Friday, October 25, 2013

Fox Tales, Part 3

Hello friends! I’d like to extend a very warm greeting from the Goodman family in the Dominican Republic! My wife and I get up every morning with such gratefulness for where God has placed us. We are unapologetic about it. Thank You, Jesus! We love the life the Lord has given us!

People get this mindset, “Oh, you’re on the mission field suffering for Jesus.” To which we reply, “No, Jesus didn’t send us to the mission field to suffer; we could have done that at home.”  Hello!!?? He sent us here to light some fields and some tails on fire . . . THAT’s why we are here!

God wants the church to be a place where people get fed, ignited, and equipped so they can be sent to the fields to do the work of the ministry. As Solomon used foxes to invade the enemy fields, so God wants to ignite us to basically carry out the same mission.

With that being said, we can also say, “The church is for grazing; the world is for blazing!” That’s why you and I have been sent here. I want you to consider something with me today. In the ministry of Jesus Christ, did Jesus ever preach in the church or the synagogue? Yes, He did. Did Jesus do more ministry in the church/synagogue or in the marketplace? The marketplace! The marketplace is out there; it’s the world in which we live our lives and conduct our business. 

I don’t know exactly what the ratio is, but Jesus did a greater amount of ministry outside the church than He did inside the church! See, the church is a place where the people of God gather to worship and be fed; then they are ready to be sent into the fields to bring the light and love of Christ to a sin-sick and dying world! Look around you, my friends. The world is sick and full of sin! It is dying. God has given you and I the goods to minister life to the world. 

The five-fold ministry of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher in Ephesians 4:11 has been given to the church for the equipping of the Saints. Have a problem with being called a Saint? Well, He says it about you! You might say, “I still sin.” To that I say, “Duh!” Isn’t that amazing? We continue to fall short, and God still calls us Saints. How do I know? Apostle Paul refers to the people of God as Saints! We’ve been set apart, my friends; yet we fall short sometimes. When we do, we have an advocate before the Father.

Say, “I’m a Saint.” If you’re like many Christians, you may have struggled with that. I’m just calling you what God calls you. Do you think that I believe that you always act like a Saint? I know that neither of us do! You know what? God knows everything; I am only witness and party to a very limited amount. God knows it all! That’s a scary thought, and we forget that every once in a while, don’t we? God is everywhere; He knows everything; He sees everything; He hears everything, yet He still loves us and calls us His Saints. Just study your Scripture, and you’ll see for yourself. I’m not calling you anything that God hasn’t already called you. If God says you’re a Saint, then bless God, you’re a Saint.

Now, as I was saying, more preaching, more teaching, more healing, and more miracles were carried out by Christ in the marketplace than in the house of worship. You think about it: the lives of lawyers, teachers, businessmen/women, civil authorities, peasants, priests, the rich, and the poor were all touched and impacted as Christ influenced the culture in which He lived.

It really goes back to His teaching in Luke 19:13 where He’s talking about the ten servants/stewards. In that one particular verse the master is leaving, and he places the servants in a position of management, or of oversight. He tells his stewards, “Occupy until I return.” You’re familiar with that, right? We understand that “to occupy,” means to take care of business on behalf of another, take oversight, take the management of. 

I lived in the Fayetteville/Fort Bragg, NC, area for twenty-five years. There are Special Force units and other “special entities” that don’t even exist, and how do I know that they don’t? Because even though I’ve been there, they’ve said, “You’ve never been here and this does not exist.” Twenty-five years around the military, and I’ve been told that the term “occupy,” means to advance. Whoa, a little added dimension. So why is the church here? Why are you here? We are here to advance the Kingdom of God! The question is: are you fulfilling your God-given mission?

Grace and peace,

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fox Tales, Part 2

Good morning from the wonderful country of the Dominican Republic! Vickie, Zach, and I are all doing great, and we’re really seeing God do some amazing things in our midst.
Last week we looked at the biblical account of Samson and how he set a multitude of fox tails on fire and then sent them into the fields of the Philistines. A lot of times we don’t understand that we have been sent by God into a field. Jesus told us to go into all the world; He sent us. He even said that He’s sending us as lambs into a den of wolves. We have a mission, and it is a co-mission in which we are partnered with God to do His will—to see His kingdom come—right here where we are.
Continuing with the story of Samson, we see where he has been tricked by his wife who just so happened to have divulged the riddle in an attempt to save her family and home from being burned to the ground. Samson comes up with a most unique strategy. This story has always impressed me. When we think of Samson, we think of great strength, the pagan temple falling down around him, and his eyes being plucked out.  Everybody likens Samson to being muscular and strong, but he was also somewhat shrewd. Is it wisdom to set the field on fire one torch at a time, or is there greater wisdom in setting the tails of foxes on fire and letting them run wild into the Philistine’s fields? Which do you think is most effective?
You see, that’s why teamwork is so much more efficient than when we’re trying to accomplish something by ourselves because when two work together, there’s something exponential that takes place, and the fruit is multiplied. It’s one of the reasons that God has ordained this thing that we call the “Church”! Church is not just for us to come and fellowship. Church is a place for us to graze, and the world is a place for us to blaze.
Samson had a shrewd idea of setting the fox tails on fire. Notice he sent them out two by two. Does that remind you of anything . . . maybe in Luke 10 when Jesus sent out the seventy? Remember, He sent them out two by two. Why? Because two can work more than twice as efficiently as one. Does that make sense? When two work together, it’s not like 1 + 1. There’s a multiplication factor that kicks in and makes the work more effective and efficient.  
Just as Jesus sent His disciples two by two, I believe we’re seeing something very similar here as Samson sets the tails of foxes on fire and sends them into the enemy’s fields. Do you understand that we’ve been sent into the fields of the Philistines? If you don’t believe that, go downtown in any major city on a Friday or Saturday night. We have been sent into the Philistine's fields!
God’s intended purpose is for you and I to set those fields on fire! That’s why we’re here. I admit, some of us need a little fire put to our tails. When you put fire on a fox’s tail, he’s going to run! God needs to light a fire on our tail so that we’re sent out to run into the fields of the Philistines to bring them the Good News. The news of not only the Lordship of Jesus Christ, but also the revelation that God loves them and He wants to not only save, but to also heal and restore their lives back to what He intended them to be.
It’s time for some fox tails to get lit on fire and set these fields ablaze! Are you listening to me? Say to yourself, “God wants to light my tail on fire”! It’s always amazing to me how God uses the most natural things to bring about the most supernatural results. He’s using foxes. That is a natural thing doing a supernatural work; we see it throughout the Bible. God used a bird to feed a prophet! He can use something as natural as a tree to cause a short, little guy like Zacchaeus to be able to see Jesus.
Why, He can turn water into wine. Come on, somebody say, “Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!” He can take the most natural thing, turn it, and use it for His glory. He can take YOU and ME, flesh and bone, fill us with the Holy Ghost, put the Word in our hearts, light our tails on fire, and set us free to go out and do the most supernatural things. Through YOU, souls can be saved. Think about that! If you just open your mouth at the opportune moment, you can see the miracle of someone getting born again!
He’s using something perfectly natural: YOU! He’ll set you in the exact place, with the right people, doing exactly the right thing, and BAM, suddenly a miracle takes place! Someone who was dead in their trespasses and sins is suddenly made alive in Christ Jesus! That’s a miracle, supernatural! I submit to you that God wants to light our tails on fire!
That’s all for this week. Keep praying and seeking God, Church!
Peace and grace,

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fox Tales

Good morning! I felt like I heard the Lord speak to my heart this morning that we need less commotion and more devotion in our lives. I would encourage you to close your eyes for a moment and experience God in your surroundings; He’s right here with us. I believe He wants to make His presence known to each of us in a very real and personal way. Many times we hinder the presence of God. Take a moment of real devotion; block out the commotion. If you don’t experience the presence of the Lord, then there is nothing of real value that I can offer you. More than anything, I want to see people experience Him. Did you actually do it, and if you did, wasn’t that awesome?

Now that we’ve taken that opportunity to clear our hearts and minds and connect with the Lord, we’ll go ahead and look at the book of Judges. We’re going to study some “Fox Tales” this morning. No, I’m not referring to the Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. I believe that what God wants to speak to us today is pertinent to our lives. We’re going to be looking at a story about Samson that precedes the famous “Samson and Delilah” account. It is apparent that he is a man who obviously had a thing for pagan ladies. We will see that in this story.
1 Now Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines. 2 So he went up and told his father and mother, saying, “I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.”

3 Then his father and mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” And Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she pleases me well.” 4 But his father and mother did not know that it was of the Lord . . .
So even in the midst of this (Samson being drawn to a Philistine, pagan woman), God was up to something! Let this be a lesson to us that even when we’re feeling nothing and seeing nothing, God is up to something, my friend . . . and He’s up to something today! Right here, right now, and in your life! We might not be able to identify what God is doing, but He’s always at work around us.
Samson’s father and mother didn’t know that God was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines. At that time, the Philistines had dominion over Israel.
5 So Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and came to the vineyards of Timnah. Now to his surprise, a young lion came roaring against him. 6 And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done.
7 Then he went down and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well. 8 After some time, when he returned to get her, he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion. And behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the carcass of the lion. 9 He took some of it in his hands and went along, eating. When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them, and they also ate. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion. 10 So his father went down to the woman. And Samson gave a feast there, for young men used to do so. 11 And it happened, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him. 12 Then Samson said to them, “Let me pose a riddle to you.
We see here that Samson was shrewd and had some wisdom (and apparently lacked wisdom in other areas as we’ll soon notice). Does this sound familiar? We can have wisdom in some areas, but in others, well, let’s just say that we sure can do some foolish things every once in a while! Come on, somebody! I’m not the only one, am I?
12 If you can correctly solve and explain it to me within the seven days of the feast, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing. 13 But if you cannot explain it to me, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing.” And they said to him, “Pose your riddle, that we may hear it.” 14 So he said to them:
“Out of the eater came something to eat,
And out of the strong came something sweet.”
Now for three days they could not explain the riddle. 15 But it came to pass on the seventh day that they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband, that he may explain the riddle to us, or else we will burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you invited us in order to take what is ours? Is that not so?” 16 Then Samson’s wife wept on him, and said, “You only hate me! You do not love me! You have posed a riddle to the sons of my people, but you have not explained it to me.” And he said to her, “Look, I have not explained it to my father or my mother; so should I explain it to you?” 17 Now she had wept on him the seven days while their feast lasted. And it happened on the seventh day that he told her, because she pressed him so much. Then she explained the riddle to the sons of her people. 18 So the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down:
“What is sweeter than honey?
And what is stronger than a lion?”
And he said to them: “If you had not plowed with my heifer,
You would not have solved my riddle!”
You just have to love the terminology of the Bible! How many of you know it’s wrong to plow with another man’s heifer? It’s a big “no-no”! Let’s continue to read this account:
19 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men, took their apparel, and gave the changes of clothing to those who had explained the riddle. So his anger was aroused, and he went back up to his father’s house. 20 And Samson’s wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man.
15  1 After a while, in the time of wheat harvest, it happened that Samson visited his wife with a young goat. And he said, “Let me go in to my wife, into her room.” But her father would not permit him to go in. 2 Her father said, “I really thought that you thoroughly hated her; therefore I gave her to your companion. Is not her younger sister better than she? Please, take her instead.”
3 And Samson said to them, “This time I shall be blameless regarding the Philistines if I harm them!” 4 Then Samson went and caught three hundred foxes; and he took torches, turned the foxes tail to tail, and put a torch between each pair of tails. 5 When he had set the torches on fire, he let the foxes go into the standing grain of the Philistines, and burned up both the shocks and the standing grain, as well as the vineyards and olive groves. 6 Then the Philistines said, “Who has done this?” And they answered, “Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he has taken his wife and given her to his companion.” So the Philistines came up and burned her and her father with fire.
7 Samson said to them, “Since you would do a thing like this, I will surely take revenge on you, and after that I will cease.”
Okay, we have set the stage for next week’s blog by reading the story above at length. What a cliffhanger! Next week we will look at the strategy that Samson employed by setting the Philistine’s fields on fire and how it might be pertinent to our lives today.
I would encourage you to continue with the practice of taking some precious moments out of your day to connect with the Lord and experience His presence. If you’re not already in that habit, you’ll soon see what a difference it will make in your daily life.
Grace and peace,

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How To Live Sane In An Insane World, Part 8

I pray each of you are having a wonderful day today! I’m so thankful to the Lord for everything He continues to pour out. Everywhere I look, I see His hand at work!

In the last blog, we talked some about having our mouth filled with God’s Word. It is far too common to have blessing and cursing flow from the same port! Where does that blessing and cursing come from? Where does that sweet water and bitter water come from? Where does that life and death come from? It comes from my heart, and until I begin to “man up” and ask God, “God, where did that come from,” I might walk in deception. I have inquired of the Lord the source, and He has responded, “It’s coming from your heart; you have to get your heart straight.” Those are not pleasant words; I don’t like it when God says that to me. I may reply, “But God, I have the heart of David!” He says, “Yes, you do, and the heart of Saul.” That’s what needs to be transformed, our hearts.  

Listen, I’m tired of getting sucked back into the draw of the world and its mentality. In the Bible, the Apostle Paul writes, “No good soldier entangles himself once again with the things of the world.” I don’t have time for it anymore. I can’t afford to be entangled with the things of the world! There are too many things I want to experience in the Kingdom of God, and I’m robbing myself of the measure of God’s Kingdom by allowing myself to be entangled with the cares of the world, the lusts of the flesh, and the desire for other things. They are always there trying to pull us away from the things of God.

So, I say to you . . . if we will take the medicine—sometimes it does taste bitter—it will eventually bring us to a place of greater life.

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1).

What are we seeking, friends? What are we fixated on? What is consuming our lives? What consumes our thoughts and emotions? What’s driving us? What’s compelling us? I will tell you this: in the Kingdom of God, motivation is everything! What motivates us to do what we do? What we do can sometimes look really bad, but it may be from a good motivation. Sometimes it can look really good, but come from an evil motivation! God is always looking at the motivation of the heart.

Other people don’t know your motivation; don’t worry about their judgments! You get your heart straight! Just as other people cannot see your heart, you can’t see theirs. Don’t be focused on the speck in a brother’s eye as long as you have a beam in your own. We’re so good at judging others while we walk around half blind. Isn’t that true? We need to search our hearts and let God search them, too.

Verse 2 says, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” I like that . . . it’s like concrete setting . . . like a linebacker set in position. God wants us to prosper, so it’s not necessarily the things on the earth that are evil; God doesn’t have a problem with things, believe me! He doesn’t have a problem with you prospering. If He did, that means He would have lied. Just read your Bible and see how blessed women and men of the Old and New Testaments were! I’ve been young and now I’m old, but I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging for bread. It’s not the things, it’s what you set your mind on! What are you fixated on? What’s driving you?

Paul continues in verse 3 of Colossians, “You died, and your life is hidden in Christ in God!” It’s time for us to consider ourselves dead! D.E.A.D.! When we consider taking up our cross, sometimes we want to die just a little bit at a time! We get one arm nailed up, then we pull it down and put the other one up there and say, “Okay, God, you can have this arm now.” Then we want to wiggle around on the cross. WHY DON’T WE JUST DIE??!! You can’t hurt a dead man. The reason we keep getting hurt is because we’re just not that dead yet. Dead men feel no pain. Let’s set our focus on things that are above and not of this world. Amen?

A key to living a crucified, victorious life is to keep our thoughts and minds in check. Again, here is a review of your complete spiritual prescription to be taken three times daily until you evidence a change in your thought processes. After that, administer as needed!

1.     Casting down imaginations (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
2.     Getting our minds renewed (Romans 12:1-2)
3.     Meditate on and SPEAK the Word of God (Joshua 1:8)
4.     Judge our thoughts (Philippians 4:8)

Grace and peace,