It’s not what you said…It’s how you said it!

I love how God just shows up. Ok, ok, I understand theologically that God is always there. He’s always with us. But there are also times in the midst of everything that God is doing in and around us, He shows up or shows off in ways that sometimes leave us in a sense of awe.

Today as I was enjoying a time of conversation and ministry in lifegroup the Holy Spirit took the conversation and our words and lifted them up to another level. The discussion had come to a point of how sometimes even well meaning people will speak words over us that aren’t exactly, how shall I say… encouraging. Now I know that there are times when people mean to do that, and their words are cutting.  But in this conversation we were talking about how sometimes it happens with people that don’t mean to harm. They don’t mean to not encourage…It just happens.

Sometimes people speak a word of truth but it is not wrapped in love. Many times it’s couched in concern or frustration, anger and even in self-righteous religiosity. With this we rationalize that people need this word for their own good. They need the truth. Which is true, but it also needs to come in the right “package”.

In Ephesians chapter 4 God tells us to speak the truth in love. So God has laid down the example of how we are to speak truth. There is no question mark attached to this….this is how we are to speak. Our lives and our words should be marked by truth and love. Not truth or love, but both.

My question then today and what the Holy Spirit said in this moment; “If we are to speak the truth in love, isn’t that also the only way we should receive the truth?” If you’ve been hurt by a word that someone gave you that was true but it wasn’t wrapped in love…should you receive it? Don’t get me wrong, God’s plan is for each of us to walk in truth, but we can be wounded by a well meaning person speaking truth just not in love. How many times have you heard either in the past, “It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.”

So what do you do in that situation? You don’t receive that, BUT you ask the Lord if it was truth then to have that Word given to you in love by either Himself or someone else. That’s not sugar coating it, it’s receiving the way that God intends for us to receive. It actually helps us appropriate the truth into our lives.

Our own experience with God is also one that He never speaks truth into us without love. So why would we receive truth from someone else without love, especially as He was very specific in His Word on this.

Bottom line: He’s teaching us not only how to speak, but He’s also teaching us how to hear.

-Selah

 

Have you trained yourself to miss it?

Have you ever thought about the fact that we actually train ourselves to hear God in specific ways?  Many times we have trained ourselves after a moment where we heard God clearly speak in a specific way. We look for it the same way because that is how it happened before. We in essence train ourselves to then look for the Word of the Lord in that way, creating a model inside our head and heart that THIS is how God is going to speak to me.

Sometimes it’s not in how God spoke to us in the past but rather how God spoke to someone else. We hear about their experience and then begin to listen in THAT way.

Can I suggest that not only CAN God speak to us in many ways, but that He actually DOES speak to us in many ways and if you’re looking for a specific way, you can miss it.

There is a scripture that speaks to this. In 1 Kings 19 we see multiple ways that God spoke to Elijah. First an angel came to him and encouraged and fed him, next we see that Elijah is in a cave and it says “the Word of the Lord came to Him.” Another divine way of communication where God spoke to Elijah, much like God speaks to us in prayer and through His Word. Let’s look at what happened next.

11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

If Elijah was anything like me I would have wondered about the wind, the earthquake and the fire…”Is this how you’re speaking God?” The louder, the more passionate, the fire is sometimes how we think we’ll hear God, but maybe that’s because we’re not listening for a whisper. A whisper intimates a closeness and intimacy to listen. Simply put, what if we trained ourselves to hear God in the BIG and the little. What if we didn’t pigeon hole ourselves into listening for God in one way, or even a few ways. Instead we train ourselves to hear God in many ways. God wants you to hear Him clearly in preaching, teaching, prayer and the Word, but also in nature, in conversations, from billboards, through worship and the list goes on and on.

Lastly…If you are having trouble hearing God, expand your horizons on how you expect God to speak and how you can hear Him. Possibly just possibly He’s in the whisper and we need to get closer so we can hear what He’s saying.

 

How do I do this in real life?

How do you respond to wounded people wounding others, specifically wounding you or trying to either knowingly or unknowingly? This is a real life thing with real life consequences. But this is not a new thing…I am reminded of David and King Saul.

In 1 Samuel 18 we see that David had just killed Goliath and Saul has brought David into his house and acted on the behest of King Saul. The problem was that Saul began to become very insecure as David’s reputation began to dwarf that of King Saul’s. So much so that we see that played out in verses 6-9

Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. So the women sang as they danced, and said: “Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands.” Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” So Saul eyed David from that day forward.

Saul was insecure and hurting emotionally and he acted out of that pain and hurt. If you continue reading the narrative you see that Saul tried to kill (unsuccessfully) David many times and in many ways.

The funny thing is; David didn’t deserve any of this. He simply became a hero because he was trusting God. He was doing the right thing and he received a wrong against him. That happens with us also, we can be doing the right thing and because of pain and hurts/wounds others can lash out and attack you personally.

So often in these moments it is not only directed to you but also about you to others. King Saul did the same thing…out of his pain, he directly and indirectly passed along his offense to others under his command that led to them trying to kill David. I know this is the extreme, physical death, but it happens to people all the time emotionally and relationally. In those moments, others are drawn into the saga of hurt and pain.

What can you do in that moment?

  • Honor the person, not their actions. The natural thing is to fight back. David could have fought back. He could have picked up the spear and thrown it back at Saul. instead he honored Saul (even though Saul’s actions didn’t deserve it) and kept his heart right before God, so much so that in 1 Samuel 24 you get a glimpse into this.
  • Pray – keep your heart right and pray for the other person.                               Matthew 5:44 tells us: But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. 
  • Do everything you can to bring healing and restoration into the relationship. Romans 12:18 tells us: If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.                                                                                          You’re not responsible for them, you’re responsible for you.
  • Stand. If they are unwilling to be in right relationship…you stand in that place with God knowing that you did all that you could.

Everyday God…Everyday Moments

Do you know that God wants to spend time with you? When I ask the question,  why is it that we turn that opportunity into a chance to do the religious things that we think God wants? Automatically our thoughts go to reading  the Word of God or in prayer, although those are some of the ways He wants to spend time with you.

What I want us to catch is that God wants to spend time with you when you’re driving, working, tinkering around the house, shopping or out for a hike. There is not one activity or moment in our day where He isn’t interested in being with you.

Not just because He has something to say to you, (although He does) but because He wants to be with you because He loves you. Plain and simple. But so often we view time with Him only through those “religious activities” that we deem right.

Consider this…even though He made you and knows every thought before you think it, He still wants to be with you simply because He thinks you’re amazing. That is one of the things that I love about God…He thinks I’m amazing, and He thinks you are too. So reframe how you think about spending time with Him, in your everyday and the normal things in life and as you do that experience something new and fresh in Him.

 

Help!

How do you handle a crisis in your life? You may not be going through one now, but you will. Everyone does. How you handle a crisis determines something vital. Who you trust most. Generally the person or place that we turn to first determines who we trust most.

Psalm 55:22 tells us: Cast your cares on the Lord  and he will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.

The promise that God gives us is that as we cast our cares on the Lord, as we give them to Him, He will provide for us and never let us fall. He provides strength and confidence. The problem we run into is we have a tendency not to do our part (casting our cares), instead we hold on to them. We allow worry and fear instead to settle in and when that happens it shows that we are carrying the care instead of casting it on the Lord. Sometimes this is a process of learning to do this…but the more that you learn to do this in little things, you’ll learn to do this in the big things.

So, make the divine exchange with the Holy Spirit….give it to Him (even in the little things) and take the strength and the confidence that you can stand firm in any and all situations. That is His promise to you. You just do your part.

-Selah (“pause, and think of that.”)

A Passionate Response?

Last Sunday we took a moment to celebrate our salvation with shouts, clapping, singing, etc. I have to say that as I led us in that process it seemed as if some didn’t know how to celebrate God’s touch on their lives. Now I know that not everyone is wired the same way. That not everyone is comfortable raising their hands, clapping or shouting to the Lord. That’s OK. But….that doesn’t change the fact that we should know how to celebrate the greatest gift that we’ve been given. Maybe that was just a moment in time where it seemed like we didn’t know what to do, but unfortunately I feel that we have lost something along the way. Somewhere along the way we’ve lost the fire and celebration of our salvation.

I am reading an extremely challenging book right now and came across a line in it that speaks to this very situation. “A passionate response is the only adequate response.” Now I know that I am a “passionate” person, but honestly each of us are passionate (in different ways) about different things. My question to you would be, “If you’re not passionate and celebratory about your salvation….why not?”

Considering that if you’re a Christ follower that your salvation is the greatest gift you’ve ever been given, then a passionate response is the only adequate response! That passion should drive you as you celebrate what God has done in and for you. If it doesn’t, that would make me take a long hard look at your life, your relationship with Jesus and your response to Him and how you live your life.

So maybe today begin to think about this. Think about how you respond, not just when you are encouraged to celebrate your salvation, but how you respond to Jesus in all things….and remember. As Christ followers: “A passionate response is the only adequate response.”

Is your hand open?

There is a metaphor that I use as I look at my life,  which is “holding my life with an open hand.” …meaning I am not going to try to grab ahold of anything so tightly that if God wanted to give me something else in life I wouldn’t be able to take it because my hands are full. Instead I want to be intentionally flexible as I trust God with the direction of my life. So I am open to surrendering what I have at any time to God if He asks for something. So position, possessions, comfort, etc. they’re all on the table at any time. I have chosen to allow God to put into and take out of my hands whatever He wants, whenever He wants.

That is something that is a struggle at times because  we want to control everything in our life to get the greatest outcome but actually the greatest outcome doesn’t come from us controlling it all. It comes from us trusting God and holding everything with an open hand.

The book of Genesis is my favorite book of the Bible and holds probably my favorite person in the Bible (except Jesus) and that is Joseph. I love the story of Joseph’s life because it is a case study of holding our lives with an open hand.

If you’ll read about Joseph (Genesis 37-50) we see that Joseph simply trusted God with his life at every turn. He had so many mishaps but his focus was trusting God. We know this because in the 39th chapter after he was sold into slavery and now in Potiphar’s house in the 9th verse this shows his focus on trusting and pleasing God. He did the right thing where he was.

You see…my job and yours is to simply trust God in whatever situation I find myself in. His job is to see that His purpose is fulfilled where I am. When I keep my focus and trust in Jesus, I am perfect soil for what God wants to do in my life.

If we jump to the end of Genesis in 50:20 (my life verse)…we see that what was meant for harm against Jospeh God turned it for good, the saving of many lives. Through the whole process of divine dreams, slavery and prison, Joseph held the things in his life with an open hand knowing that God would put into and take out of his hand whatever was necessary at each moment.

So hold everything with an open hand, don’t hold anything so tightly that you miss what God wants to give you, do the right thing where you are, trust God in every situation and watch as He fulfills His purpose in and through you.

 

What do you do when you have more questions than answers?

Do you sometimes feel like you have more questions than answers? Do you sometimes feel like you just don’t have the right answer to the question that is right in front of you? There are so many situations in life with seemingly multiple right answers. Sure, you could choose this or that…but there is a right answer for where you are.

The amazing thing is that when you don’t have the answer, God does. God’s got this and you can trust Him. You just need to position yourself to hear what God is saying about every situation in your life. Sometimes that positioning means we quiet our mouths and open our ears…sometimes thats the struggle.

But understand this…sometimes the answer isn’t what you think it should be, and sometimes it’s not found in an equation, it’s found in an emotion. Peace…is so often the answer that God gives. But whatever the answer is the promise is that God’s grace is sufficient and with you as we simply humble ourselves to listen to what He’s saying.  So maybe stop, drop and roll….no I’m just kidding. What you maybe need to do is simply Stop. Listen. Obey.

 

Prisoners of Hope

As I was reading in Zechariah 9 the other day, the Word of the Lord jumped off the page to me. In the chapter we see where God is declaring judgement upon the enemies of Israel.  In the 11th verse, God reminds them of the blood covenant and the freedom it brings, and then the 12th verse is what simply leapt into my heart.

Zechariah 9:12 Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.

Two big things that the Lord spoke to me:

  1. He calls them (and me) prisoners of hope.
  2. He declared a double portion of restoration.

When the enemy tries to steal, kill and destroy…what God has deposited in me is the reality that I am a “prisoner of hope”.  Because of the covenant relationship I am in with God I have found Him to be faithful and true. My history with Him tells me that I can wait in “hope” through all the struggles I have. In fact not only can I wait, but I am a prisoner…I am bound to the hope that He has deposited in my heart. He has promised and I know that God fulfills His promise. So in spite of what I sometimes see with my eyes, sometimes what seem as hopeless situations…I am held fast, I am “in chains” to the hope of the Lord.

Secondly, what the enemy thinks he’s stolen and when he thinks he’s won, Jesus is declaring back into my life a double portion. So even when something seems to be stolen, I can stand confident because this is God’s promise. So next time you feel like the enemy has killed, destroyed or stolen something from you…stand back and remember…you’ve been promised twice what was just taken. It actually is an upgrade in your life, so rejoice in hope of the blessing which is coming your way.

-Pastor Patrick

 

 

 

Who are you?

Have you ever asked that question…really? Who are you? What kind of person are you? Not, what kind of person do you want to be? But what kind of person are you? About a year ago I was with my pastor and he shared some of what I’m sharing with you today about addressing that question in our own lives. In Proverbs, scripture defines people in different ways depending on how we act and how we live. The four different persons described are: Simple, Foolish, Wise and Scoffers.

Simple people are defined as people that just don’t know something. They haven’t been educated in areas and are simply unaware about things. It doesn’t make them bad or good, just simple. John Maxwell says it this way, “There are some things that you don’t know and there are some things that you don’t know that you don’t know.” The first part of that is uneducated in an area, the second part to that is simply you don’t even know that you’re missing something.

Foolish people are defined as people who make excuses why they do the wrong things. They’re unteachable and often use anger as a defense mechanism when confronted.

Wise people are defined as people who are teachable. They listen, they grow and they’re intentional about how they live their lives in a Godly manner.

Scoffers are defined as people who make fun of wise council and other people’s wisdom. Scoffers appear wise and may seem like they win the battle, but they don’t gain anything from the encounter and simply don’t learn anything.

With this Biblical criteria ask yourself that question again. Who are you? I pray that as you continue to grow that you would strive to be wise and teachable. So often this is shown through in difficult times. The choice is yours. Who will you be?

-Pastor Patrick