You cannot serve money…

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33

imagesThis was one of the verses that called me out of the Navy and into ministry back in 2009.  Trusting that by seeking internship and ministry I was seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and trusting that he would provide all else.  Now almost 3 years later I can confidently say that he has infact done this.  He has more than provided for us (now married!).

It’s a great reminder as I’m sitting here praying for wisdom as I look to budget for this next season.  I’m scared, I don’t want to serve money, but I want to serve God! (Matt 6:24)  I want to keep seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  Why would I have any reason to doubt that he would continue to do just as he has, perhaps miraculously   This is the kind of thinking that is outward, rather than inward.  Fear and anxiety, they cuase you to look inward, but love and trust cause you to look outward.  This is a beautiful gospel truth that is only possible by the power of the spirit and the death and resurrection of Christ.  Who is blessed forever, amen!

Moving forward now, with a praying heart.  Thank you Jesus.

Praying for more of this, for a heart of trust and faith.

God answers again…

Our God is so good.

I knew it.  We’ve been looking for housing out here in Orlando, my wife for the last weekScreen Shot 2012-12-14 at 11.00.54 PM and a half and I went out last Friday.  We had narrowed it down to two options, neither was ideal.  Both a little high in price, one a lot nicer than the other.

Well we were driving around praying that night (actually getting lost) and God answered in an amazing way.

You see earlier today I stopped in at the Seminary just to say hi and ask some questions of the Admissions Counselor, Tim, that works there.  We talked about classes, schedules, housing, work…etc.  And literally as I’m getting up to leave he remembers an email he saw back in November about someone who was on a six month job in Kentucky and was looking to rent rooms out.

phoneSeemed like a long shot since half of December had already went by but I gave him a call and left a message.

And literally as Elise and I are talking through options and praying for wisdom, this guy calls back and says that the place is available.  After some discussion he actually offers it at a price well below the other places and which happened to be what I had originally budgeted for.  Crazy!

Turns out it is a three bedrooms house, with a pool and a lake behind it with a running trail.  Amazing!  So God again, provides much more, for much less.  He really does have a plan and is good and loves us.  He is really providing for us here so far, no reason to think he won’t continue!

Thanks Jesus!

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In God’s timing…

I love how God even ordains our mistakes.  Elise and I were hurrying back from a trip out to Spokane, Wa this weekend to get back in time to help some of our friends move, when we found out it wasn’t until next weekend.

The funny part is we found out 4 hrs into the 5hr drive and because one of our friends called us who was there and had made the same mistake.  So the good news was we had the next three hours free, so we decided to grab an early dinner with this gal.

We had casual conversation and then got to talking about some things going on in her life and before we knew it we were sharing the gospel with this gal and how her Identity is in Christ alone.  She’s had a difficult number of years and it was cool to hear her really open up.

The tears than came down her face were confirmation that this was a God ordained meeting.

After an hour or so we finished up, praising God for the new family that we are in by virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection.  Not only are we sons and daughters of God, but we are brothers and sisters of each other.  It was a joy to get to walk along side one of our sisters through some difficult stuff.

Just another reminder that our God doesn’t make mistakes even when we do.  His purposes are greater than ours and even in the inconsequential things of our lives, God has a plan, and a good one at that.

Thank you Jesus!

What Re:Train is doing to me…

Devastating me.

That about sums up how I feel after a day and a half of Re:train on Preaching & Teaching.  We’ve had some great teachers come in and guide us into the study of God’s Word.  God is revealing to me just how much I think I have something to offer, something to give, or something to bring to the text, when in reality,I don’t.

I have nothing to offer, nothing to bring to the bible.

Scripture stands on its own, it doesn’t need me to interpret it.  Scripture is God breathed, not Justin breathed.  Understanding this has been devastating to my personal image, humbling, but absolutely freeing.  I’m so thankful for God’s power in his word, and for the opportunity to learn about it, and how to study it.

One of our teachers drew this illustration that totally sums up how I have been approaching the bible.  He says some approach the bible like a drunk does to a lamp post, they use it more for support rather than illumination.  We need to come under the authority of Scripture.  I’ve always thought that I did, but now I see more clearly that I bring to the text my own views, my own framework, my own agenda, rather than letting the text speak for itself.

The Holy Spirit, God, has written the bible, and he has does so with purpose and intent.  It’s exciting to come to text now, humbly, looking for the Holy Spirit’s meaning, his direction, his insight.

The Bible is deeper and more sufficient than I ever thought, and I am eternally grateful for it. Thank you Jesus.

Sometimes the best way to move forward, is to look back

Do you ever feel paralyzed?  You know God has called you to do something, but you just can’t move?  What is this fear?  What is keeping you from trusting God?

I’ve found that in these times, and I believe we see this in the bible, that if you are having trouble moving forward in something, sometimes it’s best to look back.  How has God already acted in your life?  How has God answered your previous prayers?

Every time I sit down to make calls for support raising I go through this.  I don’t want to reach out. I don’t want to call anyone. I don’t want to ask.  Yet, God is truly gracious to give me a wife to remind me of the power of God and how he has acted in my life.  She also reminds me that God has very clearly called me to this.

Therefore I need not fear, only obey in faith.

When I stop and look at what he’s provided already in this wild trip, it’s really quite astonishing.  I stepped out in faith over two years ago from a well paying job as a Naval Officer to pursue ministry and God has provided for my every need since that day.

Why do I doubt so easily?  We see over and over again in the Old Testament God beckoning his people to remember who He is.  Remember who your God is!

God is a good Father.  God is in control.  God does love us, and he wants to show us how much we can trust him…with everything.

Thank you Jesus, for your truth.  Thank you for my wife.

What has God done in your life?

What does God have for you today?

God’s given me incredible peace and joy this last week as I’ve considered this question at the start of each day:

“What does God have for me today?”

It was inspired largely from a bible study we are doing on the fruit of the spirit and from the lives of such men as George Mueller.  This question helps to turn myself outward as I ask not what I want today, but rather what God has for me.  Because God is like a good parent, he knows best, he knows that what we want is not always what we need, and like a good parent he sometimes withholds from us to show us what’s better…namely Him.  Yet he is so infinitely better, and more wise than even the best parent, and in his love he has predestined us for good works! (Eph 1, 2:10).

In this we don’t have to be thankful for a particular circumstance or trial that we are experiencing but we can be thankful in the midst of it because God is good and is working all things for good for those that love him.  This is possibly the greatest comfort and promise God has for us in our daily lives.

He is good, and we can trust him.

This was the first temptation in the Garden (Gen 3).  The serpent asks…”Did God really say…?”  and casting doubt on God’s word “You will surely not die, but God knows you will be like him if you eat of this fruit.”  This is questioning God’s goodness and character and it is detrimental to our lives…not because God wants to harm us, but because he really is good and really is the only good and the only thing we can trust in a world full of deception and false gods.

So Lord, help me, help us let go of our “wants” and receive what You have for us each day, not because the things in themselves are good or bad, but because we have a God that is Good, and is a Giver!

Coming up on a year…

I was reading through some of my first entries on here earlier today and it seemed appropriate to say a word or two.  A lot has happened since this blog first started; engagement, support raising, marriage, ministry opportunities, actually having income through supporters…  As I look back I am amazed at what God has done.

And yet I still sit here struggling with doubt.  Is this really what God has called me to?

Recently, I’ve taken on some new endeavors, teaching, leading, and public speaking.  I often wonder if I’ve taken on too much, yet I feel the necessity to explore these areas and seek confirmation of my calling.  Lately it’s been tough here.  I met a guy last week for a support appointment and in the end it felt a little like an ambush, though less so than other meetings.

This particular gentlemen had a lot of history with Mars Hill Church and what sounded like some unresolved issues that are manifesting themselves as roots of bitterness (Heb 12).  After reflecting on the hour long venting session, I was uneasy.  You see, I’m vulnerable when it comes to trusting authority.  My step dad abused it, and I’ve always been skeptical ever since.  The enemy is always looking for ways to exploit strongholds.

This particular guy did not have nice things to say about our Pastor, and had many accusations.  This raised red flags in my head as to whether I could trust him or not as my Pastor.  The problem is a thing need not be true to be powerful, only believed.  And so I’ve spent the last 4 days or so in prayer, asking God for discernment and absorbing his Word and reminding myself that He is the one I trust, and He is worthy.

This is just one example of the many ways that the enemy attempts to de-rail us, and of the possible ways meetings can go bad.  As I’ve look over old blog entries it feels as though I have failed in some sense in the purpose of this blog.  I want to be glorifying God with it, documenting the ways he has answered me, often times miraculously.  I feel that I haven’t done a good job of that, but want to.

So I’m asking the Holy Spirit to empower me to do that.  Help me to glorify God with what he’s done in my life and what he is doing.  Help me be a better steward of the resources you have given me.

May people only see me pointing to Jesus, if they look at me at all.

Teaching & Leading

I am very grateful to having been given the opportunity to lead a bible study and lead a ministry.  Through it I have been learning a ton about how truly self centered I am, and how much I desire the approval of others.  I’m thankful that I am in an uncomfortable situation right now, because I think that means God is growing me.

We’ve just finished our first month of our study through the Fruits of the Spirit and this last week we hit Ecclesiastes 1, as we try to make it through the whole book this year.  I just wanted to share a couple things that I’ve been learning as we study through these truths.

The first is that in Gal 5:22, Paul lists the fruit of the spirit, which we are all probably familiar with, but the interesting thing here is that Paul uses the singular noun Fruit, in the Greek, and then goes on to list 9 different fruits.  I was listening to Tim Keller preach on this text and he makes the point that because of that, we as Christians, are growing in all the fruits at once, not just one or two.  He cites Jonathan Edwards monumental work “Religious Affections” in expounding upon this notion.  Edwards says that a great many of the Fruits can be faked, but one evidence of true Religious Affections, or we could say conversion, is that we are growing in all the areas. 

I think that is a pertinent question for all of us to be asking.  Are we growing in Love?  Peace? Patience?  Joy?…If not, are we viewing Jesus Christ correctly?  Are we seeing his magnifying beauty in light of the ugliness of our sin?  In truth, the root of all the fruits is the Gospel.  The more we gaze and wonder at the glory of the Cross of Christ the more we become like Him.  It is an interesting study given Ecclesiastes chapter 1, which teaches that life itself is meaningless without God.  And so maybe it is not so much the “work” that we are doing, but more so, the work God is doing in us!

Ministry is hard…

I left the United States Navy in October of 2009 after 10 years of service to follow the call of God into ministry.  I have been in full time ministry now for a little over a year and I have to say…it is hard.

I did a lot of difficult things in the Navy, mentally, emotionally and physically, but this last year in Ministry has been a difficulty of the deeper sort…spiritual.  I suppose I should have known that the enemy would have been none to pleased when one decides to dedicate his life to the service of the Lord and the preaching of the gospel, yet experience remains the most effective teacher.

Lately I’ve just felt weighed down with the mounting responsibilities at the church, with support raising, and of course, with being a husband.  I’ve come to see the darker more sinister sins that go on in my head and heart.  I see how much I really care for the approval of others, and how quickly I want to run from a situation when it gets tough.  Yet, there is hope.

Jesus Christ, son of God, has redeemed me.  He has given me a new heart, he has caused me to follow him.  He is my strength, my light, and my song.  He has said, you are a new creation in Me, be done with the old.  I have been praying lately that God would remain my number one.  It is so easy to get lost in the flood of emails and tasks and people to care for, yet Christ is my source.

Someone once said, “Christians are like the nails, the harder you hit them, the deeper they go.”

I feel myself and hope to be pressing more and more into Christ as I walk this path.  Amen.

July 16th Journal Entry.

Oh the throws of the Christian Walk.   Yesterday was not a good day.   Feeling my heart hardened, and my care going down.  Not loving Elise well, not leading bible study well, not working well.  What is going on?

I’m left in the state, I want to do more, but what is God calling me to.  I resort to the above mentioned tasks.

Raise support, support and love Elise, study the Word.

Isn’t that enough?  Won’t God provide?  Have I not been here before?  Yes.

Faith.  Holy spirit will you manufacture faith in me.  Father I am solely dependant on you.  I am running out of names, I don’t have an appointment this week.  Oh Lord, you are sovereign.   I just lift up this process to you.  I am trusting you, you alone.

God put George Mueller’s Biography back in my hands this week and it has been a tremendous help.  What a picture of God’s provision.  I want to trust as he trusts, and the truth is I can.

Father I ask for the Faith that he had, I trust in the provision with which you provided him.  I ask for clarity in my mission, and ministry.

Lord help me.  Help me help Elise, help me help others.  Jesus send your spirit to be my helper, in time of need.

I am in spiritual need.  I need you.  I trust you.  I love you.