Sunday, July 17, 2011

Don't Overlook Anyone -- God Works Outside the Box

South paw. Left-handed. Only one in their right mind. Accident proned living in a right-handed world. I have heard all of these for I am a lefty. Growing up, I hated having notebooks with the rings on the left, and there were certain pens that I couldn’t use because they would smudge. This would not be the only thing that would make me different nor the only thing that would force me to do things differently than others. If you are right-handed, have you ever tried being a lefty for a day? Eat with your left. (After all the fork is on the left, shouldn’t you use your left hand?) Wear your watch or jewelry on the opposite side. Anything you would do with your right you would stop and do with your left. Awkward, isn’t it? Uncomfortable? Doesn’t really make sense to do it with your left because you are more efficient doing the task with your right.

Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. Verse 9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God does not always choose to do what is comfortable for us. God does not always choose to use the person we think He should use. We’d like to put God in a box, but He is God and cannot be contained by anything man creates. Sometimes He does a thing just because He can.

What has driven me to this whole thinking and reasoning is reading Acts 9. Why would God choose to send the PERSECUTOR to the PERSECUTED? Because He can, but in order to do so, God has to shake Saul’s world upside down, inside out, and all around. It wasn’t comfortable to say the least. You see, to get Saul to where he needed to be, the POWERFUL had to become POWERLESS. The IMPRISONER had to become IMPRISONED by his own inabilities. The SIGHTED became BLIND. The INDEPENDENT became the DEPENDENT. The LEADER had to be LED. The STRONG had to become DEFENSELESS. God did not write Saul off the books because he was difficult. Instead, God chose to take Saul down to bare metal. Been there, done that. Are you there now? If you are, take hope. Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

God is so good. He loves us too much to leave us in the state we are in. He can use anyone whether they are a willing vessel or not. He knows what it takes to get a person’s attention. He knows the calling He has put on each person’s life, and in verse 15 of Acts 9 God said, “This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.”

God does not always choose to work within the confines set by man. Sometimes He chooses to shake things up. Keeps things interesting, don’t it! That is why it is so imperative that we have an intimate relationship with Him. No one is to be overlooked. God doesn’t write anyone off as being useless. Who would have thought God would use a Christian-slayer to be a Christian leader? Have you written anyone off? If so, you might want to seek God’s guidance about the best practice for that person. He may just have you devote yourself to praying for that person, or he may call you out like Ananias to go and minister to him/her. AWKWARD! What will you do when that happens? Will you go and trust God’s ways, or will you miss out on the blessing and stay put? This journey isn’t about your being comfortable. It’s about growing in your faith and in your intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. He can use you, and He will, if you allow Him.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Teleporting in the Bible: Running in the Bible -- What are 'Things we miss when we don't dig?'

Before Star Trek was introduced to us in 1966 and before we heard about “teleporting,” do you know that “teleporting” happened in the Bible? Personally, I’m not a Star Trek fan, but the creator and writer was very creative and imaginative. At any rate back to my point, teleporting actually occurred in the Bible. By the way, this might be a good way to start a conversation with someone who is a “trekkie, and since we never know who God will send our way…”

During our study of “Out Live Your Life,” my mind has really become intrigued with Acts 7 and 8. When you make time, I highly recommend focusing on this passage of Scripture for a week…at least!

Okay, on to support my point. After Stephen was stoned, Saul and others turned up the persecution of the church which caused its members to spread. Persecution sort of back-fired here, because persecution caused the believers to go in all different directions, and as they went they spread the Word of God. What Satan means for evil, God can use for good (Romans 8:28). The church grew!

Philip went to Samaria, and he was filled with the Spirit doing as the Lord led him to do. People were saved. Unclean spirits were cast out. Miracles were performed. Then the Lord spoke to Philip (8:26). He told Philip to go to a road that goes to the desert. What I personally noticed was that Philip didn’t ask what he’d be doing, he didn’t complain about leaving the mountain high he was on, he didn’t voice his concern about going to the desert road. Verse 27 says, “So he got up and went” – like this was the most ordinary thing. I heard from the Lord, and I obey him. Completely unfettered by his own agenda or what he thought might be his personal restraints as to why he couldn’t go.

When Philip got there, the Spirit told Philip to go to a specific chariot that was parked along the road. I love verse 3—“Then Philip ran.” God speaks and gives direction – Philip runs to complete it. God leads: Philip runs to follow. He literally runs. I think he runs out of obedience, but I also think he runs in anticipation to see what God is going to do. Are you excited or are you anticipating what God is going to do next? Are you anticipating how God is going to use you next? If not, start running to it, the endorphins might help you ;>

God lead him to the place where he was supposed to be. Philip ran to it. God provided the opportunity – the eunuch was already reading the Scripture and had questions. Sometimes we are the sowers, and other times we are the reapers. Philip and the eunuch didn’t have much in common. The eunuch had a place of position and authority. The eunuch had prestige and money. Philip was a refuge. The eunuch was dark skinned. Philip – not so much. Yet, God brought both men together and provided the means for which they could communicate and find unity. It’s a God-thang.

So, Philip travels with the eunuch a ways until they found some water. HANG ON! THIS IS WHERE THE TELEPORTING HAPPENS! The eunuch wants to be baptized, so Philip baptizes the eunuch. When the eunuch comes up out of the water verse 39 says the “Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him any longer.” Verse 40 says Philip then appeared in Azotus. TELEPORTING via the Spirit!

What a phenomenal story of faith and obedience of Philip! What an amazing story and testimony he had! God continued using Philip.

Where are you today in your walk with God? Are you a believer? Do you follow Him? Do you run when He leads you somewhere? Do you obey when God puts someone in your path? When something bad happens, do you look to see how God is going to turn it around? If you aren’t, then you are missing the ride of your life. You are missing out on a great adventure.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

"Out Live Your Life" -- What Will You Do When the Tough Gets Going?

Do you know who James Zwerg is? I remember watching an interview with James Zwerg, and I couldn’t help but watch the whole piece. Zwerg was from Wisconsin but was going to a college in Tennessee in the early 60s. His roommate was an African American young man who invited him to ride a bus. Some of you know them as the “Freedom Riders.”

James was described as “humble and modest,” but he says he had a hot temper as a child. So as he went through the training on civil disobedience, he wasn’t sure he would be able to maintain the calmness necessary for the job.

His family did not understand his desire to participate and cut off ties with him for a while. Before Mr. Zwerg stepped a foot on the bus, he wrote his family a letter stating he would most likely be dead when they read it, and yet he rode the bus anyway. After some setbacks the bus ride made it to Alabama. There was a mob waiting. Men and women used whatever they could find to beat the riders.

“Branch writes: ‘One of the men grabbed Zwerg's suitcase and smashed him in the face with it. Others slugged him to the ground, and when he was dazed beyond resistance, one man pinned Zwerg's head between his knees so that the others could take turns hitting him’.”

“Zwerg, whose religious faith had been considerably strengthened by earlier Civil Rights efforts, recalls that his beating was preceded by "an incredible religious experience." Upon asking God for the strength not to fight back, Zwerg describes feeling "a peace that I've never experienced again in my life.”

Later Zwerg would meet Rev Martin Luther King and become a pastor for 10 years. In his TV interview he said he had searched for that type of bond that he had with the other riders and that type of peace since the riot and had never found it. He became a pastor thinking he could find that bond again, but after 10 years of dealing with the people of the church, he realized it was not to be.

“A peace that I’ve never experienced again in my life.” This was the phrase that popped into my mind when I read about Stephen in Acts 7.

Stephen was described as one with a good reputation, full of the Spirit, wisdom and faith. He was a servant who was full of grace and power who performed great wonders and signs. He was an over-comer, and when it mattered the most, when his faith was tested, he chose to teach. He taught the Sanhedrin, the scribes and Pharisees about how they have persecuted and rejected everyone God had sent them starting with Moses. He pointed out that God’s presence isn’t contained in the Tabernacle carried to and fro or in the temple, but that God Almighty sits on His throne. Jesus Christ whom they had just put to death was now with God. Stephen pointed out that the laws were given by angels, and yet, they still did not obey God.

When you point out the sins of a nation, the sins of the church, the sins of a group of people – they will not like it. They rose up to stone Stephen. Acts 7:55-56, “But Stephen, FULL of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”And while they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep” (vs 59-60).

Stephen didn’t fight back. He didn’t resist. He prayed, and then he went to meet his sweet Savior.

James and Stephen both experienced the peace that passes all understanding (Phil 4:7) in the face of abuse and death. One who still searches for that kind of peace today, and one who lives forevermore with the Prince of Peace.

My question for you today is this. By outliving your life, you will come against opposition. How will you handle it? It’s been over seven years ago that our pastor said that the desire God had put on his heart was to put a banner over the city of Shreveport. Do you know why it has taken us as a church so long to get to the place where we can reach out and start spreading that banner? Opposition. Opposition within our church, and now some opposition within our community. Pastor Rick has stayed the course. Will you? When it gets hard will you stay and stand in the gap? When you are tired, but there is a block party to assist, will you come? Satan will do whatever he can to keep you from where you need to be serving. Just like the Sanhedrin, scribes and Pharisees there will be people who say, “You can’t do that,” or “That’s not going to do any good.” What will you say? What will you do?

(You can read more on the interview with James Zwerg at