May 2014 be the greatest year...

you've ever experienced!

Up to this point you've learned so much... experienced so much... and know more about life than you ever have before.

What if you took everything you know, everything you are right now, and fight the fight of faith that is set before you?

God has so much for you this year.

Be forgiven by His grace.

Be strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And run the race that is set before you!

Go for it in 2014!!!

And don't let sin, discouragement, or the devil stop ya!!!

If we could change one this Christmas...

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It's hard to believe that a billion (that is, 1000 million) people on the earth don't have enough food. Some stats say up to 40,000 children per day die of malnutrition. So in two days - the population of my city (Sarnia, ON) isn't larger that the number of children that will possibly die. 

Is your heart stirred?

I hope it is. And the good thing - is that you can actually do something about it.

So this Christmas as you have enough (some of us have an abundance) of food to eat. Turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots, etc.etc) think about the millions upon millions who are hungry. Have a thankful heart that you have enough. But then take your more than enough and do something tangible.

My wife Carlie and I both sponsor children through Compassion - www.compassion.ca - for $41 a month we help clothe, educate, and bring the gospel to just a few children. We can't do everything, but we want to do something. 

Another very worthy cause is www.irismin.ca - who help rescue the poorest of the poor out of poverty. God is using this ministry to transform nations.

And even in Canada - we have everything we need in the natural - but if don't have Christ - we are spiritually destitute. 

I'm praying this Christmas you will pray about what change the Lord is asking you to make. How about sponsoring a child through Compassion Canada? Because if you change one life, you don't only change one life - but you change lives around it through the change in that life. And you also change the generations that come from that life.

Merry Christmas, and may the mercy of Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the love of the Father saturate your hearts and lives - In Jesus name.

Give Your 50%

Read the following powerful blog post today by Pastor Steven Furtick - and thought I would share. Really, really, really good!

Check it out below!

 

Your 50%

 

Posted: 20 Dec 2013 04:00 AM PST

 

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I recently read somewhere that when it comes to art, “the artist only has 50% of responsibility in creation.” The person who engages with the art has the other 50%.

The painter paints. The viewer views.
The author writes. The public reads.
The band plays. The people listen.

In each case, the artist is only responsible for 50% of the transaction. How the person engaging with the art responds is their decision. And it’s not something that any of us can control. Some people will respond positively. Some negatively. It’s their choice.

The same principle applies when we share the gospel. When we share our faith, we only carry 50% of the responsibility. And this applies whether we’re witnessing to one person, or preaching to crowds of thousands.

This reality should be liberating. As long as you faithfully and adequately deliver your 50%, you don’t have to feel the full weight of responsibility for the other person. I’ve met some people who carry a heavy weight of guilt because of the people in their lives who have yet to find life in Christ. They feel that it’s their fault their family or friends are going to hell.

Their problem is they have a God-complex. A compassionate one, but a God-complex nonetheless. They want to have complete control of the 100%. But the truth is we don’t. No person has complete control over how other people respond to the gospel.

It’s good to feel the weight of people’s souls. It’s motivating to your 50%. But it’s bad to carry around the weight of their will. That’s coveting their 50%. And it will load a weight of guilt upon you that you were never meant to bear. Jesus wants to bear their guilt. If they don’t believe, they will bear it. For your own sake, don’t take something that’s not yours to carry.

It can be frustrating and heartbreaking. There are going to be times when you want more for the people you’re sharing your faith with than they want for themselves. Times when you wish you could have 100% of the control.

But you don’t. You can only control what you do with your 50%.

Maybe you’ve been sharing your faith with a friend for years. But he keeps going further away.
Maybe you’ve been trying to convey the gospel with your parents. But every time they just change the subject.
Maybe you’ve been preaching your heart out, but no one seems to be responding.

Don’t give up. The next time could be the time.
Give 100% to your 50%.
Pray for them like you’ve never prayed before.
And give them room to exercise their 50%.

This entry was originally posted December 8, 2010.

 

SHIFT

Something happens in the life of a believer when they fuller surrender to Christ. I don't mean simply a prayer prayed to accept Christ as Savior, or even confess Him as Lord. I mean the 'real deal'...

... a moment in time when one stands in front of the mirror and doesn't see their life as their 'own' anymore, but confesses along with Paul in Galatians 2:20

"It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me. And the life that I live in this flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

Something happens indeed. A shift happens. Every day is now different. Possibilities open up... endless possibilities of what God could do through you, a life fully surrendered to His purposes and for His glory.

I wonder what God could do through a life that was fully devoted to Him...? TIME TO FIND OUT!

The power of gossip

Proverbs 18:8 is perhaps one of the most potent scripture verses revealing the power of gossip. I'll write it out in a few different versions so you can catch the full scope of the verse: The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts. (New International Version)

Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one's heart. (New Living Translation)

The words of whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body. (English Standard Version)

Pretty powerful stuff! Are you catching the gist of it?

When I read this verse in it's simplicity it shouts out two things LOUD and CLEAR...

1) That gossip tastes good. 

Gossip tastes good both to the one speaking gossip and the one listening, for it is one and the same thing. To gossip can be listening just as much as speaking. In fact the definition of gossip is simple:

DEFINITION OF GOSSIP (from dictionary.com) - idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others

Why does doing that taste good?

Good question...

I think it's because it gets our eyes off of our own and problems and issues and screwed up lives and places them on the lives and screw ups of others - SO WE WILL FELL BETTER. It's like a drug - Momentary escape from your issues...

Common let's get honest, we feel better about ourselves when we gossip.

2) Gossip is destructive

It's extremely evident that it separates friends, and destroys relationships. The reason is because usually false or misread information is received... twisted, taken out of context, misconstrued... And that skewed information goes down 'into the inner parts' - what you've received about a person becomes a part of your opinion of them. And the fact of the matter is that most of time it's not entirely (sometimes not at all) accurate.

So now you have gossiped. You felt good (for a minute, because your eyes are off your problems for minute). You're opinion gets warped or further confirmed, often falsely. The person who you spoke of didn't even get a chance to share their own story or opinion or circumstance. You've lost trust, both toward them and them towards you. It just messes stuff up!

Furthermore, now you are more likely to be gossiped about.

... a vicious cycle.

Answer to the dilemma... DON'T FREAKING GOSSIP! 

Instead, pray. Write the person who is struggling a personal Facebook message, email, or card and tell them you are praying for them (if they are a friend).

Stop feeding the drama cycle in your life.

One of the things...

I love most about God is His unyielding patience. He is so utterly merciful. So radically kind. He's the most wonderful Father a person could ask for. So much so that He doesn't even force you to be His child - you actually have the decision if you want to be adopted into His family - The family of God - or not.

The message of the cross is the message of the absolute and astounding stance of Creator God who gives His created beings, made in His image and likeness... a choice. Then thousands upon thousands, if not millions of subsequent choices.

A choice to receive His forgiveness.

A choice to be reconciled to Him.

A choice to be Fathered by Him.

A choice to love Him to any degree we sow our lives into His heart, will, and purpose.

A choice to love others.

A choice to seek Him.

A choice to hear His voice.

A choice to obey His leading.

And these we get a multitude of. Every day. Every hour. Every minute. He just keeps calling our name.

And for every choice we make to respond to Him, he calls it 'faith', and promises to reward us eternally for it. 

And through the whole process - He is nearly unbelievably patient with us. But He is nonetheless...

Just... wow.

Psalm 103 for a few more details on the amazing mercy of God.

Permission to Thresh and Be Threshed

We need to create a culture where it is okay to fail.Where we cheer loudly for someone who tries and falls and fails. Where it is okay to step out, be noticed, trip, and fall. And everyone cheers because you tried. Call me an idealist - but this is who I want to be. Where it’s okay to thresh and fight and build and then if it doesn’t work - to tear it all down. And start again. Why? Because that is how progress is made. How many attempts did it take to create the light bulb? Every time you try and fail - you learn and grow! This is what I mean by ‘threshing’. To try and try and try and try and try - until you get the result you’re looking for. In biblical terms it’s called persevering faith.

But we need something else…

We need permission to be threshed.

We need to learn the meaning of scriptures like:

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. - Proverbs 27:6

and

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. - Proverbs 27:17

and

For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life. - Proverbs 6:23

We desperately need to walk these verses out in our lives. Otherwise we simply don’t grow. We have grown complacent and “wussified” by and large as a society and we need to challenge each other again to live out the creative and challenging and powerful plan of God for each of our lives. But often times we are not even open to it. We take the ‘wound of a friend’ as an insult, when in fact it is LIFE GIVING WORD.

When something is difficult, and everyone is afraid to try it, or try to change it, or try to conquer it - we need leaders who will stand in the gap and make it happen. Yet in order to do this we need to thresh and be threshed daily - in small ways and big ways.

Therefore I say to you: You have permission to thresh. Permission to try. Permission to rock the boat. I’m cheering for you!

And you have permission to be threshed. Permission to listen to the constructive criticism around you, even though it hurts, and change.

The “Dunamis” Story (In a nutshell)

The following is a letter I read to our church this morning. God is up to something big! You can be a part of it! Check it out and be encouraged to get planted where He wants you to! I'm posting it because I'm making a declaration of the greater things that are to come! I hope you are encouraged by it!

Ps - this is not a picture of this morning - but one of a Friday night sometime during the end of 2010. It's one of my favorite pictures as I remember all that God accomplished in the first 8 years of the ministry of Dunamis!

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Hey! If you’re reading this letter now – most likely you are either a part of our church OR you have visited recently. I felt the need to write this note in order to bring you up to speed with who we are as a church and where we’ve been, why we exist, and where we are going.

 Who We Are and Where We’ve Been

In April 2005 Dunamis Church was planted as a local church from very humble beginnings. The pastor (me) was 22 years young and our start up team was a rag tag group of youth. That first Friday night (we did our main service on Friday nights for the first almost 8 years of the ministry [2005-2012]) there were 10 of us. By the end of 2010 we were around 70-100 of us on Friday nights and still growing strong. During this time we were meeting at a hall in town – it felt packed – it was lively – it was powerful and fun. We were baptising people every month and seeing salvations on a nearly weekly basis. Also our Tuesday night youth ministry and weekly cell groups (small groups) were experiencing solid attendance. In 2011 we moved location and things just weren’t the same. We had an identity crisis as a young church. Things felt ambivalent – and as a result we lost momentum and some focus. The leader was burnt out (me again). There is a lot that could be discussed, and a lot of learning curves. By the end of 2012 – I felt done. I felt like I needed a break – but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I felt like a failure. You ever feel that way? I decided to focus in on Sunday mornings for 2013 and just give it all I had – but the fact of the matter was that I was already running on fumes. So January to June of this last year – church was a struggle. It’s not fun being a burnt out pastor – or having one J But I kept slugging away until it was more than evident that I needed a break.

I thought it would be wise to take the summer off and just relax – no ministry – no pressure at all. This I did – and it was just what the doctor ordered. When September of this year rolled around, it was evident to MY pastor and leader (Brendan Witton based in Toronto) that I still needed more time. So I got a full-time job and have worked for the last 3 months near Grand Bend (55 hours a week). Honestly, it was just what the doctor ordered. I feel refreshed, invigorated, and full of vision and zeal again. I am ready for round 2! But during this entire year – we have not experienced the type of impact, fruitfulness, and growth we did before. I know the frustrations that can cause!

 But I am here today making a declaration that THAT SEASON IS OVER!!!

We are here today in a new season. God is with us! The world is still as lost as ever before (maybe more so) and far from God. But WE ARE THE CHURCH! WE ARE THE HOPE OF THE WORLD! WE ARE BEING EQUIPPED DAY BY DAY TO BRING THE LOVE AND POWER OF GOD TO A LOST AND HURTING, A BROKEN AND DESPERATE WORLD!! And it starts afresh today! It starts the moment you decide it does. Because if you are a Christian – you are the church! You are the body of Christ!

Why Do We Exist?

So why do we exist? Why are we still around as a church? Why have we not quit? Why are we stirring ourselves up today with the hope God’s Word brings?

Because God has planted us and given us a vision!

Dunamis Church existsso the people will know Christ and walk in the fullness of all they’re created to be.

We intend to DO this vision. We intend to live it out, to dream it, to think it, to confess it, to believe it, to receive, and see it manifest before our eyes.

Knowing Jesus is a supernatural thing. It takes faith to come to Jesus. It takes faith to believe the gospel of Jesus – that he was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, is the Son of God, died on the cross for our sins, and was raised again for our eternal justification. So it’s a good thing we have a supernatural God who can do anything through his church! Believing believers!

Where Are We Going?

Did you read the vision? That is where we’re going! We are moving into a place that looks like the book of Acts! Where the miracles of God are evident all around us – inasmuch as they are happening through us! Where the fullness of God has captured our hearts and imaginations – and we are living for the Jesus we proclaim to know and love – and following His heart and the Great Commission.

16-17 Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally. 18-20 Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:16-20 (The Message Version)

We are going to be intense about God’s plan for us! We are going to be focused about the vision he has given us. We are going to be intentional about our time, our money, our resources, and our talents. We are going to sow seed (the word), water seed (pray), and see God move. Only God can do it – but he has chosen to work through us – His Church – His Family.

I love you – thank you for reading this. I hope you are encouraged and emboldened to believe God can make a massive difference through your life! It is His plan to!

He loves you!

We just keep on thirsting...

Because nothing else satisfies. I have been on this earth now for nearly 31 years - and in all my travels and preaching and meanderings on the meaning of life - and in seeing countless people try many things (substances, relationships, entertainment, money, etc.) and they are left empty and broken in the end. This is most evident in someone like Marilyn Monroe - who was physically gorgeous, had money, fame and so much of what so many chase after and covet. She had it all - and yet she was incomplete. Severely incomplete - to the point she took her own life at the age of 36.

 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” - John 4:13-15

Did you catch verse 14? There is a satisfaction, a completeness, a genuine 'well of spiritual water' to be found in Jesus, that cannot be found anywhere else. And the really cool thing is - Jesus offers this water to whoever thirsts!

You will keep on thirsting, unless you satisfy your soul palate.

What Could of Happened?

I have met and known so many people in the last 14 years since I met Jesus. What could have happened in and through their lives if so many of the Jesus followers I knew had of continued with him? Sadly, most have not... :(

The other day I was reminded of when I was 16 years old and had JUST met Jesus yesterday when a friend posted this:Image

My soccer team at the age of 16! The last time I played soccer on a team since this year in Sarnia!

I honestly don't remember hardly any of these guys. (no offence if you are reading this!) I remember 1 guy's name in this picture!

It just goes to show how quickly time passes, and that it is unrecoverable! Yes, God can and will 'redeem time' that is wasted, it's true! But the Bible never says that he 'restores it'. Once it has passed, that's it!

I just had the thought today of how many kids I've known who started REALLY 'on fire' for God. Passionate about Jesus and their future's... only to hit a wall, or fizzle out along the way. 

I have personally made it my aim to live my entire life with a passionate resolve to do the will of God every day, in every circumstance. To choose life, love, and righteousness. To step out on the water and have faith. And I'm the first to admit that there is a lot of times I've had to push, even with all the strength (grace) that I had. God has always enabled me. And it's been worth it. I haven't been perfect (by a long shot), but I've never stopped pushing in, and that has made the difference. I've succeeded and failed forward.

Maybe you're reading this and you feel like you're the same as me. Or maybe you're reading this and you feel like a failure. Honestly, in the last 14 years I've been both places... but now I'm waking up with a more passionate resolve than ever before to surrender my all to Jesus.

It's so so simply, yet it's challenge is the test of the ages. To put your "Isaac" on the altar - whatever your Isaac currently is - and follow Christ.

I hope you are encouraged today to continue on! Life is too short live one day without passion for your purpose! To love God with all you are, and love others out of the love relationship with him!

"Teach us, Lord, to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." - Moses