Sunday, February 28, 2016

There Were Giants In Those Days...

I read a Christian blog this week & in it, the blogger kept referring to the Church of the Living God as "the sleeping giant"; that was his perception & so he wrote from that. The blog was hard get through & the more I read it, the more I felt the spirit of slap coming on me; I honestly wanted to reach through the blog & slap the blogger, all in Christian love of course...

When I was growing up, there was a saying on my folk's fridge that I'll never forget:

"How you see Him is how you serve Him"

This blogger called the Church as he saw it = sleeping, vulnerable, weak, ineffective, basically doing nothing. I could understand where he was coming from & why he blogged what he blogged:
  • Where are the movers & shakers? 
  • Where are the signs & wonders?
  • Where are the greater works Jesus talked of?

At this point, many would just settle for the same works He did...

I say all that to say this: this not how I see the Church or really, how the Church should see itself. If we're really preaching, living & demonstrating the Kingdom, if Jesus is truly building His Church, His Ekklesia, then who are we, in our limited sight, to call it something other than awake, alive, strong, effective, beautiful & perfect?

When the spies came back from scouting the Promised Land, all 12 saw the giants: 10 of them saw themselves as grasshoppers in their sight, the other two saw themselves as giant killers. Perception is huge, how you see what you see can paralyze or propel you.

As long as [some] people continue to see the Church of the Living God as a sleeping giant, they'll never truly be the movers & shakers, they'll never truly enter into the realm of signs & wonders.

Folks, things are happening, that which can be shaken is being shaken, many are being saved, discipled & equipped; many are being delivered, healed & restored. The Church of the Living God is alive, active & vibrant in the world today; whether you see it or not, whether you believe it or not.   

Someday we'll look back & say, "there were giants in those days & their names were 'Perception'."

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Saturday Reverie 2.27.2016

This was actually a pretty good week, despite the fact that I burned my hand; all I can say is there was a malfunctioning burner & some very hot oil involved. It stung for hours & there's some scarring but I think I'll live, I've had worse.

The weather this week ran the spectrum, warm & clear morphing into to a blizzard, but I really learned to slow down & appreciate some things:
  • a quiet sunrise on a cool February morning w/ a hot cup of coffee in your hand…
  • the aroma, taste & crunch of rye toast w/ apricot jam…
  • the comfort & warmth of a crackling fire during a blizzard…
  • waking up at 3 am to find God smiling at you & resting in that love that only He brings…

This week was kind of unusual in the fact that I barely had any kind of devotions, I just meditated on some truths in Scripture & meditated on the Lord. It was enough, it was more than enough.

I think I have Spring fever because I've been on a cleaning & organizing binge, everything from my computer desk & setup to clothes has been hit or soon will be. My desk is very cluttered but not unorganized, I know where everything is but feel the need to simplify, in fact I've recently gone retro for some things:



This is my old HP IPAQ pda, 'turned off the wifi & therefore there's no e-mail notifications to distract me; I have complete focus, Some people use this setup w/ their cell phone & bluetooth but I would hate to be in the middle of typing & have to answer my phone...  

My lap guitar received a lot of lovin' this week & I'm getting more used to it, hopefully I'll post a sample soon of some songs I've been working on.

Lastly, I've decided to give bullet journaling a try. I've been doing something similar like that for years but never consolidated anything into one notebook so we'll see how it goes!

So that was my week: appreciation, simplification, organization.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Great Expectations

I'm an avid reader, not voracious like some people are, but I do like to read & I have the humble beginnings of a library, both hardcovers & ebooks. I had once thought about buying a Kindle but decided against it as I already have Mobipocket on my old pocket pc. I've downloaded several ebooks in the public domain & this past Winter I've been rekindling (no pun intended) my love of reading & catching up on some books in my e-library.

When I was young, I always loved mysteries; especially the old black & white movies of Sherlock Holmes, Philo Vance & Charlie Chan, as I grew older I watched anything mystery-related: Ellery Queen, Miss Marple, Lord Peter Wimsey, Nero Wolfe & Poirot; I loved them all.



Well, I decided to start w/ the very first Charlie Chan novel, "The House Without a Key" & I dove in w/ enthusiasm, my mind already salivating w/ the idea of reading one of my favorite detectives fresh & anew. 

I had a hard time finishing it.



So, I then moved onto the first Philo Vance novel, "The Benson Murder Case", again thinking it would be a hardcover version of the screen classics I loved to watch. It was slow, plodding & wordy, quite the arduous read it was.

I couldn't finish it.

Perhaps my expectations were too high; perhaps I was expecting the source material to be more like the adaptations than vice versa, perhaps I should not have locked into any kind of mindset before diving in & that's why I was disappointed...

There's a parallel between this & our personal Bible devotions; sometimes we have something that we grew up w/, whether that be a mindset or a teaching or even a version of the Bible that we read & prefer, but then we go to the source material, 'really dig into the Hebrew, Aramaic  & Greek in context, only to find out that it may be completely different than what we've been used to & are comfortable w/.

My niece explained it nicely, “any version of the Bible, other than in it's original language, is always an interpretation of the original text”.

Is it close? For the most part... pretty much... maybe... but sometimes words are substituted for the original & it takes on a whole new meaning:

“Thou shall not kill” actually reads “Do not murder” = a world of difference.

There are many, many more substitutions of words & rewording of phrases that have really caused me to change my mindset & approach to life. I grew up w/ a lot of different things being poured into me: some good & accurate teachings of Scripture & some not so good & inaccurate teachings...

But like the difference between the Charlie Chan movies & the Charlie Chan books, I have to go back & honor the original, source material & use that as my basis, not the interpretations thereof. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Ahhh Grace... Part I

Ahhh Grace... that mysterious word; you've heard some of the sayings: 
  • “we're under Grace, not Law”
  • “Greasy Grace”
  • “Grace gives you a license to sin” (to quote Andrew Wommack, “people are sinning without a license!”)
  • “anything goes” 

But what is it really & more importantly, what does it mean to me?

The Law was all about me & what I had to do; Grace is all about what Christ did & me simply resting in His finished work on the Cross.

To me, Grace is freedom; not freedom to sin & do whatever I want, but the freedom & enabling to live (really live, abundantly live) a holier life than I ever could before. It's freedom from the Law (which, by the way, I'm dead to) & all the rules & regulations (which, by the way, were nailed to Cross of Christ).

People view things differently: 

If someone reads their Bible (or prays) religiously for an hour everyday some people call that being disciplined while others call it being legalistic. Grace to me is read what you're led to read, when you're led to read it... ponder it... don't just read something because it's on your list & you need to check it off... & pray without ceasing (keeping an attitude/posture of prayer).

If a church service is structured w/ the worship first, offering & announcements next, then the sermon/message (& no one would ever think of deviating from that 'perfect' format), some people view that as “decent & in order” while to me, Grace says “where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom”; freedom to shake things up a bit & be obedient if you're led to do it another way or in a different order. 

If someone tithes w/ the fear of being cursed if they don't (by the way, Jesus redeemed us from the curse & He Himself said tithing is a matter of the Law) or they give freely “as long as it's at least 10 percent!”, then some view that as being legalistic; once again putting a condition on your giving while to me, Grace says percent is not the issue, your giving is a heart issue but realize that you reap what you sow.

Grace to me is a game-changer & I for one will take it over the Law any day. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Saturday Reverie 2.20.2016

reverie = a state of fanciful musing or dreamy meditation…

What a week, very roller coaster = up & down & all over the place. My insomnia kicked in again, some nights I'd go to bed at 10 & wake up at midnight, then be up for another 20 hours or so. Other times I'd toss & turn until 5 am & then get up at 6, it was just rough & this happened the entire week. Needless to say my energy level was nowhere to be found… however, I did resolve to be productive when I was awake, whenever that was so it wasn't a total loss.

'Not sure what the cause of my insomnia is, perhaps I just have a lot on my mind & it's getting to me; usually I just put everything into God's hands & sleep fairly well but this time, things are rolling around, I'm restless... 

I've been trying to read a classic novel & also watch a classic movie once a month; the movie Gone w/ the Wind was a bust & this week I picked up the novel Mutiny on the Bounty. I just couldn't get into it, not one little bit. It was so bloody boring I lost interest halfway into the first chapter.

During the times I was awake & somewhat coherent, I was practicing my scales on the guitar. I've been playing for almost 30 years now & I still practice, it's vital to frequently go back to basics & make sure that your foundation is sure.



My wrist was hurting again this week, the pain started flaring up last Summer; I speak to the pain & it feels much better, but w/ all my practicing it's hurting again, so not sure what to do… I did dust off one of my old electric guitars that I had set up as a lap steel; I tuned it to open E Minor & bam! It clicked. It was groovy. Now I know the lap steel is known for Hawaiian, Country & Blues but it is used in Rock & sitting on my lap, it really helps my wrist as it keeps it level & there's minimal strain, so now I'm rediscovering it & fairly excited.

By the way, here's my music website: www.reverbnation.com/papratt

Well, that's it; lack of sleep + over practice + rediscovery = quite a ride.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Coterie Perplexity

coterie = a group of people who associate closely, an exclusive group, clique

I'm going to say something that might be a little controversial and/or taken the wrong way, but hear me out before you judge me or write me off:

Sometimes, just sometimes, I wish the Body of Christ was more like the world.

As some of you know, I have a few recreational hobbies, golf being the newest addition to the things that want my time, but there's two activities that I've always enjoyed: billiards & cards.



There's several types of billiard games & no one game is superior to any other, they seem to coexist peacefully. Those who like to play 8-ball don't deride those who prefer 7-ball, 9-ball, Snooker, Bar Billiards or Bumper Pool (well, Bumper Pool is underestimated & unappreciated but that's a whole other blog). I myself prefer Straight Pool, it's been around since the 19th Century & it was the game to play up until 9-ball came along & usurped it. On the whole though, those who like billiards like others who like billiards, it's community based on a common love for cue sports.



As for cards, there's enough variations for everyone on the planet. Some people prefer Hearts, others Spades, Gin Rummy, Bridge, Black Jack, Texas Hold'em, etc. I prefer 7 Card Stud myself; it has a rich American history & the game is very challenging. In the world of cards, no one judges anyone else on their game of choice, there's an unspoken love & bond in the card playing community.

In the Church however, well… that's a different story. Each denomination usually eyes the others w/ suspicion, distrust & a superior attitude. The Baptists look down on the Episcopalians who look down the Lutherans who look down the Methodists who look down on the Catholics who usually look down on everyone who is not Catholic. Each one believes they have the correct view of doctrine & therefore has a hard time even considering the whole fellowship thing w/ other Christians who may not believe exactly what they do.

Billiards players like other billiard players. 
Card players like other card players.



Unlike the billiard & card player community, in the Church it often appears there's little love for others  & especially other Christians who don't like or play the same game as you do. 

It's in this sense I wish that sometimes, just sometimes, the Body of Christ was more like the world...

Thursday, February 18, 2016

You've Already Got It: Takeaway #4

This is another takeaway from grace teacher Andrew Wommack's book 
You've Already Got It (So Quit Trying To Get It)”

Takeaway # 4: Glory

Most people imagine the glory of God as being far off = gates of pearl, streets of gold, mansions, etc; however Ephesians 1:18 reveals that the riches of the glory of God's inheritance is in the saints. What's in heaven pales in comparison to what's already inside of you!

God's glory is in your born-again spirit, not in your body or soul! You must see who you are & what you have in the spirit realm through God's Word & then believe it by faith. God's glory is already inside your spirit.

If you focus your attention on who you are & what you have in Christ, recognizing that it's a done deal & that the glory you'll experience throughout all eternity is already inside you, you'd start enjoying victory. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

You've Already Got it: Takeaway #3

Takeaway #3: Wisdom & Revelation

In Ephesians 1:15-17 we find out something: Paul didn't pray for God to do something new, He prayed that the Father of glory would give unto them the spirit of wisdom & revelation in the knowledge of Him. 

In other words, this wisdom & revelation that Paul was praying for has already been given to every Believer. He prayed that, “By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones)”

You don't need God to do something new. What you need is to see & understand what He's already done!

As a born-again Believer:
  • You are more than a conqueror through Christ (Rom 8:37)
  • You have already been transformed from sinful, unrighteous & unholy to righteous & holy in Him (2 Cor 5:17, 21; Eph 4:24)
  • You were delivered out of the kingdom of darkness & translated into the Kingdom of light (Col 1:13)

The same: 
  • power (Eph 1:19-20), 
  • life (Gal 2:20), 
  • wisdom (1 Cor 1:30), 
  • victory (1 Cor 15:57), 
  • anointing (1 John 2:20) 
  • faith (Gal 2:20) 

That Jesus had now resides in you. You don't need more of anything!

You just need a revelation of what you already have; that's what Paul was praying: that you would have a full revelation of your potential in Christ.  

  

You've Already Got It: Takeaway #2

Takeaway #2: Revival

Revival doesn't come by begging the Lord to pour out His Spirit. Neither does it come by pleading w/ Him to move & do a new thing. Revival comes by starting to believe what God has already done & beginning to walk in His dynamic, supernatural life.

Jesus didn't come asking God to pour out His Spirit. After being filled w/ the Holy Ghost, He simply dipped in, drew out, released & gave of the Spirit to people. Everything we'd call “revival” happened in Christ's ministry, but not through begging & pleading w/ God to do something. Jesus simply did what His Father had told Him to do.

Yes, we need revival in our land, but how does that come? By recruiting another million Christians to pray, agree & fast one day a week asking God for it? No! Revival comes when we seek the Lord wholeheartedly & begin to believe, draw out & flow in what He's already done.

If you catch on fire for God, people will come & watch you burn!

I agree w/ Andrew on this: just be obedient, don't just pray for people, pray w/ them... walk in the authority you've been given... once people witness healing & deliverance you'll have “revival”, you'll see people becoming more passionate about the things of God, you'll see people becoming more Kingdom-minded... you'll see Believers going on the offensive... once people see Jesus, everything changes... once they catch a revelation of grace, everything changes...

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Defrayal Equivalency

defrayal = payment of some or all charges or expenses



I was on a Christian Worship forum recently & the hot topic was whether or not Church musicians should be paid. Over the last 30 years I've heard passionate arguments on both sides of this:

The “Worthy Workman/Muzzling the Ox” Camp: 

Pay them! In the world no one works for free, they're compensated, why does the Church expect free labor? (Inside this camp it's split down the middle between those who think that only applies to the pastor while others think it applies to all who minister, even those in song & music ministry)

The “Hireling/Servant's Heart” Camp: 

If they accept money then they don't have a true servant's heart, they don't truly care about the flock & are a hireling (in the broadest sense), their motives are suspect, serving for free keeps them honest & accountable, etc.

Paying in-house musicians is the ideal (after all, the worship team usually shares up to half the platform/ministry time w/ the pastor/speaker, so integrity, character & relationship are vitally important) but like most fellowships, it's just not feasible.

Then where does this verse come in? “Those who preach the gospel should earn a living by it”. I've heard this used in defense of paying pastors but not in paying anyone else. If people really, truly believed this verse then evangelists would be the highest paid people in the global Church.

I once saw a video on Youtube of a pastor vehemently stating that they would never pay their musicians as it's an honor to play before the Lord yet he defended his paycheck.

Yes, it's an honor to play before the Lord.
It's also an honor to shepherd the people.
It's also an honor to share the gospel.
It's also an honor to teach & equip the saints.


Before I retired from worship ministry, I was never paid one red cent or compensated for strings, effects pedals, gas back & forth to multiple practices, hours learning songs... it was just expected that I (& others on the team) worked a full-time job & served voluntarily & joyfully.

As a rule, the Church has no problem paying a plumber, electrician or carpenter for their skills. Even in my last two fellowships the janitor was paid (& paid very well) while the worship team was not; that speaks volumes there...

  • So, should you pay everyone or pay no one?
  • Should you muzzle the ox regardless of where the ox is treading out grain?
  • Who defines & determines that?

Thoughts?

A Better Way To Pray: Takeaway #3

Takeaway # 3: Back to Basics

What would be left of most Christian's prayer lives if the following were subtracted?

  • repenting for sin
  • asking for things
  • intercession

Adam & Eve didn't pray for any of those things; they had: 

  • no one to intercede for 
  • no demons to cast out
  • no kingdoms to tear down
  • no petitions (clothes, food, houses, jobs)

Yet they met w/ God every evening & communed w/ Him. Their conversations w/ God had nothing in them concerning any of the following:

  • sin
  • lack/need
  • problems
  • repenting
  • begging
  • pleading

Prayer becomes religious when you try to use it for something God never intended.

Don't fool yourself into thinking you'll be heard by praying long periods of time or using certain words to petition Him again & again & again. The Lord made it very clear that isn't what prayer is (Matthew 6:7). 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Valentine Anomaly

Well, today is Valentine's Day 2016.

Oh joy.

Now, don't get me wrong; I'm very happy for all those who have someone to love, I'm sure it's a wonderful thing to share your life, love, affection, dreams & all that jazz w/ someone.

I have never had a valentine on Valentine's Day, ever. Yes, I've dated & gone on dates in my life but somehow never managed to keep anyone's interest for longer than a week.

All my life I've heard that as soon as you give up, stop looking, commit it to the Lord, etc that it just happens, then God brings you someone. Well, that's not entirely true… I gave up several hundred years ago & I'm still alone. 

It's tough. It's tough watching friends & family marry, become parents & then grandparents. It's tough when you can't find someone who believes like you do, someone who has caught a revelation of grace & walks in that. It's tough knowing that there's 6 billion people in the world & you're still alone. It's tough feeling that God has forgotten about you though you know deep down He really hasn't & never will. 

Valentine's Day used to be the most bitter day for me but I've learned to handle it; some years I'm better at handling it than others. Today I'm a little cranky though, a little on edge… 

I've heard all the sayings from well-intentioned people, “be patient… God's timing, not yours… she's not ready yet…”. I've read all the blogs & articles on “Jesus, my true Valentine… Jesus, my One true love…”. I've even heard a couple of people say that I'm a great example of contentment & purity in the Body of Christ. How wonderful. Those are all great but to me they sound like Charlie Brown's teachers, “wah wah… wah, wah, wah...”.

In all reality, I am content. I am happy. I'm still alone & at times get lonely.

However, I am complete in Christ. I have complete freedom in Christ. I know who I am in Him. His grace is sufficient; His grace is more than enough...

If you have someone, celebrate this day.
If you have no one, tolerate it.
Things may or may not change tomorrow but God & His love for you never changes.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Saturday Reverie 2.13.2016

This will be a short recap of my week because... well... it felt like a short week.

More & more I'm learning to rest & relax in God, 'thank Him for who He is, for what He's done & provided. Sometimes those seasons are the best way to grow in the Lord...



This week I watched 1968's “Bullitt” w/ Steve McQueen, what a great movie, I highly recommend it. In the movie, Steve McQueen was the epitome of calm & cool; he had the chance to punch out several people but he practiced self-control. It reminded me of Proverbs 29:11, “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back”. 

Lesson learned.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Participation Aspiration

I don't take Communion too often; in fact I can't even remember the last time I took Communion… some people would think that's a bad thing, a very bad thing. 

I'm not against Communion, in fact I like it; at least the description of it I read about in the New Testament. I did some research on the Early Church & discovered that Communion was actually called a Love Feast & it was festive. I imagine it was a complete meal w/ all the “fixins” (pardon my Southern roots slippin' through), wine & laughter & fellowship.

From what I gather, some people were coming early & hoarding all the food, not sharing it w/ others, getting drunk, etc, hence Paul's admonition not to “partake unworthily”. That's kind of a far cry from what Communion has become now as a solemn event complete w/ introspection, a cracker & a shot glass of Welches… that sounds like buckets of fun.

Note to self: develop a universally recognized sarcasm font.

In the OT when the sacrifice (any sacrifice) was brought to the priest, he didn't inspect the person bringing the sacrifice, he inspected the sacrifice itself & if it was perfect, it was accepted. Never once is it recorded that the priest inspected the person or asked them to be introspective; the focus was always on the sacrifice.

Modern day Communion has, for the most part, taken it's focus off of the perfect sacrifice in the person of Jesus & made it all about introspection, lest you “partake unworthily”. These are just a couple of the reasons that I really don't care for Communion in the modern/institutional/traditional church setting. 

I'm tired of seeing Communion conducted as a funeral dirge.  
I'm tired of stale crackers & old grape juice. 
I'm tired of solemn rituals when remembering Jesus.

I want to celebrate Jesus! 
I want to celebrate His sacrifice, His death, His resurrection & His life in me! 
Jesus counted it all joy & so should we!

I would love to see table after table of fresh bread, cheese, fruit, wine and/or grape juice in tall glasses, all “the fixins” spread out for Believers to enjoy. 
I would love to see people feasting on the Lord, tasting of Him & seeing that He is good, really good.
I would love to hear laughter during Communion,  to hear some music that rocks the house & shakes Heaven w/ our worship.

Heaven is a place of both reverence & celebration; those don't have to be on opposite sides of the spectrum. Remember the phrase “on earth as it is in Heaven”? Heaven is festive.

For me, all I want is an All-You-Can-Eat Super-sized Communion Happy Meal & you know what? I believe God wants that too (at least once in a while).

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Personal Log 2.6.2016

I'm really not sure what's going on w/ social media (as a whole) lately...

Facebook has implemented some algorithms that, in reality, defeat the purpose of having a FB Artist Page. Where you used to reach 300 people you now reach 3 or 4 so what's the point?

Google+ redesigned itself for the umpteenth time; it's slightly more mobile friendly but a little more confusing to use, especially for those friends of mine that I've been trying to get onboard & at least check it out as it is interest-centric & to me Hangouts was/is it's best feature. G+ really is the best of FB & Twitter combined but changes are turning people off & away.

Speaking of Twitter, they're also implementing a new algorithm to make it more like FB, why? Twitter was pretty much perfect the way it was because it WASN'T Facebook. The new algorithm may be opt-in for now but who knows when it becomes the new default? I like tweets in real time, I like to choose what & who I want to see in my timeline NOT have it chosen for me.

Linkedin revamped itself & it's pretty much imploded... Twitter is self-destructing... I'm almost half-tempted to go back to envelops & stamps then inform everyone if they want to keep in touch mail me a letter.

Just... leave... things... alone...

Friday, February 5, 2016

Saturday Reverie 2.6.2016

I can't tell you much about what happened this week because, to be honest, it was pretty much a blur; it went by so fast I can barely remember it but here goes:

Apparently I had a sinus infection, my entire nose was sore to the touch & it felt like I had a beach towel shoved up it. 'Not sure where I picked it up from but I was miserable… anyway, I was reading about the authority of the Believer the week before so I said to myself, “Self, don't be a hypocrite, practice what you preach” so I took authority & spoke directly to it, cursed all infection & inflammation in the name of Jesus & commanded healing to manifest. Well, within 24 hours the soreness was 90% gone & my passages were mostly clear. Needless to say, my faith was built up this week.

In other news…. 



I watched a classic movie that I've always been curious about but was never really that interested in seeing before but since I was kinda sick for a day or two, I decided to watch 1939's allegedly epic Gone With The Wind. All I can say was for 4 hours I was epic-ally bored so I renamed it Bored With The Film.




When I was a kid, most every Saturday night my brothers & I would play Michigan Rummy until all hours of the morning. If you're unfamiliar w/ it, it's a part-poker/part-rummy card game. Well, lately we've somewhat resurrected that on a grander scale w/ a new generation of Pratts; they're really digging it & so are we. 

That was my week: my faith was built up, I was bored to tears & a tradition continues ~

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Andy Griffith Show Devotional: The Clubmen



I'm sure we've all seen this episode of The Andy Griffith Show but for those who haven't, here's the breakdown:
  • Andy goes fishing w/ a friend from the big city
  • The friend invites Andy to visit the Esquire Club
  • Andy brings Barney along to check the club out
  • The Clubmen were impressed w/ Andy but not w/ Barney
  • Andy declines membership but still maintains all the friendships

That's basically the gist of the episode, it's one of the funniest of the series yet teaches a very powerful lesson on cliques, acceptance & valuing friendships.

How many times have we seen this exact same scenario played out in the Church? I know I have & recently too. People invite people that they think would make a good fit in their club fellowship. Those people know people they want to bring but “those people” are often not clean up but messed up & many church members just can't handle that. They've worked hard to create an image, an atmosphere, a culture & anything that could potentially disrupt or threaten that image is discouraged. Some only socialize w/ people from their fellowship or faith.

Questions:
  • Would you be willing to value a friendship over a fellowship?
  • If a fellowship wanted you but not your friends, what would you do?
  • If you're a part of a fellowship, would you honestly be willing to accept friends of friends even if they're not considered “a good fit”?
  • Is acceptance by people important to you?
  • Everyone has their circle of friends (some friends being closer than others) but has your circle become a clique = exclusive?

The great thing about Andy was that he valued his friendship w/ Barney above all else; that was the most important thing to him. 

Other takeaways from Andy:
  • He was secure in who he was
  • He was open to new relationships & friendships but not at the expense of his existing ones
  • He accepted Barney for who he was
  • He spared Barney's feelings as to the truth of who was really rejected

Jesus hung out w/ sinners... He said, "Come unto Me ALL (not some)..." but overall “The Clubmen” is a fantastic episode, one w/ major life lessons, especially for those of the household of faith...

What did you learn from it?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Choices

This is my most popular pin on Pinterest:

Proverbs 18:21 
“Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit - you choose”



This particular pin from Proverbs has somehow resonated w/ people. At the time of this writing, it now has over 1,344 pins; that may not seem like a big deal to you but to someone who gets an occasional pin or two, this is something.

Now, I could sit here all day & ponder as to why this pin is so popular but perhaps it's simply that people are finally seeing the importance & power of words.

Perhaps all their life they've been torn down...
Perhaps all their life they've never been encouraged...
Perhaps they've been told how bad or dirty they are...
Perhaps they've been told how stupid they are...
Perhaps they've always heard negativity & death spoken... 
Perhaps they've had their hopes & dreams constantly dashed...

Words are powerful.
Words have creative power.
Words created this world.
Words can create your world.
Words can shape people's lives.
Words can change a person's destiny.
Words can wound.
Words can heal.
Words can kill.
Words can give life.
Words can give hope.
Words are either poison or fruit.

You choose ~

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Epicurean Dichotomy

A pastor friend was candidating at a local fellowship recently & I sat in on the Q & A after the service. Some of the questions were what you would have expected: “What's your vision for growing the fellowship? In what ways are you hoping to impact the community? How are you going to train & disciple our kids?” etc...

But one question really bothered me & it came from a mature lady; she had attended for at least 20 years, lost a husband in that time, served in different capacities & ministries, was close to retirement age...

Her question: “Are you going to feed us?”

I got up & walked out into the foyer, just shaking my head as I did so. I sat in one of the bistro chairs & pondered her sincere but silly question.

Now I don't know about you but I'm a grown man. I can bathe, clothe & feed myself; so can everyone I know who's over the age of 15. 

Am I the only person who's ever read 1 John 2:27

“But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him”

Look at the phrases “you do not need anyone to teach you” & “the same anointing teaches you”, there's no mental gymnastics here, it says what it says & means what it says. Paul's letter to the Ephesians states that God gave gifts in the form of teachers, pastors, evangelists, etc for the equipping of the saints & I'm not dismissing that verse or those gifts in any sense or by any means. 

It appears though that somehow most people have adopted a “me” mindset = entertain me, feed me... when I read the Bible I see no place where shepherds fed the sheep. I see where shepherds led them to places where they can safely graze but they themselves didn't feed the sheep. Shepherds watch over, lead & guide the sheep but they don't feed them, the sheep do the actual eating themselves.

When Jesus fed the 4,000 right after feeding the 5,000, they did the actual eating. Semantics? Maybe. I know of too many people though that believe that "feed My sheep" means your only diet comes from a once a week message.

Questions:

  • Are you feeding yourself or being spoon fed?
  • Are you relying on the anointing to teach you?
  • Are you dependent on a person for your spiritual growth?


Monday, February 1, 2016

A Better Way To Pray: Takeaway #2

Takeaway #2: Length & Content

Many people basically believe the longer they pray the better it is & the more God will answer; there's really no virtue in long praying.

Jesus normally kept His prayers short, only twice in the NT did He pray all night but as a rule He didn't usually pray for extended amounts of time. 

The shorter the prayer, the greater the faith:
  • Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39) calmed a raging storm
  • Lazarus, come forth” (John 11:43) raised a dead man

As you understand prayer correctly, yours will shorten too.

The majority of the Body of Christ views prayer primarily as an opportunity to petition God, as their time to plead w/ Him to meet their needs. Of course, there are Scriptures that reveal that asking & receiving is a valid use of prayer, but you ought to confine it to 5% or less of your prayer life.

How would you like it if every time you saw someone, they told you how great you were then asked you for something? You'd see right through them & after a while, it would get old, very old…

Then again, if every time you saw someone & the conversation was different each time, that would be a lively relationship:
  • I love you
  • I appreciate our friendship
  • How are you doing?
  • Is there anything I can do to help you?
  • Is there anywhere I can serve?
  • What do you need me to do?

Most of my prayer life has changed because of a revelation of grace & renewing my mind. I know that God has already blessed me & supplied all my needs so I don't bother Him w/ that stuff, the majority of my prayer life is simply praising, thanking & loving Him for who He is & what He's done. 

I rarely ask for anything anymore...