Spend More Time With God

Today I intentionally spent hours in the presence of God. I know God is immanent (everywhere), but I mean paying attention and listening for God as well as reading the bible and praying [again, praying includes listening].

After having a good conversation with a friend from Tennessee who’s more experienced in gifts like the prophetic I drove to Solana Beach to get a haircut at my favorite place, the Cove Barber Shop.

On the way I felt the Lord nudge me with “Do You Love Me?” and I can even sense that it was the version from the movie, “Dirty Dancing” by The Contours. I discovered The Blues Brothers version first and both are below.

Here’s something to consider:

Is Holy Spirit singing this to the church? Keep in mind that if God is singing the lyrics they would be sung with perfectly pure intentions, unlike how humans often sing them.

Press On, Brothers & Sisters, Press On!

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Bold Belief

Here’s another quick post for your edification. What do you feel is an important message in this passage?

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Mark 2:2-5 The Message (MSG)

A Paraplegic
2 1-5 After a few days, Jesus returned to Capernaum, and word got around that he was back home. A crowd gathered, jamming the entrance so no one could get in or out. He was teaching the Word. They brought a paraplegic to him, carried by four men. When they weren’t able to get in because of the crowd, they removed part of the roof and lowered the paraplegic on his stretcher. Impressed by their bold belief, Jesus said to the paraplegic, “Son, I forgive your sins.”
***

God bless you!

Habakkuk For Me & You

Last night I was at The Fire & Glory Outpouring for the 65th time (tonight will be my 20th time watching from home).

Have I mentioned that I’ve been practicing hearing from Holy Spirit? Last night we had some time devoted to listening for God’s voice.

It’s important to give yourself grace in this process. It takes practice like anything else. I’m not sure about everything, but I’m pretty sure God wanted me to take a look at Habakkuk. So that’s what I did this morning and I feel that God knew exactly what I needed last night/this morning.

Hopefully this will be helpful for you as well. I’ll share a little every day.

Today is the introduction from The Message.

God bless you!

Introduction HABAKKUK

Living by faith is a bewildering venture. We rarely know what’s coming next, and not many things turn out the way we anticipate. It is natural to assume that since I am God’s chosen and beloved, I will get favorable treatment from the God who favors me so extravagantly. It is not unreasonable to expect that from the time that I become his follower, I will be exempt from dead ends, muddy detours, and cruel treatment from the travelers I meet daily who are walking the other direction.

That God-followers don’t get preferential treatment in life always comes as a surprise. But it’s also a surprise to find that there are a few men and women within the Bible who show up alongside us at such moments. The prophet Habakkuk is one of them, and a most welcome companion he is.

Most prophets, most of the time, speak God’s Word to us. They are preachers calling us to listen to God’s words of judgment and salvation, confrontation and comfort. They face us with God as he is, not as we imagine him to be. Most prophets are in-your-face assertive, not given to tact, not diplomatic, as they insist that we pay attention to God.

But Habakkuk speaks our word to God. He gives voice to our bewilderment, articulates our puzzled attempts to make sense of things, faces God with our disappointment with God. He insists that God pay attention to us, and he insists with a prophet’s characteristic no-nonsense bluntness. The circumstance that aroused Habakkuk took place in the seventh century B.C. The prophet realized that God was going to use the godless military machine of Babylon to bring God’s judgment on God’s own people—using a godless nation to punish a godly nation!

It didn’t make sense, and Habakkuk was quick and bold to say so. He dared to voice his feelings that God didn’t know his own God business. Not a day has passed since then that one of us hasn’t picked up and repeated Habakkuk’s bafflement: “God, you don’t seem to make sense!” But this prophet companion who stands at our side does something even more important: He waits and he listens. It is in his waiting and listening—which then turns into his praying—that he found himself inhabiting the large world of God’s sovereignty.

Only there did he eventually realize that the believing-in-God life, the steady trusting-in-God life, is the full life, the only real life. Habakkuk started out exactly where we start out with our puzzled complaints and God-accusations, but he didn’t stay there. He ended up in a world, along with us, where every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (p. 1272). NavPress. Kindle Edition.

We Encourage When We Share

Most mornings I wake up with a song in my head. I truly enjoy music and during the last six months or so I’ve been listening to a lot more worship music. (I think I even mentioned this in an earlier blog post.)

Here’s how I think it works for me and I believe that means it can work for you as well.

Because I’ve been sincerely seeking to know God better through semi-regular worship and creating a study with two like-minded friends from church, I’ve been led/gone down a different (or deeper) path.

When I was 24 and my mom died of lung cancer I didn’t try hard enough to find help through people of faith. I remember reaching a point where people were telling me that maybe I needed to go to a professional (or semi-professional student counselor at SDSU, in my case) counselor to discuss my grief.

It is not my intention to sound harsh, but maybe what I should have done is found other believers who were willing to meet with me and pray with me (and counsel me) AND if I couldn’t find those believers at MY CHURCH, I should have looked at other churches for believers who would help.

That doesn’t necessarily mean leaving that church, but if that’s what I had to do then that’s what I should have done. As believers we have to take responsibility for our faith. (Check out Galatians 6:5-15 at BibleStudyTools.com which covers a great deal in this area.)

Today my wife and I attend Solana Pres in Solana Beach, California. I started attending a little over two decades ago. We also attend The Fire & Glory Outpouring Revival which is currently hosted at Summit Church in San Marcos, California. This doesn’t mean we are switching churches.

Tonight at 7:00 I expect that we will worship revival-style and tomorrow morning at 8:30 we will worship passionate-Presbyterian (or as close as Presbyterians get to passionate worship?) style.

When I started this blog I hoped to share my journey with Jesus honestly and assumed that a good number of readers would support me when I launch my brand.

What I’m finding is that by worshiping more frequently and continuing to meet regularly with good christian friends I can trust I’m more open to what God is calling me to do.

Evangelism is one of those things. I tell strangers that God loves them and I’m more open to conversations with them about what they want to talk about. Surprisingly, lots of people are open to someone who is sharing enthusiastically about their faith and many of those people are open to me praying for them. Sometimes that means right there on the spot.

If people support my brand when I launch, that’s wonderful. But, there is more to this blog than supporting me in what I do. Who’s supporting you?

Here’s Crowder with that song in my head when I woke up this morning.

God bless you!

What About Close Calls?

During my lifetime I have had several close calls.

When I was in first or second grade I almost drowned at a backyard end-of-the-year school party for my class at St. John’s in Encinitas, California. A few years later my oldest brother, Mike, yelled at me to get out of the road in Leucadia near the corner of Hygeia and (what is now) Leucadia Blvd. and a car passed by very close as I stepped out of the way.

A couple years later I fell off my bike at age 12 as I transitioned from the road to the sidewalk on my way to St. John’s school when it was on Melrose. I landed on my face and could have easily broken my neck. Instead, I changed my two front teeth forever and now I have permanent caps over what can only be described as “nubs”. Less than two years later I fell off a skateboard on a very steep hill and landed on my face (again) and people were amazed (again) that I didn’t break my neck.

These are just some of the incidents that stand out in my memory. Perhaps you’ve had similar close calls in your life.

Why do some people survive and others, like a high school classmate who drowned in a flash flood in Valley Center, not survive? I can’t answer that question easily. I’m sure you can find books on the subject. One book that has a lot of great insight for believers is Dallas Willard’s Divine Conspiracy. Some people find him too intellectual, so if that’s the case, I recommend books by John Ortberg. He sometimes half-jokingly refers to himself as “Dallas Willard for Dummies”.

Today Ari Fleischer, who was press secretary under President George W. Bush, was in a restroom instead of at baggage claim while the gunman was shooting. He said, “Thank God I had to make a pit stop.”

This sort of phenomenon is happening every day for someone, not just in my past or your past.

I guess I believe that God still has more work for Ari Fleischer and me to do.

One of the things we can do is pray. I prayed soon after reading about the incident for the victims and their families and I prayed for the shooter’s heart to change.

I am coming to believe that God calls us to do more than pray sometimes and I’m also believing that sometimes God reveals to us what that is.

IF we are listening to God. Please keep listening to Jesus.

God bless you and keep you!

You Are The Salt Of The Earth

Today my wife was having leftovers for lunch and I couldn’t tell exactly what was on her plate.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Steak!” she said.

“I can’t tell because it looks like it has a coating on it. What’s the coating?”

“Salt!”

We both laughed. My wife has always enjoyed salt much more than me. I told her that I need to look up verses about salt and she said, “You are the salt of the earth.”

So here we are.

What does it mean? Good question.

You can check out BibleHub.com for an explanation from commentaries.

You can search Google to find out.

I’ve even included Matthew 5:13-16 from The Message and the New International Version (NIV).

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Salt and Light
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:13-16 The Message (MSG)
***
Salt and Light
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:13-16 New International Version (NIV)
***

Jesus also uses light as a metaphor here.

I’m not an expert. I’m not ordained. I’m a follower of Jesus.

It seems to me that Jesus wants his disciples (including you and me) to continue to have an impact because of their faith and their character (and likely their power and glory – that is – the power of God and the glory of God in them through the Holy Spirit).

What do YOU think?

I know I’m not covering it all here. If you have Holy Spirit in you, you can ask. AND, you can check with others who do.

I’ll leave you with some sweet music from a man who was the salt of the earth and the light of the world until he went home to God, Andrae Crouch. Last night I felt God nudge me to get up and write down a dream a little before two in the morning and when I searched on Youtube, there was Andrae Crouch and this song.

You are the salt of the earth. (And the light of the world!)

God bless you!

Citizens Of Heaven

What a wonderful New Year’s Day (and New Year’s Eve) we had! I’ll share about that another time, except to say that my wife and I attended The Fire & Glory Outpouring both nights and two regular worship services Sunday morning. If we include Saturday morning and afternoon I went to five worship services and my honey went to six in two days!

Last January I would have thought you were crazy (Though I PROBABLY wouldn’t have said it out LOUD!) if you told me I would participate in real congregational worship this often. Yet here I am. I encourage you to worship God more often in Spirit and in Truth. I believe I’m experiencing real effects in my life and in my intimacy with Jesus. This has everything to do with God and I deserve no credit except possibly for CHOOSING to seek intimacy with Holy Spirit.

Quite a long time ago I heard a verse that promises if you truly seek God you will find him. Because of my experience in personal development I remember realizing that what many people are seeking is fulfillment and that’s not necessarily the same as seeking God. In fact, I probably starting thinking about personal development in this way because of a wonderful and highly intelligent woman who was our senior pastor for a while at Solana Beach Presbyterian Church, Roberta Hestenes. I asked people from time to time and don’t remember ever getting what I considered the right verse in response. (To be fair, I don’t think I ever asked Roberta Hestenes or our current senior pastor, Mike McClenahan.) I believe I found it with the help of Google and Bible Gateway.

Personally I have found The Message very helpful in understanding through modern language. Even if you normally read from a certain translation I highly recommend that you also read The Message for clarity. I’ve experience the Psalms and Epistles really coming alive for me recently when I’ve read The Message translation, which I believe is technically a paraphrase.

I’ve included two translations of the relevant verses. Also remember what I mentioned in the New Year’s Day post – Try New Things In This New Year!

Take hold of this promise!

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But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.
Deuteronomy 4:29 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

But even there, if you seek God, your God, you’ll be able to find him if you’re serious, looking for him with your whole heart and soul. When troubles come and all these awful things happen to you, in future days you will come back to God, your God, and listen obediently to what he says. God, your God, is above all a compassionate God. In the end he will not abandon you, he won’t bring you to ruin, he won’t forget the covenant with your ancestors which he swore to them.
Deuteronomy 4:29-31 The Message (MSG)
***

My birthday is coming up on February 28th and if you could give me a present I guess I would first choose for you to actually attend The Fire & Glory Outpouring in San Marcos, California which I think is going through 2017. (Of course, Jerame & Miranda Nelson listen to Holy Spirit for direction so who can know the mind of God in advance?)

A very close second place gift would be for you to get The Message and read it often to help you receive God’s message in language that’s pretty easy to understand. I have The Message on my Kindle and computer, but I think today or tomorrow I’m going order or go and get a hard copy so I can read it when my internet connection is funky. Hopefully you are already watching The Fire & Glory Outpouring on Youtube. Don’t forget to watch old “episodes” (as I like to call them) in addition to watching LIVE on Youtube while worship is going on.

Today I’m leaving you with verses I read this morning during what many call quiet time. I have a friend who has said quite often that he’s a citizen of heaven and I believe that’s important to keep in mind. It’s helpful to remember where our authority comes from in relation to our identity as believers.

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But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.
Philippians 3:20-21 The Message (MSG)
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God loves you!