Weekend Recap

This has been a great weekend! I will start on Friday. A young man stopped in to see me around 10:00 a.m. He had stopped in once before and we talked for an hour about some of his problems, God, church and God’s plan for his life.

On Friday I could tell things were not good. He explained some of the things that had happened to him, mostly bad, and kept saying God must have a plan for me since I am still here. He said something was missing in his life. He had tried to fill it with all kinds of stuff and none of it seemed to be helping.

He told me he believed in God, yet he thought there had to be more. I told him that 95% of the people in America believe in God, but a much smaller percentage have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I asked him if anyone ever showed him what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He said no, so I dove in.

I showed him on paper how we are separated from God by sin, and that no matter how many good things we do we can never fill that gap. How good is good enough to tip the scales? I then told him about God’s plan to send his son Jesus to be a perfect sacrifice for all our sins. I told him about the way they did sacrifices of animals in the old Testament and that Jesus was the last and ultimate sacrifice for us.

I showed him how Jesus filled that gap by dying on the cross and by being resurrected after three days, overcoming death and sin. I told him by believing in Jesus Christ and what he did for us and asking for forgiveness we can receive eternal life with God. Eternal life starts in this life for those that believe in Jesus Christ.

He said he wanted that and we prayed together and he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Wow, was I excited for him. I told him about some steps he can take immediately, like getting into Starting Pointe, coming to church on a regular basis and getting baptized. He is doing all three. I was floating for a while after that.

He still has some junk to work on in his life, like all of us do. But he is a new man, a new creation and his life has radically changed forever.

I saw him in church on Sunday. I am praying for him and hope to mentor this guy in the months ahead.

Later on Friday I went through the steps to Freedom in Christ with someone. That is always an amazing time as we work through the many lies people believe and build truth into them. This person was able to face some deep fears and pray for Jesus to heal those hurts and fears from the past. After our time together their was much more peace and hope in this person. This was an encounter with God, where God touched and healed. God is Good!

On Saturday morning I met with my men’s group. We had a great discussion on what it means to be a masculine Christian man. We talked about how Jesus was not a wimp and we shouldn’t be either. We talked about being the spiritual leaders in our families and homes. We talked about how our church can reach out to men and help them get connected and engaged.

Later on Saturday I officiated at a wedding for Gary Schaffer and Angel Miller. Gary is in the Marines and Angel comes to NewPoint. It was great to see these two young people with a heart for the Lord starting a new life together. I love getting to spend times with couples at their wedding. Talking with them and praying for them. I saw them in Church on Sunday as well. Congratulations to Gary & Angel.

On Sunday, I had the privilege of baptizing two people. Alice Banks and Zack Smith. They both shared great stories about how God was working in their lives and they wanted everyone to know they are Christ followers. Way to go Alice & Zack.

That is why I love this church, because lives are changing. God is moving in an amazing way and I am so thrilled to be a part of that.

Friday morning I had prayed and asked God to use me that day. I made myself available and God did the rest.

After Church on Sunday my wife and I enjoyed a great meal at our favorite restaurant, Lams.

Pretty good weekend!

What are you afraid of?

We all have fears, some more than others. As I listen to people I often hear their fears. I am afraid of roller coasters, needles, and heights. I try to avoid these things as much as possible. You see our fears keep us from doing things.

If I have a fear of rejection I will avoid getting to close to anyone so I can’t be rejected. If I have the fear of failure I will not try anything new because I don’t want to chance failing. If I have the fear of looking stupid, I won’t talk too much around people or give my opinion or pray out loud. The fear of being abandoned may cause me to cling to tightly to someone and even do and say things to avoid losing that person. What about the fear of being alone, that is similar to the fear of abandonment, but the fear of being alone can cause you to go after unhealthy relationships in order to never be alone.

So what is your core fear? We all have them. Fear keeps us from all the things God has for us. It is like the eagle that is nudging her babies out of the nest. They feel safe and secure in the nest. It is comfortable, plenty of food, no stress. But if that little baby eagle never gets out of the nest it can never fly and become the eagle God created it to be. So mom at some point will push the babies out and force them to fly.

Our fears keep us in the nest. God is always trying to nudge us out of the nest and into the Kingdom HE established. Each of us has a role to play in this beautiful creation. You can’t be all that God wants you to be by staying in the nest.

The first step is to identify your fears. Write them down, ask your friends or spouse to help you identify them. Once you identify them you can start asking God why that fear is there. You can ask God for courage to overcome that fear and face it. We always make our fears much bigger than they really are. When you face them it becomes much easier the next time.

I mentioned I am afraid of heights. The first time I tried to clean out my gutters I only made it half way down the roof on the side that is 20-30 feet high. I froze and couldn’t go any further. The next time I made it to the edge, but I was sweating and my muscles were very tense. Now I can walk up to the edge and look down without much of a problem.

Don’t let your fears keep you from the life God has in store for you. To have full life, an abundant life, you must overcome those core fears. To have healthy relationship and a healthy marriage you must overcome the fears that trigger bad behavior, reactions and words.

A great resource on identifying your fears is a book by Gary Smalley “The DNA of Relationships”. This is a must read for anyone that wants to improve their relationships.

1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

We can resolve our fears first by focusing on God’s immeasurable love for us, and then by allowing Him to love others through us. His love will quiet your fears and give you confidence.

Going Deep

This morning I was reading my devotional “When the Lights Go Out” by Graham Cooke. My friend Kevin told me about it and I got it for my men’s group. The sub title is “Surprising Growth When God Is Hidden”. What does that mean?

Cooke talks about manifestation versus hiddenness. “Manifestation is about experiencing all that God is doing. Hiddenness is about possessing the things of God through His Word by faith. During times of hiddenness, you must learn to rely on the promises that God has made to you through the Bible.”

As Christians we all have times of manifestation when we are experiencing God. We feel blessed and filled to the top with the good things of God. However we also have times of hiddenness and in those times we can slip away from God because this is not what we expected. We want God to give us a sign and tell us what to do. We don’t want to go searching in the desert. Hiddenness is not something we seek, yet God uses times of hiddenness to train us and develop us.

Cooke says “Hiddenness is where we start to process deep truth.” In other words we can hear truth, read truth and talk about truth, but to process and understand truth God hides himself, so that we seek wisdom and truth at a deeper level. The disciples did not understand much of what Jesus was teaching while he was with them. They had certain thoughts and expectations about His coming Kingdom. It wasn’t until Jesus died and was resurrected and then ascended that they got it. When they no longer had Him with them, they began to understand what He was showing them.

We don’t gain spiritual maturity by gaining more knowledge about the Bible. It comes from gaining Godly, not earthly wisdom and that comes when we learn to be with God even in hiddenness.

I sometimes hear the question about how can I go deeper spiritually? Be careful what you are asking for. A time of hiddenness may be coming. If you really want to go deeper in your walk with God then start doing what the Bible says. Are you tithing? Are you giving above the tithe? Are you serving in your local church? Are you helping others in your community? Have you fasted lately? Are you in a small group? Are you investing in a non believer? Are you investing in a believer that is not as far along as you? Have you gone on a mission trip? Have you forgiven everyone that has hurt you? Have you confessed to all the people that you have hurt? Are your relationships healthy? Is anyone holding you accountable? Are you content with what you have? Are you using your spiritual gifts for God? Are you using your painful experiences to help others that are going through a similar situation? Is your daily time with God a priority?

Going deep means getting your hands dirty. It means seeking God with all your heart even when you don’t feel His presence. It means developing internally and becoming more like Jesus in your Character. In times of hiddenness God is wanting to teach us about changing our heart toward Him.

Emotional Wounds

Most people have heard the saying that “time heals all wounds.” That simply is not true, especially for emotional wounds. As a pastor I often talk with people who are still carrying hurts from twenty to thirty years ago. The truth is, time usually makes the wound worse. When a wound is left untended it quickly becomes infected and can spread throughout the entire body. It is the same with an emotional wound. When that wound is buried and hidden the infection starts and it grows over time. This infection causes many other symptoms and problems.

Many times we try to fix the outward symptoms of anger, bitterness, guilt, jealousy, addictions, anxiety, depression and bad relationships. If you focus on these outward symptoms you never heal the wound. You may be able to mask them for a while, but they usually will return. Time only extends the pain if the original wound is not dealt with.

So, how do you deal with those wounds? On your own you cannot heal those wounds. Only Jesus Christ can heal those wounds. You will also need the help of other people as you work through the pain and open up the wound and pray for God’s healing touch. This may mean getting some professional help through counseling, spiritual help through a pastor or Christian counselor and relational help through a small group of friends to hold you accountable and encourage you.

I have helped numerous people work through steps to finding freedom from the pain of an old wound or wounds. Only the truth can set you free. Truth is the person of Jesus Christ, and only an encounter with Him can heal the deep wounds of your past.

Most of us have believed so many lies throughout our lives that we do not really know who God is or what He is like. These lies shape who we think we are, and what we think about God. With a wrong view of who God is, and who we are, it is easy to stay stuck in the feelings of hopelessness and feeling helpless.

I want to encourage you to take that first step toward freedom by facing your fears and asking Jesus to touch that wound. You may need to seek someone to help you along the way. Pray and ask God to give you direction for the help you need. God does not want you to live in bondage, but to be free and victorious.

King David was experiencing a great deal of opposition and rejection when, while hiding in a desert cave, he wrote Psalm 142. Start like David did and cry out to the Lord. God cares about you and wants you to be whole, not broken.