Monday, November 21, 2011

Not HOT?

The comfort zone, just coastin, just rollin along. Sounds like a trip to the Big Easy, not much required not much given. Wow, wouldn't  it be cool, just chillin. Although, this sounds like a great vacation its the slow death to spiritual growth. 

  • I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!
  • So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Now, you may have been in a church where you were beat over the head with this scripture or felt the flames at your feet.  However, please note the words of Jesus, “I wish”, two words that speak of his heart in wanting something better for the church at Laodocia.  And that heart is the same for us, the very love of God constrains him with a consuming desire to see us always feed the flame of the gift he has put into our lives. 
We see a picture of this in the Old Testament, in Leviticus 6:3, “a perpetual fire shall burn on the altar; it shall never go out. So here we are in a different dispensation, one so much greater and our God still wants the fire burning hot, its warmth to change us, it light to leads others to Him.  The Hot can be summed up in three words, hungry, open and tender. 
Hungry:  The deep part of man calls to the deep part of God. Our Father's passion is that we are always reaching deeper into His heart the depth of which we reach lies in us. What we do in public will be the result of what we hunger for in private and what we do in service will flow from what we hunger for in intimacy. It is no wonder that the flame in us is fueled with hunger and as it burns hot it changes us   and everything around us

Open: Let us allow ourselves to live with questions, always inquisitive. Our encounters with God will
always  leave us wanting more and sometimes even scratching our head. Is it not good to live in wonder, amazed by a God who's manifold grace enthralls the human heart. If this not the heart of a child, a kid in the Kingdom, compelled to explore by his sense of wonder.
I once heard it said that  an open mind is like a window with no screen that let the bugs in, however, a closed mind  will shut down a open heart,  a closed heart is like a moat around the castle to protect the ill conceived bastions of thought. Castles of captivity. (be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind)  a surrender heart will always result in arenew mind and will always fill both mind and heart with wonder.

Tender: Centered in grace, rooted in love. Tenderness of heart enables us to come into the realm of revelation and unlock the mysteries of God. It is not in seeking the mind of God that we understand and gain wisdom, it's rather from seeking the heart of God. Tender to tender. Jesus said “ learn from me I am gentle and humble in spirit”. I think of that green pasture in Psalm 23, I can picture going there to meet a loving God and with all the things on my mind,  I hear the Father tenderly saying, “I am just glad you are here” How can the  tender love of God not  inflame passion and passion inflamed will always burn HOT.

What thought, what promise helps you keep the fire burning?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What Small Group are you leading next semester?

This is an e-mail from one of our small groupleaders to the people in his group encouraging them to lead a small group. Figured it would make a greatblog. Enjoy!

What small group are you leading nextsemester?

Tis the season for some last minute encouragement,what small group are you going to lead this next semester? All of youhave skills and passions. Throw Jesus in the mix and BOOM, you got asmall group. Even if you aren't good at anything, you can lead a"I'm not good at anything small group". You can sit around withother people who aren't good at anything either and do nothingtogether. How awesome would it be to do nothing with other people whoenjoy nothing? Party.

Ok, that may have been an extreme example, butit could happen. God has given us all abilities to do somethinggreat. Your talent or ability is just as good as the guy/galnext door. Your unique gift might just be the somethinsomethin that turns someone's life over to Christ........and then thedominos start to fall. There are people out there that are hungry forwhat you have to offer no matter how special, unique, different, weird, andinteresting it may be. Different strokes for different folks.

Take some time and think about what youare good at. You probably will come up with several ideas.....put oneinto motion. Sure, you will have to put a little time into it, maybespend a buck or two, but seeing someone's life change is priceless.

As the townie told Bobby Boucher in Waterboy,You can do it!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Imaginations played forward

Proverbs says, “do not fret it only leads to evil” so how does that work, it seams to be a big jump from fretting to evil. Fretting the process of anxious thoughts played forward.  How is this the arena of the enemy? Figment of you imagination, I remember the purple dragon from Disney call figment, cute and innocuous. However there is another dragon, slew foot master of lies but void of substance. It is in this area of fretting, the imagination played forward, that he does his greatest work and weaves his lie.

Remember Jeroboam, yes he was the King who took over Israel at the split of the Kingdom.
I King 11:29-30 About that time Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh met him on the way, wearing a new cloak. The two of them were alone out in the country, and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. 31 Then he said to Jeroboam, "Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon's hand and give you ten tribes.”

Wow, didn't see that coming, what an incredible promise, God was going to establish Jeroboam over the 10 tribes of Israel.  1 Kings 37-38,  I will take you and you will rule over all that your heart desires; you will be king over Israel. If you do whatever I command you and walk in my ways and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you. 

Well, is not God faithful, does he change His mind, will He not accomplish that which He proclaims?
Are not God promises sure? Yes, Yes , Yes.  I am glad you said yes, for as God is true to His word he establishes Jeroboam on the the throne as King of Israel. So what does Jeroboam do, he says to himself
1 Kings 12:27  "If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will return to their lord, even to Rehoboam king of Judah ; and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah." Wow what a thought, however it had one major problem, it did not align with the promise. It was a lie. It was an imagination played forward with a devastating effect. 

The result of which caused Jeroboam to set up a idol (go his own way) at Bethel, the house of God and the place of God's promise to Israel. This is where the big slide began and Israel never recovered. 
We are God's possession, children of the inheritance and  heirs to his promises. They are sure for you and those you are praying for. The enemy always starts with the most innocuous lie. “if”.  
We don't live in the land of “if”.  God's word to Joshua “be courageous”, for He who promised is faithful. WE are, “more than conquerors in Christ” 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


One thing I miss about New England is the seasons.  I would see the most beautiful leaves in very vibrant colors.  On the flip side, I do not miss scraping ice off my windshield and driving in the snow. 

Just like the weather, we go trough seasons in our lives as well.  There are seasons of plenty, seasons of hardship, seasons of great joy and sometime seasons of sadness.  No matter the season in your life, be encouraged to keep yourself deep in the Word of God. 

I love the description of the godly in Psalm 1: 3: “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” 

Here are some practical steps to be like that tree:

1) Stay in the Word of God and Prayer
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

2) Plant Yourself in the Church   
That means be faithful to attend and to give of yourself where God is leading. 
Psalm 92:12-13  The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree… Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.

3) Be Accountable to Friends Who Will Encourage You in Your Faith in Christ

4) Rid Yourself of Harmful Influences

I encourage you to be like that tree the yields its fruit in its season, whose leaf doesn’t wither, and prospers in everything.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Celebrate the Process!

A surrendered heart will always lead to a renewed mind. It is always the matters of the heart surrendered that transforms the mind. Deeply realizing that God is always more interested first in what he does in us than through us. Look at the words of Jesus “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” So whatever we would aspire to do for God , must be first done in us. 

As coaches and small group leaders we can sometimes press and strive for external change in people. Even though we realize the importance of the inner work we may not allow for it. Even in our own lives we quietly think why did that take me so long for me to see that, why am I so slow to change sometimes? These questions can be understood by embracing the valve of the process. If we in our own lives value the process of inner change we will be ultimately more patient and deeply attached to that process in the lives of those we lead and touch. 

The heart of Jesus, humble and gentle, he knew how to make the process easy, lift the weight which allows the growth. “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." I can't help to wonder what is the burden that God would put upon us if  it were not the wonderful burden of sharing His heart for those we see, touch and for those we lead. Sharing His burden will never weight us down, it will impassion, and inflame us burning within us the very heart of God. 

Enjoy the process in your life and celebrate it in others. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I have a 2 year old, Bella, whose favorite word it seems is NO.  She seems to even revel in saying it.  Here’s a challenge for you – know what you are called to and what you are not and use the word “No.” 

It has been often said that the enemy of great is good.  It’s so easy to say yes to things.  Someone asks you to volunteer for something you think – sure I can “squeeze” it in.  Soon you are squeezing so much in that you don’t have any time at all.  Then add your family member’s responsibilities to your calendar that your week gets so crazily busy that you hardly have time to breathe between events…  Life becomes a blur.  

Think about your children.  Often the amount of time you spend with a child communicates something – if you never have time for them, it is time to revisit your schedule and your priorities.  It’s time for change.  Do you want to be remembered as a good or great parent! 

It’s the same with ministry within the church.  If you spread yourself out too thin among a lot of different areas you may actually short circuit what God has called you to.  Take a look at your life and become more focused.  Focus on what matters, focus on what you are called to do.  

If we are doing too much instead of having a focus on what God has called us to, we may only achieve good.  If we concentrate on a chosen focus – instead of volunteering for everything – we may actually achieve the great result we want in life. 

Say no to some things and revel in doing God’s will! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Comfort or Call?

Why is it easier to connect with someone a half a world away with no sphere of influence, yet inside our sphere of influence there is a difficulty connecting with people?

A few weeks ago, I went on my first mission trip to Peru. While I was there, I met Lizandra, a 13 year-old Peruvian orphan.  Probably, one of the smartest young women I have ever met.  On the second morning, God placed her on my heart during my quiet time.  I wasn’t entirely sure why.  As the day progressed, I spent more time with her.  I felt God giving me a message to give to her.  By the end of that night, I was able to sit down and speak with her.  Through broken English and broken Spanish, we were able to communicate and connect.  I was able to share with her the understanding of Christ.  I was able to go outside of my own comfort zone in foreign country where no comfort zone was to be found.  It was probably one of the most memorable experiences I have had in my Christian walk so far.  The remaining time I was in Peru, I was inspired to bring back that fire that I had experienced there.  But when I came back I found it difficult to connect with people inside my own sphere of influence. 

I know Christ has called us to go and disciple all nations as well as find his lost sheep.  I know God loves us all equally, so what is the difference between a lost sheep in Sarasota, Florida and a lost sheep in Lima, Peru.  There is no difference, but I changed.  I stopped, and suddenly there was a wall up.  What was stopping me?  My pride, insecurity, fear of rejection, fear of what people would think about me and maintaining respect, acceptance and influence.  I was letting myself get in the way of doing Christ’s work.  Instead, I was putting my comfort over my call.  How are you any different? 

We are trained from a young age to leverage our influence to manipulate people to get what we want.  For example, when a child determines which parent is the “soft one” he will use that influence.  Rather than asking the parent whose answer would be no to a specific request, he leverages his influence over the other parent, so they will move on his behalf to get what he wants.  We do this so naturally for our own benefit and wants.  Why don’t we do this for the expansion of the Kingdom?  So, my question is this… How are you going to leverage your influence for God’s Kingdom?

By Jim Angus
Small Group Leader – Unleash Your Untamed Faith

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Believe well

It is not so much about faith in God as it is what we believe about Him that determines our faith.
Job, said these words, “what I have feared has come upon me”. What an awesome guy, God's own testimony of him says it all. “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.”

Yet deep in his heart he yet needed to learn something of his Father. Was it all too good to be true?  Can God really be as beautiful, wonderful and loving as I hoped?  Job's own fear allowed the enemy to come before God and test Job. It was a fear based in the question of the character of his heavenly Father.

Job was already blameless and upright, shunning evil. So, in what way was he tested? His ultimate test was in what he believe about his God. Was he truly all that he wanted him to be, was he really that good? Was the Father's love beyond reproach?  Job's answer “surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” Job realized that the God he served was ultimately good even beyond his comprehension. “The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. “

God's promises are based in His character, if we will believe well of Him we will stand strong in what we believe from Him. For it is not the things in His hand that changes us it is that which in our Father's heart that make us truly rich. All flows from the wonder of who he is, the unchanging, ever loving character of our God. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Life-Giving Leader Knows that Pain is Part of Leadership

     A life-giving woman knows that pain is part of leadership, and she understands the necessity of guarding her heart. Proverbs 4:23, says, “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. “ A position of leadership puts you out front for all to see, watch, and judge. I enjoy horse racing, and used to attend the races at Keeneland in Kentucky. When a horse would come out of the shoot, my eye would always follow the horse that was out front and in the lead. John Maxwell, the guru of leadership books, writes in his book, Leadership Gold, “When you get kicked in the rear, you know you’re out front.” 

     A life-giving leader knows that she doesn’t have the luxury of “closing up shop and going home” just because she gets, “kicked in the rear,” her feelings get hurt or she gets criticized. The challenge is to resist quitting the race but also to resist hardening your heart. The tendency is to give up and stop engaging life. We want to put our jammies on, curl up in a blanket and eat chocolate when we are struggling and defeated, but the life-giving leader presses into love, takes another risk, and embraces another relationship. 

     One of my pastor friends experienced a great deal of relational pain when several of the members of the church where he served, became critical of the church and left. When I was talking with him about how he was handling the heartbreak of several members leaving, he said to me that although it was very painful for him personally, he would not stop loving others and engaging in people‘s lives. In other words, he didn’t take himself out of the game.  He pressed into love, and continued on with his race.

     The greatest tactic of the enemy is to get you to stop loving others, stop ministering to others, and to retreat to where it is safe…out of commission, and out of life! John Eldredge writes in Desire, “Do we form no friendships because our friends might be taken from us? Do we refuse to love because we may be hurt? Do we forsake our dreams because hope has been deferred? To desire is to open our hearts to the possibility of pain; to shut down our hearts is to die altogether.” 

     In order to keep your heart soft and life-giving, you must maintain a forgiving heart toward others. Jesus said in Mark 11:24-25, “I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you hold a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” (NIV). The writer of Hebrews warns us, “Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you for as it springs up among you it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives.” Hebrews 12:15 (LB).  “Express. Don’t hold it in. Talk about it. Because if you don’t get it dealt with now, if you let it begin to boil, it will be harder to deal with later.  Emotional anger unexpressed will lead to sinful bitterness.“ [Joe Champion, Rocked, pg. 27].

    Remember, no matter your circumstances, the state of your heart will determine the direction of your life and your leadership. Guard your heart!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Hole Nother World

The avoidance of faith is unbelief.  

Start with the very reason God sent His Spirit into the world; to convict the world of sin, the sin of unbelief. 

As the wonder of salvation has crashed into our world, we now stand in the conflict and it is in this conflict that we suffer. It is the conflict of two worlds colliding and God's Kingdom invading this earth. We are now challenged to live in a different reality, in this reality we can no longer avoid faith. 

It is a reality that calls us to deny the circumstance of this world and stand firm in the Kingdom that contains no lack, no sickness, no need. In this contradiction we understand that our Father's will is not fully realized in this world as it is in heaven. The wonder of God is that he has commissioned us to extend his kingdom in this world. I was recently asked do we stand on the track while the train is coming? Our temptation is to take the realities of the world to avoid faith, rather than taking faith to overcome the world with greater reality of the Kingdom. Father, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, a place with no lack, no sickness or need. 

The greater question is where will we choose to live. In God's kingdom “iron floats” And trains will not run over his children. And the giants are placed in the promised land only for one reason, to be slayed. Avoidance of faith would have us wait, for what God has already provided and is eager to do. 

The excitement of stepping out and extending God's Kingdom now is the place we are called to live. 

It is in embracing this truth that the suffering heart is set free to live at a HNL (hole nother level)...

 ...pardon the mistake its really a HNW (world).