#VICTORY

Standard

When you think about the word “victory,” what do you think about? Is it a word that encourages you, or a word that you cannot comprehend? Does it mean the battle is won, or the battle is ongoing? According to Siri, (iPhone people know what I’m talking about), victory is “a successful ending of a struggle or a contest.” Webster iwo_jima1Dictionary puts it this way: victory is “the act of defeating an opponent or enemy.”

Victory is a noun that has a strong, rock-solid backbone. When we BELIEVE in victory, then the defeat of the “enemy” or “contest” is all the more glorifying. The thing is, as humans or sinners, we can NEVER reach such victory without ONE PERSON, and his name is Jesus.

Jesus is a man without fault or blemish. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, yet he walked the earth to serve US. He is the only man who could walk into the manmade tents without fault, and give a sacrifice so much GREATER than animals or incense: Himself. The book of Hebrews talks about just that, Jesus being a sacrifice who is so much greater than ANYTHING we can do or give, stating this:

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

(Hebrews 9:11-14 ESV)

With that sacrifice came a VICTORY that we need to BELIEVE in. What Jesus did on the cross for us was not just for that generation, but for EVERY generation. Victory is found in people who believe these two simple truths:

1) Jesus WON the battle for ME…

We must believe that the pure and spotless lamb came to us, walked this Earth with all the battles we have faced, and died without a sin on His shoulders. He took it upon Himself to die for us, the sinners, because we NEED his redemptive grace everyday. The battle rages DAILY, but the war is ALREADY won. This does not mean that we get to sin everyday and give in to the enemy, but to look toward Him for strength, guidance and grace.

 2) Victory is found, and is NOT LOST…

If you are at the point in life where the word victory does not mean anything, but is just a word, then you need to find it again. Victory is NOT lost, but sometimes it’s simply harder to find. Christ, who won the battle, who won the war, has already won and we need to keep our EYES on Him and the “victory flag” that He waves, called the Word. Read it, and victory is FOUND once again.

Let the word, “Victory” be not a word that just is a word, but let it bring LIFE and ENCOURAGMENT. Even though the wars rage on daily, Christ has already won the war.

Why Churches NEED a Young Adults Ministry….

Standard

What is going on?   

Back in my youth group days, I always wondered what I could be a part of in the church once I graduated. The truth was, there was nothing. The majority of churches across America have not dove into ministry for young adults or found a place in their church for the 18-and-graduated to around age 28.

After searching the web, I found some staggering statistics about young adults and the church. Firstly, 70% of young adults drop out of church. Many of them say they would not have left if:

  1. The church helped guide life decisions
  2. Parents were still married and went to churchya image
  3. Sermons were relevant to their life
  4. An adult in the church poured into them in a significant way to impact them spiritually and personally

These statistics should take your breath away. A young adults ministry is so important because many churches are not reaching out to this age group. What is there for young adults to do except give into temptation and join in with the ways of the world?

So what does a YOUNG ADULT ministry do?!

1) A place to call their OWN…

People like to have ownership or a place away from home to call theirs and that is exactly what this ministry provides. Young adults need a place they can go hang out and connect with people. A place where they can be completely themselves and not have to worry about what others may think about them. They need a place with a positive atmosphere. Granted, there will be spurts of drama and people not liking others, but that is beside the point. The point is this: they get to choose how much they DIVE IN so they can get A LOT OUT OF IT. However, if nothing is there for them to dive into, then there is nothing for them to call their own.

2) Getting CONNECTED…

 Getting connected into a new age group is a tough ride, but is necessary. Connecting young adults to the events that are going on and to others is essential to keeping them around. People will stop coming if they do not have anyone one there that wants them there, or likes them. Young adults need to connect with others to invite opportunity for friendship to take root.

3) Keeping a Relevant Message and Events…

One of the top reason young adults drop out or stop attending church is due to the fact that their leader or pastor was not doing anything relevant to them. Whether they were not doing anything relevant to their daily lives or where not providing events relevant in this day and age, being relevant to the crowd that we are serving is a big part of keeping that age group in or out of the church. While the particular demographic you are serving depends on which part of the United States you are in, it is the young adult leader’s job to find out what is relevant to them or not. How, one may ask? Intrude their lives by spending time with them: to see their likes and dislikes, and what is “hip” or not. Bringing the needs of the young adults out and serving them in those ways will plant seeds of growth and of enjoyment.

Why DID I just read this???

You read this because the truth is that if churches continue to neglect the young adult age group, the numbers of church dropouts will rise. It is not fun hearing the blunt truth sometimes, but the truth is right there. Young adults are in NEED of attention because they are being lost to the world. It is NOT about us, it is about bringing people to JESUS and that is exactly what a young adults ministry is – connecting people with people and showing them the love of Christ.

W (minus “W”) JD: What Jesus DID

Standard

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “WWJD?” Well for all of you slow pokes out there, it means, “What would Jesus do?” It has become the question many people ask themselves when facing a tough trial or situation, and it points them to the one source that can show what He would have done by going to the Scriptures. But have you ever really asked yourself what Jesus DID?

Many Christians, even myself, ask ourselves that question and search through scripture and then answer it with, “Jesus was God in the flesh, and was perfect so He did not have any struggles…” That, my friends, is a lie. Jesus struggled in this world as much as we do. In Hebrew 2:14-18 it reads:

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, keep-calm-and-wwjd-2that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:14-18 ESV)

Jesus was as much man, as he was God. And Jesus did just as he instructed us to do, pick up our crosses daily. By doing that we are denying ourselves and looking toward the cross that Jesus died on for us. Jesus was not a spotless lamb and the sinless Son of Man, because he could come to Earth and walk through it without being tempted. Jesus was tempted, but it is not for the fact that he WAS tempted, it was for what he did daily to combat it. PICKED UP his cross. DENIED himself.

Let not the question, “WWJD,” lead you to the Scriptures to have the enemy attack you with the fact that Jesus was God in flesh. But let you run to the Scriptures to see all that Jesus was tempted with, and see what HE DID to combat them. Let us be led to PICK UP our crosses, and DENY OURSELVES so Jesus and the cross may be exalted.

TRENDING: God’s Glory Revealed

Standard

Twitter-trends-feature

When Christian circles get together and start talking about Jesus and what He is doing in their lives, that discussion usually ends with a post on Facebook or a tweet on Twitter saying, “God is so good!” Well that is a true statement indeed, but do we, as Christians, really see how good God really is? Do we experience and capture the GLORY of God through all seasons?

Could somebody come up to you and just ask the simple question, “are you in a good season or bad season?” and by answering that question they would know the answer to another important question. That question being, “Is God good, have you experienced His glory?” Meaning that If that person answered, “Good Season,” then they currently think that the Lord is good and vice versa. This is where the problem lies, because God is good and His glory is the same in all seasons of a believers walk with Him.

Ezekiel and John experienced the true GLORY of the Lord, and these experiences can help us better understand the message at hand….

1. Ezekiel Fell ON HIS FACE…

“And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, tin appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him.Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.” (Ezekiel 1:26-28)

Ezekiel saw the expanse of Heaven and the Glory of Lord was revealed to him, and he fell on HIS FACE. Ezekiel fell on his FACE BEFORE THE LORD. Ezekiel did not have to fall on his face, but he did. Ezekiel could of run away and just thought he was on some type of hallucinogen. No, the man SAW and EXPERIENCED the GREATNESS of the LORD, and FELL FLAT ON HIS FACE.

Going back to all the questions that I stated at the beginning of this post, have you experienced the glory of the Lord in such a way that made you fall flat? Was it in the good season or a bad/ rocky season? God’s glory needs to be given account to in both seasons, and Christians need to realize that God is good no matter the season because His glory and reign in our lives is still the same. Ezekiel saw the glory of God twice in the matter of three chapters and fell flat on his face when he experienced and saw it. What do you do when you see the glory of the Lord? Do you do as Ezekiel 3:23-24 states that Ezekiel does…:

So I arose and went out into the valley, and behold, the glory of the Lord stood there, like the glory that I had seen by the Chebar canal, and I fell on my face. But the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and he spoke with me (Ezekiel 3:23-24)

Fall on our faces before the Lord when we experience or are overwhelmed by the glory that the Lord shows. Let it be a moment that we stop focusing so much on us that we start seeing God for WHO He really is. Do you think Ezekiel was thinking about himself in that moment? It does not state for certain, but I can almost be for certain that it was all about the Lord. Lets seek that glory out, let us fall on our faces in times of just great awe at all He has done and is to us, focusing all on Him. Fall flat on our faces to see our needs not be as important as the one who DELIVERED and SAVED US from death.

2. John fell at HIS FEET as though HE WAS DEAD

Have you ever done a leg workout, that made your legs go so weak that all they do is feel like jello? This same feeling came upon John when he experienced the glory of the Lord. Revelation 1:12-18 states this:

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (Revelation 1:12-18)

John fell at HIS FEET as THOUGH HE WAS DEAD, meaning this, he was so OVERWHELMED by the glory of the Lord that all he could do WAS FALL. Have you ever had or seen or experienced this type of the glory of the Lord? See so many times, we read through these types of stories and say to ourselves, “Man, I wish I was not going through what I am because then maybe I would see God this glorious and this good…” The thing is God’s glory DOES NOT DEPEND ON YOUR SITUATION or SEASON, it depends on you not focusing so much on your situation or season and FOCUS ON HIM and WHO HE HIS.

God did not come to make life easy for all of us, He came to teach us and mold us into better sons and daughters of Him. Like a father guides his son through life, and helps him through all that the son needs or wants help with, so does God. Just like fathers have the glorious name and image (as “Dad or “Father”) they carry when they become a father. God has that same exact glory but just at thousands and thousands upon thousands more glorious!

Let us SEE the glory that the Lord radiates from Himself, just fall flat and get so overwhelmed that we become weak. Let the Lord be the focus of that time, and let all that comes from our lips be not about us and our doings, but about HIM and HIS DOINGS. I want to one day fully fell and experience the glory of the Lord, but first I have to as a man and a Christian, see that He is good when everything might be pointed opposite.

God’s glory should not just become trending in our lives when the seasons or situations of life become better. Let the Lord’s glory be glorious throughout EVERY SEASON and SITUATION. God is not just a good God in a good season, but He is a GREAT God in all seasons. Fall on your face or at His feet, due to the overwhelming power of His glory. SEE IT, EXPERIENCE IT, and PREACH IT.

Promise Reigns in Hopeless Times & Situations (Judges 13)

Standard

ImageHas a person ever promised you something, like a candy bar or a coffee? Or have adults ever promised you something, like money or to go somewhere? Better yet, has God ever promised you something, like to be something or do something incredible? Have you ever felt that discouragement when that something just seems to NEVER be coming, when in reality God is GROWING you to make you STRONGER for when HE PUTS you in that position. God’s promises are NEVER FAILING, and if we have the patience or the will, you WILL see them come to pass.

In Judges 13, we read the start of how Samson came to be by the interesting promised filled story of his father and mother. Judges 13:1-7 reads:

“And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.

There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children. And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” Then the woman came and told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. I did not ask him where he was from, and he did not tell me his name, but he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. So then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’”” (Judges 13:1-7, emphasis on verse 1)

God is PROMISING something, when God SHOULD be PUNISHING. If you look closely at verse one of this chapter, God is not very happy with Israel and gives them over to the Philistines, but yet God promises a barren wife and her husband a son. Out of something that is RUINED, and lost of HOPE comes a slim  line of hope, through the ONE who SAVES.

This promise is a promise that makes Manoah, the father, seek the Lord and seek guidance for he believes that the Father can, but Manoah wants to do it right. Through Judges 13, the reader would go through two paragraphs of circumstances, where Manoah sought out the Lord for guidance, and the Lord came to speak more of the promise.

1. Seek The Lord, When Promises are made Between YOU & GOD…. (Judges 8-20)

Manoah and his barren wife were promised a son, which was only possible if the Lord blessed them with it so the only thing they could do is BELIEVE and SEEK. God is a God that knows what you are going through and what is really on your heart, so do not think you are hiding anything from God. Tell God about your disbelief of the PROMISE He made you, tell Him about your anger of why it has not come, and tell Him your frustration about where you currently are in life. Because you are not telling it to God does not mean He does not know.

Manoah and his wife sought out the Lord for guidance and understanding about where they would have to go from here, they DID NOT mope about the time it WOULD TAKE FOR THE SON TO COME. Through there seeking, they found God and GREW in there KNOWING OF HIM, instead of there defeat in the frustration it is not happening there way.

2. Through the SEEKING OF THE LORD in a RUINED time, the Lord PROMISE PREVAILED & HOPE CONQUERED… (Judges 13:21-25)

“21 The angel of the Lord appeared no more to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the Lord. 22 And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” 23 But his wife said to him, “If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.” 24 And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson. And the young man grew, and the Lord blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.” (Judges 13:21-25, emphasis added in verse 23)

“But his wife said to him, “If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.”” (Judges 13:23) That verse brings to life the heart of the message, that when God wants to REIGN PROMISES in our lives, we will GROW CLOSER to Him like never before. Manoah and his wife saw a situation that had NO HOPE, to seeing the GLORY of GOD, to seeing THE HOPE RESTORED and the PROMISE REIGN. When God promises His people something it is not just for Him, but it is for the growing of ourselves included. Samson is going to be a historic figure, but Manoah and his wife do not know that, because all they know is the promise of God. And that is what THEY LIVE OFF OF.

If you read this message and get nothing from it, GET THIS: God knows what He is doing, and ALL His promises will come to LIFE, but SEEK HIM until they do. Do not be caught up in the frustration, bitterness, or anger because you do not understand why you are not there yet. But be CAUGHT UP in the PRESENCE OF GOD growing in what He is teaching you now, to become that person He is calling you TO BE!

“The Just Church” – Jim Martin

Standard

Jim Martin takes the reader through three adventures throughout his book, The Just Church. These three adventures that the readers go on are; preparing our hearts for feeling aguish for the injustices of this world, how to start a justice ministry in your church, and stories of churches that have started a justice ministry. The Just Church takes the reader on three different adventures for three different type of people.

the-just-church-jim-martin

1. People Who WANT a BROKEN HEART for INJUSTICE

Part 1 of Jim Martin’s book was filled with wisdom and knowledge that all believers need to go to battle or even start a justice ministry, which was the idea of “hitting failure point.” This idea has given eye opening thoughts of walking in true faith that God will have to prevail or nothing will come of it. Jim Martin gives great insight through this whole Part 1 of his book by incorporating this idea with faith, relationships and discipleship.

Jim Martin’s idea of “hitting failure point” is something that all believers should consider when dealing with mountains of life where faith in God alone is the ONLY ANSWER.

This first part of the book is really for the readers who want to know more about injustice and how to deal with a broken heart for these injustices of this world. Or even for the believers, who are so self-focused that they do not realize the injustices in the world.

2. People Building a JUSTICE MINISTRY

Part 2 of The Just Church is about the three phases of building a justice ministry. Jim Martin goes through these three phases in a depth that it is more of a “how-to” guide of how to start and sustain a ministry that brings justice to the injustices. These three phases that Jim Martin brings the reader to become familiar with are; the Encounter, Explore and Engages phases. These three phases that Jim Martin goes in depth about is a help for the reader that is in need of a guide of how to start a justice ministry.

This part of The Just Church is really for those church leaders, or people who are looking to get started in doing something in there church against injustices. If the reader is just looking for a feeding of how to pray or just know wisdom about the injustices of this world, then this part of the book gets lengthy. This is not saying that this part of the book the reader should not read if they are not interested in starting a justice ministry, but it is just saying that it may seem lengthy if the reader is not looking to start such a project.

3. Stories That BRING it ALL TOGETHER

Just as in sermons, when pastors or preachers use stories to illustrate how all that they just spoke about relates or works together, so does Jim Martin in The Just Church.

This part of The Just Church is an interesting and good part to read if the reader really wants to see how the content of what they just read looks in real life situations. This section of the book is for BOTH set of people that are going to read this book. I say this for the fact that this section shows and guides the reader into a sense of settlement of the truth that the content of this book WILL HELP BUILD A JUSTICE MINISTRY in time. That settlement might call a reader into starting one, or call a reader into a broken heart for all the churches that do not have a justice ministry.

Opinion of the WHOLE BOOK!

As for this Jim Martin’s, The Just Church, I would give it to everyone that is thinking about doing full time ministry or are already in it, because it is essential for both types of people illustrated above. I thought it was a very insightful and wisdom filled book that could bring many believers to start feeling the anguish for the injustices or stop being self centered people.

Tyndale House Publishers have provided me with a complimentary copy of The Just Church by Jim Martin. 

Making of Idols (Mark 7:6-13)

Standard

How many things in your life have you went to before you went to the LORD? How many people do you say, “they make me better, and I rely on them to make me better?” How many things do we convert to IDOLS because we do not see them as that, until God convicts them that they are such things?

Idols are things or objects or even traditions that we, as humans, tend to RUN TO to make us better, or to put in place of God. This is meaning that we run to them to fix our problems, to make us a better person than we are, or make us feel good about ourselves. Idols are so easy to let into our lives, and then when we do the enemy has a foothold to our lives, this is why they are so pivotal to realize what actions we are taking or what things we are living for or running to. The things that we run to, besides the Lord, or that we rely on, are ALWAYS the IDOLS that we have built into our lives.

The Pharisees and the Scribes ran to there TRADITIONS and RULES OF THERE ELDERS, instead of running to the LORD’S COMMANDMENTS. In Mark 7, we get to see what exactly Jesus thinks about having things in our lives that we LIVE ON or RUN TO instead of HIM…

“6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God) 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”” (Mark 7:6-13)

Jesus is staying two things here:

1. Stop Running to Things that ARE NOT ME

Idols have a way to make it into our lives or things that are good to us have a way to become something that we start idolizing, and we stop TENDING to the LORD who wants ALL OF US. There is NOTHING in this world that can OUT DUE or OUT PROVE the LOVE OR PRESENCE OF GOD, the reason being is that the LORD is EVERLASTING and this WORLD IS TEMPORARY. Stop serving the TEMPORARY and SERVE the ETERNAL. I am not saying that you can not have people that you go to for Godly advice, or encouragement through a trial that you may be facing. I am saying DO NOT RELY on that person to make you HAPPY or GIVE YOU JOY. FIX YOUR PROBLEM or MAKE YOU A BETTER YOU. That is when you have taken what is GOOD and turned it into something that you PUT IN PLACE OF GOD.

2. TEND what the WORD says, and NOT what the WORLD tempts

The world that is filled with all temporary things has a lot of stuff that the enemy will use to make you temporarily happy or filled with joy, because that is EXACTLY what the Enemy wants to do. But the truth is, that TEMPORARY happiness that the World is not as good or as gratifying as the ETERNAL JOY we get in JESUS or the WORD. So in ALL things, tend to the Word daily. Let it not be something that you read and check off, but let it be something that we RUN TO, SERVE, and MEDITATE ON. Because the only way to keep from idolizing things that are temporary is by FILLING THE TIME WITH SERVING AND RUNNING TOWARD THE LORD.