Thursday, August 27, 2009

Reveal Part 3-Speaking to the Unseen

This week as we continued our "Reveal" series we talked about prayer. How could God reveal Himself to us if we never engage in conversation with Him? I didn't necessarily talk about how much we need to pray or a specific formula, but what our prayers should consist of.

First think about some of the silly things you may have prayed for in your life. Go ahead, you know you've asked God to give you something and when you look back you realize how silly it was. When we think about prayer it all comes down to whether God is going to answer yes or no and when He doesn't answer the way we want we ask the question WHY? We may even ask what we're doing wrong in order for our prayers to not be answered how we want but the question we first need to ask is HOW? Now for years I believed for some reason that it was wrong for me to ask God the question "why", but later discovered that it's ok, but can't be our main focus. We need to ask the question "how?" The disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray and from that we're given some scripture that most people know. If you ever played a sport you possibly even stated it as a team before playing. It's pretty discouraging b/c I think some of the sports teams I played for would recite it thinking it gave us a special power or something, but not really reciting it with much thought of what we were actually saying. One account of the Lord's prayer can be found in Matthew 6:9-13. After looking at this scripture we looked at 3 words to help unlock the "How" in prayer.

1) React
-We are to react to His glory
-When we learn how to pray, we have to learn how to react to God
-When it says "Hallowed be Your name"- its saying God you are incredible
-We wouldn't bottle up prayers into a short time if we truly reacted to who God is
-The Psalms were written prayers in reaction to who God is, written in song
-When we sing worship songs they should be sung in prayer- reacting to God's glory

2) Become
-We are to become like Him
-When it says "Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven" it's saying that we want God's will to line up with our life;
His joy, His heartaches, and what He wants for our life
-We may pray this easily, but not truly mean it
-When we do this, true confession comes out of our lives b/c we are honest and realize that we're wrong and are sorry for making it about our own will

3) Ask
-This is the part we all understand
-When it says "Give us this day our daily bread" it is saying- "God just give me enough, only what is necessary and not the things that
I just want
-"And for give us our debts"- we ask God for forgiveness of our sins, but also as we have forgiven those who have hurt us
-"And do not lead us into temptation"- God keep us safe from trials and keep us safe from the enemy

We usually ask the "Why" when it comes to prayer but we instead need to ask "How". We ask the why b/c we may say things like "God I just want my prayers answered" or "I just want my circumstances to change" but what we have to realize is that God is answering those prayers but just not how we want them to be. We must realize that everything we want is not necessarily what we need.

I'm reminded of spending time with my nephew recently. I love my nephew Noah so much it's unreal. I told the students last night to imagine the coolest kid ever, then multiply it by 100 and you have my nephew Noah. He is so much fun and I love him so much. Recently I was praying over him and wanted to ask God things like "God always keep him from enduring any hardships" and "Keep him from experiencing heartache" but I couldn't pray these things because I knew that God couldn't answer yes to all of that. The reason God can't answer yes to all of that is because in order for Noah to become the man that God is calling him to be, then he has to endure some hardships and heartaches. Jesus even told us we would endure trials. So if Noah never endured any of this in life, then he wouldn't be molded and shaped like he is supposed to. I think in my own life the heartaches and trials I have faced and even when I think of them it makes scars re-emerge but I know that if it wasn't for those things that I wouldn't be the person today that God shaped me to be. It's during those hard times that I go to God in prayer- I react to His glory, I become like Him asking for His will to be done, and I ask for those things that align with Him.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tanner the "Love Addict"

A few weeks ago at the Crossover Ministry they had a talent show. My good friend Tanner Hutsell stole the show when he and Ariel did a routine to Family Force 5's "Love Addict". So here is the video for your enjoyment.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Younite Bible Study- Day 3

Day 3- Unity With God

What are your thoughts when you read today’s title? If you are a Christian then maybe you think about the moment you were saved and how there was no longer a barrier between you and God. Maybe you think of how when some day you pass on from this life and are united with God in Heaven. These are both great responses but consider the following question. Does your life reflect that you are united with God. Take a moment and read Matthew 12:30. This verse tells us that if we are not with God then we are against Him. In other words if we don’t live for God, then we are His enemy.

Begin by praying, praising God for who He is and thanking Him for blessing you. Then ask Him to speak to you through this time of Bible study. Finally ask Him to speak to you while you are on your ministry site today. Ask Him to stretch you spiritually and give you opportunities to share the love of Jesus with others.

Read Romans 6:1-7

Seriously think about the following questions:

-Has there been a moment in my life when I became a Christian by accepting Jesus as my savior?

-If so then is my life truly reflecting that I have been changed by Jesus?

-Am I living my life for myself or truly for God?

-Are you truly in love with God, or just the “stuff” that He provide you?

If you are reading this and realize that you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your savior, then please get with an adult right now and talk to them about becoming a Christian.

If you are reading this and know that you are truly saved, but have not been living your life totally for God, then repent and change. Lean on God and allow Him to take control of your life. If you need to pray with an adult or if you have any questions, then don’t hesitate at this point to get with someone.

Close this time by praying that God will draw you closer to Him. Thank God for seeking after you even when you may be running from Him. Ask Him to remove any barriers that will hinder you from being united with Him and being able to experience the relationship with Him that He desires to have with you.

Younite Bible Study- Day 2

Day 2- Unity Within the Church

When you hear the word church, what all comes to mind? A group of believers? A building? Clearwater? Do you think of a group of people with the same purpose in mind- that is to reach the lost? If not then it’s pretty saddening. The purpose of the church is not to be a club or anything like that, but to be a group of believers united with the purpose of reaching out to others and sharing Jesus with the lost! That should be the main purpose and is the example of the church that can be read about in the book of Acts. If the church (not any specific one but the Christian church) is going to set out to reach the lost, then we must become united. As anything you try to accomplish in life, it’s always easier when you have others helping you and you don’t try to do it alone.

Begin by praying, praising God for who He is and thanking Him for blessing you. Then ask Him to speak to you through this time of Bible study. Finally ask Him to speak to you while you are on your ministry site today. Ask Him to stretch you spiritually and give you opportunities to share the love of Jesus with others.

Read Exodus 4:13-17, 27-31

God used both Moses and Aaron to accomplish His plans. He could have done His work without either of them, but He chose to let both of them play a part in a much bigger picture. The same goes for us. God can still accomplish His plan without us, but He chooses us to be a part of it. That should make you excited knowing that God wants to use you, even though you are a sinner because that’s how much He loves you and how much potential He sees in you.

Ask yourself the following questions: What is your purpose in being involved in church? Does your purpose match what was described above as being the church’s purpose? If not then why? If your purpose does not match the church’s, then stop right now and ask God to change your heart so that it will.

Here is something else to consider. It was mentioned yesterday about the possible large amount of lost people in McMinn County but consider this. Billy Graham has made the statement that he believes that 85% of the church is lost. Now there is no way any human can know for sure, but this is startling to say the least. Does it burden you that maybe a huge hindrance in unity within the church is that many be lost when they think they are saved?

Close this time by praying for unity within the Christian church. Pray that the church will not allow Satan to be a hindrance in any way. Also pray that you will not be a hindrance in the church in any way.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reveal Part 2- Pursuing the Image

We continued this week looking at the "Reveal" theme. I originally thought we would not look at the Bible as a way that God reveals Himself to us because we have done that before, but I believe it was necessary for us to do so. For one thing, the Bible is the primary way that God chooses to reveal Himself to us and to speak to us so why not look at it? Also it continues to bother me the lack of Bibles that are brought to church each week. So I believe it was a good opportunity to look at some reasons why we might not read our Bibles like we should and ways to get rid of those excuses.

My wife and I had the opportunity this week to have a couple nights home where she was able to cook dinner. Belinda likes to cook and I like to eat so we go well together. But not only did she cook, but she cooked my favorite- Eggplant Parmesan. I can't even describe how good this stuff is so just imagine some of the best food ever and get jealous that I got to eat it this week. But it makes me think how I can't imagine life without her. Now I want you to think of something that you can't imagine living life without or you can't remember what life was like before having this. Some examples might be a car, computer, internet, video game system, cell phone, text messaging, etc. One thing that has consumed a lot of our lives is text messaging. I used to hate it back in the day, now it's a part of my everyday life. But when we hear the sound of our phone getting a text message, we stop whatever we do because we just have to read it. It doesn't matter what we're doing, when we hear that sound, we stop whatever we're doing and see what it says. Now imagine if you were with a friend, your phone receives a text message but you don't read it. Your friend then asks you if you're going to read the text message and you say "No, I don't like to read so I'm just going to ignore it." What? That's probably one of the stupidest things ever, but isn't that one of the main excuses people give for not reading the Bible? Some view the Bible solely as a book of good stories and they don't want to read it. But what if we viewed the Bible as something that we just have to stop whatever we're doing and read it like we do our text messages. Maybe if we viewed the Bible this important and as something that God is communicating to us through then we would see the importance.

Another excuse some might have for not reading the Bible is that it's irrelevant because it was written years ago for people who didn't have cell phones and internet and the responsibilities that come with each. Psalm 119:97 tells us that the writer loved reading God's Word. The writer (possibly David) was probably reading the Pentateuch (the 1st five books of the Bible) which would have been written hundreds of years before him. It certainly was relevant for him and is relevant for us as well.

As we continue to read Psalm 119:98-100 we read in verse 98 that the time spent reading God's Word made him wiser. This along with in verse 97 that says he read it "all the day" shows that he spent time reading it. Probably one of the biggest excuses for not reading the Bible is "I don't have time". Think about what you spend your time doing. We probably all could do a little better in the time management area. But a few years ago I spent a lot of time playing "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess" on the Wii. It was the 1st Zelda game I had ever played, and after sticking it in the other day to see what the time played on it was, I was kind of astonished. I logged 63 hours and 33 minutes on that game. That is more than 2 and a half days! I could have spent some of that time reading the Bible, and even sleeping! We have to make time, and even schedule time to read the Bible or we probably won't. At best we'll end up just taking a few minutes at the very end of our day and rush through it giving God our leftovers and not our best.

Another excuse that people have for not reading the Bible is that they just don't understand it. You must continue to read it, and consult other helps when studying the Bible. Here are a few things that can help you in understanding the Bible and developing a better desire to read it daily.
-Find a good Bible that you will read
-Get a good study Bible
-Know that the Bible is completely true, but read it for yourself to discover how awesome it is
-Study the context of a verse- most interpretation come from just reading one verse. You need to read not only a verse, but the surround
paragraphs, chapter, and even book.
-Pray before reading and ask God to speak to you

I don't want it to sound like I have it all together in this area because I certainly don't. I very must struggle in this because I personally hate to read. That's why I spent more time in college playing video games than studying because most times I would sit down to read I would fall asleep. But since I've made the effort to get serious about reading the Bible, it has been life changing and when I might miss time reading it, it's very noticeable in my life.

God wants to reveal Himself to you through His Word. When you really get serious about reading it, the Bible will become one of those things in life that you will look at and say "How did I ever live without that?"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Younite Bible Study- Day 1

I've been such a blogging slacker as of late. So for the 2 of you who read my blog, I apologize for that and also for the fact that you've probably already read what I'm posting. Here is the 1st day of Bible study from Younite. I edited it a bit for this and there was also a couple of places for the students to write out their thoughts.

Day 1- Unity Within the City/Community

As of 2008 there were 52,511 people living in McMinn County. Out of this number only 34,724 attended church (note this is any type of church, not only Baptist or other Christian churches). If you do the math, this means only 61% of people attend church of some sort in McMinn County. We know that more than likely all that attend church are not saved. Also just because someone does not attend church does not mean that they are not saved. I say all of that to make mention that there is more than likely well over half of McMinn County residents that are lost. This means that they are dying and going to hell. We’re in the Bible belt and it we just assume that there is a high percentage of Christians, but that’s not true. So what’s the big deal? Well if you ask yourself that question then you need to check your heart before you go any further in this study and ask God to show you why this is such a big deal.

Begin by praying, praising God for who He is and thanking Him for blessing you. Then ask Him to speak to you through this time of Bible study. Finally ask Him to speak to you while you are on your ministry site today. Ask Him to stretch you spiritually and give you opportunities to share the love of Jesus with others.

Read John 13:1-17

We’re not going to force anyone to wash anyone else’s feet, for several reasons so don’t worry. The point is to realize that in order for unity to take place in this city/community, we must humble ourselves in the form of a servant. You may have heard this before but you must realize that you not above anyone. Not the poorest of poor, not the lowest of the lows, and not even the people who you despise and maybe have even stated that you hate. We are not above anyone….period! If Jesus was willing to humble himself to serve these 12 men, then we must too humble ourselves to serve others. Jesus was even willing to serve these men when He knew that they were about to abandon, deny, and sale Him out.

We are serving as a group today and that is wonderful! But know that true service is when we serve without anyone knowing except God alone. We must not serve today in order to earn a pat on the back or to look good or even be seen by others, but to be Jesus to others.

Close this time by praying that God will give you a heart to serve others, no matter what the cost, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Ask God to take you out of your comfort zone today!

Remember- unity begins with you!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Reveal- Seeking to Know Him

I know in my last post I said I would break down some of the Bible study and messages we heard from Younite and I so I promise I will post that all soon. Last night I began a short series called "Reveal". Last fall the first series I did was called "Glory Revealed" based on the book by David Nasser and we covered how God's glory is revealed through scripture. While the Bible is one of the main ways that God reveals Himself and His glory to us, we are going to look at other ways that God reveals Himself to us.

The word reveal is defined as to make previously unknown information known; whether it is God Himself and your relationship with Him, direction from Him, something regarding relationships, career/job, ministry calling, school, what you should do in a certain situation, etc. What we looked at last night was that in order for God to reveal Himself to us, we must know Him and seek to know Him. Would you reveal something to someone you don't know? Of course not and so how can God reveal things to us when we don't truly know Him?

We first looked at James 2:19 that tells us You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. To know that there is only one God, and to know about God isn't good enough. The demons know about God, and they tremble in fear because they know about Him, but that doesn't save them. God doesn't just want you to have good theology; He wants you to truly know and love Him.

So my main question for the students to consider is this- "Do you know God or just know about Him?"

I did the following comparison between people who know God and people who only know about God

-Someone who knows God has daily conversations with God and desires to talk with Him and hear from Him. Someone who only knows about God rarely talks to Him, and only gives Him a few minutes in prayer when it's convenient or if they need to pray petitionary prayers asking for things
-Someone who knows God is drawn to God and wants to grow closer to Him and comes to church because it is a privilege. Someone who only knows about God is not drawn to Him and maybe only comes to church to socialize or because they are made to or simply out of habit because they think they have to.
-Someone who knows God wants to spend more time in God's Word. Someone who only knows about God doesn't read their Bible much and probably has very little contact with a Bible.
-Someone who knows God realizes that they can't do anything on their own without God- John 15:5. Someone who only knows about God tries doing things on their own without God. They also ask questions like "Can I still do ______ and still go to Heaven?" because they are more concerned with going to Heaven than developing a loving relationship with Jesus.
-Someone who knows God is obedient to God because of their love for Him- 1 John 2:3-6. Someone who only knows God is only obedient when convenient or because they feel guilty.

We are about to see God do some huge things at Clearwater Baptist Church, and in Athens, TN. My desire is to see a massive revival of Christians take place all over the world like we've never seen. But unless you really know God, then you are going to miss out. It's my fear that many people in the world are playing the Christian game, when they really don't know Jesus. I don't say all of this to sound judgmental, but say it out of burden and fear because I don't want to get to Heaven and people not be there because they never really got it right and continued to play games their whole life. For God to reveal _____ to you- you have to really know Him.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Younite

This past weekend was an even that was over 1 1/2 years in the making. As part of my calling into full time ministry, God also placed a burden on my heart for the area we live in. It's easy for us to go do ministry somewhere far away, but when we think about doing mission work here at little bitty Athens, then it's another thing. Why is that? People are hurting and lost even here in the midst of the "Bible Belt". Anyway God placed a vision along with the burden to do a mission camp here in Athens called "Younite". After many many hours of planning, praying, working, etc. we had the camp and let me tell you it was incredible. It was awesome to see our students humbling themselves to serve others. Not only did we serve others but there was something great that took place within out own group. It was by far the smoothest even we've ever had and God really did a great work in our students through serving, Bible study, and incredible messages delivered each night. Over the next week or so I hope to lay out a bit of what each day looked like with details about Bible study, etc. But for today I want to show everyone the video that we showed to the church this past Sunday. As I told the church, it's hard to wrap up 72 hours of missions, Bible study, worship, and fellowship into 3 1/2 minutes but here is the best attempt at it. Enjoy!