"I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands." - Psalm 143:5

Monday, June 23, 2014

Silencer

 

 

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I had coffee with Sam (not his real name) recently; Sam and I were trying to catch up after a few years of minimum contact with each other. As it often goes with life, our circles cease to cross or even touch. He went to his church and I went to mine, and there were no social events that overlapped both of our very separate lives.

I can’t say that we were deep friends when we attended the same church together but Sam was a very likeable guy, he invited friendship. We had coffee many times, talked in depth about marriage, family and work, the usual subjects of men drinking multiple cups of Java converse about. We connected and I liked getting to know him, even when he exposed a secret that he thought would scare me off. Sam wanted to talk about his addiction, one that didn’t go over well in the church men’s groups he tried to connect with.

Sam was addicted to porn.

He was brutally honest about this addiction, desiring help to beat this demon down and be free of it. Instead of scaring me off, it broke my heart that he seemed alone in his battle. Over the course of a few months we met over coffee, we talked, prayed and addressed issues connected to his addiction. We set up accountability checkpoints and attempted to enlist other men to draw along side him…but nothing seemed to click with other men and it frustrated me.

Where were the other brothers?

My family eventually left that church and settled in the church where I now pastor. As I said earlier, Sam and I drifted and lost contact. Eight years later and once again Sam is sitting across the table from me and his words hurt my heart. Sam tells me…

“Jay…I don’t have any friends”

Sam is in his early 50’s and he feels friendless…alone in his battle. This is the great tragedy of many men; their hearts are vacant and isolated. If nature abhors a vacuum, more so a man’s heart…it will try to fill it somehow. Sam fills his with porn.

He knows its sin, he knows it’s an addiction, he knows he needs help and he knows he can’t do it alone. He loves God, loves his family and feels absolutely horrible about his actions and yet 8 years later…he still can’t connect with men from his church. When he brings up his issue with them, the group grows quiet and unresponsive…no insight, no acknowledgement of similar struggles...nothing.

It is the great silencer… isolated even when in a group…and he retreats deeper in the sinkhole of addiction.

Sam and I have entered the fight together once again but my point is this. Look around your church, there is a “Sam” in your midst and he needs you to drop your guard and fight alongside him. Silence is a killer and destroys the brotherhood of our hearts. Your “Sam” needs a place where his voice doesn’t invoke shame but invites standing with him in his battle. Yeah, it just might expose your own wounds, your own issues… that my brother is a good thing. Men like Sam, when freedom comes, they will fight the gates of hell for yours. We all need a brother like that.

Back to back, shoulder to shoulder…no man gets left behind. Let’s do this.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17

 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Warriors


 

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This past Sunday on Father's Day, our church decided to switch things up a bit. We decided to have a council of dads (3 to be exact) answer a few questions about fatherhood and being men in general. As I interviewed this men, in between the laughter and light heartedness, I discovered the richness of their stories and their grip on Father God's heart.

Their story is all our story, ordinary guys serving an God who wants to be Father God to us all. I hope you'll listen and ponder the questions for yourself...and leave an answer here if you would. It would be awesome to hear more of your story as well...God bless!

Listen Here: http://bbcchurch.sermon.net/main/main/20108033

Also...here is my Father's Day reflection, just a few quick thoughts!

 

 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Desperate for God


 

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For days I have been wrestling with this thought…

When desperate for God isn't desperate enough

Desperateness is a sense of urgency that lives on the edge of hope. It’s chock-full of risk, jammed tight with do-or-die thinking and flirts heavily with a sense of last-ditchness. Desperatus (Latin for deprived of hope), wrecks havoc on a human heart, exerting its influence and putting extreme stress on our ability to trust.

I wonder…is this a good way to approach a God of Hope…with a sense of desperatus?

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

The truth is (at least for me) that I am more desperate than I realize. My heart has areas of numbness because I grew tired of caring and waiting for an answer…my heart of trust was compromised.

I grew less desperate…

And I gave way to self-sufficiency, which didn’t bring hope and just buried my heart deeper into the muck of settling for something far-less than God’s best. This, my friends, is no way for a human heart to live.

When desperate for God isn't desperate enough

My dependence, my desperate need of Father God is what causes me to run (not merely approach) to a God of hope who desires me to thrive/live/move/breathe in hope. Desperatus exposes my heart and reveals that deep desire for more of my Father.

That is the way for the human heart to live…it’s the only way it can

“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” Psalm 73:26-26

What about you…are you desperate to live free?

 

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Obedience Part 1

Obedience is not a four letter word that makes us cringe (in fact, its nine!) but its related to another four letter word...that word is love...yep, love! Here is part 1 one my sermon on Obedience: Holding on to Love...the beautiful part of this is when the congregation gets involved...just beautiful!



http://strategicfathering.sermoncampus.info/main/main/20089937

Monday, May 12, 2014

Trust

 

 

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My wonderful bride is not a limelight seeker (or any other flavor), she prefers the background and the "behind the scenes" ministry. Unlike her husband, she's uncomfortable standing in front of a crowd and would rather share her heart over a cup of tea with someone. When I asked her if she would speak on Mother's Day she readily agreed and despite her unease, proceeded to expose part of the Father's heart yet seen to many of us. I can almost guarantee you will be blessed if you take the time to listen to this reflection on trust...I know I was.

http://bbcchurch.sermon.net/main/main/20076334

 

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Monday, May 5, 2014

What Church Is


 

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My church meets in a building… yep; a beautiful chapel built in 1856, but still a ChapelInterior building with walls and everything. I know that may not be cutting edge thinking (meeting inside a structure and calling it church) but it seems to me that a lot of life (at least here in America) happens inside buildings. Oh, I do realize that just because we are meeting inside a historically old chapel (however beautiful) doesn’t define us as a church. Also, does 158 years of people gathering together, in a building, guarantee our present day “churchness? Many of you are shaking your head no… and I would agree… it’s not about the building or the history.

It’s about Jesus

I serve (happily) as one of the under shepherds (under the Chief Shepherd, Jesus), with the title of pastor, which doesn’t define me completely either. In reality, I am a joint follower of Jesus Christ with about 60 other totally needy (and beautiful) folks. We’re a mixture of introverts and extraverts, creative and linear thinkers, men, women, children, all shapes and sizes…all extremely needy individuals.

We all need Jesus

To me that’s church, not the place, not the format, not how we do church…just people, needing Jesus together. This modern day ekklesia (assembly) is an organic expression of life with Jesus. Trying to express what He is doing in our lives and expressing our gratefulness (corporately and individually) for that work.

We need Jesus for that

We have some in our group needing the simplicity of sitting (even in a pew) and listening, quietly taking in truth and just as quietly, expressing what it means to them. There are others craving the dynamic give and take of interactive dialogue, with questions and thoughts expressing how His truth challenges them. Navigating these needs (and others in between) and allowing room for growth can be only accomplish by pursuing Him together…that’s where I see church happen.

We still need Jesus for that

My hand is really comfortable holding a pen but my foot (although capable) is not. And walking on my hands is extremely more difficult than the normal way of walking using foot power. Yet, when a hand uses things like a foot uses and a foot uses a thing like a hand uses, things can (besides sounding like a Dr. Seuss book) get interesting. We have tried new ways to make community and church more inviting and life changing…sometimes it’s a beautiful expression and sometimes not so much. But it’s not about trying to reinvent church…the Church doesn’t need reinventing…just our view of it sometimes.

Man, do we ever need Jesus for that!

A family, an army, a bride…just a few ways Christ describes His Church, each a powerful reminder of how diverse His expressions through a body of believers can be. How do we then teach and reach each other through that diversity? Can we “conspire” (breathe together) with one another and be the Church?

Yes, we need Jesus for that!

“He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” Colossians 1:18

How do you see the Church and the body were you may gather with?

 

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Why I Cry at My Own Sermons

 

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Actually, I don't really know why...something strange is happening to me. It seems that I can't get through a sermon without choking back tears and fighting for composure. These deeply emotional moments come (seemly) randomly and when I least expect it...then I feel undone...almost unable to continue at times.

Here's another thing...it happens when I'm sermon prepping and not even at the same spot in my notes as when I'm speaking a few days layer. My family will tell you that I'm not a crier, that is takes a lot to make me cry...so why the sudden influx of tear-duct activity? I wonder...am I losing  it? Or maybe...just maybe, my heart is not yet "new" enough.

"I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart."Jeremiah 24:7

"And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart." Ezekiel 36:26

The process of receiving a new heart is more than a transplant of values, it is a radical new way to live. It's a heart that beats with a rhythm of surrender, responding in the only way that brings life. I cry because the Holy Spirit is moving in such a way that it breaks up stony, hard places and brings life up to spill all over the people around me. I marvel at such love and I ask...I pray...I cry for more.

So...Why do I cry at my own sermons?

Because He makes all things new...even my heart.