Thursday, December 18, 2014

2014 Year in Review: New house, new car, new job, family members fighting cancer, and how I became an author.

2014... All I can say is what a year. There have been so many events happening to me and to people close to me this year. It's really wild. The year started out pretty normal for me. Nothing out of the ordinary. It wasn't long that we found out that my grandpa had colon cancer. It felt like a huge blow. For anyone who knows how big of a part that my grandpa had played in my life, they would understand. My family and I prayed through the circumstances and they were able to get it all with one surgery when they removed part of his colon. We were very thankful that no further treatments were necessary, but it was a long hard few months of my grandparents having to deal with a catheter and colostomy bag until he got his reversal surgery. He is pretty close to being back to his old self now and all I can say is that God is good! It could have been much worse, but it wasn't. In the summer, I changed jobs and we moved. For anyone who has had to deal with either one of those, they know how exciting and stressful both of those experiences can be. With Gods help, I navigated through all of the challenges that brought and we are on the other side of it as I've settled into our new home and my new job. My wife also got a new job at the preschool where my youngest daughter started in August. In November, my dad went to the doctor for what we thought may have been a bite on his arm. After a couple of visits and a biopsy, it became apparent that it was some form of lymphoma. We find ourselves in another faith opportunity where we can trust God that He has His hand on him and that all is well. My dad has been the strongest man I have ever known. I look up to him a great deal and to see him going through this as well as my mom going through it has made me a lot more emotional than I usually am. The upside to this is that I have accessed a part of Jesus that I hadn't felt in a long time. He identifies with our pain and suffering. He is there every step of the way and it has become even more evident to me this year. There is a fellowship with Him that comes when adversity hits, if we would only seek it out  and embrace our vulnerability so that we can be made strong in Him. In addition, I have had one of my best friends battle a serious infection for several days in the hospital in three different states and I recently found out that my grandma has a malignancy on her thigh. I don't "just" trust Jesus, I have the privilege to. It's the best place you can be. Another big part of my year was becoming an indie author. I had wanted to write for quite some time and just never "got around to it". Back in April, while spending the weekend in Nashville with my wife for our anniversary, I was seeking God on what I needed to be doing. I never fully felt like I was doing something that was my "green" or my niche. Through prayer, He revealed to me ideas for a book series. One month later, I began working on The Called. It was published on Amazon in November. Through all the support, reviews, and downloads of the book I have received; I can safely say that I have found my niche. I feel like a big part f me that had been missing for several years was restored to me and I am getting some confidence back that I had lost along the way. God is just good like that. he has done so many good things in my life. I am blessed to have a wonderful wife with a heart for God and others. Two beautiful girls that mean the world to me and are growing to become ladies of God. All of my family, friends, and church there are so many awesome things about being in a relationship with Jesus Christ. I couldn't do much without him, including getting through the hard times in life. His grace allows me to be more than a conqueror. That's what all of us are after all. Conquerors... And even more than that. We were destined to reign with Him forever. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Called: The beginning of a series...

It was April 10th, 2014. My wife and I had gone to Nashville to spend a couple days for our anniversary. I was at a real crossroads in life. There was a definite lack of fulfillment in what I was doing for a living and where my time was being spent. I had been a preacher/speaker for quite some time, but there was something else that I needed to do. I just couldn't put my finger on it. I did a lot of soul searching during that trip and my old desire to one day write a novel came flooding back. I kept feeling the Lord giving me idea after idea on what to write and about a month after that trip, I began to write "The Called". It was an experience that I will always remember. The excitement of knocking out my first chapter, all the support I received from friends, family, and people on social media. So... Let's get down to a little preview of what to expect from this book. .. The Called: The Beginning of the End is about various main characters who are at different points in their life. Some have a seemingly good life and some are suffering from the very beginning. They are all broken vessels however. The cracks may be able to be seen outwardly but mainly their struggles are inward. It's all things that we can relate to: loss, trauma, disappointment, failure, pride, fear. They must grapple with these things...and with a hostile world government while searching for a truth that had long since been purged from society and forgotten. Many of them are placed in dangerous situations that will become even worse as the series continues. The book is set in the early 22nd century, about 100 years from no so the story is infused with a little bit of sci fi. One piece of technology in particular has dire consequences for everyone and it will set off a chain of events that will carry on throughout the next four books in the series. My goal with this book was not to be another Left Behind series, but to write the end times from a different perspective. The perspective of people who have never even heard of Jesus in most cases. I wanted to bring an element of realism and edge to the story that could be believable to everyone, yet a fantastic element that would supply the entertainment for people who like futuristic stories. This is only the beginning. This is a setup for the characters and all that they are about to experience as aliens in this new foreign world. Evil is about to be unleashed, but light is going to be unleashed in greater measure for all of those who have been called.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Everything that can be shaken will be shaken

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:25-29 NKJV)

We are living in a time of great shaking on the earth. We are seeing Hamas continually firing missiles at the nation of Israel, Christians being beheaded, raped, or shot by ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and unrest in our own country. These are only the issues that are getting press right now. There are young women in multiple countries being sold as sex slaves in human trafficking rings. The evil that is on the earth right now seems endless and scary, but let me assure you that God has a plan. The bible says that when the enemy comes in, like a flood, the LORD will raise a standard against him. I know that part of that standard is the church. We are His body: His physical representation on earth. My message to all of you today is that if you know what your assignment is, then go do it. The time for contemplating is over. Now is a time of action. The world needs you. Bring God's glorious Kingdom to earth through the gifts that He has put in you! Today is the day. We aren't promised tomorrow.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Excerpt from The Called... Coming Fall 2014

As many already know, I have been working on a Christian apocalyptic sci fi thriller. I have been making great strides toward finishing the first manuscript and I hope to have all editing completed by the end of summer. I really wanted to share a little bit with you all though to wet your appetites. This excerpt is from chapter one as Chairman of the World Council of Nations, Samyaza al Assad and the President of the United States, Liam Cain, hold a worldwide press conference. Enjoy!

Assad stood up and began, “Citizens of the world community, I am honored and humbled to greet you as this is a great day for the people of our planet. We have seen wars and terrible struggle in our time, but a new day is here. The sun of mankind has risen to shine brightly. With today’s proclamation, we will exalt our race above the stars. We will finally live together in peace and unity where struggle and bloodshed once abounded. I stand here in this great country, which has stood for centuries as a melting pot of cultures and races. It is only proper that the World Council of Nations be headquartered right here in this exceptional place that has stood for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We can now pursue it together. I am pleased to introduce to you the President of the United States, Mr. Liam Cain.”

  Thunderous applause erupted from the room as the President took the podium. Twelve billion eyes around the world sat captivated at what was taking place. For most, tears of joy and for some feelings of fear and uncertainty flooded them.

  “Thank you for the warm welcome Mr. Assad and thank you to all citizens who have shared this vision and who have ran with it through all the sacrifices and heartbreak. We salute you. Throughout the history of modern man; war, famine, disease, and ignorance have been hurdles that we have had to navigate throughout our evolutionary process. Even in our lifetime, we have seen much bloodshed and bigotry within each of our great nations. These sacrifices were necessary for the good of all, but nevertheless a painful reminder of the turmoil that divisions among us cause. Today, I stand here beside President and chairman al Assad to welcome a new day in our history. For years, relations between the United States and Syria were strained, often coming to needless violence and destruction. Thankfully, this man along with ten other world leaders took the initiative to bring peace and prosperity to all people. No longer do we allow petty nuisances such as race or religion divide us. We can now be one people with one purpose…the greatness of mankind. Because of what the World Council of Nations has done and will continue to do for our world, we can look forward to a brighter future together. There will be nothing impossible for us as we continue to technologically advance. In the coming decade, we expect to reach new solar systems through our space travel, create new technologies to increase life expectancy, and unlock the secrets that our universe and our planet hold. With this being said, I am pleased to announce the United States official membership in the council as of today. President Assad and I have come to a seven year agreement between these ten great groups of nations that are represented here today. Your example in unity has been the predecessor for this one world government and we look forward to reaching new heights together. We no longer believe in the exceptionalism or dominance of one country, but of the human race. The next seven years and beyond will be a time of discovery, progress, and peace. I thank each and every one of you for your participation.”

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

To judge or not to judge?

"Don't judge me." I am sure you have heard those words uttered on more than one occasion. Maybe you even said those words yourself. Today I want to examine this concept because it is a fascinating teaching. The bible has a lot to say about judgment. It talks about not judging people, when judgment will come, and the standards that people will be judged by. So, let's examine a few of these passages of scripture that talks about judgment. 

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5 NKJV) 
But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner— not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.” (I Corinthians 5:11-13 NKJV)

Let's go ahead and examine these two passages. The first person talking here was Jesus. He was saying that we basically need to be minding our own sin.  We have no right to judge another persons sin. We need to first examine ourselves and our own life. He ends the text with "and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye". Now, that kind of throws a wrench in this whole thing doesn't it? He is implying that we can help another person remove sin from their life. Notice though that he said "brother". When you see this in scripture, it is talking about another believer. In summary, we are to first examine our own lives and remain repentant of our own sin. If we do that, we can gently and lovingly lead our brothers and sisters in removing sin from their life as well. Notice though that he says nothing about non-believers.

This brings us to our next scripture where the apostle Paul is speaking. He is teaching to not associate with people who are part of the church and who call themselves brothers or sisters that are continuing in unrepentant sin proudly as if they never knew Christ. He says in that respect, we can judge (but still love and pray for) those in the church. He also confirms what Jesus was talking about in that we are not to judge those who are not in Christ. That is God's job. 

And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him— the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. (John 12:47, 48 NKJV)

Once again, Jesus is speaking here. He is talking about the time that is for judging and the standard by which people will be judged. Those who have accepted Christ won't have to worry about judgement because we have out on the righteousness of God through the blood of Christ. But those who have not accepted Him as He said Himself have their judge. They will be judged by His righteous Word in the last day. His righteousness makes even the best person on earth look filthy. That's the standard you will have to measure up against if you chose to take present your own works before God. 

Judgment isn't for today. Today is not the last day. The bible says that today is the day of salvation. For Christians, your only job today is to love people and pray for them. Serve them and show them mercy just as your Father has shown you mercy.  I didn't repent because I was afraid of judgement. I repented and followed Jesus because He loved me when I didn't deserve love. He offered me something I could never earn. Show that unconditional love to someone else today. It doesn't matter how they have sinned. You have too. Today isn't the day of judgement and you aren't burdened with the responsibility to judge. For those of you who don't know this merciful God who came down and became a humble man and took your punishment upon Himself, I pray that you find Him. He is merciful and longs to be with you now and forever. Yes. There is judgement coming someday. No. We can't judge other people and shouldn't try. Yes. God loves you and He would love to have one less person to judge according to His Word and one more to judge according to the perfect blood of Jesus.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Love Revolution

John 8:1-11: Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. "Teacher", they said to Jesus, "this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?" They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, "All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!" Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, "where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?" "No, Lord," she said. And Jesus said, "Neither do I. Go and sin no more." 

This is one of my favorite passages of scripture and it was one I was meditating on this morning. I've been wanting a deeper revelation of the love of God. There are a few things about this story that stand out to me. The first thing that I noticed is that the religious leaders not only wanted the woman punished on the spot, but they also made a public spectacle of her. By dragging her out in front of the crowd, they made sure that what she did was known to everyone. Not only did they want to break her body by stoning her, but they wanted to break her spirit as well. Their desire was to call out her sin for the world to see. I can't even begin to tell you the number of people who have not entered the doors of a church for years because they recognize the Pharisee spirit within the church. Someone at some point in their life has brought condemnation to them for a sin in their life. I know that sin is sin and it deserves punishment. However, what Jesus was doing here was basically putting a woman caught in adultery on the same level as the religious elite of the day. He in effect was making it clear that their secret sin that nobody knows about is equal with the sin this woman committed. If anyone breaks only one commandment, they have been made guilty of breaking the whole law. In the eyes of God, you and I are really no better than the murderer or the drug dealer. We've all sinned. The only difference is grace. Jesus offered the woman grace and mercy. It is interesting to note that Jesus was the only one qualified there to stone her because he was without sin. Let that sink in for a minute. The only one in the world who actually had the right to judge or condemn her didn't do it. That's because  Jesus understood that it the goodness of God that draws people to repentance. It isn't the scary lightning bolts and hell fire judgement that makes people turn away from sin and choose Jesus. It's his love. So, why do people put up billboards in communities condemning homosexuality? Why do people campaign against certain sins? Will it really cause anyone to make a life change? I'm going to say that the answer is a resounding NO! Condemnation doesn't bring about change. In fact, it prevents it. Only the loving conviction of the Holy Spirit brings about change in a persons life. Think about this: What if the teachers of the law and the Pharisees had stoned her anyway? If they had done that, then she would not have had the chance to hear the words. "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more." Jesus with that one statement gave her mercy in not giving her what she deserved and have her the grace to walk away a changed woman on the inside. 

All around me over the past couple of years, I have seen a love revolution taking place. I know people in the Body of Christ whom I call friends who have gone in amongst drug addicted Juggalos at a music festival and gave food away and prayed with them. They loved people who had never seen real unconditional love in their life and I had the honor a couple of times to go in and help this group minister to them. I have known people who have gone overseas and taken care of the orphans and widows who have no voice or power to change their situation. I've seen a couple go to the girls in the "exotic dancing" business and just love them and serve them and treat them like they are peers and not inferior "sinners". I have both seen and heard of change in the lives of people because the love of God being shown through His children melted their hearts. I have seen these individuals and ministries begin to change the world around them. What if the church as a whole began to go to those places and bring people to the feet of Jesus? What would our world look like? I think it would look a lot like the Kingdom of God.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A dream of where the church is at and where it is going.

Having a finger on the pulse of the church has always been something that I have done. I still believe that the Spirit filled, Jesus loving Bride of Christ is the most powerful force on the earth today. The Lord often deals with me in large scale ways in regards to what is going on in the world and in the church. A couple months ago, I had a dream about the church that I immediately knew was from God. I will do my best to relate to you what was contained in that dream, what it can mean for you personally, and what it means for the universal body of Christ. 

It began with me being in a church service somewhere and we were beginning praise and worship. I immediately noticed that the atmosphere in the room was thick with God's presence. The music began to lift us to a place in God that I myself have only experienced a handful of times in my life. It was like Jesus was standing in the room with us. They began to sing and it was unlike anything I have ever heard. It was not conventional praise and worship at all. It was free, without any restraint. The words just seemed to flow out and the origin was not from Jesus Culture or Hillsong or any classic hymn book. I could tell this was being downloaded from heaven. It is really hard to describe. It was like prophetic singing that Kim Clement does turned up about ten notches and it felt like heaven was singing with us. It was so different in fact that I looked around and noticed that many people were becoming upset with what was happening. It was anything but conventional so I understand. Many people actually walked out until there was only a remnant left in the once full sanctuary. The song ended and there was a time of silence and a little bit of disappointment. A few in the remnant walked out and what seemed like only a moment later came back in with people that they invited off of the street that were in the community. I noticed by the appearance of many of them that they were not part of the "church crowd". They were dirty and not dressed in their Sunday best yet they were captivated when the worship began again. Their entire demeanor and appearance changed before my eyes as they were transformed in the perfect love and presence of God. This time, something was different. This time, there would be no interruptions. It felt like we could bask in His glory forever. 

To date, I have only shared this dream with a few people very close to me. I feel like it's time to share it with everyone who has an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church in this hour. There are changes coming. If you think that going from using a red back hymnal to singing more contemporary songs is a change, that is nothing. God is not going to be impressed with the style of our praise and worship, the style of our preaching, or any preference that we have. The Spirit is saying to the bride that there is a higher place in Him. Go deeper, push in further, and lose yourself more in Him. There will be three groups of people in the church in the coming years. The first group who will not accept change and who want to hold on to the victories of yesterday because that's what is familiar and comfortable. I know that God parted the sea yesterday and brought you out of Egypt and we would not be here today if God didn't do what He did then, but also realize that we have not been commanded to camp out there. We have a land to inherit and we are a Warrior Bride that goes out behind her groom to do war and displace the enemy wherever he is. The second group is the remnant that are left after many choose to die in the wilderness. They will press on for more of Jesus. They are the burning ones. The hungry ones who cannot be satisfied with yesterday's bread. The last group is a smaller group who knows what needs to be done. They have received the revelation of Gods love to the point that they know whom He wants to be in His church. He wants the imperfect ones. He wants the spotted and speckled. He wants those whom many in the church have left outside because they are mean, hateful, sinful, and dirty. There will be a few that go after those people. They will love the unloveable and because of the love of God in them, the church will shift and change to be an awesome thing to behold. A bride that knows what she is without the white garments that were paid for by the One who has called her to His chambers. A bride that knows who she is because of a love that would not stop and not give up. You probably know which group you fall in. All of them will be necessary for the church to move into the last phase before He appears.