's guidance, and then obey. Like Kari Jobe and many other wise pastors have said, "We can only recognize a voice that we've heard more than once." We've got to spend time with God.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

May The Painting Reflect The Painter

(Psalm 8:3-4) When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?

When God created us were were like clay, a motionless glob in need of shaping. We needed a master and God longed to construct a fine masterpiece. The skies were like a blank canvas crying out for a way out of darkness. One breath, one brush stroke, one movement and we came to be. Our craftsman labored joyfully and smiled at the sight of us as He made us in the secret place. Each brush stroke brought life.

Like any artist, God has a special connection to each of His masterpieces because to Him they are perfect and one of a kind. To lose such an intimate relationship would hurt Him because He labored and toiled, cried and laughed, imagined and brought life. His pencil drew and His finger touched each soul.

*~*~*~*~*

Each and every one of us was created with passion and love by the hands of God. He enjoyed turning on the biggest lamp in the world to see our faces. Placing His purpose in our hearts, He knit us together. It's about time we recognize Him who loved us first. We were not created to be invisible or overlooked. How long must we hide our lamp beneath our bed? The hour has come for the children of God to wake up from our slumber and shine in our schools, church, and daily lives. It's not  just about shouting the name of Jesus everywhere we go, but about showing the proof of His love in all that we say and do. We can not preach forgiveness when we hold grudges against those who have deeply hurt us. Shine by "loving like you've never been hurt," and by living each day with this amazing mindset: I have Jesus and I get all these things too? Wow! Just like God has given us life we must give life to others...we can only give what we have. Don't have? With all my heart I say, ask and you shall surely receive  Start painting life. Let your life reflect the artist who created you. Hold tight to the word of God and start leaving trails of light everywhere you go. May those who see you see what God intended them to see.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Oh Dear. Pride.


(Proverbs 11:2) When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

A brick wall that separates us from home, a bolder blocking the pathway, a raging sea separating a sailboat from shore—all of these things can be compared to pride. One thing's for sure though and that is that pride will never bring us anything good. It's the reason why we can't fully express ourselves, the reason why worshipers go sour, and the reason why a worship team can never come to be one. Pride. Even the utterance of this word sounds beguiling and intense.

Pridea high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.

*~*~*


In our personal and quiet lives as worshipers this can become a barrier between us and God, constructed by our own inhibitions. This state of mind will not permit us to connect with God because our eyes become fixed on our own splendor when they should be fixed on God's glory. Thinking highly of what we can do is meaningless in the things of God because our sole purpose as Christians is to recognize what He can do and what we can't do. Suddenly we get compliments, start living better than before, or maybe get accepted into one of the best Universities and leave God out. We forget who took us by the hand and guided our every step. Where's God? Where have we placed Him? He is the one and only deserving of all the glory and recognition. Just like pride affects our personal relationship with God it also has horrible consequences in our churches. Once there is a prideful spirit roaming around our time of fellowship all will go wrong because it divides friend against friend and neighbor against neighbor. Specifically talking to the Praise and Worship teams of churches I say with all my heart, leave pride out of your worship because it will soil even the prettiest song. What you feel you project and you can only give to others what you have. If that's a big bowl of pride then that will only bind up those who are free and entertain those who are not. God does not delight himself in a pretty song because anyone can sing; God lives in Worship that is presented to Him in spirit and in truth. It's got to be all about Him and nothing about looking at us. If you've seen this at your church then you know what I'm talking about. Singers, instrument players, ministers, dancers, people of the congregation, pride has got to get out of our churches because the whole "look-at-me" act is keeping us from God. If we want to see His glory then we've got to stop exhibiting ours.

How to Know if We're Full of Hot Air...


Suddenly no amount of praise will fill us. When pride takes over there'll be no more room for God and our relationship with Him will get devalued. We will replace our first love for an idol because without knowing it we will have become our own God. Pride causes us to say, "You know what God, thanks but I can do this! I'll call you if I need you but I'm doing really good right now." Our attitude will change and suddenly the words coming out of our mouths will even surprise us because we'll be unrecognizable. This path is surely one that we do not want to take because we are not alone in this life and if we have anything, anything at all, it's because God made it so. The glory and the honor...those belong to God.

How to Keep Both Feet On The Ground...


If we are humble always, in every situation God will be the one to lift us up. This is not to say that we can not accept a compliment but we must always, always, always give the glory to God and care more about putting His name in lights. We must never forget our first love and we must always remind ourselves of the moment in which we were saved by grace. It's always and forever got to be about Jesus. If our relationship with God remains first then pride will not stand a chance against such a burning flame.




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