- 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 ‘Texas’
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.
Just when I decide to get up and go, when I resolve to cross that bridge and move toward a wide open field and those greener pastures, right at my point of new beginning — there is a troll under the bridge.
Blocking my path, shouting words of intimidation, he is going to roast me, toast me, and eat most of me. His growls and threats keep me from crossing over, keep me in this dry land. Like a prison without walls, his words paralyze me and leave me to forage among the thorns for something to satisfy my hunger.
The story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff is a tale that connects with most every child. We all remember what it was like to be bullied, to feel too small, and to look across the bridge at a green field we may never get to eat from. We have all carried the need for a big brother billy goat to fight our troll for us.
And then we grew up. And the stories that once brought us comfort began to gather dust on our shelves as we set out to fight our own battles, to cross our own bridges, and find our own green pastures. It didn’t take long before a few disappointments and one too many betrayals left us standing again in a barren field.
Once again, we muster what little courage remains, surprised by the familiar “tip tap” of our feet as we try to cross that bridge. And once again the roar gurgles out, “Who’s that crossing my bridge? I’ll eat you up!”
Maybe I should just stop these foolish attempts, maybe I should just give up and come to terms with living a small unsatisfied life in this mundane world. Or maybe not.
Maybe I should head back to the bookshelf. Maybe I should dust off that old children’s story and remember how it goes one more time. Maybe I should remember that I do have a big brother, and He did knock that troll into oblivion, and I can cross that bridge!
Those shouts from under the bridge are only echoes, a fleeting voice trying desperately to maintain its grip of fear over you. Those words have lost their teeth. They can bark, but they can’t bite you anymore. That old troll is not still under the bridge.
So today is the day. It is time to get up. It is time to cross that bridge and enjoy the green pastures that wait for you on the other side. It is time to go.
“So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers…He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:11-15)
Our “comfort zone” is the mysterious bubble surrounding each of us that keeps us from stretching into unfamiliar territory. Designed to create a sense of security and self-preservation, our comfort zones can quickly become prisons keeping us from becoming the person we truly desire to be.
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.