The Outpouring of Praise

The Needs of a Generation romantik-003

A few months ago, on my way to get something to eat before my Bible study, I prayed God would show me someone’s needs. That He would give me the opportunity, wherever I ate, to speak into someone’s life.

A short time later, I stopped at a Chick-Fil-A, walked inside, and was welcomed by a dining room of at least 50 children. The Lord spoke to me, “I am showing you the needs of a generation.” Hope needs to be restored to this generation, and that’s where praise comes in. I admit I am writing this blog as someone who needs to read this blog as much if not more than you.

Perhaps, you are thinking you are all for praising God if it can restore hope in your life. Praising God only for the potential benefit of it restoring hope in your life is praising God out of selfish ambition and vain conceit. Our praise must restore hope in others. If it only restores hope in us, then we are guilty of hiding our light (Matt 5:14-16).

When Your Praise is Containable

When you praise God in Spirit and in Truth, you cannot contain that praise. You must share your joy because God’s goodness becomes too great for you to keep to yourself. If your praise is containable, your praise is too small. The outpouring of praise causes others to know your joy through evangelism, your giving, your devotion to God’s word and the house of God, and a noticeable difference in your life.

The abundance of praise in a person’s life overwhelms that person so greatly that they cannot contain God’s goodness. They must share God’s goodness with others, so others may receive God’s joy and hope may be restored to them. Our praise should restore hope in others because they see an overwhelming hope in us. (Phil 4:7).

Praising with Crazy Love

A few weeks after that night at Chick-Fil-A, I went to the library to return some books. I walked around to see if I could find any interesting books. Perusing the small section of Christian books, I noticed Crazy Love by Francis Chan – A book about how our love of God should pour out onto others.

God spoke to me, “Check out that book.” I told God that I wanted to read something else. God said, “Check out that book.” I told God I would check it out next time. Then, God said, “Look! We can sit here and argue about it, or you can check out that book.” So, I grabbed the book and checked it out. Let’s just say the book changed my entire perspective. Praise is an outward expression of love, but your love isn’t “Crazy Love” until your love is over capacity and pours out onto others.

Paul says in I Cor 13:2 “If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” Those words are challenging enough, but they become even more challenging when you remember the words of Jesus in Matt 17:20: “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” That’s intense!

Praise Smaller than a Mustard Seed

Perhaps, you have faith that God can move whatever mountain is in your life. Maybe you’ve seen Him heal people of Cancer, restore marriages, pour out financial blessings, open the eyes of the blind, and more. Those things will certainly cause a person to rejoice in God and praise Him for His marvelous works.

Though, if the outpouring of your praise does not culminate in the Crazy Love”  of sharing your love and joy of Jesus with others, then your praise is smaller than a mustard seed. Praise restores hope to the praiser, but the culmination of praising God in Spirit and in Truth restores hope to the lost, lonely, friendless, and forgotten.

Living Out Your Praise

As I said, I am writing this blog from the perspective of someone who needs to read it. I am a selfish man, and my selfishness is best expressed in that too often I praise God in the house of God. Yet, so often, I choose not to see others as God sees them. I am guilty of ignoring the needs of a generation.

After I read Crazy Love, I became so convicted of my selfishness that I bought a second Bible specifically for evangelism. I highlighted scriptures in John, Romans, Hebrews, and elsewhere that talk about salvation. And now, when I go to a coffee house, I make sure to carry that Bible with me for others to see.

I want others to see my praise. I wonder if it were so that no one else saw my praise because I chose to ignore the needs of a generation that God would also choose to ignore my praise. How do you live out your praise in such a way that you are seeing and fulfilling the needs of a generation?

Come back next week to read more on Positional Christianity and how hope flows into healing.

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Living out God’s Purpose through Positional Christianity

 

Positional Christianity

Okay, I know I haven’t been blogging as consistently as I should. I started out with a series on how to become a Battle Ready Christian, but since then I have only been blogging about once a month. Life got busier for me, and I just didn’t have time to think of a new topic to write about every week.

So, rather than just blogging once every few weeks, I am going to go on hiatus until the first Monday in January (Jan. 5). Between now and then, I will pray about what the Lord would have me say, write a blog calendar, make this blog look as awesome as I can, and work on some other projects.

Recently, God spoke four words to me, which He said I am to make the focus of this blog. Those four words are prayer, praise, hope, and healing. In that order. So, I am going to blog on one of those every week. The first Monday of the month I will blog on prayer, the second Monday on praise, the third hope, and the fourth healing. On those months that have a fifth Monday, I am not sure what I will do.

Why those words in that order?

Every Christian must go through and remain in these four positions to receive the fullness of Christ. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me (Lk 9:23).” Being a disciple of Christ means we need to decide daily that we are going to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.

The Position of Prayer

When we pray, we become intimately acquainted with God. The fullness of this intimacy allows us to move into a position of understanding our authority in Christ. It is from this position of our authority in Christ that we are able to prepare ourselves to fully praise God. That doesn’t mean we can’t praise God until we have an awesome prayer life. It just means the more we pray, the more we will come to know God and want to praise Him.

Though, never think you can go from one position to the other and leave that position behind. You must remain in each position, while you move into the next position, or else you will fall out of your position in Christ. You must get into and remain in these positions daily.

The Position of Praise

My pastor once said, “If you’re not happy, maybe your problem is you’re too focused on yourself.” Go ahead. Try to praise God and keep your eyes on yourself. Prayer moves us into a position of realizing our authority in Christ, from where our natural response is to praise Him for His nature. We can praise in private, but praise is best expressed as a public declaration of our realization of Christ in our lives.

The Position of Hope

When we begin to pray we begin to take our eyes off of ourselves, and we begin to praise Him. The more we begin to praise Him, the more we will begin to hope in Him. Prayer and praise are both conscious decisions to develop an intimate relationship with God by taking our eyes off of ourselves. Hope is also a conscious decision. Though, while the positions of prayer and praise are conscious decisions to develop more intimate relationships with God, the position of hope and healing are positions of enjoying the benefits of developing an intimate relationship with God, which is to receive the fullness of Christ.

When we take our eyes off of ourselves and fix them on God through prayer and praise, we stop wallowing in self-pity and begin to hope in God. This position of hope is the position from which we will begin to realize God’s healing in our lives.

The Position of Healing

Notice I said “realize,” not “experience.” You are healed! You are healed by the blood of the Lamb! By the stripes on Christ’s back! You just need to realize it. Think of it like when you first met your significant other. At first, you hoped they liked you, then you got to know each other, and the more you got to know that person the more you realized they did like you. We begin by hoping God will heal us, but the more we hope the more we realize He has healed us.

Though, God’s healing in our lives will manifest itself at different times physically, financially, or relationally, I am talking about spiritual healing. This is the position from which a person begins to not only understand and live out the fullness of Christ in their lives, but it is also the position from which a person begins to live out their purpose in Christ.

Understanding Positional Christianity

So, it is this last position–the position of purpose–that I will not write about in this blog. God didn’t tell me to include it. I may use that 5th Monday to write about how the first four positions will cause you to move into a position of purpose. Though, the first four positions are positions of preparation, whereas the position of your purpose in Christ is the position of God carrying out His good work in you (Phil 1:6).

Though, know that God only moves those into this position of purpose who are faithful to move into and remain within the first four positions. That doesn’t mean we won’t get knocked out of position on occasion. It means the more and more we learn to get into and remain in a right position with God the less and less we will get knocked out of position and the faster we will get back into position when we are knocked out of position.

The future of #OBHBlog

God is still working on me. I am no further ahead than anyone else. Though, they are becoming more  and more infrequent, there is still the occasional day when I don’t pray. There is still the occasional Sunday when I am not in the mood to praise God. There remain times when I need to remind myself to take my eyes off of my circumstances and set them on the hope that is before me (Heb 12:1-4). And I still sometimes forget I am healed.

Though, those days are becoming less and less, and the more infrequent they become the more God is able to move me into that position of purpose for which He created me. So, as God teaches me how to move me into that position of purpose, I will pass on what I learn. I also welcome you to pass on what you have learned in the comments. Through that collaboration, I hope to create a community in which we can learn and grow together!

Have a very blessed Thanksgiving, joyful Christmas, and happy New Year!

The Miracle Maker and the Passion of Remaining Desperate

mountainsIn Mark 5:25-34, Mark tells the story of the woman who suffered from the issue of bleeding for 12 years. I don’t think he does this woman’s story justice. I’m not saying his words weren’t God-breathed or infallible. I’m just saying if I told the story I’d schedule an interview with the woman, find out her life story, write an article, and sell it to the Jerusalem Chronicle. Of course, 10% would go to the local tabernacle and another 10% to the disciples’ ministry fund.

It’s not every day a woman with a 12 year long history of hemmorhaging is instantaneously healed. At least not today. Perhaps miracles were so commonplace wherever Jesus went that Mark only told the story as an aside rather than as a feature article. But if I wrote an article about the healing of this woman, it might go something like this:

One evening, the family of a woman who suffered from internal bleeding wrapped her resting body in a burlap sack, laid her over a donkey, and travelled by night through the desert. Their priest said her sickness indicated demon possession. Her family couldn’t risk her demon infecting others, so they journeyed to the River Jordan. They laid her resting body by a Palm Tree, prayed over her, and then left her in the cool of  the night.

For the next several years, she went from city to city begging for food, making sure not to stay long enough for people to discover her hemorrhaging and judge her demon possessed. After more than 10 years, she found solace in a cave outside of a town. She hid in the cave, so the town’s people wouldn’t drive her away.

Early in the morning, before the sun rose, while merchants set up, she went into town and stole food. Before sunrise, she disappeared and went back to the cave. She started out traveling into town every few days, but soon she could only find the strength to go once a week. Two outcasts, who dwelt in a nearby cave, said they would bring food to her if she would guarding their cave from animals and wash their clothes.

One morning, when they returned, they told her they saw Jesus of Nazareth and His disciples walking toward the town. The hemorrhaging woman wanted to go see the man some called “The Miracle Maker,” but she couldn’t travel that far in the hot sun. Only one of her companions could go with her, so they wouldn’t leave the caves unattended. But just one of them couldn’t carry her across the desert. She could only see Jesus of Nazareth if she managed the strength to cross the desert alone.

That morning, risking her health, she walked across the desert. Many times, fainting only to wake and realize the trail of blood she left attracted beasts of the fields and birds of prey. Using her staff, she managed to beat off the Hyenas, Vultures, and other animals that tried to feed on her. Thinking about all of the anger festering within her from years of feeling unwanted by her family and those who claimed to be the righteous of God, she wept tears stained with blood.

By the time she got to the town, she had lost so much blood that she collapsed from exhaustion. The trail of blood, once no thicker than a snail’s trail, now looked like a crimson carpet rolled out for Kings. She pulled her body with her weakened arms. Grains of sand entered her bloodstream, causing the pain from the intense heat of the sun to become unbearable.

Almost unable to move, trying to scream out for Jesus,  the din of the crowd and shouts from those who saw her and yelled, “Leave us, Devil woman!” drowned out her bloodied gasps. A group of men tried to carry her back to the desert, but they could not stand the putrid smell of her decaying body long enough to get within 20 Cubits of her.

Somehow, well into the afternoon, while Jesus taught outside of the synagogue, she managed to find enough strength to crawl through the crowd. That morning, before she left, her companions told her if she could not manage to reach Jesus she might die in the streets. Knowing the risks of death from the loss of blood, she answered “If only I can touch His garment, I will be healed.”

Saying those words from the moment she left her cave until this moment, she reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. He looked up and said, “Who touched me?” Fearing the crowd might drive her away because she interrupted Jesus’ teaching, she tried to hide from His wandering gaze. Aware of the overwhelming stench, the crowd looked around for the source of the odd odor. Realizing the source of the putrid aroma, the crowd began to back away from her. Two shepherds covered their faces with their headdresses and dragged the woman’s blood stained, almost lifeless body to the foot of Jesus.

Laying there, in the dusty street, fearful of His response, the woman buried her face between her outstretched arms. Jesus, ignoring the stench, knelt, lifted her head, and said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.” In a moment, after 12 years of suffering, her wounds closed, the blood dried up, and she felt no more pain. Smiling, her tears of mourning became tears of joy. She stood and embraced “The Miracle Maker.”

Toward the end of my interview, I asked the woman who once cried because of the loneliness that festered within her from years of abandonment if she felt anymore anger. Smiling, she looked at me, leaned forward, and said:

“For many years, I dealt with an issue far greater than that of hemorrhaging. I dealt with an issue of bitterness that entangled me with such an intensity that demons did not need to possess me. I allowed the bitterness within me to possess me. The day Jesus healed me, all of the bitterness left me. Jesus gave me the power to forgive. I lost so much of my life, not because of the years of physical suffering, but because of years of allowing my hatred to embitter me.”

Now, just a few years after the afternoon this woman looked into the gentle eyes of ’The Miracle Maker,’ she travels to the same towns where people once called her wretched filth or demon possessed. She tells them of Jesus’ love and of His healing power. But more than that she tells them of the power within each of us to receive Jesus’ forgiveness from sins and to forgive those who persecute them.

Why I chose to dramatize this story:

One morning, God spoke two words to me: “Remain desperate,” and then He brought the story of the woman with the issue of blood to my mind. I don’t know if she was cast out by her family, or if she had to crawl across a desert to get to the town just to touch Jesus’ garment. I’m sure there are Bible scholars who could tell me there’s evidence that she lived with her family on the outskirts of town. I am sure the story does not go exactly how I told it.

However the story goes, I do know she remained desperate. I am sure she not only remained desperate for healing from her issue of bleeding. I am sure she also dealt with years of from loneliness that caused her to become embittered. I am sure she was embittered toward her family and those who persecuted her. I am sure she had become embittered toward God for allowing her to go through 12 years of suffering.

Though, she chose to remain so desperate for physical and emotional healing that she reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. I believe the greatest issue she needed healing from was not the issue of bleeding, it was the issue of loneliness and bitterness that had consumed her.

What physical, financial, or emotional issues are you dealing with today? Are you remaining desperate? Are you so desperate for Christ’s healing that you would cross deserts to reach out and touch the hem of His garment? Do you have enough faith that you can say, “If only I can touch His garment, I will be healed,” and then go through unbearable pain to reach out to Him?

Whatever issues you are facing today, God would say to you, “Remain desperate.” Cry out to Him. And if your prayers are muffled by the distractions of the world, do not lose faith. That’s when you need press in through the crowd, and reach out to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment.

Becoming a Battle Ready Christian – Abiding in Christ

In 2010, Chris Kyle, returned home after four tours in Iraq as a sniper. The U.S. Sniper Team Department of Defense confirmed he had 160 kills, and he claimed another 95 unconfirmed kills.  He was awarded several awards for his valor, was nicknamed the “Devil of Ramadi” by Iraqi Insurgents, survived two helicopter crashes and six IED attacks, and was an awesome Christian Husband and Father until the day he was killed at a shooting range in 2013. Chris Kyle’s and all snipers’ heroics teach us a great deal about what it means to be a Battle Ready Christian.

1. Be Purposed

Study God’s Word & Evangelize

John 12:27; I Jn 3:8; Heb. 2:14,15; Rom. 8:28; Eph 1:11,12; Matt 4:1-11; Matt 28:16-20

Christ remained focused on His purpose, which was ultimately to destroy His enemy target, and release those bound by the fear of death. Battle Ready Christians need to remain focused on their purpose in Christ. They know the Bible well enough to use it when the enemy tempts them and to lead people away from the fear of death into the knowledge of the saving power of Christ.

2. Remain Hidden

Be Content in Christ

I Cor 7:20 – 24; Phil 4:12

Just as a sniper must conceal themselves from the enemy, Battle Ready Christians must conceal themselves within Christ. Once a sniper finds that position, they can’t give that position away. They must remain hidden. A Battle Ready Christians must remain hidden in Christ, which means they must realize their purpose, remain within that purpose, and don’t think changing their circumstances will make life better.

Note: This does not mean stay in abusive relationships or other unhealthy circumstances. This means do not allow your circumstances to determine your faith in Christ.

3. Stay Focused

Pray, pray, and keep praying

Matt 24:42; 26:40, 41; Mark 13:33-38; Lk 21:36; I Cor 16:13; I Th 5:6

A sniper must be alert and watch. Jesus teaches that we must watch for the enemy through prayer. A sniper cannot casually glance toward their target, and a Battle Ready Christian cannot only spend a few moments in prayer everyday. They must saturate themselves in prayer.

4. Become Accountable

Develop Strong Relationships

I Th 5:11; Prov 27:17; Gal. 6:1-5; James 5:16

Snipers often go out in pairs. One is the spotter and the other the shooter. They sometimes switch roles to avoid eye fatigue. A Battle Ready Christian remains accountable to another Battle Ready Christian. There will be many times when they switch roles. There may be a time when one is experiencing fatigue and the other is praying with them, encouraging them through the word of God, or just being a friend.

In John 15:1-7, Christ tells  His disciples to abide in Him. The word abide is the Greek word Meno. It is translated throughout the new testament as abide, remain, continue, endure, stand, dwell, and tarry. Christ is telling His disciples to remain focused on their purpose.

Are you staying focused on God’s purpose for you? God’s purpose for every Christian is to be part of The Great Commission. Your part may not be to be a pastor, evangelist, missionary, or other. But He has purpose for you. Pray that God will reveal it to you. The more focused you become on God’s purpose for you, the more battle ready you will become.

Come back next week for another blog in my “Becoming a Battle Ready Christian” series, follow me on Twitter,  and Like the On Becoming Human Facebook page.

Becoming a Battle Ready Christian – Raising the Victory Cry

Lebron James

Lebron James

If you don’t recognize the man in the picture, there is a good chance you live under a rock. Lebron James is one of the most recognizable athletes in the world. And if by chance, you don’t recognize him, and you insist you don’t live under a rock, he is the Roger Federer of basketball.

James’ net worth is an estimated $150,000,000, which includes his annual pay check and various endorsements. Even if you don’t like him, don’t care about him, or really don’t know who he is, you contribute to his earnings.

How You Contribute to Lebron James’ earnings

  • If you watched the San Antonio Spurs dismantle the Miami Heat’s dreams, you contributed to his earnings.
  • If you eat at McDonald’s or just watch their commercials, you contribute to his earnings.
  • If you’ve boughten a pair of Nike’s, or just watch their commercials, you contribute to his earnings.
  • If you drink Coke, purchase any Coke products, or watch their commercials, you contribute to his earnings.
  • If you own a Samsung smart phone, any other of their products, or watch their commercials, you contribute to his earnings.
  • If you buy anything from Dunkin’ Donuts or just watch their commercials you contribute to his earnings.
  • If you have State Farm Insurance, or just watch their commercials, you contribute to his earnings.

In the first six chapter of Joshua, God told Joshua to lead the children of Israel across the Jordan. God told Joshua He would give him all of the land he could see. The children of Israel were tired, hot, and hungry. Experiencing misery was their reality. But they told Joseph they would be faithful to follow his leadership. Just as James’ vision would be worthless without millions of people contributing to his goals, Joshua’s leadership would be worthless without the support of those following him.

Joshua vs. Lebron James

  • Millions of people contribute to Lebron James’ ability to fulfill his goals. The tribes of Israel contributed to helping Joshua fulfill God’s purpose for Israel. (Jos 1:16)
  • Lebron James surrounds himself with the best in order to fulfill his goals. Joshua surrounded himself with 40,000 men of war in order to praise God. (Jos 4:13)
  • Lebron James entered into the NBA expecting championships. Joshua crossed the Jordan expecting victory, so God would be glorified. (Jos 4:5-7; 21-24)

By the time the Israelites got to the walls of Jericho, they didn’t need to do much because it was like one of those movie scenes set in the 1800’s with the two men dueling at high noon. All of the shops closed up, the windows shut, and everyone cleared the streets. The only difference between those movies and the scene around Jericho was that 40,000 men circumvented Jericho.

Jericho vs. Our Lives

  • The people of Jericho shut up the city because they heard the Israelites were coming. Your enemies will become silent, as you are faithful to cross your Jordan and march around the walls in your life (Jos. 6:1)
  • The priests used trumpets of rams’ horns, which were used in Jubilee not war. Bring your praise to the battle. (Jos 6: 4, 16)
  • The walls fell in response to their ‘great shout’. Give God the praise, expecting Him to give you victory. (Jos. 6: 5, 20)
  • The men of war went first. Find God’s mightiest people, surround the walls of your lives with them, and set them in front. (Jos. 6: 8-9)
  • They rose early and readied themselves. Whether you’re an early riser or not, start each day by readying yourself for God’s victory in your life (Jos. 6:15)
  • They were ready to receive God’s blessings. We need to prepare our lives to receive God’s blessings. (Jos. 6:20)

Just as God led Joshua to those walls to lead the children of Israel into victory, God places wall in front of you to give you the victory. Just as God told Joshua to raise the victory cry in expectation of the victory, God is calling you to praise Him in expectation of victory in your life. Just as the walls of Jericho fell in response to their obedience and praise, the walls in your life will fall because of your obedience to God and praise to God.

So much more could be said about praise, but I must point out the irony that Israel’s men of war were called to praise. Do you want to be a battle ready Christian? God is calling you to praise Him for the victory. Though, remember, the victory God called the people of Israel to praise Him for was that the walls of Jericho would fall and they would take the city He gave to them. They could have marched around another walled city, blasted rams’ horns, and shouted for victory; but those walls would have stayed in tact. God would have said, “I didn’t call you to march around those walls. I’m not going to give you the victory here because it is not my will that you take this city.” The walls God placed in your life, and the victory He will give to you, will always further his purpose for your life and His Kingdom.

Are you facing the walls God set before you that will lead you into His will for your life, surrounding yourself with battle ready Christians, and praising God for the victories before you? What walls are you facing right now? God will give you the victory. Just be obedient to His calling, expect the victory, and praise God for that victory.

Tell me about the walls God placed before you. Let’s praise God for the victory together. Tell me about God’s purpose for your life. God has a much bigger purpose for me than to just write blogs, but starting this blog is me crossing my Jordan. Almost 16 years ago God called me into the ministry of writing. I left the safe path of my life, began crossing my Jordan, and am now gathering battle ready Christians to raise the victory cry with me.

I hope you are blessed by this blog. Come back next week to read the next blog in my “Becoming a Battle Ready Cristian” series, and get ready to raise the victory cry with me.

BTW, I would love if you would follow me on Twitter or Like the On Becoming Human Facebook page.