World Changers

Posted: May 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

Life is full of victories and failures. Full of possibilities and brick walls. Full of dreams and reality. 

The dreams that many had going into or coming out of college, about how they would change the world, eventually collide with the reality of the mundane. 

There are too many people who become overwhelmed and overcome by the necessary, but not-so-glamorous, parts of life; the bills, the decisions, the jobs “we don’t want to work, but have to take until something comes along that we REALLY want to do”, the uncertain terrain of relationships that we traverse, hoping that we’ll stumble into “the one”.

All of us experience these struggles at one point or another.  

Each season of life we are walking through has the incredible potential to be exciting and life changing! 

There are so many opportunities that lie before us. 

However, there is an enemy that seeks to upset our dreams and destroy any hope that we could ever be used for anything greater than ourselves. 

That enemy is complacency. 

The definition of complacency is: a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like.

Complacency’s favorite mode of attack is a subtle ambush. I don’t know anyone who woke up one morning and decided “I’m going to become complacent”. Instead, this enemy wins one small, seemingly unimportant battle after another until it has finally taken up residence in the heart. Before I know it, there is a feeling of “quiet pleasure or security” as I settle for less than my full potential. 

This security thrives in my comfort zones. It doesn’t help that we are surrounded by a culture that preaches self-satisfaction and encourages chasing after the American Dream, which is beginning to look more and more like complete apathy. Complacency breeds apathy. 

In the previously mentioned definition of complacency, it states that complacency brings about “a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like.” What is this danger? What is so terrible about complacency? About being comfortable? 

It’s because deep down, at the core of our being, all of us want to be apart of something that makes a lasting difference. We want our short experience on this spinning ball of matter to mean something. We want to be world-changers, and it scares us to think that this all might be wasted! 

The most terrifying thing I can imagine is that I might very easily believe the lie that I can’t make a difference and give in to complacency. 

This lie stems from our fears and insecurities, which themselves, stem from a lack of trust in our Father. At the root of our insecurity is a seed of doubt that tells us that maybe we aren’t REALLY “God’s masterpiece” and maybe He hasn’t REALLY “created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10) 

Too many times I read the book of Acts like a history book instead of a living, breathing example of what we, as God’s masterpieces, are capable of through the power of the Holy Spirit that lives in us! Those Christ-followers were world-changers, literally! Even unbelievers recognized something special about those Christians and identified them as “These men who have turned the world upside down…” (Acts 17:6) 

I don’t want to look back on my life when I’m 50 years older and see wasted years and complacency and apathy. 

I’m going to dig down deep and uproot the selfishness and pride and insecurities and fears that give power to this subtle enemy. I’m going to believe that the promises I find in God’s Word are true.

I believe that “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” (Romans 8:11)

I believe that “By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence. And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises.” (2 Peter 1:3, 4a)

On Display

Posted: March 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

As Christians, we are quick to spout of a churchy-sounding cliche about how “it’s not about us, it’s all about Jesus!”, which is true! It IS all about Jesus! He is the author of our faith. He is our Redeemer. He is our mediator. It is completely, totally, 110% about Him. However, we cannot use this truth to lessen the role we play in showing others these truths through our daily lives!

As I was reading Ephesians 3 today, I came across a verse that stood out to me in a new way.
Ephesians 3:10 says that “God’s purpose in all this (the Gospel) was to use the Church to display His wisdom in is rich variety…”
The word that stuck out to me in this verse was DISPLAY.

We are on display.

Not for our own glorification or praise. Definitely not to feed our attention-hungry, prideful flesh.
Instead, as God’s children, as His prized possessions, as His masterpiece (Eph. 2:10) we are given the incredible task of showing off the wisdom and goodness and holiness and grace and love of our Father! We are His window display.

How sad it must make our Father when the world, who is far from Him, walks past the window display of the Church, wipes off the glass and peers in, only to see bitterness and jealousy and gossip and hidden sin and pride and hypocrisy. And we wonder why people don’t flock to our weekend services or small group classes… All too many times we put up a beautiful sign, advertising how magnificent and loving our God is, and yet, the goods that are on display in the window of the Church (US!) are no better than tattered, moth-eaten clothes hanging off of lifeless mannequins.

May we, as the Church, take seriously our role in accurately portraying our holy, triune, righteous, loving, merciful, gracious, sovereign God! We are His masterpiece, created for the sole purpose of magnifying the One who is the Author of life and the Perfecter of our faith!

The Holy Spirit directed Paul to end Ephesians 3 perfectly:

“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3:14-21

 

So this post will not be your typical worship blog. However, it is a fitting topic since the posts on this blog are confessions of a worshiper. As I struggle to die to self and live for an eternal purpose in a self-centered culture, I want to share some of what I am learning and at times failing to learn. After all, worship is more than a song..

I just got back from the beach yesterday. It was a wonderful vacation with my lovely wife and my sister-in-law and family! Let me go on record as saying: I. Love. The. Beach! I grew up at the beach. I seriously miss being 10 minutes away from Wrightsville Beach, NC! I love the waves. I love the sand. I love the chill atmosphere and all the cars with surfboards strapped on top. I love it all! There’s times when I want to run away to the beach and become a beach bum!
As I have been dealing with a classic case of “post-vacation depression” I have come to a convicting realization. I think it’s something that I’ve known all of my life, but never fully allowed myself to think about the seriousness of this “realization.”

We live in a culture that lives for the weekend. We live for vacations. We save all year so we can blow it all on a week long trip! We exist throughout the year, just looking forward to vacation. And when we spend our last bit of vacation budget and are eating goldfish in the car on the way home, the depression sets in. “I have to work another whole year before we can do this again!” That’s 360-something days that we’re going to suffer through our job, endure our boring existence in Smalltown, Wherever, trying to “make it” until we have those coveted vacation days and scrounged-up money to blow on ourselves!
The only problem with this is, we end up trying to rush through our year, or on a smaller scale, through our week, so we can make it to the vacation or weekend. If we’re not careful, we will miss out on the incredible experiences and purposeful existence that our Father intends for us to live out during those “boring” 360 days of the year we’re not “living it up” on the beach or in Gatlinburg (because those are the only two vacation choices right?).

Is this blog post an attack against vacations and rest and fun? Absolutely not! I’m anything BUT a fun-crusher! However, I tend to get sucked into blatant idolatry over and over, all in the name of “getting some rest” and “just relaxing and having fun”!
For me, it is more of a mindset than anything else. It boils down to two mindsets: inward or outward.
The inward-focused person (me alot of the time) is the one I have described in the previous paragraph: living for the weekend, just trying to “make it” until I can do what makes ME happy.
The outward-focused person (who I desire to be) is the person who sees the ordinary, “boring” day as an opportunity to make a difference for Jesus. The outward focused person sees their boring 9-5 job as God’s way of placing them in a unique position to show His love to the people they work with and invest in the Kingdom, something much bigger than themselves. They look at vacation time as a time to be refilled. A time to get away and rest. They can love the beach! They can love having fun with their family! But their mindset isn’t to live for these few days of fun in the sand, but to live for the other 360 days they get to be a world changer in their community and fall in love with their Savior and invest in their family and church family.
The outward focused person lives out Romans 12:1. “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living sacrifice – the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him.”
And this is truly the way to live a life that enjoys the purpose that a relationship with our Abba, Father, gives us! I’m not here for me. Period.

Father, help me to live for every opportunity You give me to live out my love for You!

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NEW: Daily Dose (4/17/13)

Posted: April 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

Check out this blog from a great friend of mine, Rod Pitts! You’ll definitely be challenged and encouraged by it!

My Journey Home

Hello readers! It’s been quite a while since I’ve last posted, but I’m going to work on changing that. I’m going to try to come up with some different daily themes to follow so that I can be more consistent. I’m starting today with an idea that I got from Tim Challies’ blog, but I will title my daily collection of posts “Daily Dose”. There will be a summary/thought from me under each post possibly followed by a question to better engage with you.

If you have any suggestions as to daily blog themes or how I can better engage you with my blog, please let me know.

FORGIVENESSI saw this video circulating online yesterday and had to watch it as Matt Chandler is one of my favorite preachers. God still celebrates Christ in us no matter the struggles that we are currently facing. Grace covers our…

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What happens when worship becomes about “worship”?
The single most deadly pit fall for a worshiper is: worshipping worship.
I am guilty. I’ll admit! It has taken quite a bit of humbling and revealing of selfish motives by my Father, but I’ve come to realize that too many times I have fallen into this trap, and even lived down there for quite a while at times!
So how does one worship “worship” you might ask? It can happen to anyone. And probably does to everyone at one or more times in their life.
The “problem” with worship leaders is, we’re musicians. The problem with musicians, we’re prideful and self-centered at the core! We long to be heard. We yearn to be noticed and recognized. As with every other type of gifting, our Father is constantly having to strip away our selfish motives and remind us that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:16 ESV)
As a musician, I love music. (Duh!) But the struggle commences when I begin loving the worship music more than the One being worshiped!
I’ve said many times…”I love worship!” But what am I saying in that short sentence? Am I saying I love to worship my loving Savior, my faithful Father, my powerful Creator? Or am I saying, “I love being on stage with the lights and band and Holy Spirit fog machine (joking!)” and being in that atmosphere?
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing any of these things, and heaven knows I’m not putting down worship music! Worship music is of God! But it’s always been the tendency of sinful man to try to make a “God-thing” an “us-thing”. I’ve seen it in every denomination, in every area of ministry, and in every style of music and worship!
It’s so easy to look at our favorite song-writer or church band and say to ourselves, “that’s what I want to have at my church!” But is that what God wants at your church? Or at my church? From everything I have read, God desires a pure heart more than a big show. Even though God desires our very best, He knows that my best may not be anywhere close to the potential of the worship pastor down the road. He longs for us to abandon our pride, leave our big heads at the door and come into His presence JUST because we love Him and can’t go another minute without telling Him how good He is, how holy and righteous and worthy He is of our unhindered, humble, loving worship.
How it grieves my heart to think of the times I have jumped up on stage and tried to “lead worship” with wrong motives or desires and tried to steal His glory under the guise of leading people to worship Him. All the while, He is saying, “How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not pleased with you…” (Malachi 1:10 NLT)
Thank you Abba for your patience with your arrogant, selfish children!
He is always faithful to humble me and bring me back to the heart of worshipping Him! I’m sure I will have go back and take this class again and again throughout my life. But I’m thankful that my Father looks at me, with all my faults and shortcomings, and sees His Son instead of my failures!
May I never forget that God doesn’t “need” me to serve Him. He doesn’t “need” us to lead impressive worship services with tight bands and amazing light shows. He desires to hear the voices of His children raised to Him out of a realization of our need for His grace, His strength, the transforming power of His Spirit in our lives, and an awe-struck wonder at His steadfast love and faithfulness in our lives! He is worthy of that kind of worship!
Yes, lets use the resources He has blessed us with, but only when they point us to our Father!
May we continually confess our pride, our idol worship, and our arrogance as we humbly come into the presence of our Savior King who deserves only the purest of worship!
in His service,
Jon