Posted on March 24, 2014 by Family Christian
Posted on March 24, 2014 by John van der Veen
What is a rescue mission? I mean really. Not to sound dramatic on this, but isn't the call of missions placed on all followers of Jesus? Now if that is true, then isn't a work of mission really a work of rescuing? There is a lost world outside and Jesus has commissioned us to go after it with life and joy - to rescue people from the jaws of death, the devil and hell itself.
David Lomas believes that to be true. He heard the word of the Lord to go, and that is exactly what he did. He went. David didn't go to a Bible-belt community where it may be a bit easier to teach and preach. No. He went to one of this countries most ungodly cities.
David serves as the lead pastor at Reality in San Francisco, a church community that started in 2010 in the Castro District. According to Wikipedia, "the Castro remains one of the most prominent symbols of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activism and events." He lives, with his wife Ashley, in one of the most un-churched cities in the nation, but one that is bursting with new life and grace of God. The Reality family of churches is a growing movement committed to relational church planting and serving the broader body of Christ.
I had to talk with this man. I wanted to hear his story and hear from him about what God was doing. Let me say this - The Gospel is alive in the Castro District and Jesus continues to change people into the likeness of Himself!
John: David, I'm wondering before with get started and talk about your book that just came out, would you be willing to give us a little bit of background information? Who is David Lomas, where did you came from, how you got into the position that you are now, as both a pastor and as a author.
David: Yeah, so I was born and raised in the central valley of California, so right now, I live in San Francisco. About 3, 4 hours south of here, almost to LA, is a little town right in the middle of California, called Bakersfield. Born and raised there. Didn't grow up in a Christian home at all. Was invited to church several times growing up. I always said that it was against my religion to go to church. Didn't really have a religion but it didn't involve church.
I reluctantly went one time when I was like in 6th grade, and it was a very pentecostal church, and I was scared to death. I never went back to church, and then my freshman year of high school, a friend of mine started playing in a worship band at his church, and he was in a band that I would go and watch, like where I can get in as a freshman in high school, like pizza places and stuff like that. He invited me to church and said, "My band is playing at church," and I thought that was weird, but I went, and it was pretty fun.
Then, right around I think my junior year of high school ... I didn't really go back that much. Junior of high school, I made a decision, I don't even know what it was. It might have been growing up kind of marginally Catholic, so it might have been those Catholic roots, but I'm like, okay, no matter what happens, when I wake up on Sunday morning from partying or whatever, I'm going to go to church. I don't even know why I did that. I think it was God just calling me, but I had no idea at the time why I was doing this.
I would wake up random places on Sunday morning from partying all Saturday night, and I would wake up everyone to go to church. Like, "Hey, church starts at 10:30. It's 10:00. Everybody, wake up and let's get to church." I was like an evangelist before I was even saved. I'm like, "Let's get to church and there's free coffee and donuts there, so let's sober up." We'd get there, and we'd listen to the teaching, and I don't know, I just would go.
I befriended a youth pastor there, and they invited me to a Wednesday night church one time, and I thought that was the strangest thing. I'm like, "You're going to church twice in a week? That's absurd. I mean, once is enough. What are you doing?" We were in a room, Wednesday night Bible study youth group. We were going around, sharing like, "When did you come into a personal relationship with Christ?" That was the question that everyone had to answer. I mean, I had no idea how to answer that question. I didn't even know that was a thing.
I turned to my friend who invited me years ago. I'm like, "Hey," his name was Daniel, "Daniel, what do I say? Like, when it gets to my turn, what do I say?" He goes, "Don't worry. Just say, you don't know Jesus on that level yet," and I'm like, "Oh, that's a good one. I'm going to use that one."
My turn and the youth pastor just says, "Dave, when did you come into a personal relationship with Jesus?" I go, "Well, I don't know Jesus on that level yet." I just look to my right, like next please, like he's going to pass over me, but I didn't know I was just pitching him right down the center, lob ball. I mean, this is every youth pastor's dream was to get this question, and he said, "Well, Dave," and he just pressed in, "If you died tonight, would you go to heaven or hell?" I'm like, "I'd go to heaven, no problem, easy." He's like, "Why ... "
I seriously thought in my head, I'm good enough. I'm good enough to get into heaven. He shared with me the gospel, and that night, I said the prayer to become a Christian. I think it was more of a fire insurance sort of thing, and then, I didn't change anything. Still sold drugs, still partied, and then about maybe 4 or 5 months later, I got kicked out of school for selling drugs, and my friend had just given me a Bible, same friend that invited me to church years ago.
I opened it up, after getting kicked out of school not knowing what to do with my life, opened it up in the middle of the book to the book of Job, but I thought it said "job," and I'm like, "I need a job. That's what I need."
John: Yeah, of course.
David: I'm going to read this to get a job. I started reading it, 4 chapters in, God called me and said, "You can go to ... " well, it was just the whole Proverbs thing. "You go down this road and it leads to death or you can go down this road, it leads to life." I said, "I'm going to follow Jesus. I'm going to give up everything and follow him."
I got rid of all my drugs that night, called my youth pastor up, said, "I'm a Christian now. I'm going to follow Jesus. Disciple me." Well, I didn't say that, but you know. "I want to follow Jesus now." He discipled me, got into ministry, and started doing youth ministry when I graduated high school. Was ordained at 21. God started giving me favor in doing ministry, and I loved it.
I became a youth pastor and then a young adult pastor, and then, I met a friend in Santa Barbara, who said, "I want to plant a church," and he basically invited me to become a part of Reality, and I moved there, to Santa Barbara, and then from Santa Barbara, God called me to San Francisco to plant a church in San Francisco.
We started the church in 2010, and it's just turned 4 years old, and it's been wild. It's been absolutely wild.
John: Was there a point, as you were reading through the book of Job ... like obviously something sparked in your life. Was there, what am I saying here, like a resonating story between the two of you, between both Job dealing with all of these really harsh realities of his circumstances and maybe a little bit of what you were going through as an individual?
David: Absolutely. I had a student Bible (I know you guys sell them at your store), but I got one that was put out, I don't know, in the early 90s, or mid 90s, and when I opened it up to Job, it said, "When bad things happen to good people," was the student Bible heading over that, and I'm like, "That's me. I am good," I was still convinced of my goodness, "I'm good. I'm not nearly as bad as all my other friends. Why me? Why did I get kicked out of school?"
I read it, and what struck me was Job was being tested, was allowed to be tested by God, and I had zero Bible knowledge, but I somehow resonated with that going, "Maybe God is testing me and he wants to get my attention, and will I curse God or will I choose to follow him?" It was at that moment that I really had a vision, I think a vision of God. Christ going, "Choose. This way or this way. This way leads to death. This way leads to life."
John: Your life has been changed ever since.
David: Yeah, absolutely. It was that moment of repentance, turning from my ways to God's ways. I prayed the prayer before. I don't know what it did. I can't even tell you what it did. I might have made me receptive to when the Spirit called me, but that moment, the Spirit of God called me, and I turned repentant and followed him, and that was the moment it all changed for me.
John: David, this is not a secret, but you have chosen to pastor a church in one of the most un-Christian cities here in the US. I'm curious maybe about your thoughts as far as being a pastor in a dark place, like where you guys have chosen residency, and what does that mean as far as other cities? Are you saying that the rest of the US is doing that much better spiritually than San Francisco, or what? Just give your thoughts on that.
David: Yeah. I think that San Francisco is just as sinful as everyone else, but everyone else manages their sin better. You might have religious sin somewhere. Other cities might wrestle with different types of sin. San Francisco just sins a lot more out loud, a lot more colorfully, but just as sinful. I mean, I've lived in Southern California. I lived in beautiful Santa Barbara, and people just sin. It's the same rebellion as in other places.
Ministering here? I love ministering here. I heard one time someone say that when they ministered in Texas they would have to convince people they're not a Christian before they could share the gospel. I'm like, "Wow, that would be really hard, to tell someone they're not," like, "You're not a Christian. Just because you go to church doesn't make you a Christian." They had to convince them that they're not first, like cultural Christianity doesn't count, and that this is what the true gospel is.
Here, I don't have to work through that layer. Here, I can just say, "This is the gospel," and people here have rejected it so much that it really shines. You hold up the smallest light, and it shines in the darkness, and so, I'm able to get up every Sunday morning and preach truth and it's just black and white, and I love that. I love that opportunity, so ministering here has been one of the joys of my life.
After living in San Francisco for just 3 months, my wife and I felt like God created us to live here. Everything great about this city, we love it. We love the diversity and the complexity of it, the culture of it, the colorfulness of it, the density, I mean, all of it, the food. Just everything about San Francisco, we love. We absolutely love. The architecture, the topography, everything.
We feel like we're created to live here and then not only are we created to live here, but we're called to preach the gospel here, and it's needed and it's like a healing balm to people as soon as they hear it because it's so different than what they hear normally in San Francisco.
John: David, are people responding well to the message of the gospel?
David: Yeah. When I moved here, everyone said, "You're going to the graveyard of churches." I mean, prominent churches and pastors have tried to plant churches here and have put millions of dollars of effort in planning a church here, and almost all of them have failed, and so they said, "So and so has tried it and so and so has tried it and so and so has tried it. Good luck. It's where churches go to die. Have fun," like, "There you go."
I had very low expectations. The church was sending us to plant here. I told them, "Give us 10 years before this church is established. Give us 5 to 10 years of funding and support, because this church is going to take a long time to bring 100 people to get critical mass," and the very first Sunday, it just was packed. I have no idea how, like zero promotion. Our website was horrible. You couldn't even find it even if you Googled our name. I have no idea.
We had a group of people, like 35, 40 people praying, and then our first Sunday, close to 200 people showed up, and then, it just hasn't stopped growing from there, from our very first Sunday. People were very, very hungry for the gospel, and we just came at a ... I don't know. There's a time, San Francisco was just coming up. Our nation was coming out of a recession. San Francisco was leading the way in that, and all these start-ups were happening, all the stuff that the whole world is hearing about right now and happening in San Francisco was starting to happen in 2009, 2010.
We just came right there, and I think there was this catalytic sort of moment, there was something in the air here where God was doing something different, and our church was just right there at that right time. I have no idea how it worked, but it's working. We great to 4 services. We have 4 services going on. We had to turn people away from church because we couldn't fit them in the room, and we just recently got into a bigger building that seats like 1400 people, but we're packed again. We're at capacity, and we don't know what to do next.
Yeah, I don't know. God's just doing it. I don't know.
John: I heard once before of a church that was being planted in a large city that seemed to be kind of living through this more casual approach to Christianity where it was more of a cultural or a club kind of atmosphere. Almost everybody went to church, but hardly anybody had a real relationship with Jesus, and to some extent, that church, when they started, they just raised a banner on the flagpole saying, "Hey, we are a church that is all about the centrality of the gospel. We're all about Jesus and wanting to see and understand how he changes us," and the same thing kind of happened.
It sounds to me that to some extent, you guys are in that same type of approach. You're preaching the gospel to people, to a people that are just very hungry for it.
David: Yeah, absolutely. When we first started the church, we said we're a theological community that's centered around Christ, and we'll preach, which is like we'll have conversation, but we're going to preach the gospel. As we've done that, as we've proclaimed Christ and made Christ central, God has drawn people to himself. We didn't come in trying to be like this really cool, hip thing. People thought our name was Reality, because we were so real, like, "Are you guys because you're real?"
We stripped everything down to no production at all at the church, basically a band, but they weren't even spotlighted. You couldn't even see who was on the stage, and you could see the words on the screen, and that was proclaiming the theology of what we were singing, and that was it. People were like, it was so refreshing to people. They were like, "That's so refreshing." The emphasis is off the people and on God and it's transcendent and it's beautiful, and so, yeah, absolutely.
John: That's fantastic. David, you have a new book that you just came out with with David C Cook Publishers. Titled The Truest Thing About You. What is behind this? Give us the 30,000-foot view of this book and how it's speaking into the identity of those that you guys are ministering to.
David: Yeah, I guess, I'll give you a little back story behind the book that probably captures why we wrote the book, why I wrote the book, and why we put it out.
About a 1-1/2 years into the church, we were growing, like we were saying and like I was saying, and we just got finished with the book of Mark, and it was great, and people were falling in love with Jesus, people were speaking the name of Jesus and getting baptized in Jesus' name. It was just great. It just Christ centered. It was a beautiful thing.
After that, we were seeing all these people turn to Christ, but then, they were still sinning in the church, and I don't know what I expected, but I expected, you come in contact with the real Christ, and he'll completely change your life. He'll change your lifestyle, and we weren't seeing that as much, and so, I wanted to teach them holiness, and I wanted to bring down the hammer of holiness.
I told me executive pastor. I'm like, "I'm going to teach them holiness after Mark, and I'm going to make people like ... " I almost put my youth pastor hat back on and make people sign pledges and wear promise rings and stuff like that. I realized if I start doing this, if I want to teach on holiness the way I want to teach on it, everyone will feel like they've been duped. Like, "You brought us in with the gospel, and now, you're putting on us the law." That sort of thing.
I felt like I can't do that. I know that there's something wrong, not resonating with me there, and then, as I was reading through the New Testament and I wanted to teach on a book and I came to Colossians 2 and 3, and Paul is talking to the church in Colossae, saying that these lists that you keep doing, he says in chapter that do not touch, do not taste, do not feel, these sort of rules that you put on Christianity do nothing to restrain your sensual indulgences.
Then, he goes right into chapter 3, which is all about Christian sanctification, and he says, but who you are in Christ, the fact that Christ is your life, you have to live from there that identity. I took that and I was starting to go through it and finding all these places where I was realizing before God ever tells us what to do, he tells us who we are, so every single command of holiness is based on a truth about us. Then, I was like, I don't think I've ever really understood that to the level of profoundness that I did when I was studying it for a series, and I said, "I need to teach our church how to find their identity in Christ."
What I did, this was 2011, and I couldn't find that many good books on identity, and I'm like, this is it. I started teaching on it, and everyone started resonating with it. I almost feel like no one's talking about this, like who I am in Christ, make that the basis of my entire identity and then from there flows holiness, from there flows what I'm supposed to do, from that flows the commandments, and then, it started tapping into what ways people find their identity in, especially in San Francisco.
They move here to work. They move here to express themselves sexually. They move here to flaunt what they have, and when we do that, we find our identity in a job, in a thing, in a sexual orientation or desire, and that's not where we're called to find our identity.
From that series of identity comes this book, so this book is all about who we are in Christ, getting all the way back to Imago Dei. How we were created, and then letting that, those hints of creation, who we are, who we were created to be really, give us signposts to who God wants to remake us into and being conformed to the image of his son, and then taking that from because of who we are in Christ, then what we're called to do, there's power behind that. We can actually live into our identity in Christ because of who we are.
Then, it goes into every single command of God is based on the truth about us, and that's the whole title of the book, The Truest Thing About You. Once you find the truest thing and you realize and come to understand and accept the truest thing about us, everything else flows from there, and so, that's like a high level of what the book is about. It's about identity. It's about our desires, and it's about why all those things really matter in our walk with Christ, and I think it's the whole point of sanctification.
John: There's a foreword in the book by another pastor, Francis Chan. How did that come about?
David: Francis is a good friend of mine. We met here in San Francisco. He moved here, I think, 2011. The church was just turning a year old, and I remember him showing up to church and we had a mutual friend. My friend said, "Hey, you should go to Dave's church since you're in San Francisco. Check it out." He came one Sunday and we had lunch afterwards, and we just kind of hit it off. Our hearts were kindred, like our hope for the church, our hopes for San Francisco, our hopes for what the gospel can do in the life of a person. We just kind of connected.
We've been friends for several years now. I wrote this book, and I sent it to Francis, saying, "Hey, I'd love if you could endorse the book or maybe thinking about writing a foreword to the book or whatever," and so, he's like, I mean, he probably gets that 100 times a day. I would imagine everyone in the world wants Francis to do something in the book. I sent it to him not expecting anything back, and he read it on his plane ride to China. He got to China, and he emailed me immediately. He said, "Hey, I don't have time to tell you that much stuff, but I deeply love this book. Like, it moved me. It changed the way I think about things."
Then it was almost like a little weird ... It was kind of weird to me, but it was almost like a little confession saying, "I think I've pushed people to mission not based on their identity in Christ but based on you have to do this for God," and he goes, "I was so convinced that I needed to tell people who they are in Christ." I was blown away. I was like, "Wow, thank you," all this other stuff, and I said, "Let me know if you would consider writing something for the book."
He said, "Hey, I wrote you a letter, and you can do whatever you want with it. You could put it in the book as is. You could change it to be more like a foreword or an endorsement, whatever, or you could just ditch it, whatever you want to do." We read it, and it was just such a heartfelt letter of how this book changed the way I see and pastor and even parent as well as other stuff, and we just thought, "Hey, I'm going to leave it in just as it is, and so the foreword of the book is basically a letter that he wrote to me, telling how the book really impacted his life.
John: That's so cool. All right. I'm going to read a little bit here, just one quote at the very end, and then, I just have one more question for you, David.
You write at the end "Christ is your life. He gives you a new identity and will work that new identity out in your life until the day when he appears. On that day, you will finally see clearly as Christ sees you now. You will know as you are known." What a great promise that is. That's awesome. I've been challenged by this book, and I want to encourage anybody who's reading this interview to go out and pick up a copy of David Lomas' new book, The Truest Thing About You. It's a good book, it's a challenging book.
I wrestled as I was reading this book. There were a couple of parts in it as I was going through, and I was like, "I don't like where he's going with this," and then, of course, by the end of the chapter, I was like, "Of course, yes. This makes sense," and I felt like God was hitting me over the head with a 2 x 4, which was great.
Hey, I have to ask, are you a coffee drinker or a Mountain Dew drinker? What is your culture like in San Francisco?
David: I don't remember the last time I had a Mountain Dew. Coffee all the way, absolutely. The culture here in San Francisco is a insane coffee culture, almost too insane, almost too snobby. Yeah, it's just like insane.
John: Now, is it like froo-froo coffee for you, or is it just like, hey, straight up black coffee?
David: Oh, straight up. Like, I'll add some milk or something to it, but yeah, every morning.
John: Anyway, David, hey, thank you so much, man, for chatting with me today. I really appreciate it. God bless you, brother. Thank you very much.
For more on David's book, click here.
“The truth hurts, the phrase goes, but Dave Lomas shows how the truest truth blesses and heals. Read this book and be reminded, or hear for the first time, that you are beloved. Trust it is true, and love will change your life. Enjoy Lomas’ masterful fusion of pastoral compassion, writerly wit, and spiritual sincerity.”
Jenell Paris, professor of anthropology at Messiah College and author of The End of Sexual Identity
“We live in a world where it is so incredibly easy to have what we think about ourselves subtly and sometimes not so subtly shaped by culture, people, and our own insecurities. The Truest Thing about You is a compass and a map that will help us see how we may have missed the incredible way God created us to be and how He sees us, which is our true identity. Too many people live their lives not understanding what Dave writes about here and what a joy it is thinking about how people’s lives will radically change if they grasp the truths within this book.”
Dan Kimball, pastor of Vintage Faith and author of They Like Jesus But Not the Church
“Dave Lomas is not only a great pastor and author, but a great friend. Over the last few years my heart has been broken beyond my wildest imagination as I watched my young daughter die of cancer. There were times that I would not have made it through if Dave were not there to shepherd my soul with the same great wisdom, insight, compassion and incisive truth that overflows this book. I am so thankful for him and the way that this book will serve to heal and propel so many into the mission of Christ.”
Britt Merrick, pastor and author of Godspeed
“The Truest Thing about You is an important book. It’s important because it cuts to the core of what it means to be human, what it means to be loved by God, and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. And this is not just theory. Dave writes from deep experiences pastoring in one of America’s most identity-rich cities. Rarely has a book gotten to the heart of the issue with such precision and skill. I believe this will be a powerful tool for helping people be more transformed into the image of Jesus.”
Jon Tyson, lead pastor at Trinity Grace Church New York
“We are a generation haunted by the question: who am I? More than ever before, we wander through life confused and lost amid the panoply of options. In a cultural milieu of one identity crisis after another, Dave Lomas’ first book comes as firm ground under our feet. Dave is a friend I know and respect. He’s smart, humble, kind, self-effacing, and he has something to say. I encourage you to listen up.”
John Mark Comer, pastor for teaching and vision at Bridgetown and author of Loveology
“Dave Lomas is hitting on one of the great felt needs of our generation by asking this transformative question: What is the truest thing about you? His perspective on identity is truly needed, flipping the entire subject on its head and driving to the center of who we are as people, and ultimately as leaders. Is it what you do? Is it what you're good at? Is it who you know? The answer is so much bigger than these things. I urge you not to miss this important book!”
Brad Lomenick, author of The Catalyst Leader and President and Key Visionary of Catalyst
"There is only one thing more important than who you think you are … that's who God knows you are. Our lives are full of opportunities to define ourselves by what we do, have, or desire, but with honesty and wisdom, Dave Lomas brings us back to the truest thing about you. This book is for everyone who wonders 'who am I, really?' … which is everyone!"
Nicole Unice, Christian counselor and coauthor of Start Here
This post was posted in Books, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, David Lomas, Francis Chan, Jenell Paris, Dan Kimball, Britt Merrick, Jon Tyson, John Mark Comer, Brad Lomenick, Nicole Unice
Posted on March 24, 2014 by Family Christian
Francesca Battistelli returns with her fourth album, If We’re Honest. Featuring her radio hit debut song “Write Your Story,” this CD perfects the soulful, pop sound that began with her gold-certified debut, My Paper Heart, and its best-selling follow-up, Hundred More Years. If We’re Honest is full of bright, upbeat songs and personal, thought-provoking ballads that will inspire, encourage and challenge you in your daily walk with God, and ultimately point you toward the hope that is only found in Him.
In the video below, Franny talks about her new song He Knows My Name.
What do you think of it? Are you excited about her new album?
Posted on March 24, 2014 by Family Christian
Posted on March 24, 2014 by Wendy Pope
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
My mouth has always gotten me in trouble. You might say I am "quick to speak, slow to think." Apparently, the filter between my brain and my mouth doesn't always work well.
I don't mean to hurt anyone. I mean, it's not really "gossip." That's wrong, I know. But this is only harmless sharing ... really. I'm concerned and share those concerns. It's just girlfriends talking. Right?
The danger of "just girlfriends talking" hit hard after recalling a recent conversation with a friend after church. After speaking my mind, I realized the woman we were chatting about was very close to where the conversation took place. Panic and a sick feeling stirred in my stomach. Questions raced through my mind:
Did she hear us?
How should I act when I see her?
What kind of excuse can I make up for why we were talking about her?
Words from Ephesians 4:29 rushed into my mind as conviction filled my heart: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
Nothing in that conversation had been helpful in building up the topic of our conversation. Not one word spoken brought benefit to anyone who listened. Our conversation was truly gossip — casual, unconstrained talk.
That potentially-damaging conversation made me realize once again the power of my words. I can use them to hurt or to help.
I'm committed to making a change with my words. Oh how different my conversations are when I use the acronym "T.H.I.N.K." before saying anything. This helps me determine if I should speak or keep silent. Are my words:
I love to talk. But sometimes my careless chatter has hurt others, and my loose lips have left me full of regret. However, God's Word and the T.H.I.N.K. acronym help me to use my words wisely. They help me know when to press pause so I can walk away from a conversation without any regrets.
Will you join me in becoming more than just a girlfriend talking? Will you challenge yourself to T.H.I.N.K. before you speak and to use your words to benefit as well as to build up others?
Dear Lord, You gave us one mouth and two ears for a reason. Help me think before I speak. I want to be a wise woman and use my words to help, heal, honor, benefit and build up those who listen. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Put to memory T.H.I.N.K. How can this acronym benefit your relationships?
Is there a recent conversation you regret? Consider if you need to apologize for any hurtful words.
Psalm 141:3, "Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips." (NIV)
James 1:26, "Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless." (NIV)
© 2014 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
Posted on March 23, 2014 by Boyd Bailey
“But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Luke 1:43
Sometimes you wonder why God has blessed you so much. You pinch yourself because of the overwhelming blessing of God. It may be gratitude for life itself or for a new baby. It may be the blessing of God a good friend is experiencing. Your joy may be because your children married people who place God at the top of their priority list, or because your career has taken off to a level of success you never imagined, and your financial abundance exceeds your expectations many times over. You often question why you are the recipient of God’s magnificent grace. The magnitude of His blessing seems to be greater than normal because you are the object of Almighty God’s sovereign selection of unmerited favor.
It is good that you have not gotten over your gratitude to God. Your faith would be suspect if you routinely expected God to go over the top on your behalf. This type of presumption regarding God’s favor is influenced by pride because it not only expects but demands the blessing of God. However, joyful obedience is God’s expectation of you; He expects your surrender and submission. Doing His will is the least you can do, for He has chosen you for this opportunity to exalt Him. Never get over the fact that faith in God and obedience to His commands position you to be blessed at His discretion (1 Chronicles 29:12).
Furthermore, embrace those who have been graced with God’s blessing. Wish only His very best for them. Do not be jealous because you did not receive what they received. The Bible says that the Lord made us all unique. “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly” (Romans 12:6a NASB). Be grateful that you can hang out with those on whom God’s hand rests. He will choose to bless others differently than you, but blessing differentiations are meant to promote celebration, not division. This is how God expresses His sovereign control. He even blesses those outside the faith to promote His kingdom. He uses His indiscriminate blessings to draw good, but unredeemed people to Himself.
Blessing is the Lord’s lightning rod for the remembrance of a righteous God. The next time a friend is blessed by God, turn your inner snarl into an authentic smile. Be extremely grateful that He allows you to live or work with someone who is blessed to have the hand of God on his or her life. “Rejoice with those who rejoice…” (Romans 12:15a). These special, chosen servants are rare indeed. They are energizing to be around because they encourage you to be better. You don’t feel patronized, but privileged to be in their presence.
Trustworthy followers of Jesus are rare, so seek to learn from them and model their wise and humble ways. Watch how God works in their lives. Emulate their pure hearts for the Lord. God has you where you are for a season. Seize this time to learn from those who know how to lean on the Lord. Be thrilled that He has trusted you with this relational stewardship. God’s blessing is bountiful, so be aggressively appreciative that you and others are so blessed. Gratefully accept His blessing on your life and the lives of others. When you ask, “Why me?” remember it is because He wants you to be blessed on His behalf. Therefore ask, “Why not me?”
Taken from the March 23rd reading in Boyd’s 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God vol. 1”
Post/Tweet today: Our blessings are the Lord’s lightning rod for remembrance of our generous God. #whyme?
© 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry firstname.lastname@example.org /www.wisdomhunters.com
Posted on March 22, 2014 by Boyd Bailey
“At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them” (Matthew 12:1).
The Lord’s provision does not lack in practicality. What need do you have? Are you stressed out by striving or have you looked around for a simple solution? It may take some creativity and risk, but if Christ has what you need in close proximity, do not be shy. Forgo ego and appropriate faith. Access His provision and let Him manage your image.
Is your struggle over lack of work? Are you willing to work with your hands outside of your interests to provide for your family? Labor is labor; it can be toilsome and tiring at times. So even if your job is temporarily tedious, look at it as a gift from God. Be proud of your work, even when it is more transactional than relational. Our perspective becomes more grateful and realistic when work becomes a necessity, not an option.
Productive work keeps us focused on provision for those who depend on us, keeping us away from unproductive activities. Paul states it well, “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.’ We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies’” (2 Thessalonians 3:10–11). Provision follows preparation; so prepare your heart in humility, your head in integrity, and your hands in diligence. God helps those who prepare, work hard, and trust Him.
It is bad theology to blame God, the church, and others for our needy situation. It is good theology to be resourceful and seek solutions that require humility and focus. Whom have you invested in over the years who would be honored to give back to you? When you are transparent about your needs, you give other souls an opportunity to be blessed by blessing you. Honesty is a pure platform to invite God’s provision through friends.
Lastly, do not allow religious restraints to rob you of receiving mercy and being served on the Christian Sabbath. Is there a better time for the body of Christ to care for one another than on our day of corporate worship and biblical teaching? Indeed, engage with believers when you are in need, each part of the body needs the other. If you remain silent you deny others a blessing; when you speak up God practically provides.
“But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:24-26).
Prayer: Have I recognized and received God’s provision? Who needs my provision?
Related Readings: Joshua 9:14; Proverbs 6:8; Romans 5:17; 1 Timothy 6:17
Taken from the March 22nd reading in Boyd’s 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God vol. 2”
Post/Tweet today: Provision follows preparation; so we prepare our heart with humility and our head with integrity. #practicalprovision
© 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry email@example.com /www.wisdomhunters.com
Posted on March 21, 2014 by Boyd Bailey
"The priests are in mourning, those who minister before the Lord. The fields are ruined, the ground is dried up; the grain is destroyed, the new wine is dried up, the oil fails.” Joel 1:9 b – 10
A natural disaster may or may not be judgment from God. One thing is for sure, it is evidence of God. It is a wake up call. The extreme devastation is from forces uncontrived by mankind. The wind, the water, and the floods are the result of heaven's fury. This arrest in activity is an opportunity to look up. It is a time to take the attention off ourselves and ask God what He is up to. He is in control. He does have a plan and He does have His way of doing things. He has a purpose in this wake up call we define as a natural disaster.
Certainly it is a time to seek God, and secondly, it is an opportunity to serve people. Basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter are wanting. God’s people have the prime time chance to shine for Jesus. Natural disasters are gargantuan ministry opportunities. Life is passing by for some. They are naked, bleeding, and hungry. Their friends and family have perished before their very eyes. There is a hurt, hunger, and displacement that most cannot understand. The window is open to act. In the name of Jesus, we can and will rebuild.
We can rebuild homes, schools, churches, businesses, and most importantly, lives. Cities are a shell of their former glory. Sin has been squeezed out of them like the ringing of a dirty dishrag. Saints know their hope is eternal, but they still struggle with their loss. A natural disaster is evidence of the destructive power of our Creator. He is not a passive spectator, rather an engaged and patient heavenly Father. He cannot and will not be ignored. This is the time to bow before Him in confession, repentance and worship.
“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45b).
We can certainly pray for those caught in catastrophic calamity. Pray for God’s comfort and provision. Pray for God’s healing and mercy. Pray for God’s presence to permeate callous hearts, and pray for His love to draw others to Himself. Pray for people to ask God for forgiveness. Pray that we all would walk in humility with God, instead of indifference toward God. Pray that this time of brokenness will bring us all closer to God.
Indeed, we can pray and we can pay. We can give to our churches to help rebuild churches. We can give to ministries that provide food, clothing and shelter. We can house those who have relocated to our cities in need of friends and a roof over their heads. We can facilitate their dignity by helping with job opportunities, networking and training.
Life cannot go on as usual. We need to ask ourselves what our role can be. Everyone doing a little accomplishes a whole lot. A natural disaster can lead to a supernatural revival. We can experience a revival of awareness and worship of God. We can witness Jesus in action through love and service to our fellow man. We can use this pause in life to reevaluate our own priorities and recalibrate them with more eternal significance.
A natural disaster should lead us to a supernatural sense of God’s wonder. The Lord is large and in charge. Let’s not stay mad or sad. Let’s be glad we serve a risen Savior who’s in the world today. He is here to walk with us through the flood, famine and fire. God is with us. He is here. He cares and He is drawing mankind to Himself!
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:1b-3a).
Prayer: During a natural disaster, how can I be a conduit for Christ’s supernatural resources?
Related Readings: Psalm 82:5; Isaiah 24:19; Acts 16:26; Revelation 6:13
Post/Tweet today: A natural disaster should lead us to a supernatural sense of God’s wonder. The Lord is large and in charge. #naturaldisaster
© 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry firstname.lastname@example.org /www.wisdomhunters.com
Posted on March 21, 2014 by Family Christian
When two Gaither Vocal Band vacancies came open in late 2013, Bill began a meticulous search and considered every possibility. A few weeks ago, Gaither Music announced Adam Crabb as the new lead singer, joining Bill Gaither, David Phelps and Wes Hampton. Now, at last, the search is over for our fifth member and a new era begins in the Gaither Vocal Band’s legacy!
Gaither Music is pleased to welcome our new baritone, Todd Suttles, to the Gaither Vocal Band. Todd’s deep resonant baritone voice is matched only by his wonderful character, quick sense of humor and infectious energy. He comes to us from Vanderbilt University, where he has served for 20 years as a Sports Fitness Director as well as Vanderbilt’s CampVandy Youth Programs Director, where he will continue when he is not traveling with the Gaither Vocal Band. Todd has sung with the Settles Connection and can be heard in the background vocals on numerous recordings with artists whom you know and love. He comes highly recommended by fellow artists, university faculty, and many others who have had the privilege of working with him.
“First of all, I want to thank Mark Lowry and Michael English for giving us some really wonderful years and incredible recordings that will live on in gospel music history,” Bill states. “We knew when they left, we had big shoes to fill and, as I have said before, you never truly replace anyone. You have to create something new and unique. I have been putting voices together for a long, long time and never before have we considered more possibilities or auditioned so many incredible singers than we have during the past few months. This decision came down to finding a vocal range and texture that would offer just the right balance to the current mix of voices in the group. I could not be happier with this decision. Not only do we love the rich tones in Todd’s voice, he also happens to be a wonderful human being to be around. So not only have we gained a talented individual, we have gained a new friend. And very soon, I believe you will agree. Trust me. This is going to be good!”
Posted on March 21, 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer
"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." John 15:11-12 (NIV)
Why is it so hard for me to stop working and just have fun?
Other people have no trouble doing this. They look for any reason to drop the dust rags, ditch the dirty laundry, turn off the computer, and head to the park! Or the movies. Or a hike. Laughing all the way.
I wish I were more like that.
Couldn't the personality tests I've taken throughout the years just once show a different result? But alas, they always confirm what my family knows too well: I'm the responsible, serious one. The one who picks up cups and plates at someone else's party. And watches the clock at events to ensure they're on schedule. I'm the one who wants to make sure we get all the work done first — before any fun begins.
Only the work is never done. When I finish one task, another sits waiting for me. There's always something more to do. As a result, I experience false guilt. All the time.
Every strength has a good and bad side. The good side of being responsible is, well, I'm responsible. If I say I'm going to do something, you can be fairly sure it will get done.
The bad side of being responsible is feeling like the weight of the world rests on me. It makes a girl crazy worrying about assignments that are hers — and even those that aren't. It's hard to relax. My heart can get resentful when others aren't carrying the weight of the world with me. How do they have so much time to not work?!
The reality? Not every assignment is mine to do. To assume responsibility for more than is mine speaks of a lack of trust ... in God to do His job ... or in others to do theirs.
I'm pretty sure this all-work-no-play routine wasn't the life Jesus intended me to live as one of His disciples. Carrying the weight of burdens that aren't mine to carry. Choosing to interact with a computer screen rather than being with people.
The Bible values hard work, but Jesus' message is clear: Love God. Love people.
In John 15:11-12, Jesus said, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."
Jesus, with more to do in His three years of active ministry than I'll have in a lifetime, focused on His main assignment — to love people. Sometimes that meant teaching them. Or serving them. Yet other times it meant just hanging out. Enjoying dinner with friends. Celebrating at a wedding party. Welcoming children. These fun times weren't empty of significance. Rather they were filled with value as Jesus showed love in a different way.
We love God and others when we work. And when we have fun.
This is a truth I need to apply to my life more often. My idea of loving others is often shown by serving them. But some people feel loved when I simply spend time with them. And for some, that time needs to be a little less task-oriented and a lot more laughter-filled.
That's my challenge. To be intentional about having fun. To initiate getting together with others. To say yes when invited. To stretch outside my comfort zone. And to relax about the details.
Work will always be there — but the people might not be.
God has a pretty good handle on managing the world. I can leave that job to Him while I grab a loved one and make a lasting memory instead of checking something off my to-do list.
Heavenly Father, thank You for creating us to laugh. Thank You for putting in us the desire to enjoy life. Help me learn to relax and show love to others without worrying about the details. Forgive me for putting work before someone who needed my time and attention. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Is it hard for you to have fun? What holds you back?
Think of one fun activity you can do with someone this week. Make a call, send a text or email, and extend the invitation.
John 2:1-2, "On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. (NIV)
Colossians 1:17, "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." (NIV)
© 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105