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The Patience of Joseph

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The Patience of Joseph (From Matthew 1)

The patience of Joseph is often overlooked in the nativity narrative. Before Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph had to first accept their unique calls. To father and mother the Messiah was an exclusive task, so wrestling in advance of God’s plan had meaningful implications. We can only speculate what Mary was thinking as Gabriel announced her favoring. If Mary did have any doubt in her ability to nurture the King of Kings, she had enough belief within to say what she needed to: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:42, NKJV)

Joseph’s struggle, conversely, is more apparent. Perhaps Joseph possessed greater unbelief. Perhaps trust hadn’t been solidified in his relationship with Mary. Perhaps his skepticism centered more on his incapacity to deal with other people’s thoughts. Whatever the case, we can be assured that Joseph loved Mary, as he sought to guard news of her pregnancy. If Joseph did have any bel…

Yielding vs. Yearning

Yielding & Yearning

We like to be in control. Giving up our control can be a difficult thing…but does it have to be? Not only does yielding lead to freedom, but whenever we reference the Holy Spirit, we tap into the deep places of God that lead to the greatest joy and peace we can possibly know. But we can’t abide with a bad attitude either. Yearning keeps us from negative obedience. Thus, the two go together and reap a harvest.

Picture: What is the role of a yield sign? How does this apply to our relationship with God? = Yielding to God means letting him go first!
Question 1: Why yield? Is it necessary?

Scripture Study:

"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." [2Pt:1:21] ==> We can prophecy.
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:" [2Cor:10:3] ==> Avoid succumbing to sin/the world.

"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spiri…

Conformation, Reformation & Transformation

As I prepped for last week’s LEGACYouth message, I couldn't help but tap into some insight, thanks to the Stan Mosier workshops in Monteagle last week. Stan's talk centered on the relationship among conformity, reformation, and transformation - each word containing Hebrew and/or Greek significance with respect to spiritual development.

Below are some of the notes taken during the workshops...

Conform: to fashion self according to; abide by the same pattern, based from schema (Greek for shape). Conformation may come from information.

Romans 12:2 (Amplified Bible)

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].”

To conform means to abid…

Finger in the Sand

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For my latest scriptural query, I call John 8 to the stand.

My question is simple: Why did Jesus write on the ground with his finger when the adulteress was presented to him, and why was it important for John to include this? What’s the exegetical significance?

So much to say, so little time. Let’s divulge, shall we? And bring a spoon, ‘cause the finale is rather sweet.

Occasionally gawky myself, I’m captivated by the awkwardness of the whole situation. Jesus, who is teaching at the temple courts at the Mount of Olives (v. 1-2), is disrupted by a parade of Pharisees and religious fanatics, carrying not only an adulteress, but a devious plot to derail him of divine influence. Talk about Satan in motion! He had troops in the red zone preying on perfection with the clock winding down, despite the eminence of inevitable loss. Wouldn’t it have made more sense for Satan to have tried Jesus away from the Temple, where he wasn’t preaching and in Word delivery mode? Honestly…

Now before I co…

The Power of Prayer in Healing

A stern yearn for God’s power to be known presses me, as I bid on right words to express my heart…

Recently, I read an article that stirred my hatred for narrow-minded deception.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article1072638.ece

The author, perhaps blinded by bias and partiality, declared prayer to have a neutral effect on the sick. Though he refrained from a bigoted attack, his approached carried a lifelessness that managed a potent sting. The study at the center of discussion carried a $2.4 million price tag and involved a staged experiment exploring connections between theology and science. Three congregations participated: St. Paul’s Monastery in St. Paul, Silent Unity in Kansas City, and the Community of Teresian Carmelites in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Now, trust me, folks. I understand the wisdom in steering clear of selective venting. I dare not challenge the quality of spiritual fervor in these Christian hubs, though I won’t deny my internal skept…

LEGACYouth: 5 Ways to Grow Faith in 2010-11

Five Ways to Grow Faith in 2010-11

1) Expand your world. Expand your territory.
Psalms 119:32
- “I run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free.” (NIV)
- “I will pursue your commands, for you expand my understanding.” (NLT)
- “I will run the course of your commandments, for you shall enlarge my heart.” (NKJV)

Chasing God’s heart and yielding to His authority produces true freedom, which ultimately leads to a divine broadening of our understanding/thinking. By submitting to His boundaries, fixed in love, yet abounding in purpose, our hearts can encounter holy development. A stagnant heart suggests either an embracing of obduracy or a false contentment in merely walking the course. Satan desires us to remain content on merely “wanting to go” – the reciprocal of an Isaiah 6:8 heart.

Territory in the Bible often refers to land, nations, physical measures of influence, etc. We see this in numerous occasions, including Job 12:23, Exodus 34:24, and Deuteronomy 12:20. …

Expansion

Coming off a week of lockin intercession, I’ve been stuck on the word “expansion” lately, as well as the phrase, “expand your world” the past week, primarily as a result from lockin intercession.

In my response, I've been drilling down on a couple questions:

Question #1) How does the Bible emphasize “expand”, and how should believers interpret and apply the term?

Psalms 119:32

- “I run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free.” (NIV)

- “I will pursue your commands, for you expand my understanding.” (NLT)

- “I will run the course of your commandments, for you shall enlarge my heart.” (NKJV)

Chasing God’s heart (Note the pro-activeness here) and yielding to His authority produces true freedom, which is equal to a divine broadening of our understanding/thinking. By submitting to His boundaries, fixed in love, yet abounding in purpose, our hearts can encounter holy development. A stagnant heart suggests either an embracing of obduracy or a false contentment in merely…

Upgrading the Church (Part 2)

The church can take quite a cue from Paul’s preaching, especially on how to be effective for Christ in pursuing the deep things of God. The points below discuss attributes the church must emphasis when equipping saints (inspired by I Corinthians 2:1-16). Often, the church fails to strategically mark these components of Christian living in the way Paul illustrates in this passage:

What to strive for:

v.1 – Thirst for God’s wisdom

In opening, Paul references humanly wisdom, and how one must not become reliant upon it. Knowing the difference between Godly wisdom and humanly wisdom produces freedom. Though humanly wisdom is not wrong, it still must be seen as drastically inferior to that of God. Human wisdom involves knowledge that God has already made known and can be discovered without necessarily seeking Him. Godly wisdom possesses knowledge that only He can give at an appointed time (1 Corinthians 12:8 – the Spirit provides word of wisdom and knowledge).

Key question: So how do we tap …

Upgrading the Church (Part 1)

I’m hearing a stack of smack about the postmodern church needing an upgrade. And with church currently carrying an out-of-tune melody, the declarations hold merit.

How does God view His house these days? And how would He fix the disarray within?

Ask yourself these questions routinely and dare to be unmotivated.

Neil Cole, author of Church 3.0: Upgrades for the Future of the Church, voices this well in his recent release, claiming an organic operating system is crucial concerning the effectiveness of programs, worship methods, and structural issues. And organic, for those who need clarification, is simply the nutritional value (sustenance) of a church’s spiritual life and efficacy to witness.

**Just a quick side note: If you read about this subject matter often, you may find writers indirectly evaluating the church as the latest Microsoft product or a Triple Play Starter Package. – I’ll do my best to veer from this “norm.”)**

Now, I believe the church doesn’t require a complete makeov…

Favor & Fire

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Two years ago, I began settling into what would be the breakthrough summer of my life. I regained a solid stride. My outlook recaptured its idyllic state. Electric expectancy became my calling card. And finally, after a grueling transition year, my destiny had gathered some sheen.

Things were looking up then.

But one essential ingredient was missing: the trials. Though new wine of a changed heart had been tasted, it hadn’t garnered a seal of approval. And yes, though I had tapped into some momentum under favorable conditions, the road to freedom had only begun.

Back then, the stark contrast alone between past and present days provided propitious hope. But despite the abounding good, youthful ignorance kept subtle habits (i.e. replaying the past, sporadic forgiveness, belief in certain deceptions) from being completely relinquished. Thus, every defining moment during those summer months lost crucial capability to intimately cement itself to my identity.

I still showcase a smile when …

Loving with Total Strength

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The sky couldn’t be more stunning for a June summer day. Blanketed across the sky are dazzling blowoff cirrus clouds whipping with the cumulus, as widespread convection over the Plains and Mississippi River valley stir in their aerial splendor.



Yet atmospheric energies haven’t been the only things churning as of late.

The past few days, my heart has been pounding faster than an “I am Legend” darkseeker. Ok, maybe not that dramatic, but point being I’ve gained some incredible, new life, having joined to an unshakable revelation that had been brewing for weeks. Saturday, the light bulb went off; Sunday, the word was confirmed (thanks in part to an anointed man destined for Pacific greatness).

Once the clock struck noon yesterday, I knew I had undoubtedly heard the heartcry of God.

Isn’t it amazing when the Holy Spirit overflows unfathomable refreshment, even when shame and guilt are inches away?
You see, I’ve been loving people (from those I love most intimately to strangers on the s…

Understanding the Relationship Between Evangelism and Discipleship

Draft for Pentecostal Ecclesiology thesis
(Footnotes not included)

INTRODUCTION

Across denominational lines, the dynamic relationship between discipleship and evangelism has generated much debate. Most Pentecostal groups have recognized the connection, only to partially bridge the gap between the two emphases. Spiritual leadership in the Western Church has understood the Scriptural significance of discipleship and evangelism, but through misinterpretations and skewed application, she has failed to penetrate cultural gates by balancing these mandates. One of the critical problems of the missional church has been the muddling of discipleship and evangelism priorities. On the other hand, we see the tendency for certain Pentecostal circles to place greater incentive on evangelism over discipleship. All churches should deliberately examine the question of how the relationship between discipleship and evangelism is supposed to work, concerning its eschatological purpose and its orderly appl…

True Humility

Last weekend while attending Hope Force International training, I listened to an enlightening series, laced with wise, whispering words about humility.

Snug in my cushion of coziness, my spiritual understanding soared, engaged with interest yet slight discomfort due to truth (over)saturation. Still, in light of the perpetual parade of “amen’s” and “Yes, Lord’s”, I figured I’d deposit some fresh nuggets of delicious revelation on the cyber table of inquiry.

But enough of the verbiage. Let’s get down to “business”! Besides, most people simply want to know what humility is and how it works, a very nice place to start indeed…

So what about this facet of righteousness do we know?

For starters, most of us know humility involves a lack of pride, commonly noted behind the many pulpits of America. Others conjure up ideas of modesty and goodness of heart…all right answers, though I’d submit not completely correct.

Even worse are the mentalities of those who downplay humility to the point it’…

The Missional Triune

For the Church to radically fulfill its mission, the kerygma, koinonia, and diakonia must be in sync, or in unison concerning how each facet of ministry is exercised and utilized. In order for the Spirit-filled Church to faithfully influence culture and the lost, each component should be entirely associated with a transcending Kingdom mindset. In order for successful engagement between these components and culture to take place, each missional element must remain intertwined among every spiritual dimension, so that firm foundations may be established within the church.

The proclamation aspect, kerygma, should not only teach the Word and minister truth effectively, but it should also encourage the koinonia constituent for stronger fellowship in the Body. Essentially, the communal vision of a church should not be separated or distinct from the missional vision. Contrarily, the two should provide a one-two punch so believers can live among community in a way that bridges the Kingdom with…

Individuality, the Corporate Body & the Triune God

Several problems exist within the context of the question, “Why can the church not be thought of as merely like-minded individuals voluntarily coming together for the purpose of worship?” The first apparent fault lies in the word “like-minded.” Not only should believers be like-minded, but united in heart and purpose as well. A follower of Christ must not merely see through the lens of individuality, but understand the body of Christ is corporate.

Applying the nature of the Trinitarian God, according to Dr. Peter Althouse in his lecture on the Doctrine of the Trinity, we would be making a fundamental error if we equated God as three individuals to God as three persons. If the idea of ‘individuals’ is better removed from a Trinitarian mindset concerning the essence of God, so should ‘individuals’ be taken out of the church relational infrastructure. As Dr. Althouse suggests, church, as a corporate gathering of persons, should not be seen as a hub of independence as compared to an ident…

Flash Weather: 2009-10 Winter Midseason Recap

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The buzzer has sounded on winter’s first half. With five more weeks of winter still on the menu, it’s time to reflect on what has been an historical snowy season that still shows little sign of letting up anytime soon. Below is the 2009-10 winter history for Middle Tennessee/Southern Kentucky thus far (also open for “outlying comments” as well):

January 7-9, 2010 - A blown forecast of 2-3” of snow bursts the bubble of confidence for most Middle Tennesseans on Thursday, January 7. An average of only 0.5” blankets the midstate due to unforeseen dry slots at 850 mb that evaporated snow before reaching the ground. The following night, an unexpected 0.5”-1” of fresh snow coats the pre-existing snow depth – a small amount, but historic considering the prolonged journey of the snow having originated from Lake Michigan! This unique occurrence is the first of its kind since 1994.

Total snow accumulation: 1.0”-1.3”

January 29-30, 2010 - An active southern jet shoots a massive winter storm into Mid…

Burning the Right Way

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Last night I received a short and sweet revelation.

As the workout run morphed into prayer walk, that numinous* communication cable inevitably reached a new signal.

You see, the past few months, I’ve been inundated with a fresh hatred of sin. Words cannot express how much I loathe moral failures, selfish endeavors, indulgences, satanic plots, etc. Not to sound as if this is a recent development, but the level of repulsion has indeed raised lately, no doubt due to an increase of awareness concerning its sly and destructible nature.

But I wonder if a righteous passion should ever be primarily rooted in hating sin, hating hate - even if that hate owns necessary property within. Should there exist a healthy unsettlement that overtakes us when disgust seems to be dominant over love? Should we live our lives with the burn set more in the direction of adoration and grace as compared to the despising of wickedness?

In other words, which should be the leader: A love for faithful righteousness,…

Vision vs. Mission

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Whether within a church, business, or at the epicenter of one's personal life, understanding the difference between mission and vision is imperative. Today's Gate leader/staff retreat touched a bit on the comparison, thus signaling the research guru to come out of the shell temporarily.
Vision, in essence, is not measured by what is achieved as compared to what is eternal. V. Vision "always is." It's the happy place, a source of refuge and firm foundation. The vision should NEVER change. Contrarily, the mission is the means the vision is carried out. A mission should be allowed breathing room to transform according to newness of vision, as it certifies to what is real by God's standards. The mission WILL often change. So attempting to find permanent criteria to a mission statement could open the door to future discouragement. The reality is often times the methods of carrying out vision require tweaking or refining down the road; however, this does not transla…