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Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual Growth’

“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14

This comes from Day 1 of Experiencing God. Tonight was the first night of our small group (over 25 people – praise God!). I am excited to go through this workbook as I feel this study is perfect for this period of my life. Both my boys are doing the same study in their groups too. Last week I started reading Galatians to deepen my understanding of God’s Grace. I have been following along with Redemption church’s study guide and also been attending here and there to listen to the messages. My home church is studying the book of Hebrews for the year starting next week and we are going through the gospel of John in my men’s study group. I’m really excited to draw closer to God in my walk with these studies and to see what exciting things God has in store for me.

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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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A couple of months ago, all I heard was sad stories. In addition to my own trials, I heard story after story of difficult stuff going on in people’s lives. But all of us have been clinging to the cross and trusting in God through these times. We have been supporting each other and living out the gospel while going through the fire. I can say today, that I’m seeing lots of smiles. In fact, I have been smiling a lot lately and people have been noticing. I love where I am in my faith. I have been living in God’s presence throughout my days and I’m seeing lots of blessings as a result of it. I’m hearing all sorts of God stories. Kate McRae’s story and her family’s faith has always been an encouragement to me. My friend Michael lost his job and was in a car accident in the same week a few months back. Someone gave him a car and he just got a job this week. And through it, his faith grew so much. God works all things for his purposes and there are blessings for trusting in him.

I think the biggest thing that people do is give into fear. They run away or try to control their circumstances. It never works out when you do things your way and not God’s way. I have seen this time and time again in my own life. There will always be difficult times and Jesus promises to walk us through them. True faith and blessings comes from those who trust him no matter how hard life’s trials are. Love this quote I saw today:

“It is the most natural thing in the world to be scared, and the clearest evidence that God’s grace is at work in our hearts is when we do not get into panics….The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else.”

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Tonight I watched the movie “Courageous“. Sometimes these faith-based films can be a little cheesy, but they carry a powerful message. “Fireproof” and “Soul Surfer” were great movies too. I have had several men tell me I should see this movie. It’s about four law enforcement officers going through some tough trials in their family. They end up putting their faith in God and he works through all them despite their shortcomings. It really hit me hard as a man because I carry the responsibility to be the leader of my family. I have failed in so many ways over the years in this. I’m thankful to God that he continues to stick with me and work in me to grow stronger in this area.

I have been praying a lot lately to be a better example to my family. I pray every morning for an opportunity to be a better man and husband to my wife. But for now, I can be an example to my kids. Both of my kids have really got involved with their discipleship groups. I am blessed that they both have good Godly men leading their groups. Cornerstone is doing this church-wide study of Experiencing God. I started this study awhile back and never finished it. A small group contacted me and asked me to join them in their study and I have decided to do so knowing my kids will be doing the study in their own group. I have been praying for an opportunity to step up and lead my own kids in devotions. So we are going to spend each week discussing what we are learning in our groups together. I loved sitting down with Ty tonight and helping him look up verses in his Bible for his homework. I have spent so much time trying to find the courage to be a Godly example to my kids and now he had blessed me with that. God is working in my family – He is so amazing!

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.    

Hebrews 12:1-2

Tim Tebow tweeted this before the Broncos won their playoff game in overtime today. He’s been getting a lot of heat for his faith. His team shouldn’t be this far in the playoffs. Yet they beat the Steelers in a great game and are now advancing in the playoffs. He has this courage about him that is inspiring. Tebow continues to just trust God despite all odds. I love his courage and his faith.

Our church laid out the goal for 2012. How ironic it is the same for myself and what my life is going to be all about for 2012.

Jesus / The Gospel

I don’t put much worth in the words of people, but I do have a tendency to be over-analytical and weigh out the pros and cons in making decisions because I think too much. I am living out my faith and what I believe the gospel says and what the gospel can do. God has given me a new mind and heart to where I am living in faith and not so much depended on my thoughts and emotions. My faith says to fight for what the Bible says is truth. I lived out my faith this past summer and I received joy. Despite all odds, I’m going to trust God and live out my faith and fight for what I believe in. I will fight for the ones I love. I will fight for the covenant I made and I will fight for joy because that is who God made me to be.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.  

Psalms 51:10-12

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We are going through the gospel of John verse by verse in a Bible study I am in. The passage in John 2:23-25 stuck with me as I left. It talks about people who came to faith, yet Jesus would not entrust himself to them. Did they not come to faith? Was their coming to faith only as a result of seeing the miracles of Christ? Did they have a second-class faith where their faith is only based on signs and wonders and not on truth? I do believe this group of people did come to faith, but I want to know why Jesus only entrusts in certain Saints. I think it’s because God looks at our hearts, not what we do or accomplish. We see that throughout scriptures as God uses the most unlikely of people. Interesting how the story of Nicodemus and his asking about being born again follows this passage. It is almost like this passage sets up John 3 and what Jesus teaches in it. I believe Nicodemus’ faith was based on signs and he would eventually ‘get it’ after this meeting with Jesus.

Our time to live out what we believe is now, not when our trials are over or we reach a certain level of achievement. We need to live out what we believe because coming to Christ means we are now ambassadors for him. We should want him to see our hearts and to entrust in us to carry out his will. God works through our adversity and brokenness and we need not use that as an excuse to not live for him because life is tough. The same goes with not knowing how to live our faith or how to discern the will of God for ourselves. We need to ask God to give us the words to fearlessly proclaim the spirit of the gospel (Ephesians 6:9) where we are at now. We need to chain ourselves to the gospel and be ambassadors for him. I love that five years ago I went to a Passion conference and made the decision to live for Christ despite my circumstance of having gone through a tough divorce and God opened up the door to years of amazing ministry right after that. Now today I find myself in the same situation after Passion and I am deciding to live for Christ despite my brokenness. He is already doing incredible things and I am ready for this calling to be his ambassador. Being bold means to have courage and the only thing I am afraid of now is living an insignificant life.

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hell

I got a book for Christmas called Erasing Hell by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle. I have read quite a few books this past few months, but this one I’m looking forward to. I briefly got caught up with the whole Universalism debate last year when Rob Bell released his Love Wins book. I was once a big Rob Bell follower after reading Velvet Elvis and Sex God. I liked how he would challenge people to tear apart scripture and not just take it for granted. But I started to get skeptical when he started to question parts of scripture like the virgin birth. I was still relatively new to my faith and was sucked into putting more into the words of the author of a book than actual scripture itself. I will admit I was disappointed at some of the responses to Bell by some very influential church leaders and it turned me off from the whole debate (not very Christ-like responses). But I also know we have a responsibility to speak truth into false teachings. I’m only a few chapters in and so far I believe Chan and Sprinkle have presented a very objective look at this topic of hell and what God says about it.

I’m really just wanting to use this book as a tool for myself to dig deeper into scripture about the reality of hell. Hell became a reality to me back in 2007 when I visited my Grandfather in Florida. I don’t know my dad’s side of the family well as he ran away from home at a young age. I have vague memories of my Grandfather and hadn’t seen him in over twenty years. But my Aunt reached out to me on Facebook to tell me he was dying of cancer. I felt God telling me to visit this side of my family that I didn’t know very well and I ended up flying to Florida not knowing what to expect. I spent four days watching my Grandfather in bed on a ventilator and tried to get to know him. It was hard to try to reach out to him (he was on lots of drugs) and I ended up saying goodbye on my last day without ever getting a chance to tell him about Christ. He died two weeks later and the reality is my Grandfather is most likely in hell.

I don’t like this. I don’t want anyone to go to hell. But the Bible teaches that we will go to hell if we don’t accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. This is why we as Christians need to study God’s word and witness to others about the reality of hell. I feel I need to be in the Word more and I am making time each day to do so.

 

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