Shine like a Star

When you look up at the night sky do you ever think….hmmmm, I’m like one of you stars. Do you know you’ve been called to shine like a star?

In Philippians 2:14-15 God tells us: Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.

Why would God use that metaphor to shine like stars? One of the big ways that stars have been important throughout the years is that they help navigate through the darkness.  Darkness really kind of describes this “warped and crooked” generation. So we’re to help those who walk in darkness by being a shining star or a light in the darkness.

The thing is though, this is not a random phrase or unclear way to accomplish this…He tells us how we accomplish this in the fourteenth verse….”Do everything without grumbling or arguing” This is different then a vast majority of people today. So as we do not engage in grumbling and arguing and choose not to live that way, we become viewed as stars in the night. Then we operate different then the darkness and isn’t this exactly what christians are supposed to do?

So shine today! Don’t get caught up in the grumbling and arguing that can be around you…choose to be different and watch as Jesus shines through you in the darkness.

Why don’t I like that?

We all have things that we don’t like. There are times in life when things happen that we simply don’t like it. A lot of the times when we do not like something it’s because of preference. We can see that clearly when things change around you, and sometimes we like the change and we view it as “good change” but there are other times when change happens and we don’t like it.

But it’s important to go deeper then simply “I don’t like it.”  Why don’t you like it? There are many times this happen because it confronts a place of change internally that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you about. Our preference or attitudes about things can sometimes become inflexible and unmovable which is exactly the places that the Holy Spirit speaks to us.  Sometimes we say, I’ve never done that before, it’s not comfortable. Or that’s not how I’d do it. In essence we tell the Holy Spirit, “I’m unteachable” When we find ourselves in this inflexible, unmovable, unteachable place we cannot live our lives as a sacrifice to God.

Romans 12:1 tells us; Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

This is where we need to be but we’ll miss it unless we go deeper by asking the why don’t I like something question. Because on the other side of that question usually is a place of sacrifice.

Let me know what you think?

Pastor Patrick

 

Just be strong and courageous!

Last Sunday I preached a message from Joshua 1 and that God tells us to saturate ourselves in His Word for our benefit. Tonight as I was meditating on His Word, He is powerfully driving His purpose home in me, so I began to write.  Writing is a way that God drives it deeper home for me, but also puts it on paper for others.

As I was writing tonight I felt this was more prophetic than prose. So I encourage you to stop, read Joshua 1:1-9 and pray right now and read and receive this as a prophetic word over your life as well.

God is calling you to be strong and courageous in the midst of your problem. God knows you have a problem, it’s all right, Joshua had a problem….Have you been there…you’re doing something different, than you ever had to do and you’re wondering what you’re going to do? You may ask God; “God how am I supposed to get through this?”

The thing is though, that every battle Joshua had been in had prepared him for the moment he fell in to. God had used it all, prepared it all so that when the moment was right Joshua already was ready. I’m suggesting to you that your history is the very preparation for the moment you find yourself in right now.

What was God’s word to Joshua? Just be strong and courageous. If you’ll stay in my presence and listen to what I’ve said, I’ll work it all out because I will be with you! That was it.  In essence God was saying,  “I have what you need to lead and all you have to do is to stay connected to my Word.”

How many times have you felt like you were missing something you needed for the journey ahead?

God is simply saying…”Be strong and courageous.”  Live and lead courageously, empowered, believing that you are not in this situation by accident, rather it is providence! You already have what you need, you’re not missing anything.

Stop thinking with a limitation and begin to believe what God has spoken. You are not in your position because of a mistake.  You are not where you are because of a mistake. You are there because God wanted you there.

You may not understand it. You may be frustrated in it. But it is not a mistake. You are there for a purpose, for a season….Steward that season. Steward that purpose. Empowered by the Spirit of God.

You’re going to begin to receive revelation that you’ve been waiting for when you begin to understand…..it’s yours for the taking. He is waiting for you to simply be strong and courageous and to wait upon Him. Meditate on what He has said. Let it seep into every pore of who you are so that you can’t tell where you begin and God’s Word ends. Let it become inseparable as you are with the Spirit of God and the Word of God and watch as you live Strong & Courageous!

I’m receiving what God has for me….I hope you will too!

When Failure Taunts You

Last Wednesday I preached a message the Lord gave me out of 1 Samuel 1 about failure which is something I think we all deal with at times. As you look at that passage you see that Hannah was barren and that was considered a huge failure in that time and culture because as a woman it was expected that she would have babies, especially boy because they brought joy, a lineage and a source of income. It spoke of value and with the lack of children I’m certain she felt like a failure and less than valuable.

To make matters worse her rival or adversary Peninnah; her sister wife had many children and taunted Hannah in her failure. So this is where Hannah finds herself; broken and beaten down by her failure.

I’m glad that this was not the end of the story….God heard Hannah’s sorrow and prayer and gave Hannah a child.

Three things the Holy Spirit shows us in this passage:

1.  This is exactly what the enemy tries to do to us as well…taunt us in our “failures” but we only truly fail when we listen to lies the enemy tells and allow them to define us.

2. Hannah’s response opened the door to a miracle. Instead of allowing the taunting of her failure by her adversary to drive her away from the presence of God, it drove her deeper into His presence. Not only did it drive her into communion with God, she committed that what God would give her, she would give back to Him. Do we live with this perspective? God whatever you give me, I’ll give it back to you!

3. God’s response is always better than our expectation. Samuel became the de-facto leader of Israel in-between the Judges, Eli and King Saul.
Hannah just wanted to be a mom, but God had bigger plans. I love that God loves to surprise us with better than we expect when we open our lives to Him.

So….if you feel like your failures are taunting you take a lesson from Hannah and watch what God does in your life too.

Be Encouraged!

Pastor Patrick

Have I become a pharisee?

Hmmm….good question that we’d rarely ask ourselves. It was born out of a question I felt the Holy Spirit prompted in me to search myself. To answer that question we probably need to have a correct understanding of what a pharisee is.

A pharisee was a member of an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law, and commonly held to have pretensions to superior sanctity.

So when the Holy Spirit asked me that question at first I was shocked and a little offended, but I also have a long enough track record with the Holy Spirit to A) Not stay offended and B) Know that He wasn’t asking me because He was looking for information. He was telling me in a kind way….Patrick you are a pharisee.

Now I wouldn’t view myself as a pharisee (I’m certainly not part of an ancient Jewish sect 🙂 ) or consider myself to be “holier than thou”, but that’s not what the Holy Spirit ended up showing me….(btw., when the Holy Spirit speaks to us, we should search out what He’s trying to tell us.)

I was reading in Matthew 12 a couple days later and as I was reading this passage I was reminded of the question again. “Are you a pharisee?”

The pharisees had their rules, traditions, and their interpretation of the law which Jesus broke, but Jesus never broke the law.

So here I am in the first few verses of chapter 12 (read it yourself) and the Holy Spirit began to speak to me about how there are times when I value schedule, process, rules over people. Jesus always valued people over tradition and made up rules. I never would have thought that I valued these thing above people, but because of busyness that has happened and He was pulling me out of that pharisaical place that I had so easily wandered into. I’m so thankful for the Holy Spirit leading and guidance to speak to me.

So my question to you is: Do you value your schedule, your process, your tradition, your rules over people? If so, what is the Holy Spirit speaking to you?

I’d love to hear. Let’s start a conversation. We’re better together!

Pastor Patrick

Get in Shape or Pizza?

Change is funny. Well, not really funny but kinda. It’s actually us that are funny. We want change but we generally don’t like it. We’ll say things like “I need to get in better shape”, followed by “but this pizza tastes so good.” See what I mean. Funny!

Sometimes change is “thrust” upon us. Generally speaking we probably struggle with that kind most because it wasn’t “our” idea, and yet if it’s necessary we need to value it. Before becoming a pastor I worked in the healthcare industry and did marketing and admissions for a short term care facility. Many times people would have to come in and rehab because of something ongoing that could have and should have changed earlier but they didn’t. If I remember correctly it was people who had heart attacks that so often had to change their diet, low sodium, etc. The new “lifestyle and diet” was thrust upon them instead of choosing to change and do what needed to be done. But it’s so easy to put it off.

In Mark 2 we see Jesus addressing change. Here’s His take:

18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”

19 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.

21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”

Jesus addresses the question of His disciples fasting with a declaration that I don’t think John’s disciples necessarily understood. “Why would they fast while I’m here?” This is a time of celebration because of the fulfillment of messianic prophecies. They were in a time of change. Then Jesus makes a similar point with the cloth and the wineskins. Basically saying, you can’t mix the old  “religion” with the new “covenant” and if you try, it ruins the old wineskins. New wineskins for new wine.

The word the Lord is speaking to me is; “If you want a new filling Patrick, you have to have a change in the vessel.” Here’s the thing…I want God to do a new work in me and continue to change me. We were never meant to live on one place of change, change is meant to be continual to keep in step with the Holy Spirit. As a church we have to continue to allow the Holy Spirit to shape, mold and change us so we can be as effective as possible in reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So then the question comes back to us, do we want to “get in shape” more than we want the pizza? Change will cost us, but it is good and it is exactly what God is speaking to us.

How are you doing with this? I’d love to hear.

God gives you what your heart desires!

Did you know that there is a promise that God tells us He’ll give us what our heart desires? Does that make Him a genie in a bottle? I don’t think so. (at all) Rather He is an amazing Father that desires to give us those things that make our hearts come alive, but with a caveat. Here’s the promise:

Psalm 37:4 tells us to; Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Oh that’s good! Let me draw our attention to 5 little words though….Delight yourself in the LORD. This is the caveat. God wants to give you the desires of your heart, but first we need to delight ourselves in Him. What does that mean so that we can experience this promise?

In Hebrew the word delight means make soft, pliable, live or spend in enjoyment.

Therefore if we delight ourselves in the Lord we will become soft and pliable to the leading of the Holy Spirit….enjoying His process…enjoying His presence and therefore enjoying His purpose. When we do that, OUR desires change to His desires. It becomes about His process, His presence and His purpose which God is totally committed to fulfilling! And by the way…those are all good!  When we’re connected to His good it overflows into our lives. Our lives become good!

Here’s the rub: so often we want God to simply give us what we want, but sometimes what we want is not good. We may think it’s good, but we can so often want something in our lives that really isn’t good.

But if we first (say first right now where you are) if we delight ourselves in God first. We will be shaped by Him and WE WILL experience His good in our lives. WE WILL see the desires of our hearts filled.

So pay attention to those first little 5 words: Delight yourself in the LORD, If you do this…. then He will give you the desires of your heart, and you will live the life you always have wanted!!!!

You may already “know” this….but maybe it’s time to start “living” this!

Starter or Finisher?

As I sit here writing this today I’m laughing at myself. Not a funny haha….rather a…really Patrick! That’s because it’s taken me some time to finish what I started on this post. I probably started writing this about 2 months ago.

You see God drops scriptures, little phrases, statements and word pictures in my thoughts and I know instantly that I need to write about and/or preach what He’s just given me. Sometimes there’s an urgency for the week I’m in and other times, well it takes some time. When it’s something I’m supposed to write I can sometimes allow it to fall through the cracks and it doesn’t get done right away (procrastination?) and very often that is fueled by things that we allow to get in the way.

Some days it feels like I have a zillion things to do. Hyperbole maybe? and sometimes I just don’t want to write because I want to do something else. There’s a lot of times in life that are like that. We have something that we know we should do but we put it off because we’re busy or simply because we don’t want to do that thing right now.

1 Kings 20:11 tells us this….‘One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off.'”

This is one of my favorite little passages that reminds me that it’s not about how we start, but rather how we finish. You see God has called us to not only start things but to finish them. That is His promise to us…that He will finish what He started in our lives, and it’s also a great place to mimic His actions.

Maybe that’s a task, but maybe that’s an attitude adjustment? Whatever it is…If God spoke it into us, He means for us to do it.

Let’s be people who not only start, but continue in the middle and finish strong empowered by the Holy Spirit in all things.

Maybe you feel like you’ve started something God has spoken to you and you feel like you let God down because you dropped the ball, don’t! Don’t own that one moment longer. Give it to God and continue to fulfill what He has spoken to you. When you do that you’ll be a finisher. Then you can boast like the one who takes the armor off….but of course your boast will be in the Lord as He’s the one that not only speaks into us but empowers our actions to fulfill them.

Think about it!

The beginning or the end?

As we have just finished this 21 days of fasting and prayer it may seem like an ending, but in reality it’s more like a beginning and here’s why. What God has done in each of us and our church is not meant for a short season of 21 days, but rather a new level of surrender, sacrifice and obedience.

Whenever we have times where God moves in us they are never meant for a moment and then going back to where we were previously. They are meant to raise us up to another level of discipleship. They are watermark moments in our lives and with Him they are meant to become the new normal. 2 Corinthians 3 tells us that we are to be moved from glory to glory to glory…becoming more and more like Jesus. Which means we don’t have moments of becoming more like Him and then falling backwards. It looks like us continually being transformed into the image of God, glory upon glory.

Are there bumps along the way? Sure, but it is a directional thing where the Spirit of God is continuing to work in us, empower us and move us forward.

So remember…this wasn’t the end…It’s a new beginning!

New Year – New ?

As we enter a new year,  we all look at our lives and I believe that every one of us has some things in our lives that we’d like to see changed.  With the new year it brings many things; A close to the following year, a fresh start, resolutions and expectations and many times hope.  It is the most natural time of the year where we have a built in process for new beginnings. So take advantage of this….don’t just talk about it. Implement something new. Begin to do something that you’ve procrastinated this far in doing. Make a change. Do it!

Because although every day can be a new beginning, take advantage of this one. But remember this: If you really want to see change, you have to change some things you believe, it stats with what God has said….like Philippians 4:13, You can do (fill in the blank) it! Believe Romans 8:31 that God is for us. Really believe it. Believe 2 Peter 1:3 that tells us that God has given us everything for life and godliness. This year grab on to a promise from God and go after it! Really believe it. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you believe it! Deep down at your core believe it.

Here’s why:

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.”

Change what you believe, really believe and your thoughts about everything will change. Your words will become different, you’ll begin to speak into your destiny instead of off-hand words that fight against it. Your actions will follow and done a few times repetition begins to take over and they become habits. What you do consistently tells you what you value and what your life becomes.

It all changes because you determined to listen to the Word of the Lord and truly believe it. Remind yourself over and over again what His Word says….the rest will follow.

2018 is going to be vastly different for many people, you might as well be one of them.