Saturday, May 24, 2014

There's Not An App For That

Knowing God's will. Most of us, if we are honest, struggle with this aspect of living the Christian life. The largest part of God's will is clear in scripture, that is why it is imperative to read God's word daily and know his will from what He has revealed there. From His word we know not to steal, lie, or cheat. The bible also reveals His plan to redeem mankind back to himself through his only Son Jesus and by his death, burial, and resurrection... the Gospel. These aspects, and many others, of God's will are plain, and written for us to know.
The aspect of God's will that we struggle with is his specific will for each individual person. Things like "Should I marry this person?", or "should I take that job?", "paper or plastic?", "Do you want fries with that?".

What if finding out God's will for every decision was as easy as typing in a destination into the navigation app on our smart phones? How cool would it be if we could just type in "heaven" for our destination and wait for it to tell us what direction to go, when to turn, and how far we would have to remain on our current street before the next turn? That "God's Will" smart phone app would also have the ability to tell us if we were approaching a traffic jam and either re-route us or just let us know how long we would be stuck in traffic. This app would not only tell us when and where to make each decision, but like the Google app, you could pull back the view and get an overall picture of what the route to your destination looks like. In this way you could have a big picture view of what was coming, and turn by turn, or decision by decision directions for each day.

Not only would this be awesome, but if you listen to some preachers, other "holier" Christians, and even our own prayers, this is often what we expect from God.
When we think that we should be hearing from God in this way, it does 2 things.
  1. It freezes us, and stops us from doing the good works that we were created to do in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:10).
  2. It sets us up to be disappointed in God or in ourselves when we fail to hear him in that way.

The smart phone app is an illustration of what we wish we had. But let me share with you an illustration of what it is that God actually gave us to find our way through the minutiae of the thousands of decision that we face every day, and even those forks in the road that are major life choices.

What I have found is that God has not given us a map, but a compass and a survival manual.

The survival manual teaches you how to forage for food, what is poisonous and safe, and how to find shelter. The idea of the manual is to read it as much as possible before you need it so that you will know what to do when it happens, instead of trying to read it for the first time when you have been bit by a snake. But having read it, it allows you to react properly, and still serves as a reference, when needed. It also teaches you how to navigate with the compass.
When you travel using a compass, you rarely travel in a straight line. First you must use your compass to find true north, (and for our purposes is also our direction of travel), then you set your azimuth, which is a fixed point that you can see in the distance, in the direction that you are going. You use an azimuth because you cannot see your actual destination, but the azimuth gives you an attainable, visible goal to work for that moves you in the right direction. There may be any number of obstacles to navigate between you and the azimuth that you have chosen such as hills, rivers, cliffs, walls. Things that will divert your actual course many times as you make your way towards your azimuth, and your ultimate destination. Once you reach the azimuth or goal, you use your compass to set a new azimuth and the process repeats, constantly checking the compass and making course corrections, and also using your survival manual to make sure that you are prepared for things that you will deal with while on this journey.

We see in Genesis 12:1 that God said to Abram, Go... I will tell you where, when you get there.
Jesus, when calling his disciples simply said "follow me", no map, no plan, no negotiation... just follow me. Then when their daily guide Jesus told them he was leaving them, he told them that he would send another guide... the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is our compass, the bible is our survival manual, and eternal life in Christ is our true north destination. What experiences, lie between here and there, we do not know. We do not know what is around the next corner or if we should turn left or right. But if we habitually read God's word, and walk according to the Holy Spirit, who always points to Christ, we are assured that we will reach our destination. We may be a bit battered and bruised when we arrive, but we know that rest and rejuvenation awaits us in the arms of a loving savior, whose will it was for us to experience the journey.

So for the graduating senior who is about to take responsibility for their own journey, stop looking for that app that promises turn by turn navigation. It will fail you. Besides, it can only take you on well established roads and highways. Life is messy. Life is unpredictable. That is the way God designed it. You are traveling through a world that does not want you to leave its well worn streets and alleys, for an unseen destination, on an unknown path, on which you were called to go. Follow God's call, there is no set path from your perspective. Even though God knows every step that you will take, the step is your to take.
So seniors (either high school or AARP), when you face a choice, like say... whether or not to volunteer to help reach lost and unchurched families during VBS, its okay to pray about it, but don't get stuck, waiting for a neon sign from heaven, wondering if its God's will for your life, just do what is good and right as long as it takes you in your ultimate direction... towards Christ.
And by the way the VBS Kick-off meeting for voluteers is June 7th at 4:30 in Hannon chapel ;)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Valley View Church is Changing!

Change is a good thing.
It allows us to evaluate ouselves and our effectiveness in serving God within our community. It gives us an opportunity re-think ways that we have been doing things and how we can do better.
Valley View is currently searching for a new pastor. We hope that God will reveal who that person is soon, but until that time we do not want that to stop us from seeking God, and reaching out to our community... you!
During this transition we are pleased to welcome guest preachers from the Dallas area to bring God's word as we continue to provide Sunday school classes, Sunday night worship, as well as Wednesday night bible study. Right now we are doing a lot of praying and thinking, and seeking God for future direction, and a new Pastor will be key in that plan.

We would love to have you visit and allow us to introduce ouselves to you with a handshake and a smile. We are a congregation that has a lot of love, and are looking to grow and become a reflection of God to our community, and a reflection of our community for God.

Valley View Baptist Church
3108 Valley View Ln
Farmers Branch, TX
Service Times are:Sunday School: 9:30AM
Sunday Morning Worship: 10:50AM
Sunday Night: 6:00PM
Wednesday Night: 7:00PM


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Three More Wishes

If a genie poofed up from a lamp and offered you 3 wishes, what would you wish for? Well ever since the 3rd grade we all know that no matter what you use the first two wishes for, you have to use the third wish to wish for three more wishes. 
As I seek to find the path to fullfill my calling, I keep looking for "road signs" to tell me what is coming up ahead. But the path keeps leading me to get on my knees and immerse myself in His presence. 
So I came to the conclusion that I am not getting the answers I want, because I am not asking the right questions.

God is not a genie, and prayin' ain't wishin', but this is what I find myself praying for lately. "God help me to be a man of prayer. Help me not to do anything out of my own volition and desire, but only what you want done for Your Kingdom and Your glory."
Let me testify for a minute here.... God does answer heartfelt prayers that admit that we can't change, and then ask Him to change us. Those are powerful prayers, with powerful answers.
Are you having a hard time sustaining an effective prayer life? 
Prayer #1: God help me to pray.
Do you find that you really just aren't concerned about lost people?
Prayer #2: God help me to see lost people the way that you do, and to have your heart for them.

I find in my life, that God is most responsive when I pray to be changed, made hungry, to feel His compassion. As He starts to bring these things about in me, I care much less for knowing what is up ahead, and find myself walking around with a smile on my face because I have encountered my creator, my redeemer, my deep companion, and my Lord.

If you feel like you are on your last wish... wish for three more wishes... it works every time.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Was Peter Just "Up Denial Without a Paddle"?

I think it would be well worth looking closer at Peter's denial of Christ. I think it is possible that even at the point of denial, Peter would have gladly taken up arms to free his master, indeed he had done just that a few hours earlier...

But Jesus forbade him to reach for violence. 

I am not trying to rewrite the Biblical account, and excuse Peter here. Even though, without a doubt, Peter failed Jesus at those three moments, but the question is "Why?". I mean Peter denied knowing Jesus. I just don't think he was giving up on Jesus, I think that he might have failed because he did not know what to do? Without his sword, and without his Lord, Peter was utterly lost and alone. 
Of course I do not pretend to know Peter's motives here, but Isn't that what we have done when we just assume that Peter was ashamed, or scared of the crowd? Who doubts that if given the choice, Peter would have traded places with Jesus in order to win Jesus' freedom.

That is why I want to look at it closer than the way I have played it like a movie in my mind all of these years: "Peter freaked out and denied Christ because he was afraid of what the crowd would do to him" , that just does not cut it. Peter trusted Jesus with his life. If Jesus had told his disciples to throw themselves on their swords, Peter would be the one to lead the way.  So what could be going on in his head at this time? What spiritual turmoil was battling inside of him?

I think the implications could provide a powerful application for us as Christ-Followers. We trust God but sometimes, like Peter, we do not know why God does things that don't make sense to us. Why did God let this or that happen? Why did Jesus let Himself be arrested, mocked, lied about? He does not have to take that. We, like Peter, would gladly lay waste to people that mock him, and lie about Him... but that is not what God wants us to do. Sometimes we are in a situation and we know we need to do something, but we do not know what to do, or ignore what the Holy Spirit is leading us to do. When the situation passes, we know we have failed. 

Peter was in a situation like that, Peter wanted guidance, but Jesus could not tell him what to do, so he showed Peter what to do. He then proceeds to submit to the Father's will, even unto the giving of His own life, all the while forgiving those that hate Him without cause.

Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him and Peter did not believe Him. He did not believe it was possible that he would ever do such a thing... When Jesus predicted that one of His disciples would betray Him, He was talking about Judas, not Peter. Judas' sin was betrayal, because he refused to walk the path that Jesus was leading them down. Peter would have followed Jesus to the gates of hell, but at this point, he did not know how to follow Him. Peter failed out of weakness and confusion... two things that he was unfamiliar with.

After three years of being with, and relying on, Jesus 24/7, Peter was brought down to the very foundation of his helplessness and utter need for Christ. Upon His resurrection Jesus began the work of rebuilding Peter from ground up. Now Peter had humility to go with his courage and zeal. Then Jesus used Peter to change the world.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Word of Prayer: Romans 1


When you are expressing your anger on my actions and behaviors, help me to know that it is you. I want your correction and your discipline when I am wrong. Help me to see your fingerprints not only in your wrath but in your creation as well. I want to know you more, so that in knowing you more deeply, I can more accurately interpret what goes on around me.

Mostly I just want to know you for the sake of knowing you. I desire to be closer to you in every way no matter what that means I need to distance my self from.

Weaken my desire for the world as you strengthen my desire for you. Why do I want the trash, when the treasure of you is given to me in abundance?

I am a stupid sheep.... be my shepherd. You are the only thing that matters in this life and eternity. I want to obey from a heart of worship, not a sense of obligation.

Lord let me shine your light to my neighbor. I love you, and need you more that food and air.

The Best Laid Plans of Fruits and Vegetables

Let us please observe a moment of silence...(      )
I have been silent for more than a moment. I had to wait and see how things panned out but it is time to come clean. This attempt at a juicing diet was not successful. It pains me to say it, but I did give a good effort. Here is what happened.
I was able to go 5 and half days on only juice. I was able to deal with the lack of food. Surprisingly that was not the problem.
I got to day 5 and 6 and my energy and focus was still dull. It was difficult to keep my schedule going as I am a busy man. The people around me noticed the change and it was not a good one. My mood sagged.
The other thing that really made me decide to stop was the amount of time it took to prepare 3 or 4 juice meals per day. It was next to impossible to do my quiet time in the morning.

So I am back to the drawing board. Hoping to Glorify God in my eating.
I learned a lot from my week of Juicing. but unless I can Juice on a sabbatical, or while I am not working 2 jobs like I am doing, I just can't do it.  I want my life to be about having a God focus, and it started to take on a Juice focus, or a me focus. 

So on with the show.