Thank you Dallas.
Glory to God!
I’ve been doing a lot of running on the road lately. During the week I’ll run from the FLC, through downtown, cut over to College Ave., down to Bergfeld Park, around the park a time or three, and then Broadway all the way back to downtown.
This time of year the Azalea District is beautiful. It’s the second week of May and everything is green and in bloom. As I ran this morning both the weather and the scenery were absolutely perfect.
A few months ago however, the Azalea District didn’t look like it does now. The trees were lifeless. The grass was brown. The flowers were nonexistent. Dead leaves covered the ground. Harsh wind and cold rain was more the norm than sunshine.
I wonder where you are spiritually right now? Which one of these contrasts portrays your heart before God as you read this? Or are you somewhere in between?
As winter gives way to springtime the weather will often go back and forth. Warm for a few days and then another cold snap. Nourishing, healing rain and then, an unexpected freeze that sends many out to cover their azaleas (or roses, this is Tyler you know).
Through Jesus we are called to spiritually live in the springtime. As we thrive in Christ. As we grow spiritually. As we are spiritually filled and nourished by Him. Leaving winter behind.
And so here’s my question: What’s holding you back?
Glory to God!
This Sunday at WE we begin a weekly study of the book of James. I believe that James is an often overlooked letter. For whatever reason, it doesn’t seem that much of our conversation centers on this letter from Jesus’ brother. And I really don’t know why….
We often speak of reaching out to the lost. We often consider how we might impact the world around us. We often engage in discussion as to how the relevance of Christ might be readily evident in us as His people. And yet, somehow, no dialogue from the book of James.
James is a letter of faith. It is a letter of action. It is a letter of practicality. And it is a letter of relevance. Isn’t that the answer to communicating the message of the Gospel in what many cultural anthropologists are calling a “post-Christian” culture?
Faith. Action. Practicality. Relevance.
I’m excited about our journeying together side-by-side through this powerful, wonderful, often overlooked, letter.
James will ask, “Are you facing difficulties in life? Does everything seem to be coming apart at the seams?” And then contend, “Let me point you to the One who is bigger than all of that!”
James will probe, “Oh, you think you’re a follower of Jesus because you believe? Big, whoop-de-do! Faith is more than belief. It is opening your eyes and doing something that’s beyond yourself.”
James will question, “Who are you fooling? You claim to be a disciple of our Lord and yet still have areas of your life that you’ve failed to give Him Lordship over? Does that really sound like discipleship to you?”
We’re going to call our study: “Outside the Box.” Because James opens our hearts and minds to a whole other world. A radical faith that simply cannot be contained.
Glory to God!
“To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power, and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” (Jude 24).
Whoah! Read it again! What powerful words from our friend Jude as he gives all glory to God in the wonderful doxology that concludes his letter. He ascribes praise to the One who is gives us strength. Praise to the One in whom we stand pure and holy and righteous. Praise to the One who alone deserves it. Who alone is worthy of (and in possession of) glory, majesty, power, and authority.
Jude (the brother of Jesus, and whose name is derived from the tribe of Judah) places and envisions God high and exalted, and we as those who praise His high and holy name together. “Before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”
In one week we will come together for 24 continual hours of prayer as a church family here at WE. 24 hours of prayer. 24 hours of praise. 24 amazing, humbling, gut-wrenching, Spirit-empowering hours of pouring our hearts out to the Father together.
And together, we will say: “Amen.”
Friday May 3rd at 8am through Saturday May 4th at 8am. 24 Hours of Prayer. See any of our ministry team to sign up for a block of time. Keep the requests coming. Put some thought into them. Search your heart, and search the heart of God, as we pray with and for one another during this holy time of prayer. And what better way to wrap up 24 Hours of Prayer than by having breakfast (and coffee) together on Saturday morning at 8am in the FLC?
Be planning. Be preparing. Be anticipating. And be praying.
Glory to God!
God’s divine favor and comfort, amidst tragedy, grief, and mourning.
Please be in prayer for those impacted by the terror at the Boston Marathon.
And for all of those in West, Texas.
We are a people created for a Kingdom not of this world.
Our King is the Great Healer.
Glory to God!
It’s doubtful that we’ve all become cowboys, astronauts, and racecar drivers. We learn to adapt. We change our minds. We face setbacks.
All of this thinking, however, is on a physical level. No matter how high we climb the ladder our view is seriously impeded until we begin to see life through spiritual eyes. Only when we get off the ladder and begin to ascend the mountain of God does the view ever change. Only when we ascend the mountain does our perspective change.
The Psalmist exclaims to God, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:13).
The Apostle Paul pens, “It is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
And in Ephesians 2:10 he affirms, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Regardless of vocation. Regardless of situation. Regardless of circumstance. Regardless of victory or defeat. To begin to see every moment of life as God-ordained. Christ-centered. Spirit-filled. And Kingdom-embracing.
God meets His people not at the top of the ladder, but upon the mountain (Hebrews 12:22).
Too often we assess our value as to where we are on the ladder (physical), rather than how we are living up to our calling as believers (spiritual).
When we get off the ladder and begin to climb the mountain of God it is then that we not only begin to become acutely aware of our calling in life, but it is then, and only then, that we begin to achieve the very things that our Father has created us and purposed us to do.
Glory to God!
That old adage may bring some comfort to a little boy who has just gotten his feelings hurt at school, but it doesn’t hold a whole lot of water in the real world does it?
Words are powerful. They are powerful. And among all of God’s created, human beings are the only ones who communicate with words.
Trevor Hudson articulates well, “Our words, whether spoken or written, enable us to reveal or hide ourselves, to build or to break community, to help or to hurt our neighbor. When used carefully, words facilitate self-disclosure, foster communion, and release healing. When used carelessly, they create confusion, generate conflict, and cultivate chaos. Well aware of this immense potential that inhabits our words, the writer of the Proverbs exclaims without exaggeration: ‘Death and life are in the power of our words (Proverbs 18:21).”
How many relationships have been devastated by the speaking of hurtful words? How many loved ones have been injured, wounded deeply, distanced, through selfish, harsh, or uncaring words?
On the other hand, how many lives have been forever wonderfully impacted through encouraging words? How many have been healed through the kind words of a friend? How many believers has God empowered to accomplish great things for the Kingdom through the comforting, assuring words of a God-sent encourager?
“Out of the overflow of the heart,” our Savior affirms, “the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
And so consider the words that you speak, and the words that you have spoken.
What do your words say about your heart?
Are there any fences that need to be mended? Or relationships that need to healed?
Glory to God!
Sometimes life gets in the way and what is urgent gets in the way of that which is important. The lines between what is urgent and what is important are often blurred. A deadline that must be met. A project that is past due. A meeting that needs to be attended. A person that requires your attention. Are these urgent or important? It very often might be that they are indeed both.
Our priorities are easily revealed. And it’s not as if the urgent mustn’t sometimes temporarily outweigh the important. But the amount of time and attention we give to any particular person or practice tends to grant us insight into that which comprises our priorities.
We may say that our family is a priority to us, but if what our children see in us is that we are capable of granting all sorts of time and energy toward other people and other endeavors, and little time toward them, what does it communicate to them in regard to where they rate on our scale of priorities? We may say (and even believe) that we love our spouse more than any other person on the face of the planet, but if we spend more time on the golf course or more energy at the office than we’d ever think about affording to them, what is communicated to them as to how intentional we are in validating the relationship that we share? And what about God? Where does He fit in? We say that God is first in our lives? Is He really? How much focus is centered upon God during the course of your week? Take church attendance out of the picture. What attention does He receive?
Somehow we’ve found it extremely easy to con ourselves into believing that right theology equals right relationship. The truth is, if our theology was right, we would find it all together impossible to think this way.
John Stott in his work, “The Living Church,” describes how on his calendar he would mark the letter “Q” on one specific day each month (Stott passed away in 2011). The “Q” stood for “quiet.” Once a month, on a day that he had designated and planned long beforehand, he would go to a quiet place. Away from the office. Away from the busyness of life. Away from interruptions. And he would spend 10 to 12 hours that day, by himself, “quiet,” with God. One day a month with no agenda, other than “quiet” time with God. Prayer. Study. Closeness. Intimacy with God. What does that say about Stott’s priorities? What does it say about his desire to be with the Father?
What if you were to plan a “Q” day each month? Or a “Q” hour each week? Or “Q” time each day?
What would it say about your priorities? How might it impact your walk with the Lord?
Glory to God!
My kids know my whistle. I don’t necessarily whistle all that loudly or all that long. But if I want to get their attention amidst distraction, I just whistle. When we’re all in the Family Life Center on Wednesday evenings and there are people talking and kids everywhere and I need to get one of my boy’s attention in the sea of children on the basketball court, I just whistle, and their heads turn. Not in a fearful way or a worrisome way. They just know my whistle. When we’re at home and they’re playing outside with other kids, and in one of their friend’s back yard, and Tiersa and I need them to come home, I just step out on the front porch and whistle, and I soon here a, “Coming!…” from a few houses down. The whistle is sort of like “Heads up!” or “Hey, look this direction!”
John the Baptist came proclaiming the Kingdom is at hand! The Kingdom is close. The Kingdom is near. Heads up! Pay attention! It’s near! The Kingdom is near! And then, the Kingdom (the reign and rule of God) is made a reality in Jesus.
As the old hymn declares, “Heaven came down and glory filled my soul.”
The Kingdom of heaven. The reign of God as His Spirit rains down upon human hearts through divine will. The Kingdom of heaven. Heaven coming down. Glory filling our souls.
That’s our reality. Here’s my question: What was John’s role? What is John the Baptist’s task in this? Fulfilling the will and purpose of God? Yes. “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him” (Mt 3:3)? Absolutely. But ultimately, John’s God-ordained position is to announce. To call attention. “Heads up!” “Hey, look this direction!” (cf. Jn 1:29,35). “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near!” (Mt 3:2). The Kingdom is near! Heaven is coming down!
Calling people wherever they were in life to come, and to be a part of the Kingdom.
Our role, our task, our purpose is the same…. To call people wherever they are in life to come, and to be a part of the Kingdom of heaven.
Glory to God!
Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.”
Micah 7:19, “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
Jeremiah 31:34, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
God reveals relationship in vivid metaphor. Sin removed as far as the east is removed from the west. The stark contrast of scarlet and snow. Sins plummeting to the depths of the sea. An all-powerful, all-knowing God choosing to forget, and remember our sins no more.
The imagery of forgiveness.
Our Father forgives. He heals. He restores. He delivers. He rescues.
Through divine prerogative and divine covenant and divine eyes He sees us not for our sin, not for our shame, not for our rebellion, but for who we are through Jesus.
Galatians 3:27, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
He sees us through Jesus.
Glory to God!