Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Better Way To Pray: Takeaway #7

Takeaway #7: Manifest

Matthew 6:10
“Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven”

Jesus continued to praise God, declaring. “Father, I know that it's Your will for things to be done on earth the way they are in Heaven.”

In Heaven, there's no sickness.
Therefore it's not God's will for you to be sick.
In Heaven, there's no poverty.
Therefore, it's not God will for you to be poor.

In the presence of the Lord, there is abundant joy, shouting, singing, praising & worshiping. That's what Heaven is like & it's how He expects us to be here on earth!

God wants His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. This should serve as a guideline for what we expect from Him. We should pray that what's already waiting for us in Heaven would begin to manifest here in our lives on earth.

Eternal life has already begun!

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Golf Summation: Part II

I'm what's known as a recreational golfer. I'm not a pro, I'm not an amateur, I'm just a guy who, when I decided to take up golf, 'was adamant on two things:

  • I was not going to take it that seriously 
  • I was going to enjoy it or abandon it

After a couple of my first rounds, I decided I was going to chuck the scorecard; keeping track of my strokes & keeping score was just not that important to me. What was important was how I played the game:

  • my attitude
  • my temperment
  • my character
  • my swing
  • my focus

If I kept track of my strokes, it distracted me from the overall golf experience. My score would always be before me, every tick mark would be a reminder of my performance, whether good or bad & it always affected my game. 

It reminded me of David when he said, “my sin is ever before me...”

One of the reasons I chucked the scorecard in golf was because of 2 Corinthians 5:19, “It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but cancelling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor)”.

Another version says “not imputing their trespasses against them” in other words, He's not keeping score.

I just transferred that philosophy to the game of golf.

Let me say this as a point of clarification: golf is a game of integrity, there are no referees or judges, each person is expected to play their best, play an honest game & keep an honest score. I respect that.

My brothers & I have an unspoken rule/understanding when we play golf: we don't keep score, we simply enjoy the game & each other's company. 

The same goes for life: any trespasses are quickly forgiven & forgotten, we don't hold anyone's sins/shortcomings against them, we just love them & life is much better that way…

Confession Time: Even though [as a recreational golfer & I speak sole for myself on this] I don't record my golf strokes I usually do keep a running tally in my head & to be completely honest as humans we often do the same thing; if someone sins against us we usually forgive them but also find ourselves often not forgetting the trespass. I'm going through that right now, I was sinned against & even though I've forgiven them I'm having a hard time forgetting it. Folks, it's a process & I'm “in process” of working all that out…

As in golf, life would be enjoyed much more if we truly chucked the scorecard & simply loved each other & walked in forgiveness ~ 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Saturday Reverie 3.26.2016

reverie: a state of fanciful musing or dreamy meditation...

This is always a weird Saturday, caught between Good Friday & Resurrection Sunday; it's like there's no official name for it: Silent Saturday, Holy Saturday, something…

It's been said that Christmas & Lent/Easter are the only times that many people think about religion. For many, that's the only time they'll attend a church service & many fellowships are well aware of that. When I was growing up, I always thought it strange that we celebrate Christ's birth in December then celebrate His death & resurrection four months later; in my childlike mind He had an accelerated growth spurt & a pretty short life span; the rest of the year He's basically forgotten by the majority of the populace.

I don't want to come across as super-spiritual but I don't think about Jesus at certain times of the year, I think about Jesus all the time:
  • I think about His birth & I'm grateful
  • I think about His life & I'm inspired
  • I think about His death & I'm humbled
  • I think about His resurrection & I'm floored
  • I think about His return & I'm hopeful

This week I finally saw the movie “Risen” AKA CSI: Jerusalem. Due to the recent string of sub-standard Biblical movies that have been released from Hollywood lately my expectations weren't all that high going into this but I was somewhat surprised, it was fairly decent. 

I'm sure that final week for Christ & His disciples was full of emotional turmoil for everyone, especially for His mother Mary. I can relate. Tomorrow my nephew & his wife leave for Jerusalem where they'll be ministering for five years. I met my nephew when he was 48 hours old, watched him grow up & now watching him leave. 

But you know what? Physical separation is only temporary; whether that applies to family or to our Savior. It's a good thing we have both in our hearts ~

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Better Way To Pray: Takeaway #6

What's commonly known as “The Lord's Prayer” in Matthew chapter 6 is, technically speaking, not a New Testament/New Covenant prayer; notice how it's not prayed in the name of Jesus.

Right before He died, the Lord said, “Up until this time you have asked nothing in My name. Now ask & you shall receive that your joy may be full. Whatsoever you ask the Father in My name, He will give it to you” - John 16:23-24.

A New Covenant prayer must be prayed in the name of Jesus.

The Lord was giving us a model for prayer, not something to repeat. If you're repeating His model verbatim then you're just soothing your conscience (Matthew 6:9) & this is nothing more than the vain repetition Jesus taught against in Matthew 6:7.

I've been to countless gatherings & services in my life, countless weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc & I've witnessed my fair share of people blindly repeating Matthew 6 in those situations. How many of those were heartfelt only God knows… I personally know people who only pray Matthew 6 & nothing else, that's the entirety of their prayer life, no deviation, no variance in speed, just repeat the words & they're good to go or so they think…

The same prayers will yield the same results (or lack of).

We are instructed to pray:

  • according to His will
  • in His name

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Golf Excitation: Part I

Folks, it Springtime; the time of year anticipated by the majority of humanity who crawl out of the hibernation of Winter & start to live life again.

For me, it means golf is here. This will be my second year of playing, the first year was rough but actually fun, now I know what to expect & this Sunday morning I'm hitting the driving range for the first time since last Fall. I'm a little rusty on my swing but I'll be okay!

Last year, my brother & I played on one of the last days the golf course was open, it was cool & leaves were everywhere, but after we payed the lady told us to play until sunset, we looked at each other & just smiled.

There were only two other people on the course so we took our time; the first round we played we used our usual clubs for our usual holes & played our usual game w/ the usual results. The second time around we did a little experimenting. On the first tee I would usually use a 5 iron but this time I thought I'd use a 5 wood & the results were much better. I landed on the edge of the green & sunk a 36 foot putt. I was energized now.

Since we pretty much had the whole course to ourselves, we did quite a bit of experimenting, right up to sunset. I actually used a driver on the green (gasp!) & it was great! The rules of golf say that you can use any club for any stroke but people usually use drivers for driving, putters for putting, etc, it's habit. 

I re-learned something that day: 
doing something different produced different results & I liked it.

So many times we approach life & ministry the same way; we think it has to be done a certain way. So many times people think they have to pray a certain way in a certain situation to get a certain result because it worked before.... or... they have to do their church service in a certain order because... well... that's the way it's done. 

Jesus didn't minister in the same place or the same way every single time, sometimes He prayed, sometimes He commanded, sometimes He played in the mud. The thing is He wasn't predictable, He switched things up, 'switched clubs & got different results.

  • Are your prayers always the same for every situation?
  • Are you playing it safe in your ministry or church service?
  • Do you minister the same way every single time?
  • Are you willing to experiment w/ doing things differently?
  • Are you willing to switch the order of service?
  • Are you willing to move your worship team from the front to the floor or in the middle or to the back balcony?
  • Are you open to the idea of changing your service time or even changing the day?
  • Are you even open to the idea of switching clubs & giving it a shot to see if it works better? 

Some of these things might just energize you, your ministry or your fellowship & take things to a whole new level...

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Children of Time

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is my favorite of all the Trek incarnations. I grew up watching the Original Series & still enjoy it, 'not crazy about the Next Generation or Voyager but really liked Enterprise, However, DS9 seemed to be a cut above the rest w/ their story arcs, depth of characters, conflicts & amazing writing; it all came together in this series.

Lately I've been pondering an episode called “Children of Time” & here's a short synopsis: while on the way back to DS9 from a mission in deep space, the crew of the Defiant investigate an anomalous field surrounding a planet. They go through the field only to find the planet populated by their descendants, 'caused by them trying to break back through the field in 2 days only to be thrown back in time 200 years & crash land.

The current crew works w/ their descendants to devise a way that the ship can split in two, one crash landing in the past thus preserving the  history of the planet & the other breaking free to return our current crew home. 

It was a great story, full of scenarios, conflicted emotions & a great sense of both uncertainty & urgency; uncertainty of the population as to whether they would even exist in 2 days & urgency of the crew to get back to their families.

On the day before the crew was to attempt their escape from the planet, they took part in a yearly Spring planting ritual, where the entire population came together & planted the seeds for the coming harvest. In light of the circumstances, many were questioning "why are we doing this if we may not even be here tomorrow?".

It reminds me of the hour we live in, where some have a futility-mindset:
  • why plan for the future when we may not have one?
  • why bother planting seeds for a harvest we may never see?
  • why save money for retirement when Jesus could return any second?
  • what's the point of having any long-term plans?

I'm not going to spoil the episode for you but I will say this: on the last day everyone worked together, until well into the night & braced themselves for whatever outcome time dealt them.

God walks in eternity. Those in Christ are His Children & His Children have a different perspective on time. This planet is not our home nor our destination, it's temporary but while we're here, there's things to done... seeds to be planted... crops to be harvested... a life to be enjoyed & lived... people to be taught & loved... 

For no one knows what tomorrow will bring or even if there is a tomorrow for some.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Saturday Reverie 3.12.2016

reverie: a state of dreamy meditation or fanciful musing...

So here it is, Saturday morning; the sun's playing hide & seek w/ the clouds, it's a bit chilly, a little damp & the aroma of coffee fills the house.

As I sit here, reflecting on my week I always ponder the age old question: why does the week go by so slow & the weekend so fast?

If you've kept up w/ my blogs you'll know that last Sunday was not the best day for me: I was very disappointed in my former fellowship, the one I had some hope to re-join because my friend has recently taken the position of senior pastor there. The religious atmosphere/mindset that morning was so thick it was choking & I had to leave. I will not be joining them anytime soon but the Lord told me not to be completely closed minded. It's a good idea not to burn bridges that you may have to cross down the road...  never say never & always keep your options open.

I've been looking over the political landscape & have come to this conclusion: it's not about platforms, it's about win-ability. What it comes down to is that it doesn't really matter what a candidate stands for, can they beat the other candidate? Many people are not crazy about Donald Trump but he's the only hope to beat Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. Each political party & their supporters naturally do not want the other party in the White House so the platforms really don't matter, it's a who-can-win-&-we'll-deal-w/-the-consequences-later scenario.

Whoever wins, there will be consequences.

I'm laying the groundwork for a new recording project, this week I pulled out some of my old worship songs & sat there, looking them over, wondering if they're “stuff” or “fluff”. Sometimes songs that the Lord gives you are not meant for anyone but you & Him, but I am writing new songs so we'll see what category they fall in.

I closed out my week w/ the classic 1954 movie “Sabrina” w/ Humphrey Bogart, William Holden & Audrey Hepburn; who is the only reason I would invent time travel & actually use it. 

“Sabrina” is the classic story of:
  • girl loves boy
  • boy doesn't know girl exists
  • girl goes away
  • girl comes back sophisticated
  • boy (who's now engaged) falls for girl
  • brother of boy woos girl
  • brother falls for girl
  • girl falls for brother
  • some kind of conflict
  • happy ending

If only life was as simple as that plot...

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Better Way To Pray: Takeaway #5

Another takeaway from Andrew Wommack's 
“A Better Way To Pray”

Takeaway #5: Misconceptions

Don't let Satan beat you up because you don't spend 30 – 60 minutes a day locked up in some closet tearing down strongholds, rebuking demons, screaming & hollering, etc... There's no need to feel condemned. God's already as pleased w/ you as He can be! Much of the traditional teaching on prayer is impossible to implement in daily life.

In the times when you can't be alone w/ Him, you can pray without ceasing all day every day in the midst of everything else. You can be in constant communion w/ God & He's pleased w/ that!

Prayer ought to be something you can fit into your normal day. If you can have special time alone w/ nothing distracting you, take advantage of it. Just remember that prayer doesn't have to be that way to please God.

You simply cannot live life in the real world the way many people teach prayer (waking up 2 – 3 hours early to pray). If you're tired when praying, get a good night's sleep. If you fall asleep while praying, take a nap! When you wake up, pick up where you left off. God understands, He really does.

God's not pleased w/ all of our religious calisthenics & He's not impressed w/ how long you spend in prayer.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Personal Log 3.8.2016

My nephew & his wife leave in three weeks for Israel, they'll be living/ministering in downtown Jerusalem for five years. I'll miss them of course, not just because they're family but because they are two of the only people I can really talk to about grace. They caught the same revelation of it at the same time I did & we've spent hours & hours talking about the good news as they have an excellent grasp of it. 

When they leave, I'll be alone in my faith journey. My entire family is saved but they just don't seem to have the same grasp  of grace as my nephew & his wife do.

I literally have no one I can talk w/ ministry – wise about the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Oh, people claim to know it, 'try to preach/teach it but somehow it's always tied to the law or to works or wrapped up in their denominational doctrine which is usually tied to the law… or to works… & rarely to the finished work of Jesus. 

The fellowship that I had been praying about rejoining has disappointed me, it appears to be business as usual,even under “new management". I'm very careful what I allow myself to be taught, after a steady diet of grace anything else is unpalatable to my spirit. 

In other words: if it's not grace I'm not interested, I'm just... not... interested…

I do meet w/ people on Sunday evenings & they're a great bunch of people, the studies have been good & at times I want to share on something but I have to keep quiet because I'd have to share six hours on something else to lay the foundation for what I initially intended to say. 

I just feel very much alone & isolated in life right now. Don't get me wrong, I've got God & I'm more than good w/ that, but I've never felt more alone than I do at this very moment in time.

No like minded companion to help me…
No like minded fellowship to sharpen me…
No like minded people to minister w/ me...

I'll be honest, it's hard right now but I'll be okay; I'm always growing in the grace & knowledge of Jesus & always, always pressing forward.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Sectarian Vexation

I just came out of a church service completely disgusted, I think though I'm more disappointed than disgusted. It was the first service for a new pastor who is a friend of mine, so I went there to support him, but I just couldn't take it & left before the offering.

Since I've gotten a revelation of grace & walked in that freedom, it's been very difficult for me to go back, look at, think about or even hear about anything law... the Bible is very clear & really very simple, you would need help to complicate grace. 

I walked in the building w/ an open mind & heart, open to the will of the Lord if it was His will for me to be a part of that fellowship again. I sensed a religious atmosphere in the place & it bothered me, but there was worship to be had so I worshiped. The increasing religious mindset was evident & I stood there, becoming more & more uncomfortable as the minutes ticked by.

Now those that know me know that I hate titles, as much as Jesus did but all I heard was, “Pastor this, Pastor that”. In Matthew 23, Jesus basically told His disciples to drop the titles, that it “shall not be so among you”; that's pretty clear. Now most Christians have no problem telling Catholics they're not to call priests “Father”, citing Matt 23, the very chapter they ignore when calling people “Pastor, Apostle, Prophet...”.

Some people call that hypocrisy.

I love being in God's presence” was what I heard in regards to the worship service. What? If God is w/ us & in us, are we not always in His presence, always? As long as people have a here-there mindset, they'll always think of God as “there” (in Heaven) & not “here” (in your heart). All these things were really bugging me & as I prayed for direction during worship, I said in my heart, “if he mentions Malachi 3:10 I'm leaving”. Well, guess what? He did & so did I.

Grace has spoiled me to anything Law.

I was disgusted & disappointed, 'still am... but not everyone is where I'm at & this I realize. Instead of judging, I need to pray for my friend to receive a radical revelation of grace & for his fellowship to also catch that revelation; that would be the only & I mean only way I would even consider being a part of that fellowship.

My heart aches, my head hurts & I need a shower to wash some things off of me... 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Saturday Reverie 3.5.2016

reverie: a state of dreamy meditation or fanciful musing...

As I reflect back on this week I would say it could very well be summed up in one word: "ing"; as in waiting, hoping, trusting, growing, praying, planning, seeking & being.

One of my former pastors had a saying, “We're human beings, not human doings”. That saying always bugged because he himself was all about doing...

I've been eating healthy since the first of the year; I cut out potatoes, corn & refined sugar. It's hard to avoid sugar as it's in everything however I'm not adding it to anything. I've lost one pound in the last three months. Yep, one pound. I'm not discouraged though, I may not reach my goal of a beach body but I'm one my way to a healthy one.

This week I was reflecting on the situations of two siblings in the Lord, one I like & one I don't like. 

Before you jump all over me or judge me, I love everyone, I just don't like everyone. Some people you get along w/, others you don't. We all have different personalities & sometimes they mesh, sometimes they clash. Back to my reverie...

In both cases, God just worked everything out for them in a short amount of time. One left, another arrived; both are experiencing new beginnings. Sometimes you can see the hand of God in things, other times you just can't see anything happening & that's where I'm at in my own life. I feel I'm on the verge of something but there seems to be no movement whatsoever. God is not a respecter of persons, if He can work things out for them, He can work things out for me.

This is where the waiting comes in, I wait.... & wait... & wait... & hope... & trust... & plan...

I'm not sure what note my week is ending on but at least it's making music ~

Thursday, March 3, 2016

A Better Way To Pray: Takeaway #4

Another takeaway from Andrew Wommack's 
“A Better Way To Pray” 

Takeaway #4: Constant Communion

Prayer is communion w/ God. If He's w/ you all the time, you ought to be praying all the time. The expression of this communion isn't limited to a particular set of body positions.

Since meditation is prayer (Psalm 5:1), you don't even have to talk out loud; your communion w/ God should be constant.

Here is Psalm 5:1-3 Amplified Bible

"Listen to my words, O Lord, give heed to my sighing and groaning.
Hear the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to You do I pray.
In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare [a prayer, a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart]."

It's appropriate to isolate yourself alone w/ God for special times of intimacy, but not all the time! You must learn to relate to Him in the midst of your daily responsibilities & weekly routines because they occupy the majority of your life.

It's totally unrealistic for spouses to limit their relationship only to “special times” together. Jesus, your eternal husband, is the same. Don't limit your relationship w/ Him only to “dates”. Walk & talk w/ Him all day, every day!

God wants each of us to mature to the point where we can enjoy just hanging out w/ Him. He desires our fellowship when there's nothing being said & nothing specific happening other than being together & loving each other.

You've Already Got It! Takeaway #5

Another takeaway from Andrew Wommack's book 
“You've Already Got (So Quit Trying To Get It)!”

Takeaway #5 : Ruined

God wants you to see the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe. It's the very same power He used to raise Jesus Christ from the dead.

Have you ever prayed for & asked the Lord for more power? Where do you think He'd get it? Ephesians 1:19-20 declares that you already have within you the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest demonstration of God's power ever!

You have that same raising-from-the-dead power on the inside of you! It's not out there in heaven somewhere. It's within you, in your born-again spirit. You don't need more power. You just need to believe that you already have it & begin to discover how it operates.

If you receive this revelation, it'll ruin you for most of the religious tradition floating around & masquerading as Christianity today... 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Arsenal

For those interested, here's a simple run-down of the software I'm using; as I've stated before I'm a huge fan of anything open source.

Linux Lite: Linux has come a long, long way & LL is a great alternative to Windows. It's extremely lightweight (hence it's name) but also extremely powerful; 'designed not to be resource hungry so it's perfect for older hardware & runs very fast on newer machines too. 

It comes bundled w/ LibreOffice 5 & VLC media player, two essentials that I can't live without... 

If you want something a little heavier w/ more features then I have to give a shout out to Linux Mint & all it's incarnations = Cinnamon, Mate & Xfce; I've tried them all & they're excellent, I just personally prefer Linux Lite. 

Apache OpenOffice & LibreOffice: Like Linux, these two have also come a long way. I've been using OpenOffice for several years, it's installed on every Windows computer that my family has (& the one Windows pc I have). LibreOffice is just perfection, 'works well w/ both Windows & Linux & I can do everything that Microsoft Office can do & do it for free.

Speaking of free...  

Freemind: is the the best best mind-mapping program I've ever run across, period. It's designed for clarity of thought & it fulfills that function. I use it all the time, I mean all... the... time; for business, for ministry, for recording projects. I highly recommend it as it's simple, intuitive & indispensable; to me at least.

Well, there you have it :)