Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “Behind the Scenes” #TrailLeader

Hitting the trail with a group of people is a fantastic way to strengthen friendships or get to know new people. While you’re putting in the miles, the person at the FRONT has a vital role in keeping the group together, focused, and safe. That person is known as the Trail Leader. A good Trail Leader will: 1. Keep an eye out for trail markers to navigate the journey. 2. Manage the group’s pace 3. Pause at crossings and junctions to regroup. 4. Recognize and maneuver through challenges. That brings us to the Old Testament figure Moses. For his story can be summed up as the story of a Trail Leader. His life is an epic tale of one who faces personal challenges while leading an entire nation along a journey of twists and turns, freedom and challenges, failures and victories. Our series will follow this Trail Leader from the beginning of his path to the end. And I hope this series will not only help us come to know Moses, but see how the trail he follows speaks into our lives today.

Check out the service from the website or from the Facebook livestream. 

Other thoughts from the Youversion notes from Sunday:

  • God sees. God knows. God is working behind the scenes.
  • God desires to draw us out of bondage and draw us into the plans and purposes He has for our lives.
  • “Faith is not believing in my own unshakable belief. Faith is believing in an unshakable God.” Beth Moore
  • The prayers of our pain do not fall on deaf ears.
  • Just because you may feel forgotten by God doesn’t mean he has forgotten about you.
  • “It doesn’t matter how great the pressure is; what really matters is where the pressure lies. Whether it comes between you and God or presses you nearer to His heart.” —Hudson Taylor
  • When it seems that God’s left the scene, it means He’s working behind the scenes.

Love you all. Have a great week.

BTW: Here’s a great song for the week…

 

Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “Radical Openness” #InterruptSeries

We all have a mode we get into when we are trying to accomplish something. You may put earbuds in to drown out noise. Maybe you find a place of solitude away from people and distractions. It is all about positioning yourself to be productive without anything or anyone interfering with your goals or train of thought. But I often wonder if we do that with God.

Without even thinking, we can get into a “mode” of life that we don’t wander from. There’s the weekly schedule, the daily grind, the monotony of a schedule, and the weight of responsibilities.  We can get so regimented in life we lose our sensitivity to where the Lord is leading us.

As a church community, we are embarking into a six-week series with one goal and one prayer encapsulated in one word: Interruption.

Interrupt our status quo.
Interrupt our bias of what we think of the Holy Spirit.
Interrupt our hate (of ourselves and others).
Interrupt our plans.
Interrupt the things we feel captive to.

Holy Spirit, interrupt us and show us Your glory.  

Check out the service yesterday from the website or from the Facebook livestream. 

Other thoughts from the Youversion notes from Sunday:

  • Respond to ALL God is with ALL you are.
  • Openness to the Holy Spirit is not about getting a “normative” response from God but what is going to be the normal position of our hearts.
  • The Holy Spirit responds to open hearts more than “perfected” theology.
  • If Christ had waited to love me until I got my act together, He’d still be waiting!

Holy Spirit, we declare today that we want more of You. We crave your presence. We desire the power You bring to our lives, not for the sake of “power” but for the sake of boldly declaring Jesus and more accurately representing Jesus to the world. Holy Spirit forgive us for the places and the times where we have grieved You, where we believed we had all of You we needed or all of You we wanted.
Forgive us for the times when we told You how You could or couldn’t act in our lives. Holy Spirit, I pray today that You would respond not to our theology, because some of this we can’t understand and can’t explain, but I pray that You would respond to the openness of our hearts.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Check out our new book! Click on the image to order!!

Love you all. Have an amazing week.

BTW: Here’s a song for the week…

Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “Incubated not Ignored” #DreamsAndDrama

Today I want to give you a place to start your week. It’s Monday and in the wake of a great weekend and a workweek ahead, sometimes you just need a “kickstart” to get focused.  So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together.

Sunday, we started our fall series at Kfirst. Every September, we study a specific person in scripture and this year we’ve landed on Joseph.

He’s a brother sold into slavery. A slave who faced trials and temptation. A prisoner innocent of any crime. A wise man, full of integrity, elevated to a position of influence amongst his enemies. This is the story of Joseph.

Sunday, we continued this “dreamer’s” story. Now in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, God is blessing him in the place of his incarceration. It is here where “isolation” begins to test the dreams he’s had.

Check yesterday out either from the website or from the Facebook livestream:

Other thoughts from the Youversion notes from Sunday:

  • The darkest moments you face can develop the deepest strength of your faith.
  • “Mountaintops inspire leaders, but valleys mature them.” Winston Churchill
  • Our ideas of God’s goodness often get in the way of actually seeing God’s goodness.
  • God sometimes uses broken dreams to lead us down the path to arrive at a better dream.
  • God is the ultimate recycler of broken dreams.
  • God awakens your deeper desires in dark moments.
  • I don’t know how my story will unfold, but I know my story will unfold with God with me.

Love you all. Have an amazing week.

BTW: Here’s the new song for you from Sunday.

Increase the Decibel of Heaven

But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” – Luke 5:16

In the kickoff of our series on Sunday at Kfirst, we emphasized that God loves to speak to us. Like Joseph, God can give us a vision for our lives that set our feet upon a path. But before we get to the path to follow, we need to hear from God. And I truly believe that God still speaks to us.

Many people I talk to believes God still speaks (Christian and non-Christian). But most of them will tell me, though they believe God still speaks today, they do not think God speaks to them personally.

You may be one of those who feel that way. I’ve been there; I understand. And my encouragement to you is simple this: increase the decibel of heaven.

It’s easy to place blame on God not speaking. But I find, personally, there isn’t a lack of God’s communication as much as there’s a lack of me being in position to listen to him. Luke 5:16 has been a very precious and impactful passage to me.  Jesus knew the value of withdrawing away from the noise of culture and crowds in order to “increase the volume of heaven.”

Step 1: Decrease the volume of life. In an age where our senses are constantly engaged at all hours of the day by multiple screens and people, it seems our culture’s volume continues to increase. And instead of strategically looking to “turn up” the voice of God in our lives, we allow ourselves to be victimized by the amplification of the noise in our lives. Have that Jesus-driven audacity to take control of the moment and “withdraw” away (even if it’s for a few moments). 

Step 2: Increase the decibels of heaven.  Learn to hear from God by turning up the “decibel of heaven.” Engage in an activity that positions your attention in God’s direction. Read the scriptures (get a reading plan). Plan a time of fasting and prayer. Go for a walk in nature (my favorite). Find someone to serve. Have a conversation with a trusted friend. Pick a worship song that speaks to you and digest the lyrics. I believe God is speaking all the time. I just don’t believe we are positioning ourselves to listen.

Do you need a God-dream for your life? Do you need to hear from the Lord? Perhaps the most simplistic approach that definitely takes effort and purpose to do is to “increase the decibel of heaven.” Posture your heart and receive from Him.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “Intentional Influence” #WisdomSeries #BeAProverb

Today I want to give you a place to start your week. It’s Monday and in the wake of a great weekend and a workweek ahead, sometimes you just need a “kickstart” to get focused.  So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, we continued our series at Kfirst. Every July and August, we have a summer series and this year we turned our focus onto Proverbs.

This amazing and often misunderstood book was used hundreds of years ago to prepare people for a wise life in service to their king. Today, we glean from it to help us live wise lives in service to Jesus our King. 

Check out this week’s message:

Other thoughts from Sunday:

  • Read our Proverbs reading plan by clicking HERE.
  • Influence is inescapable.
  • Everyone has influence, but not everyone is intentional with their influence.
  • We need to be intentional with who we allow to have influence in our lives.
  • The way you act is what you’ll attract.
  • We are not called to simply be influenced, but to be an influence.
  • Don’t expect people to follow Jesus until you treat them like they’re made in the image of God.
  • How to determine the level of influence one has in your life:
    • 1) Be Aware of the influence within the relationship.
    • 2) Be Intentional to promote positive influence.
    • 3) Set Boundaries to moderate what influences your life.
  • Father, I offer my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my hands, and my heart to you, so that I can walk in wisdom in whatever opportunities you might offer me today.

Love you all. Have an amazing week.

BTW: Here’s a new song for you.

Pain is Our Common Denominator: 5 things I want to share with you about pain

Do you feel pain? Have you ever been in agony? From stubbing your toe in the middle of the night to having your heart-broken by someone, it seems we all have experienced elements of pain. The rare medical condition of CIP (Congenital Insensitivity to Pain) exists.  It’s one of many physical statuses in which a person cannot feel (and has never felt) physical pain.  Some would see CIP as an absolute blessing.  I think, when playing football, how much more courage I’d have if pain was never an issue.  It’d change the way we drive.  Think of the boldness people would have in public knowing that there’s nothing that others could do that would inflict pain.  But for even those with CIP, I’d say there are two observations: 

  1. Just because there’s an absence of pain, doesn’t mean there is no damage.   
  2. No physical pain doesn’t make you immune from pain (mentally and emotionally). 

Pain is the common denominator we all share. No matter what the pain is, we all know what pain feels like.  But we need to realize that people feel pain differently. I know people who have physical fortitude to push through fatigue and physical discomfort but are emotionally brittle. Yet, I’ve sat in hospital rooms of individuals (like my grandmother) who, physically were very fragile, but strongholds of emotional stability.  No matter how strong you are (emotional, physical, mental, spiritual), there is a level of pain and a type of pain you are, most likely, susceptible to. 

Pain is in our humanity and there’s 5 things I want to share with you about pain:

1. Pain can be a gift.  I can’t say that it’s a gift I’m always thankful for. I’m not a masochist…I don’t enjoy pain.  But to step back for a moment and think about it. Pain causes us to stop and pause.  It tells us to proceed cautiously or to retreat quickly.  Its pangs grants us the favor, yes favor, of aches and anguish to help provide dividing lines of healthy and unhealthy living.  When we feel the pain of a broken relationship, our shredded heart reminds us how caring we are and how much we were built for relationships.  Our brokenness guides us for something more that what we are presently tasting.  If you’ve experienced pain caused by someone else, the pangs are there to let us know that the treatment you received isn’t healthy and, therefore, shouldn’t be tolerated or condoned. For those who have CIP, they struggle with continuing to injure themselves because there isn’t the sensation of pain to warn/help them through damage that’s happening to their body.  Without pain, not only would we demolish most relationships, we would destroy ourselves. As much as it hurts, pain can be a blessing.

2. Pain helps us sympathize and empathize.  Both empathy and sympathy are feelings concerning other people. Sympathy is literally means “feeling with.” Sympathy understands, exactly, the pain someone is dealing with because of your previous pain. Empathy, by contrast, is literally “feeling into.”  Empathy, helps us understand someone’s pain by “stepping in their shoes” and using your previous pain to be a reference point.  It’s the ability to project one’s personality into another person and more fully understand that person.   It’s through sympathy AND empathy we can help walk through difficult times with people and lead them to a place of healing.  Look at what you’ve been through.  Your story can trail-blaze hope for someone in turmoil. 

3. Pain doesn’t equate to gain. Some people think pain is necessary.  There are two types of them.  The first are those only happy when they are miserable.  It’s their identity.  They feed off of the drama and/or drawing others into their little narrative of their chaos.  The other are those that chase pain because they think they deserve it.  They invite it and see it as what they deserve for their poor choices.  For some reason, I’ve dealt with so many Christians who live in both of these camps. In church, reading the Scriptures, or during times of prayer, if he/she doesn’t feel “Godly sorrow,” then it wasn’t a productive or spiritual time. They forget that Christ bore our pain/shame/guilt upon the cross.  They need not bear it anymore.    Let me help, “Godly sorrow” is conviction that leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10).  The pain of guilt is designed to keep you where you are at.  Chase “Godly sorrow” and run from guilt.  Only one will relieve pain.  The other will keep you in it. 

4. Christ is close to us in our pain.  One of my favorite scriptures of all time is Psalm 34:18

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

To understand the heart of who God is, you need to see that while we were living in the pain of our iniquity…
…while we were incapable of doing anything about our condition
…when we couldn’t get to God
…he came close to us.  

Isaiah 53:3-5 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.

Christ can not just identify with our pain, he is close to us in our pain.  He went through agony on every level and understands our pain.  As much as he was abandoned in his darkest of nights, his promise to us, especially in our pain, is that he would never leave us or forsake us.  Our hurt doesn’t deter Jesus away from us. He is moved by our fractures and brokeness and he draws close to us to heal us. 

5. Our pain doesn’t have to be wasted.  Every experience is opportunity.  Every set-back can be a growth point for the future.  I remember when my daughter broke her arm at school, the doctor told me that the break, if it heals correctly, can heal stronger than it was before the break.  Don’t let your pain get wasted.  Don’t live in the darkness of your hurt.  As someone who deals with depression, it’s easy to indulge in your pain and let it be the identity you wear.  Your pain is an opportunity to let the glory of God heal you and shine brightly through your situation. John 11:4 says in The Message, 

“This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son.”

We need to stop letting our pain become the final outcome.  If we’ll let Christ come into our hurt, he’ll bring us healing.  And he’ll utilize that pain, which was meant to poison and destroy our lives, be the antidote for someone else’s pain.  Every fracture is an opportunity to show the glory of God.

I can’t explain every pain we go through.  I still look back at painful moments and cannot wrap my brain around why things happened.  But it’s in the midst of my pain where I recognized who Jesus was.  He is “Immanuel: God with me (us).”  

He understood because he had been there.
He helps because he is there.
He heals because that’s who he is.  

I leave you with the scripture that spoke into one of the most painful moments of my life. 

Isaiah 43:1-2 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you

Thanks for letting me ramble…