Back in 2011 the movie "In Time" was released. I have to be completely honest here, I have never seen the movie. Mostly because I don't think Justin Timberlake has done anything worthwhile since his days in N*Sync. (Bye Bye Bye) The reason for mentioning that particular film in this post is because of the premise of the film. I found the following synopsis on IMDB:
Welcome to a world where time has become the ultimate currency. You stop aging at 25, but there's a catch: you're genetically-engineered to live only one more year, unless you can buy your way out of it. The rich "earn" decades at a time (remaining at age 25), becoming essentially immortal, while the rest beg, borrow or steal enough hours to make it through the day. When a man from the wrong side of the tracks is falsely accused of murder, he is forced to go on the run with a beautiful hostage. Living minute to minute, the duo's love becomes a powerful tool in their war against the system. Written by Twentieth Century Fox
This past Sunday our Pastor spoke on how we needed to be better stewards of our time here on earth and this movie popped right into my head. Can you imagine what it would be like to have a countdown on your arm and once that countdown reach all 0's that was it? How differently would you live your life? How would we change our priorities if we knew for certain we only had so much time left?
The fact of the matter is that we don't have a lot of time here on earth. Here in the United Sates the average life expectancy for women is 81 and for men it is 76. That isn't a lot! I used to roll my eyes and laugh when people told me how much faster time seemed to go by as you got older. Yeah right, I thought. Now, as I am watching my children grow up, my oldest is turning 10 soon, I am beginning to see the wisdom in what they were telling me. A year now isn't the same as a year when I was a kid, lol.
What I find even more concerning is that while in the movie "In Time" they had a countdown telling them exactly how much time they had left. The reality that we are faced with everyday is that we don't know for certain how much time we have left. Every day is a gift. Every moment is an opportunity. What are we really doing with the short uncertain amount of time that we have? We may not have an actual countdown on our arms but our time clocks are running out!
I don't know about anyone else but I have no doubt that I could do more with the days that God gives me. I could hug a few more people that I love. I could play a few more minutes with my kids. I could pray a little bit longer for God's will to be done on the earth as it is in heaven. I could enjoy a few more quiet moments sitting next to my beautiful wife on the couch. I could spend another second or two gazing upon the splendor of God's creation.
Those are the things that seem important to me when I think about how limited my time here on earth is. Recently, my wife and I took a trip with some friends of ours and for reasons unknown the soudtrack for our weekend was the song "Live Like You Were Dying" by Tim Mcgraw. I am not a country music fan but I want to end this post with lyrics from the bridge of that song:
Like tomorrow was a gift
And ya got eternity to think about what to do with it
What did you do with it?
What did I do with it?
What would I do with it?
“God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure. ”
― Eric Liddell
Eric Liddell was a Scottish athlete and missionary. His training and Gold Medal win in the 1924 Olympics held in Paris can be seen in the 1981 film "Chariots of Fire".
Pastor James Taylor has been preaching on the concept of Stewardship for the last 2 weeks. This past week he spoke about talents and how we should be using what we are good at for God's purposes. It was a great sermon and it got me thinking about why we struggle so much to give our talents back to God.
God has given each and every one of us a particular talent. Something that we are not only good at but driven to do. For example, one of my very good friends that I think of as a sister, has a talent to paint. Not only is she very good at painting, she loves doing it. It is truly a God given talent.
With that being said, I also feel as though she is limiting what she can or can't do because she truly desires to give that gift back to God. Some of you may be wondering what I mean by that last statement. Well, allow me to clarify a bit. When we as Christians recognize we have a talent and then desire to give that talent back to God, we often create false boundaries around that talent. These false boundaries then limit how we use our talent.
Think about Eric Liddell, the Olympic runner I quoted above. Would his talent as a runner had as great an impact for God's glory had he decided that in order for his running ability to be used by God, he could only run in "Christian" races? Of course not! He ran for God's glory on the grandest stage a runner could have and the world saw it! Eric didn't artificially limit his talent so it could be used by God. He pursued his talent with every fiber of his being and by operating fully in it, God was glorified!
Now, I am also not saying that just because we have a talent there are no boundaries at all. Eric Liddell actually refused to run some particular races in the 1924 Olympics when he found out that some of the heats would be run on Sunday. That was a boundary that he accepted and refused to cross. What is truly interesting to note is that one of the races Eric refused to run in, the 100 meter dash, was his best event! Because he bowed out of that event, he entered into the 400 meter. That is the event he won gold in and set a record that lasted 12 years! The boundary set by God for keeping the Sabbath didn't stop Eric from competing but actually became one of the primary reasons for Eric's fame.
Now, let's get back to my friend with the incredible painting talent. She doesn't need to create false boundaries for her talent and restrict the use of her talent to give God glory. All she needs to do is stay within the boundaries God sets in His word and then allow her talent to shine to the best of her ability.
God takes pleasure in His son's and daughter's when they use their God given talents to their fullest. In fact, I believe, The grandest stages of the world are set and waiting for those that honor God with their talents. So get out there, find your passion and talent then do it to the absolute best of your ability so that your Heavenly Father can take pleasure in it!
[Eph 3:20 KJV] Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
The Greek word for "power" in the verse above is "Dynamis". This is of course the root word from which we get the word "Dynamic". In english the word "Dynamic" refers to a force which produces motion. This is very important to remember as we walk out our lives of faith as Christians.
While God is all powerful, He has chosen to pour out His "exceeding abundance" in proportion to how far His Spirit has moved us. We are not called to stand still or static. The life of faith is one of growth and change. It is a dynamic life of movement. When we become more aligned with Holy Spirit, moving as it leads, God begins to pour out His exceeding abundance upon us.
Far too often Christians stand still just waiting for God to take over and do what we need Him to do. It is as if we are simply rubbing the proverbial lamp with our prayers and then sitting back until our genie god comes out and fulfills our wishes. This however has never been what God has told us to do. Time and time again throughout scripture, the call of God on a man's life is a calling out.
When God called Abram He told him to "Get thee out of thy country".
When God called Joseph He had him dragged away from his family and homeland before establishing him as a ruler in Egypt.
When God called Moses He took him out of Egypt and sent him into the desert before using him to deliver the Israelites.
When God called John the baptist He sent him into the wilderness outside of Jerusalem to prepare the way of the Lord.
Why would we be any different today? When God calls us He is calling us to leave the place where we have established ourselves so that He can establish us and move in exceeding abundance in our lives. I pray that none of us miss out on the abundance of God because we failed to be moved by God.
So, one of the things I love doing as a dad is putting my kids on the bus in the morning for school. I used to miss out on this when I was still working for a large corporation but now that I am full time in ministry, my schedule has allowed me to be the one walking my rugrats down the driveway nearly every morning.
Sometimes it can be rather hectic trying to get our two oldest children out the door in time to make it on the bus. They have quite a lot of their dad in them and tend to be easily distracted. I can't just tell them one time to get their shoes on and grab their backpacks. If i did they would never get them. I usually make a song up of whatever items they need to grab and sing it to them until they are ready to go. "Shoes and backpacks, shoes and backpacks, here we go, here we go", (Sing that to the tune of London Bridges).
Ultimately no matter how stressful it can be, I still love doing it because the time i get with my kids out in the driveway waiting for the cheese wagon to come and whisk them away to school is priceless to me. It only lasts a few minutes but I will remember the hugs, kisses and conversations for the rest of my life.
As part of our usual morning routine, when we see the bus coming I take the kids by the hand and stand closer to the end of the driveway. We wait until the bus comes to a stop and the driver has waved us to cross and I walk them on over and help them take the first few steps up onto the bus. Just recently though, my wonderful little routine with my two oldest children came crashing down like a house of cards.
My daughter told me they were big kids and could walk across without me.
I was rattled and found it hard to breathe for a moment. I couldn't think clearly and felt slightly confused. When did this happen? How could this happen? I was shocked that my kids were suddenly grown up enough to walk across the road and get on the bus without me!
Before I could completely regain my composure, the bus was there and my kids were walking across the street. "I love you, be good", I called after them. Then I reminded them, "Walk Wide"! I wanted to make sure that they stayed out far enough that the driver could see them as they crossed the road.
Since that first unexpected morning, this has now become our new routine. One of the last things I call out to them is "Walk Wide". I have been thinking about that quite a bit lately. I have started to see it as a very prophetic message for my kids. They aren't meant to be hidden away from the world. God has called them to stand out and be a light in the darkness. They are called by God to spiritually "Walk Wide" and be seen.
So, even though I still hurt a little bit that they don't need me to cross the road anymore, I stand at the end of the driveway proud that my kids are walking wide and being seen.
So, I have not posted anything in quite some time and I feel highly ashamed about that. Not really, but I do feel a little bit guilty. I let life get in the way of my weekly or bi-weekly attempt at writing. However, I have thoroughly kicked myself in the rear recently and decided that it was high time I got back on the blog writing horse so saddle up, cause here we go!
Looking back at most of my earlier blogs I realized that I tended to just share short “sermonettes” that I had worked on. While that was fun at the time, I decided that I wanted to take this thing in a whole new direction. I am going to be posting thoughts on a variety of topics but it is really just going to come down to me sharing my heart about what is happening in my life. I don’t know If anything I have to say is going to inspire or not but I want to at least try. Hopefully, through all of the craziness you will be entertained and encouraged along the way.
Let’s kick this new venture off with the biggest thing happening in my life right now. I recently left my job of 15+ years to come and work full time at Faith Chapel. The company I was working for was going through a sale and I was not offered a position with the buyers so it seemed like the right time to step into something new. For a number of years now I have wanted to work full time in ministry. Well, Here I Am! As most of you can imagine this has been quite the change, lol. While I do not regret my decision at all, and yes I made it with my beautiful wife’s input (Go team REED!), I am finding myself struggling a little bit to maintain focus. When I walk in to our church on Sundays I don’t want to feel like I am walking in to my place of employment, I want to feel like I am walking in to a family gathering, where we are praising and worshipping together. It has always felt that way in the past but now I find that I have to be more intentional about leaving business at the door on Sundays since I am more involved with all of the behind the scenes happenings.
Again, I don’t regret coming on board with my church. We have an amazing staff of people here that I consider family and I love the work that I am doing. Even if they asked me to come back to my old job, I wouldn’t leave where I am now! I just wanted to share with everyone the reality of how I am walking all of this out.
So, I have a question I would like to ask of all of you out there. If you have gone through a similar transition, what advice would you give your younger self? In other words what did you learn after a few years that you wish you would have known from the beginning?
Any thoughts or comments would be much appreciated! Thanks!
Those who were called by God to the priesthood were to minister to Him as priests. We read this three times at the beginning of Exodus chapter 28, in verses 1, 3, and 4. God wants them to “minister to Me as priest”.
Through the years, the western church has created a false idea of what it means to be a priest/pastor today. Because of this, today's flocks, or congregations, do not fully understand the role that a pastor should have in their life.
To truly begin to understand God’s purpose for those he called into the priestly ministry we have to go back to the original language.
That whole phrase “that he may minister to Me as priest” comes from the Hebrew root word kä·han'. This word describes someone who undertakes any one’s cause by becoming that person’s deputy or delegate. So we can see that God was instructing Moses to tell Arron and his sons that they were to be God’s deputies amongst the people. They were to be the earthly representation of God’s complete authority on earth, as we can see from the definition of the word deputy.
1 a : a person appointed as a substitute with power to act
b : a second in command or assistant who usually takes charge when his or her superior is absent
2 : a member of the lower house of some legislative assemblies
The word deputy carries with it a legislative meaning. In other words those who are deputies are given the power to act and enforce the established law. That power is given to them by the one who deputized them.
With this understanding we can see that the priest’s primary function was to enforce God’s law among the people. They were God’s delegated authority on earth. It was their secondary function to be the people’s means of coming to God.
This instruction comes before anything else concerning the tabernacle or the responsibilities of the priests. Because God laid out this command first it must be the most important of all the instructions given. If we understand nothing else about how the priesthood was to function, we must understand this concept.
We can spend all our time, money, and effort in making sure we have the tabernacle (church building) built correctly. We can hire interior decorators who will help us make sure that the accessories of the tabernacle (church building) are made by the most skilled artisans and that we have an attractively neutral color palate that will appeal to the most people. We can even require that the priestly robes (pastor's suits) are the most well made coverings anyone has ever seen. Yet, if the ones who are called to the priesthood are not functioning properly in the role the way God intended then it is all for nothing.
A true priest will bring the Lord’s wants and desires to the people before taking the people’s needs and desires to the Lord.
A failure of the people to understand the primary function of the priest/pastor results in a lack of submission to God’s authority. The people come to church to have their needs met without first finding out what God expects of them.
This is how we have ended up with hirelings in the pulpits of America. We have built ministries that are focused primarily on the needs of the flock rather than the desires of God. I am not saying that a pastor should neglect his flock, God wants to meet the needs of His people, but first He wants to speak His desires to them.
How would our hearts be changed if instead of making constant requests of God we made it our first priority to ask Him what He wants? Would we even have the same needs that we carried into our services with us?
Recently a fairly high profile "Christian" artist came out and said that they did not believe the account of Genesis in the bible to be literal. They have explained that because of science and reason, they just can't accept that what the bible says is what the bible means. While there are many responses that I could write in regards to these statements, I want to focus on one particular issue in this post. (I may write about some of the others later on.)
The first temptation of man.
Genesis 3:1 NKJV - Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" (Emphasis added)
The first thing satan wanted to do was to convince God's creation to question His word. This is the exact same thing satan is doing to God's people today. Convincing them to question the truth of what God has said. Once we begin to entertain thoughts that what God has said is not what He really means, we open ourselves up to the deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons that Paul wrote about in 1 Timothy chapter 4.
The bible tells us that we stand on a firm foundation. Questioning God's word is not a firm foundation, it is a slippery slope that ultimately leads away from God. I know this slope very well. I slid down it when I was 13 years old and walked away from God for a long time. I had so many questions that didn't seem to have a biblical answer and the only place that wanted to talk about those issues were the realms of science and reasoning.
I have since come to the conclusion that science did not have the only answers...it simply had the easiest answers. It was easier to accept what science had to say about the history of the world than it was to study out what God said in His word. It took much less effort to just blindly accept proposed scientific theories than to try and find the answers in scripture. As a young man, the easier answers were just fine with me. However, as I have matured and grown as a person, I have found that the easy answers no longer satisfy my longing for truth. It is only as I study the bible with the help of the Holy Spirit that I have found the truth that satisfies my soul.
These truths are written in very black and white terms, with no real room for self interpretation. God's word is not an allegory or a metaphor, it is truth. It is not a poem, it is history. It is not to be reinterpreted, it is to be studied and accepted.
To all of you who may be tempted to question, "Has God indeed said...". Don't give in to the temptation. Stand up tall and sure, shouting form the rooftops, YES! Our God has indeed said!
I have spent quite a bit of time trying to find the following post online but it doesn't seem to be out there on the internet anymore. I was lucky enough to find that I had copied it to a word file and saved it onto a flash drive. Some of you may have read this letter before or heard someone else read it but I feel it is more relevant now than ever. I pray that it inspires you to become all that God has called you to be.
"The day for the contest arrived and from morning till evening, four-hundred and fifty prophets of Baal danced and cried out and cut themselves, calling to your god- only no one answered, no one paid attention. Then, Elijah prepared an altar to God. He placed an offering on it and ordered a trench dug around it. He commanded that four large jars of water be poured atop the offering and insisted that it be done a second time and a third time, so that the altar was drowned in water. Elijah prayed and fire fell. The sacrifice was consumed and the water in the trench was licked up. All the people fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord, He is God, the Lord, He is God."
Several things have become clear to me. First, like the people of Israel, we have followed other gods and allowed a distant king and his prophets of wealth to seduce us from the things of God.
Second, I have noticed that when we do cry out to God, we more resemble the prophets of Baal than the prophet of God. We stir up the dust with activity and congratulate ourselves on the show, but where is the fire, where is the fire?
What will it take for the fire to fall? We need a troubler. Someone who will make us uncomfortable. Someone who will scoff at our pretense when we claim to be God’s people, but don’t live like it.
We need a John The Baptist. Someone who is not afraid to look at our smug righteousness and say, “Oh generation of vipers.” We need a prophet with the spirit of Jesus, someone who is not afraid to liken us to white-washed tombs, pleasant to look at on the outside, but a rotting stench on the inside. We need a troubler, we need Elijah. Someone willing to call us out and challenge us to our face.
How long will you go limping after other gods? How long will you serve the god of mercantile wealth? How long will you worship the gods of ease and comfort? If the Lord be God, than follow Him, but if Baal be god, then follow him all the way to Hell.
Have I stated the argument too strongly? Have I offended you? I fear I have not offended you enough. I fear that my greatest sin, as your pastor, is that at times, I’ve cared more about what you think of me than what God thinks of me.
God, in Heaven, send us a troubler.” – Author Unknown, 1864.
Written By: Dustin Thomas
4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; 5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. - Revelation 1:4-6 (KJV)
I've been thinking a lot lately about what Jesus' final hours must have been like. Perhaps it's because it's Holy Week, or perhaps because I play Jesus in Faith Chapel's current drama production, but nevertheless, that's what has been on my mind during my prayer time recently.
When we say "Jesus took on the sins of the world," what do we mean? One thing we mean is that because of Jesus' sacrifice, we no longer have to be bound by the enemy. But one way it's also described is that Jesus "bore the weight" of our sin. I can't help but feel like that's literal. During a sermon, I heard Pastor James Taylor describe that when Jesus hung on the cross in those final moments, he was doing more than just taking on the sins, He became the sin. This may be controversial to some, but he went on to say that Jesus became every sin. Jesus became an adulterer, He became a murderer, He became a rapist. This doesn't just apply to the sins of the time, it applies to the sins of all time, which means He also became the man addicted to pornography, He became an alcoholic, and so on. There is literally no sin too great that can't be repented of. God loves us that much, and Jesus' blood was sufficient to protect us from any and every sin.
<p>To put it into perspective, if Charles Manson, the most infamous serial killer in American history, were to show true repentance for his actions, then I would see Charles Manson in Heaven one day. That's still a hard thing for me to wrap my head around, which goes to show why God's love is beyond our understanding. Jesus loved those who spat in His face. Jesus prayed for those who persecuted Him. Jesus appealed to Heaven for the salvation of the men who drove the nails through His hands and feet, and yet we let someone cutting us off in traffic ruin our morning. We alone are not capable of loving those who have wronged us, but when we allow Holy Spirit to enter in, we can do anything.
Another thing that's really been impressed upon me recently is the amount of pain Jesus went through. It's an easy thing to forget. Yes, Jesus is the Son of God, but it wasn't until after His resurrection that He referred to Himself this way. Before His death, Jesus referred to Himself as the "Son of Man." This means that prior to coming down from the cross, Jesus was a mortal man. The opening scene in our Easter production, It Is Finished, is of Jesus at the whipping post. It does a good job or showing people the brutality of what Jesus suffered through. But we take precautions to make sure that nothing actually happens to me during this scene, Jesus didn't have that luxury. He felt every lash from the whips, He felt the crown of thorns being placed and driven into His head, He felt it every time the hammer met the nails, He felt everything.
It's the single greatest act of love the world has ever seen or will ever see. I wouldn't have been able to survive a fraction of the punishment our King went through. He died for us when we had nothing to offer Him. I deserve Hell, and there's nothing I could ever do to change that, but Jesus insured that I'll never have to experience that eternal torment. His blood was sufficient. If He wanted to, God could have made it to where Jesus could have taken a needle, poked his finger, squeezed out a single drop of blood, and that would have been enough to save us. But God had something so much greater in mind for all of us. That's why Jesus didn't give a drop of blood, He gave every drop of blood. He poured out every fiber of His being for us.
This Sunday, we celebrate the resurrection of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. When He came out of the tomb, that was our proof that we no longer have to remain slaves to death, Hell, and the grave. Jesus kicked down the gates of Hell, got right up in Satan's face, snatched the keys to death out of his hands, and said "I'm taking these, and there's nothing you can do to stop me!" What's the best part about this? The fact that when we accept Christ, we gain the authority to do the exact same thing. We don't have to put up with Hell's harassment anymore, friends. When we say that we're going to spread the good news of Jesus Christ, that's what it means to me.
This blog is written by special guest writer Dustin Thomas. We have been talking about working together and when he sent me this I knew it needed to get posted.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Over the last few weeks, the Lord has constantly been giving me the same vision during my prayer time. It begins with Jesus, when He first arrives at the gates of Heaven. He’s arriving in his crucified state: holes through His hands and feet, a bloody crown of thorns adorned on his head, scars upon scars on his back, a spear wound in his side. He’s dressed in bloody rags. He can barely stand, let alone walk.
He swings open the gates, and instead of seeing a giant, magnificent city in the clouds, instead, it opens into a giant cathedral. Huge ceilings, stained-glass windows with light pouring through. He finds Himself at the start of a long corridor with a red carpet beneath his feet. On each side of the corridor are rows of angels. In the distance He sees two thrones. In one, He sees the Father. The other throne, to the right, is empty. He knows that that throne is His, it’s where He belongs, but how can He get there in this broken state? He inches on hands and knees toward the throne. Every time he crawls past a set of angels, they bow and sing “Hallelujah! The Messiah has arrived!”
The closer He gets to God, the stronger He becomes. Suddenly, He’s able to stand. He’s still walking slowly, but He can stand under His own power. With every step, He can feel his strength returning. He looks down at His hands and notices that the holes that were once there are now gone! He looks at His feet. Those holes are gone, too! Now He is walking with great strength. The rags He once wore have become a beautiful robe. The thorny crown is now made of a shimmering gold. He steps up to the throne, and without a word, takes His rightful seat at the right hand of the Father.
For a while, I thought this was just a cool vision meant only for me, but during my prayer time recently, I received this vision with the message “I want to do this with everybody.”
What was it that caused Jesus’ wounds to heal and caused Him to regain his strength? It was God’s glory. With every step, Jesus drew closer and closer to God’s presence. That’s what healed Him. What makes this even better is that God didn’t reserve this for Jesus only. He wants to heal all of us the same way, whether they be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual wounds.
I can only speak from my own experiences. At one point in time, I was angry, depressed, arrogant, vain, perverted, and dealing with body dysmorphic disorder all at the same time. I always believed in God, and for the longest time I thought that was sufficient enough to get what I wanted from Him. That was my mentality: what could I get from God? What should I do in order to get Him to do something for me? Sort of a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of thing.
I thought all I needed was to say that I believed in God and everything was going to go my way. I had a very shallow understanding of my Creator. Why was I so angry and depressed all the time? Why did I let such unimportant things bother me as much as they did? Why was I expending so much energy on things that will never truly satisfy me? The answer to all of these questions was because I didn’t have a true relationship with my Father in Heaven. The moment I submitted to His authority was the moment I felt the weight of every burden lift from me. The unforgiveness I was harboring in my heart from past relationships was just gone. The anger I felt because life wasn’t going the way I thought it should go disappeared.
All wounds, regardless of the type, were healed when I sat alone and said to God “I’m leaving this up to You. I can’t handle all of this on my own. I give you my heart.” That’s where my heart has been ever since that day, it belongs to God. I love my wife more than I can even explain, but she will always remain number two in my life behind God, and I will remain number two in hers, and that’s the way it should be.
The closer I moved into God’s holy presence, the more freedom I received. Don’t misunderstand me, I’ve had the enemy throw more opposition at me every time I reach a new level with God. The enemy realizes that the more you grow in your relationship with God, the less his old tricks will continue to work, so he has to devise a new game plan to come at you with. But if we continue to walk down that corridor, and we continue to strive after God, the enemy can’t touch us.
Phillip Reed is the Associate Pastor of Faith Chapel Ministries. His passion is to reconcile the lost to their Heavenly Father.