CONFIDENCE PROPERLY PLACED!

9 10 2018

Live with God Confidence 2018.10.10I was shut in this past weekend because I literally felt in my body like a truck not only ran me over, but it backed up again to finish the job. I had pain where I never thought pain existed. As a Pastor, I too live for the weekends but not in the same way that most of our culture anticipates Friday through Sunday. I want it to come so I can do what I believe God created me to do and that is share His word as effectively as possible to as many as possible. I long to give away every ounce my heart and soul has to offer to bless the Lighthouse Church Family that I have learned to love so much. It is never a good thing when this Preacher can’t preach. It is like I am stuck with all this pent-up energy that is not released and I almost feel the pressure building like I am going to explode. This is why writing my weekly contribution is so very cathartic for me. Today it serves as the next best thing to speaking it with my lips, I am instead writing it with my pen but it still holds as much passion as I can possibly pack within a few sentences.

I like listening to several Preachers to keep me sharp and at my best. The ones I tune in to regularly include Tony Evans, Tim Keller, John Ortberg, John Piper and Steven Furtick. A Shepherd can’t properly nurture others if he doesn’t allow his soul to be nourished on a regular basis. This past Sunday it was the always entertaining and refreshingly truthful Steven Furtick I tuned into. His message was entitled, “Taking Back Your Mind in the Age of Anxiety.” His text was Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, Chapter 3 and verses 1-3 which read: “Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence.” The one statement that just connected with my heart was when Steven Furtick said, “We are raising a Generation that doesn’t have to train for their trophies and display too much false confidence that is based upon no competence!” Wow! Those words set my brain racing to my heart to process properly this loaded sentence.

We all want to be confident but it matters greatly what foundation you build your resume upon. Cockiness is misguided confidence that has no substance to back up its claims. Bullying is nothing more than ignorance masked in intimidation. And just because an individual comes across as strong and mighty doesn’t mean that it is nothing more than a façade that hides raging insecurity. The Apostle Paul tells us plainly that it is not how much confidence we have but in what source we choose to put it that counts the most. He gave testimony that he placed, “zero confidence in his own flesh.” It is not our works that make us who we are but God’s work within us that should define us the most. When we start making lists about our own accomplishments rather than looking to the Lord and what He has done within us, we will always come up short. Trying to shine bright on our efforts alone spring from self-driven motives and produce short term results. Leaning heavily upon God’s presence within us transforms us into humbly selfless yet fiercely devoted Disciples!  

Over the years, I have come to realize that the wisest people are not those who claim to know it all but they that are willing to ask many questions. I say that one of the biggest knocks on the Church today is that they talk a good game but, on the field, showcase too much sloppy play. We aren’t willing to learn and grow in our position as we adjust the load on the road. We pretend and, in the end, we come up empty because we haven’t trained well to show ourselves competent. Belief is confirmed by behavior. We can talk all we want, but what happens when we are put on the proverbial spot?

If we don’t teach kids how to properly play baseball but we assure them of a trophy no matter what, we have cheapened the integrity of the game. Christians want to act like we are already living in Heaven, but that is not the case. Faith is necessary to run the race here on Earth and if you don’t invest in a proper pair of running shoes coached by a Leader who knows the course inside and out, all you do is run aimlessly and needlessly. Yet when it is Banquet Time, you still want accolades when you persevered not at all. Steven Furtick said it like this, “When your circumstance is not reflecting your confession, your phony faith collapses beneath the weight of your unmet expectations. Jesus went through Hell to get us to Heaven. What makes us think that our map won’t show us some of the same scenery that our Blessed Lord survived and paved our way through?

Consistency in walking with Jesus leads to the confidence that comes with real life experience that leads to a godly character being forged within us as we go. Confidence is not our birthright without living within the daily fight. The day of celebration will come when the season is over but life is more like a locker room than a ballroom. Jesus is our Savior and our Sustainer. Jesus is our Coach and our Course. Jesus is our Perfecter and our Power. If we are to have any kind of confidence at all, it should be in the One who won the victory on Calvary. If we are to boast and brag, let our cheers be lifting peoples’ eyes beyond ourselves and onto Jesus. Our confidence lasts only in Christ alone and if you are attempting to share the spotlight, then it is time to get out of the photo so that the picture is loud and clear.





NO MORE GOODBYE!

5 10 2018

NoMoreGoodbyes

I know I suffer from “separation anxiety.” I do not handle the departure of loved ones very well. Maybe because the two human beings that I know truly loved me inside and out were taken from me just when I still needed them most. My “Nana” was my hero and hiding place. The only time I would ever stay overnight at another’s house when I was growing up was when I was with my amazing Grandmother. She was a little Italian lady and stood all of 4 foot 11! I was as tall as she was when I was only five. The woman loved well and wide and deep. She was the epitome of putting others before herself. Her face would beam when I walked in the room. I returned the favor. I loved her as much as a child could. But on July 2, 1965 Francis Tedesco graduated to Glory. And with her went a precious piece of my young heart. Little did I know, it would be the first of many heartaches to come.

My Daddy was my best friend. His name was Rudy also. He was the real deal. I grew up his right-hand man. I was his helper and his constant companion. I always felt safe and secure in his presence. I would call him many times and he would wax eloquently about some subject that had nothing to do with what I was talking about and yet I always felt better after I had been with him. My Father not only taught me how to live but also how to die. In early 2000, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer. I totally changed my plans so that I could be down in Florida with him as much as possible. It ending up totaling over seven weeks altogether during the year, but I wouldn’t trade a second of it. There was no regret as I was privileged to be holding his hand as the Lord Jesus took his other hand. My heart was shredded on that night of September 13, 2000. I knew that in Heaven he would no longer be in pain but I hated to see him go. I miss him still and with not a hint of exaggeration, I still dream about him every night even after 18 years.

This past weekend, I had to say, “See you later,” to the man who has been my closest and most valuable partner in ministry for the last ten years. Adam Nudo and his lovely wife Lori are on a pilgrimage to Arizona to reside with their three adult Daughters and their families that include two grandchildren. I was scolded for not being happier for them as they embark upon this new adventure, but I am not wired in the way that hides my feelings very well. I am known for wearing my heart on my sleeve. And as I sat in the final Lighthouse Church Service with Adam leading our worship, my insides ached. I didn’t want him to go but I knew I was not going to stand in God’s way for them. I miss them already. Nobody will ever be able to replace him. People can’t be replaced. Positions might be refilled but relationships are pure gold. The Lone Ranger and Tonto and Laurel and Hardy and Batman and Robin and Snoopy and Charlie and Rudy and Adam will always be another dynamic duo that had some incredible experiences together.

This week also brings a change of address for Tom and Barbara Crouthamel. There is not enough room in this article to tell you how much better we all are because of these two being present in our lives, our church and our community. God used this couple to give The Lighthouse Church leadership direction, wisdom and a godly witness. Tom and Barb are surrogate Parents to me. I actually went to Philadelphia College of Bible with their oldest Daughter Barbie and isn’t just like the Lord to reunite us all in this little neck of Cape May County? Barbie married Tom Savage another PCB Friend of mine and my Daughter Leah would go on to marry their Son Jeff and now we really are family! But now the Crouthamels are packing up to go on the road to be with their Families. Again, while I understand the reasons it must happen, my soul is letting them go while I am kicking and screaming to hold on. I am the kind of person that may just chain myself to their bumper. I will not be the same without them in the same zip code! I won’t pretend to be cheerful when I am truly more tearful. So why do I have such an issue with saying, “Goodbye?” Why do so many people make the mistake of playing it so safe that they keep their hearts locked in protective cases rather than allow them to get fully involved? Why do we attempt to love from a distance when we were created to function face to face? Is it because we fear being cut to the core? Is it because we are worried over it coming to an end that we may never allow a true beginning?

Do you know that separation is not in our DNA? Separation came with sin. When Adam and Eve chose to disobey the Lord, they caused a schism in the family that would never be wholly repaired this side of Heaven. This is why we struggle so much with death and departure. It is foreign territory to our spirit. Could this be why one of the most precious promises that God ever made us was, “I will never leave you nor forsake you?” Humans can’t keep that bond. We die. We move. We leave. We quit. Jesus conquered sin and death to give us the hope that in the life to come, there will be no more division. My inner being cries for that to be true now. I yearn for a world where we don’t ever have to say, “So Long” again. I believe that desire comes from the Creator Himself. Maybe we shouldn’t be so shocked when we still battle the blues years after another slice of our heart was cut away so quickly and so unwelcomingly. Maybe not all emotional tissues heal themselves. Maybe the scars are a staunch reminder that God didn’t make us robots after all!

The good news is that there is a solution via a Savior and with Him comes the promise of eternal reunion. The better news is that this gift of salvation is available to whosoever would come and humbly receive it by grace through faith. I’m going to a place where there will be no more dying and no more exit strategies. Until I get there, I have learned that the pain is a divine reminder that I am not home yet. Maybe you feel that way too and it might be more normal than you ever realized!





THE RECKLESS LOVE OF GOD

27 09 2018

42554861_10217002039708276_7321010341465292800_nReal love is in short supply in our world today. Whenever I see adults mistreating children, it raises my blood pressure and causes me to say something to attempt to defuse a potential bullying situation. What we see is an alarming and frightening increase of child abuse everywhere. This past week, I read the unbelievable story of a four-year-old boy who was beaten to death by his stepfather because the boy had wet his pants. When his small body was dug up, a tiny cross was found clutched in his hand. This is not the way God intended it to be.

One of the truths of the Faith that resonates deep within my heart of hearts is knowing that God has chosen to be a Loving Father to we His children. My earthly Dad was an amazing man and I loved being with him and in so many positive ways, he modeled for me what our good, good, Heavenly Father is all about!

I was watching a tearjerker of a Christian Movie and there was a scene where a devoted father came into the hospital room to visit his eight-year-old who was dying of cancer. The child, sensing that he was not going to get well asked his father, “Daddy, am I going to Heaven soon?” “Why, son?” “Are you afraid to go and be with God?” The child looked up into the eyes of his father and replied, “Not if God is like you, Daddy!

Growing up going to Church, I was terrified of the Clergy in charge. They painted a picture of God that was super strict and seriously stern and never smiled! He wanted you to be good or else! I experienced way too much of the “or else,” and it created a chasm between myself and my Creator. Like the Boogie Man, I had to keep watching like a hawk to make sure that he didn’t get me. I for sure didn’t want to be caught.

The Gospel is not at all about running away from a God who is out to get you to lock you up and keep you from living life. It is all about running to a God, who, that just like my Dad, His face always lights up when He sees you. He wants you to know that you have been fearfully and wonderfully made. In His arms, we discover that there is a hope and a future for us together.   

The invitation that the church should be offering is “Come to The Table,” and not “Join the Society of Those Satisfied with the Status Quo.” Life in the fellowship of Christians is built on, in, and around relationships that are personal, intimate, and share a strong family like communion with one another!  That’s what our lives should be all about. When you are truly loved by God, you can’t help but love others; even when you can’t fully understand it! After being in the midst of those who have been with Jesus, you should be cared for, listened to, ministered to and held in the highest of esteem! The genuine love of God is contagious and draws those who are craving the real deal. 

Come on church, it is time for us to represent the real deal! We need to be the kind of disciples who are sold out to the Lord and will go wherever He leads to love whoever He sends our way! Faith is not about money, favors, power and popularity! It doesn’t seek to be first but to seek Jesus first! When the love of God comes into your heart, it transforms everything about you! You start taking on the traits of the Savior, leaving the signs of the society behind. Believers are citizens of Heaven and no longer bogged down by things of this earth.

Love moves in mysterious ways. The reckless love of God is the kind of love you must be moved by. It is not a “so what” attitude but a “now what” sense of adventure. The servant of the Lord, like the Lord Jesus Himself, must be characterized by the reckless love of God. If someone is going to have an effective ministry, it starts by loving people. You can be the best at your craft but if there is no love, there is no substance and the foundation is missing! Love doesn’t take long to take root but once it does take root, it lasts long! It actually lasts forever. Funny how short church relationships can go. Maybe even the Church needs more Jesus than flashy programs and big budgets and flashy gimmicks. Maybe it simply does come down to loving God first and loving one another as the fruit of getting the most important relationship right.

 

Jesus People are incredibly generous. They don’t regard their stuff as their stuff. They are generous to their relatives and their non-relatives. They are generous to their friends, but also to their enemies. They are known for their extraordinary generosity. That’s what reckless love can do! That’s what reckless love should be! And if it is the true love of Jesus, then you learn that Jesus loves you even when you don’t love Him back!

If you live a life of surrendered generosity to God, and I know we live in an area that will not call you to this, but Jesus does, then you know that God’s love is a verb. Love helps those who can’t help themselves. Love gives the very best even to those who don’t deserve it. Love puts the priority on relationship. Love is a name and it’s Jesus.

I challenge you to take an inventory of your soul and make sure that the Lord is actually your first love. When you know Jesus is number one for sure then pursue him with every bit of your heart. Once you do that, keep an eye open of how your life will spill into acts of reckless love pouring forth from your life. God wants to produce in you and through you an extravagant love that can’t be properly explained or ignored! God is all about reckless love. Maybe today is the day we give up the neatness and orderly manner and jump in to the ocean of the marvelous grace of our loving Lord.

 





ADJUSTING THE LOAD ON THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD

19 09 2018

yellowbrick road pic

I believe that there is a yearning deep down inside every single heart that genuinely longs for a world of rich Technicolor in the midst of the surrounding black and white daily existence! We were created for so much more than just trying to find a place where we cannot get into any trouble. The yearning for a world somewhere over the rainbow is much more than a fairy tale that adults need to put behind them. It is time for all of us to bring it back so that it can be front row and the center of our attention. It is the very invitation that was given us by the God who designed us to answer the call that everyone deserves the chance to fly! Are you suffering from clipped wings?

So why more often than not does it seem that we are just clocking in time with no better mission than to just arrive at death safely? When was the last time you embarked upon your own yellow brick road to adventure? Or are you only content to make a journey where you already know how the story is going to end? Have you become too content to watch others experience the adrenaline that originally had your name on it? If God made the waves – should we hesitate when it comes to riding them? If God has knit within you a dream- might it be time to wake up and give it a fair shot in order that it might come true?

On any given day we have crucial choices to make? Will we use the brains that God gave us in order that we might think for ourselves and not become so dependent upon others thinking for us? Do you check the sources before you receive an idea as absolute truth? Just because you heard it on the radio or saw it on television doesn’t make it so! Even the majority of munchkins pointing a certain direction doesn’t guarantee that this is the best path to take! There are times that I don’t want to know what the crowd thinks – I want to hear what is cooking inside that mind of yours? Would you tell me if I asked? Or are you waiting to see which way the wind is blowing before you throw your kite of opinion into the air? There comes a definitive moment in every person’s life when he or she must make a personal stand based and built upon what they believe in whether it is popular or anyone cheers the result on or not! Have you become too wishy washy to the point that the precious brain that you were given is stuck in neutral? If so – now is the time to engage your head again before you misplace it because of lack of use!

The heart also is a priceless fragile treasure. Because it so easily breaks- there is a tendency for us to pack it away in the attic of our lives along with other collectables that we think gain value by their lack of use! When it comes to the engine room of your being – this could not be further from the truth. The heart was made to love and be loved! And just because it gets bumped and bruised along the way is no reason for you to take it out of commission and put it in retirement. When it all comes down- the more you have invested your heart – the richer the individual you will become. Not everyone will return the compliment of your hospitality of the heart – but a life lived without love is the most tragic of all mankind’s imprisonments. Relationships are the pump that keep the lifeblood flowing! And it is better to err on the side of risking dancing with the dear ones that are placed all around you – rather than to leave the party having only held up the wall for hours!

And it will take courage to make your move! It is hard to stick out in a crowd! It costs much to hold fast to the truth when everybody else is courting the lie like it is the dearest of friends! For too long, too many of us have said nothing and done nothing and invested nothing and turned a blind eye and a deaf ear when the situation desperately begged for righteous and just behavior! Who will speak up for those that have lost their voice? Who will make a move on behalf of those who have been paralyzed by the ills of our society? Who will do what’s right even though it ruins the curve and exposes the shallowness of short cuts? Is there something that you should be standing for rather than falling behind in order to sink into the shadows? Is today the day to change your “there I go again” to “here am I ready to fight for what I believe in?” Are you ready to be brave about your bark backing up a bite that has some fight still left in it?

Somewhere over the rainbow is the world that God always intended for His children to live in. It might be way beyond the blue – but rather than asking Him to get us out of here – maybe the better request is for us to ask to help make what is happening up there- occur right down here in our backyard too. We don’t need to be a wiz to open up the front doors of our futures and pronounce quite confidently for all those around us to hear, “Somewhere over the rainbow – I’ll use my brains in order to think out truth clearly and follow my heart so that I will jump in to the life more nearly and have the courage to not back off until I finally find my way home! Because to all the Uncle Henry’s and Auntie Em’s within the sound of my voice – there really is no place like home when you are at home in the skin of who you were always meant to be!





A LIVING STONE NAMED DORIS

12 09 2018

trinity-hope-rocks

This past Saturday, we held a Memorial Service for an incredible Woman of Faith, Doris Fisher. As it was so eloquently written upon the Bulletin that every one received, “After ninety-one years of faithfully loving and serving her beloved Jesus, Doris is now rejoicing in His Presence- Face to Face! Doris leaves behind her a beautiful legacy of immeasurable kindness, exuberant hospitality, endless encouragement and eternal love for her Lord, her family and her friends.”

Doris Fisher was also an incredible blessing to this Pastor and in many ways, she was like another Mom to me. Doris was an architect with words constructing some amazing sentences that blessed and challenged all who read them. Doris loved her Hymns and not only appreciated the tunes themselves but also was a student of the stories behind their composition. I loved sitting with her and just breaking out in song together making sweet sounds and lasting memories. I believe we gave her songbirds a run for their birdseed!

Doris also had a knack for collecting stones. She boasted often of God being her Rock! Psalm 18:1-3 reads, “I love you, LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies.” Her collection of stones had inscribed upon them character traits and fruits of the Spirit that any Believer would long to allow to define their lives. I too have been a rock collector through the years but more like Doris than someone who normally claims that hobby.

In the Scriptures, when God would do something amazing or miraculous along the journey, His people would build altars as reminders of His movements among them. The altars were not as we might know them in our day and age majoring on expensive ornate materials. Nope! These were nothing more than a pile of rocks. The stones marked the spot that the Lord showed up and served as a constant incentive that if He did it then, He could do it again. Let’s just say that Israel was known for its “Holy Rockpiles” decorating the landscape far and wide.

I have encouraged Believers today to do much the same with their “Jesus Memories.” Whenever and wherever the Lord revealed His mighty power and presence, we too should pile our rocks of remembrance. There should be altars of praise all over Cape May County for God has surely been at work in our midst! Doris was surrounded by her worship pebbles wherever she went leaving a trail that could lead anyone to the feet of Jesus!

At the Memorial Service, Doris’ daughter Carol made sure that all of us in attendance left with a stone of hope of our own! Also included was this note written by Doris Fisher herself.

 ROCKS, PEBBLES AND STONES…

It’s only a leaf-shaped tray of stones

But oh what a joy it does hold

The word inscribed upon each stone

Blesses my heart a hundredfold

 

There’s Faith and Trust and Serenity

And yes, there’s Courage and Prayer

Let’s not forget the Healing one

And God’s Love just everywhere

There’s Hope and Peace and Harmony

And a sweet Angel stone I see

Plus Wisdom declaring to all around

I am yours if you desire and ask of me

 

One stone has a question upon it

Inviting a pause in reflection

It asks What Would Jesus Do?

For the answer, God’s Word is perfection

 

I want to believe that the stones in my Encouragement Collection represent some of the richest free treasures given to me as a child of the King. To Him be all glory and praise!

When God looks to build his Church, He does not choose the generic cinder blocks, everyone looking as uniform as can be. No, our Lord takes us rocks of all shapes and sizes, from all different settings and each of us experiencing our own unique seasons and with the cement of the Spirit, creates a sanctuary that shouts His amazing handiwork to the watching world! I am honored to be a stone in the wall of faith, set next to Doris and all the others who have acknowledged Jesus as their rock, their strength and shield.

Jesus made it very clear that if the people didn’t praise Him, the rocks would cry out. The rocks cry out all the same. There is a non-stop symphony in nature that sings its songs to the Savior. Doris allowed her life to be a stage for Jesus to perform upon. She allowed her voice to be an instrument that God spoke words of life to all those who would take the time to listen. She planted her feet upon the immoveable Rock so that when even death came roaring at her like a rushing avalanche, it could not shake her faith.

Doris Fisher will forever be a part of all I do. Her love for Jesus was contagious and her desire to know Him and all He said was apparent. I want to, I need to be more like Doris because if that happens, I know I will be more like Jesus.

Only one life will soon be past. Only what’s done with Jesus will last. Are your feet on the Rock? Is your name on the Roll? I pray that when the Stones finally get to do their Heavenly Concert in the Presence of their King, you and I will be singing together! I know Doris is getting a head start!

 

 

 

   





A NEW WARDROBE FOR JOE!

6 09 2018

Joseph's Coat of Many Colors

I have been reading the Bible on a pretty regular basis since 1975. The one thing that constantly keeps me on my toes is that no matter how many times I have read the Scriptures before, there is always something new to see for a heart that is open to the Lord. I had just such a moment last weekend. I had read the Old Testament tale about Joseph more times than I can count. I thought I knew just about everything there was to know about the wonder boy who would end up saving his people from starvation. Not so! I was once again pleasantly surprised when the Holy Spirit showed me something I had never seen before.

 If there is one piece of wardrobe that even the non-Bible reader knows about, it is Joseph’s famous coat of many colors. Even the Broadway Show done in his honor was titled, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Genesis informs us that Jacob gave this special gift to his son Joseph to make it clear to all his other Sons that only the Boy with the fancy threads was his favorite. Hebrew tradition should have had the oldest son wearing the honor garment. Jacob who actually swiped the birthright from his older brother Esau, was never known for playing life’s game by the rules. So, he is partly to blame for the schism that grew between his sons but Joseph was no angel either. He was a cocky little tattle tale who never knew when it was time to keep his big mouth shut. You can’t blame the rest of Jacob’s kin for not thinking so highly of the kid with the flashy wardrobe.

We are told of the day that Jacob sent Joseph to check up on the kids out in the corral. Joseph was no longer welcome working with the rest as his immaturity got on the nerves of his siblings and made it impossible for them to get any work done. Joseph now hanging out at the house became Daddy’s Western Union Man. When the rest of the Brothers saw Joseph’s loud jacket with him skipping obnoxiously from down the road, they were ready to kill him. Better heads prevailed though, and they only threw him into a pit. But they do something drastic before imprisoning their own flesh and blood. This is the key action that opened my eyes to some new truth for me. The Sons of Jacob ripped Joseph’s psychedelic covering off his body and he was never to wear it again. Long before Joe becomes God’s man of the hour, the coat comes off and a new suit of clothes are being woven by the Lord to replace his old go-to favorite article of clothing.

When Joe is in Potiphar’s house, there is no technicolor coat. When Joe is in prison, he is wearing the orange jumpsuit like every other inmate. When Joe is recalled to serve in Pharaoh’s Court, there is no resurrection of his boyhood super suit. The Coat of Many Colors was part of the old Joseph and not the new man God had equipped him to be. He didn’t need his old identity anymore. He was now God’s faithful Servant and he adorned himself in the cloak of humble obedience. Jacob’s choice of dressing his son almost killed him. Jehovah’s choice of dressing Joseph saved him and an entire Nation. The Coat of Many Colors might have been flashy but it was also fleshly. It was a part of his past but not necessary for his present and future.

What used to label us is not necessary to define our personality today. The Lord takes our self-righteous duds and declares them as nothing more than filthy rags. Our pride and our need to be noticed dies away so that our devotion and desire to glorify Jesus can come alive. When we open our hearts to the Spirit, we don’t need electric neon substitutes anymore. The colors of God’s love fill us to spill us with acts of life that don’t put ourselves on the pedestal but lifts up the Name of Jesus. When we tell the story of the redeemed Joseph, he is not wearing the wardrobe of his old life but he is dressed in the royal robes of being a child of God.

 I am not what I used to be. I am not what I will be. But I am under construction via the Holy Spirit. My closet looks different than it used to be. The gimmicks and the games I once played to get attention are no longer in my possession. If any man or woman be in Christ, he or she is a new creation. Old things like fancy coats are passed away. Behold, new things are in store and not storage anymore. Are you still depending on the old ways to get a new thing done? Stop it! Though our sins be as scarlet, the grace of God has forgiven us so that we may be as white as snow. And white looks good on those that have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. May your wardrobe be that which worships the God who made you and not the humans who dressed you!          

 

 

   





MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY AND REVIVAL!

29 08 2018

71ANp7QSRuL._SY606_a

Most of us are familiar with the story of the Mutiny on the Bounty. Many have at least seen one of the two film versions of the story. There was the one classic with Clark Gable and the other with an actor you may have heard of named Marlon Brando. But as usual, the movies fall short of telling the actual story as written in the book.

 The full tale begins much like the cinema portrays it, in the nineteenth century, crew members of the HMS Bounty took over the ship, set their captain adrift in a lifeboat, and ended up at last on Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific. But that is only part of the story. What happened to the mutineers after they landed is something else altogether. These rough and tough, godless sailors, together with the wives they had taken with them from the island of Tahiti, spent their days on Pitcairn drinking, gambling, carousing, and fighting among themselves. Soon the fighting led to battle. One by one they killed each other off until the colony was reduced to a handful of people. Among them was a man named Alexander Smith.

 Rummaging through his trunk one day, Smith found a Bible that his mother had put there. Thank God for our Moms who always pack clean underwear, extra socks and a Bible. Mr. Smith began to read it, and his life was transformed. As he read to the survivors, a dramatic change began taking place in their lives as well, and when that island was discovered by outsiders some years later,the inhabitants had become a model community. There was no jail because there was no crime.The citizens loved God and each other. The Bible read and the Scriptures lived had totally changed their lives and their society. 

What happened then could happen again if we would not only memorize verses but begin to allow the living Word of God to be seen loud and clear through us. This could be a season of Revival if the people of God would stop sounding the trumpet call of retreat! What if we charged into every day wholly devoted to allowing the Holy Spirit to write His story upon our hearts?

Pastor Rick Warren wrote not too long ago these powerful and timely words: “If we are going to have a resurgence in our nation, a revival, a reformation, a renewal, a re-configuration of the church, when you study church history it always starts through certain stages and the first stage is personal renewal.” Every major movement of God begins with men and women humbling themselves in the sight of the Lord. This inspires a thorough confession. When we stop pretending that we are something we aren’t and invite the Lord to clean us up both inside and out, we are made ready to become instruments in the hands of the Master. There can’t be revival in the community until there is a revolution in the heart!

I can always sense when it becomes more about Him and less about us. The church no longer cares what we do as long as we do it for the glory of One and that we do it together. One of the ways you know a church is experiencing Jesus is the singing gets better and louder and more personal and passionate. You also observe that people aren’t in such a hurry to leave. They linger and they pray for one another and share heart to heart connection. If you go to a church and there is more spectating going on than participation, you don’t have church; you are attending an event. I believe God is not looking for a crowd, but longing to lead a body of committed Believers.”

Revival always begins with human pride falling aside. People begin to confess their sins, and get right with each other, and that’s when the church starts growing more deep than wide. Christians are open to deal with their hidden issues, like finally admitting that racism isn’t a skin problem; it’s a sin problem! If God’s people want to be glad all over, we need to come clean with how we’ve been bad all over! God is not ready to bash us but rebuild us. Renewal, resurgence, revival, restoration, reformation, whatever you want to call it; it must be the shared heart of the Church family!

Mutiny is what human beings do best. Surrendering to the Holy Spirit is what we need to learn how to do. I have always prayed that God would make it hard to go to hell from Cape May County. We don’t need religion, we need to enter fully into the relationship we can have with the God who made us and now wants to save us. For too long it’s been too much about what we don’t do. Today is the day to make it about what we do and who we are and who God wants to make us. If God is at work, it changes more than a person. He changes the place and the pace of living we do. It is either mutiny on the bounty or the Bible in the county. I choose the latter! How about you?