Worship with the World

20140610-123212-45132438.jpg

It is always amazing to me that no matter where I go in the world and gather with other believers, no matter language barriers or equipment limitations all you need to feel like family is to start worshiping the father.

I’ve been to many different nations speaking many different languages, but the moment music starts and the worship begins you sense that same familiar presence. The presence that binds us together. The Spirit of God gathering with His kids and connecting them in a common purpose to declare His goodness. Literally every time it puts me in awe of God and His family and I immediately realize how truly big our family is. When you worship this week whether in a large gathering or small group realize that all over this planet you have brothers and sisters doing the same.

You are not alone.

20140610-124022-45622785.jpg

Advertisements

30th birthday

Was like. 

Last night, what I would guess was around 20,000 people gathered to celebrate 30 years of Watoto church ministry. 

To try to describe this would sound at best like sheer exaggeration, and at worst inarticulate, however I will try to let you in in one of the greatest experiences of my life. 

A night filled with beautiful, passionate voices, and skilled traditional, as well as modern dance weaving a story throughout the night of the burden, vision, and fulfillment of a dream given to Gary and Marylin Skinner who, when receiving it must have been overwhelmed by it, while not being able to see in full what has actually become of it.   A dream that has fought cultural, spiritual, and economic battles to exist, and might I say has come through in victory on the other side. A dream that is consistantly and continually giving a hand up spiritually, economically and culturally to an amazing city of Kampala and Nation of Uganda. 

Everything about the beginnings of this, it’s place in history, the nationality of its leaders, the dream itself screams “this wil never work!”  Yet 30 years later to call it a success would be to underestimate it on every level. 

The stories as told through music, media, readings, narration and the fact that the story tellers are not acting out the life if another, rather were telling their very own story. The sincerity and authenticity of that left me in tears most of the night. 

Stories of the most graphic unspeakable horrors that can be perpetrated on one human being to another. They didn’t stop there but went on to finish the stories with the hope and forgiveness that only Jesus Christ can bring in any circumstance. 

I want to give specific examples but it would be impossible because one would lead to another and another and another. Stories of devastation followed by hope and forgiveness. I guess you should have been there. 

All this was capped off with Israel Houghton leading one of the best worship sets I’ve ever heard and what must have been 20,000 people singing, dancing, rejoicing in our great God and Savior Jesus Christ in a unity I have rarely felt anywhere, ever and the energy level was off the charts. To tell the truth the rapture of the church would having been fitting at the end of that night. Just another level. It was all culminated in a song befitting these victorious Ugandans and their understanding of the testimony God has given them. “I am not forgotten”

I am not forgotten 
God knows my name 
He knows my name

And I will praise Him for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 

Light in the darkness
The father to the fatherless 
Strength in my weakness
He knows my Name

At the very end the combined Watoto children’s choir and the Watoto church choir which must have been 250-300 people strong. Sang a song about rising from the ashes, and as they sang hundreds of floating lanterns rose from the back of the stage and filled the night sky, leaving us with a visual affirmation of a people who have and are rising from the darkness carrying a great light. THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD!

We left their last night lifted, strengthened, refreshed, convicted, and empowered. 

Let me just say this, without being presumptuous, for the sake of the spiritual hunger in your church, for an opportunity to make a difference in the world, for perspective and hope, do yourself a favor and get connected to Gary and Marylin Skinner and Watoto church. So many ways to get involved, so much benefit to your church in eternal, purposeful ways. 

I love the church, and Watoto church like all of us is not perfect, but are what I believe Is one of the best examples of what God intends for the church to be. 

The idea that #wecandosomething is the way they live every single day. 

http://www.watoto.com
http://www.watotochurch.com

Open House – The Only Way to Live 3

20140428-171818.jpg

Matt 5 (MSG)

Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
 

Matthew 10:5-8 MSG

 Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge: “Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously. 

II Corinthians 5:20 NKJV

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 

BIG IDEA:

It is clear that Jesus was not here just to save us. It went farther than that. His ultimate goal was to impart the message of what He was doing into a team of people who would pass this message perpetually through the generations so the love displayed through Jesus actions would find its way through this entire planet and into the future. Currently the “believers of today,” we are that team. 

So in essence Jesus is saying share this message and the spirit of this message with this world so they have the opportunity to believe, and their lives can be changed by a relationship with God through Jesus. 

BIG QUESTIONS:

WHY do we struggle with open house living?  WHY do we close the door behind us?

1. Do we forget the importence?
2. Do we make life about other things first?
3. Do we forget to care?
4. Are we distracted?

>This thought reminds me of a story Jesus told when he was teaching people about the way the kingdom works. 

A life changing Story:

It was a story about a farmer who was planting seed. He said the man scattered seed. Some fell on the side of the road, and before it could take root the birds came and carried it off. Some fell on stony soil, this seed quickly sprouted up but roots were shallow so the sun came up scorched and killed the growth. Some fell in the weeds and thorns, the seed took root and began to grow, but being surrounded by thorns and weeds the plant was choked out and died. Finally the seed that fell on good, prepared, rich soil took deep root, and due to the nutrients in the good undisturbed soil the plant grew, and produced major growth and life. 

Thought:  I think the weeds and thorns are what we deal with in today’s culture more than any other thing

Mark 4:18, 19 MSG

“The seed cast in the weeds represents the ones who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it. 

(AMP)

Then the cares and anxieties of the world and distractions of the age, and the pleasure and delight and false glamour and deceitfulness of riches, and the craving and passionate desire for other things creep in and choke and suffocate the Word, and it becomes fruitless. 

(NLT)

but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. 

HOW do we begin to live this open house life?

1. Throw the door wide open

(Take the pressure off)

What we can’t do…

We can’t change someone
We can’t save someone

What we can do?

We can love everyone. 
We can be generous to everyone

We should focus on what we can do, and leave what only God can do to him. 

>We are NOT trying to MAKE A POINT
>We ARE trying to MAKE A DIFFERENCE

2.  Remember what Jesus did for us and share

>Don’t ever forget where Jesus brought you frame and what he did for you, share your story. Every member a messenger

>You don’t have to be a great theologian what you learned this morning you can teach this afternoon

>Take the pressure off just be you and share your story

3.  Intentionally open our lives to people seeking for answers and love
Be aware

>Pray this prayer…”who’s it going to be today?”

>Share the love

4.  Look beyond our prejudices, our inconveniences, and their sin

>Aknowlege that at times we all have some sort of prejudice. Prejudice simply means to pre-judge. 
Fire yourself from the job of judge (Gods Job)

>You can disagree and still love

>expect to be inconvenienced and be ok with it.

>Create some margin in your life.

>Love covers a multitude of sin

5.  Make this a way of living. 

This is not a strategy its a lifestyle. 
It’s not a method its a way of living
it’s not a religeous obligation, it’s the overflow of love from Jesus. 

BIG THOUGHT:

>We are his mouthpiece
>His ambassadors
>His representatives to the people of this world.  

LAST THOUGHT:

We have been placed in our circle of influence. We may think life just landed us in our current role but God is far more strategic than that. You are there to make a difference for the kingdom of God, you are there to love people the way Jesus loves you. 

Do you know Jesus? You can have this love and life we are talking about. It is truly the answer you are looking for.

The Irony of Insecurity

20140424-083222.jpg

When I was a teenager, I had the opportunity to work on a construction crew. I helped roof houses for the most part but at times helped in framing a house, probably more clean up than anything.

I learned a very important fact however in this process. It was apparent that in order for the house to be built properly, the foundation had to be laid properly. Trying to frame a house on a foundation that had flaws or was not level was an impossability. Literally, when it is time to start framing if the foundation is not right, it has to be done again before anything is built on it.

The irony of insecurity is that its like building on a faulty foundation. Meaning, when you’re insecure its like a builder who is more concerned by the appearance of the house than the reality of the house. So let the chips fall where they may, as long as it looks good, its fine.

The problem is that when pressure, storms, someone living in the house comes, there are things far more important than appearnces. like safety, stability, strength, endurence. These things become incredibly important at this point, but if the foundation is faulty than the future of the home is in question. At some point it will come crumbling down, if the foundation isn’t fixed.

Insecurity in large part is an undue emphasis on appearnces. When we are insecure we function in pretend mode. Herein lies the irony. Insecurity causes us to pretend to be secure. We build on a faulty foundation. Our priorities are out of whack. Peoples opinions take first place in our lives, what it “looks” like becomes far more concerning to us than what it “is” like.

So we go about making the house look good. We put the right brick on it, we paint it pretty colors, we deck it out with the most current, trendy decor. Problem is, it is not what it appears to be. Once the family moves in and life gets started, cracks start showing up, things start breaking down.

Insecurity is a life built to look secure, but in reality is emotionally falling apart.

We look happy, but are truly sad. We look like, “the life of the party,” friends all around, but lack the security to have solid, lasting, vulnerable, loving relationships.

We look like we have it all together but have constant concern that someone is going to see the cracks.

We Look like we love mentoring that young upstart employee fresh out of college while fearing everyday they are going to take our spot, even to the point of subtly sabotaging them.

We look like our life is full, but it is a big gaping whole of emotional emptiness.

The reason I write about insecurity is because I think its terribly sad that people with such potential to be solid, secure, and confident, are raging fear mongers on the inside, and are getting in their own way, and keeping themselves from significance, and success.

So, put the breaks on. Get off this pretend ride. Tear this fake facade down, get rid of this faulty frame work, all the way down to the foundation, and start fresh.

How?

1. Realize your foundation should be laid based on the specs from the designer.

>God built you to know who you are, and to be someone unique and
special
>It’s in a relationship with Him that brings security, and confidence.
when you know the designer, you know the plan, and you don’t have to
pretend.

2. Listen to the builder.

>Its amazing how many people will hire a builder and then not listen
them.
>Out builder is Jesus Christ the son of God. When we know Him, and
listen to him, he puts us right with our designer and helps us apply
the plan in away that produces security and confidence, not in our
own ability but the ability of the builder to make a great product out
of the framework of our lives.

3. Stick with the plan.

>The plan is the Bible the word of God. Knowing the plan causes us
to be saturated with confidence, and security. Know that the plan is
flawless, and will ultimately give us the outcome that is best. A grand
palace of a life, not built on pretense or appearances but on a strong,
good foundation. Let the storms come, let life happen, the house will
be strong!

Everybody Needs love

Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
 

…Open up with God, this generous father in heaven.

Today is a celebration, a party if you will, to celebrate the fact that Jesus took our place in death on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, but beyond that he overpowered death, hell, and the grave and burst the tomb open, and on His own volition his own power he came back from the dead.  He lives!  He is alive!

This is not a theory, a fairy tale, or a mere story.  This is an historical fact the varacity and validity of which would hold up in court.  It has historical merit, legal merit, and is a reported fact, that he which was dead is alive for ever, and because He lives, we can also live.  

We can live, in victory over sin, death, hell and the grave, and we can win victory even over the circumstances in life.  

God loves us, and God wants us to win.  He has given us a plan to win, a way to win, because God is generous, He is a father and He is generous.  

Definition:  Generosity is the expression and very nature of love.  John 3:16-17 reveals the heart and charecter of God in his approach to human kind.  

For God so loved the world that He have His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved.

I’m Sorry that…

There is such confusion about the nature of God today.

Many religeous leaders and churches by their theologies and practices have mis-charecterized the nature and heart of God.

Im sorry that we live in a culture that is listening to deception that paints God as the bad guy, and paints humankind as the picture of perfection, that somehow on our own will evolve into deity ourselves.  

All of these things, we deal with in our society almost every day, however it doesn’t change the truth about God.  Just because someone doesn’t believe or believes wrong doesn’t change who God is, how He relates to us, or what He has done for us.

God is a generous father…

1.  History proves Him Generous and Kind

Adam and Eve…even in the fall God showed them mercy

Noah…Even in the degredation of mankind and the judgement of the total earth, God showed mercy

Abraham…He blessed abraham to be a blessing, when he asked for the sacrifice of His son, he was generous to Abraham, and to all humanity.

Joseph…Joseph’s life was thrown into negative circumstances by a hateful family, but God took what they ment for evil and made it good for Joseph and his

2.  The bible shows us how kind and generous God is

God is love…He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (I John 4:8 NKJV)

God gives hope…Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the Lord his God, (Psalms 146:5 NKJV)

God is faithful...God wasn’t attracted to you and didn’t choose you because you were big and important—the fact is, there was almost nothing to you. He did it out of sheer love, keeping the promise he made to your ancestors. God stepped in and mightily bought you back out of that world of slavery, freed you from the iron grip of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know this: God, your God, is God indeed, a God you can depend upon. He keeps his covenant of loyal love with those who love him and observe his commandments for a thousand generations. (Deuteronomy 7:7-9 MSG)

God is good and Kind...Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4 NKJV)

God is a benevolent father…Romans 8:15, we have not been given the spirit of bondage again to fear, but of adoption whereby we cry abba father.

God is a lover of humanity…John 3:16 For God so Loved the WORLD, the WHOSOEVER believes…

God is all powerful, and the ultimate judge and his mere restraint proves his love, compassion, and patience with us.

3.   The celebration of this day reveals the love and Kindness of God.

The fact that millions of people are in churches all over the world today celebrating Jesus and what He has done, reveals the incredible influence of the love of Christ around the world.

The fact that in our hearts we know we are loved, we know there is something more than mere existance.  We know that there is someone greater than us, we know deep within that our hope, security, and purpose are found in God.

God gave us a way to be in relationship with Him which proves His love, generosity and kindness towards us.

Everybody needs love…not the confused emotion based “love” humans espouse but the true deep uncoditional love that Jesus has for us.

Everybody needs hope…Not hope that is continually deferred through all the broken promises of this life, but that hope that is founded in Gods eternal existance, that hope that never disappoints because it is given by God, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Everybody needs peace…Not the mere calmness that comes with everything going your way, not the passivity of an overmedicated society, but the peace that comes from Gods love and expression of love in the plan of Salvation through Jesus Christ.  

Peace that comes from knowing you are forgiven and able to forgive.

 Peace that comes from that lack of shame and condemnation in life.

 Peace that comes in knowing that the battels we face when we have a relationship with Christ belong to God, and He will fight them for us, if we just trust him.  

The peace that comes when you know God your generous Father is protecting you, providing for you, preparing you, and positioning you for great things in life.

EVERYBODY NEEDS JESUS…

John 14:6 says I am the way, the truth the life, no man comes to the father accept through me

Worthless Treasure

20140419-090550.jpg

I love people. More than that, one of my favorite things to do as a leader is discover and develop the potential in a persons life. 

I truly care about the people I lead. I do my best (not always perfect at it) but I do try to invest in, care about and develop them to live a more fulfilled life. 

I’ve had the privilege for 25 years to occupy my life with this endeavor. At times I’ve had success and others times I’ve failed. 

Having had this many years working with people I have learned a few things. One thing I have seen over and over again is people, including myself, at times have failed to reach their potential because of insecurity. Insecurity buries potential beneath the rubble of fear. 

It is my contention that potential is like buried treasure inside each of us. It’s great to know you have wealth and treasure hidden away somewhere but it has very little value when it’s buried. To see the value in treasure you spend it or invest it or even save it for a later purpose but to simply bury it away and then claim to be wealthy is a farce. I submit to you the proof of the pudding is in the eating. 

Potential, our buried treasure, needs to be dug up and used, but we hide it away for fear it won’t be accepted. We bury it because we are afraid we will look foolish, or that someone will think that we are acting like we are better than them. 

The fear of the lack of people’s approval, the fear of rejection, the fear of losing everything, so we gain nothing by doing nothing. 

Layers and layers of insecurity burying the treasure, God given I might add, that gives our life value and meaning. 

So yes we have treasure, but it has no worth because it’s hidden. It’s worthless treasure. I can’t think of anything more sad. 

I encourage you get a shovel, take a risk and start throwing the dirt of insecurity off of your dream, dig it up, and start investing in life. I believe worth and value will flood your life and you will be confident to produce your potential, once you use your potential by clearing away the thief of insecurity.

The Isolation of Insecurity

20140412-215906.jpg

Proverbs 18:1 He who isolates himself, rages against all wise judgement and seeks his own desire.

When I think of this text or even just the idea of isolation, the culprit that comes to mind is insecurity.

It seems to me that insecurity’s ultimate end is isolation. If I fear rejection, if I am threatened by others, if I am guided by the approval or disapproval of people the ultimate end for me is isolation. It may not be total isolation, or even physical isolation, at minimum it will be emotional and relational isolation.

Not getting out of relationships what you could. Not doing as well as you could on a career path. Possibly finding independence but interdependence seems to avoid you all together.

If we truly look at insecurity, it involves us in pettiness, and pretense. Insecurity refuses to hear what wise voices say, it rages against the judgement of those trying to help.

It is such a contradiction. Needing peoples approval but being so insecure or afraid of rejection, we want people to approve but will not acknowledge that we need them. Thereby isolating ourselves from true, vulnerable friendships.

Insecurity seeks self, is focused on self, is centered around self, and cares only for self.

An unhealthy obsession with self will result in a self implosion, which is the ultimate result of insecurity.

How do we avoid the isolation of insecurity?

1. See people as partners, not competitors.
>Realize interacting with others even competitors can build you and
make you stronger if you take the right perspective. Don’t be
threatened, be inspired.

2. Learn to learn from others.
>Don’t be so busy trying to impress with what you know, that you miss
opportunity to learn something you don’t know.

3. Make it about purpose not about self.
>practice making things about the goal and not about the person.
EVERYTHING IS NOT ABOUT YOU. Know it, believe it, achieve it.

The sad thing about insecurity is that a lot of people who are highly insecure also have a high level of potential, and are incredibly talented. It grieves me to see potential greatness defeated before it really gets started over foolishness like jealousy, fear of failure, negativity, disrespect and approval addiction. Ultimately ending up alone, disconnected, realizing that what they feared has come upon them.

Be the you God intended when He created you with all your specific gifts, talents, personality and potential. Focus on that and you will find confidence not in your own abilities but in the purpose and power of God.