This I BELIEVE!

the-apostles-creed-newAlmost everyday, while growing up, my grandmother would call my siblings and I to her room for a mini service… we would sing a couple traditional hymns, work on memorizing Scripture, and she would always lead us in reciting the Apostle’s Creed.

Unfortunately, most Christians today have no idea what it is that they believe in… Most churches have stopped reading or reciting the Apostle’s Creed in their services especially as the mainline denominations fade away in our society.

The church of today no longer thinks it is necessary or “cool” to recite a creed that was put together by our forefathers based in the Truth of God’s Word for the church community to know exactly why they are united and what it is that they believe in.

My Thought Incarnate:
As a boy, the Apostle’s Creed was just something that I had to memorize for church and for grandma :)… but today, I’m very grateful that I not only know WHAT it is that I believe in, but what I believe in is the foundation of who I am and what I do. It saddens me to be a part of a generation that lives life in and out of churches without knowing exactly what it is that they believe in.

Thank you grandma!

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At the end of yourself?

Countless times I have shared with friends, family, acquaintances, and church folk that we need to put God in charge of the different areas of our lives and the hard circumstances we find ourselves in.
No matter what is going, we need to realize that if we are in charge: we will probably get burned out, our work will seem to get nowhere, and we run our of strength, ideas, energy, patience, and determination. Most of us end up in a state of despair.

Does this sound like you at all? (it’s where I’ve been for the last week) If so, we’re not alone. While studying 2 Corinthians chapter 1 last night and this morning I discovered that even the Apostle Paul (my hero) was there too.

Paul shares about his troubles in Asia (modern-day western Turkey) where he faced persecution, physical and mental violence, and other unmentioned sufferings. And in the midst of all that, he shares this:
“We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.
I’m sure that you’ve felt like that before. So lost, burdened, and hopeless that you didn’t know if you’d make it to the next minute. Or you were faced with a situation that had no way out except for giving up. That’s how Paul felt. He realized that there was nothing in his own power or ability that could bring hope to the situation, as a matter of fact, he said that he was no longer able to ENDURE it. This brought him to a place where I like to call ‘the end of ourselves’. I believe that we find ourselves there from time to time to remind us of our need for God. See how Paul responds to his despair:
“But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us

No matter how many times I preach it, I often find myself in situations that are beyond my abilities and I forget to rely on God for them.
Paul’s example reminded me that I’m not very different, but that I need to surrender circumstances to God and pay attention to how He wants to use me.

Thank you Paul for this reminder. I pray you will learn with me to trust God more and more and lean not in our own understanding!

 

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Get real… Wesley’s tough questions

Ok, so John Wesley is a hero in my Christian life. Not just because of his dedication to holy living but also because he preached the Word of God until the day he died.

One thing about Wesley though is that he was EXTREMELY strict in his walk with God. It seems like he was never satisfied with how his faith walk was so he continued to push himself and be pushed by his peers to greater holiness.

This all started at home of course with his parents and siblings but it took off in college. During his years studying at Oxford University, John Wesley started what was known to be the Holy Club–a group of young men who would keep each other accountable on holy living and spiritual disciplines.

Wesley used what he learned through those years to bring accountability to the churches that he planted and to early Methodism.

Take a look at these questions below. Wesley asked them of himself daily and his accountability partners weekly. Yes, they are tough questions, but ones that would help anyone to take their Christian walk seriously as we grow into being men and women after God’s own heart:

  • Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better
    than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
  • Do I confidentially pass on to others what has been said to me in
    confidence?
  • Can I be trusted?
  • Am I a slave to dress, friends, work or habits?
  • Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
  • Did the Bible live in me today?
  • Do I give the Bible time to speak to me every day?
  • Am I enjoying prayer?
  • When did I last speak to someone else of my faith?
  • Do I pray about the money I spend?
  • Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
  • Do I disobey God in anything?
  • Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
  • Am I defeated in any part of my life?
  • Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
  • How do I spend my spare time?
  • Am I proud?
  • Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?
  • Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?
  • Do I grumble or complain constantly?
  • Is Christ real to me?

“Encourage one another daily . . . so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” — Hebrews 3:13

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Faith and Finances… from Barna!

I find it interesting that the effects of the economic downturn are different based on one’s faith/religion and the habit of church-going. Check it out!

“Those most likely to report a major negative impact by the nation’s financial difficulties included: Busters (ages 27 to 45), households whose total annual income was under $40,000, parents with minor children, adults associated with a faith other than Christianity, and unchurched adults.

Also check out what the financial downturn has done to tithing… it went from an average of 5 to 7% (not 10) to 4%… sad! When times get touch tithing and donating is the first thing that goes. God calls this cheating!http://www.barna.org/donorscause-articles/486-donors-proceed-with-caution-tithing-declines

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Knowledge = the PUFF daddy

In 1 Corinthians 8:1 Paul says that “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

Knowledge can give us some divine attributes which in themselves are not bad since we are to be like God. However, depending on our attitude knowledge can make us feel prideful and ahead of others. So some of us would choose to know more so that we can be liked more, or so that we can be better than others. That is the wrong reaction to God’s gift revealed through knowledge.

Solomon was known for his wisdom. But in one moment of his life, Solomon received specific instructions from God but disobeyed and trusted his own wisdom and knowledge to get the job done. Samuel called this disobedience idolatry. For Solomon perceived his wisdom to be greater than God’s and by doing so putting his wisdom and self above God = idolatry.

Knowledge is great. It’s a gift from God and we should continue to gain it so that we can serve our Lord better.

A couple of verses later (8:3), Paul shares with the Corinthians that having knowledge is not greater than being known by God. And one could only achieve this through love. And that’s why knowledge can serve as the PUFF daddy because it does puff one up. But love toward others will only build others up when your knowledge can cause others to sin and be drawn away from God.

This makes causes me to think of the last verses of the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus talks about those who serve Him but He never knows them. And they say, “but Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name did we not cast out demons?” And Jesus replies, “I never knew you. Get away from me.”

My thought incarnate:
What matters most? your knowledge or God’s knowledge of you?

Comment from the Guru – Chrysostom
“We do not know God but he knows us. This is why Christ said: “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (Jn 15:16). This the fruit of love and the death of pride.” 

I’m challenging each day to be known by God. It’s amazing how I am so worried about doing the things of God as a pastor, reading the Bible daily, singing the right songs, living a holy lifestyle. And right now, as I reflect on these verses, I stop and ask myself, “is it all for nothing?” And I guess the answer is yes. We can memorize as many verses of Scripture as we want, read as many Christian books as we want, and etc. But none of these things will allow us to be known by God unless we open our hearts to let Him in, to let God be a part of our thoughts, decisions, routine, and conversations.

Invite God into your day. He wants to know you. Open your heart, as I’m even more convinced that I need to open mine.

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The filling of my soul!

God tells us through Paul that we should pray continually. Most of us don’t really understand what that really means except for those who have a relationship with God that goes beyond prayers for a meal and prayers for when things are rough.

Praying continually is when we acknowledge the presence of God through out our day and we invite God to be a part of each conversation, each decision, each thought, and each action. That’s how we build a relationship with the ever present God!

Personally, I struggle with acknowledging the presence of God all the time. And sometimes I know that He is there but I often choose to not invite Him into my thoughts, decisions, and conversations–it’s a part of my imperfection but I’m working on it.

Throughout different seasons of my life God has gifted me with powerful prayer partners. These are men with whom I get together to pray and HEAVEN is ALL around us!!!

It’s simply amazing! As we pray in both tongues of man and of angels we feel a very present God. Who is not just receiving one request but millions, but He still manages to be in a million places, to fill a million hearts, to answer a million prayers, and at the same time, He touches my soul. 

Today, our staff meeting at the church was cancelled. So Willie Davis and I decided to pray together! What a powerful time of prayer it was and there is no question that the presence of the LIVING GOD was in my office (still is). There is no doubt that the filling of my soul is a result of a sincere invitation from my heart to God’s and when we search Him with our hearts, He will ALWAYS respond.

I challenge you to find a praying partner. If you can’t think of anyone, pray that God will reveal them to you. Sometimes, they could be right in your office and you don’t even know. Bring Heaven to your work place! Bring Heaven to your home! Call upon the Living God and He will answer! He will fill your soul so you can pour unto others!

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Watch out… They are taking over!

There is definitely no doubt that soon and very soon we are going to see Muslims trying even harder to take over the world. Their strategy is simple: having children (lots of them) and taking over governments.

If you have not had a chance to read any material from Kamal Saleem, you need to. It has opened our eyes on how the Muslims are trying to enforce the sharia law in many nations.

The video below is an example how they are doing this whether people like it or not! My fear is that if we don’t do anything we will once again be the persecuted church even in America because it will be Muslim led. Please take a minute to watch this and then PRAY!:

  http://downloads.cbn.com/cbnnewsplayer/cbnplayer.swf?aid=17933

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