Monday, November 10, 2014

Why It doesn't suck to be leader

It would be very easy for me to list many things about why it sucks to be a leader, specifically in the church. From my perspective, It seems that everyone is called to lead, but in Matthew 22:14 it says, 'many are called, few are chosen.' I don't want to make it seem like I'm saying I'm special and God chose me amongst the lot. All of us have an invitation and I chose Him, and choosing Him is a sentence to death. To chose Him is to follow Him in all of his ways, even unto death (Revelation 2:10). Thankfully a crown of life is our reward.

The point is, I answered the call, like many of you, and I have walked through many things. I haven't experienced much physical pain or suffering, for which I am thankful. But I have felt the pain of a thousand deaths in my soul. Suffering heartbreak, hurt, disillusionment, confusion, regret, shame, guilt, judgement, etc.. Truthfully, it is at some of these points that people turn away from God, because they can't wrap their head around how God it still good in all things when they've experienced such pain. Its not necessarily that they lose their faith and betray God, but they lose the reckless abandonment in pursuing Jesus that was there at the beginning. I've lost it in times, and I've spent years asking myself "where did my fiery passion disappear to?" And it all goes back to heartbreak because of a girl. Its ridiculous to think that passion and excitement for Jesus + passion and excitement for a girl + girl breaks heart = no passion. It would make sense that in my hurt I would run back to God, but instead the thought and pain of the heartbreak loomed and took out every good thing that was thought to be so firm. Of course Jesus heals all hurts, and if I had know back then how to protect my heart then I wouldn't have been so ravaged. Side note: "Guarding your heart" is not locking it away so that no one has access to it. It is giving it fully to Jesus so that He can nurture and take care it, so when anyone wants to have access to your heart, it must be sought not only through you but also through Jesus. Everyones happy, yay!

So, I'm here. Through it all I can say that I have been faithful, but mostly because He's been faithful to me. I haven't had many places to run before I figure out I need Jesus.

Well I got way off track, sorry, but I think theres a purpose. In Letters of a Modern Mystic, He says, "There is a privilege that preachers can have above others. It is his business to look into the very face of God until he aches with bliss." I dog-eared the page, underlined and wrote above the letter "VERY IMPORTANT TO KNOW." Another side note: I write in all caps, but these are caps for even my handwriting. Leaders have this privilege, to be somewhat 'further ahead' to see what is there and to in turn invite others into the more that is there. It can be very frustrating because a lot of people don't get it even though you may harp on certain topics urging them to take hold of their glorious destiny because you know it will benefit them in their lives then and there and propel them past all the junk that hinders and keeps us from seeing Him more clearly. Its really frustrating. BUT, I can only invite I can't force, I can push and pull but I can't move. Its up to choice.

The main point is that as Leaders, in any aspect, if we are in Him, we get to peer into His glory. Usually we look for a purpose, but once we lock eyes with Him, the purpose drops or changes. We become focused on Him and not the reason we pursued Him. Our hearts encounter Him and they are transformed into hearts more like His. Then when we are released from His gaze, full of wonder, passion, devotion, excitement, courage, vision, and direction then we run to tell those around so they might follow. Then I usually get frustrated to the point where I need God to save me and then I seek His face again. Why don't I encourage others to see His face, and seek his face before I get frustrated? The goal would be much clearer and present at all times. But there are sheep and there are shepherds. Shepherds have a greater responsibility to lead sheep in safe pasture than the sheep do. Its silly to propose sheep could lead more responsibly than a shepherd.

What doesn't suck about being a leader, is that since we have a responsibility to those who follow, it encourages us to seek Him for wisdom and understanding. It draws us closer to Him even more so. I causes us to need Him even more for than just ourselves. Its all a part of becoming more like Jesus. Just as Jesus, coming as a Son, revealed the Father, we being made into Sons and Daughters, reveals the Father even more. What if the more we seek Him, the more it opens the way for others to know Him?


Thursday, November 6, 2014

I Need an Ear to Hear

It's supposed to be a busy day today. I have a lot of things to do. I usually don't get them all done and I most likely won't get them all done today. But to follow what is on my heart I have to make myself available to satisfy my true needs. More than I know, I need to write what is on my heart because words so often become tangled in my mouth. As they come out they usually appear to demand a response when all I want are faithful ears. Even if in wrong or right, the thoughts I have, good and bad, sometimes are tormenting unless I can hear myself say them or see them on paper, or I guess in this case, digital form.

I continue to read Letters by a Modern Mystic. I have read it in the past when everything in it seemed attainable and possible and now reading it again the reality and depth of the words I read sink deeper because I know the true reality of this amazing relationship with our Father. It's not a list of simple tasks to be finished and accomplished but a lifestyle that has to be worked out with fear and trembling.

Today, I read a passage where the author asks God bluntly, "why do you not speak more often and audibly and why let us do all the talking all the time?" To summarize, the author hears God's response, "so you can figure yourself out." Just as I was saying above we all need this opportunity to talk through our thoughts and experiences to see what we really believe. To see what is true and what is false. To see who we really are and to see what's imposing in our lives. We need a person to listen to our rediculous rants and complaints and wildest dreams and imaginations without finding fault. And that's Him. He listens intently and enjoys every moment of it like a babbling child, without finding fault and mistakes in our words. The point is that He hears and He is a good listener and He responds to our needs because He is always available to tend to what we really need. He knows what we need before we do.

This hit me in an extroadinary way this morning. People have been coming to me surrounding me and figuratively dumping their thoughts onto me and as soon as they're done they jump out of their seat to go on to what they need to get done. It has effected me deeply, and I have been asking God, "Why?!" Why do they come to me and offer all of their deepest thoughs and thinkings, complaints, worries, emotions, everything and anything. It's been aggravating because I have no clue what to do with all their stuff. Yeah, I need to give it to God, but now I want to avoid that person because they won't stop talking when I see them. I like silence. But today I read God's response, and therefore how I should respond, "let others talk a great deal to you, appreciating every fine thing they say and neglecting their mistakes." 

Because I have ears, I will listen and maybe I will think of how great of a listener God is when I am listening. I must confess, I have sickened myself with how terrible I am at listening, therefore I have asked God to help me be a better listener. All those these opportunities lie ahead. 

I turned to Matthew 3:14, "but John tried to deter Him (Jesus), saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and You come to me?" 
Too often we think that we are unequipped and that we need more than we have. What do you do when God comes to you with a need? The only thing I can think of to do is to make myself available to Him. He showed me a picture or a scene like out of a movie but my life, much less action packed. In this scene I listened to the immense unending worries of a certain person, and in that moment I asked myself, "what can I do here? I can't do anything to help this person!" Then my thought was, "this person just needs a break, something to get their mind off of their issues." So I dropped what I was doing and asked them, "you want to go get coffee or something to eat, and do something fun?" And all it cost me is a bit of time and maybe a meal or a cup of coffee. That persons issues wouldn't be resolved but making myself available to spend some time with them to show love and to get their mind off of the daunting problem so they can possibly see from a different perspective, only if even for a moment.

So then, my priority is to be available to God, to say yes to Him when I think I have nothing and that I need more. When someone comes with a true need, to respond to them like God always responds to me. To Listen and then invest in that person in front of me like God does day after day. 

And those are my thoughts. Thanks for reading/listening! Many blessings upon you, may God show you the way when you don't know how to respond or what to do. I believe that these people would not be encountering you unless you held a part or whole to their resolution. Remember to talk to Him, and divulge everything, you never know what amazing things He will say to you and show you in response. 

Blessings!

Monday, November 3, 2014

The power in the word, "no."

Someone once said that Jesus never said "no" to anyone who came to Him to be healed. Therefore, since we are in his likeness, we don't have the privilege or right to say "no" to the kingdom of God.

This has been an issue that I have battled as an introvert. When my passion is blazing for Jesus, it's so simple and easy to say "yes" to everything and anything that may have some sort of spiritual benefit or connotation. Eventual burnout is evident, so I must recluse into a place of rest a rejuvenation.

In John 11, Jesus was approached. Lazarus was dying, and Jesus was asked to go and heal him. Jesus refused to go saying, "this sickness will not end in death." Then two days later Jesus told His disciples they must go to Judea, that Lazarus had died. Then Jesus raised Lazarus from death.

I think it is more important to see that Jesus always obeyed and responded to what He heard and saw the Father doing. Not whether He said yes or no, but that He always obeyed his heavenly Father. In this, I believe Jesus said "yes" and "no" at times, and whenever He did, it was never to please men, but to reveal the Father's heart, His love and his nature.

For some of us, we need to say "no" more often, so that we may be available to say "yes" to Him when He calls. For others, we need to say "yes" to the things we think may not be fully beneficial to ourselves so that God is given the opportunity to work through us in our weakness and uncomfortable or awkward situations.

The most important intention that must be behind our response, is wether they glorify God and His Son. So, listen to God and He will speak, He will make known to you what is best for you and those you encounter in every moment.

I pray God blesses you and that your ears are opened to His voice and that your heart is further open to obey His voice. I pray that you live in constant tension between passionately seeking His face and running out to show His love with the world, full of desperate sons and daughters. I pray that your choices are made for the best intentions for not only you but also for those around you, the ones you see and the ones you do not seen. Please, pray the same for me.

Thank you Jesus, for making us and putting us in this world full of You, full of wonder and adventure.
Bless us, and keep us in the Light of Your Face.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Messy room: messy life

When your room is a wreck it's a good time to ask, "why?"

My room is a wreck. My bedside table is littered with beer bottles and pint glasses. Not because I'm a drunkard or alcoholic, but because I have a beer every other night or so whilst watching netflix before going to bed. Two habits that I'm keen to kick. 
Tonight I'm drinking a beer wilst blogging before going to bed, about why I am so distraught by the state of my room and therefore the state if my life. 
Before you judge me and crucify me for drinking beer, just look at your own life real quick and realize you have faults I could judge you all the way to town if you were blogging about them, but your not and I am. It's called being vulnerable.
Why am I being vulnerable? Because if you find yourself in your bedroom that has become the epicenter of chaos due to lack of time and lack of self discipline, If you were me, then making fun of yourself would help kick your butt into gear to change something. So this is me kicking my own butt and me being vulnerable, so I will do something about it. 
I need to say "no" to some things. And I have no clue what to say "no" to because I take pride in the fact that I am a man of my word and that I follow through what I say "yes" to... All the while I'm dying inside because I'm giving all my time away to everyone that asks it of me therfore I have no time to myself and when I do get time to myself it's spent in recovery avoiding the mess, that is my room. 
It's an odd predicament because, I can honestly say that I am in a bit if a personal revival, that Jesus is stiring new life in me everyday. It gives me an excitement that makes me want to take on the world and conquer everything in my path. So I am taking on everything that is in my path and that is coming on my path and pulling more things on my path in front of me because I feel this fire that is burning me from inside out can consume everything that dares to step in front of it like a twig standing before a rolling roaring forest fire. But really it's a burning flame that is being snuffed out by being fed way too much way too early. Momentum has to be gained, the campfire needs time to grow into an unstoppable force that devours ancient trees in one bite. 
The lesson tonight is: I have got to say "no" to more things than I say "yes" to. I have got to clean my room. I must let the fire that burns so fervently grow steadily. Someday, sometime, it will be an unstoppable force. The truth is, the day the flame was struck, it became an unstoppable force that grew to what it is today. And it will keep on growing and growing. But how fast it grows, is completely up to me... And you. 
Let your fire burn and grow steadily. You're an unstoppable force because He is and He is in you living inside you. 
Cheers and blessings.

P.s. Please forgive my elementary grammar and quotation errors. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Nothing. Part 1

The thought of fasting always brings me back to a few years ago during the Lenten season. I was in a long period of fasting, one day per week and drinking only water on that day. A friend and I had decided to fast for a specific cause that was particularly emotional, painful, and draining, to instead focus our hearts on God rather than the situation that haunted us daily. After fasting for months, I began to contemplate wether I should break the fast. With the approach of Lent, there was increased hubbub of what people were going to "give up" for Lent. I had always avoided Lent because I didn't understand it and though it was a Catholic thing. But this year was different, it had spread to my non-denominational church. So, people were running around saying what they were going to give up for Lent declaring "soft drinks," "TV," or "Video Games," all stuff like that. I would brashly ask "what is Lent anyway" and either I would get a reply like "its when you're supposed to give up something for Jesu," or "I don't know." I wasn't satisfied with either of those answers. The un-satisfaction heightened my awareness of not understanding. So, I began to ask more and looked deeper, and I really learned what Lent was about.

So, on Ash Wednesday, the day of the week that I would normally fast, I gave up fasting for Lent... 

Permanently. 

Why? Because things given up for Lent were never meant to be a temporary abstinence of a certain thing. And I was honestly sick and tired of multitudes of people participating in a religious festival that they did not understand. Granted it is not any fault of the people. Rather, its the church who failed to teach and make it known clearly what it was all about.

Each consecutive year I would give up another thing for Lent that I felt the Lord leading me to give up. Specifically things hindering me from Him. I gave up religious semantics one year, which helped me to see how "churchy" my vocabulary was. 

Recently, I had been feeling a call to fast. Ever since I gave up fasting I have sought earnestly after God to show me what true fasting is. Even more recently my church leaders had asked the congregation to consider fasting in this season for specific reasons and things for our church. I began to ask God wether I needed to fast or not and I felt He answered "yes," but what to fast from was the real question. It was not going to be a fast from food. 

In Old Testament times, fasts were meant for consecration, to separate, or take something apart from another, to make unique, to make holy, to change the actions and outcome of the everyday grind, not going about doing exactly what you were doing yesterday onto doing the same tomorrow. Fasting is meant to signify a difference. God declared a handful of different fasts like abstaining from sexual relations, abstaining from bread without yeast, abstaining from work, etc. all for the purpose of consecration so that they could appear before the Lord.

I'll have to finish this in another post, its getting a bit long.
Thanks for reading! Part 2 is coming soon, so come back if you want the rest.

Blessings!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Going through the motions, or not

No matter where we are in our lives, there may always seem to be a place that we find lacking, or that we believe needs improvement. Like situations or relationships that have become stagnant, I feel there are many in all of us.

This "spot" looks different for all of us, but basically I think we have three choices. One, to stay exactly where we are and do the same thing expecting different result or waiting for the world to change around us so that it fits our mold. Two, to step back and take a break, try to recover from the complacency and get passionate by mere absolute need for survival, therefore only ending up where we were before. Decisions one and two form a vicious cycle of waiting for ourselves to change in order to move forward but the only forward motion we see is moving from where we fell back. Thankfully there is a third option, to push past what is normal, expected, and customary. To fight where it seems we would lose. To face our fear and say to it, "screw you." We have to constantly fight to take new grounds in our lives otherwise everything unclaimed will be ravaged by the enemy. So, theres really no difficult decision here, its logical. Push forward to move forward, its not a promise that it will be easy or smooth sailing, but theres a promise for abundance and that it will be good.

A friend recently quoted General Patton to me saying, "After you make a decision, do it like hell – and never take counsel of your fears."

Fears are bastard thoughts, little illegitimate thoughts conceived outside of covenant relationship. Fears are not from God. 


I'm calling myself out in a ton of areas, but I want to call you out too. Make the decision in a difficult area in your life and do it so you can move forward. Its well worth the hard work you won't regret it. Ask the Lord to lead you and to guide you. He will make your path straight, and he will speak to you and help you if you will listen to his voice.


So, where do you need to push forward?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Leviticus. So many rules all at one time.

Once again, I started reading the Bible from the beginning. But instead of having some sort of goal, to read the whole bible in a year, I decided to take it slow. I try to read every day, but that doesn't happen all the time. One or two chapters per day is what I'm tackling at the moment. I found that it is a good pace because it keeps my mind from jumping to quickly and therefore missing what God wants to say through it. Its sometime really hard to see the Father heart of God in the Old Testament, but its there because He's always the same God with the same heart, always.

When I started reading Leviticus, I had many intentional thoughts telling myself, "I can't let reading all these rules make me start thinking legalistically again." I had an underlying fear that it would change my heart, and I thought maybe I should skip Leviticus and go to another book that I know is good for me to read and that its immediately uplifting, encouraging and beneficial. But fear isn't from God so I spit those thoughts out of my mind as quickly as they came. Thankfully, I have found so much good in Leviticus. Yet, it hasn't been an immediate knowledge that came through sitting, thinking and studying. It has mostly come out in conversations during this past week. As the words were coming out of my mouth I knew the Lord was encouraging me that these truths were party due to what I was currently reading.

Below is what I wrote in my journal this morning:
Leviticus: so many rules all at one time. God wants the best for us at all times. It doesn't mean that it will be great and glorious or what we think is best for us. But, may look like a lot of not doing things we're accustomed to doing, and doing a lot of things that are awkward and not normal to us. But in it, it sets us apart from the rest of the World and it makes us holy. Not necessarily what we do or don't do but Jesus makes us holy which enables us to do what we couldn't do and not do what we always did.

All these rule that God laid down were for Israel's good. They came out of Egypt with this slave mentality and a hopelessness that there was nothing that they could do to change the outcome in their lives. But God brought them out to be their God, which called them to be holy and set apart like God is Holy and not like any other. In that, God, demanded a change in the Israelites. In their thinking and in their actions. So, He told them what was good for them and not good for them and that if they didn't act accordingly that they would die. Simple things like, don't let your bull gore your neighbor, if he does, you need to kill the bull. And then really complex thing of what type of sacrifice was acceptable and when to do it and how to do it and all these stipulations or people would die. There were two sons of Aaron that went into the temple to offer incense before the Lord and the Lord struck them dead! Its craziness and absolutely confusing to us today, especially in our culture, to think about these things and how God is still good in everything. But if you think about what the Israelites were exposed to in Egypt, knowing what we know today, the Egyptians worshiped everything and the god in everything. The sun, the moon, the harvest, the rain, fertility, etc. everything! So the Israelites had to be so messed up in their thinking going from having Pharaoh, who was seen as a god who ruled the people, to a God who is unseen and had true power and and a messenger and leader, Moses, whose face literally lit up when he spoke to God so that the people told him to cover his face. Big changes in the community called for big changes in action and in deed. So, then all the impurities had to be washed away from the people God had chosen to be Holy like He is Holy.

But the point is, for us today, that in everything, God wants the best for us in every moment, the right now immediate moment. I promise that it wont look like what we expect or what we think is best for us but God has His best interest for us and in us, still. So, it calls for a change of mind and action. Thankfully, we have the holy spirit who actually makes it possible. And the whole purpose is to set us apart, make us Holy, make us different then the rest of the world so that it may draw interest from those who don't know Him. Ultimately to bring us back to our true purpose, to rule, reign, and have dominion on earth. To live here abundantly and to walk with God.

Bless all of you who find and read. My prayer is for you to know God deeply and that He would continue to make Himself known to you and that His Face would shine on you, so that those who need to see Him would see Him through you.

Love,
Jared