Saturday, December 29, 2007

There's Gotta Be More...

I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior or my life back when I was around 4 or 5 i think. To this date, myself or my parents don't really know the date for certain. Even my grandma, who keeps a journal, didn't write it down. But i tell people that i 'got saved' when i was 4 or 5. Got baptized in water when i was about 8 or 9 (again, i don't think we have a certain date (at least to my knowledge) and then was baptized in the Holy Spirit around 12. All that is great... really, it is.

In 2000, i went with a group of youth and adults to Pensacola, Florida to what was known as the Brownsville Revival. As far as i'm concerned, many good things have come from that. I've had people tell me to my face that they think the revival was 'of the devil' and all that wonderful stuff. Of course, they were never there. It's just their thinking and their 3rd party hearing of what happened. And them trying to judge it from a far off perspective. And no doubt that there was a lot of things that probably happened that were people just getting out of hand (welcome to life folks). I know that many of those people who were involved w/ that revival are now not living for God. I also know that a lot of folks who WERE involved are still currently living for God. FIRE is actually a result of that revival. I think that all of FIRE's leaders to date served in some capacity of that move of God. Granted, the way FIRE was started wasn't the greatest... but what satan means for bad, God knows how to turn it around. Why do you think God would entrust His church (His bride) with beings that He knows would mess it up? I dunno... thats why i'm asking that...

People would judge it by the manifestations and be like "well, thats not a God thing..." People being 'slain in the Spirit' or laughing like crazy or weeping profusely... I say 'look at their eventual fruits of their life. I can tell you from a personal perspective that i've done all three of them. And guess what, it's not about the manifestations.

I've had people who would openly criticize the revival and yet love the many ministers who served in it! I would point that out to them and they would stop dead in their tracks. It was quite funny actually...

All this to say that in 2000, the Holy Spirit deposited something in my Spirit that cries out for more of God.

In the past 7 years, i've been involved in the following:
- a church plant team to a local town down in Charlotte, NC.
- an outreach team to a local university where we saw souls won to the Lord and people healed.
- a local youth group here where i've seen the lives of teens touched and radically changed, many of whom who are currently serving the Lord whole heartedly in their lives.
- ministered to countless folks via prayer and fellowship
- traveled and preached the gospel to various other people groups
- traveled locally and nationally to minister to youth and adults a like
- helped in various capacities here in the local church
- steered clear of sex, drugs and alcohol.

I'm sure there's a lot more... but thats what i can think of right now. To date, though, my heart still cries out for more. At times, i have a hard time going to malls because my heart breaks for a generation to be touched and changed by the power and presence of God. I have the hardest time sitting still. I would love to go do some traveling even as i speak.

My life has been dedicated to the expansion of the Kingdom of God. And it's not always going to be easy. Life happens... get used to it. People will hate you. Jesus never promised us an easy life. Matter of fact, He promised that life will get difficult. Most come to Christ because they're promised a nice car or nice life... I don't know why we think we have to preach like that. All we're doing is hurting ourselves by presenting it like that.

At the same time, i understand and realize that as a Christian, I have inheritable rights as a child of God. My Daddy is the greatest King over the World. This world is mine! But that's not for my own good, but for His good. That's for the expansion of HIS Kingdom... not my own empire.

Last night, i was talking to one of my spiritual parents and I mentioned to them that when it feels like i'm not doing much of anything, things are still happening. God is setting me up for the greatest move of His Spirit yet to come. And i'm going to be privileged to be apart of it and minister in it.

But do you realize that i'm still largely unsatisfied. Matter of fact, i'm quite bored at times. I know there's more of God to be had and if only i can discipline my self to get more of Him. And then when i get more of Him, to properly steward it.

That is one thing that has really been on my heart for sometime: to learn stewardship. Godly stewardship. Learning to handle His presence in the right manner.

Lord, teach me to be a steward of Your Presence.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What is community?

I have now been apart of at least 3 different online connection programs in the past 4 years. First it was Xanga, then MySpace then Facebook... when will the madness end? Xanga died out sometime ago... MySpace is still kinda the 'in' thing. and Facebook is kinda like a new and upcoming thing. But for all this 'stuff', how well do we really know our fellow man. I goof off a lot w/ people on things. Getting 'trout slapped' by one of my friends (which i thought was hysterical). That's not the issue. But we've become one of these society's that seems like we're trying to solve all these issues without attacking a root cause.

I can't tell you how many people i know who have told me how isolated they feel. Despite all the technology we've got, we still feel disconnected... It's soo easy to go through the motions of life (and church) and yet still have no idea who your sitting next to.

Nowadays, my preferred method of 'ministry' is around a kitchen table or on a living room floor. Don't get me wrong... there is a time and place for gatherings and big events. They're great and wonderful and have their place. If the Lord is calling you to minister in a mega church w/ thousands... awesome! go for it!

but the other nite i was at a birthday party and we were playing Outburst. And out of nowhere, we get into the whole discussion about what does it mean to be 'in community' with people? Do we really understand what this means? Do I understand what this means? To me, it means you giving of your time, energy and talents and serving one another. This morning i took someone to the airport and then we went to get someone's car from the pound (it had gotten towed). And you know what... i prefer that over going to a church meeting for the most part. why? because i felt like i was sharing life with these folks. and i loved it! but during this discussion from Outburst, we were discussing what it means to truly love one another. I'm not just talking about how someone's doing... but getting down and dirty and when its appropriate to deal w/ the emotions of life. you know... that junk deep down.

during our discussion, we discussed the different aspects of how FIRE is now compared to 5 years ago or earlier. a healthy evaluation is a good thing. realizing the things that need to be worked on and searching your own heart to see what you personally can work on.

FIRE is a reasonably large church. probably 300-400 people or so. and we're steadily taking more and more church transfers. too bad the church itself isn't really growing much physically. to me, church growth is a sinner repenting of their sins and accepting Jesus into their life and a change of heart from sin to holiness unto God. what we get a lot is church transfers... people from one church starting to come to ours. which is fine... but i would love to see some really growth instead of transfers. for the time being though, i'll try and be a good steward of the transfers we take in.

I'm helping with prayer ministry there and just being a part of the body there and loving people.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I Am Legend

The other night, I went with a few of my friends here to go see the new Will Smith movie, I Am Legend. It was interesting. It's rated PG-13 and it's probably that for the suspense/horror that it has.

The movie is set in the future. What happened is that there was a doctor who discovered the cure for cancer. But from what i gather, it mutated and created zombies. Will Smith plays a doctor and military colonel who is trying to find a cure.

The reason I'm writing this is because it got me to thinking. The movie was about someone who thought that they had discovered. They were trying to find an ailment to a disease outside the realm of God. They were trying to solve a problem, without using God. And that's dangerous.

The Bible is chock full of stories that people tried to find an answer to a problem without using God. And it seemed to work for a time. But it eventually flopped.

People are constantly trying to find a way into Heaven without using Jesus. They're trying to discover a way to a better life without going through the hard trials. And trials aren't fun. But when we try to find a solution to life's little problems, and we don't use God's way, the idea will flop eventually. Moral of the story: do it God's way. It's the smartest thing to do.

Back to the movie... i am in no way trying to spiritualize this movie. I'm not trying to find a good reason and way for me to watch it. I normally don't go see movies like this because I don't like horror movies. But we were originally going to see a Charlotte Bobcats basketball game and got there too late. So we decided to go see this movie. Wasn't my first pick in movies, but I was going more for the relationships... to spend time with folks. I don't even recommend going to see this movie. I mean, for the most part, it was good and clean. Meaning that there was like no sex or not even a whole lot of swearing at all. Just a lot of freaky zombies. So i wouldn't even recommend going to see it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Intolerance of 'Tolerance'

I've just recently joined a local gym here in town. For years now i've been wanting to be able to get back into shape. I mean, granted, i'm 24 years old and can readily do a lot of things. Your average person would probably look at me and say "your in great shape... why do you need to get in shape?!?" which to a degree, they have some legitamacy in saying that. I'm currently about 145 lbs or so and can easily walk 2 miles w/o any problems. But getting older means my metabolism quickly shuts down or will really get low soon. So i figured that since my current job is 98% mental, its time i also work my physical body. Because since i moved down in 2003, its been primarily sit there in class and just think. Wal-Mart was nice in that i got to get some good heavy lifting in... but nothing really systematic.

So, i joined a gym here because i now have more time and thankfully, a bit better of a cash flow. So, i had a meeting with a pro trainer here (i'm sure by now your like 'what does joining a gym have to do w/ intolerance...?' stick w/ me here, its coming). So after my workout with the guy, they took me into the office to try and work out some sort of regular workout plan w/ them. I eventually took a plan where i'm paying around $75 dollars for 6 sessions w/ a professional trainer for 6 months. The guys like "oh, you must be really religious." i'm like 'wow, thats a broad judgement."

If you mean i care about widows and orphans... then yeah. i'd rather fly halfway around the world and minister to someone than fork out $75 for a sweatshirt. i guess i am really religious then.

So anyways, i'm sitting there in the office and the guy is making small talk and asking me what i do in my spare time... well, right now.. a part of my 'spare time' will be spent at the gym. but this guy figured me for a gamer. meaning someone who would play video games on his computer or tv. Like XBox 360 or a station like that. I am not. Probably in the past 3 years, i've played no more than 3 hours on any kind of gaming system. That is no lie. I like to play racing games. but i just don't have the time nor desire to do stuff like that. I told him i like to travel. He asked wheres the farthest i've been. I said probably the Philippines. His next statement to me what "so, what are the girls like over there...". i just kept my composure but secretly thinking "wow, we've got quite some generalizations going on here. Girls aren't the only 'thing' (i hate to use that b/c it sounds really cheap.. forgive me ladies) out in the world. Yes, i pray often for my future wife, whomever she may be, but i didn't go to the Philippines for the girls. yeah, there were girls there. but whats with the generalization.

Now i want to be careful b/c i don't want people who are reading this to feel akward in asking me about girls. but to me, the statement is a judgement. and i'm under the impression that we 'shouldn't judge' people. or are we?

it just seems to be that others can say anything they want to about bashing someone that is well known, but as soon as i say anything about the Bible, i will offend someone. That's probably because i will. Because i'll get their conscience going and suddenly, i'm super religious or super spiritual. no, i just like to see God do His thing through me and around me. but i also love a good practical joke. But i try to be careful nowadays in how i present stuff to people. perhaps i shouldn't be. perhaps i should just speak whats on my mind. i mean, if we're a 'tolerant' society, i should be able to say what i wanna say if someone is dropping all sorts of 'f' bombs and whatnot around me. I mean, where's the tolerance folks...? It just seems to me that we can say anything about someone well known (persay President Bush) and its free speech. but if i were to say that a tv personality is going to go to hell because they don't know Jesus, then i'm suddenly intolerant and judgemental.

by the way, the term 'separation of church and state' is nowhere in the constitution. take that ACLU.

well, i feel better.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Money cometh

Ok, so i had to come up with some sort of interesting title for this one. That's because one of the reasons i love having this blog site is is that i get to brag on God and how He teaches me continually to trust in Him and not in what my physical eyes see, but rather to trust in Him when He speaks.

As i've stated before, i love to travel. I love to do international travel, get out into the world and see the sights. Well, about 2 years ago (a little over actually), right before i started my 3rd year at FIRE, an opportunity came up for a trip to the Philippines. And i felt in my heart that i was to go on that trip. I hadn't been able to do any sort of traveling in the recent years because if i wasn't in school at FIRE, i was working. so that pretty much meant no traveling.

But for this trip, I just felt i was to go. Let's just note one fact: the trip was going to cost $2,100. already struggling to get by, i knew i wasn't going to be able to just rip off a check and hand it to the missions department. My way of raising funds was to simply let people know about the need and allow God to speak to hearts. So that's what i would do. I would pray and just mention it in casual conversation about the need.

Well, it just so happened that i was planning on going back up to PA for a time. I informed my pastor there about it and he mentioned that he would give me a few minutes to just briefly share about what was going on w/ me down here. I want to mention that just sharing for 5-10 minutes from me is a miracle. I have a tendency to be able to go on and on and on and on and on... you get the picture..

So that morning, i get up to share just a brief 5 minute testimony of my life. And just mentioning about going to the Philippines and the cost issue. I refuse to this day to do any sort of major emotional ploy at all to raise the funds. I simply share the need and allow God to work on hearts. Well, that morning after sharing, a lady who that was her first and last morning with us, hands me a check. When she gave me the check, i immediately folded it up w/o even looking at it and simply thanked her. Later on, i looked at it and it was for $200! I was like "ok God, you want me on this trip!" over the course of time from then until the trip, money just kept coming in! I was getting money from people who i didn't even tell about the trip! And the amounts weren't $20 here and $10 there... we're talking a minimum of $50! i remember getting a check in the mail from a family who i know it was a stretch of faith for them. Man, stuff like that just breaks your heart. I can't tell you the humility factor that comes with that.

It was on this trip that i prayed for countless folks. My life was dramatically touched and changed probably more than anyone whom i prayed for. But i was not going to let these people down nor let God down. i was able to pray w/ youth and just see the Holy Ghost touch their lives. it was such a blessing to be able to pray for them and just step back and watch them go after God like crazy!

I'd have to say that if your looking to get a blessing from God, be a blessing and be a help. Just the other weekend, about 30 of us went out to eat after church. We were celebrating two birthdays that day. Both of them were students at school, and i just made mention that if no one else takes care of it, i will be sure to take their bill for them. I know that when you go out to eat for your birthday, its nice to be treated. And i love that aspect of life.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Moving right along...

I moved down to Concord, NC in 2003 to attend FIRE School of Ministry. The school has a, what i might call, very specific apostolic and prophetic mandate from God. They're not just a school to fill your head with all sorts of theology and have you go out and start a nice little church somewhere. But their mandate is specific and training people up and sending them out to start a revolution of some sort. More specifically, a Jesus Revolution.

When i first started FIRE in September of 2003, it was very upbeat. The music was very upbeat and to jump around during the music was most certainly encouraged. Over the past few years, i've noticed that it has taken a bit of a twist.... a very good kind of twist.

FIRE is still all about sending people out into the world and making a change. Over the past few years, we as FIRE have been focusing more on maintaining the intimacy with God the Father and understanding what it means to be a son of the Most High God. At first, i was a little hesitant to go with this. I was all about taking charge and just going for it. By life or by death... charge...! You know, the school is all about revolution. come on now!

But over time, i've come to understand to maintaining intimacy is a revolutionary idea. There is a balance between being more demonstrative and settling back and soaking in the presence of God.

My life was dramatically touched and changed by very direct and in your face preaching. A "no holds bar" approach to preaching the gospel. So naturally i followed through with that. And there is a time to simply lay down the law on people and just present the gospel as it is. And then there's the time to gently love and encourage someone and realize that we all go through hard times. I used to have very little tolerance for weak faith. My idea was was just to get over the offense and get on with life. Quit being such a baby that so and so said something about you. And to a degree, at times, i'm still like that. But over time i've learned to apply tact to that. To simmer down a little bit and be more sensitive to peoples feelings.

I'm still very direct at times, but i've learned to not always be soo serious and uptight. Learn to chill a bit. Learn to sit and listen to someone and perhaps just say something like "i'm sorry.. i hurt when you hurt.." And simply just putting an arm around someone or sending an email or something. Let someone know that you care about their feelings. I'm still very bold and direct if and when need be. I've been cussed out before for various things. Most of which really didn't have much effect on me. But when you learn to care about the feelings of others, you have an amazing inroad into their life and your really able to minister and encourage them and lead them in a certain way.

I've most certainly done my fair share of saying stupid things in the past and looking back, deeply regretting it. Later on thinking "man, i was a jerk!" Especially being someone who is in a position of leadership and/or someone who is looked up to, its essential for me to learn to be sensitive to others feelings.

All in all, developing and maintaining intimacy with God is most certainly the most important thing. How can i expect to walk in the power of God if i can't first walk in the love of God? And that love comes from an intimacy in prayer and reading the Word and getting to know the Father's Heart for His children. Through prayer and relationship with God, you become to understand your sonship (daughtership for girls) in God. And you begin to understand who you are exactly in the sight of God.

He doesn't like that you sin and do stupid things, but there is forgiveness of that sin through Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Church vs. tupper ware party

So what is it about most church services nowadays that i find soo lame? granted, its mostly my fault. not enough prayer and digging into the Word.

But honestly, i find most church services that i'm in today about as exciting as a tubber ware party. i got that from a compilation from Fire On The Altar of the late Leonard Ravenhill. its funny because he asked a couple young people why they don't attend church anywhere. they said its because its about as exciting as a tubber ware party. that i find hysterical.

and i listen to most messages nowadays and it seems that most of the church has an identity crisis. i guess thats what happens when you quit preaching the Cross. You don't know who the world you are. you try to find your identity in this world. big mistake. when you don't find your identity in Christ Himself, your doomed from the get go. most don't want to have to find their identity in Jesus. Because that means they need to change their lifestyle and turn from their sin. Its called 'repentance'... not a word commonly heard in most churches nowadays. That's basically because we don't want to offend people.

And all this stuff is intertwined. i don't know about you, but nowadays i'm like "lets go out for breakfast" instead of church. the song and dance routine is soo stinkin' old.

On the upside, the Lord is doing some awesome things. He is drawing a people into His heart. He's raising up a generation of people to seek His heart and mind. i know i talk about this a lot, but that's because it's really on my heart. It's time for a revolution. We need the presence of God in our lives. Just lip service really isn't going to cut it. Because luckily, people can usually see right through it. They can see right through the garbage that people put out. i find it hysterical whenever people ask how others are doing in passing... i'm like "you got to give them time to respond."

I've now been working at my current job for a little over a month. I've determined at least one thing: old people shouldn't buy brand new computers. It's not a good combination. Especially Windows Vista. I haven't heard too much good stuff about Vista. the best thing i've heard about it is that its ok. This is coming from someone who's grown up using Microsoft. I'm just not afraid to state the obvious and the truth.

In any case, those of you who read these (probably all 2 or 3 of you) thanks. lol. i have some very random thoughts, don't I? lol. and i probably sound really mean. But once you get to know me, hopefully you see that i'm not that big of a jerk.