Monday, November 25, 2013

are they the one? (1/2)

i gave a workshop at the cj on dating. the cj is a youth convention, very similar to a youth camp in the states. except at this location we are staying in dorm rooms from a boarding school. it always feels weird to me as an american to stay in this room that a little boy or girl stays in during the year. the convention is scheduled during a national holiday so those little kids aren't actually at the convention. but nevertheless this post is more about having purpose in dating.

it amazes me how many people flippantly date for a good time. even as i think about it, i got with girls for other reasons but my reasons were just as shallow and selfish…fulfill a desire for companionship and closeness. there was a problem though, none of the girls i pursued could satisfy this companionship. in the same way no one can satisfy the longing for "a good time" the rest of your life.

i spoke for about an hour then i gave an hour for discussion in private if they needed it. i really prefer the one on one more than the massive group setting, but, i am not going to lie, i enjoyed packing out the workshop 2 days in a row with 100+ young people. still, getting them one on one is ideal for me as a counselor.

i see the pursuit from 2 views, 30,000 ft in the air and then from ground level at 3 ft. i used the story in genesis 24 of how rebekah was found for isaac.

30,000 ft looks at three elements: a believer, trusting in god, and character.

1. believer
marrying someone who is not a believer is introducing confusion into your life; even if you get married and never get divorced, it will fail to produce the life that marriage is meant to be. think of how people see god's relationship to his people…marriage is that picture. you can distort this image (not distort god's holiness, but his image) by uniting your heart with one who has no desire for god to be lord of their life. 2 corinthians says that if you are in christ, you are a new creation. this means that your life functions under a continual pursuit of transformation; transforming thoughts, relationships, priorities, lifestyle, and goals. an unbeliever will not appraise these things as a believer will.

2. trust in god
our entire lives should provide testimony after testimony to our need for waiting and our need of dependence on others. the current generation is a generation that is taught from a young age to question authority rigorously. the problem with this is what a lifestyle of distrust produces, namely pride and an unwillingness to serve others (two of the most needed features in the character of those you want to marry). however, it is possible to gain trust. those who have difficulty trusting god (or anyone) will find that they can begin by:

  • walking in humility, serving others, and thinking of themselves less (not less of themselves)
  • submit themselves to a leader and place their agendas under accountability
  • walking in obedience to what the covering in their lives is instructing, sometimes even blindly (but with the desire to learn the value of that instruction)

if you are not married at this very moment, it is with a purpose. god has a plan for your health and not to torture you. i know that desire for companionship can be and is very strong...i have felt it many a time. trust that the lord will guide you to your spouse. remember the holy spirit will never lead you to marry:
-in violation of the Word of God
-for money
-an unbeliever
-an ugly person

3. character
think of character as you would think of a person carrying certain qualities. now in this context you would not want me to perform open heart surgery on you because i lack the qualities to do this. you should desire and appreciate that i have the qualifications to perform surgery, if you were ever to ask me to perform it on you. but don't worry i would never do it, even if you asked me to. the proper qualifications are those things you find desirable and those things that you don't find desirable.

if they have none of these 3 things then don't even "land the plane."

when we land the plane, then we look at character even closer. this generation seems to put so much focus on character before they even consider whether or not the individual is a believer or trusting in god. and then when things go incredibly wrong they are completely lost as to how this wonderful and generous individual could have turned into a very heinous monster. don't even land the plane if they are not a believer or trusting god (and yes it is possible to believe in god without trusting in him).

we land the plane next week

Monday, November 18, 2013

seasoned to perfection

matthew 5:13
you are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? it is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

there are flavors on this earth that are god flavors. these flavors, which are meant to be tasted, will not give the flavor it was intended to give, glory to god and blessing in this life, unless they are seasoned in the fashion that brings this revelation.

i love steak. maybe you do to. i am convinced there are a million "good" steakhouses out there that prepare their steaks with such an incredible flavor. they cook it at the right temperature for the right amount of time. they then season it with the right type and amount of seasoning. most of them produce a product that can make a vegetarian salivate. now if you are prepared to pay for this process, then more power to you.

i find my method of preparing the perfect steak to be just as delightful (maybe more so) and i pay a dramatically reduced rate. i don't need the wine and dine feel and well dressed server to issue a cut of beef that will be gone faster than it was prepared. i season it to great perfection. without these seasonings, however, my meat is pointless. there is no enjoyment of the flavors if i am eating a steak without the right ingredients on top.

jesus goes on to say in this passage that people will be a witness to your relationship with god and out of this witness they will too respond in the same way and open up to him. i can't see how this plays out better than in my daily relationships. i am not even talking about the lost specifically (those i don't encounter daily), but those whom i find contact with on a day to day basis inside my groups of friends.

think about it…
there are flavors people will walk around missing unless they are seasoned with the ingredient that brings those flavors out. i am constantly desiring to make a difference and there some good days and bad days of actually living out jesus' direction here..."you are the salt of the earth!"

begin close…start with your family (spouses, children, parents, siblings, etc). encourage them, season them with love. you can't know god, proclaim to love him, and yet have nothing to do with your brother. i pray for my boys every day before i drop them off at school, asking god to give them favor, blessing, and revelation. i think of my immediate family every time i feel a conviction of needing to be a season to bring out god flavors. by god's grace and mercy i woke up today, so that means i am a seasoning, an ingredient, for the use of god and the flavors he has put on this earth.

i don't fear that we are becoming a generation of salting too much but rather a generation of not seasoning at all.

Monday, November 11, 2013

the impact

in acts chapter 16 we can read about the account of a "robust" worship service taking place in a prison. consequently, the circumstance changed for those two within that jail cell. it wasn't the fact that it was paul and silas, two giants of the early church, who were singing that made the difference. rather, it was the fact that god was receiving praise and honor. glory was attributed to god simply because of who he was...awesome.

worship has a profound impact on our lives. most of us who are church members, know it even though we may not be able to admit said impact. believe it or not, praise and worship impacts the worshipping individual, body, soul, and mind. filling your mind with god's awesome character in praise and worship guides our understanding of truth and gives us knowledge of these said benefits.

in the presence of god, worship unto him impacts one in such a way that a holy zeal for his name is found. singing about him reminds us of who he is. have you ever been in the presence of god and clinched your fist so tight and pumped it in the air like rocky balboa at the top of the philadelphia museum of art? maybe you are a dancer, maybe you are a shouter, or maybe you love to kneel quietly before him in adoration. a holy zeal will most definitely change your life; i am not talking about energy, but zeal, passion, sheer desire, for his glorification.

in the presence of god, worship unto him impacts one in such a way that a boldness for the proclamation of his standards rises up inside. some could refer to it as zeal, but what really takes place is what you would find in acts 5. the apostles are in the temple praising and worshipping god then began preaching in the name of jesus. the pharisees pull them out and again command them to not preach in jesus' name, their response, "it's necessary for us to obey god rather than men." the impact of worshipping and glorifying god is a boldness for his name and proclamation of his word.

in the presence of god, worship unto him impacts one in such a way that a contentment in him resides. it's an assurance of the relationship, the covenant, the faithfulness of him to his people; he cannot deny himself. shadrach, meshach, and abednego demonstrated this when they refused to worship the gods the king had commanded them to worship. they only worship god, and would rather be thrown in the fire than worship those gods. they go as far to say, in daniel 3, that even if god didn't save them, they still wouldn't worship nebuchadnezzars gods.

in the presence of god, worship unto him impacts one in such a way that perspective of god's design is understood. in the midst of worship our mind becomes transformed, we are beholding from one glory to the next his awesome majesty. the holy spirit moves amongst our hearts shaping our walk with him, gaining a discernment for seeing things the way god sees them and even appreciating why he does things the way he does them. it is easy for followers of jesus to be overwhelmed by the condition of sin in the world, and the toll it has taken on our fellow man. worship transforms our minds and hearts and leads us even if we are not completely sure what is taking place around us.

in the presence of god, worship unto him impacts one in such a way of refreshment. we were, in the end, never meant to carry the angst and worry that we choose to carry so frequently. because of the fracture of sin we can find in many parts of the world the door to despair is wide open. we never really can escape the clutches of this fracture, this side of the grave. thankfully jesus paid the price so that we don't have to live under it. jesus is our joy and satisfaction. in 1 samuel 16 we see clearly the power of worship over a lost and despaired individual. david played as to ease the tormenting spirits that frustrated king saul. the anointing found in worship unto him is the most refreshing our souls can find while we live in these earthen vessels. like i always told my mom when i wanted to sleep in church, "there is no better place to sleep, than the presence of the lord."

if worship is not impacting our lives, it is not because god is doing something wrong, it is because our hearts are not engaged. we could easily sing songs in bars, at home in the shower, or let the musicians do it on the radio; worship has meaning, it has purpose and god's design is for it to impact our lives.

Monday, November 4, 2013

discipling your band

the greatest key for a lasting desire in a group of individuals who play together is the bond running deeper than the music or instrumentation.

i've played with several worship teams and with several different worship leaders. the greatest of groups to play with are those that have a preference for unity that overshadows their preference for music. music is such a powerful weapon/tool and has been such a hot topic when it comes to church membership. you don't have to go far before you hear a rant on style, technique, volume, era, etc.

the worship leader who reaches his team and desires a bond outside the music will find musicians running to play/perform right along side of him. i have had some great mentorship in my day. over the course of my musical career i have grown to love the back-up position (mainly because of the pedals). i can tell if a leader on the stage is reaching and discipling his teams. it shows when they play together and it directly influences the congregation.

the privilege that is amongst those on stage in the united states should never be taken for granted. many musicians playing just twice a month are receiving the equivalency of a pastors salary in some european nations. getting paid to play is a wonderful benefit, cherish it, lord knows i would love to get paid playing music. however, even in my experiences of paid musicianship i found myself longing to be along side my heroes of praise and worship, all of whom were not paid to play on the stage.