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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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

The New Year’s Resolution Fatal Flaw

treadmill funny

This year I am going to lose weight, read more books, finish the Bible, and love on my family more.

No joking. Those are my goals… but NOT my New Year’s Resolutions. I won’t make any New Year’s Resolutions… because they are fixed to fail from the beginning; at least that’s how I see them.

For years I used to take some time and write down all of the things that I planned on doing the next year effective January 1. Make more money. Travel. Solve world hunger. Bend time and space. But all of my ideas and aspirations hinged on coming out of the gate like a rocket after that ball dropped on New Year’s Eve. Come January 1, things were going to CHANGE!!!!

And they did. Sometimes even for the rest of that day!

If you look here at statisticbrain.com they looked at people’s resolutions from last year and how well people did.

Top three… Lose weight. Get organized. Spend less / save more.

45% of Americans make NY’s resolutions. Percentage that make it… 8%.

So your odds of actually accomplishing your resolution is 1:12. Not bad odds if you were buying a lottery ticket. I think you’d be inclined to try it out if a million dollars was on the line; but it still constiutes a 92% chance of failure.

But what if we are doing it all wrong?!?!?! What if the problem isn’t that we WANT to change, but rather we don’t know WHAT IT TAKES to change?

Let me explain…

Google “fastest man on the earth” and what will you find? Usain Bolt… clocking in at an incredible 9.58 seconds. Florence Griffin-Joyner holds the record at 10.49 seconds. That’s amazing!! Here’s the problem… Google ASSUMES ‘we’ are judging speed on only 100 metres.

Who made that decision?!? Why 100 metres? Why isn’t it Dennis Kimetto from Kenya clocking in at an incredible 2:02:57… for 26.2 MILES (42.2km). Or Yiannis Kouros who ran 188.59 miles (303.506km) within 24 hours!!!!!! No one knows Yiannis’ name (he doesn’t make a lightning bolt move at the end of his race as far as I know)… yet no one has beat Yiannis or Dennis in their respective races.

So… I think NY Resolutions fail because too many people run the 100m dash instead of the marathon. New Year’s Resolutions are more about what you are going to DO come January 1 rather than where do you want to BE come December 31.

calendar-31

So I have goals that I want to accomplish in 2016. And I hope that I do better than an 8% chance of success. But I won’t succeed by putting all the pressure on the start… but rather by focusing on crossing the line, thinner, more knowledgeable, more grounded in God’s Word, and hopefully a husband and father that my family can be proud of.

At least that’s how I see it,

 

C

Dad is Easy… Father is Hard

Well we’re about to go into another weekend of great services at Evangel Church and I think that for the first time, I’m not specifically having a Father’s Day emphasis in my message.

Okay, before you all come at me with your brand-new ties that you’ll never wear again and your bbq utensils, I have good reason. We are wrapping up our current series on “Within These Four Walls” and we are taking a look at how God looks at us as the Bride and He is the Bridegroom… so there will be plenty to correlate with Father’s Day…

That said, I thought I would just make this observation… from what I have found out in Health class, the Discovery Channel, and sitting reading magazines waiting for the doctor, the act of becoming a dad is fairly easy. Actually, some would say that it’s pretty close to the real thing… us men start something and then let someone else finish the job. 🙂

Well what I would like to challenge tonight is the fact that being a ‘father’ to children is SO much harder than just being a dad. It’s not just about starting something, it’s about being there every step of the way… from beginning to end. Fathering is making today make tomorrow better… read that again. Fathering is making ‘today’ make ‘tomorrow’ better. What I mean is the act of fathering is ‘investing’ in your children so that they will be better because of you… not in spite of you.

Maybe you’re disconnected from your kids… Maybe it’s been a while since you said “hi”, “how are you doing”, or “I love you.” I never said that it would be easy. Actually, my whole point is that it’s NOT… but think of what OUR Father did to tell us that He loved us… it wasn’t easy… but it sure made a difference!!!

At least that’s how I see it.

C

Almost Home

Well I’m on my way home from our men’s missions trip to Manitoulin Island.

Every year the men come up to the Spring Bay Camp and do two intensive days of construction. We renovated one cabin, steel roofed another, sided another, and put benches & tables in the snack shack. I’m so proud of them.

But as happy and blessed as I was to have gone with them, there was always a voice calling in the very pit of my being, “I wanna go home”. Yes, I may have enjoyed the moment but I knew it would only be temporary. I never thought of staying there because I knew there was a place far better with people waiting for me to come.

Life is really no different.

This place, this time, this ‘season’ on earth is temporary. Yes, it may be enjoyable, fun-filled, maybe even productive, but we ‘know’ deep down inside ‘we want to go home’.

And there is Someone waiting for us. The closer I get to my current home, the more excited I get. The closer I get to my ‘eternal’ home, the more excited I get. And I believe He does too.

What about you? Are you stuck on an ‘island’ trying to live your life with nowhere to go ‘after’ or do you know you have a Home to go to?

At least that’s how I see it,

C – whose almost home!

The Family – ReMiX

Yesterday we talked about how the local church family needs to care about those around them, share what they don’t own (God owns everything), and come along side people when they are going through hard times.

Kerry and I were talking about the message on the way home and how many people don’t take the next step from seeing the person beside them in church as ‘actually’ part of their family.

Well let’s be realistic, they aren’t right? (unless they ‘actually’ are) People come from all walks of life and sit beside you in church. They aren’t REALLY your family right?

Well what about that old adage… “Blood’s thicker than water.” Basically, you are going to be more loyal with your family than your friendships / acquaintances. But my question to you is this… “Whose ‘blood’ are we talking about?”

The truth is that if we have chosen to give our lives to Jesus Christ, then it is HIS blood that has taken care of our sin. So… in essence, because of grace and mercy, we ALL become part of HIS bloodline. None of us therefore have more importance with God OR each other because we are now part of the same family.

How do you view the ones around you? Are they just bodies in the seats next to you or should not Sunday morning be a weekly Family Reunion!!!

At least that’s how I see it,

C