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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

Reality 1 – God is always at work around you

God has always been actively involved in human affairs throughout history. Because of our sin, he is working to bring about redemption to those of that have rejected him. He wants to reconcile us through Christ so we can have a loving relationship with him. If we don’t open our spiritual eyes to what he is doing, we will remain blind to his presence.

I’m going through my second round of this study called Experiencing God. I am doing it with a men’s group and my young professionals group. Last week was more of an introduction. This week is reality one of the seven realities. It tells us that God is always at work around us. God was always at work in the life Moses from when he was a child to when he was in exile. God has provided me with many things like a good church and community so I can answer his calling for me. I am thankful he still uses me and I don’t want to forget what he has done for me in the past. I just want to be obedient to him so I can experience him more.

 

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cseg

A few years back I got to do the Experiencing God study with a life group that I was a part of. It was life-changing for me. I have been attending a men’s group at Cornerstone Chandler and they are going through an updated version of it with the whole church. I felt this is a good study for me to do to kick off 2017. We are also doing this study in my young professionals group. So I get double accountability while doing this series.

A God-Centered Life 

The Bible is God-centered. The Bible is designed to help you understand the ways of God. Then, when God starts to use your life in the same way He worked in Scripture, you’ll recognize that it’s God who’s at work. Below are the Seven Realities that identify ways God works to involve people in His activity.  (Hebrews 11)

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  1. God is always at work around you.

  2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.

  3. God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.

  4. God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.

  5. God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.

  6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.

  7. You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you.

Below is a teaching video from Pastor Linn Winters on vimeo that will guide you each week of the Experiencing God study.

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Hillsong

John 14:23-27

Jesus is the destination

Reality checks 

You will not be the first human in history that trys to skip the God process

Breakdown before breakthrough – there is a process

When you skip the process, you rob yourself

It may seem you might get away with it now, but you will pay for it tomorrow

Proof you are making progress – it will be evident by how much grace you give others while they make progress

Matthew 18:21-35

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Be careful you don’t get caught putting a “process clock” on people that God is not aware of…

Our job is to show up and obey

On the process journey, God may not just be working on them. He might be working on you

Hope is to help somebody

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We must live spirit led so we can SHOW LOVE like nobody else can

Matthew 5:13-16

Be present in the process

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ESL teachers

ESL teachers

I can’t believe it has been three years since the Redemption church merger. Even though Redemption has never been a home church for me, I’ve been an off and on attendee since their early days. I love how God uses them to reach all areas of Arizona with the gospel with their multiple church plants. Tonight Pastor Riccardo shared many stories from the past three years of how God has been faithful and good to the church. I got to attend the service for a few reasons. Redemption likes to share God stories of how members of the congregation are being used in the community by God. Pastor Mullins interviewed my ESL director Stephanie on stage about how we are reaching the refugee community here locally in Tempe. Our students are mostly from Somalia and Redemption church oversees our teaching program. In fact, many of our volunteer teachers are members of Redemption.

Teaching ESL has been such a humbling and rewarding experience for me. My involvement came from when God called me to attend a Uzbekistan peace feast in November of 2011. Even though I had no idea why I was meant to go, God opened my eyes to the refugee community for the first time. Soon after I became an english teacher and now here I am two and half years later still teaching. Hearing the story of Redemption church tonight and my own personal story remind me of the Experiencing God study – Watch where God is working and join Him there. Trust me, do that and He will do the rest.

But my main reason I attended church tonight is because of the friend I brought. He was an old drinking buddy of mine from back in college. I haven’t seen him in 15 years, yet we are Facebook friends. He reach out to me earlier this week and mentioned life had become purposeless for him. He has been inspired by how I’ve been living my life and wanted to know what it is that kept me going these days. I laugh because I’m such a messy person, but I know it is Christ that He is seeing in me as the Spirit has really been working through my life these past couple years. He just moved to Tempe and I offered to introduce him to Redemption church because they are in the area. We had a great time catching up and I felt for him as I have been in that place of searching for significance many times in my life. I spent most of my night praying for him at church and was excited for him to hear the God-stories they were taking about from the stage. I pray that God grab a hold of him and that he becomes another God-story that will be shared to others someday.

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I have been wanting to write this entry for a while now, but I’m always afraid my words won’t come out the way it is suppose to when I write from my heart. I want to make sure I sound genuine and not sound like I’m boasting. That’s what this blog site is all about to begin with – just writing about my struggles in life and how I am seeing God work in the process. I try to keep things about me and not others because I don’t know what goes on in other people’s heads. I have been deep in scripture reading and prayer for a few weeks now and I keep experiencing weight and convictions from the Spirit. And as the weeks go by, I am finding myself sobbing more and more. I’m feeling the Holy Spirit really working in me and guiding my thoughts and actions. It’s been a really crazy emotional ride for some time now.

As I read the Bible, God is big. Bigger than anything I can ever fathom. God can do anything that seems impossible to me. I know he has his sovereign will – basically it’s his will that will get accomplished no matter what. But then there is his moral will – the will that we submit to as believers. It’s our obedient response to him and circumstances that are to line up with prayer, our experiences and what scripture says. Where I am getting emotional is that I keep asking myself the same question – Do I really believe God is sovereign? Do I really believe God can make the impossible possible? Honestly, almost majority of the time it’s no. I know that because I can see that over and over in my life in the choices I make and how I handle things.

God has really been working in me. I’ve had to ask myself if I truly believe I deserve his grace because I know I won’t experience it until I know I believe that it is there for me to have free of charge. This is where true change and healing begins with the scars of life I hang onto. But most of all, I need to believe that the same grace is available for other people too because I find myself down a path where I look at others and situations and think I can justify myself with my thoughts that things won’t ever change because I don’t trust God is big enough. God is too big and too powerful for me to not ever believe he can restore and redeem anything or anyone.

So as I study God’s word, he keeps me from looking ahead to the other side. It’s too easy for me to draw up my own plan and think I know God’s will down the road and get myself excited about that. This so goes against scripture – God’s preparation and calling is timely in each moment of the day. I don’t want to miss what he is doing now, today. I want to experience God’s grace and power in this moment and join him with what he can and is about to do. So I have been committing myself to pray diligently because I don’t want to control or do anything that short-changes God’s sovereign power. I am going to pray that the gospel will change all that is wrong and all that is broken every moment I can. I’m going to pray that God provides opportunities that I can join in that only he can make happen. I have been holding prayer sessions all over the place with people I trust and people who truly believe in God’s power because I believe strength comes in numbers when we pray. We had a long prayer session last night praying for God’s intercession. Even my prayers with my good guy friends have ended up with both of us sobbing. When guys cry like that, the Spirit is there and moving. I believe God is big and I’m going to trust he can do anything regardless how I want life to work out for myself. I gotta believe this with all my heart and soul. All he his asking me is to be obedient to his moral will and keep up the fight. I truly believe in the gospel and what grace can do. Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross to redeem us and giving us hope.

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“Cities are the center of culture. Often, they are the intersection of art, politics, and business. New City exists to engage culture where it’s created, weaving the story of God into the story of Phoenix.” 

I love Brain Kruckenburg. He has really helped bring a vision to the local art scene in the heart of downtown Phoenix. Whether that be with New City Studio on First Friday’s or with the aaa program (action, advocacy, arts) at ASU’s College of Public Program, he has used God’s gift of creativity as a witness tool to the community. I was invited to attend New City Church this morning by some friends and I have always been encouraged by Brian’s support of what I got going on in my life. I love this church! Right now, Missio Dei is where God wants me and it’s my home and where I need to be to grow in my walk. But NCC taps right into my heart for the arts and photography. I try to stop in when I get a chance to say hi to good friends and to stay in touch with some of the local community events that they do. I’m looking forward to their next First Friday as they are displaying work from behind the scenes of local films.

Brian talked about us being humble leaders and how we need to keep advancing forward. This is done through both mission and vision. We need to always know our mission and stick to it. Vision is inside the mission and sometimes it can change and that is ok. Vision is both biblical and timely and the strategy is us. I sometimes find myself getting caught up my visions and forget the overall mission. I love to dream and God has blessed me with lots of passion and talents in different areas. Even now, God has opened up the door with the arts, photography, cooking and missions in several different areas of my life. But I want to make sure I follow the Spirit’s guidance and only follow the visions that lie within my own personal mission – which is to live a life that reflects the Kingdom.

I finished reading Erasing Hell by Francis Chan on the light rail today. There was an excerpt in the back of the book from a chapter of Forgotten God on the Holy Spirit that hit me:

I think we can all agree that living “according to our sinful flesh” is not what is intended for us as children of God. Yet even so, we often choose to face life’s issues and circumstances in exactly the same way as someone without the Spirit of God. We worry, strive, and grieve no differently than unbelievers. While it is true that we are humans like anyone else, it is also true that we are humans with the Spirit of God dwelling in us. Yet, whether consciously or not, we essentially say to God, “I know You raised Christ from the dead; but the fact is my problems are just too much for You and I need to deal with them myself.”

This has been the story of my life many times over. I can tell you countless of stories of when I was filled by the Spirit and God used me in amazing ways. But then, there are many times life was ‘too hard’ for me to handle and I ended up dealing with it on my own and the result was failure. You see this in the life of Peter. He denied Christ and made all sorts of irrational decisions during Christ’s crucifixion, yet he was filled by the Spirit and spoke a message that saved the lives of thousands of people not too long after that. This is why we have an amazing God who gives us grace. Our mission can only succeed with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit. My life has changed so much because of grace and I have so much peace and direction because the Spirit is alive in me.

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Tonight I got a chance to attend the The Homemade Worship Tour featuring the Rend Collective Experiment and Francis Chan and his daughter Rachel Chan. The event was held at the new arena at Grand Canyon University. I went with my good friend Simon and his approach was to come with an open mind. The Rend Collective Experiment is a worship band from Ireland and they played some worship songs in addition to some of their own songs. Francis Chan’s daughter Rachel joined them and sang some songs that she had written. She also spoke from Psalms 45 and about being a woman who fears the Lord.

Francis Chan told a story of how he had a conversation with Rachel and how she wasn’t walking with the Spirit. He knew that both him and his wife had done all they can to equip her for the world and that the rest is up to the Spirit. This can be a scary place for a parent to be in when your kids don’t get it. I remember meeting with Francis a couple of years back in California and I shared the same story with him about my own kids. I told him that I was a single dad and that I was in the same frightening place of knowing right now that my kids don’t know the Lord. We talked about how this is where our faith comes in and all you can do is pray for them that they receive the Spirit someday.

In his talk, Francis was worried that those of us in the arena were only at this event to be shaken by the Spirit from his talk or the worship because we haven’t ‘felt’ the Spirit in a while. The problem with Christianity today is that we want to spend all our time around Christian friends and safe places like church on Sundays. Our expectations are to be filled by the Spirit through a great sermon or from some worship song and we get disappointed if it wasn’t good enough for us. We want the presence of the Spirit to dwell in us around a bunch of believers and not out in the world.

God promises his Spirit when we are being a witness to others. That’s when we need to expect to filled with the Spirit. God will give us the words we need to say and will guide our thoughts and actions. It’s when we are faced with danger and fear when we draw closest to God. I know for me, I love where I am at. I love the uncertainty in my life because I have drawn so close to God and I feel his presence everyday. I really do rejoice in my trials because they always bring my bring me back on course with God and give me a peace in my life that I have been missing. It’s when I have my expectations filled and my life is comfortable when I start to drift.

“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”  Luke 12:11-12

Francis talked about the Koreans that were captured in Afghanistan a couple years back and how the Taliban started killing them one by one. The ones that escaped are now wishing they were back there because they were having to depend and trust God back then. How awesome is it that they would rather be faced with death just so they can experience the fullness of God. You see that all through scripture – Stephen sees Christ as he is being stoned. Shadrach Meshach and Abednego have Christ stand in the furnace with them as they are being tortured. We experience that true intimacy with Christ when we trust him through difficult times.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley I will fear no evil,  for you are with me;  your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalms 23:4

The church has failed to disciple and equip us to go out in the world. They are more concerned about bringing people into their building than sending us out. I want to have more boldness and courage to face the danger of being a witness in the world. I have been out in the community a lot lately trying to meet people and share my faith with them. God has called me back to the mission field as well to be a light to other cultures and I am excited to be going overseas to build those relationships. True intimacy and a Spirit-filled life are experienced during the most uncertain and most uncomfortable times of our life. Our lives should be a continuation of the Bible.

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Francis Chan at GCU

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