Comment

Perspective

In Exodus, I see that God wasn’t making a route of escape for the Israelites, but a path for His purpose to be fulfilled.  He made a short cut through the Red Sea (short cut to redeem the time.)  The Red Sea fell in on the Egyptians because they were not a part of the purpose.  God knew all along He would not allow the Egyptians to capture Israel.  It was the older Israelites that had the perspective that they were running away from something that had to die out!  The younger ones had the mindset that they were God’s people, not escaped slaves!  God wants us to be running towards the finish line, not escaping hell, the devil, or the temptations of this world.  So in short, when we’re following the cloud of the Spirit, we might see the enemy, but we must look toward the high calling and know the enemy can’t get us.  As we cross the barriers that God has taken down, He puts them back up so nothing can hinder us!  It’s our own perspective that hinders us and kills us. 

 

-Sheryl Salyers

Comment

Comment

Living Under the Demands of Love and Grace

We are hearing so much discussion in the body of Christ right now about words like grace and freedom. The challenge that is being put forth is to live in freedom, instead of merely living by the rules.  But what does Grace really mean? What does freedom look like?  Or to ask another question, why would God desire to take a moral rule follower and draw them in to these concepts of grace and freedom?  

We see this question acted out in the story of the rich young ruler.  Before God, this man professes that since his youth, his life has displayed the morality and rule following of the strictest Pharisee.  To us, the casual observer, our advice to Jesus in that moment would be to shake a guys hand, welcome him into a relationship, and applaud his former efforts.  Instead, the rich young ruler is presented with a challenge that strikes deeper into the heart then any of those well-patterned behaviors of his past.  It was not the aim of Jesus obviously to discourage the man.  So what was his plan?  Some might even regard Jesus' actions as dismissive or of lacking compassion.  

The truth is, not all good works are created equal.  There are good intentions that are counterproductive to the Christian life. You may ask, how can good intentioned works ever be counterproductive in the Christian faith?  The truth is, there are behaviors that we can perform that can occupy our mind and heart in a way that replaces vulnerability and intimacy.  Ask yourself this question; have you ever said something to someone, or did something "for someone" that was definitely more meant to release you from responsibility in a situation more than it was truly to benefit the other person.  Whether it was saying sorry to someone when you really didn't feel any sorrow inside (it was just the right thing to do), or of course the famous smiles and "I love you’s” that fill our church fellowship halls every day that are really meant more as gestures of Christian leadership than gestures of affection. 

Now, there is nothing wrong with doing a good thing even when your feelings need to play catch-up.  However, when these "good things" become well patterned and unconscious behaviors that do not provoke the core of a person to be vulnerable to others or needy of God's strength and empowerment; it becomes a good intention to work that can actually have you walking tearfully away from the presence of God realizing that to be that vulnerable to him is much more scary than surrendering your body to pre approved acts of valor that people around you will celebrate you in, while Heaven stands bored to tears. 

This is one of the core lessons of the story of the rich young ruler. Jesus can begin with your good intentions or right conscience before God, but he will always be reaching for the core passions of your heart.  We have to realize that this is not in spite of us or our work good intentions, but is because of Christ love for us that he will not allow us to settle for a moral life, when we are called to a relationship and walk with him that engages every fiber of our being spirit soul and body.  This is true living, this is what we were created for.  An unbridled, passionate, and limitless pursuit of everything that God is and everything that he died for.  Don't settle for less today, be vulnerable to the people around you and to a God that is love and is passion.  Live This.

 

-Ronnie Stewart

Comment

Comment

Look Again, its all for our good!

The Holy Spirit is concerned with the hearts of men.  So in this time of acceleration, the hearts and ways of men are being pruned, renewed, and exposed at a very aggressive rate.  I sense many feel that they are under “attack” when really they are being nurtured.  I am led to pray for an increase in wisdom and discernment now so that the body will not spend time warring over something that is truly just love at work; and that we will recognize His heart and His ways in all of these situations.  I pray for leaders, as people bring their “sorrows” to them, that they will sense very quickly how to help the body of Christ see clearly and recognize the hand of the Lord.

-Stacy Pack Shannon

Comment

Comment

Protestors or Disciples

When I grew up, we always incited people to clap, shout, applaud and dance whenever we would preach "against something" or "against what we believe," but very rarely did we get that excited for what we believed.

Many leaders today have come to realize that approach didn't produce disciples, but rather zealous protestors.  So, we began preaching for what we believed rather than what we were against so much.

However, when speaking on behalf of God Himself, we often still are representing so much from the view of what He stands against  rather than what He is for.

Do we really think this kind of preaching will produce something different than what we've proven doesn't work?

God said to make disciples of men, not protestors or people that will always stand against something.  In standing, we are already making a statement just by standing - against the enemy and a life full of apathy or anger.

God wants people who will stand for something.

 

-Kevin West

Comment

Comment

The Analogy

Let’s suppose you have inherited from your father a large estate including a picturesque mansion with a new car and clothes and money. This is good news because you are presently struggling financially. Paint is curling off your dilapidated house, your clothes are worn threadbare, and a rusty bicycle carries you back and forth to work. Then just before the inheritance is transferred to you, someone breaks into the mansion and steals the checkbook to your new account. The thief writes checks freely for whatever he desires. It’s your money meant to bless you, but he uses it for himself. He ruins the beauty of your father’s mansion, filling it with tasteless furniture and lamps and gaudy rugs. He wears the new suits which were hanging on a rack for you, and carelessly speeds around in your new car. Then he begins acting and talking like you. He mixes with your friends and spends time with your family, not only taking over your relationships, but ruining them. This thief wholly enjoys the influence and position that is rightfully yours.

At your greatest moment of despair, someone bigger and stronger than the thief comes to you and explains that you are still entitled to the complete inheritance. He says the thief is too powerful for you to fight, but not for him. He vows to crush him and to return everything back to you. Then he goes out, defeats and binds your enemy, and restores your inheritance. The money is back in the checking account, all the gaudy trappings purchased for the house are gone, and everything is returned new. The relationships with your family and friends are restored. In fact, they are even better than they were before everything had been stolen.

Jesus is the one who came and bound Satan, the thief. He is the one who has defeated the Enemy and restored our lives. This is why we call Him our Savior.

 

-Kevin West

Comment