Only Believe 4 (message notes)

Mark 5:35-36 msg

While He was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” 

Big Thought:  Its amazing how practical faith really is.  Its practical for one simple reason.  Jesus is personal.  Its a powerful thought and reality that the Createor of all things, The only one true God so incredbily big in all of who He is, but somehow He is mindful of us.  He cares about us, loves us, is interested in us and is personally involved in our lives.  He set up the way for us to have a relationship with him.  So we no longer depend on a ritualistic religious way of serving God, but now we are chosen, adopted, and accepted into the family of God, and He wants to be personally involved in our every day lives.

Gods attitude towards us: We are not a burden on Him.  He is not put out with us.  He is not tired of us or resentful towards us.  He loves us, and wants the best for us.  He cares so much that he loves us just as we are, and He loves us to much to leave us like we are.

QUESTION:  What is going on in your life right now thats to big for God?  

THOUGHT:  Don’t make the mistake that because God is Spirit that all his solutions and answers for our lives are alone spiritual.  Yes Heaven is real, actually more real than our very existance.  However, to think that the things that are spiritual do not bridge to the practical, physical aspects of our lives is a terrible misconception.  When we set our faith in the invisible, the unseen, God of all things, then the results of that faith manifest in the physical.

God has the ability to change things.  
>He has the power to take us out of situations, 
>He has the ability to help us walk through circumstances, 
>He has the ability the change the circumstances, 
there is no doubt that our belief in God and his ability to effect change in our lives, does more than make us feel good spiritually or give us peace.  
It absolutely impacts the circumstances of our lives.

Deliverence through – 3 Hebrew boys

Deliverence from – Peter from Jail

>All things are possible with God, including all the practical issues our our lives.

Philippians 4:19 NKJV

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus

Isaiah 53:3-5 (Amp)

Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy].  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.

THOUGHT:  If we Apply the instruction that Jesus gave Jairus, to ONLY BELIEVE, then we set ourselves up for this all powerful, all knowing, all present, God, to act on our behalf.

Its called appropriation.  Our faith appropriates Gods power.  His power manifests in our life, when we set our faith on him.  

HOW? 

the answer to Gods spirit intervening in our physical is to Know Him more, understand Him more and Believe who He is and what He can do, and He will Deliver you out of your problems, or walk you through your problems, or Protect you from your problems, but whatever way He chooses to do it, His Super will touch your natural, and things will change.

The best way to have God personally involved in your life, is to have an ongoing, intimate close relationship with Him.  Know him and his salvation, and grow and develop in relationship with him. The greater the revelation you receive of Christ the stronger the faith and perserverence to believe,  and the greater the manifestation and appropriation will be at work in your life.

Dwell in Christ:  All the promises of God are yes and amen IN CHRIST.  HE IS THE SECRET PLACE.  Our journey towards God being active practically in our lives, starts with having a relationship with Jesus.  Do you know him?

II Corinthians 1:20 NKJV

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 

Psalms 91:1-6 NKJV

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. 

QUESTION:  where are you living?

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Wandering, Worthless, and Wasted

Luke 15 is one of my favorite chapters in the bible. Jesus was attracting all kinds of people outside the religious realm and it was upsetting the theological apple cart of the religious leaders of the day in the Jewish community.

If He was a leader, a Rabbi, then interacting on a social level with “those people” was out of the question. So they complained to each other, saying, “he receives sinners and eats with them.” So in response to their complaint he did what was so often his way. He told a story. Three stories actually. All very good stories.

The first was about a lost sheep. He told the story of a sheapherd who had 100 sheep, but 1 had lost its way. He relayed to them that this sheapherd left the 99 sheep and went after the one. The implication here being that there are those who wander. How does a lost sheep get lost? Distraction, separation, isolation, usually when someone is lost they simply went wandering. It happens so easy. There are so many things to distract us, and we easily lose our way. We come to ourselves at some point, usually when caught in the thorn bushes, and say “how did I get here, I’m lost.”

The Next story is equally poignant. A woman had 10 coins but lost 1. Its believed that the 1 coin was worth about a days wage. The story goes that she lost it but it had so much value to her that she made a thorough search for it. She wanted it back in a serious way. She turned the house upside down to find that coin. The interesting thing about a lost coin, and is so true of our lives as well, is inherent value. A coin holds in itself a real value, just as we have incredible value to God, to the those around us, to our own families. No matter what happens in our lives our value still exists. Even more interesting is that no matter how much value a coin has if its lost its worthless. It can not be used for that which it was created. It can have incredible value but if its lost it has no worth.

The third and last story is one of the single most compelling accounts in scripture. It is the story of “The Prodigal Son” We all know this story, we have heard it from many different perspectives and in different ways, but we always come back tot he fact that there was a rebellious son, who left his fathers house to pursue selfish desires, and after a time hit rock bottom and returned in humility to his father and the father compassionately and enthusiastically received him home. What this story is about is the idea of waisted potential. The waist of living life for self. The waste of taking our blessing and squandering it among those who feign love but in truth are friends for fun sake, not friends of faithfulness. Its about waste. The waste of a life filled to the brim with potential, yet spilled out over bad choices and wrong thinking. Most importantly it is about the idea that failure is not final, that potential wasted can be redeveloped and deployed, that forgiveness is more powerful than betrayal.

The object of all of these stories seem to be the wandering, worthless and wasted. The Sheep, the coin, and the son. I truly believe that real object of these stories are the sheapherd, the woman, and the father. Reason being, Jesus nature, His love for those “outside the circle” was in question. He was being challenged that his desire to save the lost sheep of the house of Israel was missing the mark. So these stories while stating the fact of humanity, the way we wander, the way we lose worth as we lay lost in the dark shadows of the corners of the room, and how mankind has a tendency to run from the freedom of surrender. The focus of the story were the owners of the sheep, coin and son. Most importantly the way they responded.

The Sheapherd left the 99 sheep to go after the 1. Regardless of why the distraction or what caused the sheep to be lost it was lost all the same and needed to be found, because that one sheep was as important to the sheapherd as everyone else. He did not respect or love the other “non distracted” sheep anymore than the 1. He lovingly picked the sheep up, and carried it back to the fold. What a compassionate Sheapherd we have in Jesus.

The woman, becomes almost hysterical in her attempt to find the coin. Knowing that the value of the coin was in its being found, and knowing that its worth was being lost. She refused to give up and was willing to turn everything over to find it. When she found it she through a huge celebration, because the valuable coin had worth again. What a loving Creator we have in Jesus who made us valuable and wont let us lose our worth and will do anything to retain our worth.

Most importantly the father who was obviously waiting on his “prodigal-wasted” son to come home. When he sees him, embraces him, immediately forgives his rebellion, but will not hear of any solution that will not mean full reinstatement of full rights and identity in the family of God. He Kiss him, he clothes him, and he takes what was a waste and renewed it to its rightful potential and accepted the son back confessing in loud tones. My son was dead, he is alive, he was lost now he is found.

So I encourage you, if you want to know that love of your Heavenly Father today, go and look at Luke 15, instead of focusing on the wandering, worthless, and wasted, turn your eyes on the Sheapherd, the woman, and the Father. If you happened to be found then take on the spirit of your father and lovingly find someone else, if you happen to be lost run to your father He’s waiting.

Timing is Everything (Transition 3)

When it comes to transition and change in our lives especially a major role or direction change timing is everything.

One of the major principles I’ve learned as a leader and Pastor and for that matter a follower of Christ, is that every time God leads us, or gives us a dream, or reveals a change to us, it is hardly ever immediate.

Example: God gave Joseph a dream at 17 and it didn’t come to fruition until he was 35.

Foolishly, many times we get a sense of Gods leading and we run out and tell everyone about it, and start trying to make it happen NOW! Its not hard to understand why. We are excited. However, what we must realize is that when God shares something with us, especially a change or transition in our purpose or destiny, it is a starting point.

There is always, ALWAYS, a process before we obtain a promise. God will reveal it to us, to start the journey in us. With God, internal change always precedes external change. When I was a lot younger I had a habit of getting carried away when I would get a revelation of something God wanted to do in my life, and I would share it and start working on it. Its funny that in the last few years God has brought to completion some of those things I heard when I was in my 20’s. Some of those things took a decade to happen. I had to change, for the change to manifest itself externally.

Having gone through some things I now realize that timing is very important, and when we get out of the timing of God it creates major problems not only for us but for those around us.

One example that still effects the world today. Abraham and Sarah trying to hurry the promise of God by using Hagar as a facilitator of the promise. Now look at the antagonism in the world because of that mistimed move.

I’m not so bold as to say that a mistimed move from us would be so important as to effect the entire world, however it will impact those people in your world.

So timing is very important. The transition we just went through took time, and was done right and has resulted in some great things.

We were at our previous assignment 15 years. A long time to be in one place. I love longevity, and God loves longevity. Transitions and whole life changes should not be the norm or happening every couple of years in your life. There may be times that God will use you in a place for a small season but that shouldn’t be normal. That is a man made idea or thought. True impact comes over time. It takes time. Not a popular opinion in our world, but time is important.

God spoke to us 13 years in to our last assignment to prepare us for change from the role we were in to move back in to the senior pastorate. So our process unfolded over a 2 year period. There were a lot of opportunities to be impatient, to give up, to be conflicted, and we had our moments, but we held on and made a good, solid, timely transition that was a benefit and blessing to everyone concerned.

How do we make sure we move in Gods time?

1. Consider the people you are going to impact by your move.

It is not God’s will for people to be hurt and disconnected through your change or transition.
Our leaders were going through a tough personal time when we knew God was telling us we
would be leaving. So as we prayed about when to tell them, we knew it would have a negative
impact at that time on them, and we heard God clearly say “NOT NOW”

2. Surround yourself with prayerful, trusted, confidants.

We had 4 people who we turned to for prayer and counsel. People who we had deep trust
with. To ensure that we were receiving counsel, and prayer and it wouldn’t get out prematurely

3. Be committed to being sent, don’t just go.

Do things right, remember there is change happening in you and around you. Don’t be
self centered in all this. keep your eye on the big picture, not just your picture.

4. Trust God of course, what that means is pray, and Acknowledge His leadership in every move
and thought you have about this.

5. When you start feeling out of place and you will, be patient. God is control.

6. When its time to communicate, do it.

So many people allow fear and really cowardice to keep them from effectively communicating
to the leaders. Some will even create drama to give themselves an excuse to leave and not
have to sit face to face with their leaders. This is not Gods heart, and will always create
a division. NOT NECESSARY.

7. Remember there is a timing on both ends of the spectrum that is happening simultaneously.

Change is happening where you are and where you are going. While you are changing,
praying, and believing in the middle of your situation, God is at your destination effecting
change there as well.

So I hope this helps. Be patient. Don’t underestimate the importance in moving in Gods timing, and if you are going through it right now, and it seems like its taking forever, ask God what you need to learn, and what needs to develop in you in preparation for this new step in your life. It will be here before you know it.

What a great adventure.

Time to Get Out of the Nest (Transition 2)

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Transition is an interesting thing, and happens in different ways for people. For those who are content doing what they do, or living in the season of life they are in, it can be hard to get them to realize its time for a change.

I was such a person. I had been in the same church, on the same team for 15 years. About 13 years in I started getting a prompting in my heart when I would pray or talk about the future, that there was a change coming.

I was around 42 when this was happening, so I just ignored it at first. I thought maybe I was just getting restless and having a mid life crisis of sorts. So I tabled it for a while. It just wouldn’t go away.

I had always said, I will not leave unless God tells me its time. I was content in the role I was playing. I was able to do many things God had placed in my heart, there was no natural reason to go. So in my attempts to just ignore it, God had to get my attention by changing my circumstances.

The only way I know how to describe it is how an adult eagle gets a baby eagle to leave the nest. I have read that the adult will start taking the fluff out of the nest so all thats left is the sticks which makes the nest very uncomfortable.

I began to feel completely out of place. There were times I felt like a guest. like I was the odd man out. I was the right hand man to the Leader of our organization yet I felt out of the loop and completely disconnected at times.

I looked around for someone to blame. Was it my leaders fault? Was it my peers, was it those who worked for me? Or, was it my fault? What was going on?

I arrived at the place of total frustration, to the point of tears and hopelessness, thinking something was wrong with me.

The desired effect God wanted was accomplished. It caused me to begin to entertain the idea that there was change coming. When you are a deeply loyal person, heavily committed to your leaders, and to your current situation, something has to be done to get you off high center, and get you moving.

I had strange feelings when I begin to entertain the idea of change. I felt like a was betraying my leader. I felt like I was alone. I began to see things I didn’t like about people I worked with. Things that hadn’t bothered me before, were now unbearable.

The nest was becoming increasingly prickly. Less and less comfortable all the time. Until finally I realized its time. I was unsure of how to get out of the nest. I didn’t know where I would land, or if there was even a place to land. I assumed my leader would handle things well, but you never know how people will respond, (they handled it with the utmost grace and partnership) but I finally understood, its time to fly.

There is so much to talk about in this process of transition, and we will be over the next few blogs, but let me finish this blog by saying most people in todays culture don’t handle transition well.

We don’t know how to handle ourselves when things start changing and we realize that everything you’ve experienced to this point was merely a sub plot in your over all story. The sad part is, many don’t make the transition into the next part of the story well, which negatively effects the rest of their story.

So, if you are person going through transition right now, going through this phase where things are getting uncomfortable? You are not sure how to proceed but you know something’s got to give, here are some things not to do.

1. Don’t let your discomfort in the nest make everyone else uncomfortable.
>they are not leaving the nest if you let your
discomfort effect them it will only cause them
frustration and make their life hard.

2. Don’t let your new change in perspective ruin the perspective you have always had.
>don’t become critical of the nest because you
know you won’t be in it anymore.
>You see things now without the insiders
perspective and the things that used to be
precious to you, are now problematic. Don’t
let that ruin your relationships with the family.
Change is different, but good. Don’t make it
bad, by handling it badly.

3. Don’t let your own feelings of insecurity about the future become the central them of your story.
>Until its time to leave the nest, keep your
focus on your role in the nest.
>Your launch out of the nest will only be as
good as your commitment to the nest.

4. Don’t Jump out of the nest, let your eagle release you.
>Don’t just go, be sent.
>Purpose is found in being launched into the
next season.
>when you jump out prematurely, your weren’t
mature enough to leave yet.

5. When you finally transition from where you were to where you are going, it is something you ultimately have to do alone.
>don’t take people with you for your own
comfort.
>if you take people with you inappropriately,
you are selfish and insecure. Flying is
something that requires leaving the ground
and getting someone to jump with you loses
the point.
>Look throughout the Bible. When many great
leaders were called by God their first steps
had to be alone.

As we continue these thoughts on transition. I want to encourage you to embrace change as God brings it into your life, but transition is a God thing, so its futile to just do it. Why do you transition from one role to the another, from one season to another, one level to another. Only one reason. Because God said to.

The Long Dark Hallway

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Sometimes transition feels like a long dark hallway. This picture was taken at Angkor Watt in Cambodia, the year that a major transition in my life began. It reminds me how transition feels sometimes.

Transition is nothing more than a change in position. Moving us from point A to point B without us really knowing what is happening. At times we are fully aware and at others we couldn’t be more in the dark.

I have learned as I have matured that when God begins to make you aware of a change that’s coming, it’s rarely immediate. More than likely you are about to begin a walk down that long hallway.

The next few blogs I am going to write the lessons my family and I have learned through this two year transition. All I can say is walking from one end of that hall to the other was one of the hardest, yet most rewarding things we have ever done. At times it was clear and easy to navigate at others it was dark, difficult and frustrating. But, all things work together for good and we have traveled the length of that hallway with success.

One thing I will mention before ending this blog is that as we always hear, the journey is as important as the destination. Transition is a teacher, and if we avail ourselves of the opportunity to learn we will not only reach our destination but we will reach it, better than we were when we started the journey.

So, if you are in that hallway right now, look around, think about the process, learn, learn, learn. Don’t be discouraged and don’t give up, at some point God will turn the light on for you.

Team Thoughts

The following are thoughts from our team. Enjoy…

I have been on a lot of different trips, and this one has been different having my husband with me. God has been challenging me to be even more honoring to him and to let him into this area of my world and learn to work with him. With our different strengths, God will use us differently, and that’s okay!!! We are believing for fresh fire in our marriage as a result of this trip and for God to show us His plan for our marriage. -Nicci Miller

Let me help. Those are the words that have come to my mind the most while being in Rwanda. Whether it be as simple as holding a child or teaching the kids how to make bracelets those words continually come to my mind. The need is obvious and great, we could easily say “we haven’t made a difference” but that is a lie. Seeing one child accept Jesus means one more life has been saved and that is amazing and we have made a difference in that child’s life. That child will bring the presence of God into their home which will spread throughout their village and country. We HAVE made a difference and we will continue to make a difference. – Rachael Woods

This is my 5th year to come to Rwanda and each year my love for the country and the people grows stronger. There are some many thoughts and emotions that it is hard to put into words. I see hope and dreams growing and developing in the children and young adults like never before. As I played with the children in Gahanga and shared the love of Jesus with them they completely stole my heart. They would hold my hand and play with my hair and we made such a connection. They are the hope of Gahanga and and taking the love of Jesus to their community. There is no church in this area but they are being the church to those they interact with. I shared Jeremiah 29:11 with them and reminded them of who they are and that God has great plans for them. I will never be the same after my time with these children. God continues to expand my heart beyond anything I could ever imagine.
Cindy Carreno

I feel like I had a glimpse of living with true grace. We met a couple who runs a fish farm in southern Rwanda who employe around 100 people. Some of the same people who could have possibly murder her family during the genocide. I don’t know that I could do that. But it’s encouraging to see that with God you can. Praise God for the work He continues to do in all of us.
Sam Laymon

Returning to Rwanda is a mixture of emotion, excitement of a foreign land coupled with the knowledge of past events mingles to create a unique experience that forces you to rely solely on God for guidance and protection. It is in these trips that I have come to realize His providence and vastness. Looking around at this land of wonder and beauty, knowing the horrors that occurred in 1994, and seeing the renewal is a testament to God’s ability to heal and restore. Forgiveness exists in many cases between perpetrators and victims who work side by side. The events of the genocide will never be forgotten but the future is bright for these people as they continue to press forward to a better tomorrow. I am so grateful for the opportunity to come and serve as we partner with the missionaries on the ground here in working to achieve that goal.
– Matt Wilkes

My heart for this trip has been to show God’s love to the women and children of Africa. I was given that opportunity to do so this week in Rwanda as I prayed for 2 precious young mothers yesterday.
Janie Burba

My time here in Rwanda has been an incredible experience. I’ve met some people who have come from some of the darkest circumstances and yet has been able to overcome with the help of Jesus. The shining light here (other than Jesus) is football. Football is the language that these people speak and when they see you on pitch playing with them, they love it. There is so much joy, fun, and passion in this sport that I can’t imagine a better platform to share Jesus on.

Nick Miller

Rwanda is so beautiful! I feel so privileged & blessed to be here to follow through on God’s calling. I know each & every connection has been a part of his plan. The people are so amazing, peaceful & beautiful! There are many hearts waiting to hear God’s word. God is definitely moving in Rwanda! Praise God!

Janet Work

…more to come

Jesus, the Main Character in Your Life Story

Everyone has a story. Everyone has had a set of experiences that has shaped and effected their life. Our story is what makes us and it is how we relate to people and what allows them a frame of reference for them to relate to us.

What is exciting and powerful is the story of those who have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Because, for everyone who has encountered and received a revelation of Jesus Christ who He is and what He’s done and still doing today, their story changes drastically from that point. No matter the background, ethnicity, culture, socio-economic, or gender, how you were raised, where you were born, it doesn’t matter, when you encounter Jesus your story changes for the better.

Jesus told His story. He explained things you and I can’t relate to by telling stories about things we can relate to.

That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it. (Matthew 13:13 MSG)

Telling our story or a history of encounters with Jesus and His church is what makes the Gospel relevant. When we can say as a result of Knowing Jesus here is what happened to me. Before I was this…after I am this…

The inspiring thing about it is her encounter with Jesus and His Church took her beyond that.

What is your story? More importantly whats the next chapter.

You can’t live out the next chapter of your story, if you don’t quit re-reading the last chapter over and over.

when you get a revelation that Jesus is the main character in your story, it’s all going to turn out ok. You can have a happily ever after.

The Gospel of John says it clearly

John 1-2 the baptist encountered Jesus and his life found meaning and purpose, the main theme of his story was revealed

John 3. Nicodemus encountered Jesus and his story changed from a religious history to a relational account of love

John 4 the woman at the well encounterd Jesus and her story changed from one of sin, shame, and outcast to one of truth meaning and purpose. A relationship nightmare turned into a story of redemption and change.

John 5 a victim minded crippled man’s story changed from one of hopeless superstition became one of victory over life long problems, and wrong mind sets. From hopelessness to hopeful

John 6 5000 spiritually and physically hungry people story changed from one of intrigue to impossabilities becoming possible

John 8 a woman literally caught in the act of adultery’s story took a 180 turn. One of devistating judgement and condemnation became one of compassion, grace and redemption

John 9 a blind man from birth’s story changed from darkness to light physically and spiritually

John 11 Lazarus story of premature death turned out to be one of resserection and life. Mourning turned to dancing

On and on we could go accounting all the stories of people who encountered Jesus and how their lives changed, but the stories don’t stop on the pages of the bible, but men and women through history, men and women all around you right now have stories, each and everyone of us who have encountered Jesus have stories that reflect the grace, compassion, and power of Jesus Christ.

What is your story? What is the next chapter?