Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kicking myself right now

I've been haunted by a question recently. It's come about through my quiet times, through worship, through a recent trip to NC State where a friend and I joined their CCF for worship one night, and through a documentary I watched earlier tonight called "Beware of Christians."

Click here for the website where you can also find a trailer. It's not out officially yet, but I have DVD copies. They did an advance screening at UNC-W.

"Am I truly following Christ?" I declare that I am, and voice such as my religious views. I avoid the Christian term, because so many claim to be Christian but don't truly believe or live out the life style. But deep down, I know at best I'm only playing at following Christ. I see what he calls me to, but I lay back and say I'll take action later. I'm finding myself not being transformed in any way.

No wonder so many people in the world look at the Christian life and keep walking down the street. I reflect on my own face in the mirror and ask myself "Is this the life one man came to die for, to set me free to live?" Somewhere in the past year or so, I've misplaced the consuming fire, the abandon I lived with before. I was realizing earlier how where I am now in life and ministry is a dream come true situation wise. And yet I've not truly taken advantage of it! Aside from working to support myself (and even there I can let loose and shine) I'm free to be follow the Spirit as I feel him willing!

I'm mentally and spiritually kicking myself for remaining passive with this gift God has given me (I consider the gift above the opportunity). Well I'm waking up now, and once again I'm tearing off the clothes of mediocrity I spiritually find myself wearing.

I'm looking for a return to basics, with less emphasis on deep doctrinal study, and more emphasis on simply living, and looking hard at scripture and what that means for my life.

Will you join me?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

God provides

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?" Matthew 6:25

Back at the end of last fall, after a process taking several years, I came to a decision of where I would go, what I would do. Within there was reason to answer the why.

Now there is a how.

Friday night, the culmination of many prayers prayed upon my knees, requests made to many friends, ministers, and nights spent in anxious waiting came to a conclusion with a simple phone call. A call that offered me a position with a local upscale restaurant here in Wilmington, a call that has now provided the financial means for me to continue in ministry here.

The journey to this point required more risk than I'd previously undertaken. Risk that meant total reliance upon God, or certain failure. Risk that required me to push all my chips forward and on the line. Thankfully God is a provider in our greatest time of need.

Now all the closed doors I previously found are clear. The other places I applied to that continually dragged their feet with considering applications I now know was divine provision that led me to the opportunity before me.

And a close friend also received employment at the same restaurant. Considering we applied and interviewed together, the odds of this were slim, even more evidence of the Spirit's provision in this matter.

Coming to Wilmington required me to go out on a limb of faith, trusting God wanted me here after receiving confirmation. God has since proven faithful, and my trust in him has increased.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Where is God found?

Since the second generation from creation, men have needed to call on the name of the Lord (Genesis 4:26). Since then we've needed to pursue him to find him. "God's presence is everywhere, but why can I not find him, and stand in his presence?" Because our paths wandered away from him. Our hearts turned away from worshiping a God who is creator, warrior, lover, and many other attributes. Our hearts turned to worshiping ourselves and seeking to satisfy our own desires.

We became so consumed with ourselves that God grieved even making us. He flooded the earth, wiping the slate clean, save for a few who followed his heart (Genesis 6-9). Men began to multiply again and we chose to build a tower to place ourselves in the heavens as high as God (Genesis 11:1-9), the desire that caused the first rebellion with Satan when he chose to rebel as God's holy angel (Isaiah 14:12-15).

Finding God requires setting aside ourselves.

"Why have we fasted, they say, and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?" Isaiah 58:3

Isaiah goes on to explain the words of the Lord. The people fast and seek God, but they turn on themselves. They seek him for their own means. Fasting is more than a discipline of setting something aside to spend time with God. Fasting is setting aside self, of placing God and his heart over anything else in our lives.

Isaiah 58 outlines that true fasting is caring for people the way God cares. Enough to take action. People like to remain ignorant of the downtrodden. I don't believe this is out of greed so much as it is to avoid the uncomfortableness of facing those less fortunate and being faced with a choice to change our agendas, to give up something so that others might have.

Truly finding God requires setting aside self. The friends I think of who are more filled with God's presence are those who have committed themselves to those less fortunate. Who allowed God to change their entire lives, their dreams, their careers, who follow Christ when he walks down a back alley, into the homeless shelters, to other countries where only bottled water is drinkable, electricity a rare commodity.

God is on the move, but if we set out to carry everything we currently own with us, continue to have our desires filled, well there's only so many places a Uhaul can go. God requires us to travel more lightly, promising to reward our hearts in due time if we will wait upon him.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Meaningful Ministry

One of the major shifts for me in coming to work with CCF at UNC-W has been the size. At East Carolina last semester we averaged about 60 at Overflow, with multiple Guys and Girls small groups. Here numbers are significantly smaller.

But so far I've found myself enjoying the smaller numbers.

Guy's small group Tuesday featured two guys besides Bryan and myself. At ECU I would be discouraged to see such numbers because I'm used to an average of 5 guys besides leaders. Here it's been refreshing and rewarding. Tuesday night featured an amazing time of teaching, questions, discussions with everyone participating. But more than anything, Tuesday night was meaningful. We expanded the definition of sin as something that goes beyond breaking the 10 commandments. We compared mercy and grace, how we are saved by faith. We encountered a question that each of us has to think and pray about on our own the next week "How can be sure of the Bible? How can we explain to someone who's never trusted in the book before that they too can trust in it?"

Ministry can often get caught up in numbers and results, and yes there should be fruit, but is there meaningful fruit? Are there meaningful discussions, teaching, and discipleship happening? Meaningful lives being changed?