Sunday, January 17, 2010

Remembering The Wonders Of The Lord

For New Year's Eve, my church did a little bit of testimony time. And during that time, the Lord was bringing to my remembrance things that He has done for me over the years and the things I have done.

The Lord has been truly good to me over the years... I'm not surprised on that at all. There have obviously been some awesome points and then some things I wish I could go back and change.

But as my testimony goes, (see "The Hardest 18"' for that) I grew up in the church. I would have to give a VERY big thank you to the Krasley's for their servants hearts to take a bunch of rowdy teens down to a youth conference in Pensacola, Florida. I had heard about the Brownsville Revival and decided to go and check it out. My life has never been the same since. But it was during this time that the Lord really started to change things around for me. It was also during this time that I had to make some decisions about future schooling. What kind of school am I going to go to. I decided in the next coming years to first go to Bible school. I ended up @ FIRE School Of Ministry.

I remember after moving down to Charlotte, NC to attend FIRE that FIRE had just moved everyone up from Pensacola to Charlotte. During our first church service, Dr. Brown asked for everyone who wasn't living in Charlotte a week ago and now is to stand up. Almost the whole church body stood up (about 300 people. I can imagine what Moses must've felt like, only he had to move a few more people than what FIRE did). And then FIRE was getting settled in and starting a new school in a new city. The sacrifices that had to be made, but most folks didn't mind. The Lord was doing stuff in our midst, and that's what we cared about.

We had some explosive/powerful classes and church services. But most importantly, the presence of God was in our midst. Sometimes I feel like I'm ALWAYS in transition. Probably because in certain terms, I am. Always being transformed from glory to glory but the Lord keeps changing things, keeping me on my toes. The relationships I've made over time are priceless... wouldn't change it for the world. Having all sorts of varying opinions around keeps one sane and level headed. If there is one thing I've learned in the past couple years: the more you learn about God, the more you realize you know nothing about Him and have more to learn.

If there is one thing I can say that has drastically changed my life is coming into an understanding of who you are as a son or daughter of the King of Kings. When your secure in your sonship with the Lord, trivial things just don't really affect you like they have before. Because you know who your Daddy is and you know that you have full authority to go into the Throne Room at anytime you want and desire. You don't have to wait for someone else, you have access yourself. You can cease your striving and just relax and contend for rest in His presence. A chapter that I have continually go through my mind is John 15. Now, that's just me perhaps. It's different for each person because each person is different.

I've been in mega churches that just seemed dead and I've been in small groups and we started to pray and worship and His Presence just sweeps in. And I've been in mega churches that the presence of God was very evident and small groups that very dead. It's not the quantity but the quality. And quantity doesn't guarantee quality.

These are just a few of the things I think about when Remembering the Wonders of the Lord.

Ministry: What Is It?

Here are a few links to different pages about it:

That's just something to get the wheels turning. But what is 'ministry'? I mean, can you be in 'the ministry' and work a job in the market place? Or is it confined to just what preachers do on a typical Sunday morning? I know of folks who are out there on the street corners and they're 'preaching'. They're delivering the Word of the Lord (or so one hopes). I've heard some street preachers and some speakers and they just sound mean. Then I've heard some and what they have to say sounds totally different! But both groups are saying the same thing!

One thing I've come to learn over time is that it's important of HOW something is being presented. When the speakers blood vessels on their neck is bulging out and they're face is bright red, that can be a turn off to some because they sound or come across as mean. I've had people give me messages and it seems like they're yelling right in my face. So I step back and they just follow me. Then I'm like "ok, i'm right in front of you and i can hear you just fine.... you don't have to yell." One of the things that I love to do is listen to a child present the gospel. Usually because they haven't been tainted or hurt by people and their message is just so pure. Speaking out of a wounded heart tends to just hurt others. People can feel the attitude behind what your saying and if its not done in the Holy Spirit, its most likely just going to hurt others.

Now, I personally don't mind open air preaching and speaking in front of others. But some people seriously get sick at the idea of it. And everyone has their method of ministering. Some its out in the public sphere... some its from the pulpit and some its over a cup of coffee/relational evangelism. That's the beauty of the Body; everyone has a different way of going about it. I'd say that as long as your keeping the message right on and your doing what the Lord has called you to do... go for it.

The Great Commission is to go and make disciples. That is ministry as far as I'm concerned. Your making Jesus known. Your going to be dealing with all sorts of issues that come up. Some have been hurt more than others. I'm grateful for different giftings and callings in the church body. You've got the God-given gifts, the Jesus given gifts and the Holy Spirit gifts. And when all work together, it usually gets the job done.

For me personally, my method's have changed over the years. I used to just love to preach a good hard message... and I still do. I like to hear hard messages as well. But as I've noted before, when done in the wrong spirit, it doesn't come off well. Especially when your preaching out of hurt. But more so over time, I've come to value to small group settings. Where you get into the nit and grit with people. And you get into their lives and get deep. I don't mind speaking a hard message, if it's what the Lord wants of me. It's important to always speak on what is on His heart and not just what YOU think is good.

Changing the World, One Person At A Time

(Posted Dec. 16, 2009 on Facebook)

I was just realizing the other day that it's been about a year and a half since my grandpa died. I was thinking about the legacy that he left to me and what kind of an impact he made on my life. One thing for sure that he drilled into me was servitude.

Just to give a little back ground to his death, the very last thing that he said was to his pastor and it was something to the effect of "How can I serve you right now?" Immediately after that, he grabbed his chest, fell forward on his knees and then onto his front and died. That's at least what i'm told.

So it got me to thinking... what kind of an impact am I making on people's lives? When I leave a room, are people glad i'm gone or are they like "man, i wish that guy would come back, he's fun to be with." Not in some superficial way and man pleasing, meaning just saying things that people want to hear... but am I leaving a pleasant feel with the people I come in contact with? How am I impacting their life? For the better or for the worse?

Being that I'm a 20 something single, I frequently get called on to do the jobs that probably not many others want to do. And that's fine. I don't mind helping out in a pinch. That's what I'm there for. I don't have to necessarily 'check in' with anyone and let them know what's going on with me. Which has its advantages. I can fill in the cracks where needed.

I've been helping out with teaching the Royal Rangers at our church this past year. And it has been a blast! I have loved being able to use what the Lord has given me and mentoring/discipling the younger generation. It's funny because i'm not teaching the children of the guys that taught me. So that really keeps me on my toes theologically. lol.

But I've learned that it's fun to serve! When you're secure in who you are as a child of God, you can serve and not get credit for it and still have a blast. You get in, do the job and get out. And as far as many folks know... it just got done and they're none the wiser! I've once heard it said that if someone wants authority, don't give it to them. But when someone wants responsibility, give it to them with authority. So in that aspect, the Lord has been really teaching me stewardship and having a positive impact on someone's life.

Just For Fun...

1. What time did you get up this morning? 6:23 am
2. How do you like your steak? Medium well
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? 2012. (In my opinion, don't waste your time and money on it.)
4. What is your favorite TV show? I like 'Lie To Me'
5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Somewhere in a suburban area. close to the city and country.
6. What did you have for breakfast? Didn't eat breakfast this morning actually... i usually don't.
7. What is your favorite cuisine? They all have something different to offer... it depends on what I'm in the mood for.
8. What foods do you dislike? Spicy foods
9. Favorite Place to Eat? Usually somewhere reasonably cheap with good food and fellowship.
10. Favorite dressing? Thousand Island i guess...
11.What kind of vehicle do you drive? '94 Geo Prizm. I call it the Teal Tank or Teal Taxi (A story behind both of those...)
12. What are your favorite clothes? Something that covers me... lol
13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? Sooo many places to choose from... I think its easier to say there are few places i would care NOT to visit...
14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? full i guess...
15. Where would you want to retire? Retirement? Who said anything about retiring?
16. Favorite time of day? sleepy sleep...
17. Where were you born? Ephrata, PA
18. What is your favorite sport to watch? American football or Soccer
19. Who do you think will not tag you back? ....
20. Person you expect to tag you back first? .......
21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this? umm......I don't know!!
22. Bird watcher? what about them?
23. Are you a morning person or a night person? Lean more towards night but if i get to bed early enough the night before, i can do morning.
24. Do you have any pets? not that i know of... unless you include those dust bunnies that try to hide from me around the house (they think i don't know they're there... but i see them.. lol)
25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? not that i know of... unless you know something i don't... I just got a job @ Radio Shack, does that count?
26. What did you want to be when you were little? I think a politician...
27. What is your best childhood memory? Fourwheeling at the cabin w/ the family or traveling somewhere...
28. Are you a cat or dog person? Dog person all the way.
29. Are you married? No, thanks for rubbing it in... (pours some more salt in...)
30. Always wear your seat belt? if i'm not in the car, i'm probably not wearing it...
31. Been in a car accident? yep
32. Any pet peeves? when someone says they're gonna call and then they don't.
33. Favorite Pizza Toppings? mush rooms and extra cheese
34. Favorite Flower? a rose i guess... don't really know flowers all that well
35. Favorite ice cream? Moose tracks
36. Favorite fast food restaurant? Five Guys I guess... don't really know.
37. How many times did you fail your driver's test? once
38. From whom did you get your last email? Facebook i think...
39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? Best Buy or Radio Shack or some other electronics store
40. Done anything spontaneous lately? played a game of hacky sack
41. Like your job? i just started it... i guess
42. Broccoli? good stuff
43. What was your favorite vacation? i guess the last time i went to the beach with my family.... there were things about it and i didn't like but oh well.
44. Last person you went out to dinner with? George Burton
45. What are you listening to right now? iTunes library on random. Currently a Third Day song
46. What is your favorite color? Blue
47. How many tattoos do you have? none and i plan on keeping it like that...
48. How many are you tagging for this quiz? dunno
49. What time did you finish this quiz? 6:40 pm
50. Coffee Drinker? yep

RIP Grandpa

(Posted Nov. 10, 2009 on my Facebook)

It's hard to imagine that it's almost been a year and a half since my grandpa went home to be in the arms of Jesus. I can actually still remember the night I found out and the week that followed. I remember I was crying buckets pretty much all week. Don't get me wrong... I was and still am extremely happy for Grandpa. As far as I or my family knows, he didn't suffer much at all. Or at least he didn't let the family know. And he died while doing one of the things he knew all too well: serving people. I'm grateful that my grandma wasn't there immediately because of the fact that it probably would've scared her really bad.

It was during this time that I learned a ton of how to really console folks. Everyone handles death differently. For those who know the Lord, it's a very joyous and yet saddening thing. It's joyful because you know that the person is with Jesus, their Lord and Savior. Now, obviously for someone who doesn't know Jesus as that, its a much different end. Some people cry a lot and then some you might have to slam their hand in the car door to get a tear. Since we're all unique beings, we all express ourselves differently. And my grandpa's death taught me a lot in how to minister more effectively to people in these situations and in life in general.

Being a guy, when someone comes to me with a problem, my immediate reaction is to fix the situation. I want to right the wrongs. However, that is sometimes the wrong approach. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is just spend time w/ the grieving people. I can tell you this: it helps nothing to put on a false face. It's ok to express emotions. Letting folks deal with the problem at hand is way better than giving them a lecture. Let the grieving one do the talking. That's what i learned. And don't be surprised at what you'll hear. Let the emotions out and let the healing process take place.

Things like this usually aren't a once and done thing. It takes time for healing to take place. I know for myself, i'll be doing fine a lot of the times and then something will happen and a memory comes up. Now for me, I worried more about my family more than anything. It's literally like when you loose someone who used to do everything and suddenly they're not there anymore, others get to step up to the plate. The body gets to be the body and fill in where needed.

I'm soo grateful for my grandparents home church there, New Life Fellowship in Ephrata. They totally stepped up to the plate. For the viewing, they have refreshments for the family and they just opened their hearts to us.

So, I hope this was beneficial to someone out there. That's why I wrote it.

The Hardest 18"

Sometimes I feel like I don't have much of a testimony. I mean, i grew up in "the church" and i never really had a rebellious phase. I asked Jesus into my heart around 4 or 5 years of age, was baptized in water around 9 and just recently re-baptized in water about a year and half ago. Then I was baptized in the Holy Spirit about 12 years of age. You would think life would just be all fine and dandy after that, right? Man, I wish that was the case...

See, whenever you decided to get serious about your relationship with the Lord, literally all hell comes against you. For some, it's like Murphy's Law kicks into full effect. Because the target that is put on your back just keeps getting larger and larger.

I started out in private school, at a smaller Mennonite school in Lancaster, PA called Lititz Area Mennonite School. My family came out of the Mennonite church was I was about 18 months old (that's according to my mom). And we started going to a local charismatic church called DOVE Christian Fellowship. So, I remember growing up in church and being charismatic, you sometimes see interesting things happening. Nothing like snake handling or things like that, but the Holy Spirit moving and people's physical bodies hitting the ground or shaking or other things like that.

I can remember one meeting, it was the first time I had ever seen anyone 'slain in the spirit' or 'fall out', whatever you want to call it. I was just like "wow, that's... interesting." I was like "shouldn't someone help the person, i think they just fell over..." My parents informed me as to what was going on. And i accepted it because I didn't know to question my folks more about it.

But I can actually remember the night I asked Jesus into my heart. I don't remember the exact date, but I can remember what we were doing. At that time in my life, it was just my older sister Shalyn, me and my younger sister Amber. My younger brother Austin wasn't around yet. But my parents would tuck us into bed and pray with us. This night, my dad just said "if you want to, while i'm praying, you can just tone me out if you want to and ask Jesus into your heart." (Nowadays, i just tone them out without their permission at times.... but that's for another note...) So, I asked Jesus into my heart, to be my Lord and Savior... I wish I would've known better what I was getting myself into. But I was young and naive.

I can also remember the day I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and shortly there after, starting to pray in tongues. We were having a special children's church and they were speaking on the baptism of the Spirit. At the end, they asked for anyone who wants to come up and receive it, to do so. So, I thought "what do I got to loose?" So, I went up, got prayed for, felt really nothing and went back to my seat. They said to just start to pray. So I did. I tried to say a few things, which mainly sounded like gibberish. But at the end, the speaker said "ok, i'm going to close everything out here with a quick prayer." At the end of the prayer, when they said "and in Jesus name, Amen." That's when everything let loose on me. I started to pray in the Holy Spirit! I at first thought it was someone around me, but I quickly realized it wasn't! Later on, I was talking to my parents and they explained to me what happened.

It wasn't until a couple years later, me and my friends started to pray for revival. Now what exactly were we praying for... I'm still trying to figure that out and that was well over 10 years ago. But then we heard about this church in Pensacola, Florida that was experiencing revival. It was called the Brownsville Revival. So, we decided to go down to the youth conference called "Branded by Fire". They weren't kidding. There was a fire of the Holy Spirit there that just charged me. I can remember the first night there, they lined us up in lines to pray for us. This little older lady comes up to me and just puts her fingers to my forehead and says "Lord, Brand him with your fire." Next thing I know, i'm laying on my back looking up at the roof of the civic center we were in. I tried to get up but the Lord wasn't through dealing w/ me. I was glued to the floor and I couldn't move. So, i just laid there for a bit longer until I could move. At which time, my right leg would start twitching sporadically. It wasn't a medical condition at all. It was a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

That night, the speaker spoke about the Unsanctified Slide. I think everyone left at this point in time and he was just talking to me... or at least that's how it felt. I wish I could fully explain at that happened at the youth conferences, but that would be a novel. Let's just say that the Lord shook the hell out of me... quite literally.

All the while, I was in public school. And I was pulling full time missionary status in the school. I was there to demonstrate Jesus. And despite myself, the Lord STILL used me. All this to say that all these years the Lord has been teaching me and training me how to demonstrate His love to a hurting and dying world. I entitled this the "The Hardest 18 inches" because that is the length between your heart and your brain. I knew all the right things to say and do growing up. But until it becomes a reality in your heart, it's just head knowledge. Now, the Lord can use the head knowledge. But more than anything, He wants your heart. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. We don't invite the Lord into our minds, but into our hearts.

A part of the calling I feel I have is to awaken a sleeping church. I can do evangelism and reach out to the lost and dying, those who don't know Jesus. But my main concentration is dealing w/ those INSIDE the Body of Christ. If i had to loosely categorize my life, I would say that my giftings lie in the prophetic pastoring and teaching. Yes, the Lord still uses in me in all sorts of aspects. He can do that. But those are the areas that I feel the strongest in.