Category Archives: the world
I will rely heavily on others with more knowledge than myself to help tackle issues surrounding the church as it stands overseas. Missionaries in difficult parts of the world. Christ followers around the globe who are tackling the church from a completely different perspective than what we might be used to in the United States.
A storm rolled through town tonight. My family and I were watching my son at Tae Kwon Do. Suddenly the rains came and the thunder struck. I walked through the rain to pick my wife and children up at the curb. A rainbow appeared as we were leaving the parking lot. Driving home, every one in the van strained to see the colors in the sky. That’s when I said, “God is telling us, ‘Hi.'”
Let me stop here. For those of you who don’t know me personally, I never say weird things like that. Typically, that kind of “Christianese” simply annoys me. But for some reason, this time, it was different.
I was reminded of what God told us in Genesis 9:12-15…
Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life.
Somewhere along the way, rainbows became associated with different movements or stereotypes.
As a child of the ’80’s, I remember when liking rainbows made you a “girl.”
Rainbows were somehow linked with unicorns and Rainbow Brite.
Now in our modern era, the rainbow has become the proud symbol of the gay and lesbian community. A flag waving with rainbow colors declares, “PRIDE.”
Yet, I stared into the colors of this rainbow. Each color shining clear and bright. A near, complete arch, stood proudly displayed in the sky. A bold reminder that rainbows are not girlie. They shouldn’t be linked with unicorns and fairies. And it is far bigger than a community of people. The rainbow stands alone as God’s promise to mankind. A promise to never again flood and destroy all of humanity.
In all honesty, I don’t fully understand God’s mindset when it comes to the flood. But there is one thing I know…the rainbow is His.
It is a symbol of mercy and grace.
It is a symbol of His covenant.
It’s God saying, “Hey, I’m still here.”
It is His.
I probably won’t stop and stare at every rainbow I see. I won’t get “girlie” every time the rain comes and a rainbow appears. I’m just not like that. But for some reason, tonight was different. God giving me a nudge. A simple…
Hi, Stan. My promise is still good. They never fail. I love you.
What do rainbows mean to you?
So, you might be thinking to yourself, “Where has Stan been?” Well, I’m still alive. That’s a good start (at least for some of you I guess).
The real question is, why haven’t you blogged in 3 months (or however long it has been)? The answer is a good one. You’re never going to believe this. I…have…been…freaking…busy!!!
That’s right folks, my answer to my weird absence is, I’m busy.
However, in the midst of my crazy, busy start to a summer, I have found a few minutes to touch base with you about something that has absolutely been annoying me for quite some time. That’s right, you don’t hear from me for months, and the first thing I say is, “I’m annoyed.” Sorry for the negativity, it’s just where I am.
Over the last few weeks I have been flipping through radio stations where I live in Northern Virginia. Let me just say, there’s nothing good on. I want to make sure you understand my sentiment, that even includes “positive” radio. Yeah, you know them. The “Christianese” guys on the radio who don’t say they’re Christian, but they’re just so “positive.” In other words, there isn’t much on.
Here’s where I think God is trying to tell me something. I turned on the radio (yes, I hear you. I need an iPad to listen to Pandora while cruising the highway. I totally agree with you.) when I got in the car and started flipping through stations. One of the first stations I landed on had a caller on the line. It was a lady. I missed the context, but didn’t take me long to pick up where they were. Not a quote, but this was her story…
Yeah, I do that all the time. One time, I asked my boyfriend if he minded if I flashed an attendant so we could get free parking.
Of course, I changed that station, only to find another talking about this…
Well, I just think you should do whatever makes you feel good and happy. Maybe you shouldn’t be with your husband if he doesn’t make you happy. You need to follow your heart girl, and do what feels right.
And still another…
The only way to be happy is to find it within yourself. You’ve just got to look inside of you.
At this point, I had all but given up on humanity. And radio in the DMV. Here’s what God is telling me in my search for something decent to listen to on the radio…
- Humanity is broken and we desperately need to be
- The worldview that many people are living by is leading them to heartbreaking decisions and a painful existence.
- When it comes to Northern Virginia, I need to help people develop a biblical worldview.
Here’s where you come in. I would love to hear what you are doing in your ministry, para-church or other organization, to help people develop a worldview that will actually make an eternal difference in their lives.
Everyone lives by some worldview. How are you helping connect people to a biblical one?
Have you heard the news? It’s the end of the world. Or at least, that’s what Harold Camping wants everyone to believe. He made the same, bold prediction in 1994 and now nearly 20 years later, he is making it again. His original date was off, based on a slight miscalculation. However, he believes he is back on track again.
It would be very easy to sit here and spout off my opinion on this topic. However, I want to simply let Scripture speak for itself.
Colossians 1:15 – “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself.
In other words, Jesus Christ not only created the entire universe, but He also holds it together by the power of His words. It was God’s intention to save humanity through His Son, Jesus. It is this same Jesus who also said this…
Matthew 24:36 – “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.”
There is only one thing that Jesus doesn’t know, and that is when God will send Him back to earth.
Acts 1:6-8 – “So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, ‘Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?’ He replied, ‘The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’”
The disciples are concerned about when Jesus is coming back to ultimately take care of Kingdom business. Jesus in essence says, “Don’t worry about that. It’s none of your business. You just be My witnesses and do the work I give you in all the world.”
Matthew 24:42-44 – “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”
Let’s recap |
1) When Jesus comes back is none of my business.
2) Jesus doesn’t even know when He’s coming back.
3) Jesus’ return will be sudden and Scripture makes the assertion that none of us know the time.
There are a couple of questions that come to mind as a result of simply reading what God has to say for Himself (instead of assuming we can figure Him out all the time). The first question is, where does this land our friend, Harold Camping? What should we do with his claims? Where do we land on this issue?
Another question, and by far the more urgent of the two, is, what are you doing with your time? If you are a follower of Christ, did you live life today like you were concerned about the coming of Christ? Or did you go through life today assuming that just like yesterday, Jesus wouldn’t return? Are you living as if your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers will spend eternity without God if you don’t do something? Or are you assuming that you will always have another day?
Have you explored the claims of Christ thoroughly enough?
Have you given your life to Christ and submitted to the will of God through baptism? (Acts 2:38)
If you are a follower of Christ, I want to challenge you to live as if Jesus will come back at any time, day or night. Be careful listening to so-called “prophets” who proclaim the end of the world. Scripture has a pretty clear teaching on that. However, it is also clear in its teaching that we need to live life everyday as if it is the last.
What does that mean for you?
Well, I plan to write again sometime after 6:00 pm tomorrow night. If you don’t hear from me, just assume you missed the train. hahah =)
The news hit late at night on May 1st, 2011. The President of the United States of America announces that a very strategic strike by covert military forces had lead to the death of Osama Bin Laden. The mastermind behind the 9/11 attack on the United States. The mastermind behind hundreds of other attacks, leaving thousands dead in his wake.
At the onset of the news, I was so excited. I’m so thankful to the countless men and women serving our nation in the military. I’m so thankful that nearly a decade of work has paid off for them. I’m so thankful that they didn’t quit. I’m so thankful to the President of the United States for not giving up and for allowing us to find him.
Then I woke up Monday morning. I felt different. I wasn’t sure what I really felt or which was right. My thoughts shifted to, “I’m a Christian before I’m an American. Is it okay for me to be glad this murderer is dead? How would Jesus have responded?” I was so confused and not sure what to feel about the death of this man.
I have gone back and forth on this issue most of the day. I have read Facebook posts detailing each person’s, personal opinions. I have read the arguments. I have even watched the videos on YouTube that are already saying the Government invented Osama Bin Laden and that he wasn’t even a real person (crazy people). I wish I could say that I have some solid answer, but truthfully I’m still wondering what to think.
Here is where I land |
I am happy that a mass murderer is no more!
I am happy that we finally got the man who killed thousands of Americans in a matter of hours.
I am happy about that.
I am sad that another soul has likely gone into eternity without Jesus as his Advocate.
I am sad that he could not be reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Some of you land on one side of this argument or the other. Some of you aren’t struggling with this at all. And that’s okay. You don’t have to be. I’m not telling you how to think about this by any stretch. However, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, I want you to wrestle with something I am wrestling with. From the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself. If you are diving in deep, becoming more like Christ, tell me these words of His aren’t hard to wrestle with.
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.
I am glad that Osama Bin Laden can never hurt another human being again! Praise God for that.
I am sad that he met God without knowing Jesus!
What do you think?
It was the final session at Exponential Conference 2011. Matt Chandler was the main speaker (I’ll have more to say about him in a later post). Exponential ends with a bang each year. This year was no different. The plan was to have a prayer and anointing time with church planters and teams that wanted to be prayed with before leaving the conference. The New Life staff team was asked to help with the prayer and anointing.
I stood backstage awaiting instruction. Our team listened as the session was talked through and how everything would go. I left with a small tube of oil as did the rest of our team. As we sat through the service, something began to nag at me. I wasn’t sure I was ready for this. Who was I to pray with and anoint these people, these church planters and leaders. The more I thought about it, the more inadequate I began to feel. In fact, I sent a text message to one of our guys who was sitting behind me. It said…
I don’t feel qualified to anoint. God has much work to do on me still.
His reply was fantastic and really helped me to make one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Up to you. Question isn’t whether you have it all figured out, but whether you can be God’s agent in blessing these pastors. If you decide to pass, no worries.
I decided that I would go for it. I wanted to be up there with our team, praying for all these men and women who were getting ready to start a new church or had just gotten underway.
When the time came, I went to my spot with the rest of the people set aside for this role. People began to flow forward by the hundreds. I heard stories from church planters who were tired and worn out. I heard stories from those who were afraid and anxious about what was coming their way. I met teams of people who were working together to make an impact in places like Los Angeles, Denver and Orlando. I met one woman who was on a team trying to plant churches in Canada. I was able to pray with them and put some oil on their forehead.
I don’t know how everyone else felt. I can only speak for myself. What we did for those people, praying with and for them, maybe accomplished as much, if not more, for me than it did for them. I was blown away by the stories and by what God is up to in our world. I was given a fresh sense of the fact that, it’s not about me. It’s all about God and what He is doing.
I am so thankful that I went for it. I’m so thankful that the man I sent my text to, didn’t just give me an excuse to get out of it. Instead, he challenged me to bless others. God worked in my heart and soul through praying for others. It was an unbelievable experience and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything (except having my wife beside me when all this happened).
If you’re out there, working in ministry, church plants, leadership team, etc, I want to hear from you. I want to hear your story. I want to know how I can pray for and encourage you.
God is doing big things my friends. Sometimes it feels like we’re losing the battle, but I assure you, God is winning the war!
Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid!
Keep it up, church!
Keep it up!
Today was an amazing day! The opportunities to learn were amazing and the chance to meet some very cool people is simply fun.
I sat amazed today. A large stage filled with speakers who are inspiring in the church world. Names like; Alan Hirsch, Francis Chan, Matt Carter, Neil Cole, Ed Stetzer and more. There aren’t many things that are obvious to me, but one very clear thing slammed into my face today; God is amazing!
God has blessed me beyond what I deserve and I’m so thankful to Him for all He is allowing me to see, learn and do. I pray that I will be wise and use His grace to reach as many people for Christ as I possibly can.
As I listened to many speakers today, here are a couple of things that I picked up.
- “Everywhere you go, that’s where the church is!” -Rob Wegner, Granger Community Church
- “If you want a disciple making movement, you have to have the Lord’s blessing!” -Jim Putman, Real Life Ministries
- “Don’t plant churches. Plant Jesus!” -Neil Cole, CMA Resources
When all was said and done, I developed a challenge for myself. I’m not going to tell you what that is just yet. Maybe some day. For now, it’s a personal challenge that God and I are working on. I believe that God is up to something big. And I hope He has in mind to allow me to be even a small part of it.
And today also held a few fun surprises. It was very cool to sit in a room with 75 church leaders and planters from around the country and world, to listen to Rick Warren share some inspiring vision stuff for the church. It was also fun to shoot a video with him. No, really.
I’m very excited about what God is doing through church planting.
I’m very excited that I get to work closely with people who are doing some really cool things.
I am humbled that God even lets me near this stuff.
Typically, I’m scared I’ll just mess it up. Which is very likely.
Thanks again, God, for being so gracious to me.
And thanks to all those who have made this conference possible.
What are some of your favorite things, that you have learned at different conferences, classes, seminars, books, etc?
What pieces of knowledge have been the most valuable for you in ministry?
Let’s just be honest, many men don’t truly value their wives. Let me be more honest, I have not always valued my wife the way God expects me to. For that, I am eternally in debt to my amazing wife.
My guess is that most of you who read this blog have probably heard a song by Bruno Mars called, “Just The Way Your Are.” I’m not necessarily a fan of Bruno Mars personally, but I truly enjoy this song and wish that all men felt this way about their wives.
I want to challenge every man out there who has a spouse, is engaged or who would like to be married some day; when you have a wife, cherish her, love her, sacrifice for her, die on the side of a mountain for her. It doesn’t matter to me if you are on to your second or third marriage (or more), but if you will love your wife the way God intends, you will see your marriage bloom into something amazing.
Ephesians 5 offers some guiding principles. Some people take offense to them. Men believe they can never live up to them. But let me tell you where God stands on your marriage. God says this in Ephesians 5:25-27 (Message)…
Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church-a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.
Your love for your wife should reflect the love Jesus has for the church. Jesus died for the church!
Your love for your wife should make her whole and complete. Does your love for her leave her feeling as if she is whole and complete? Or does she feel like something is missing?
Your love for your wife should bring out her best to your family and the world. How do you speak about your wife to your friends, neighbors and co-workers? Is she the “old ball and chain?” Or is she so much more than that to you?
Your love for your wife should bring out the best in her. If something isn’t right, don’t blame her first. Look at yourself and ask if you’re doing everything in your power to bring out the best in her or are you putting her in no-win situations.
Your love for your wife should have her looking holy, blameless and radiant to everyone on the planet. Can you say that you do that for your wife?
This passage is a great challenge. I believe that if men took it on fully, they would find the most satisfying and rewarding relationship with their wives. Everything would change if men would follow through on their role in the family. I wish I could say that I have lived this perfectly. I strive for this standard, but often I fall miserably short.
I mentioned Bruno Mars because I think that men (and women) go into a marriage or relationship thinking the other person will change. We often view the other as a project or someone we can fix. And when that philosophy doesn’t pan out, we give up. The relationship ends. And in many cases, the lives of those involved will never be the same.
So I’m posting the Bruno Mars song (I can’t vouch for comments on YouTube nor can I vouch for the ads). You should listen to it. Bruno isn’t perfect either I’m sure, but the words say a lot about how men should look at their wives (not other women walking by, by the way). And at the risk of sounding sacrilegious, I have even imagined Jesus singing this song to the church. When the church is on its game, smiling like Jesus knows we can, the whole world takes notice.
God has given you a helper, men. And when you treat her the way God expects, you will not experience a better relationship with anyone, ever, on this planet. So get out there and love your wife like you’re supposed to. Sacrifice for her. Bring out the best in her. Never leave her.
I can’t even begin to comprehend how the people of Japan are feeling. I won’t even begin to pretend I understand. Because I don’t. I don’t understand or comprehend what it must feel like to lose thousands (possibility of that number going up into the tens of thousands) of your countrymen in a matter of hours while nuclear reactors leak radiation into the air which will ultimately lead to a sad and painful death for some of the workers. I don’t understand it, but I know it bothers me. And I hurt for them.
One thing I do know, what’s happening there reaffirms for me that we were designed for so much more. We weren’t created for this. We were created for more. For better. For perfection. For eternity.
I know that I’m not the only Christian hurting for the people of Japan or thinking about them constantly. I also know that some people are waiting on the Pat Robertson’s of the world to say something ridiculous. Well, they got it, but it didn’t come from Pat. It came from this man…Reverend David Cho.
The Reverend David Cho leads an Assembly of God church in Korea with more than one million members. Before Pat Robertson could get his speech together, Pastor Cho had this to say…
Because the Japanese people shun God in terms of their faith and follow idol worship, atheism, and materialism, it makes me wonder if this was not God’s warning to them.
If you can stomach it, the rest of the article is here.
Let’s assume for sake of argument that Pastor Cho is right. Let’s say that this awful tragedy in Japan, was done by the very hand of God and it is His judgment on their country for their idol worship, etc. Let’s say that God appeared in the sky and spoke in all languages simultaneously to tell us all that the tragedy in Japan was His idea, His plan and that He would take all the credit (blame). Let’s just say that everything I just wrote is accurate. With that in mind, how do Pastor Cho’s comments help this situation in any way? Even if we could say with 100% accuracy that this was an act of God’s judgment, do his comments help any of the dying and hurting in Japan? Wouldn’t he be of better use if he mobilized his one million members to get to Japan immediately and make a difference for Christ in the lives of the Japanese?
Let me be perfectly clear, I, 100% do not agree with this man’s comments. They are uncalled for and out of place. They only add to the hurt and make Christians around the world look like self-righteous jerks.
Pastor Cho, from me to you, please don’t talk about this anymore. Get down from your million-member pedestal. Get involved in a messy world, as Jesus did. Use your influence to share a message of hope, grace & forgiveness with the people of Japan as Jesus did with the woman caught in adultery. Love those who are without hope the way Jesus did. Don’t speak. Act on the grace that has been given you. You have that platform for a reason. Please, don’t use it to add pain to the people of Japan or to hurt the cause of Christ.
What do you think about Pastor Cho’s comments?