Monday, May 20, 2013

oil on my hands

It was around 2:00 p.m. when I sat down to lunch with my family yesterday afternoon...and though I had washed my hands, I noticed that there was still a smudge of oil on my hand from yesterday's services at Eastview (at first, I thought it was the greasy taco I was eating - yea...taco bell drive through - ugh). I was reminded of the powerful healing prayer time we held at the end of each service yesterday morning. With containers of olive oil, kleenex, and kneeling benches, the elders stood at the front of the auditorium and ministered as shepherds to the flock. And the sheep came...hundreds of them. And we prayed for healing... ...for a baby who is showing some developmental deficiencies...for an older woman who is losing her eyesight...for way too many depressed people...for marriages...for a little girl to walk...for healing from a recurring sin...for the habit of cutting to go away...for feelings of unworthiness...for a Down's syndrome child...for children with autism... I could go on. In a word, it was powerfully healing. You may ask, "was everyone healed?" I would say "Yes". Maybe they won't all receive the exact request in the exact way, but each did submit by faith to the only one who can save them. This is called faith and faith in God is healing in and of itself. When I turn to Him for my answers, for my pain, for my future - I know He loves me and will guide me and ultimately heal me! So I would say everyone who came forward yesterday was healed. And when I saw the oil on my hands, I was reminded of the pain I had prayed over. Perhaps I should put oil on my hand every Sunday to remind me that I'm preaching to people who are hurting. In fact, this is why I preach. We all need healing and have received it through Jesus...who has blood on His hands.

Monday, May 13, 2013

18 giant post-its

Not many are surprised to hear that I need visuals to think. In a crazy way, my ADD mind works best on a white board with scribbles everywhere. It helps me to eliminate and move and add things visually as thoughts pop in and out of my mind. So, when we go on retreat like I did last week, it's known that I'll need large wall post-it notes and markers. I have even been known to construct a big post-it from an entire pad of small ones! From the first meeting on, my hotel room is usually wall-papered with notes about anything and everything that we brainstorm together and ideas that make the cut. Fortunately in Dallas, our leadership team had some nice weather to put these notes on the windows of a back patio at the hotel. We spent hours thinking/praying/writing/dreaming for God. It was interesting to notice those around us (passing through the area) take note that our meeting resembled one of their boring business meetings, etc. we had Bibles, laughter, and passion! At the end of five days of planning we have 18 post-it notes filled with everything (everything I can think of) about Eastview Christian Church, both now and into the year 2030. The final one was one we titled "Holy Spirit Impressions". We prayed earlier that God would allow us to say, "It seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit" like the disciples did in Acts. Same Spirit, why not!? Any way, now we are listening to the Spirit as to what to do with these notes. In case you're wondering, I didn't lug these home, I simply took pics on my iPad for further reference.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Victory by God, details by me?!

I'm reading through Joshua these days for personal(ie. not for writing a sermon, or writing a lesson, or searching for some good leadership stuff)time in the Word. It's giving me a lot to chew on and the story of Joshua and the Israelites taking the city of Ai in the Promised Land is filled with all kinds of lessons. You'll remember that the first assault on Ai failed in Joshua 7 because Achan disobeyed God and all of Israel paid for it. They got beat in their second battle in the land! But after they figured out why God didn't help them win, they got rid of the sin and went back for a second try! You can't win a battle for God without explicitly obeying God! That's one lesson. But wait, there's more. By God's command, they attack Ai again and as God promised they completely destroy Ai - this is not surprising, but HOW they won surprises and encourages me! They did it with strategy using real live men to accomplish the feat! This is incredibly relevant for those of us who want to obey God and be used of Him for the victories in His kingdom. Let's be clear, God won the battle, but the detail on how they won was extensive. Joshua chose the best fighters (30,000 of them) then he sent them at night to sneak behind Ai. Then the next morning, the rest of the troops took up battle in front of the city. The men of Ai came out to fight and as a decoy (planned in advance) the men of Israel fled. This caused all the fighting men in Ai to chase Israel and leave the city unprotected. Then the 30,000 men behind the city charged in and set the whole place on fire! When the Ai army looked and saw the smoke of their city -they freaked. When the Israelite army saw the smoke, they stopped running and started fighting. Result: Ai is wiped out! God's people win. Question: Why did the Israelites come up with such an extensive plan when God could have just taken out Ai with no army at all? Why the big strategy of ambush, when God could have just caused them to win in a straight up fight? Why would God let Joshua give specific detailed orders for the battle? Here's my conclusion. God is always the reason for the victory, but in His kingdom He uses specific people and their efforts and plans (as long as they are lined up with his will)to win his battles! This means that what we do matters somehow. God can win without us...He just doesn't! This is an astounding reality and blessing. So, I'm with our leadership team planning, praying, dreaming, praying some more,and visiting other churches this week in Dallas. Will God's church at Eastview prevail without our leadership? Absolutely YES! But will God use the stuff He guides us to do to make it happen. Yes. So God will win and some of the strategies we dream will be the details he uses to accomplish it. Don't ask me just is!