Powerful Presence

Pastor Jon —  August 21, 2014 — Leave a comment

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I have this thing about my driveway. One of my annual rituals, if you will, is to borrow a pressure washer. (I don’t own a pressure washer, because I think that pressure washers are like hot tubs, boats, and RVs; it’s actually better if you know a friend that has one and will loan it to you. Am I right? All the thrills with none of the bills – that’s what I like to say.) So I borrowed a pressure washer from a friend, and I started washing my driveway. After about a half hour, I just didn’t feel like I was making the progress that I should’ve been making. But, like any, you know, confident, possibly, slightly hard-headed man, I just kept doing the same thing expecting different results.

I just pressure washed and pressure washed, and pretty soon I tried a different tip on the pressure washer, and pretty soon, I might as well have been scraping the dirt off of the driveway with the tip of the wand, because it just wasn’t getting anywhere. Finally, after a couple hours, I call my friend from whom I had borrowed the pressure washer, and I said, “Dude, I’ve been using your pressure washer, and this is the sissiest pressure washer I’ve ever used in my life. I expected more from you.” And he said, “Well, when you started it, did you do the thing?” I said, “Yeah, of course I did the thing.” And then he said, “Well, after it started, did you do the other thing?” And I said, “What you talking about?” I knew the first thing, but the other thing was a thing that I had no familiarity with; do you understand what I’m saying?So I said, “Let me call you back,” and hung up the phone.

So I did the thing, I started it, and then I did the other thing. And then when I did the other thing, lo and behold, just pounds and pounds of beautiful PSI came surging out of this pressure washer. And all of a sudden I went from like Pee Wee Herman pressure washing to Arnold Schwarzenegger pressure washing. I spent two hours getting nothing done, and then I spent an hour and a half getting the whole thing done.

There are many Christians today that are coming to church, and reading their Bibles, and doing the Christian life. And inside, they know that there is something more, that there is something that God has invited them to be a part of that’s amazing but because they have missed part of the story.

 

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The Gospel of Good Behavior

Pastor Jon —  August 13, 2014 — 1 Comment

In the last generation of Christians in America, on the heels of a time of great hunger and thirst for God, many churches, pastors, and leaders began to give people what I call the “gospel of good behavior”.

If you look back over the last 50 years, you’ll see this arc of messaging growing in popularity. The formula for success that many of these places began to ascribe to, was a focus on a “gospel” of how you need to behave, deriving prescriptive formulas for life like, “if you would behave this way, then your life would go well,” or “here’s three steps to thinking right, three steps to finding your purpose, four steps to having a good marriage, and five habits that’ll make you a happy person.” In general, the world began to watch as this “gospel of good behavior” began to take root. We found ourselves with big name spokesmen, and the Moral Majority, that began to gain popularity and platform to tell people that, you know, “We Christians believe there’s a right and a wrong, and if you don’t get on the right, you’re going to be left behind.”

“We Christians believe there’s a right and a wrong, and if you don’t get on the right, you’re going to be left behind.”

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This could save your life.  If your clothes catch on fire you stop, drop, and roll, right? But what do you do when “fiery darts” start coming at you?  It may be people, it may be bills, it may be medical reports, it may be your picture of what your marriage is going to look like – what do you do when those fiery darts come at you?  Here is the thing that just might save your life in that scenario. If you learn to do this, it can change everything about what your future will look like. This isn’t stop, drop, and roll. This is stop, drop, and worship.

David had no idea how his story would end. We know from historical accounts and the Psalms he wrote that he was persecuted and lied about. He was pursued, sometimes relentlessly, by the “fiery darts” of his enemies, and yet he came day after day to a place where he would surrender himself before the Lord and say, “God, although I don’t see how this could ever turn out the way you promised, I choose to worship you above all else.”  And there’s something about worship that aligns your heart with the rhythm of Heaven.  There’s something about worship that begins to sync up your soul with the words that are being recited around the throne of God from ages to ages, that refrain, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.”  It may not change your circumstances, but it will change your heart.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! (‭Psalm‬ ‭57‬:‭5‬ ESV)

What’s more, worship invites the presence of God into your situation. You need to know that, above all other things, the presence of God changes everything. The “deserts” and the “fiery darts” in life may be unavoidable, but you don’t have to stay there forever, because one thing you can choose to do when chaos and confusion comes your way, instead of fighting back, or making your own path, learn to build altars where you remember the faithfulness of God. Where before you start fighting, you start worshiping; before you start figuring it out, you worship; and before you take matters into your own hands, you build an altar where you remember God’s faithfulness, and you confess with your mouth what’s true about him. And I promise you this – that if you learn the habit of worship, when deserts come, you will find that the your faith, which will carry you through, is not far away.

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Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. - Philippians 2:4

If you want relationships to thrive, act like Jesus.  Covenant community is built on trust in Jesus, and not people.  I had a dear friend who played a significant role in the Foursquare denomination for many years. I met with him one time and he said something which took me by surprise.  He said, “Jon, here’s the thing that I’ve learned about relationships that has helped me more than anything else. I’ve learned that I don’t trust anybody.”  And I said, “That sounds like an issue to me.”  And this is what he said, “I’ve learned that the minute I make somebody the source of my hope, or my peace, or my security, and put all of my trust in them, inevitably, they’re imperfect. But if I put all my trust in Jesus; my hope, my sense of peace and security, and find my identity in Jesus first and foremost, then I will not be sucking the life out of people, but I can be pouring life into people.  And when they fail, which they inevitably will, and so will I, my foundation isn’t rocked, because it’s built on Jesus and not them.”

Some of us are stuck in a free-fall emotionally, because somebody has left us or abandoned us or filed for divorce, or a friend has abandoned us, or we moved and now we don’t know anybody, or our boss promised us a promotion, and now we don’t even have a job.  I want to lovingly suggest that , if you find yourself in that place, had we not put so much stock, so much trust, so much faith in a person to “save” us, when they turned out not to be Jesus Christ, our world might not feel so much like it is falling apart.  Please know that, when we face abandonment and betrayal, we have to mourn.  That’s painful.  But if we can’t ever begin to climb out of that free-fall, we need to stop and say, “Am I trying to hold somebody in the position of savior, knowing full well, only Jesus can be that for me?”  If that’s the case, we have to start by repenting and recognizing there’s been an idol in our lives. Remember, idols always over-promise and under-deliver.  It doesn’t matter how far  or how long you’ve been free-falling – you may have jumped out of that plane at 30,000 feet, and you’re like 5 feet from the ground – the moment you call on the name of Jesus, it is never too late for him to save you.

Listen to the Spirit

Pastor Jon —  July 17, 2014 — Leave a comment

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith, another gifts of healing, another working of miracles, another prophecy, another discernment, another various kinds of tongues, another interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

The Bible says that the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of everybody; for the common good. If we want more of the Holy Spirit in our lives, then we need to be prepared to be more about others than we’ve been before.

This is the genius of how God works through the Holy Spirit. When God wants to do a work in Steven’s life, and he wants to give Steven a gift like wisdom that he doesn’t have, or understanding that he doesn’t have, or a word of encouragement or exhortation that he needs, but he doesn’t have, God could just bypass everybody and show up and send Steven a private Facebook message from heaven. That would be one way to give Steven the gifts he needs and desires. But God is so brilliant; God says, “If I want to build Steven up through the Holy Spirit, then I’m going to use Jon,” or “I’m going to use Bill,” or “I’m going to use Rob, and I’m going to give them a gift that I want to be delivered to Steven, so when that process is complete, Steven is encouraged.” But so is Bob or Bill or whoever got to be the delivery boy or delivery girl for the Holy Spirit.

A beautiful benefit to this is that relationship is built, and two people’s faith rise. That’s why I pray, that when you come to church, and maybe you come down for somebody to pray for you, or you go to your life group, or sit around the table at Living Water Discipleship, that you don’t just come and check off boxes on your spiritual scorecard and go on with the day. But I pray you take time to listen for the Spirit, because the Spirit wants to speak to you and through you for the benefit of you and the benefit of others. We need each other, because God uses us to minister to one another. Parents, God wants to speak to you by the Holy Spirit to help you parent your children. Business owners, God wants to speak to you, and give you the Spiritual Gifts to help you be the business owner and leader that will extend God’s kingdom. It doesn’t matter what sphere you operate in – if you listen for the Spirit, he will speak to you.

This weekend was AMAZING at Living Water!  I heard walls coming down and chains falling off as people made a declaration about who they are because of Jesus!  Take time today to proclaim the truth about who you are, believe it, and live it – in Jesus name!

Jesus at the CenterWho am I?

  • I am a child of God.
  • I am led by the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit, and encouraged by the Spirit.
  • I am greater in the eyes of the Lord than I am in my own.
  • I will live from victory not struggle for victory, because I am in Jesus and He is in me.
  • I have all of heaven’s resources at my disposal, therefore I am always generous, never lacking.
  • I will love like the Father loves, serve like Jesus serves and powerfully go into my community as the Spirit sends me.
  • I will not stand idly by while darkness, doubt, disease and debit creep in to my community and destroy what God has created to flourish.
  • The time to advance God’s kingdom is now.
  • With God’s word as my foundation, Jesus as my cornerstone, the Holy Spirit as my comforter I am bringing the kingdom everywhere I go and the gates of Hell cannot prevail.

In the name of Jesus!

What else is true about you because of Jesus? Add your thoughts in the comments and share with anyone who needs to hear it!

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”   Luke 6:46

The thing that Jesus is driving at here is that we have a choice about what will use as the foundation to build a life. There’s something about a person whose life has been established on truth and not whim.

What will we lean into when times get difficult?  How will we establish the parameters of what we believe about who we really are?  About what it means to be in relationship with other people – what the meaning of life is all about?  We all believe something about those things.  Are you like somebody who says, “Jesus, you’re the Lord,” but then builds life on other ideals, on other beliefs? There are people that have all of the outward signs of a good or a religious person, but eventually what’s in the heart will always be exposed. Continue Reading…

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And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the idols from among you and direct your heart to the LORD and serve him - I Samuel 7:3

God is very interested in keeping his promises, and God is also very interested in the disposition of your heart.  When God made promises with the nation of Israel, He said, “You are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”  What God is saying to Israel is, “If you’ll do that – if you’ll put Me first in everything you do – if you’ll put Me first when you bring in crops, and you put Me first when your livestock multiplies.  If you’ll put Me first when you have children, if you’ll put Me first when you go to battle.”  God said, “If you put Me first in just the smallest ways – if you’ll put Me first in your life, I will multiply blessing upon blessing behind you, as long as I’m first.”

All throughout history, God has always called his people to make a decision about who’s going to be first in their life.  One of the problems that we find was happening in the nation of Israel is that they were in no way, shape, or form putting God first in their life.  What they did think was that they could put God in a box and take him out whenever they needed him to benefit their own agenda.  They began this pattern of thinking that, “Well, listen.  God’s in a box in the ark.  I’m gonna go do whatever I wanna do, and then when we need God, we can bring God in a box, and take God out of the box, and then God will do whatever we need Him to do.”  How many of you know you can’t keep God in a box?  We know we can’t do that, but I think maybe sometimes today we still try to put God in a box.

We probably would never articulate it that way.  And we may not even realize we are doing it, but how many of us have made decisions and choices to do life our way, and then when things crash and burn, we say, “God, where are you?”  Without making a conscious choice to do so, we seek to put God in this box of religious activities, then when we need Him to save us, we can pull Him out and ask for His help and blessing.

the Bible makes it really clear that there will always be competing desires in our heart.  The desire isn’t the issue; it’s what you decide to do that makes a difference.  Honor is a decision, not a desire.  A lot of people say that they want to do something, but they never do it.  A lot of people say they want to stop something, but they never stop it.  A lot of people say, “I wish,” but they never do.  The things you choose to honor are the things which will carry the most weight in your life.  The things you honor are the things in your life that you value, or consider important.  Choosing to love God first and highest in your life will inevitably demand that we make other things second.

You may find yourself at a crossroad, faced with a decision on any number of things; family, relationships, money. What you honor first demonstrates what you love the most. If you love God with all of our heart and soul and strength, it will be reflected by the choices that you make.

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And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind.

- 1 Samuel 2:35

God recognized that what was in Eli’s heart was a deviatation from being faithful to God. God was not looking for a superstar. He was not looking for somebody who had great oratory skills, or the highest level of education. He was simply looking for somebody who would be faithful to do what was in God’s heart and in God’s mind. If you question, “Can God do that through me? Can God’s kingdom be established through my life?” The answer is this: will you be faithful to do what’s in God’s heart, and in God’s mind? Continue Reading…

Hannah

Pastor Jon —  May 14, 2014 — Leave a comment

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When we come to those moments of our deepest longings, and we make a decision to trust the Lord, I think Hannah would say to us, “You need to expect adversaries.”  She’d say, “Listen, just because you make the right choice doesn’t mean everybody is going to be your cheerleader.”  Frankly, that’s something that many times in my life I have expected to be the case.  There are times I’ve made a decision that seemed to be the faith-filled, right decision and what I got from the people who I expected to be my cheerleaders was criticism.

Hannah would take us to God’s Word, in 1 Samuel 2:2, and she would say, “Hold onto this promise.”

“There is none holy like the Lord; for there is none beside you; there is no rock like our God.”

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