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the struggle is real


“Lots and lots of cotton-balled clouds that are shielding the sun from my eyes… so why it is that they don’t “get in the way” of my view?  In fact, they give the light something to reflect off of, making it even more lovely. The clouds don’t detract from the light, they diffract it :)” ~ Julie Harris

Source: the struggle is real

Create in me… by Julie Harris


Today I am excited to collaborate with some lovely people who write for the blog church set free!  We are all writing about what worship means to us.  I hope you will visit the site and that it will encourage you in your journey to knowing and growing closer to Him…”

 

Source: Create in me…

Heart Thoughts – A Reputation


But I think what Jesus saw in the midst of it was that they were doing all of it with hearts that had drifted far from Him. The church was a well oiled machine, but machines are not alive.”
Shared by permission from Pastor O
“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis……I know all the things you do and that you have a reputation for being alive – but you are dead. Now wake up! Strengthen what little remains for even what is left is at the point of death. Your deeds are far from right in the sight of God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly and turn to Me again. Unless you do I will come upon you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.” Revelation 3:1-3
 
I realize that there is disagreement in the Church as to how we are to apply the book of Revelation to it’s life today. Still, regardless of where your “theology” fits into it’s message, to deny that His Spirit speaks to the Church now through it all is the height of foolishness. What the Spirit says to the church at Sardis scores a direct hit on me as a pastor, an individual, and as a part of the Body of Christ. We disregard it to our great peril.

The “angel” the Spirit of Christ speaks to is the pastor of the body of believers found in Sardis. What pierces my heart here is the use of the word “reputation.” For most of us, our reputations mean everything. How we are viewed by those around us carries tremendous weight. What the Lord is saying to the fellowship at Sardis is that in the eyes of the culture around them and even in the sight of other believers, they have the reputation of being centers of His Life. It would also seem to be the opinion of those in that church as well. What should shake us to our very foundation is that it was not the view of Christ. He saw a tremendous amount of activity for Him, but He did not see a body of believers rooted and grounded in Him. Think on that for a moment.

What do we generally see as being a church filled with life? Top of the line worship with high quality skills in musicianship and voice. Skilled communicators in the pulpit. Many and varied ministries that care for children, youth, singles, as well as home and care groups geared towards those with special needs. A ministry pointed toward reaching out to the community and drawing them into the fellowship. An atmosphere where there is a sense of excitement, of something “happening.” I think that these are just a few of the things we’d define as a church with a reputation for life. I think that much if not all of these were found in the congregation at Sardis. All of them are good things. Very good. Yet none of them seemed to enter into Christ’s assessment of them as to their being a true Life giving fellowship. How could this be? What could be missing?

It’s human to desire that all that is listed above be found in a church. They should be. But I think what Jesus saw in the midst of it was that they were doing all of it with hearts that had drifted far from Him. The church was a well oiled machine, but machines are not alive. They move and are active, but they have no soul. Without realizing it, a living body can become the same. Sardis had crowds. Sardis had ministries. Sardis had a name. Sardis did not have life. His Life.

The question we have to ask ourselves, whether we are the “angel” of our fellowship, a leader in it, or a member of it, is, are we, in the midst of all we do, really producing Spirit filled followers of Jesus Christ? Are we overcoming the world both within and without by the power of His resurrected life? Is real transformation taking place in the lives of the people, and are those lives marked by maturity, victory, and wholeness? Are we trying to take flesh, and by our efforts, make it better flesh, or are fallen, lost lives being laid hold of by the power of His Life and made new? Completely new. Have we drifted from the “first things” into just doing church things? Have we become so enamored with our reputation among men that we no longer really know, or care what our reputation with Him really is? Can He even speak to us about it? It starts with the “angel” but the speaking goes on throughout the entire body. He’s speaking. Are we hearing?

 
He speaks today as to our reputations.  What does He say about ours? What is our reputation…..with Him?

Blessings,
Pastor O

Heart Thoughts – Appearances


Can we make the move from living in the natural, to moving in the supernatural, and know that this doesn’t make us “weird?” Can we dare to live in a realm that depends upon really having the eyes, mind, and heart of Christ? ~Pastor O

A devotional by Pastor O, shared by permission.

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” John 16:7………..”Nevertheless” is an important Gospel word: it is a pivot from the way things appear to the way things are, in Christ. It is a transition from our partial understanding to the Spirit’s complete revelation.” Eugene Peterson
 

I am becoming more and more disturbed by comments and statements made by well meaning, and perhaps some not so well meaning brothers and sisters. Statements that are so dogmatic in their content that they will tolerate no disagreement from any quarter. As someone said, it is imperative that we belong to the “right club” within the church. We in that club are right, and everyone else is wrong. My sense of it all is we are depending far more upon our own intellectual understanding of His Word and teaching than we do upon the direct revelation of the Holy Spirit. We must have correct doctrine and theology on the essentials of the faith, and especially the final authority of scripture, but most of our conflict, even warfare, is a result of arguing about non-essentials. And we can be extremely unloving in our disagreements, resulting in labeling, and even name calling. All the while, I believe Jesus weeps, and, I think, feels no small amount of anger. I think it is time, past time, for the Church, you and me, to hear Him speak a new “nevertheless” to us.

When Jesus spoke the above scripture to His disciples, He was telling them that He was leaving them. They didn’t understand any of His reasoning and were brokenhearted. They saw and sensed only the appearance of it all. He would be gone….they thought. They could not see or understand what He was following that statement with; that He would be sending them the Comforter, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, who would not only be with them, but in them. He was promising them an even greater companion than His physical presence, but they couldn’t see it. They lacked discernment and understanding. That would not come until they were baptized in the fullness of His Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It will not come to us until we experience it as well. When we do, we will no longer live by appearances and our own understanding. We will not live by the power of our intellect, but by the power of His Spirit. We will not live with information about Him, but revelation from Him. We’ll discover that truth and reality are not based upon what appears to be, but on what He has spoken and revealed…..and continues to speak and reveal. We discover that His Word is alive and not static. Growing and unfolding within us in ever deeper ways. Never making itself void, but always taking us beyond our intellectual limits. It’s a mystical and supernatural experience, and our staid, western intellects struggle with that. So we live by our senses and our natural reasoning. Knowing what He has said, in our minds if not our hearts, but not what He is saying now. We’re leaning upon our own understanding, but we never seem to realize it.

Can it become less important for us to be “right” in all these debates, and most important that we know and hear Him? Can we believe that there may be areas of life, doctrine and theology, where we may be at least in part, wrong? Can we make the move from living in the natural, to moving in the supernatural, and know that this doesn’t make us “weird?” Can we dare to live in a realm that depends upon really having the eyes, mind, and heart of Christ? This is frightening to the flesh, but very welcoming to Christ. Will we live in the place where our flesh is most at home, or where His Holy Spirit is? What’s our answer as concerns our lives, homes, and fellowships? Do we live by appearances, or by His appearing and speaking to us through them?


Blessings,
Pastor O

Love is moving


Source: Love is moving

“Sometimes we want God to use us to do “big things”… but I am finding the greatest joy in doing the smallest of tasks.” ~ Julie Harris

Are you and I willing to be used by God for His glory, regardless of how “big” or “small” the opportunity will be? For that matter, beyond the opportunity to serve and in that give glory to God alone, are we willing to go and serve?

That Brick Wall Was Meant to Be Climbed


An honest observation about the obstacles that come along in life and then the TRUTH about HIM who gives the plan and leads the way!!! Be blessed by this post.
Blessings and Peace the THANKSGIVING season. ~Robert

Coffee with a Shot of Faith

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I am sure you have had one of those periods in life. When you are skating along and everything seems to be going great. You feel confident in the direction in which the Lord has you moving. Then-BAM! WHACK! You slam right into the makings of a brick wall. Or two.

A wall of defeat, maybe.

Maybe it’s a wall of criticism. Or self-doubt.

Hurt. Grief. Loneliness. Sin.

Regardless of what that brick wall may be, it begins to slowly tear away at any progress you have made. Making you feel that instead of moving ahead, you are now starting to move backwards.

Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you the path to take. Proverbs 3:6

This is what I had been doing. I had been letting Him lead me. Allowing Him to show me the path. I had a renewed sense of passion. Of…

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The Timekeeper – by Pastor O Shell


Pastor O asks these questions: “Do we really believe that He’s never late, that He’s always on time? Can we surrender to Him who is “the Timekeeper?”
  “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son.” Galatians 4:4…..”His (Jesus) peaceful pace seems to imply that He measured Himself not by where He was going and how fast He could get there but by Whom He was following and how closely they walked together….deeply contented in the Company.”
Alicia Britt Chole

“How long O Lord?” This is the cry from millions of hearts. Likely from our heart as well, and often. We spend so much of our life energy setting, focusing on, and striving to reach goals, accomplish agendas, and bring to pass the deep desires of our hearts, but all we have in the end is exhaustion. And more often than not, disappointment and frustration as well. We do seek Him in it all, but mostly as a means of reaching our desired end. He said He’d give us the desires of our hearts, and we mean to hold Him to His word. Even if we do get what we want, we miss what we truly need, Him. We can do this in every facet of life, and may well be most guilty of it in the area of ministry. We have good ends that we want to reach, and we’re in a very great hurry to reach them. Jesus said that He “must be about the Father’s business.” Well, so are we. The problem is, we don’t understand what His business is really all about. We have allowed working for Him to take the place of knowing and loving Him. We can have lives dedicated to Him, but I’m not so sure the same can be said of our hearts. This may be best seen when we’re forced to deal with the delays that can come along in getting to the place we want to be. Achieving the end that we’ve been aiming for. Jesus didn’t live this way. We ask what would Jesus do? Will we ask as to how Jesus really walked….thought…..lived?

Jesus spent 30 years in obscurity. In that time He had an ever growing picture of what He had been sent for, particularly by the age of 12. Yet He didn’t deal with the delay with impatience or frustration. He knew what He was here for, but He was at total rest as to how and when the Father would bring it all about. Chole speaks beautiful words as to how He walked in this time. He did not just have His eyes on where He was going. He had His eyes on the One He was going with. He had zeal, but that zeal was first and foremost in His walk with and in the Father. All the energy of His ministry flowed out of that relationship. He didn’t come to show us how to “do.” He showed us what to be. What we can become in Him. That’s why His Life, amidst all the delays, difficulties, trials and tears, was marked by the total rest and contentment He had in His Father. The One He trusted to bring about all things for Him in the fullness of HIS time. Can we?

 
Chole asked a question along the line of “Who will hold the clock as to the timing of His purposes in our life?” Who does hold that clock? As concerns His promises, our calling, our ministry, everything that concerns us, who holds the clock? The Father, or us? Whose timetable are we on? His, or ours? Yes, the seconds are ticking away. Will we trust Him fully as they do? Do we really believe that He’s never late, that He’s always on time? Can we surrender to Him who is “the Timekeeper?

Pastor O

Published by Permission

A GREATER PURPOSE


“Three times I begged the Lord to take it (His thorn in the flesh) away. Each time He said, ‘My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.’ ” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9….”Broken things in life find their greater purpose in His story of redemption.” Laura Story……”God takes broken pieces and makes them masterpieces.” James Robison
 
In the reading of Pauls words in 2 Corinthians 12, did you catch the fact that not only did Paul ask the Father to remove the terribly painful “thorn” in his life, but that after each request, God said the same thing. “My grace is sufficient for you.” Apparently Paul had a very difficult time accepting and believing this the first two times He spoke it. We do as well. We feel and experience the pain, the need, and it blinds us to the truth of His promise.

Laura Story, a singer and author of the book “When God Doesn’t Fix It,” tells the story of her 10 year walk with the Father through the brain tumor that afflicts her husband. This tumor has not only robbed him of the sight in one eye, it has also caused him many mental and emotional problems as well. Much prayer has gone up for his healing. Yet he is not healed. At least in the manner that most of us understand healing. We expect when we pray that the Lord will answer and fix everything. But as Story writes, what happens when He doesn’t? What happens when the thorn remains? What happens when He either doesn’t remove the problem, or remove us from the problem? What happens then? What are we left with then? If someone tells us that we are left with Him, all that is Him, and nothing else; no change, no healing, no deliverance, can we accept that? Is He really enough?

Story said that “He doesn’t have to ‘fix it’ in order to get us where He wants us to be.” Can we accept that? Are we really willing to walk a road with Him that leads us through places we don’t want to go or see? Are we willing to go to the place in His Life He calls us to be even when He allows all the mountains, giants, and needs to remain? Do we have a trust that goes that deep? Do we even want to?
 
When we think of the blessed life, our flesh is usually it’s definer. We’re comfortable, safe, provided for in all ways. Troubles come, but they don’t touch us because He makes them disappear before they can. This is the usual western/American church view of the blessed life. Story, in a song she entitles “Blessings,” sees this life not through eyes of flesh, but of His Spirit. She asks in song, “What if Your blessings come through raindrops, What if Your healing comes through tears, What if a 1000 sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?…….What if my greatest disappointment or the achings of this life is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy.” 

We are so rooted into this world and its ways that we can be staggered at the thought, the truth, that His ways with us have their end in eternity and not the here and now. Paul had a great desire to have that thorn, whatever it was, gone. He had an immeasurably greater desire to know Him in intimacy. If that meant that the thorn would be the Father’s path to that intimacy, He would go there. Willingly, joyfully, completely. That path will meet all who seek to be His entirely. It is human to cry out to Him for the removal of life’s painful thorns, but it is the truly God centered life that goes on with Him even if it’s not. Trusting, believing, knowing, that there is a greater glory to be had when we do. Who do we really want? God the Fixer, or the God of Glory?

Blessings,
Pastor O

Published by permission

Heart Thoughts -Silent Partner


“But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16
I’ve mentioned before that I keep a prayer journal. I do so not because I am so “super-spiritual” but because I am so prone in my flesh to not be spiritual at all. One of the prayers I have written down is based on the above scripture, and simply reads, “Father, may I at all times pray in the Spirit, speak in the Spirit, hear in the Spirit, and live in the Spirit.” This is the only way we will not live in a manner that consistently sees to it that we carry out the desires of our flesh. Many of those desires will be good ones. The great problem for us lies in the fact that they are not necessarily God’s desires. Watchman Nee asked the question, “How much of our work for Him has been based on a clear command from the Lord, and how much simply on the ground that it was a good thing to do?” There were many good things Paul wished to do. The Holy Spirit closed the door on all of them in order that he would go to where the Father wished him to be; in Macedonia and Greece. He saw a “wide open door for effective service.” He also saw the “many adversaries” that would be against it.I think we seem much more comfortable in the Church in the west with the idea of the Holy Spirit being a “silent partner” in all we do. This would be true even in those fellowships that say they are Holy Spirit centered bodies. Indeed, the consistent observation of those brethren from non-western cultures who fellowship with us is how much we are able to get done without the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. There are a number of books out right now from prominent church leaders saying that the voice of the Spirit ceased at the end of the first century of the Church. That the Lord has said all He needs to in His Word, and He doesn’t need to say anything more. Now scripture is the final authority in all things, especially that which we hear in and from the Spirit, for He will never speak anything contrary to it. This is where spiritual discernment comes in. It’s what Paul meant when he told us to “test the spirits” in order to discern what was and was not from the voice and heart of God. I would also add this to those that hold the view that He no longer speaks to us. In those same congregations, the people are regularly asked to “pray about” how much they should give to building programs, mission efforts, and special projects. Somehow the Lord finds His voice when it comes to money. I’m only partly joking with that.

I heard James Robison say recently in the midst of interviewing one of his guests, that he, “heard the Spirit speaking over their conversation.” What he meant was that in the midst of their talking, He heard the Lord break in and speak into it all. He said that some might find this “spooky,” but that it was his life in Christ reality to hear the Lord in such a way regularly. What struck me was that the Holy Spirit, so integral a part of our three in one God, would be perceived with fear by so many in His Church. So much so that we proceed in our walk, relationships and ministries with far more reliance upon ourselves and our own understanding, than in His leading. We don’t recognize His checks or His voice, and so we miss both His open doors, and His closed ones.To our own harm and loss. He remains our “silent partner.” We mention Him, but we don’t walk in Him. We’re not overly anxious for Him to “show up” either, unless it’s in ways that allow us to maintain control. We build a lot of things, but they don’t last.  In the end they’re just wood and stubble. We miss that which is His silver and gold. If we doubt that, we can simply look at how many of those things we’ve built in our own strength have crumbled after the human architect of the building left the scene.

Paul wrote to two totally different fellowships; the Corinthians and the Ephesians. The Corinthians were a flesh centered fellowship, and though He spoke in love and encouragement, his words also carried His rebuke. To the Ephesians he wrote in exhortation of their going on in the life and fullness of the Holy Spirit. Through those letters, he writes to our own fellowships. Which letter is for us? Corinthians or Ephesians? Wood and stubble or silver and gold? Which are we really, and which do we really want to be? Are we living in Corinth or Ephesus?

Blessings,
Pastor O

(Shared by permission)

Just Be Held – Casting Crowns


“Just Be Held”

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

This song was posted this morning by a dear friend and sister in Jesus.
I pray you will allow God to minister to your soul this morning through this message.
Blessings and Peace Always,
~Robert

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