I Don’t Want to Grieve Jesus


hard heartIn my reading this morning a verse jumped into my heart from Mark 3.5. “After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart...” Jesus then healed the man with the crippled man. He was angry as the religious were waiting to see if he would heal the man on the Sabbath. They wanted to accuse him if he healed. They cared not about the man who needed the healing. They cared more about the law than people.
This verse shows me that Jesus grieves (greek word “syllypeomai”, to be sad and deeply distressed from BDAG). Jesus was deeply hurt and upset that his creation, the religious had hard hearts. This distressed Jesus. This bothered Him. So, does the state of my heart grieve Jesus? I would say, yes it does at times. At times it can be hard, apathetic, un-engaging, distant, and selfish. We must “guard our hearts: (Proverbs 4.23). Read through these revealing questions about the heart, and take some time to pray and ask Christ to keep our hearts, soft, filled with the heart of Jesus, and not hard and distant.

1. Does the things of God move you inside? Bring you to tears from time to time? Motivate you for the Kingdom.
2. Have you argued over doctrine with more allegiance to that, than to your brother or sister who holds a different view?
3. Have you wept for the lost lately, and really cried their names out to God with compassion and conviction for their salvation?
4. Are you irritated when you are asked to sacrifice for the Gospel so lost people will be saved? When you are asked for money? For your time?
5. Does the moving of the Spirit move you?
6. How’s your kindness meter? Speech at home? Are words of comfort, humor, affirmation, and love part of your daily speech?
7. Does the poverty, lack of medical care, food, water, and education of most of the world move you?
8. Do you hurt for/with hurting people, regardless of the color of their skin, what country they are from, what part of the city they live in, what they look like, or what you perceive they are hurting from?

When I am consumed with myself, my schedule, my plans, my wants, my hurt feelings, my bad attitude, my aches and pains, my agenda, then I am pretty much the most uncompassionate and hard-hearted person on the planet. When I focus on Christ, His work, His life, His desire to live in me and through me, His mission, His calling, His love for all, His brokeness over the lost, over suffering and war, over the poverty of the world, then my heart is “strangly warmed” (John Wesley). I must stay connected to the vine, to the Savior, to the life of Christ or my heart will not be soft, and my Lord may be grieved with me. How soft is your heart today?

Stop “Church Shopping” right now.


It’s not uncommon any more for a guest (visitor) at Compelled church to say they are looking for a church and they, use this phrase, “we are church shopping” so I’m going to be honest. I really hate that phrase. In fact, I cringe inside every time I hear it. Let me tell you why. It implies that they are looking for the best “bargain”. Where they can get the most for their “money” and the church that offers the greatest and best, whatever they are looking for, for them and their family. This attitude also implies, the decision is theirs, with no input from Christ, the head of the church. They will shop, and list the pros and cons of each church, compare the music, preaching, facilities, and coffee, and come to a decision. BAD! Very, Very BAD! In this consumer driven society we live in, we cannot make looking for a church body, the same as looking for the cheapest flat screen TV ,or the best price of gas. It is deeper, the implications much greater, and it is so much more serious than browsing through the Sunday paper sale ads. Here’s my take on looking for a church so you don’t “shop”.
–Ask yourself, “Where does God want me?” It might not be the will of your Father to go to the biggest, best, most impressive church you find.
–Don’t be deceived that a church can’t minister to your family if it does not have a catalog of ministries and small groups that is for every age, every interest, every person. My daughter grew up here, when our church was small. We started in our living room. When we had little to no staff, rented facilities that were small. But she loved church, and her faith grew here. WE did not have much, but we had the Bible, relationships, love, and family, and that was enough.
–Consider that if you are looking for a new body, you are not leaving in conflict, angry, bitter, or with unforgiveness. Those attitudes will be taken to your new body. No church needs those things. Make sure you know God wants you to go to another church and you are not leaving abruptly with anger, offense, or something did not go you way. God does not bless those things. He might want you to stay, work through things, be humble and grow in grace. Don’t leave in the flesh any church!
–Maybe God wants you to go to a church to not consume the excellent ministries, but to partner with others to minister and be part of that church growing, and to start, launch, and help make excellent ministries.
–Don’t go to sit!! If you are truly saved, you should be involved in ministry on this earth till Jesus takes you from here. It is the life of a follower of Jesus. There is no unemployment in the Kingdom.
–Don’t pick a church for it’s music. Worship is about Christ, which we should be worshiping all the time anyhow, so 20 minutes or so of music, should not be a big deal, if you are worshiping throughout the week. No matter what the music is, nothing can stop a follower of Jesus, from worshiping Jesus, when any style of worship music is played. You don’t need a full band to worship Jesus, or even a great sound system. We worship in Spirit and in Truth.
–Don’t pick a church for it’s preaching. You can hear the greatest speakers/teacher/preachers on your phone if you want, so maybe God wants you to go and be a blessing at a church where you have a great pastor, and he loves God, but can’t preach as well as the TV guys. Does he/she love the Lord? Do they prepare? Are they honest? Are they true to Scripture? Maybe God wants you to be the greatest friend and encourager to that pastor, and help fulfill the vision God has given him for his community. Honestly, preaching is a small part of the pastors week. We do so much more than just preach.
–Don’t go to your new church to tell your new friends and pastor about your old church. Don’t gripe about it, don’t trash your last pastor, don’t tell them what your last church did. If God has moved you on, and He has led you to a body, be a blessing, and a humble servant.
–Be led by the Holy Spirit, not flashy websites, ads in the paper or even commercials.

I was saved and discipled in a small country church with basically 2 big rooms. We had one part time pastor. We had 100 people. We had the Bible, the Spirit, and love, and I grew in the Lord and was called into ministry there. My life was transformed. I heard the Lord there, worshipped (only a piano) there, and was not allowed to take coffee into church, but I grew, I got to know God, and I learned the Bible. It was an awesome first church, with committed leaders and a great Pastor (Thanks Aden Porter!).

So why this little article? To help you find where God wants you. Where you can be involved and be a blessing. So Christians will stop going to get, and they can go to give. So if God is leading you to a church or a new church, remember…. no “church shopping”. Be Spirit led as you attend churches, small and large, rural and urban, bands or not. Pray together as a family and God will lead you to a body where you and your family will grow, become part, be involved to reach your community and you will be happy in Jesus and everyone will be happy God sent you, and we can keep seeing people saved and devoted to Jesus Christ.

Why Must I Suffer?


 Here is my view on the often-asked questions, Why do Christians suffer? Since the beginning of time, God’s people have suffered and that will continue, despite the misled teachings that believers should not suffer. Some would contest that all suffering is from Satan. That is absurd, since most of the New Testament was written to the new church that was suffering. I do not believe the Bible teaches that followers of Jesus should not suffer and God does not use suffering. I believe that is not biblical, and not a reality. Whether we like it or not, suffering draws us to Christ. Suffering reminds us of our immortality and our absolute lack of control over our life, health, and circumstances, which we desire to control so deeply. I have had some deep suffering in life, I know most have had it worse. During those dark and painful times, I turned to Christ, and knew the Lord’s presence was with me so strongly.
Suffering that I have encountered and you may also.
1. Suffering from my own sin, my own choices, my own self-inflicted pain.
2. Suffering physically, with pain and/or sickness.
3. Suffering as I experience the death of my family and those I love.
4. Suffering because of other’s choices, and/or sin.
5. Financial suffering.
6. Emotional Suffering, discouragement, depression, because of the circumstances of life.
7. Suffering as a pastor, when I observe others choosing the world instead of Jesus, and they abandon their faith, wreck their lives, bring suffering upon their family. This deeply grieves me.
8. Suffering watching and walking with, others that are suffering from all of the above.

Paul teaches us in 2 Corinthians, 1.4-9, we learn that we suffer to be comforted so we can comfort others. The definition of that Greek word, is to “encourage, bring consolation, comfort.” Bob Utley give light to the word “comfort’. “The term paraklēsis in its different forms, is used ten times in vv. 3–11. It is the key term throughout the entire passage and also in chapters 1–9, where it is used twenty-five times. The word means “to call alongside.” It was often used in a judicial sense of an advocate who rendered legal aid, comfort, and guidance.”

We suffer simply for a couple of reasons according to this text.
1. Our suffering calls the Holy Spirit to us to bring comfort.
2. Our suffering bring us the experience of comfort from God so we can comfort/encourage others who are suffering (1.4).
3. We suffer so we will learn not to depend on ourselves, but on God.
4. Suffering strengthens our faith we are taught in James 1.1-4.

We live in a fallen world, and we are not exempt from the suffering of this world. God redeemed us. A day is coming when we will not suffer, we will not age, our bodies will not fail us, loved ones will never die, we will never be without, and Jesus purchased that on the cross of Calvary, and the resurrection!

If you are suffering now, don’t turn from God, turn to Him. Don’t blame Him, embrace His comfort. Abandon self, grow, learn, and receive the presence of the Holy Spirit. Let your roots go deep in Jesus during the suffering, and cling to the hope that Christ promises throughout the Bible. He is with you and he is with us during any kind of suffering. God is more concerned about our Character and Christ-likeness, than even our comfort! So grow during the season of suffering. It is a season, so it will end, but use it now, to know Christ!
“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8.16-18

New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ro 8:16–18). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Utley, R. J. (2002). Paul’s Letters to a Troubled Church: I and II Corinthians (Vol. Volume 6, p. 203). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.

Integrity, Live it, Guard it, and don’t fall to the world’s love…money


IntegrityProverbs “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than he who is crooked though he be rich.” Proverbs 28.6

Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. A follower of Jesus should have this. Integrity is built in years and lost in seconds, in a decision, in a moment of deception. Having integrity gives one a moral voice of authority and spiritual power and influence. Compromising integrity, leaves us lacking, powerless, and voiceless, regardless of position, something is lost. The cutting edge is dull, the plans fall flat, the blessing from Heaven dry up. Followers of Christ must guard their behavior, and their heart from anything that would steal or weaken integrity before our God and this world.
The context of this verse is financial. Solomon was talking about loving money, loving stuff, loving assets, and what the world loves and values so much. Money. Greed, and the desire for material things, can cause us to make decisions that have us wander from the path of integrity. When a leader is moved by money, wanting more, desiring it, for himself and those around him to the point integrity is questioned, than a leader is in a critical position in their leadership. Most times one does not even personally notice that this slow change of heart has occurred at some point. Power and pride can easily blind us from ourselves if we don’t listen to those around us and the Holy Spirit. We must keep our hearts soft to the voice of God in our hearts and through others.
This is why Paul, next to Jesus the greatest spiritual leader, tells Timothy, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” The Bible is true and does not lie, no matter if you are on silly and erroneous, “follow Jesus and you will be filthy rich” bandwagon, or not. If you love money and want more, you are in trouble. Your integrity will be questioned and your decisions will be marred by this driving desire. God never promises that all believers will be wealthy and rich, in money according to the standards of United States living. That is not the Bible. That is false teaching. God’s riches are so much deeper than financial, and at times may include a financial blessing.
I am very thankful and glad that integrity can be regained if lost. This is through repentance and humility of heart and life. I’m thankful for the restoration power of Christ. He is so good. So let’s guard our hearts from the syndrome of wanting more, entitlement, and materialism. If you have to justify financial decisions than you might be making the wrong ones. So many have lost integrity because of financial things, don’t be one of them. Let’s walk above reproach in humility, and trust God as our provider and not our power, our influence, or plans. He will take care of us. We don’t have to do His job. He will meet our needs, so keep your needs modest.

New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (1 Ti 6:10). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Gabe, Levi, and Marissa’s worship performance at Fine Arts.

Video


These guys did this worship set at the Michigan Fine ARts (2014). This is their first time together. I was thinking how proud Wendy and I are them, and Ray and Estella, but then Father reminded me how proud He is of them, not for singing at Fine ARts, but for loving and worshiping Him without shame.