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Friday, September 17, 2010

Newspaper articles and my worldview

Have you ever just perused the various headlines in the local paper and then evaluate them according to what has shaped your worldview? I find it to be very interesting exercise which keeps me studying and trying to understand what “in the world” is going on. Today’s headlines and a fortuitous phone call this morning help me to keep things in prospective.
Today’s biggest headline draws all our attention to the fact that the American poverty rate has set a record for the number of people in poverty. The article also explains that without extended unemployment benefits another 3.3 million would have fallen into poverty in 2009. Interestingly, the 14.3% of Americans in poverty were lower than was projected.
Right next to this big article was a smaller article fitted into the lower right hand corner. It read, “If Bush tax cuts expire, everyone pays.” The article would go on to show that all socio-economic groups with a family income of over $50,000 and being a family of four, would see an increase in their taxes. Interestingly, the poverty rate for a family of four, as stated by our government, is $21,954! Seriously, can any family of four live in California for less than $30,000, and not be considered impoverished?
The median household income held “steady” at $49.777. This is somewhat artificial because more households have multiple jobs. This not only artificially inflates the actual earnings of a family it deflates the real unemployment/underemployment figures. It also means, in a literal sense, that virtually 50% of American households will have less money to meet their needs if the tax increases go into effect. It also means that the number of people who are counted as impoverished will almost certainly grow.
So how does my worldview inform my disseminating of this information? First, it is far more complex than I wish. Poverty is an issue that is part of a clarion call in my faith to respond to, proactively, and with an understanding it will be a constant segment of a nation’s population . It involves the issues of compassion, empathy, dignity, justice, and advocacy. How these components blend together is difficult on the individual level.
Second, my worldview also holds that the least likely component of society to address this situation effectively and efficiently is a government organization. The government is a “power” and without an external guiding force (for me this is firmly rooted in Jesus Christ) power becomes corrupted. Thus, government begins to perpetuate problems, ills, and maladies by insuring it can continue to exist. It only seeks to relieve the daily needs and seldom seeks long-term solutions which will benefit not only the people in need but the whole population the government is supposed to be serving.
The very best means to address issues related to poverty is to release funding into the community benefit organizations (CBO’s) and religious organizations of the nation. There is no comparison to the effectiveness and efficiency of CBO’s and religious organization and that of the government. What the governments spends in administrative costs alone would bankrupt most other institutions. If that money were to be released into society through the CBO’s and religious organizations expertise American would be transformed in a very short period of time.
You may ask if government should have a role at all and I do say, “yes” to this. Some issues, particularly in regard to mental health, need significant governmental leadership. Additionally, the disbursement of monies should have strong accountability toward issues of sustainability, accountability, and results. This is simply an issue of good stewardship. The people of America have little problem turning over money when accountability is adhered too. Yet, no organization should be depending on government money (that includes the government!). Of course this is misnomer anyway. The government cannot produce money. It can only collect money. And that money comes from the people. It is a form of property and a government which does not utilize this money properly is, quite frankly, evil. If government became a proponent and adherent to being accountable and showing results people would respond in an overwhelming manner.
The cost of a “bridge to nowhere” and other frivolous “pork barrel” spending could have helped thousands of families to getting headed toward a stronger financial situation which didn’t include dependency on the government. It is the charity of people that best serves the needs of those who have made poor choices or someone else’s choices have brought about their unfortunate situation. It is the CBO’s and religious organizations, which have a strong adherence to results and accountability, which are the most effective means by which to change the course of an individual and community’s direction.
So I close with this blog with a phone call I received this morning. “Alma” was 101 years old when she passed on to the rewards of eternal life. She was brought up in a society which not only supported itself, but also rallied to support each other. She remembered both World Wars, the Depression, and far too many historical episodes to recount, saw her husband and both her sons die before her time was up, yet remained a steadfast independent woman who invested and made sure her needs would be met. Yes, government played some part, as it probably should, but she didn’t see government as the chief means toward this end.
Yes, she collected social security and utilized medical/medicare. All of which she paid into over her decades of work. What wasn’t appreciated was how the money she put in was continually pulled out to meet other government budget issues (i.e. pork barrel and frivolous spending). If we get dinged for pulling money out of our 401k’s and other investments, why does the government get away with it? You wouldn’t have wanted to get her started on this conversation!
I marvel at her life. A generation that understood how to work hard, care for others, sacrifice for a nation, and exhibit generosity to those who demonstrated need and a willingness to move out of that need. I sure hope our government and our people in America will grasp this before it is too late. I am committed to these principles.
Until the next time…

Monday, September 13, 2010

Transitions

According to the dictionary I have at home “transition” means, “passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another” and “a movement, development or evolution from one form, stage or style to another.”
I would alter this a bit for a definition, through a compilation of these definitions to say, “a passage to a stage brought about by a movement and development from one form to another.” This is where I find myself in life. I am about to move from one “stage” to another and this has been brought about by a strong sense of my development and through a clear leading of the Holy Spirit in my life. I am moving from one form (lead pastor of a Central Community Church) to another form (full-time Executive Director of Highway City Community Development).
As someone who has had the privilege and honor of being allowed to start a new church which was focused on Christ through holistic ministry, cross-cultural diversity (age, gender, race, socio-economics), and evangelism (living and speaking the life Christ) I am now being allowed to enter into a new stage of that ministry.
Highway City Community Development, while “legally” a separate entity from Central Community Church, is spiritually and relationally intertwined. Both organizations are focused on the same geographical areas (Highway City and the Central Unified School District) and function with the same ministry philosophy (a strong holistic theology and understanding of a theology of place). Yet, as one being a church and the other a 501 (c) 3 Community Benefit Organization, they have different functions and needs when it comes to leadership. This is where my understanding of my “development” has become so much clearer.
Maybe it is because of passing the half century mark in age, or more likely a better theological understanding that God created me with specific gifts and abilities, but I have come to understand, quite clearly, what I can provide and what I can’t provide to both entities. What Central Community Church needs for its healthy future is different from what I am created, wired, and trained to do. What Highway City Community Development appears to needs is very much in line with those same issues. My faith tells me that the next stage should be entered with full enthusiasm despite the sadness that comes with changing the look of many relationships.
I think this is what keeps most people from making the God directed transitions in life. We fear the change that comes to our relationships. All of our relationships are going to change. Our relationships with God (what if I heard wrong or I can’t receive the same financial support?); our relationships with people (the leadership dynamic changes, the people’s perspective have to be altered); and our relationships with family (routines will be changed, availability may be altered, and access to material “givens” may change due to possible changes in income). These are all VERY significant issues which cannot be dismissed. But, if we truly believe that God is in control, they are issues which can be addressed. And, by doing so, each of the stated relationships can actually become deeper, more vital, and more supportive as the community moves into the transition. Ultimately, this is how transition is to be understood.
We are not created to be alone, nor can we ever believe that our “personal issues” aren’t part of what affects the whole community. An individual who is moving through a transition is also part of community which also must move through the transition. It is much more profound when the individual is the designated “leader” of the particular communities in which they live out their lives.
This is the point of my “new” journey which has been the hardest to wrestle with and to insure I remain gentle, but resolute in what I believe God is leading me (and my communities) into. It is humbling to realize (finally?) that I make a difference in people’s lives. In fact, humbling, doesn’t seem to come close to what I am trying to communicate. I made such a mess of my life before meeting Christ. I hurt people deeply. Even worse than that though, was that I didn’t even care how others might be affected. I made decisions solely on how I felt and what I would get (gain) from those decisions. I am so grateful that Christ NEVER gives up on any of us. If you don’t know Christ, or reject Him at this very minute, I want you to know that He hasn’t rejected you. He is still reaching out to you through your circumstances and various people around you. Just keep that in mind. And now, through the grace and mercy of God, I am now allowed to influence people to the God who created me; the God who waited for me; the God who would die for me so that my life would bring honor to Him.
This blog entry is dedicated to those who are near in vicinity and those who have made the effort to communicate their love for me from afar. Those who are “afar”; Catherine, Rheanna, Sarah, Jesse, Mike, Katie, Jen, Ben, Darin and so many others who have let me know I made a difference. That is hard to grasp, yet so encouraging toward making the decision to be obedient in this new transition. Those in close proximity are too numerous to count and list and I pray that this transition will be seen as the opportunity from God to move you even closer to Him. You are the main instruments He has used to help me to this next stage of ministry.
So, a new adventure is underway. Metaphorically, we are packing our bags and readying ourselves for what lies ahead. The direction seems clear, but the steps certainly are not. What I do know is this: My God has a sacrificial love for me, and my friends will be moving along in the journey with me because this too is their journey. It is also their adventure. We all have the opportunity to become more like what God has planned for us to become. I pray each of you read this will also embrace the journey. God’s blessing on all of you.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Understanding Sovereignty of God

Life is filled with ups and downs; backwards and forward movements; questions about what direction to head in; and a key question “Did I go in the right direction?”

The reality is that none of these things can be changed, mitigated, or even ignored. Every aspect of life, but the One, is a variable. While we can make a lot of “good” decisions, those decisions often don’t lead to the positive outcomes we envisioned. The decisions of too many other people affect the outcome of our decisions. We even get in the way of our own “right” decisions.

The decision to stay in one place, maintain the status quo, not “rocking the boat,” or not striving for changes in our lives, leads to the very thing we are trying to protect. Mainly, what we perceive as stability. We equate “stability” as the staying the same. We equate stability as what is “normal.” We even equate stability as a “blessing from God.” Yet, from a sociological perspective, or a psychological perspective, or a theological perspective, this pursuit of “staying the same” is useless. At its best, it is merely a wishful thought. At its worst, it is mental and spiritual frustration which leads to detrimental outcomes as we react negatively to our inability to control circumstances.

Change is the one constant in our daily lives that we can be assured of outside of the Sovereignty of God. In fact, a healthy informed understanding in the Sovereignty of God actually builds up our faith and strength to endure the fundamentally important issues of change.

ALL of God is everywhere, all the time, and knows every possible outcome to every decision that can possibly be made by His prized creation, the Human Race. He isn’t parted out in the world, He is always WHOLE at all times. He is present, in his entirety, in every situation, at every moment of every day. We can’t possibly understand this in our finite thinking. Yet, when a person looks back on their lives they realize there are unexplainable “coincidences,” encounters, and “chance” meetings that weren’t part of our thinking in moving toward a direction we hoped to go in. For those who want to believe in a Sovereign God, these are the clues toward this issue of ALL of God being everywhere, all the time. Others, seeking “spirituality,” chalk this up to “karma,” good luck/fortune, or even simply, chance. It is a shame to minimize the level of compassion and care God pours out to His fallen creation.

For the believer in the Sovereign God of Creation, it is His ability to deal with our Free Will, and bring about solutions that will lead others to Him and benefit His followers that should cause us to be in AWE of HIM. This applies to the “good” situations as well as the “bad” situations. A belief in a Sovereign God helps one understand that other people’s decisions can negatively (and positively) affect us. Yet, this Sovereign God is in control.

House fires might be a useful way of understanding this in our “humanistic” thinking (yes, this unfortunately is how too many Christians think).

House fires are almost always the result of a human error or lack of effort in some way, shape or form. Oil got too hot on the stove, kid played with matches, Christmas tree dried out, a person falls asleep smoking, arson, or a worker didn’t properly insulate the electrical issues of the home. The possible ways for a home fire to start are many, but are almost always the result of some type of human error. This is EXACTLY how human life is lived out. “House fires” can occur at any time.

A House fire is difficult to put out if not caught at the very beginning of the igniting. Once the initial outburst has expanded there will ALWAYS be some type of significant damage. If the fire department is notified quickly they will show up in a matter of minutes (Fireman are awesome in their response). They attack the fire with a three-fold, simultaneous counter-attack. They seek to preserve life (rescue), preserve as much of the home as they possibly can, AND insure that other homes do not get damaged by fire.

This is how the Sovereignty of God plays out when our free will is exercised in such a way as to cause a “house fire.” He seeks to rescue all who are in immediate danger to the decision that has been made.
At the very same time, He seeks to preserve as much of the person(s) life that can possible be preserved. This is the ultimate issue concerning the Person, Work, and Position at the Right Hand of God of Jesus Christ. He seeks, actively and aggressively, to preserve the lives of the people He Created. Finally, in the midst of the first two items, God seeks to preserve that which is around the life of the one who made a poor decision (whether it is from neglect, evil intent, or accident).

Interestingly enough, God responds to our poor decisions (no matter the reason the decision is rendered as poor) much like the Fire Department. Bottom line, people have to react as if they need help!

The Fire Department can’t respond if it doesn’t know there is a problem. They have a difficult time rescuing people if they don’t have good information (although they will risk their lives to insure people aren’t in danger). And they have a difficult time achieving their mission without the cooperation of the neighborhood.

This is not dissimilar from God Himself. While the Fire Department can’t do its job without notification, God “Waits” for our notification that something is wrong. This is called “confession.” It is not that God won’t intervene without our call (He certainly does many times), but His care and nurturing of our Free Will compels Him to wait.

Likewise, He will come to the “rescue” of the people calling out. Sometimes that comes too late (the people waited to call) for a total rescue, but He will literally reach into the fire to grab us. We just need to give him all the information (another part of the confession). He already knows (unlike the fire department) but it is our admittance of need that is important. The final issue of “rescue” is also important.

As God responds to “save” our lives (our call for help), as He risks His Own life to rescue us do to our plea for help (salvation through Christ), He is also seeking the rescue those around us. Fireman are often admired not because of what they saved, but by the people they helped to not suffer. This is the ultimate act and desire of God. He wants to keep people “well.” They didn’t necessarily “feel the need” for the fire department but are grateful they showed up on behalf of others and showed concern for them as well.

Life is filled with ups and downs; backwards and forward movements; questions about what direction to head in; and a key question “Did I go in the right direction?” (Yes, I copied and pasted from above!). Have you expressed thanks and appreciation that the “FIREMAN” has showed up in our life and done exactly what He has promised to do? Do you understand that He has done all the work necessary for you to be “rescued?” Have you seen people’s lives changed by God and how that has positively affected your life? Don’t think it was accident. Even if you have ignored God He is actively involved in your life.

Don’t ignore these issues. Proclaim, privately or publicly, gratefulness to the Sovereign God of All Creation. Your life is going to change whether you like it or not. It is time to embrace (receive) and trust (believe) in Jesus Christ as the means by which to have meaning and fullness in this life and guarantee a positive life which is eternal, after you cease to exist on this earth.
Get hold of me and I’ll help you meet the God who waited for me to finally call on His Name and changed my life. It is your choice.

CHOOSE WISELY!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Becoming Truly Human

One of the more important questions we can ask ourselves is “Am I truly being human?” Now some would simply say, using a biologically based worldview, because of their genetic makeup they are human. Others, coming from an existentialist mindset, would simply say, “yes” because they think, there for they are. Many Christians would wonder why the question is being asked. Unfortunately, while acknowledging they are “human” because the Bible says so (not necessarily misguided), they will not go deeper into the actually theological ramifications of what being “human” actually means.
It is the Christian I wish to address in this particular blog. Not to neglect the existentialist, the moralist, the atheist, the spiritualist, the environmentalist, or any other person. It is just that my perspective on life and living is being established (and continuing to be established/transformed) through a biblical worldview.
This biblical worldview doesn’t make God the center of my life. It doesn’t even make Christ the center of my life. The very idea is a distinctly western in its perspective. It works for the westerner because we think categorically and, most often, in a linear fashion. Like most cultural perspectives, it is not necessarily wrong, it is just gives us an incomplete picture of how God actually works through our lives and in the daily issues of life itself.
My understanding of Scripture, and the continued development of my biblical worldview, is teaching me that God cannot be “centered” into my life. The renewing of my mind is actually confronting this thought process. My theology is teaching me that God is transcendent. Thus, I can’t “center” God/Christ/Holy Spirit (yes, I’m strongly Trinitarian which is a whole other discussion which feeds this human issue). What is required is that I seek to “center” myself in God/Christ/Holy Spirit. If I can’t place a thought, action, or attitude “in” God/Christ/Holy Spirit I must seek to have it removed from my existence. And that leads me into the direct discussion of being truly “human.”
As a Christian you know the Scripture from Genesis which states, “…’Let us make man (word is actually human in Hebrew) in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man (human) in his own image, in the image of God he created him (them); male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:26-28, NIV)
The foundation of “being truly human” is found right here. The creation of the human race was orchestrated different than the rest of creation. The first humans were not spoken into existence. Unlike the rest of creation, we were formed out of that which was already created. Male was formed from the dirt (feminists love that!), female was formed out the substance of the man (feminists hate this!). This is discovered in Genesis chapter two. The reason we are in God’s image, is stated in Genesis 2:7. We discover that God breathed into Adam His essence. Adam was brought to life through the work of God being imputed into Adam (direct parallel to salvation itself, yet again another discussion). To be truly human is to take hold of the specialness of our existence. We have a purposeful, specific life designed for us. The rest of Genesis 1:26-28 spells this out for us.
What we discover, and what is so heatedly disputed among many, even those who hold to a belief in the Christian faith, is that creation was created for HUMANS! Everything that was created before the human race is for our benefit. The benefits are multi-faceted. And if held in the proper tension, means we have an incredible world in which to live. Here are the benefits in their relative order of importance.
First benefit, creation keeps us mindful that God exists. The wonder of the universe, the ecosystems of our planet, plants and animals, and the molecular and atomic discoveries we continue to make keep us enthralled and mindful that we can’t grasp it all. Paul refers to this issue when he wrote, “…since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine authority—have been clearly seen, being understood from what was been made, so that men (and women!) are without excuse (Romans 1:20).” This first benefit, if acknowledged, keeps us humble and should generate the desire to use what God has created for us well. It should be our chief motivation toward stewarding, caring for creation. It doesn’t just exist for our immediate needs, it exists for the needs of those who will follow us. That brings us to the second benefit.
The second benefit is that we have a stated purpose in our daily existence. Because we are created in God’s image, we have an innate drive to care for and cultivate what was created for our benefit. We have a “role” to act out in our everyday life. We have “authority” over that which was created for us. But that role must be used wisely, and with selflessness. You may ask, “How does he reach that conclusion?” I believe it is found in the third benefit.
The third benefit is that we have been granted the privilege of being able to “create” ourselves. God decided that we could “be fruitful and increase in number.” Like the first two humans, we create out of substance which already exists. And because Adam and Eve were created in the image of God every human afterwards is also an image bearer of God. Our “value” isn’t measured by our accomplishments, achievements or accolades. We have an intrinsic value. This also means we cannot “devalue” any other human. Someone’s lack of accomplishments, achievements, or accolades has no bearing on God’s love for that person. Likewise, those who sharply oppose our viewpoints have to be looked at as people created in the image of God. That person may be failing miserably in being an image bearer of God yet we are still to protect their dignity, and remember their intrinsic value. We cannot cheapen their life under the guise of protecting other lives. This is why abortion, torture, genocide, racism, sexism, chauvinism, feminism (surely there are more categories) are abhorrent. They are accomplished out of a misguided worldview that it is better for other humans if we disregard this one human’s intrinsic value.
This high regard for the intrinsic value of human life creates helps us to steward resources properly. This biblical worldview means that we don’t practice good stewardship of resources for our daily existence. Instead, we practice the good stewardship of resources as a way to honor God for providing for us so well, and insuring we are providing for those who will follow after us. Honoring the intrinsic value of being human leads us to make decisions that are consistently “other” oriented. We seek to preserve what God has created and seek to insure that others will benefit as we have benefitted. It is terribly misguided to discount “environmentalism” because the “environmentalist” has a worldview may be skewed. At the core of Christian theology is the notion that humans were created to “rule” in order for future generations to know and honor God because Creation is wondrous and inspires awe.
This brings me to the conclusion of this blog. Thank you for reading. The stereotypical environmentalist is operating from a worldview that “creation” is equal to the value of “humanity.” A biblical worldview stands in direct opposition to this notion. I am called to “rule” over the whale, the dolphin, the delta smelt (might have to be a Californian to get that one), and how the land gets used and what is constructed and invented and implemented into the lifestyle of this world.
To “rule” does not mean I can discount any of these issues though. If I am to “rule” like God (I’m created in His image so I must seek to “rule” like Him) I must see the world in its totality. I must seek to measure all the possible consequences. With this perspective it is quite possible that a supposedly “good” invention may need to be put aside because the consequences can’t, at the current time, be mitigated in such a way as to prevent the possible destruction of another part of creation.
Ultimately, and this is my conclusion. To be truly human is to understand our proper place in creation. The very word “human” helps drive this home. Our English word for “human” is derived from a Latin root word which communicates humility. It means “knowing your place.” We, humans, live lives which are between God and all the other things God created. It is important to understand that creation can exist without us! God’s created a system which can self-exist. We have the privilege of being placed within a system which benefits us and we are allowed to utilize it for our communities (present and future) and we are given the privilege to accomplish this in such a way that we can bring honor to the Creator. To be truly human is to live out the totality of our lives in a way which honors God and serves the rest of the human race. Many Christians are falling short of being truly human. Seek Christ’s example “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing (human if you miss that subtly) taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness…” To truly be human is to seek to serve the needs of others and to do so with a firm eye and pleasing the God Who created ALL of us. Make it so!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Jeff's 40 Day Fast with God

Fasting in an interesting component of the Christina faith and is exercised in a variety of ways in Scripture. We will find 40 day fasts and partial day fasts if we read diligently through His Word. Jesus’ own words indicate that fasting is an assumed discipline of our faith and is an integral part of our prayer life. It would seem, at least according to Jesus’ words, that fasting, giving, prayer, and loving each other are givens to genuine faith.
I used to have a regular practice of fasting, but to completely authentic, I don’t know when this ceased to be important to my life. In fact, this was a revelation in my time of prayer with God. I couldn’t figure out when it stopped and why I wasn’t doing it any longer. I had become the typical Christian in America who leaves fasting out of my spiritual life. Yet, based on the authority of Scripture, it is an important element of our prayer life.
Somewhere in early April my God began to try to communicate some issues which needed to be addressed in my life. Early on I realize it was time to get my weight changed. Since I didn’t have an NFL contract there really wasn’t a reason to be carrying 304lbs around. Despite the notion that I could “carry it well” it was simply unhealthy. Of course, the core issue wasn’t my weight, but the attitude and lack of discipline which caused the weight to be there. As with all sin, the consequence isn’t what we are to deal with, it is the attitude and mind-set which must be brought into conformity with God’s will for our lives.
I promptly lost 10lbs because I’m a guy. But the reality check was I couldn’t lose more. For the first time in my life I couldn’t lose weight simply because I wanted to. I was working out, etc. and nothing changed. I truly believe God’s speaks to us through the areas we listen best and this is an area I pay attention to. Toward the middle of April I was hearing loud and clear that something had to change. I began to sense that fasting component, but 40 days surely wasn’t what I was hearing. I’ve never fasted more than 7 days. A typical American.
But, I soon was hearing this loud and clear. I think I was even beginning to agree with when God gave the clear “sign.” I was at a conference for pastoral excellence due to the generosity of a fellow pastor (J.R. Coleman of The Word Community Church in Fresno). We had raffle tickets. I had been wrestling with God all morning about this 40 day fasting gig. I think I was leaning in his direction (reluctant obedience) but God would insure I got the message. I NEVER win raffles. I even stated this at my table.
The first number called was mine! So I went up and collected my book. What to venture a guess at the title of the book? Yes, it was called “Fasting” and written by Jentezen Franklin. Hey, Jentezen, just want you to know that God used your book to solidify His desire for my life. While I can certainly be slow on the up take, I got the message loud and clear. I ate lunch (J.R. had paid for it) and I began the 40 fast immediately. It was also made clear that it would be only water and tea. My personality type lends to just doing something so I started it.
Today I am in day 38 and I have experienced some incredible insights into my own behaviors which lent themselves to God needing to discipline me. Not punishment, but to get my life more in line for His Will to manifest more completely in what He has designed me to accomplish through the work He has already prepared for me to accomplish to His Glory.
Today has been an exceptional day. Through the generosity of Bruce and Alicia Negri, the owners of Shaver Lake Village Hotel I’ve had a place of solitude in the mountains. The mountains are a huge piece to me being connected to God. I love the outdoors, but especially the mountains. The magnificence of the mountains, the quietness of nature, and in this case, the fresh snow, contribute to a great sense of serenity and awe of my Creator. Several breakthroughs have taken place today.
I am so grateful for so many of you at CCC and other friendships who have fasted meals and prayed specifically for me during this journey. Please know your partnerships have helped me become something different. I have strong sense of being different. There have been supernaturally changes and impartations which will be revealed in the weeks to come. God gave a great confirmation to one area of our ministry today.
I was resolved to be technology free after my morning got going. I resolved not to respond to e-mails, text, and phone calls. I was deep in prayer, reading Psalms, and journaling what was being revealed. But somewhere this afternoon (I could check my phone for the specific time but I don’t believe it is relevant) my phone rang. I ignored it. Yet, I believe because of the Spirit’s leading, I decided to check my e-mail. This was no small task because I had over 300 message waiting for me. But, my cursor seemed to land on this one particular message. I read t and decided to call the person immediately. I had no sense I was “violating” my “no technology” day. In fact, I sense of urgency to respond out of my respect and care for the individual sending the message. I actually don’t know if that was the person who called but it is probably irrelevant.
Now before the phone call is described I need to share what some of my prayer had been about. As I read through Psalms I kept being reminded of David’s constant telling to God that he was faithful, righteous, and seeking to never violate God’s commands, precepts and laws. Now, any of us who know Scripture know that David sinned grievously against the Lord by committing adultery and then murdering the husband of the woman he committed the act with. Yet, David’s love for God, his desire to please His God, led Him to acknowledge the sin and even to accept the earthly consequence of that sin. It was because of this type of “Christian” faith that God would state that David, “was a man after His own heart.” Perfection isn’t what God looks for in our faith. We are incapable of such, which is the reason for our need for Christ. But, the closer we are to pursuing God the quick and more completely we are willing and able to seek God’s forgiveness and restoration to being in relationship to Him. David was one who readily admitted his inadequacies and sought to be close to God.
Today, this hit me hard. I had no right to disqualify myself from God’s plans simply because I wasn’t “perfect.” That isn’t even His desire for me. His desire for me is to seek after Him all that I do and when I fail look to Him. Admit my inadequacies and allow Him to transform and restore me to His original plan for my life. My life matters to Him and it matters to how He wants me to be used for the benefit of others.
The ministries I am allowed to lead, Central Community Church and Highway City Community Development, have mighty goals based on what we believe God’s vision is for the community Highway City and Central Unified School District. One of those goals is to establish the Urban Leadership Training Center which we will call “The Hub.” This ministry will train up college age and others to become ministers in urban settings all over the United States. They will be trained in racial reconciliation, learning to be cross-cultural, helping develop indigenous leadership, and being trained in advocacy and training the local community to do the same. They will accomplish this by living among the people they are called to serve. It is vitally important that we have a director to help guide, train, and counsel these interns. They will live in biblical community for 10 months. We need to raise the funding to pay the salary for this person. He is already picked out and has been in a training program with “The Pink House” in Fresno (we will be partners with them and follow their lead).
Today I, with a great deal of discomfort, asked God to come to our aid. I asked Him to search my heart if what I was envisioning in this ministry was not for Him alone. I asked Him if my integrity of spirit was not what I felt it to be. I asked, if this servant (me), would be found righteous in His eyes if He would not pour out a blessing to sustain our ministries. It was after journaling these prayers and continuing to pray that I answered the above mentioned e-mail.
I was informed we would be receiving a $1,000 check toward Highway City Community Development. We will use this to begin the support raising for The Hub’s director.
I did not fast to receive anything from God. Quite simply, I fasted because I sincerely believe God told me to. I also confess that there is no way I could have completed this unless, as Caleb said, “the Lord helping me” it would be accomplished. I do not understand why God blesses simple obedience. But, I do know that all through Scripture He promises to do just that.
This fast has changed my life. It has changed my relationship with my Creator and Savior. It has changed how I pray and how I understand the dynamics of “failure” in my faith. I pray the transformation of my life will be a direct benefit to the people who cross my path each and every day.
I hope this blog serves to encourage you and initiate a desire to more of the God who not only created you, but sacrificed Himself in order to participate in His original plan for your life. Simply put, to live WITH Him on a daily basis. The rest takes care of itself. God bless you.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Just Thinking

I'm just thinking about a situation that has occurred in my extended family. A "son" wondering why his "father" won't look for him. All along the father was looking for the son. One day, due to a "coincidence," the father gets a lead and finds his son. The son is joyful, the father is joyful, and the extended family of the father (and son) is also joyful. This is true life scenario in my clan just realized in the last few days.

How similar this is to the actual pursuit of The Father, to all his sons (and daughters). It sometimes takes a coincidence, the convergence of unlikely scenarios, for the sons and daughters to discover the father does love them and has been actively pursuing. It also demonstrates the joy the family of God is to have when the "lost child" is truly found. The "new family" is to embrace, express love, and share about life so the "new member" can quickly become "family."

So glad our Father is in constant pursuit. May I search for the "lost" as faithfully as the True Father.