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.

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My Thoughts on Kony 2012.

Many have ask me this morning about my thoughts on the “invisible children’s Kony 2012 campaign.”

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I think it’s one of the best video presentations I have ever seen. I think the motivation behind it is clear, concise and needed. In today’s world we have a tool that makes available opportunities for justice not afforded us in times past. Personal media, information age, and social networking and we should bring all of that to bare on the injustices of the world.

It is clear that the viciousness of some world crimes have not be stopped because of the lack of visibility. We can turn our head because we don’t have to look at unless we want to. To bring awareness to this issue is absolutely necessary and Kony should be captured and should be prosecuted for his many atrocious crimes against humanity. This awareness campaign may do just that. It may apply the pressure needed to force the issue and get the job done.

However, to think that the arrest of Joseph Kony somehow fixes all the problems in Uganda or solves or resolves the violence, the aides epidemic, the over 2.5 million orphans is to oversimplify the issue. While it does take a step in the right direction it is only one component.

What is needed in Uganda, which I realize “Invisible Children” are involved in some practical areas, is people who will help care for, teach, train, and develop, a new culture and way of thinking in the nation. People who will fund the care (medical, educational, developmental, and spiritual) of a nation of wonderful people who need help and guidance.

Global reach for justice, the mission arm of Church of the Harvest, which I have the privilege to Lead, works in Uganda yearly. We partner with an originization, a church headed by lead pastors Gary and Marylyn Skinner, called Watoto. This church was established 30 years ago and is literally helping bring positive change to Uganda through ministries aimed at orphans “the Watoto villages,” and their ministries to at risk women in Gulu the part of the nation where Koney has been most prevalent.

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Please go to http://www.watotochurch.com/ and look at what they do. They are bringing real and lasting change to the people of Uganda which will bring real and lasting change to the nation of Uganda.

We have built several buildings at one of their villages that places orphans in family providing them with parents, food, education, vocational training, and medical care. While developing them as principled and purposeful leaders. Many have been rescued from the most dire of circumstances, and are given hope for their future.

If you would like to help us fund our 2012 building project with Watato the full cost is $17000.00.
Any gift you would want to give would be beneficial no matter how small or large.

If you a interested in helping please email us at globalreach@harvestokc.com

We will be going to Uganda in June. Pray for us as we do what we can to make a difference in this nation.

Everyone Needs a Buddy

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I heard a leader say once that the best gift you could give those following you, is a healthy you.

There’s a lot of truth to that. Many leaders today are caught up in a cycle of busy activity, high stress processes and intense relationships. There has to be some down/fun/refreshing time in your life. God teaches us that it should be once a week. How long has it been since you recharged once a week?

One thing that will help you do that is get a buddy or two. Someone who doesn’t want or need anything from you, who just wants to hang out and have fun and has no ulterior motive.

Like my dog lady, she and my little girl Syd are best of buds. A buddy is a lot like a dog in a sense.

1. They love you for just being you.

2. They just want to have fun.

3. They are great friends because they’re loyal and they don’t put pressure on you.

4. They are stress relievers not stress inducers.

Seriously leaders, it may sound weird but having a good buddy or two will go along way towards your spiritual, emotional, and mental health.

They will inadvertently keep you accountable to refresh and recharge your life.

Stress is not good for you or your organization and if it’s uninterrupted with refreshing it can take you down. Make your mind up you will not be another negative statistic and force yourself to relax. A true friend will help you do that.

Don’t let the Sun Go Down on Your Wrath

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I Was in a parking lot today. One car driving down the row another car backing out. Yes you guessed it they collided.

You would think they would get out check to see if each other were ok, be apologetic and exchange insurance.

No! Not these two. They immediately begin to yell at each other. “didn’t you see me driving behind you?”. The other said, “didn’t you see me backing out?”. It was on. I was going to
Try to help but thought better of it. I didn’t have time and they needed a referee not just a passer by.

It seems that people are so easily angered today. I think it’s because we Cary a lot of unresolved frustration and anger.

We go to bed with things unresolved, then they pile up on us until someone presses the right button and boom! We go off like a cannon.

When the bible says not to let the sun go down on our anger God is telling us to deal with our issues. Don’t let even a night go by without getting resolve. Start every day with a clean slate.

Try it. It will take the pressure off and make it a lot easier to live with you.

Supernatural Peace

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:6, 7 MSG)

and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 NKJV)

Worry, stress, and internal conflict rage against your mind, will, and emotions anytime we place ourselves at the center of our lives, but by placing Jesus at the center of our lives displaces worry and anxiety as we surrender ourselves and our issues to the care of our loving Savior.

Peace is not the absence of external conflict, but the absence of internal conflict in the midst of external conflict. Life can be raging on the outside, while we are at complete calm on the inside. It’s not always a change in the circumstances but an assurance, a confidence that says. It won’t be long we will look back on this and say, we made it through, knowing all the while that we would be fine.

Judges 6:12-24 NKJV says,

And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!”
Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.” Then he said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who talk with me. Do not depart from here, I pray, until I come to You and bring out my offering and set it before You.”
And He said, “I will wait until you come back.” So Gideon went in and prepared a young goat, and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot; and he brought them out to Him under the terebinth tree and presented them. The Angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And he did so.
Then the Angel of the Lord put out the end of the staff that was in His hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. And the Angel of the Lord departed out of his sight. Now Gideon perceived that He was the Angel of the Lord. So Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face.” Then the Lord said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.” So Gideon built an altar there to the Lord, and called it The-Lord- Is -Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

>Gideon had a moral conflict
>Gideon had a bully conflict

He was able to defeat both serious external pressures without running away and having an assurance it was all going to be alright.

The bible is full of examples of this:

1. 3 Hebrews, faced the external pressure of persecution but stood their ground because of internal peace. Peace breeds courage.

2. Daniel’s faith and complete surrender to God along with his consistent and persistent prayer life gave him peace while in the lions den.

3. Jesus himself. Was internally resolved to carry out the fathers plan. It’s internal peace that gets you through when you know you could stop the assault but in meekness let it happen.

These men didn’t deserve the external conflict they were experiencing but they suffered it none the less. The beauty of it is, however, they faced these intense external pressures with dignity and grace because of an inward supernatural, incomprehensible peace.

How do we engage with the supernatural peace of God.

1. Devote ourselves and circumstances to God
2. Decide to do things Gods way no matter what.
3. Trust God not your emotions.

When you surrender yourself to Gods way of doing things God will make your problem solve itself.

>>>the midiniates turned on each other in their confusion

It’s gonna be alright. Romans 8:28. Says, “all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”

Whatever your facing today, release it to God, ask Him for peace, and he will give it to you.

Peace

David

Peace is Practical

John 14:27 (AMP)

Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]

(MSG)

I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left-feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.

I love this time of year. Coming out of the thanksgiving holiday into Christmas. Everything seems to change, the weather is changing, the season is changing, the focus of almost everyone is changing. It’s exciting all the hustle and bustle, and life just intensifies.

We have lots of family moments, friend moments, and fun moments.

On the other side of the coin there are those for whom this season is difficult. It stresses them to no end. People who’ve had loss, people who are in tough situations, families who’ve broken up, lives that are disheveled.

Really, this month to six weeks to me is like a microcosm of life, packed in and intensified.

This season or at least what believers celebrate in the upcoming weeks is not one of stress or anxiety, pressure or fear. Rather, it’s original purpose was all about peace. Peace on earth. Good will toward men.

Many times we take this to mean the absence of war, and in a broader context that’s true, but it really refers to something much more individually internal, Gods peace in the heart of man. Today I hope to help us all understand that inward peace, the peace the Bible describes as incomprehensible, is available to all of us at all times. There is a source of this peace, and actions that perpetuate it, but there are also peace stealers and peace killers.

Before we get to far into the season lets learn how to keep our peace, because “PEACE IS PRACTICAL”

One of the words to define peace means

the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is…could be better said this way. “free from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts”

The idea that now that I am following Christ, have been born again, my eternity, my relationship with God, my rejection of sin, my submission to His will as I turn my back on the spirit of the world, has been forever settled. I’m whole, I’m complete, I’m free.

Fear- a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger. Concern or anxiety.

Agitating passions – to disturb or excite emotionally with strong negative desires.

Moral conflicts – to internally fight or do battle over what is right or wrong conduct.

This word peace also means harmony among people, so in order to have harmony interpersonally we must first have peace personally.

God wants us to have peace internally and interpersonally, that precious absence of constant conflict.

The question is, will we embrace it or will we sabotage it? The truth is, although God is the author of our peace, the originator of it, he has left the obtaining of it up to us.

Before we talk about the practical steps to living in peace let’s identify peace stealers, and peace killers.

(Peace Thieves are attitudes and mindsets)

Thieves

>Thief # 1: guilt and shame of the past

Guilt, shame and condemnation can be mindsets we learn to live with, but should be free from. They hold us hostage and steal our peace. Under their reign we are in a constant inward turmoil.

>Thief # 2: anxiety and stress

Are results of either not knowing how or refusing to trust God. This robs more Christians of their peace than any other thing. Stress & worry are completely opposed to peace, that calmness of spirit and soul. Anxiety results in emotional turmoil. To the point of physical dysfunction which creates more anxiety.

>Thief # 3: people pleasing

There is simply no way to be at peace and attempt to please everyone. Focus on pleasing God who accepts and lives you, don’t get caught up trying to please everyone, because it’s impossible and it will steal your peace.

>Thief # 4: fear

Fear directly opposes peace. They can not coexist in your life.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18 NKJV)

(Killers are behaviors and actions)

Killers

>Killer # 1: attempting to control others

This behavior is to assume the role of Jesus over someone else’s life and world. To make yourself their Lord. We are not equipped to handle such RESPONSABILITY, and this kills your peace. Murders it.

>Killer # 2: Personal perfectionism

Since you can not be perfect your continued fruitless attempts at it only result in killing any opportunity for peace.

>killer # 3: peer pressure, keeping up w/others

Comparison is a killer of peace. Will result in behaviors that will steal your peace now in and in the future.

>Killer # 4: selling out the long term for the short term.

lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. (Hebrews 12:16, 17 NKJV)

Overfilling your life with things and activity now because you want it now at the expense of your future.

Instant gratification is a killer of peace and can kill the peace in your future.

>> Practical steps to walking in Peace. (the beautiful absence of internal conflict, and anxiety)

1. Daily prayer. A leaning of your entire self on God. Submitting to his Will while surrendering yours.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6, 7 NKJV)

2. Daily study of the word to renew your mind to Gods way of thinking.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8, 9 NKJV)

3. Daily simplify your life by planning your priorities not your time

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. (Matthew 6:33 AMP)

4. Daily Say no to your selfish desires, to your emotions, and to emotional controllers in your life, say no to worry.

So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:34 AMP)

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13 NKJV)

It’s required to say no to some things, some issues, and some people in order to have peace. You are not obligated to say yes to everyone and everything.

God is on your side and you can have peace, because peace is practical.

First step to real peace is to know Jesus.

Hope this helps you walk in peace every day.

Where do we draw the line between contentment and progress?

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My wife and I have been talking about how difficult in life it is to be content.  What does it mean to be content?  Does it mean to be satisfied?  Much of the time people struggle with being satisfied.  Life can be going along just fine, yet a disatisfaction creeps over us and causes us to stir it up, as if to say this is not good enough.

Im not talking about people who have nothing, or who are struggling.  I know people who create struggles because internally they are discontent, and disatisfied.  The truth is this is an internal problem.  It literally has nothing to do with external things.  People at all levels of life and from all different places in life struggle with this.  Its killing marriages, businesses, churches, governments, individuals.  Discontentment reveals an internal void.

Don’t misunderstand me to be saying that contentment and satisfaction means you should never try to do or be better, not at all.   I know people who never make an effort and are discontent, I also know people who are constantly working it out, and struggle being content.

Discontent with our lives, our friends, our spouses, our children, on and on leads to one place.  Isolation.  Being discontented is a vicous cycle that leads to our being disconnected and  shrinks our lives into lonliness, which is the fruit of never being satisfied.

The apostle Paul tells us that contentment is very important in our lives.  That no matter what our state is we should not find ourselves struggling and striving.  It’s not things or people or money that satisfies, it’s Jesus.  No matter what your situtation you can be content, because contentment, and satisfaction are all about internal peace, and when we know the prince of peace, we are settled, we are satisfied, we are content.

So move forward, grow and develop, but don’t expect progress or growth to satisfy.  Don’t expect people, things or money to satisfy, those are all externals.  All those things can be blessings in your life, but only one can give you peace.  Get to know Jesus, and in Him contentment can be found.