- I am thankful to raise my children in Sweetwater, the oasis of West-Texas. A beautiful city, filled with beautiful people.
- I am thankful for the team I work with every day. A passionate, energetic, creative, and hard-working crew of Jesus-loving pastors.
- I am thankful for men and women who laid down their life to lead the Body of Christ and pioneer a path of revival. Men such as Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel Church are my modern day heroes.
- I am thankful for Nelson Searcy’s book “Fusion,” which has taught me how to love and appreciate the new guests at EFC. It takes courage to walk into a church for the first time, and I want to honor that courage with a warm welcome and great encounter.
- I am thankful for every unsung hero and unknown face that loves unselfishly, lives faithfully, and serves unconditionally. These are the saints I look forward to singing with someday in a Heavenly choir.
- I am thankful for my spiritual heritage, a legacy of faith of three generations of men loving the church and seeking revival in West-Texas.
- I am thankful for my kitchen table. It is so much more than warm food and sweet desserts. It is a place of joyful conversation, heartfelt prayers, and everyday discipleship.
- I am thankful for grace. It is as amazing today as it was the first day it pulled me out of darkness and into light.
- I am thankful for my wife. She inspires me every day to live fully and freely, to continually press further up and farther in to the grace of God!
- I am thankful for this year’s harvest: salvations, healings, rededications, restorations, weddings, baptisms, and freedom. It’s been a good year!
- I am thankful for the opportunity to press into next year — and the hope that 2012 will be even more alive, blessed, and fruitful than this year!
Posts Tagged ‘Sweetwater’
Our Famous Failures sermon series has taken us deeper than I first expected, and has touched on some very delicate aspects of our faith. In Sunday’s message, I challenged our congregation by saying, “The most dangerous thing we can do in our faith journey is interpret God’s will through our failures.”
Statements like this need to be digested. They are not “one and done” thoughts. In fact, they rub against some of the lies that have been deeply ingrained in our hearts about God.
I strongly encourage you to follow the link and listen again to Sunday’s message. I actually wish you would listen to it twice. As you listen, ask the Holy Spirit if you have misunderstood God’s heart and His will for your life because of some of the heartbreaks and failures you have experienced. Ask God to reinterpret those events through the lens of His amazing love and the truth of His Word.
Here at EFC, we emphasize four simple truths we describe as our “Pillars of Thought.” We have intentionally established these Biblical statements as tools to help us interpret what God is doing in and around us. These pillars define our approach to understanding God and protect our hearts from misunderstanding His character.
I pray these principles will come to define your understanding of the heart of God as well, and may they give you courage to rise up from any failure and continue to pursue His glorious purpose for your life.
The Pillars of Thought that define the revival culture of Emmanuel Fellowship Church are:
GOD IS GOOD
It is our adamant belief that the fundamental nature of God’s character is goodness. When Moses requested to see the glory of God, our Lord responded by saying, “I will cause all of my goodness to pass in front of you and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence.” (Exodus 33:18-19) The glory of God is His goodness.
WE LIVE FROM HEAVEN TO EARTH
Paul teaches that “our citizenship in is in heaven.” (Philippians 3:20) We are ambassadors of the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, we live according to the government, culture, atmosphere, and economy of heaven. We live from Heaven to earth, recognizing that what is invisible is a superior reality to what is visible. We will live according to the truth Jesus taught us to pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
EVERYONE IS SIGNIFICANT
We see the fingerprints of God upon humanity. We will live lives of honor toward one another. We live to see people saved, healed, and delivered from the effects of sin, to help them identify their God-given personality, gifts, and purpose, and to see them actively invest themselves in the work of the Kingdom. Knowing that everyone is significant leads me to understand that I am significant.
NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE
Really. The Bible says this. We believe it.
Fasting can be a mysterious concept, and you may be reading this today with several questions about what fasting is, what it does, and how to go about it. Richard Foster says in his book, The Celebration of Discipline, “The central idea of fasting is the voluntary denial of an otherwise normal function for the sake of intense spiritual activity.” He also goes on to describe just how many heroes of the faith fasted in the pages of Scripture:
“Abraham’s servant when he was seeking a bride for Isaac, Moses on Mt. Sinai, Hannah when she was praying for a child, David on several occasions, Elijah after his victory over Jezebel, Ezra when he was mourning over Israel’s faithlessness, Nehemiah when he was preparing the trip back to Israel, Esther when God’s people were threatened with extermination, Daniel on numerous occasions, the people of Nineveh – including the cattle (involuntarily no doubt), Jesus when he began his public ministry, Paul at the point of his conversion, the Christians at Antioch when they sent off Paul and Barnabas on their mission endeavor, Paul and others when they appointed all of the elders, and on and on it goes.”
That intense spiritual activity that Foster is referring to is most typically prayer and intercession and usually includes extended periods of time spent listening for the voice of God. The voluntary denial of normal functions can include a variety of activities. I’ve outlined a few for you:
- Food: Whether it’s a partial fast (not eating certain kinds of foods or at certain regularly scheduled times) or a complete fast (abstaining from all foods altogether), this is the most common form of fasting. A common method for a first time fast would be to go without food from sundown to sundown the next day. [Note: Make sure your body is healthy enough to do this. If you are not sure, talk to your doctor beforehand.]
- Media: Another version of fasting that can be highly effective at helping to direct our attention to the Lord is to give up all forms of media. This would include television, computers, social networking, smart phones, etc.
- Social Activities: Many people find that withdrawing for a set amount of time from interaction with people is a wonderful way to focus on their relationship with the Lord. These are often labeled as “spiritual retreats” and are just simply a time to remove yourself from normal conversation with those around you and get alone with God. This often works best if you travel to a location away from home and stay in a place where you can have solitude and quiet.
The most important part of fasting is to make sure you keep God in the center of it. It should have nothing to do with making you look spiritual and everything to do with sharpening your ears to hear God’s voice and heightening your commitment to obey what He tells you.
May God’s grace cover you, as you seek Him this week.
My birds are asleep in the nest, ready to fly away tomorrow. And it’s this hour that a Mama kneels and prays… (Discover more about how you can pray for your children as they head back to school on Mindy’s blog, “Treasure the Ordinary.”)
Have you ever dreamed about opening the mailbox and finding a check written to you for a large sum as an inheritance from some distant, never-met relative? How about a British estate left to you by a long-lost great-uncle?
Those dreams may seem far-fetched, and probably are as far as your hopes of a mailbox treasure go. But, you would be completely within reason to expect an inheritance of a different nature.
“A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous” (Proverbs 13:22).
While most people rightly tie this verse to the handling of personal finances, it should also be applied to spiritual inheritance. Have you ever stopped to consider what was passed down to you from previous generations in the way of Godly heritages and foundations? What did the people who came before you pray for, sow into, and work towards that you are now reaping the benefits of in your own life? Perhaps more importantly, what are you praying for, sowing into, and working towards in order to leave a Godly inheritance for your grandchildren?
Our Bible heroes weren’t perfect, but quite a few of them did a good job of modeling what this could look like for us. Abraham is known as “Father Abraham” because he sowed faith into future generations by believing God, and seeing that credited to him as righteousness (Galatians 3:6). Esau sowed forgiveness of his brother into the heart of his nephew Joseph, and Joseph harvested those seeds with his own brothers a couple of decades later (Genesis 33 and 45). King David was told by God that he could not build the temple, but he didn’t let that stop him from storing up everything needed for his son, Solomon, to do so (I Chronicles 22-29).
It’s usually pretty easy to find things that are wrong with our families; after all, they’re made up of imperfect people. And it’s true that if generational baggage has been handed to you, you’d better go to the Lord and see those bags unpacked. But, it’s also just as important to recognize the beautiful and the holy that God has been building in your family and learn to cooperate with Him to see that carried on to completion. Your actions today could mean that those who follow after you get a spiritual “check in the mail.”