Monday, December 31, 2007
22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"
23Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
When at first glance...Peters stance is noble. He is merely standing up for his teacher, master, friend....but God doenst require that from us. As a matter of fact, the commentary i read on this morning.....said that Peter (acting as Satan's agent) was trying to tempt Christ the same way that Satan had tempted Christ in the desert, when he offered His kingdom with no cross.
Jesus tells Peter that he is merely looking at this with the worlds perspective....and not a God perspective. Again.... something this commentary talked about, was all the Christians today, who offer Worldly perspective on Christianity without the cross, these to would be discounting Jesus' atoning work on the cross and discounting the value of a Savior. If Christianity merely meant prosperity, or in a constant state of blessing, or euphoria.... Christ would not have said that...in order to save your life you must lose it.... and he followed that with, what would it be for a man to profit the whole world yet forfeit his soul.
Just a new perspective on 'Your best life now' and "becoming a better you' that just has never sat well with me. I have never ascribed to this, mainly because I know God will take us through the fire to refine us. Amos talked about refining gold and removing all the dross, or physical impurities with fire. I pray that as painful as that seems, and as counter culture as that is....that God continue to refine us like this. IN this instance.....when gold became its purist.....the refiner could remove all the dross....and peer down into the gold and see his reflection. I know that is what God wants.....is to refine us to the point where he sees Himself in us.
Gen 25---Again another story I was told 100 times in childrens church growing up.....this is a bad deal.....but in order to fulfill prophesy the older will serve the younger...being all out of whack, Esau sold Isaac his birthright.....for a bowl of stew. this doesnt at all seem logical or practical. So when Esau left....he realized this and despised his birthright.
Friday, December 28, 2007
I can see this same type of example play itself out today in some churches......if Jesus were to possibly talk to its leadership......
Jesus...why do your disciples (insert your own disputable matter here) Dont you know that it is a sin?
and Jesus would reply....you know of marital infidelity, porn addicts, cheating the IRS, rampant gossip, oh...and 8 out of 10 of you are FAT....and you want to say that is sin....YOU HYPOCRITES!
Isaiah was right when he said of you
8" 'These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men
Tradition...whatever...Jesus was more concerned with the heart.
Brandon may know this...but about a year ago I had lunch with a Catholic priest....who i approached and encouraged after a funeral mass....he had done. I was super encouraged to hear a Christ-alone gospel presentation. He subsequently invited me to lunch and I accepted. We had great conversation. we talked about his conversion....he asked about mine....and we just enjoyed the differences without being critical. I told him about my 4 years in a Catholic school and he told me his brother was a Baptist. While eating....(he was in his collar) we were approached by a parishoner...and she gushed at him.....then she turned her attention to me...asking me "what parish I attend" I felt like i was in college......"what frat are you in?" anyway I told i was in this small little known parish ..... then I admitted that I wasnt catholic....and she just shook her head.... looked sadly at me and said she was sorry....and left. Minutes later, she came back in with tracts....(trying to save me) and the only thing she offered me, that she said I was missing....was Tradition (with a capital T she said) She said without the Tradition of the Catholic church i was missing the Fullness of Bla bla bla. My new priest friend was amused...and kinda slyly smiled as I graciously accepted a rosary she gave me (still in the wrapper) then she crossed herself and left again.
We joked about that....and i told him that was the first time a Catholic tried to save me. He said....Baptist do it to him all the time (thanks to his Brother) .....we both had a laugh....he asked if i was going to use the rosary....and I gave it to him.
Genesis 24 Isaac's servant did as he was instructed. He prayed for success in his journey. how many times do you think that if you were at a well and asked a woman for some water, she would offer to water your camels. That Rebekah was some kind of woman. Anyway....this was no chance meeting. It was definitely orchestrated, and I praise God....for stepping into my life, when I had no clue....and placing a two struggling kids together....who would eventually line themselves up with God.
I thank God that He provided me with my own Rebekah. Now, Jenny has never watered my camels....but she would if i had some. Guys, we need to really treasure our wives.... praise them and treat them like 'crystal'.
God I pray that I am able to reflect your heart. TO learn your ways....which arent Traditions....but allow your word to "define the way I live' I pray that church leaders everywhere, are seeking your heart....remembering their first love...and not become so encumbered with doing church...that they forget to be your hands and feet. Bless our effort and be glorified in us.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Jesus had just heard the news of the death of his first cousin, who had baptized him...and introduced him as the Son of God. Of course Jesus drew a crowd these days...but I'm sure this may have been one of those days that Jesus would have liked to have 'an alone day'.....yet when he saw the saw the crowd...he had compassion on them... and he healed their sick.
Not only did he heal heir sick...but then he met a basic need for the entire crowd, he took what little they had (food)...and multiplied it and fed the 5000 (and had leftovers). Isnt that cool that God is still in the multiplying business. He takes what little we bring to the table... supernaturally enhances it, as only God can do....and then pours it out as a blessing.
God is dealing with me...and the little compassion that I DO have... may be the miracle today.....is that God is working with my few loaves of 'compassion' this morning. I pray that he blesses and multiplies it in my life that HE may be glorified as my compassion for others grows.
Genesis 2312 Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the land 13 and he said to Ephron in their hearing, "Listen to me, if you will. I will pay the price of the field. Accept it from me so I can bury my dead there."
again....in the vein of compassion....Ephron ....was moved to give what he had...to meet the need of a grieving friend. Apparently, Abraham knew Ephron, because he knew his name..and knew his land and of this cave.
God, i pray that your compassion runs through us.... so that we not only begrudgingly give..... but give abundantly to bless those in need.
Little Rock is chilly this morning....pray for us as we continue on to Gatlinburg Tennessee. Pray that we have good times with Jennys brothers and sisters... I hope you all had a great Christmas and are enjoying your kids during their holidays.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Genesis 22:5 He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you."
Abraham knew what God had called him to do....and yet in his statement to his servant I believe he didnt lie to him. WE will worship and WE will come back to you. I firmly believe that he was telling the truth....although he knew he would kill Isaac. But, like he told Isaac later, the Lord will provide a sacrifice.....but even if he didnt, Abraham had faith enough in God, in his character, in his word.....that he would raise Isaac from the dead ....if Abraham killed him.
in the parable of the weed.....weeds have been sown into the wheat field (by the enemy), or "unsaved" have worked their way into, come along side, or are trying to look like believers (for whatever reason) and
Matt13: "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'29" 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.
i thought why this must be true....the first is obvious..there will be final judgement..and we arent the judge. but the second is that because we ARENT the judges....we wont judge correctly. and in doing so...other new, believers...who are young in the faith, may se this as too harsh, wrong, unjust, hypocritical. We may actually undo the good we have previously worked for in these young believers by acting AS God. Jesus...explains that there is a time for that...and the judgmemt will be strong....but now isnt the time.
I took this as a challenge today...to equip our sons, each others sons....families and those who will join us.....we know who the weeds are, we should be aware of the weeds, but not be so concerned with judging and punishing.... Gods timing and sovereignty will handle those things.... and I can do what I am called to do.
Woke up this morning in Buda....was nice to sleep a night in my own bed. Not for long....be praying for us as we head out today for Tennessee...to see Jenny's family. This is a trip Jenny now wishes we didnt have to do. She is just ready NOT to be living out of a suitcase.... but I know we'll have a great time seeing all of them when we get there.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Gen21:1 Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac [a] to the son Sarah bore him. 4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
Isnt it cool that God doesnt have to work or isnt limited to working within the "norm"
I love the fact that Sarah laughed. I love the fact that she knows this is foolish to most....but that God has no limits. She in the next verse wants others to laugh with her.
In Matthew 12
Jesus is talking to the Pharisees, who have been saying that Jesus is driving out demons in the name of Satan. Jesus challenges them with;
"Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand."
Telling them what a rediculous presumption this is. I cannot believe that the 'religious' leaders of the day would have the audacity to challenge the Messiah by saying he is 'Runnin with the Devil'---(80's Van Halen reference....forgive me)
He then tells them "for a tree is recognized by its fruit."
And here is the kicker--
Matt 12:43"When an evil[f] spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation."
Jesus is challenging the Pharisees and their lack of discipleship.... saying that people who haven't been discipled...filled with God's word, become bearers of 'good fruit' (doers of God's word), basically being Pharisees....are highly likely to be overrun with 7 times the evil...and be worse off than before.
I feel this is a word to today's churches who are preaching a watered down gospel, a prosperity gospel or any church that is more about its business than God's business. Pharisees were all about going about looking religious, and they cared outwardly about the 'religiosity' of those who would listen.....but inside these guys were ...."whitewashed tombs" "broods of vipers"...."bearers of bad fruit".
God ....as your bride....never let us forget your commands to love You and love others.
Never let us (as a body of believers) become whitewashed tombs... that look good on the outside, and has rotting corpses on the inside. Let us be about your business and less about our own agendas.
Merry Christmas Gentlemen. I will probably not post tomorrow, we start early...and have activities until we leave with the trucks loaded for Austin.
Tray Pruet - Associate Pastor
Friday, December 21, 2007
28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
After hearing previous sermons on the YOKES of the Rabbis in Jesus day...I cannot even imagine what it meant to study under one of these educated men who 'knew' the Torah. From the age of 5 to 14 young Jews learned the Torah...backward and forward, according to his Rabbi's bent (his YOKE)
At the age of 14...that rabbi would take the cream of the crop...the smart boys...the ones that were a cut above the rest....and continue their education to be Rabbis themselves of his YOKE...and I imagine...it was quite heavy, laborious, daunting, almost impossible....yet some (the smartest) were singled out and called to that honor.
The others....were fishermen, carpenters, inn keepers... regular joes...workin stiffs, who couldnt cut it, because the burden was too much, the load was too heavy.
So I love the picture of Jesus calling his disciples (the less than well educated) and them dropping their nets and following him, I love the fact that Jesus' yoke is easy....too easy for the educated sometimes....yet easy for those of us with chillike faith.
God thank you that you provide an easy yoke for us. I am sorry when we consider it a burden....God dont let us make it SO complicated to meet and know you. Dont let us get in the way of your easy YOKE....
My old pastor led men's discipleship groups called Yokefellows...and it was a time in my life that I was a spiritual child...and learned daily what it meant to be a follower of Chirst. What it meant to be a Godly husband and good Godly Daddy. A yoke is also a farming implement that ties two ox together to pull a plow. And like a cord of three strands isnt easily broken.....Yokefollows are the support group...the accountabilty we have with each other.
Tray Pruet - Associate Pastor
Thursday, December 20, 2007
That strikes me as odd. Was he trying to save his city? What was he thinking? Let the pervs deal head on with the Angels.
Matthew Henry made a great connection with Lots salvation and ours...it is by the grace of God yes....but we dont need to hang around sin and our sinful life, we must run to the mountains and never look back! That wasnt just an odd request. My response may have been like Lots wife, want to look back at the ruin....but i think God doesnt want us to look back and questioned His judgement.
Was it too severe
Why didnt he save more people
Why me (its not my own righteousness but Gods)
Im going to miss some things about that life
Great question for today....
Was Lots wife saved? yes...she was saved by God grace from the ruin at S & G
yet she was still punished for disobedience.
I have thought about so much with Sodom and Gomorrah this morning and how we are living in that same type of environment today. Gay marriage, teen pregnancy.....( Jamie Lynn Spears (16) for crying out loud), prostitution, internet porn, divorce all time high, single mothers, homelessness and just overall declining moral absolutes and values.
Why do i have to explain to my 11 year old daughter, why a star of one of her favorite shows got pregnant. WHy do i have to tell my son why Michael Vick hung dogs after they wouldnt win fights. Why do i have to tell him that a baseball player he thought was a good guy.....is a cheater. Why do i have to tell my son that Senator got arrested in the Minneapolis bathroom for rubbing feet with another dude.
OK....this is again...Brandon did you set this up?
Matthew 10:14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. 15I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
So Jesus sends out the 12 with special instructions.
16I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
Jesus warns that this message will not be received well. The 12 are to take to the Jews first, but that they will not be received. Be on guard....
29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny[d]? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
this is a great verse in light of the fears (from yesterday) of having our kids involved with "lost kids".
39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
God I pray that, in your strength, we have the courage to lay down, and lose our lives. To take up our cross and follow you daily. God you truly showed us undeserved mercy when you saved us. God, give us wisdom and shrewdness of serpents...yet let us be gently as doves....let ME be gentle as a dove. I know I am more the bull in the china shop when sharing my faith....but allow me to slow down... realizing its not ON me.... and it all about YOU.
Tray Pruet - Associate Pastor
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
This has always been a challenging verse for me. WE like to say that we believe this but things we do in the name of "protecting our children" or "fellowship" seem to get us the company of believers ONLY.
I work very hard to rely on Gods protection within reason for my kids. I want them to reach to their lost friends....but i want them to be grounded enough not to be enticed away. I am pretty sure this is why the Mormons send Elders out in twos, for accountability.
I have taught classrooms of teens...who say that dont know ONE non-believer....how sad is that? They are home-schooled...and they go to church, and play upward basketball.
How can they be salt and light...if they are stuck in a closet. Now, my daughter...I want to keep in that closet until she is 30 (kidding...kinda).....but my son, I have already had a discussion with him about the move to Buda. I want him to be more like Christ in this aspect. He is very exclusive. He writes kids off....if they cuss, or cheat or do other bad stuff......but I want him to engage these guys and girls in order that they are attracted by the Love of Christ.
Its very easy for us as parents to rest in the fact that our child is living right....why would i mess with that....but i think its a trust issue, between me and God.
Tray Pruet - Associate Pastor
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Genesis 17: 17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?"
I have to wonder what it was that Abraham laughed at. was it that Sarah was too old, he was too old, she couldnt have children, was it a laugh of joy, was it a laugh of disbelief.....
I love the fact that God didnt get mad at Abraham. I love that in his covenant, that God didnt "change his mind" because of Abraham's lack of belief, or respect, or lack of ability to control himself.....God doesn't change or isnt limited by our "foolishness"
God thanks for your new covenant. Thank you that our stupidity, our lack of effort, our inability to understand your goodness doesnt mean we cannot become your children.
Matthew 8 Jesus starts to gain some attention. Healings, driving out demons, calming storms....all stories we know so well..
and the response he got....
34Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.
Not quite the response I would have thought, or hope for....but Jesus knew this. He expected this....this is why a few verses earlier he talked about the Son of Man having no place to lay his head.
Jesus, and the Gospel.....mess with the balance of power. People are still uncomfortable with it, this is why it isnt polite to talk about "religion and politics" at parties. So what did Jesus do? He kept on healing, doing miracles and meeting the needs of people. So let us not only in our words...share Christ....but in our actions as well.
Guys something very interesting is unfolding....I want you all to pray for. I shared with you about the Corpus gathering Sunday night....there was a pregnant woman there....she is 5 months pregnant, living in a tent. I wrote about her on my blog yesterday (www.traypruet.blogspot.com) and a friend of mine....one of the two people that actaully read my blog....called and emailed me last night and inquired about the woman.
Shane and his wife Kim are unable to have kids, and have started the foster parent procedure and are looking into adoption... they have been praying that God would allow them to adopt a baby in this type of situation.... and I am setting up the contacts for him to find out more. Just pray for them as well as the baby's mother (Freedom) and her husband (William).
Tray Pruet - Associate Pastor
Monday, December 17, 2007
Having been part of good teams and bad....you can just tell when momentum swings. When all the breaks are going your way...and you just ride it. Its hard to force....its hard to "manufacture", and with momentum its impossible to predict. You always hope for it, and when the other team gets it....you pull everything from your bag of tricks to get it, or get it back.
Well, the momentum of God moving in Austin New Church is picking up. I would have said that a week ago, it was great...at an all time high....but its building....gaining even more momentum. Praise to God....
Guys...the thing that was laid on my heart this morning...almost sounds sexist....so you'll have to forgive me. But we need to be the MEN in our homes.....now...we can all act macho...and say that we are. But in churches as a whole, more women are the spiritual leaders in their homes than the men, and it started back at Adam and Eve, and its still alive and well in 2007 almost 2008. You will find out through me that I am madly passionate about men sharpening men. I dont think its a "natural thing" to want that....because it exposes truth, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, feelings all the things that we like to bottle up. But guys have got to step up....
Case in point:
Genesis 16:2 so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her."
Guys we might at first glance think....hey, well if she is alright with it.....who am i to....? But, much like the story of Adam and Eve, when Eve was tempted by the serpant...where was Adam? right there with her...and why didn't he step up and "be the man"? Shame, Deferring to whats easy, Not want to fight, a wuss, Heck, I don't know why Adam didnt bow up and say "Honey, you know that God said if we did this...we would DIE, and since he DID create us, I say we go with that. I think its funny too that now although Abram so quickly, in the last chapter trusted God would build this family....now Sarai, is saying I can build a family through her (apparently not the same family God was talking about) so he just goes with that.
God I pray Austin New Church is a group of Godly MEN, who lead with your love in the home.
Matt 7: 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Brandon talked last night about the love that God has for us. The deep (in your gut) love that he has for us. And we...to a point have that for our spouse or for our kids....God just points out again...that we can give good gifts to our children, but they are incomparable to the gifts our Heavenly Father can lavish on us...if we simply ask.
God I thank you for this body of believers, I thank you that you have drawn us together for Your Glory. That as we continue what you have ordained as a work in Austin..that we always remember that you are the source of life, of all good things, and the greatest gift ever.....Jesus.
Father use us this holiday season to share You with others....to open our eyes and hearts for opportunities to be a witness. God continue to draw your people...to Austin New Church and let us be faithful.
Last night....I told many of you that my sister was ministering to the homeless in Corpus....after hearing about the work in Austin...God just touched her and she encouraged 25 or people from her church to do the same exact thing....burgers, chips and blankets.....that we did in Austin. Guess what.....she got blessed....and so did the others.
They met a lady living in a tent, 5 months pregnant, no prenatal care....obviously, no way to get to a doctor, and a desire to give the child up for adoption. My sister hooked her up with another girl in the group and they are making that happen. They met a guy living in his car....who was saved.....lost his job, and was just sharing the Gospel with other homeless people. He had asked God to use him...and he sees this as God's answer for him, now.
So indirectly....Austin New Church....you guys made that happen. But God gets that GLORY!
Tray Pruet - Associate Pastor
Friday, December 14, 2007
In this mornings Genesis reading..... the aspects of Abrams giving over the ‘really big stuff’ (lack of no children) to God and kinda clutching the small areas because we know how to handle those……poked me right between the eyes.
In our Matthew reading, I am reminded again…..dont lay up treasures for yourself here on earth, that moth and rust destroys and thieves will steal, but lay up treasures in heaven. How come it is…that the more materialistic we are…the more scared we are someone will take it? And God in the same breath says…..dont worry about tomorrow…..there is enough to deal with today.
31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
Apparently Christians and Pagans have the same needs……I guess its just our wants that differ….or do they? Maybe that’s why the following verse is Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you as well…..it keeps ‘our wants’ at bay…and more focused on God’s wants.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Abram to Lot:
"Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to the left."
Lot was Abrams nephew….but the fact that Abram was proactive in his relationship, had great discernment, don’t know if “kingdom minded” is the right word….but he blessed Lot by giving him space. Note too..that Abram gave Lot his choice. The elder deferred to the nephew…..oddly enough….Abram showed faith in God that…..no need to try to control the situation…..God’s got you. I also love that God continues to tell him that his offspring will be too many to count….
18 So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the LORD.
Also I love the way Abram marks his thanks and worship of God….seems that he has built these altars…everywhere the Lord has made him stop. He is continually compelled to make sacrifice for Gods continued provision.
I have always loved the stories of the calling of the first disciples. The supernatural Christ calls….two sets of brothers….both fishermen, to leave their jobs, families, security, lives…and follow him. At once…and immediately….they each left their nets and boat….and followed. Fishing must have been an important trade…and one that would have provided for their families…properly, but it doesn’t even seem to be a consideration for either of the sets of brothers.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
11"I baptize you with[b] water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
I am impressed with the ‘original’ Turn or Burn Sermon. It seems that John the Baptist has more in common with Jesus than just being blood relatives. He felt empowered to ruffle the feathers of the power brokers of the day. We need to be careful with the ‘in your face’ Gospel….but it’s the religious that it seemed that Jesus reserved that for.
Interesting note….in my Archeological Bible I was gifted by a pastor friend of mine…I find that the dietary fiber in locust…..was an acceptable form of protein, by practicing Jews….not the disgusting ‘Fear Factor’-like stunt reserved for a caveman type….like I have always assumed. No doubt John the Baptist was a rough and tough hombre…..but locust at least made the list of stuff he could eat. And covered in honey…may have been a delicacy.
Commentary I read
We have here the call by which Abram was removed out of the land of his nativity into the land of promise, which was designed both to try his faith and obedience, and also to set him apart for God.
Okay…so this is similar to my story…
Gentlemen…you have all applauded me for my move…and I have treasured that…but I don’t seek that anymore, but thanks. What I did want to share with you is that there are other steps of obedience that I reflect on that were smaller in scale that I have missed, ignored and/or failed (because I went back).
Listening and hearing…then acting in obedience is the tough part. I pray that as God continue to move us…we arent just so keyed in on the HUGE things that we miss the small steps of obedience we are to take every day.
God, give us ears to hear and hearts to move…when you call us to work. Give us discernment when dealing with lost people…..whether they are ‘religious’ or not. Give us the opportunities to share the good news of Your Son, in this Holiday Season. Let us make it more about you…and less about us.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Sam Douglass-gave me that eternal perspective and love for "the lost"
Paul White-who challenged me to live a "holy" life "set apart"
Brandon Hatmaker-who had and continues to challenge me, my heart, my walk, and my calling
Todd Jimenez-who showed me at the "end of me", God still uses and stretches us
Wayne Bartley-who challenged my leadership and creativity
Shane Miller-showed me how to worship in spirit and truth
Alan Billman-showed me to love those different than me
David Taylor-validated me and my calling
Mike Benton-my spiritual trailblazer, who showed me how to live, love my wife and kids, and gave me a passion for missions
These men shaped me, sharpened me and showed me where to find strength.
We as men...have got to seek out other men...to help in this life.
God, thank you for Your Son....thank you that you chose to save me. I humbly commit myself to you, and pray that I can be a blessing to others....like these have been to me. Use me despite my faults, clean me from the inside out....I love you...for you first loved me.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
First of all…..I would be tempted to say…..Hey ….this is me Jude, Jesus Half brother…..but he refers to himself as a bondservant.
And obviously he is encouraged at what is going on, and would love to talk about the “salvation” they share, he saw something else and felt impressed to warn
I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. (NIV)
I have to write insisting—begging!—that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish. (Message)
I don’t think he is merely talking about people who are abusing grace….I feel like he is saying…the enemy has slipped into the camp. That someone has represented himself as a follower, yet their intent is to divide, cause problems and possibly destroy, from the inside out.
There will always be those in church, there for the wrong reason…socially, good for business, to feel better about themselves, duty….but we must discern between them…and the malicious
22-23Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. Go after those who take the wrong way. Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven.
God give us your wisdom, your insight/discernment, allow us to be on guard….loving sinners….but not allowing sin to infiltrate this work. Give us your compassion for sinners. As we transition into the next phase of ANC, allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. Keep us safe, God. You are our shelter in the storm, you provide for all our needs, you are the healer, you are our salvation….let us just be your servants.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
In my daily reading this week…as I was preparing to come say something to ‘my old church’ I found this passage (in 3rd John) …and Demetrius ( a missionary) hand delivered this letter to Gaius ….who the letter is written to.
5Dear friend (Parkdale), you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. 6They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. 7It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. 8We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth.
I plan on using this passage this week at my old church. I hope they’ll consider partnering with us long term…but this is a note to the ‘flock’ during what I am doing in the Missions Minute….so it applies to all missionaries. Bless them. They aren’t taking money from pagans…so we the church need to step up and bless them.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
To my much older, lovely wife....I just want to let you know how much you mean to me. I thank God that we happened upon each other almost 20 years ago. Thanks for asking me to dance.....sorry I said no. I'm glad you accepted my offer later, and eventually we decided to "dance" for a lifetime.
We weren't looking for God, let alone each other...and God took a couple or selfish kids....who were only concerned about "our tempural happiness" and created a marriage with few stuggles....maybe....but definately is striving to remain Chirst-focussed.
Thank you for being my eventual biggest supporter in God's crazy adventure we find ourselves on. Your support HAD to come.....God knew that.....and I appreciate the sacrifice in comfort and security you were able to muster. Your faithfulness to Him encourages me to strive to be a better husband and dad.
I hope as we pour ourselves into our new friends, community and people who live broken lives, that God will exponetially multiply our love for each as well.
I love you!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
The house is great, we got new floors put in prior to us getting here and they look awesome. Our Starbucks Room looks good.....what you dont have a Starbucks Room? Oh...ok..its a study.
One of our dear new friends, who lives in the area, Stephanie came by yesterday and helped Jenny unpack some boxes. Then the Shootman's came by with dinner last night. Im not talking bucket of chicken here either. They unpacked a home cooked gormet meal, comeplete with plates and bowls (not plastic) silverware, salt and pepper shakers, glasses....and everything. I am impressed with 'how they roll'.
SO today for me, its back to Corpus, to finish the work/school week....then I bring the kids back up here. Will (my nephew) will be joining us this weekend, since Dana is out of town.
Thanks Austin New Church folks....
You know, as Brandon and I drove around yesterday, looking for homeless guys who touched us…..and made an impact on us, I mentioned to him that you cannot make a connection with someone, homeless or otherwise and not care about that person. I care that my guy is sleeping in the shelter and wants to better himself. I care that his daughter wont respond to him when he calls. I care that I don’t know where he is….and that I couldn’t find him yesterday. I care that I told him I would find him Wednesday and I couldn’t.
Let me encourage you guys with this. I had a guy name Robbie, came into my office less than a week after my dad had died (5 years ago) . He Just knew he was suppose to come talk to someone. He thought he’d find my mom…and he really didn’t know me, or know I would be there…..but God told him to come and he came. He came into my office and talked with me, encouraged me, cried with me, and just told me that God’d plans were bigger than my plans….to hang in there, continue to seek God. That day was pivotal for me….and that day…Robbie laid down his pride, laid down his own agenda, laid down his schedule, and laid down part of his life…..for a hurting brother. I saw Robbie Tueday, who I still don’t know very well….but we have a connection, the love of Christ in us.
Genesis 4 But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."
I think here of that lion seeking to steal, kill and destroy, crouching behind the door. We must master over sin.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (New International Version)
13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Brothers, lets continue in this battle against Satan, strong and aware of sin. I love that we have this format, but I would also encourage you to check on your brothers…..see if there are any weaknesses that he is willing to share….so that you can help him.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 (New International Version)
12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
God, thanks again for your word….that is living and active and sharper than any double edged sword. Use it in my life to cut and whittle and gouge out stuff that is detestable to you. God I love you and I thank you for bringing me to Austin…to be an instrument. Show me who, show me where, and show me when to lay down my life for my brothers…..God, I pray I am obedient when you show me.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
1 Peter 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
This is the verse that causes me to stop sometimes.....I know that I should use 'self-control' when i am aware of my sin. I know that satan would love to devour me....and my family....and my witness....
I heard said that when a lion devour its prey....it will eat the flesh...meat..guts...bones.....and lick the grass where all the blood was....leaving no trace that the animal ever existed. That is the picture i use when i think about this verse and satans desire to 'take us out'...render us useless in the Kingdom. A few names come to mind....Jim Baaker, Jimmy Swaggart, Rick Ousley...the last name there is my former youth minister when i was growing up. It was recently aledged that he had nearly a 25 year affair.....he was founder of a national student ministry, Spoke at Marriage conferences, Pastored a Large church, and chaplained a college football team..among other things.....and now....its hard to see that he ever existed (except for the blogs that are out there that trash him....and question his entire life) actually Rick had a great impact in my life...although flawed...so God CAN use tainted vessels.
God I thank you for your grace...that covers our sins...that we dont have to worry about our salvation....but we must guard our hearts, our families and our witness against the devil, who is looking for opportunities to render us useless for your kingdom. As a 'fruit of the spirit' and evidence of our faith....I pray for extra self-control for myself and these men. Let us glorify you in all we do......and even in things we dont do.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Have you guys ever started a God thing….and lose focus. I know I have. I have started many books, quite a few studies, or a group, or teaching a class, or helping out with a project for God…then somewhere down the line, lose sight of the fact of why I am doing it. Then all of a sudden it becomes a freakin chore. I hate that. I complain, look for a way out, and then suddenly realize….wait a minute I am no longer doing this in the strength God provides, but my own strength.
The cool thing about Austin New Church, for me….and Brandon knows this….I have been praying to be a part of something so much bigger than myself that only God be the one pulling the strings. I have done ministry over the past several years, but it has been (more times than not) so ‘in the box’ and ‘routine’ (For me) …….that I found myself wondering if God was being glorified or sometimes if he was even in it.
I have been so stretched by God…over the past few months that I know God has me where He wants me. I was asked by a guy this morning at a Mens Fraternity meeting….how I was doing…..specifically he asked, “Are you being stretched or what?” and I said “without a doubt I am!” This man came to know the Lord later in life and he is about 70…and does tons of ministry with the Bill Glass, prison ministry.
Monday, November 19, 2007
15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander
Be prepared...to give an answer....educate ourselves. I dont think its enough to just know that we ware saved....we must be able to share why....we have hope.
2Timothy says 2Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction
Guys hear me in this....It scares the fool outta me too! But no matter where you are in your journey....you should always be growing. If you arent growing or putting yourself in a place to grow.....your walk will be deminishing and hurting. Its not an overnight thing....but this transformation for me came from years of pressing into God (daily scripture reading) .....surrounding yourself with Godly men( like we are doing now) , making choices that call you up and out (going on a mission trip instead of a golfing trip) searching inward to see if there is any sin issues you need to lay at God's feet, and just making the constant choice to honor God with our lives.
Funny thing is...the more we know God....the less secure, less entitled we feel, and the more humble we get. Honestly, I dont at all feel worthy to be called to be a pastor. I just realized a call to service of Him..and in the meantime, it makes this call more real to guys like me. I covet your prayers and I need your grace....cuz I'm new to this.
Friday, November 16, 2007
So much is packed in these two verses for me personally.
I encourage my kids....to not let the 'world' affect them(be in it, not of it) , but in a recent discussion with my son, I told him, we need to be inclusive to folks who are lost, not accepting their worldly behaviors, but accepting them as people on a journey. My son, truly has done a pretty god job....living as an alien, but he has, in effect, alienated himself from kids who cuss, and make other bad choices, and worse yet, he writes them off. I told him we need to love people, so that they see the love of Christ in us. And that includes, having them be a part of some of what we have going on, so that they CAN SEE.
God, where is that line? How can I, encourage my kids.....myself even to interact with those who are OBVIOUSLY not living a life for you. Benton is so solid....but also black and white....I love that about him. How can I direct him differently? Because there truly is a WAR against my soul, his soul.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
God I pray that you will pour out your spirit on us. Not that we are worthy….but just because you deserve Glory. God thank you for going before us…thank you for preparing the way in Austin, and we hope that as we are consumed in the fire of passion for you…that we turn it outward and ALL will know that you are not only OUR God, but THEIR God. Let us be your hands and feet. God, I thought of the cold chill this morning and the ones who are out there, who woke up as this front blew through….with no blankets….and only the clothes they had on. Provide for them….through someone who claims the name of Christ.
1 Peter 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Are we so dull…the bible clearly states our purpose on this earth, over and over…..Glorify God. I read it in James 5 yesterday, and I read it in 1 Peter today. I wonder if James had sent Peter a text message informing him what he was going to write on the previous page of the bible…and he (Peter) should pick up where he (James) left off.
How can I do this today?
God I want to glorify you today…you are more than words can describe.
The world's a huge stockpile of God-wonders and God-thoughts. Nothing and no one comes close to you! I start talking about you, telling what I know, and quickly run out of words. (Psalm 40:5 Message)
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
10Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
I was just reading and thinking of the suffering James talks about. We really don’t know suffering. I read a book, not long ago called, …..Modern Day Martyrs (or something like that). Anyway, it is very humbling to read the stories of hundreds of people throughout history some famous…and some I never ever even heard their stories. I was just struck at the many ‘saints’ who have suffered and died grueling deaths for proclaiming the name of Christ. I say throughout history, but some in the book were as recent as a few years ago. And I know we have heard the stories of countless Christians who have suffered, been threatened, had to hide, been shot and killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and all over the middle east.
One of the main themes of the books was how when faced with the question….many were willing to DIE for their faith. They stood tall…singing hymns of praise as they were burned to death, tortured in numerous ways, beheaded and shot by firing squad. Would I die for my faith? Would I stand tall and claim the name of Christ? Do I stand tall and claim the name of Christ. If not…what the heck am I so afraid of? We, my friends, are soft….
Friday, November 09, 2007
Don’t show favoritism.
Be a doer of the Word.
How easy it is to ‘say’ as a Christian we don’t show favoritism…yet we pass people all the time with real needs. Stranded motorists, homeless, single moms, old folks….(even relatives) and we are too busy to stop and lend a hand. A friend of mine from San Antonio came over the other night and he was telling me about a ministry he started at his church in SA. “Second pair of hands” they babsically matched up people in their church who had need….with those in their church who could provide for that need. Well, needless to say that it grew like crazy, even to the point of gaining city wide publicity in an SA publication. How often do we just let clothes or shoes sit in the back of the closet….never wearing them, or blankets, or throw away food. Some might have the gift of mowing yards…or helping fix a car…either by hand or paying for it. But the people who need the help the most…..usually arent the one we WANT to help.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
TRIAL => TESTING => PERSEVERANCE => MATURITY
Testing seems to be an affliction, God can test…..which in the progression lead to “spiritual maturity”. He wants us all to become more spiritually mature. Not so that we ‘arrive’….but so that we can become; sharpening agents, mentors, Givers, Goers, Doers.
14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
TRIAL => TEMPTATION => SIN => DEATH
Tempting is more likely the “seduction by lust”, women, money, toys, things that CAN give birth to sin. Is it sin to want to acquire wealth? NO…but the temptation is there that can lead to sin. Is talking to a woman (not your wife)sin …no…..but the talk could give birth to desire.. So guys we must be super careful, diligent, and deliberate.
But know, God gives certain trails that lead to testing, perseverance and maturity NOT temptation, sin and death.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
5Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
This verse was right behind
4Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
WE know the marriage bed is be kept pure....and we dont have a problem calling the sin of sexually immoral.....immoral. But I can say for myself...that something I must always keep in check is being content with what i have...and i have alot.
The odd thing about verse 5 for me that God tells us to not love money and be content.......because He will never leave us or forsake us. I would never conect the two, outside of the fact that maybe as we amass earthly treasures...or 'hoard' as the bible calls it....we are putting our faith in our stuff...or our own ability to aquire wealth.
Moving to Austin was initially a real struggle for Jenny. And it kept coming back to security. I know for women this IS an issue. And me seeking God's best for our family..in my opinion...is following after Him regardless of security (financially). I have grown up with money...had money my whole life...but I've also seen my family lose millions in bad real estate deals....so we were worse than most poor people....we had 'debt up to our eyeballs' literally....we just didnt live like it.
Isnt that crazy that....ALL of us (believers) are indebted 'up to our eyeballs' to Christ.....yet most dont live like it. Not like I can pay Christ back...but I feel that i must;
offer my body as living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is myspiritual act of worship.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Monday, November 05, 2007
10 "Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
Zerubbabel is noted for laying the foundation for the second temple in Jerusalem. I guess (having been in the building trade) the plumbline jumped out at me. A plumb line is a simple but accurate tool used for determining whether or not something is perfectly vertical (or upright)In someones hands who knows what he is doing...is a very accurate measuring tool. In my hands....its a rope i can swing around like a cowboy.
WE did a mission project in Guerrero a small town in Mexico south of Corpus by about 3 hours. We built a house for a family who didnt have one. I was on the crew that built the foundation. Now I'm good at lifting, pushing, even nailing or sweeping....but even though i've watched over a hundred slabs formed (having built houses for 12 years) , I hadnt even considered how we would level this one. A guy named Mike was with us on that crew...brought out a long tube....and filled it with water. I'm thinkin, water games....but in Mikes hands...even with me other end of the tube this became, not just a somewhat accurate tool, it became a 'dead on' accurate tool for leveling. He told me that this is still a prefered way to level slabs, by many builders.
SO i can relate....I rejoiced when I saw the 'water level' in the hands of Mike.
The writer here in this chapter is talking about 'faith' that saves. Jews understood that faith saved Noah, Moses, Rahab and Isaac.
Much like today, people can understand faith...but they have to HAVE faith.
Faith is active. Your parents cant have it for you...you cant ride your spouses faith...you cant trust that Abrahams faith was sufficient for your entire clan.....You must understand...and 'get in the wheelbarrow' (http://www.livingbiblestudies.org/study/TT54/012.html)
Thursday, November 01, 2007
We have this practice in Corpus Christi, and it used to drive my mom nuts, of the poorer families coming from the "hood", driving their families to the "rich part of town" and go Trick-or Treating. This is so ingrained in this poor childs mind....that he didn't exclaim, "cool!... a full size Butterfinger!" but thats what i call "rich".
So it hit me this morning....we are all poor in spirit....and we drive to church Sunday morning...and stupid us....can leave there saying...."That was so rich...or wasnt worship awesome".....but we have access to that richness all the time. Much like the kid....who could probably rustle up enough money to buy Butterfingers all month long...we leave God's presence instead of trying to remain in it. We just say....that was rich....and move on to the next phase of existence.
I think, if given the opportunity.....everyone who came over to go Trick-or-Treating would move to our neighborhood, if money was no object. So I'm just saying...I need to live in the Spirit AND make sure that people know that it is available to them as well!
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
A song comes to mind, by Matt Redmond, Heart of Worship.
When the music fades, and all is stripped away, and I simply come.
Longing just to bring, something's thats of worth, that will bless your heart....
Though I'm weak and poor, all i have is yours....every single breath.
I'm coming back to the heart of worship, cuz it's all about you, Jesus.
No music, no trumped up theatrics, no Disney animation or Martha Stewart....HA! ...only everything I have.....is all God desires.
Hebrews 8:7For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.
God gave us Jesus as the new covenant. And the writer of Hebrews has masterfully set up the Jews in his writing to recognize this new covenent in Jesus as the fulfillment of prophesy.
Whether this book was written by Paul or Apollos (or some other) he was surely passionate about the Jews.
13By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.
Hey...fellow Jews....your old ways....dont cut it any longer. Our God no longer requires sacrifice, his SON was that. Quit wasting your time looking for the Messiah...he is here.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
www.kiva.org be sure to check that out.....(shameless plug) it'll rock your world.
Monday, October 29, 2007
And when does Daylight Savings Time actually take place this year. I know I heard something about it changing....but it ALWAYS was the Saturday before Halloween. Its gonna be light when I ...err.....i mean my kids go trick or treating.
Is very compelling...so compelling that once the Word came down from the Lord...the Jews cut through the red tape at City Hall and began construction of God's temple in 21 days. Probably because they feared the Lord, but also because the Lord hadn't been blessing them.
Verses 5-6 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."
Basically, you have worked...for works sake, but possibly not gotten to take part in the blessing. How long could you plant crops and not take part in the harvest? I know farmers who have bad years and good years. And the good years really keep them going. The bad years can pay for the hired hands and possibly buy next years seed and fertilizers, but when the "HARVEST" comes in, the bumper crop...you get to buy new tractors, trucks, toys, fix up the barn, and the house, take momma to New York. Imagine....never having a good harvest.
I'd be building God his temple too.....
Has always been a passage that I like to poke around when i become too proud of myself. Its one that I have a hard time landing on exactly. Is it talking of apostacy or backsliding?
Well I read the passage again this morning (with all my preconceived notions) and i did notice one thing (not new) that I either glaze over or whatever. The preceeding therefore...what is it there for?
The writer has HAD IT...with his audience. He believes they should be teaching and not going over the basics. This concept of "losing your salvation" seems to have been on the mind of the audience. And the word I get here in the first part of 6 is.....Listen.....quit your waffling. You have nothing to worry about. Lets get on with the Baptisms,Healings, Getting others to join us....and quit worrying whether you are "Born again", you are.
I stayed up too late last night looking at the kiva.org website. I love the stories on there...it was very exciting to see that two of my people I invested in raised ALL their money last night in the few hours i slept.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Today was a great example of what is going on. Our core went downtown to where "homeless hang out", Brandon told me that approximately 200 people came for burgers and hot dogs. I wish I had been there.
Thomas was very proud of the fact, as he should be, that he held those records. I didn't have the heart to tell him that, in 20 years, all those records woud be broken by the new studs.
Anyway, the game wasn't that good and the 19-11 score didn't represent the fact that Kansas had dominated the game.
After the game which ended around 10:00 p.m. we drove back to Corpus. I let John start out driving home (since I was stopped twice for speeding on the way up (but didn't get a ticket)) until I noticed him swerving,running over those noisy things on the side of the road, and scratching his head and stretching. I didn't want to die, so I asked him to let me drive home as well. We got home around 3:00 a.m.
All that said, I saw a decent football team and a great band.
Friday, October 26, 2007
The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh, MY God is with me, saves me, delights in me…he quiets me…..he rejoices over me….with Singing. This is the picture of the calm within the mighty storm. All this corruption and vileness warrants correction and destruction YET….my God sings over me.
This has always been one of my favorite verses….maybe in all the CRAP that is going on in the ‘world’ I find it comforting that my God can retreat with me, make me lay down by still waters, make me ‘be still’ and not only do I get to worship my God, but He gets to minister to the unrest in my soul. Singing is soothing…and a song from God through His Spirit that lives within me…to my soul…..ahhhhh. At the risk of sounding girly, I can be driving along, hear a song….start singing it…and I feel that. It brings a tear to my eye, and a lump in my throat. When my dad died…I was walking one morning, and I couldn’t speak to God…I wanted to…but I couldn’t, then ‘It is well with my soul’…pierced through….made me well up…and God comforted me. As I walked I was singing aloud…and crying, what a FREAK!.....i didn’t get caught tho…whew!
If you had been a priest in the order of Melchizedek, you were the highest of the high priest…..well God placed Jesus over that order. Keep in mind, Paul is mainly setting up the deity of Christ in this book to Jews. He is tearing down the all the presuppositions of Jews. Angels, Moses, now Melchizedek….who’s next? Not Abraham! Wait on it…HA.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Gods Judgment in Zephaniah is severe and all-encompassing. The great thing about God’s judgment is that it is righteous. We can live in fear of God’s judgment, or we can welcome it. I know that as a believer…as we stand before God in judgment, his righteousness and therefore his judgment are perfect and therefore will be of comfort and love and not fear.
Hebrews 4 gives us that confidence to approach God with everything this morning. Our high priest was tempted in EVERY way…and therefore has compassion for us in our weaknesses. He understands we arent God…and we do fail….and he understands. He doesn’t have to…..thats what is so cool about receiving MERCY and finding GRACE.
My kids don’t mess up often….but when they do…they get really nervous. What is dad gonna do? How harsh is it gonna be? Actually, I am pretty severe with punishment…and they don’t have to cross the line very far at all. I want to teach them to stay FAR away from the line. But every now and then, I teach them about Mercy. They stand accused and convicted by dad…I may even have them pick their punishment….(which they know must be severe) and then….we talk about it…and I let them experience the pain that this punishment would bring….usually it brings tears and then…..mercy….relief. I will tell them that the punishment is appropriate in this instance, but I always want them to remember about Grace too. And be quick to give mercy…because you received it. Talk about relief, talk about love, and they don’t try to abuse the system either….because as the offender, we don’t determine when Mercy is going to happen.
Its not at all like the game that we used to play as kids where you bend the other persons hands back to the point of breaking them…and one person will yell,” mercy” and the other lets up. We could play that game with confidence….that if the pain became too much to bear…you just yelled mercy and it was over. Mercy is given when the offended feels like it, not when the offender wants it.
Why is it that we receive mercy….yet we find grace?
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
God not only opposes those who oppose Him...no response to God...is the same as a negative response to God.
I have been impressed with 'eternal perspective' over the last couple of days. Its always there for me...but more so as i think about everyone who lives for now...who act as if this is all there is. We need to scream..."you are created for eternity" not just 75-80 years...Eternity people!
The reason why people think God will do nothing, is because they don't believe that God is. That whatever they feel or see or do is what is. Complacency toward God is rebellion. Its not acknowledging that the very life we have and the air we breathe are the Creation. I guess I like the fact that I answer to God. I like the fact that I am not the end of me.
Remember, the writer of Hebrews is talking to Jews....now he is saying, that Jesus...is greater than MOSES! Angels....ok...but Moses? Builder (creator) of the house.....better than the house. Let us always remember that. Austin New Church must stay grouded in the Word, Kingdom focussed, eternally minded, and never lose sight of the Creator of the Church
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Hebrews 3….last part of 9 so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone
You know the great part of this….and one we take for granted….the “sting” of death has lost its power over believers. The death Christ tasted, we don’t taste. WE may ‘think’ we do…and the world/satan has trumped up death to scare the crap out of us….but for believers….Jesus removed that taste FOR us. Physical death…in our bodies is merely escape to our glorified bodies…and into the presence of GOD himself.
One pastor I heard talk about this a couple of weeks ago at a funeral said….this life we live on earth…is less than 1% of our existence. And we fail….i think to convey and to think of ourselves as eternal beings.
His point was….. a financial advisor….prepares us for retirement …..which is maybe 5-10% of our lives… and we work our whole lives for that 5-10% time period (of the less than 1% of our eternal existence) how crazy is that? when we could be working for eternal things…..
Monday, October 22, 2007
God has been awfully gracious in selling our home to the second person who walked in....on the second day it was on the market. I guess He could have hung us out there a bit to test our faith or whatever, but we prayed specifically...i know i did....for this thing to sell, to affirm to Jenny and me that He was behind all this. Not saying that we were testing God, but he has answered the call on this, maybe because it has been such an exercise in faith for us....that He is like.....I got you....son. Dont know why i just choked up writing that....I guess its contagious (thanks Brandon)
THEN......the sage continues, we find this area (Buda) we like, with great schools (Hays County Schools) and seemingly to us, this builder wants to just about GIVE us a stinkin house (seriously...its crazy) I was looking for Ashton Kuchar to pop out and tell me,"I Punked YOU!". So we get a brand new house, bigger than the one we are leaving, in an area where there area going to be tons of kids and families, for way less money than the house we just sold. Jenny almost feels guilty for such a big house....i think she just nervous because she said, for the first 6 months or so....she was gonna be super mom/wife/housekeeper...and the housekeeping just became a daunting task.
SO there is the suffering .....larger house....great schools (we dont have to pay for, other than taxes....that are lower than Corpus) Community Center...with 3 pools, workout facilities, jogging path, playscape, large meeting room (can you say Community Group).
We had a great time in Austin this weekend. Seeing all the faces of the folks we are going to be serving with is awesome and an ancouragement to get back there next weekend.
Habakkuk and I could hang out. In 1 he was a bit miffed that God hadnt brought His righteous anger/judgement down upon the wicked...and here in 2 God is telling him in vs 3....."wait for it".
I love 14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD,as the waters cover the sea. and then the very end of 2 vs 20 But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him."
Be still and know that I am God.....Habakkuk (Tray.....wait on it)
Hebrews 1...the writer of Hebrews is just setting the table here. Talking about the superiority of Christ. Angels vs Jesus Christ.....Jesus is superior. You hearing me Jews?
Friday, October 19, 2007
Habakuk, like most of us, feels like God is doing nothing to the wicked. I hear believers wonder aloud, like Habakuk, "how come they are so bad....dont even believe in God, and they seemingly are being blessed beyond measure. Good jobs, good family, tons of money, house in the best neighborhood, second house at the lake. There is NO justice!"
God says, in Habakuk 1:11 Then they (the Babylonians will) sweep past like the wind and go on- guilty men, whose own strength is their god.
I hadnt thought about stregnth being a god. Money, yes...Fame, yes...Job, yes....well it all makes sense. Those things are the strength of many. Anyway....we just need to be careful that we allow God room to do what he is going to do.
Philemon.....I love the "so thats" in the Bible. When i read them, they jump off the page....because I know....if i do X "so that" happens.
Therefore I need to be active in sharing my faith....SO THAT....I can have a full understanding of every good thing (Paul and Timothy) had in Christ. ( I am assuming that Paul and Timothy are prisoners together)
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Jenny and I are totally blown away at what is going on in our lives, and we wanted to catch you up. If you haven’t already heard, we are joining our longtime friends, Brandon and Jennifer Hatmaker, and planting a church in Austin Texas.
I’ll let you catch your breath….it’s okay, that was Jenny’s first reaction too.
(A little history) Back in 2002, my Dad came into my office at Trend House and we discussed things; things pertaining to my job, my family, my passions, and God’s calling on my life. He recognized my desire to serve in full time ministry through my passion for working with youth and serving as a deacon at my home church, Yorktown Baptist Church. I have referred many times to this conversation because I will always cherish it. Dad died less than 2 weeks later.
Leaving a city I have lived in for over 30 years is a tough decision. My family, my church, our great friends and my “fairly” secure job all weighed in favor of staying in Corpus. But God said NOW. Your passion, your experience, your desires early on, your education, your desire to make church excellent, your heart for folks and your gifts…..I gave you those and I want you to use them NOW. I made that heart beat and I want it NOW.
Honestly, for me to choose otherwise would be outright disobedience to the One who created me.
How can you help? Glad you asked. I would love all of you to partner with us. And by us, I not only mean Austin New Church…..but my family. We have come on board, knowing that we must raise half of our salary. There is no doubt God will take care of us, but I’d like you to pray about participating in sending us to Austin…as your missionaries to a city that needs Christ.
This has been a very humbling, solidifying, prayerful decision we have made as a family, and as we respond with our lives, we would love you to join us in one (or more) of three ways. Prayer, giving, and/or coming to help as you feel led.
One of the verses that has really spoken to me is Psalm 40:4 (The Message):Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God, turn your backs on the world's "sure thing," ignore what the world worships;
This verse spoke to me when I doubted. I could stay in Corpus Christi, raise my kids, work at Trend House, play golf at the Country Club, travel on my suppliers dime, Jenny would continue to thrive in real estate, and we could remain comfortable and “happy.” Or I could push aside the “world’s sure thing” and do what God called me to do. I don’t know where this will ultimately take us, but I know God provides for his children and we are just thrilled to serve God in this way. I know some are called to GO and some are called to GIVE…Jenny and I have received many letters just like this one to help folks GO on mission trips and DO ministry. It has always been a pleasure and blessing to participate like I am asking you to do now.
He moved us from the GIVER to the GOER.
One thing I hope you know is how we love God and love people. It’s not a natural thing to love like Christ loved; it’s the love of Christ in us, and we feel it deeply for each and every one of you. www.traypruet.blogspot.com
Tray Pruet ,
Pastor of Spiritual Development, Austin New Church (http://www.austinnewchurch.com/)