New year, same God…

13 01 2014

This will be brief. It is 2014 and I am overcome with hope. It all began with my New Years celebration with friends down at the beach. It was your pretty typical celebration. Shiny hats and noise makers abound, loud music, embarrassing dancing, and to my sad amusement, a number of drunk individuals. We were at Pier Park for the “beach ball drop” at midnight. All the way up to the last 5 minutes of 2013 I managed to simply enjoy myself and the company of friends. However, during that blasted last 5 minutes I stopped dancing a stared down the countdown clock and the tens of thousands of people surrounding me. I became quite contemplative, reflective, and yes even emotional. Such is life inside my mind.

As I stood there literally watching the year tick away, gazing across a sea of people, I became overwhelmed by the Spirit of God. I instantly became repentant for numerous failures(many of which I am sure I don’t even know) in the past year. I also began thanking the Lord for so much growth and numerous blessings in my life. The most important probably being him blessing Kristina and I beginning our relationship and the subsequent beauty it has brought into my life. I remember my one thought that was cycling through my head and occasionally escaped my mouth that last 5 minutes: “Lord, let 2014 be yours!” Now I believe it was his long before I decided it should be and let’s be honest every moment is his. I simply wanted to come into agreement with the Father in this truth in my life. In fact, I began to pray far beyond my life. I thought about the sea of people around me. So many surely saw New Year’s as merely a reason to have a good time. The full beauty of newness cannot be imagined outside of the reconciliation God is working with his creation(Col. 1:19-20). I began to pray for the masses around me for eyes and ears to be opened by the grace of God to his redeeming love. I prayed that these wandering souls would know what it is to be a new creation in Jesus(2 Cor. 5:17).

I rejoiced because I remembered that the Lord is still in the business of making things new. He is reconciling all of  creation to himself(2 Cor. 5:19). That means me. That means you. That means every tongue, tribe, people, and nation! Let us pray with this goal in clear view this year. Let’s work, pray, and trust the Lord to this truth in 2014. I am believing that by the grace of God I will move to a new level of glory this year. I am believing this for you as well. I am believing that he will call the lost and unreached multitude unto himself and that he is going to use us, the Church, to accomplish this. What a privilege to participate in God’s mission. Rejoice with me in these things, brothers and sisters. Pray with me. My hope abounds as we move into a new year. The glory of the Lord will shine and his kingdom will advance. Lord, let our year be yours. Happy New Year and God bless.





Doubt, discipline, and 10,000 reasons…

29 05 2013

When I look at some people or peoples in the Bible I have a tendency to shake my head and look down on their faithlessness. However, the Lord often suffers the same faithlessness in me as I stumble down the path he has laid before me. He is full of grace, freely given and undeserved(Rom. 6:23). I really just want to challenge you all not to doubt the Lord’s provisions and his will. This sounds so cliché and elementary, yet that thinking forgets the depravity of our hearts and minds(Psalm 53:3). I can only speak for myself in this and I sincerely hope that none of you that read this can relate.

I forget so easily with each new step of glory that I have no good except the Lord in me(Psalm 16:2) and that my salvation and renewing occurs in and through the grace freely given(Rom. 12:6). The second pride creeps in is the same moment when I must repent of my sinfulness. In this state of self-righteousness is where I lose my faith. The Lord reveals a part of his will, yet because of my pride I doubt the possibility of accomplishing the task or the goodness of his way! How ignorant and faithless I am to assume such absurdity. I recently received a prompting from the Lord to do something that sadly met me in my pride.

I have to return home for an indefinite period of time to get some necessary work done and I fly out 4 June. I have struggled with this trip. I will not be able to return here until I complete the work I have before me which realistically could take me anywhere between 2 to 6 months! When I first received the news that I couldn’t return until the work was done, I immediately doubted the Lord’s ability to accomplish the task in my arrogance. I just as quickly repented of this faithlessness, but that sinful reaction was still my default! I shortly there after received the amount of work I have to do. Ashamedly, I doubted his provision and will in my life yet again. And again I immediately repented. Nevertheless, I clearly lack sufficient faith and am completely dependent on his grace. As I dwelt on my sin and how it was so second nature to see such a feat and doubt the Lord, I began to think about the Israelites in the wilderness. They were constantly given grace and miraculous provisions(Ex. ch.13:17-ch.14; ch.16-ch.17:3), yet when they came to the land promised to them by the Lord and the spies returned with their report, all but Caleb and Joshua doubted the Lord’s provision again(Num. 13:25-14:11).

And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have done among them? I will strike them with pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”  -Numbers 14:11

As I thought on this verse and my own doubt I began to remember the provisions I have received in my own life. I have seen the manna fall, the quail delivered, and the water spring from the rock, yet I still doubted him to provide in this new situation! Lord have mercy on my soul! The beauty is that his grace is sufficient(2 Cor. 12:9) and he is merciful! If you know the story in Numbers, Moses interceded for Israel and God pardoned his people according to that intercession(Num. 14:12-20). What vigor that should stir in us to pray for both our brothers and sisters caught in sin and for the lost around the world. Amen?

I have come to a place where my prayer is not ultimately for the provision of God in the task at hand, but rather for more faith in him and his will for my life. If the Lord’s lot for me is to stay in the states for 2 months then praise Jesus, and if he has me stay for a year then praise Jesus. His timing is perfect and so much better than my own(Isa. 55:9). Alleluia! I must learn to trust in this truth. I must remember the provisions of God I have experienced in my life. I must never forget that the Lord’s gifts are extravagant! We must remember these things. They must draw us in to obedience and fervent prayer for his presence and will in our lives.

Practically speaking, what can we do to increase our faith? Prayer and fasting are the first things that come to mind, but we must make requests rooted in the Holy Scriptures. Our participation in these disciplines can be taken by the Enemy if we are not rooted in the Word. That said, let me share the thinking and scriptural promise that I lean on for my request for more faith. This is an issue existing in the depths of our hearts. The only thing capable of changing our hearts is the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ(Eph. 2:8). This faith grows as we seek Jesus and revere him. Our reverence grows as we act in the spiritual disciplines such as the study and meditation on the Word, prayer, fasting, worship, confession, simplicity and so on. It is here that I lean on the promise of the Lord in his Word.

“The Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” -Hebrews 12:6

Let us pray for the discipline of the Lord! He disciplines the ones he loves and he withholds his love from no one. I am in prayer for deeper obedience and discipline as I attempt to “abide in him”(Jn. 12:14). He is faithful to give me this according to his Word. As we work and he increases our discipline, we inevitably will increase in our reverence of him. As our reverence and knowledge of Him increases and as we remember the provisions of times past our faith in Jesus in the present will increase. When we come upon a test of faith we will not be ashamed in sin and doubt, but rather we will glorify God(1 Pet. 4:12-16).

Let us be vigilant and honest about our doubts that they may be confronted in the light of Jesus where darkness and evil can never prevail. I hope that you all will bring to the front of your mind the constant need of more faith in Jesus. I pray that in difficult times, you would recall the countless provisions and blessings the Lord has poured out on you. If you are struggling with doubt or just desire more faith I pray that the Holy Spirit would teach you discipline in your abiding time with Jesus. May his presence increase your lives and may his will overtake you all. He is so worthy. Amen.

Here is a song I have been listening to in relation to this post. We truly have 10,000 reasons. Remember them. Enjoy.