Monday, March 3, 2008

Conviction or Condemnation?

I'm sitting here at the house office watching the snow start to finally fade from falling. It had to be like 2 nights ago that I was laying in bed and thought to myself, "I can't believe that we went through a whole winter and didnt have one ice storm or mild snow fall in big D"...and alas, here we are!

I wish that you could see some of the emails and hear some of the phone calls that I have received over the last couple of weeks about how God is moving in the hearts of HC partners and guests alike.

One lady called me last week to tell me that the message moved her so much that she canceled an appointment that she had after service, went and picked up her son, who is in college, and had him sit in on the service.

My continued prayer is that our partners and guests will neither see nor hear me but open their spirits to the truth that unless we're leading a holy spirit guided life, we're hopeless sinners with little chance of doing anything bigger than the mess that we can make on our own. In that message, there will probably be a spirit of conviction that could fall on each of us if we're open to HIS guidance.

I know it probably seems pretty obvious, but I do want to point out to you the difference between condemnation and conviction because one is of God and one of the enemy.

I would advise you in these areas of your life to pray and begin to ask God if he's bringing the conviction or if the enemy is trying to condemn you b/c the truth is that we are sinners and as sinners, we're going to fall short of the glorious standard of our heavenly father. If it's conviction that coming, it often comes in his still small and yet gentle voice and it comes through kindness and gentleness...his Godly attributes.

But condemnation will punch you in the face. It'll suck the life out of you and make you wonder if you are a Christian at all. It'll make you wonder if you are worthy of our God's love and if you're entire life has been a fraud.

You have a past like us all and yet your sins no worse than mine...we're all in that kind of a place. In saying that, I dont believe God looks at you with any shame at all. He looks at you with forgiveness as his new creation...

As I'll talk about this coming week, God will love us regardless of how good or how bad we are just the same...he's no respector of persons...but in our attempt to become more like Jesus, the question we simply must ask ourselves is "are my actions today bringing me to become more like Christ or less like Christ." That's the real question and as we ask that question daily, it becomes evident that our hearts desire to be more like him than anything in the world...and just at that point, the Holy Spirit begins to produce fruit in us.

There may be some things that you continue to struggle with for a season and often God will allow us to wallow so that we'll become totally dependent on Him BUT my God is no author of shame so rebuke it and ask God to gently tap on your shoulder encourage you and lead you and he'll do it only with his loving kindness as the gentleman that he is.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Boulder Moments...

I keeled over and started a blog this week. I had one when the blog craze first started a couple of years ago, but it was very private; more of a venting session for myself than anything else. My vision for this one is a little more open-ended to serve as a ministry/communication with all of our partners at HC (Heartland). Perhaps, I'll share with you some of the intricacies of what we're working on around here, some things that peek my interest in my devotions throughout the week and perhaps a really funny video or something that gets sent my way...

Was doing a little surfing through today and came across a great verse that I think reflects what we talked about this past week during the 1st message of our FRUITS series. (If you dont use Biblegateway but consider yourself an internet junkie for everything...check it out!)

4-5 "...But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it's something only God can do, and you trust him to do it—you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked—well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift."

Romans 4:4-5 (MSG)

To be honest, I considered them an insult. To admit that there was a boulder impeding my path in life and I couldn't handle it was painfully difficult. So I'd talk a great game with those around me and set all of these lofty expectations about how I was going to conquer the boulders in my path...and then whenever I couldnt quite handle it on my own, I was the king of making excuses as a way to defer the blame. Somewhere along the way I thought that boulder moments were times for me to have bolder moments.

But lately, it's become incredibly apparent that God hates that kind of living. He is so tired of our pride and our desire to try and "be the one." I think he looks at us trying to move these colossal rocks that stand in front of us and shakes his head at our childish foolishness.

As a sidenote, most of the time, when I begin the process of developing a series, I usually spend a great deal of time trying to ask myself, "If there was only one sentence or one main point that I could make out of all of the millions of things that I could say, what would I want to say?" Usually, a message series develops out of that...and it usually takes weeks of agonizing and praying before it finally comes...

But when I found out that I was going to have the opportunity to have 3 week series in our main services a couple of months ago, I knew immediately that this whole concept of "fruitful living" was going to be the topic of discussion. Partly because I believe that it's a message that regardless of where you are in your journey with Christ, we all need to be reminded of...but moreover, because of the fact that I've realized recently as I've been trying to move some of these colossal rocks in my way, that it was in fact God who placed them there all along.

Fruitful living cannot happen if you're convinced that somehow, you can overcome the boulders in your path and life. Fruitful living occurs when you get over yourself and allow God to take control...

I truly believe with all of my heart that God will throw down huge boulders from heaven to see just how truly dependent we are. Most of us start running straight for the boulder convinced that we can smash through it, chisel it down or perhaps run around it.

But I am convinced more and more every day that the more helpless I feel, the greater the God in me becomes. He loves to come and lift us over the boulders in our lives, but he'll only do it when we learn to come to a place of absolute dependence.

If you are wallowing on the path today, just give it up. Stop wallowing helplessly telling God how unfair it is that this boulder is in your way. Take on that Romans 4 "trusting him to do it" personna and watch him lift you up and over the boulders that on your own were impossible to move, but with Him were nothing more than just a bump in a journey towards real life and total freedom.

You could never do it no matter how long and hard you worked. Just admit it. Get over your pride and get on with your dependence to a God who loves to come through for you in your boulder moments. Don't make the mistake of trying to be bolder during your boulder. Just keel over and give it up.