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Preview: Just Like 2 Dogs on a Porkchop

Just Like 2 Dogs on a Porkchop



Random thoughts about life and daily bible readings from Mike Iverson, pastor of Yellowstone Church in Billings, MT.



Updated: 2018-03-05T22:31:43.591-08:00

 



Be Strong and Courageous

2010-09-14T05:33:20.701-07:00

In Joshua 1:6 - God commands Joshua to "Be Strong and Courageous" - in verse 7, God commands him "Be Strong and Very Courageous".  Why did God give this command to Joshua?At first glance it seems like Joshua has very little to worry about - very little need to "Be Strong and Courageous" - in verses 3-5 God had just finished promising Joshua that nobody would be able to stand against Him.  He promised Joshua that He would never leave him or abandon Him.  But upon further examination - what God did not promise is that it would be easy - He did not promise that people would not try to stand against him - but He did promise Joshua that he would be successful.God has made these same promises to us.Romans 8:31 (NLT) Nothing Can Separate Us from God’s Love 31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?   Hebrews 13:5–6 (NLT)5 Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” 6 So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”  God has not promised us that it would be easy to follow him but He has promised us that we will be victorious if we do the same thing that He also commanded of Joshua.  Along with God's promise that none would stand against Him and His command for Joshua to be Strong and Very Courageous - God also issues a warning: Joshua 1:7–8 (NIV) 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Too many people forget the part about being obedient.  They want to believe that just because they are Christ followers - everything is going to be handed over to them - but God has said that we will only be prosperous and successful if we obey His word and follow his commands - all of them not just the easy ones. Unfortunately for the Israelites - when it came time to take the land that God had promised them, many of the tribes gave up and settled for less than God had intended because they found out it was too hard.  As a result they never enjoyed the full extent of God's blessing and faced many hardships down the road.Never give up - never settle for less than God's best - it won't be easy - but it's worth it.[...]



Religious Arrogance

2010-09-02T10:50:42.663-07:00

How do we stand firm in the conviction and biblical teaching that Jesus is the only way to God without coming across as being arrogant in our beliefs?

I want our church to be a place where people who are searching for truth, purpose, meaning, help, etc. can come and find the answers that they are looking for.  I desire this because I know that in reality, what they are looking for is God - a savior who offers them forgiveness and a fresh start.

Unfortunately, if people perceive Christians as being arrogant and intolerant they won't even bother looking there for their answers.  That's why I think it is important to guard against presenting ourselves as "I know Jesus therefore I'm always right - you are always wrong".

I constantly find myself struggling with questions - especially questions about the nature of God.  I don't claim to know all of the inner workings of the Trinity for instance.  I don't have all of the answers regarding the end times.  I don't know for sure what happens when a person who has never been exposed to the truth of Jesus Christ dies without ever knowing that God loves us enough to send His son to die for our sins.  And the list goes on and on and I am constantly reminded that I don't have all of the answers to the tough questions.  But I do know a few things.

I know that God is God and I am not.  I know that by nature I am a sinful being.  I know that God is not.  I know that He is Just.  I know that He is a loving God.  I know that there is nothing that I could ever do to make myself right with God (in fact to me the very idea that I could make myself right with God through my actions is the epitome of arrogance).  I know that He sent His only son - Jesus Christ to die on a cross and pay the punishment for my sins.  I know that if I live my life according to the principle's taught in the Bible my life as well as those around me will benefit.

I may not have all of the answers - but God does and I trust Him.



Seeking Approval

2010-08-03T09:18:53.844-07:00

So many people live their lives seeking the approval of man yet choosing to live their lives with little regard to the commands of God.  Many of these people call themselves Christians - yet what they really mean is that they believe in God and go to church on Sunday (sometimes).


John 5:44 (NIV) says -
44 How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God? 

If we say that we believe in God yet spend our lives without making an effort to obtain His approval and praise - do we really believe at all?  Now don't get me wrong, I am in no way saying that we can be made right with God through our actions, we can only be made right with God by His Grace though faith (not works) Eph. 2:8 - but if we love him we will obey His commands (that's in the bible too - John 14:15).

If there is no outward change in our lives, it begs the question is there an inward change?  I am convinced that the biggest problem is not that people don't believe in God - but that they don't live their lives as if they believe in God.  Most people believe in God but have never thought about the ramifications that an all powerful, all mighty, all loving God has on their DAILY life - let alone their ETERNAL life.

If you believe that God exists - prove it by the way you live your life.  Live your life seeking His approval.



Points of Contact

2010-07-21T15:35:59.640-07:00

I have been reading No Perfect People Allowed by John Burke.  It is a great book subtitled "Creating a Come as You Are Culture in the Church" - it is a fantastic book that really makes me think.

Burke tells stories of how Goths, addicts, and people living alternative lifestyles have come to experience the Grace of God through this come as you are culture and mindset.  It is really encouraging to see the power of God at work in the lives of people like this.  I have seen similar stories in our own church.

When it comes to accepting people as they are - loving people in the midst of their sin, I think I do a pretty good job.  I don't expect non-Christians to act like Christians.  I don't mind it (too much) when people swear and talk about their questionable morals and choices.  I even tend to be able to engage them in conversation and make a connection when I get the chance.  My biggest problem is not in offering love and grace, it is in simply making the connection in the first place.

Between working two+ jobs, being a father, a husband, a homeowner, etc. life is full of responsibilities as it is.  How do we get the word to the people that need to hear it.  The answer is quite simple and yet very profound.  Looking at the life of Jesus - He took His ministry to the people that needed to hear it.  To the lost and the sinners - sure He spent some time teaching in the synagogues but He spent more time teaching and healing in the streets.  Amongst the hurting and the lost.  That's the easy part, the profound part comes when we try to mesh the need to do that with the reality of life.

At this point I don't have a good answer, but I recognize the fact that if we want the message of Christ to change and impact the lives of the people that need it the most - we have to be intentional about it.  We have to remove the blinders that we have chosen to put on our own eyes and look around us.  We are surrounded by people in need of a savior.

Who are the people that need to experience the loving forgiveness of Christ the most?  Is it the addict, the prostitute, the poor, the homeless, the two income family living in the upscale part of town, is it the single Mom working two jobs just to make ends meet?  It's all of these.  It is our neighbors, the people across the street, down the street and on the street that need to know Him.  Everyone who doesn't know Him is headed for eternity without Him.  Sometimes it is easy to say - we are going to focus on the poor, the homeless, etc. but in reality, do they need Christ any more or any less than our neighbors that don't know him?

Even as I was writing this post, I was having visions of Taking the gospel to the South Side, to the homeless, to the bars, addicts, etc. but as I was working through this, I realize that that is a trap of Satan - he wants us to ignore the people around us - and focus on certain groups people at the expense of others.  The truth is that each of us are surrounded by people who need to know Christ - we need to pray, diligently every day that our eyes would be open to the hurt, the searching, the need right around us.

For some of us that means going to the places I mentioned - for some of us it means striking up a conversation with the father sitting next to us at our child's soccer game.  Help me Lord to be diligent and to not walk past or ignore the Points of Contact that You have given me in my life.



By the Spirit of the Lord

2010-07-02T07:51:23.399-07:00

Often times it is easy for myself, and other church planters to judge our success based on the outward appearance of what is happening at our churches.  I often times say that if I had known then what I know now, I'm not sure I would have agreed to get into church planting.

Originally I had envisioned a rapidly growing church with hundreds of people and hundreds of baptisms within the first five years - I envisioned offering multiple services, a multiple person staff, dozens of different programs and mission opportunities, etc.  As we approach the 5 year mark of that I have been working on Yellowstone Church - we are instead at the dozens mark rather than the hundreds mark.  Rather than a cutting edge high tech facility we have an old bar that we have equipped with a little technology.  Rather than continuing to work as a full time church planter and pastor, I work as a part time pastor and a full time High School Welding Teacher.

So is it a successful church plant - ABSOLUTELY!!! Without the shadow of a doubt.  The dozens of people that come to Yellowstone Church are people that with very few exceptions had absolutely no church affiliation of any sort before becoming involved at Yellowstone Church - several of them are new believers and those that aren't new believers hadn't been involved in any other church for several years.  We have people that are new to Billings and had been having trouble making connections and building relationships - they come to Yellowstone Church and find true relationship and friendship - they are challenged in their faith and their relationship with God grows to new depths.  Above all else - I have been challenged in my own faith and relationship with God.

This morning, I was reading Zechariah chapter 4 and was struck by the Lord's message to Zerubbabel in verse 6

Zechariah 4:6 (NIV)
6 So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.   

Zerubbabel didn't have all the royal trappings and fame that his ancestors David and Solomon had had - but God chose him to lead the rebuilding of the temple through the power of the Holy Spirit.

That is my prayer for my life and for Yellowstone Church - that even though we may not have the most money, the flashiest facilities, the best programs, or event he best pastor - that we would continue growing and leading people to new depths in their relationship with Christ - not because of anything we have done but through the Power of the Holy Spirit.

I love our church (the people - not the building - although the building is pretty cool too) and I love the people that our church is ministering to.  We will be the best church that we can be - not through money, nor by flashy worship, but by the Spirit of the Lord Almighty.



Ministering in a Me-First Culture

2010-06-12T07:07:21.448-07:00

We live in a time and place where the pervasive culture and attitude is a Me-First attitude.  A "if it feels Good, do it" culture - a "that may be true for You, but not necessarily for me" culture.  How can we effectively reach these people for Christ?

We can't do it with the same old methods of doing church.  What worked for us, probably won't work for them and what worked for our parents definitely won't work.  "The average person knows a lot of what the average Christian is against and very little about what the average Christian is for." (John Burke, No Perfect People Allowed)

Jesus came to seek and save the Lost - not the found.  Jesus came to do life with the prostitutes, the homeless, the hurting, the outcasts of society, and the tax collectors (funny how tax collectors fit into that same group) not the Christian businessmen.

How did Jesus minister to these people - by offering Love, Acceptance, Relationship and Respect regardless of the person's background and baggage.  It seems to me that this is how we as Christians should live out our lives and our call to fulfill the Great Commission.

The problem with living out our lives like this is that it takes us outside of our comfort zone.  By nature, what is most comfortable is to surround ourselves with people that are just like us.  People that look like us, act like us, and have the same type of problems that we have.  People with similar religious and spiritual experiences and upbringings.  The problem that this causes is that for most Christ-Followers, our friends and the people that we surround ourselves with are not the people that need Christ.  We'd like to be able to share Christ with people that really need him, but it would be so much easier if they would just clean up their lives and act right first.

Why do we expect people that aren't Christians to act like Christians act?  And even if we understand that and are relatively accepting of these people that need Christ, how do we begin to develop relationships with people that are so different than we are?  How do we meet these people?  How do we interact with these people?  How do we love and accept the person without loving or accepting some of their lifestyles and choices?  These are the questions that we must ask ourselves if we truly want to minister to the unchurched people of our generation.  People like this are all around us - we pass them and interact with them everyday.



Parental Pain

2010-05-29T14:43:23.208-07:00

Raising children can be tough.

It no secret that the people we love the most are the people that have the most potential for causing us hurt and pain.  This is especially true when we see our children choose to live their lives outside of God's perfect plan for their lives.  It should be some comfort to us that God understands Parental Pain.

When Adam and Eve chose to walk away from God - that brought God pain.

God, speaking of His beloved, chosen people in Isaiah 1:2-3 says:

“The children I raised and cared for
have rebelled against me.
        Even an ox knows its owner,…
            but Israel doesn’t know its master.
My people don’t recognize my care for them.”

Obviously this was a source of pain for God.  Just as it is when our own children go astray.  So how do we handle that?  The only answer is to turn to the giver of comfort and peace.  We need UNWAVERING PRAYER, UNENDING PATIENCE, and UNCONDITIONAL LOVE for our children.  Never give up. It is never too late.

No matter how far they may run or drift - nobody is beyond the reach of God's love.





Parenting Prodigals - Part 2

2010-05-27T11:24:12.354-07:00

I have been fascinated by the concept that no parent is perfect, neither is any child perfect.  If we break this down to it's most basic level, I wonder if it would be safe to say that the first Parent/Child relationship would be that of God and Adam in the Garden of Eden.

Here was the Perfect Parent in a Perfect Environment - God says' "You are naked, go have lots of babies" and yet Adam - who was as close to the Perfect Son as was ever possible - still found a way to mess it up.

Why then do we as parents, who are far from perfect ourselves, beat ourselves up when our children fail or fall short of our expectations?  Our environment is just as far from perfect as we are.

Nobody ever dreams of having messed up kids, and yet messed up kids are a reality of life.  When we experience messed up kids - we need to love them, be patient with them, and pray for them.  All the while trusting our Perfect Father and His perfect wisdom and love.



Parenting Prodigals

2010-05-26T14:22:25.545-07:00

As Parents, God has given us tremendous responsibility and privilege in raising our sons and daughters.  Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, our children go astray.  


When that happens, what do we do?  Find out this Sunday at Yellowstone Church.



In Order that We Might Bear Fruit to God

2010-05-26T06:47:24.882-07:00

So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.  Rom. 7:4 (NIV)

We must die to our selves and to the law so that we can give ourselves totally to Christ.  For the sole purpose of bringing glory to God and bearing fruit for Him.

Are you dead to yourself, your selfish desires, and the law?  Living wholly committed to Him.



Customer Service

2010-04-08T07:51:33.665-07:00

God was willing to save Sodom for the sake of 10 righteous people but United won't hold a flight for 8 people. My flight from Billings to Denver was delayed due to earlier mechanical difficulties. There were at least 8 other people trying to make the same connection to Dallas. We only missed our connection by a few minutes and yet when we got there - not only was the gate closed but there wasn't even a gate attendant to help us make other arrangements. So I ended up spending the night in Denver on United's tab. The worst part was having to go through security again this morning.



Bunch Ball

2010-04-05T18:57:10.670-07:00

I spent the evening watching my 6 year old daughter play soccer. She is such an encourager. I think she would make a better cheerleader than soccer player, but she had fun. We are thankful for uncles from Texas that are visiting and got to witness the first soccer game of the season.



Contemplating Easter

2010-04-03T12:35:05.820-07:00

Why did Peter and John race to the tomb on Easter morning when Mary told them that the tomb was empty.  

Their first response was not to rejoice and exclaim that the savior had risen as he had promised.  Their first response was one of doubt.  They had to see it for themselves - perhaps the women had made a mistake and been at the wrong tomb.  I'm not sure - what they were thinking.

I do know that even after they had seen the empty tomb they went home and locked themselves in the upper room because they were afraid.

How do we handle the news that Christ is risen?  How does it affect our daily lives?



John 20:1–10 (NLT)  The Resurrection
20 Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed— for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. 10 Then they went home.





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2010-04-03T11:53:18.544-07:00

I love technology, but between blogs, twitter, FB, etc. it can overwhelm your life - I refuse to update all of these things - but am trying a service called ping - ping.fm - check it out.



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2010-04-02T09:33:27.664-07:00

Baptizing 6 people tonight. Yeah God!!!



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2010-04-01T16:50:33.692-07:00

I'm contemplating the hope and purpose of Easter. 86% of Americans believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Yet over 50% of Americans believe they can be saved through good works. If we can do it ourselves, why did Christ have to come to earth, die on the cross, and rise again?



Whatever you wish

2009-07-15T05:34:20.800-07:00

"If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7, ESV)"

How often do we read these words or think of this verse and focus on only the last part - "Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." We often times think of God as a heavenly vending machine and prayer is the quarter that gets us what we want. But this promise from Jesus, like so many promises in the bible is conditional. "IF YOU ABIDE IN ME AND MY WORDS ABIDE IN YOU".

What does it mean to abide, well as we look at the context of this verse we see that Jesus has just got done saying "I am the vine, you are the branches...Abide in me and I in you". It is evident that He means a whole lot more than simply "If you are a Christian". A lot of people look at this verse and think it says - "If I am a Christian I can ask for anything I want, and God will give it to me". And then they get upset when their prayers aren't answered the way that they want them to be.

In light of what Jesus is talking about it becomes clear that "To abide" means to live our life dependent upon Christ for our very existence. If He is the VINE and we are the BRANCH, we will wither and die if we try to live our life apart from Him. This is the key to answered prayer - not only do we live our lives as "Christians" but we live our life dependent upon Him for our very existence.

I believe that we find when we live our lives dependent upon Him for our very existence, the nature of our prayers will change and be in line with what God wants for us rather than what we want for ourselves and when we pray for what God wants - He will gladly give us whatever we wish for.

So why is this so difficult for most people (myself included)?

"Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love." (John 15:9-10, ESV)

If we truly abide in Jesus - we will keep ALL of His commandments just as thoroughly as He kept His Father's commandments - that is what it means to truly abide in Christ. Now that is an ambition worth chasing after in life.



Never Settle for Less

2009-06-04T10:06:54.355-07:00

Heads up - this may step on a few toes. Read at your own risk.Continuing on from yesterday's thoughts - it seems to me that the whole concept of never offending anybody else by having the guts to stand up and tell them that their ideas are wrong (with GRACE AND LOVE) - has led us to a cultural phenomena of relativism and subjectivism - whereby we say that there is no such thing as absolute truth - and therefore, I alone, as the seeker of truth have the ability to dictate what, for me, is right and wrong.To me, this whole concept is flawed because if indeed it were true, the very statement that there is no absolute truth, would have to be an absolute truth, and as a result, with that very statement, the whole concept of relative truth begins to break down.It is this relativistic and subjectivistic approach to life that causes us to twist Scripture and settle for half-truths that sound good. We settle for beliefs like - "a loving God would never send a good person to hell". Or "a loving God would never disapprove of a monogamous, loving relationship regardless of orientation or marriage commitment."Well, I'm sorry - but scripture teaches us that no matter how GOOD we are, we can never earn our own way to heaven. I can go to church, give to the poor, shelter the homeless, and feed the hungry, but unless I have Jesus Christ in my life - unless I am relying on Him and Him alone for my salvation - I am going to spend eternity in hell.Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6, ESV)The bible also teaches that immorality - whether between a man and a woman, two men, or two women is wrong. God's plan for intimacy is within the boundary of marriage. PERIOD.Likewise - gossip, slander, impatience, selfishness, arrogance, pride, and many more sins are all wrong.It may not seem fair or right to us - but look at what the Lord says:Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die. "Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it; for the injustice that he has done he shall die. Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 18:23-31, ESV)The bottom line - God will judge us according to our actions - in light of what is right and wrong according to His perfect standard - whether we like it or not.[...]



Big Bold Humble Truth

2009-06-03T09:51:42.539-07:00

Ok - so the month of May wasn't very good for blogging - we had soccer 4 (sometimes 5) nights a week. I kept meaning to sit and write something, but it just didn't happen - so here we are - already into June and I am forcing myself to sit and write again.

I am preparing for family camp in a few weeks. Evidently, seeing as how I have 6 kids, they decided that I knew about being a family and have asked me to lead the chapel services. I am excited for the opportunity, but also a little overwhelmed at the prospect of 4 chapel services in 3 days while at the same time keeping up with church, work, and the occasional flooded basement.

The theme for camp this year is BOLD HUMILITY - based on Philippians chapter 2. As I have been thinking about this - I have realized a few things. If you simply read the first 11 verses of Philippians chapter 2 - it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that humility is simply love love, joy joy, do whatever you can to make other people happy, put their needs and desires ahead of your own, etc. While that all sounds good, we can't skip the next section of chapter 2 in which we are encouraged to stand as "blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation among whom you shine as lights in the world."

Sometimes we are so worried about not offending someone that we are willing to overlook their faults and grey areas. We think this is being humble peacemakers - but in reality it is being a spineless wimp.

Yes we need to offer grace to people, but we also need a full measure of truth. Grace without truth leads to disasterous results - truth without grace leads to harsh judgementalism.

When we are standing in the dark and all of a sudden a bright light is turned on. It isn't very pleasant - especially when it shines right in our eyes - but when the bright light illuminates the ground before us, our eyes adjust and we are thankful for what the light reveals. That is a picture of how grace and truth work toghether. The light is the truth, the grace shines it on the path that we need to take rather than abrasively in our face.

That's enough for today - more to follow soon.



Knowing the Knower

2009-04-30T18:25:06.683-07:00

As I continue thinking through the whole idea of knowing God and being known by God. I'm not 100% sure which is more remarkable - the concept that I can know God or that He knows me.

I guess I think of it like this - as a pastor, I can have a lot of people that feel a special connection with me. And if I am open and transparent as a pastor - a lot of people may say that they know me. Being the pastor of a relatively small church, for the most part I would also say that I know these people. But when I think of pastors of much larger churches, there comes a point when the pastor may be familiar with the faces that attend on Sunday morning or may recognize a person's name - but does this pastor really know the people that would say they know him or her?

God has made himself readily available to each and every one of us. We can know Him, we can worship Him, but the very thought that He KNOWS each and everyone of us sometimes blows me away. In God's eyes - I AM SOMEBODY. In God's eyes - each and everyone of us is a person of significance and importance. How cool is that?



Depending or knowing?

2009-04-29T14:53:28.623-07:00

In the Bible, God paints several pictures of His relationship with us. He describes himself as the good shepherd, as our Father, as our King, and He also describes the church as his bride. Thinking through each of these relationships - one thing that stands out to me is that in each case whether it be as sheep, child, subject, or bride - knowing the shepherd, father, king, or husband is not only an emotional or intellectual knowledge - it is also a knowledge of dependence. Each of these relationships is built on love and trust - knowing that the one in whom we place our trust will protect us - and provide for us. It is a matter of knowing deep down in our heart that God has our best interests at heart - that He will always do whats best for us.

Sometimes we don't feel as if that is true. Emotionally it can seem as if we have a better plan - as if we know better becasue we are down in the trenches living it out day to day. The trouble with living in the trenches is that it is hard to see what is beyond the next trench. As we come to KNOW God - to know his character - to know his voice - we learn to depend upon him for wisdom and guidance even when we don't know what to do - or when it doesn't seem to make sense.

Personally I would love to say that I always understand exactly where God is taking me and what He is teaching me, but often times I find myself following and depending because I know that He will never lead me astray.



Why do we even care?

2009-04-17T08:07:10.830-07:00

I've been talking about "Knowing God". I talked about the four evidences of knowing God, but I think that leads us to the simple questions - Why do I even care? Many people feel as if God is some abstract power or galactic being that is out there doing His own thing and they don't give it a second thought.

For me, as I look at life, I can't help but know in my heart that there is more to life than the short 80 or so years that we spend on this rock called earth. For as long as we have records of mankind, there has always been an underlying belief of some sort of life after death. Whether that is Valhalla, the happy hunting ground, paradise, heaven, or reincarnation. Mankind has almost alway believed that there is life after death.

In John 17:3 Jesus says "This is eternal life, that they know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent." Knowing God is the key to eternal life. Not merely knowing about Him. Satan and his followers know about God - but they do not know Him as Lord.

Looking back to the time when Adam and Eve walked in the Garden of Eden, there was a time when God walked and talked with mankind - face to face. Adam and Eve knew God. In fact I would go so far as to say that that is why they were created to know God.

Hosea 6:6 says that God does not want our sacrfices - He wants our steadfast love. It also says that He does not want burnt offerings from us - what He truly desires is for us to KNOW GOD.

We were created to Know God and to be known by God. If we are not living out the very purpose for which we were created - then what's the point of life?



Peace - or is that Pieces?

2009-04-14T09:50:00.642-07:00

The fourth evidence of knowing God is this - "those that know God have a great contentment in God." Sometimes it seems as if our lives are falling to pieces around us. We feel as if nothing is going our way. The same is true for other people in our lives. Some people face the same situations - or worse - and seem to maintain a great sense of peace and contenment, while others seem to crumble under the slightest pressure.

If we truly know God - if we trust Him - if He is really who we believe Him to be - it makes absolutely no sense for us to live in a state of worry or anxiety in life. Stress can't change the past and it can't control the future - it only makes us miserable in the moment.

The bible never promises that just becasue we are Christians life will be without problems and or troubles. In fact it says just the opposite. The bible says in James 1:2 "...when trouble comes your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy." Not IF, but WHEN. Trouble is going to come - that's part of life. But what do we do with it when it comes?

If we KNOW God, then we should know that He is in control. That He loves us and is watching out for us. If we KNOW God as our personal Shepherd and Lord we should be able to trust Him with everything that is important to us and know that His plan is for our betterment.

Perhaps my favorite example of this is found in the bible in the Old Testament story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (That's Rack, Shack, and Benny for you Veggie Tales Fans.)

When King Nebuchadnezzar set up a golden statue and demanded that everyone bow down and worship this image. Rack, Shack, and Benny refused.

Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. When they were brought in, Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?" Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up." (Daniel 3:13-18, NLT)

Only through truly KNOWING GOD, not just knowing about God could these men have such peace and contentment in the face of mortal danger. They KNEW GOD, they knew that they could trust Him - regardless of the outcome, they could trust Him.

How about you - when life gets tough do you have the PEACE that comes from truly knowing God, or do you fall to PIECES wondering how you will ever make it through the tough situation you find yourself in?



Big, Bold and Beautiful

2009-04-09T10:01:00.485-07:00

The third evidence of Knowing God - is that those people that know God show great boldness for God. Jesus said:

If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." Mark 8:38 (NLT)

We need to wrecklessly pursue Christ with our lives - not the things of this world. The bible teaches us that no matter what we do - we should do it for the Lord - not for man.

I am in no way saying that we should completely disregard the opinions of man in our pursuit of Christ - the bible teaches us also to speak the truth in love and to do everything within our power to live at peace with our fellow man. But I am saying that we should never be ashamed to do what Christ is calling us to do.

God has a purpose for each of us. It is His purpose, not ours. Our lives are not our own and we should not hold back or be afraid to pursue Him withour lives because of what others may think of us.

In the same way we should never back down from what Christ has called us to just because we are afraid taht we may fail. If we only do the things that we are capable of doing on our own - always living our lives in fear and trepidation - then whose purpose are we fulfilling? Ours or God's?

People who know God and have given their lives to Him - and who trust Him with their lives will not be afraid to take risks for Him. If I live my life for Him and choose to give my life for His purposes and He chooses to pour it out as a sacrifice of offering to His glory - then so be it. God is God - I am not. I will serve Him with all that I am - choosing to pursue His purpose rather than my own.

Surley goodness and mercy will follow me all of the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen



God is Great

2009-04-08T08:48:48.653-07:00

The second evidence of Knowing God is that those people that KNOW God have great thoughts of God. When I first read this I was a little confused, but as I thought about it - it all made sense.

Who or what is God to you? Is He a friend and confidant? Is He a shoulder to cry on when life is against you? Is He a good luck charm? Is He a mascot for your life? Or is He the ALMIGHTY GOD OF THE UNIVERSE, master and creator of all things - the author and giver of life?

How do you approach God? Flippantly and in your spare time? Or do you humbly come into His presence waiting on the edge of your seat - hanging on His every word? Are you desparate to be in His presence and to hear from Him?

Psalm 42:1-2 (NLT)1... As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. 2 I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?

When can I go and stand before the Lord? We can do it any time - we can do it all the time. But do we? If we truly KNOW God and recognize Him for who and what He really is we will pursue Him with all that we have.