If you start something, finish it. If you commit, see it through. Having passion about something isn’t the indicator that God is in it. We are creatures who naturally respond to passion and zeal. We are quick to attribute God’s presence and approval to the things we feel excited about. Imagine the opportunities God has had to lose motivation and excitement in the work He’s doing in us. God was thrilled at the thought of bringing us into close relationship with Him, but what if He had thrown in the towel when He realized it would cost Him His Son? We give Him countless reasons to give up on His work in us and yet we see that He is always faithful to carry it out to completion (Philippians 1:6).

We start a lot of things out of pure excitement and quit a lot of things at the first sign of opposition. What if the lesson God has for you in your passionate pursuits isn’t in it’s success but it’s failure? What we call failure God may call success. The all-important question is, “Did God tell you to start it?” If He did, then He should also be the one to tell you to stop it, not your feelings of disappointment or lack of motivation. You should expect every God-ordained venture to have valleys and peaks. Anybody can hang out on the peaks where the view is breathtaking, but the valleys are where the gold is formed. God isn’t nearly as interested in your ability to start as He is in your will to finish.

 

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Offenses are like termites. They creep in a little at a time and slowly eat their way from the inside out until entire structures are destroyed. They usually go unnoticed until the damage has spread too far. We don’t tend to them in a hurry because we don’t see how a tiny insect could be that big of a deal. After all, there are much bigger priorities like establishing our daily devotions, learning to worship with abandon, leading a small group, teaching a kids class. We spend time working on the outside of the structure while the inside is rotting away. Eventually our outside repairs will be unrecognizable in the pile of rubble left behind by our offenses.

“Alcohol.” A simple word that’s breeding countless termites in the church. I can’t help but imagine satan laughing in pure delight over his well-crafted distraction. At what point did Beer, a beverage created with the purpose of celebrating Gods faithfulness, become a legitimate reason to leave a church family? I’ve heard this argument, “It’s not about us and our enjoyments, it’s about setting an example for the world.” Is it possible that the costliest example leaving a trail of dead today is the example of Disunity? While many in the church are focused on the hell-bent power of the pint, it seems the world is more focused on our inability to get over it. For centuries, scriptures have been hurled from both sides of the alcohol battle. Some call beer an abomination, others call it the blessing of God, yet both sides seem to call Jesus, the Son of God who died on a cross for the sins of mankind. Would we trade our differences over a drink for our common bond of reaching the world for Jesus?

Who is more righteous, the Christian with a Heineken in his hand or the Christian without? We read in the Bible that our righteousness on it’s best day is like filthy rags, the biblical equivalent of dirty tampons (Isaiah 64:6). What then is our life telling the world about Jesus? If the salvation of the world depends on whether or not we drink beer or have tattoos, then it would have been more beneficial for Jesus to have lived a long life of great works than an early death on a cross. We are made righteous because Jesus died, not because we say no to alcohol.

The other side of the argument comes from a church culture insinuating that a Christian has somehow attained more righteousness by drinking alcohol because they have ‘Freedom.’ This is even more of an affront to the gospel than the previous position. If God convicts you of drinking alcohol then you would absolutely be in sin to drink it. If you judge someone because God is convicting them of drinking alcohol then you are in sin to judge them. Freedom is the opposite of Bondage. To make a fellow believer feel they are somehow not free because they are convicted not to drink is an attempt to put them in bondage. In the same way, for you who are convicted not to drink to judge those who do not share that conviction is an attempt to put them in bondage. Alcohol is NOT the issue. Enslaving others who Christ has set free is the issue.

Simply put, we should major on what God majored on and minor on what God minored on. God majored on unity and minored on alcohol. Today we have it terribly backwards, we are majoring on ‘the alcohol issue’ and other divisive distractions that are letting offensive termites into the house of God in droves. All the while we minor drastically on unity, forgiveness, and love. Let’s get busy serving in the family of God and loving each other so the world can see that example (John 13:35).

From Mark 3:1-6

God is doing something big but we can’t see it because we’re too distracted by the fact that He’s not doing it our way. Many times we walk into a church with preconceived ideas about what’s going to happen based on what we’ve experienced or heard elsewhere. Do we come before God with a fresh perspective EVERY time? Do we allow God to blow our minds? Most churches have to work their way out of a severe deficit in our minds before we even walk through the door. What if everyone who came in expected God to do something they’d never seen before? In Mark 2:6-11 Jesus was prepared to do amazing things but instead of having the freedom to simply let God come out, He first had to address the cynicism and scrutiny in the room. Do you believe your thoughts are harmless because no one can hear them audibly? RE-NEWing our mind doesn’t just mean taking away destructive thoughts, it means getting rid of preconceived ideas, past methods, old experiences and making them NEW again. This idea of making ‘old things new’ is reflected throughout scripture. We often come before God with stale mindsets expecting something fresh. If we know that God is infinite in His creativity and newness then why don’t our expectations show it? When God’s thoughts on a matter simply echo your own, there’s a problem. Is what you’re seeing really a check in your Spirit or a check in your flesh? Which is more important, you changing your mind or God changing His ways?
The amazing thing that happens in verses 3-5 is Jesus doesn’t tip-toe or detour around the obvious ‘old mindsets’ in the room but instead confronts them head on. He actually called the crippled man to stand in front so all of them could see plainly what was about to happen. Then He addressed the stale minds in the room and healed the man for all to see. The stale-minds immediately left the room offended and went and tattled on Jesus. They could not partake of the miraculous power of Jesus because they had already made up their minds about how He should work. To top it all off, they left the church and spread their offense. Wow!

I went to Red Robin’s tonight with quite a big appetite. I sat at the bar and placed my burger order and asked my waiter if the fries came out before the burger or with it. He said, “Usually with it but I can bring you some now,” and of course I said, “Awesome.” When the fries came I was so hungry I found it hard not to eat the whole basket. The whole time I was telling myself, “there’s better food on the way.” When the burger got there it was delicious, or at least half of it was. I was way to full to finish the main course because I filled up on fries.

There’s so many opportunities in this world to quiet our appetites on cheap fillers instead of waiting for the main course. When the main course comes, we look at the fillers with pure disdain because we know it wasn’t worth it. We fill our time with things that have no lasting value simply because they’re appealing for the moment. Are you filling up on appetizers or waiting for the main course.

About the feeding of the 5000 in MARK 6:

Verses 30-34 (The disciples have just reunited with Jesus after their first ministry tour without Him. They’ve also just shared the news of John the Baptists death with Jesus. They’re sad, tired, hungry and full of stories.)

Q: At what point did Jesus (w/ the disciples) draw the line between doing ministry and needing rest?

Q: How did the disciples feel about taking a detour from their ‘Retreat’ to do more ministry? (keep in mind they had just returned from doing an entire ministry tour apart from Jesus)

Verses 35-38 (The disciples appear so ‘done’ with the crowd at this point and they’re ready to get back to their retreat. To think they only came up with 5 loaves & 2 fish in a crowd of 5000 people makes me wonder how hard they really looked. They must’ve thought, ‘If we don’t find enough food for the whole crowd, maybe Jesus will just tell them to go home.’)

Q: What made feeding the bellies of 5000 people more important to Jesus than spending much needed time with His disciples?

Q: Why do you think Jesus picked this time of all times (when the disciples were tired from ministry) to teach the disciples a lesson?

Q: If it was a creative miracle, couldn’t Jesus have just created bread from thin air? Why did Jesus tell the disciples to go look for bread?

Verses 39-44

Q: Why did Jesus have the disciples separate the crowd into groups?

Q: Would’nt it have saved time if Jesus, after blessing and breaking the bread, had just made it appear in the hands of the crowd? Why did He have the disciples hand it to the people?

So I’m sitting here in Starbucks minding my own business when an asian lady at the condiment bar starts speaking to the manager in a raised tone. It seemed to me like a civil conversation until the lady started yelling  at the manager, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a civil yell. The lady started spitting out some serious verbal abuse and at one point called the manager a racist. At that point the manger just walked to the back so as not to escalate the situation. The lady proceeded to lean over the counter shouting, “Yeah, go ahead, run back there and hide.” Finally the lady left after I threw a scalding cup of coffee on her. Totally kidding about that coffee part 🙂 I did however have thoughts of doing something like that under the guise of an accident because I wanted to relieve the pressure from the manager.

Turns out this lady has been coming in several times a day over the past week ordering a double shot of espresso and an extra vente cup of ice on the side. She would then proceed to the condiment bar, fill the extra cup with milk and mix in the espresso. Basically the end result would be a Vente Iced Latte for the price of 2 shots of espresso, aka. she was a cheapskate. 

If you’ve been trying that little trick at Starbucks, please don’t be that person.

Fare thee not so well

Thy fear that I must fail

It is you that halt these steps

And for you I tuck my tail

 

I regret the day that my love was caught

In your web of counting cost

Lament the times that I let my past

Determine my future lost

 

You’ve haunted me countless mornings

And awaken me from my dreams

Paralyzed me with your venom

Made mockery of my esteem

 

But today is a new day

Last night you tucked me in

You sang me a lullaby of tears

But I’ve awaken free again

 

by Matthew Ray

So I woke up this morning at 6am thinking it was 7am. Apparently my alarm clock automatically adjusts itself to daylight savings time and doesn’t need my help. It’s always a great feeling when you get up, go through your usual routine and then discover you woke up too early and have an extra hour in your day. God must’ve known I’d need an extra hour this week.

I’m pretty pumped about my wife and I doing some modeling tonight for one of the greatest photographers known to man! Not only do I get to be her subject along with my wife, brother, and girlfriend in-law, but I also get to listen to her teach her aspiring photographers. Stay tuned and I’ll post some of the images soon.

'Don't Quit' Bumper

I love working for such a creative group of people. We shot a video today at Wrightsville Beach for our new series this month. Had a lot of fun, got real sandy, and got to observe the skills of the great Kyle Runner and Carolyn Mejia. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. Could my job get any better?

So yesterday was strange. I woke up, got ready and went to my Tuesday Mayfaire office (aka. Starbucks). When I walked in I noticed that none of the usual employees were there. I didn’t think much of it until about an hour later and I decided to ask the new workers what was up. They said they came in from the College rd. store to fill in for the usual staff because one of the Mayfaire employees died in a car accident on Sunday. When they told me who it was I searched for her picture online and remembered her serving me coffee only days ago.

It’s a strange feeling when something like that hits home. It’s even stranger when you consider that I was sitting in Starbucks studying for my message in FlipSide this week titled “You Are Dying – The Urgency of Life.” The message is about seizing the day and living every moment with urgency because it could easily be your last.

I came home last night to 3 fire trucks and 2 ambulances around my house with all lights flashing. My neighbors house directly across the street had caught on fire and it appeared to have gutted the house. They’re a family of 4 and all ended up safe. I took them some coffee as they sat in their van to keep warm. What’s sad is that it was the first time we had met. What if those had been their last moments on earth? My impact on their lives would have been zero. 

The line between what matters in life and what doesn’t matter is pretty blurry at times. One thing that’s clear though is that we all are on a journey towards death and what we do on that journey must become urgent.

Matter – 2 : to be of importance

Things that do (should) matter:

 

 

Things that don’t (shouldn’t) matter:

 

So I’m driving home from work and lo and behold who do I pass on my way home but the senior pastor at Rock Church! I could actually smell the new bike smell from my truck.

photo posted from my iPhone

When I woke up yesterday I turned on GMA as usual while I got ready for work. On the way to work I tuned in to NPR and by the time I arrived at the office I was well informed on all things depressing. I’ve never been one to quote Marilyn Manson but he once said,

“The media is just this campaign of fear, and consumption, and that’s what I think it’s all based on, the whole idea of ‘keep everyone afraid, and they’ll consume”

Before beginning Monday morning prayer with my favorite people, the Rock Church staff, I found myself weighed down with fear over the state of the world these days. As I began to talk to God I thought of the scripture I always think of when it comes to fear, “God hasn’t given us the spirit of fear but of power love and a sound mind.” Instead of just quoting it this time I decided to actually take the verse apart. So standing in the corner of the room with my face to the wall I pulled out my trusty prayer tool, my iPhone, and searched Websters Dictionary for the word “Sound.” It is most simply defined as “Deep and undisturbed.” That was all I needed to hear. 

God created us in His image with the ‘Sound’ mind of Christ. We were created to be beings who are deep rooted and undisturbed like a tree uneasily swayed. The info that floods our eyes and ears like a storm every day has the potential to drown us in fear. It is crucial that we as Christ-Followers remind ourselves constantly that God has never given us fear. The world gives us fear but God has already given us the counter part of a deep and undisturbed mind. The storms are coming. The world is looking for shelter. The shelter they run to will be one that is unshaken. Will we be ready?

Canoe rides in the lake, chopping wood for the fire, great stories, chocolate chip pancakes, onion flavored coffee, and some chilly weather in dew soaked tents. What more can a guy ask for? The 2xtreme father/son camp out was awesome!!

photo posted from my iPhone

Nothing says ‘love and compassion’ like this.

photo posted from my iPhone

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