Where True Freedom Is Found

true-freedom1I was going through marginal notes / verses that I had underlined in the book of Exodus yesterday and something really interesting popped out at me.

Exodus is about the Israelites leaving Egypt and heading to the Promised Land. It’s about a journey. From bondage… to freedom. Burning bush. Plagues. Ten Commandments. Golden Calf. Stuff like that. Not a seamless line but a trek full of rebellion, remorse, and restoration. Kind of like our lives.

But what jumped out at me was how it ends. You would think, as a writer, that you would want to bring some sort of ‘closure’ to the purpose of the book. The journey should end with the arrival at the destination. Wouldn’t that make sense?

But it doesn’t happen that way. The last chapter starts wth the assembly of the tabernacle and tent of meeting that the Israelites were to use to meet and present their sacrifices to God.

But then God shows up. “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:34-35 NIV).

Maybe, just maybe… this ‘is’ the destination for the book of Exodus. For we all set out on a journey from brokenness to healing. We all yearn to be rescued from who we ‘are’ to who we know we ‘can be’. From bondage, to freedom.

And it is here that we see where freedom may be found… in His Presence. We come expecting. He comes filling.

2Corinthians 3:17 says “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Freedom from our past. Freedom from the junk we’ve faced this past week. Freedom from what is stopping us from moving forward in His plan for our lives.

So today, as we roll out of beds all over the place and head to church, be reminded that being in His Presence is the chief end of the pursuit. That as we come together, we leave all that is holding us back and are led to experience the freedom of being found in His Presence.

At least that’s how I see it,

 

C

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Fudgee-O’s and the Confessions of A Sugaholic!

Fudgee-O

When I got up on the platform on Sunday morning I never really dreamed that I would be THAT honest about how vulnerable I was to temptation! If you didn’t get a chance to hear the message, you can watch it here.

So while we’re being honest, let’s at least admit that we ALL have problems with “Fudgee-O’s”… it’s simply that your version of temptation may be different than mine. For you it may be pornography, or alcohol, or gambling, or a host of other things.

But we all seem to show up to indulge in these temptations in the same place… the ‘dark playground’; that place that you go to ‘play’ where you know you shouldn’t be, but you still try to get as much fun out of your time there.

The sad reality, and unfortunately I speak from experience, is that the ‘dark playground’ is never really that fun of a place to be in the first place. Yes, for a moment you may get a rush from playing with your ‘toxic toys’, eating all those cookies, downing all that alcohol… but you know that lurking in the shadows are other people, just like you, hoarding their toys trying not to be noticed.

It’s not a fun playground to play in at all. For the whole time you are ‘in’ the playground, there is a part of you crying out, pleading with you to leave your toys on the ground and get out!

I shared James 4:7 on Sunday which says to “stand against the devil, and the devil will run from you.” (NCV). Reading on in verse 8 it shows us how to exactly do that… “Come near to God, and God will come near to you… you who are trying to follow God and the world at the same time, make your thinking pure.”

Really? All the times I’ve heard people repeat that verse to “come near to God and God will come near to you” is about Him helping me stay out of the ‘dark playground’?!?! Wow!!!! What a revelation! All I have to do is simply choose to start walking towards God instead of the dark playground… and HE will come near to me; perhaps even as fast as the Father looking for the prodigal son!

So… what do we now do with this awesome news?!? There is an answer to the dark playground… and that is the Light of the Father. I know, it seems so simple… and I also know that the playground will keep on calling and telling you that ‘this’ time it will be SO much better than the other times… ALL the cookies will taste as good as the first! But let’s be honest, we all know that is a lie. The pleasure is NEVER worth the pain.

So I’ll walk past those Fudgee-O’s today. Any encounter those cookies have with me never ends well. Instead I’ll choose to come closer to God knowing that He will come closer to me. Because as you and I both know, the longer you stay away from the dark playground, the more you wonder why you ever chose to go play there in the first place.

At least that’s how I see it,

 

C

When God says, “Don’t preach.”

when god says don't preach

I’ve been trying to figure out how best to write down my thoughts about what happened at Evangel Church this past Sunday. I thought that if wrote it down on social media it would come off the wrong way. But to not say ‘anything’ I felt was horribly unfair to hiding what God did. So I thought I would blog about it.

Church on Sunday was something I will probably never forget. I’ve had a few days now to think more about what happened; about what God was doing in the hearts of all of us as a church family.

The service was an hour and a half of “God’s agenda… not ours.” From the moment the congregation started singing I knew that something different was going to happen. There was no emotional reprieve… only momentum. With each verse, each chorus, each song the level of anticipation and sense of God’s Presence grew. It was like being on a date between the Maker and the Made that hit it off from the get go and was only getting better as the date went on.

I looked around and people had already started to come up into the altar area on their own. People were hungry. People ARE hungry for what God is doing. By the time I went up after the ‘singing’ (we ended up singing for another 30 minutes afterwards) I called others to join those already up at the front. Called people to come up who were lacking the Presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Called for those who were sick to be prayed for by anyone around them.

There was ministry EVERYWHERE…. People crying. People praying for those who were crying. People standing with hands raised. People curled up on the floor weeping. Presence… everywhere.

Let me be clear. There was no ‘smoking gun’ for the service. No new song. No ‘special’ event that tipped the scales. There wasn’t a new formula for us to now try to mimic.

There was though a sense of expectancy in the room. I could already sense it during the preservice prayer. We were waiting. We were longing. We were desiring more of God.

What I have found over the years is that we only get more of God in our lives one way… by releasing more of ourselves. Surrender. It’s not about God deciding to give us more of Himself. He gave us His Son! He built the broken bridge of relationship all the way over to us… except for one last step. That step is the only step towards God we need to take.

I didn’t feel right preaching on Sunday. It was already noon. Our time of worship made celebrating communion one of the most memorable I’ve ever experienced. We ‘felt’ the joy of what we gained from Jesus’ sacrifice. His Presence.

Jeremiah 2:2 says “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved Me.” I got to see what I’ve been ‘seeing’ for a long time for Evangel. A Bride totally in love with the Groom; and a Groom loving on the Bride that He laid down His life for.

At least that’s how I see it,

 

C

Get Over It!

I think we all have things in our life that we wished we had never done. Mistakes. Bad choices. Failed attempts to do the right thing.

But too often we hang the mantle of our purpose on the coat rack of our past instead of discovering the potential of our purpose by wearing it with courage and conviction.

At least that’s how I see it,

 

C

PS – Here is a clip from Kerry’s message a couple of weeks ago addressing this very thing. Enjoy.

 

Coming Home Is Always Shorter

This past Sunday I sat and listened to Kerry give her testimony… her “Love Story” as she called it. I had never heard the story of the Prodigal Son that way before. It still is affecting me almost a week later.

We often focus on how ‘far’ we have moved away from God rather than how ‘close’ we are able to come back. We forget that He is waiting for us to return back to Him and then starts running to ‘meet us’. HE is the one who shortens the journey back to Him.

At least that’s how I see it,

 

C

PS – We launched a new series for our YouTube Channel called “McK and Mike” and we continued the conversation from Sunday. If you want to hear Kerry’s message you can click on this link right here. Enjoy.

 

 

New Day… New Reasons

Love requires action. It is never intended to be a noun between two people but a verb.

Today, I thought I would share some thoughts on how my love has changed over the years.

Enjoy.

Which Man Will I Be Today?

I have to be honest with you. I have personal pep talks every day.

No, I don’t look in the mirror and yell “YOU CAN DO IT!!!!” like some crazed Rob Schneider with a sombrero on my head! No, every day I need to remind myself of who I am, and Whose I am.

I know each day (each moment actually), I can be one of two men: the man whose desires are momentary and probably self-seeking, or the man whose desires are to honour and serve the One who loves me and has purposed a greater life in me.

So I choose (or at least attempt to choose) the man who God desires me to be… knowing that He who has done GREAT things in my life, has planned even GREATER if I choose to follow Him.

At least that’s how I see it,

 

C

Stop Living On The Coast

Coasting is living on borrowed power. It’s deciding to allow the momentum of the past to get you through where you are right now and in the not-too-distant future.

But coasting cannot sustain itself. Friction, resistance, and gravity (all analogies of daily life) will consume quickly all that you’ve worked towards and slow you down… to the point where regaining momentum will actually be harder than simply keep going.

So keep going. Keep pedalling. Make today count. Don’t rely on yesterday to make your today.

 

 

“I Did It My Way” Wasn’t A Worship Song

frank sinatra

A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. (John 4:23 NIV)

I don’t think “Ol’ Blue Eyes” would have gotten very far with that song had it been written for the church. Not sure that Hillsongs would have picked it up for their album or if you’d see many of the Southern Gospel quartets belting it out on any of the recent Gaither videos. Seems to almost be the antithesis of what worship is really supposed to be about.

But Jesus was addressing an issue with the woman in this passage. The Samaritans were trying to worship God the way that ‘they’ felt comfortable doing. They wanted to place God through the filter of ‘their’ form of religious practice, not actually place ‘themselves’ through the filter of God’s desire.

We can often put limits on how often, how deep, and how sincere we enter into times of worship. We tell God that we’ll give Him ‘this’ and ‘that’… but we won’t worship Him ‘here’ and ‘there’.

And there lies the dilemma of our encounters with God. The moment that we dictate how we plan on expressing our worship to God… then ‘we’ control the worship… which then doesn’t become really effective worship at all. For when we hold back on giving Him His worth, aren’t we therefore calling the shots on what is acceptable or not for Him? Are we no better than a woman at a side of a well saying that ‘their’ way was better… even if it didn’t find support in the Bible?

I pray that all of our worship this week, however it is expressed, is firmly and deeply rooted in the desire to know Him more, pursue His Presence more, and sincerely express to Him just how Great He is… not how it best fits us… but how it best glorifies Him.

At least that’s how I see it,

Craig

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