Meet Jesus : Fruit Inspector,,, GSJ14

Each of us has a flavor of which comes out

Matthew 7:16: Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17: Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18: A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19: Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20: Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

 Daily Produce

Ever thought about what it is you produce daily?  Each of us has a flavor to what comes out.  A friend of mine has a perfume she has worn for years.  It is her trademark, her flavor.  Whenever she is around, you know she has been there.  Some years ago I worked with an individual that flavored the room.  Upon entering the workplace the entire atmosphere would become sour.  Each of us has a flavor of what comes out.  Another friend is vivacious and sparks excitement in whatever he does.  By our fruit are we known.

Pain Carry

For years, Greg had carried pains from his early years.  Memories haunted him.  At times he would accuse people of actions and motivations they never had.  It was an unwelcome memory bursting out into distrust and accusation.  It just wouldn’t shake.  Now he was looking for forgiveness.  He wanted to be free. He wanted to free himself from the flavor of the fruit of the past.  So many times he had been betrayed.  It had built a rage inside that needed to go away.  It created a distance from others that needed healed.  Greg was ready to change the flavor of his relationships and life.  Maybe he could start with Jake.  Maybe he could go back and start over.

ACT!  Inspect your flavor.  Are you goofy grape or excited orange?  Are you passionate purple or negative needles? What is your flavor?  Is it what Jesus wants your flavor to be?

PRAY!  Father, help us flavor the day with Jesus.  Grant us grace to give out Your sweet incense.  Enable us to let others know that You have been in the place.  Cause our fruit to come from the true vine, Jesus.  Let only fruit from His life veins come out from us.  Let our flavor be the scent of Your presence that men and women would come to You.

This devotion is #14 of a bigger storyline… Watch the category GSJ Story for miniseries.

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Meet Jesus : Reciprocal ..GSJ13

Just do it like you want it.

Matthew 7:12: Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

 Simple: Simple.  Simple.  Simple.  So often we want God to be complicated.  Our tendency as men is to construct great tomes and writings and laws to guide our steps.  Jesus is simple.  Do to others what you want them to do to you.  How simple can you get!

Offering: Greg’s offer of friendship after so many years somehow reached through to Jake.  He liked the idea.  He liked being invited as a friend and not being approached as “another new person to the church.”  Open and relaxed, he stuck out his hand to Greg.  

His wife relaxed.  The storm was really short.  She had seen Jake have much longer explosions.  This was new.  She liked it.

ACT! What do you need done to you?  Is someone harassing you?  Do you need kindness?  Give it.  Get it.

PRAY!  Today, Lord is my day of giving and receiving.  You simply ask, Father, that I treat others in ways I want to be treated.  Be it done to me according to Your word.

This devotion is #13 of a bigger storyline… Watch the category GSJ Story for miniseries.

Meet Jesus: Positive Answers ..GSJ12

When we come to Him and His Father, there is never rejection.

Matthew 7:7: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9: Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10: Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11: If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

NO?: Ever feared you would get a no from someone?  Fear of rejection is a strong influencer on us.  Psychologists and communications trainers will quickly tell you that people fear to speak in public, to a group.

Rejection is not something Jesus will do.  When we come to Him and His Father, there is never rejection.  He took our rejection for all time and offers us pure acceptance.  Ask and it will be give to you.  Seek and you will find.  Knock and it shall be opened unto you.  Jesus is an open door.

Quietness: Sally’s quiet way put a new mood on the situation, but not enough to cool it.  The tension between Jake and Greg was enormous.  She surely did not understand it.  It was her dream to see if Greg’s open position at work would be a good fit for Jake.  Now all the opportunities seemed to be frying in the hot grease of dissension.   This hallway was steaming hotter than the parking lot asphalt in summer. Why had she invited Jake to come to church?  How could that have been God’s plan in prayer?  If this was how He answered, “Yes” to prayer, she was confused.  Then Greg spoke peace.

 “Hey, Jake.  I don’t know how I’ve gotten along without you so many years.  We used to be such good friends.  I guess, I just got caught up in life and changes and an hundred other things.  It sure is good to see you again.  Maybe, we can get a cup of coffee and catch up in the next few weeks?”

 Jake immediately relaxed.  It was as if someone had turned on a box fan.  His face relaxed.  His muscles relaxed.  He even smiled.

ACT!  Think of a question from someone on which you have put off the answer.  Get the answer for them quickly and get it to them.  Help them past a little thought of rejection.

PRAY!  Father, I am so blessed to be in You.  You are an encourager, blessor, giver, and always positive influence in my life.  My life in You is pleasant beyond imagination.  Thank You, Father for being a positive answer to life’s tough questions.

 This devotion is #12 of a bigger storyline… Watch the category GSJ Story for miniseries.

Meet Jesus: Transcendent …GSJ1

 

While His Father is in heaven, He talks to Him in familiar terms as if He were standing beside Him, and asks us to do the same.

Matthew 6: 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:   Our Father in heaven,  hallowed be Your name.  10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

 Building Transcendence:  Jesus is at once at home in heaven and on earth.  He is transcendent.  He easily moves back and forth in His thought and access.  While His Father is in heaven, He talks to Him in familiar terms as if He were standing beside Him, and asks us to do the same.  While there is a will of God declared in heaven, He expects it to be walked out fully here on earth.  He is transcendent.  He refuses to be held away from the best His Father has for Him.

Greg’s Transcendent Moment: The decision for the new team member was looming.  As the team succeeded, it became evident they would need an added member.  Who would join?  Would they fit the group?  How could they find the right person?  Greg moved to prayer.  He needed divine wisdom.  Surely God was aware this need would arise before this day.  Surely God would provide.  As Greg quieted himself in his office in prayer, his phone rang.  Sally was calling.  She had a friend looking for a position similar to what the team needed.

 This devotion is #1 of a bigger storyline… Watch the category GSJ Story for miniseries.

ACT!  What is it you need to transcend? To get over and above?  To do it like it is done in heaven not as it is on earth?  Start acting the part.

PRAY! Father, I need You to transcend my life.  So often, I am tied to my earthly expectations, joys, and achievements.  It is hard for me to transcend with Jesus and see what You see and do what You do and fulfill Your will spoken in heaven here on earth.  Help me to transcend with Jesus and live to the fulness of Your will and presence here on earth.  I commit, Father, to see Your will done on earth in my life as it is in heaven

Meet Jesus: Straight

Matthew 5:  33″Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

 In our networking, political worlds, we often find shaded communications the norm.  Jesus is a straight shooter.  His admonition to us is to avoid dependence on excuses and other items like, “I swear by the heavens”, over which we have no control.  Simply say yes or no He tells us.  Connecting with Jesus means connecting with a simple, clear answer.    Connecting with Jesus strengthens us to give a simple, clear answer and commitment when other’s depend on us.

ACT! Get straight on a miscommunication.  Think of a commitment you have made that really was neither a yes or no.   Make a decision and connect with the other person.  Tell them yes or no.

PRAY!  Father, help me to be like Jesus.  Give me clarity when I call to you.  Build clarity in me when I am called upon by others.  Show me direction.  Give me sound discretion in all decisions that I might be reliable and relied upon.  Bolster my confidence in You and in Your ability to follow through in me.  Let me not speak in shades of gray when people need clear and simple lines.  

Life Can Be Frightening, Friend.

But then, God did not give you a spirit of fear, but of love and power and a sound, well-disciplined mind.  The Father dispenses right knowledge and wisdom and equipage to get your life lived with a smile and a dance in your step.  He does.  Really, He does.

It is frightening to face life without a loving Father’s protection and insight.  This morning as I prayed for my friends, my guideline was the book of Ephesians.  Yes, I read through the entire letter and prayed.  It usually takes about an hour these days, sometimes two hours or more.  Martin Luther, the great reformation leader, and others are quoted as saying, “I had so much to do today, I had to start with 3 hours of prayer.”  I get it.  There is no time to waste. Every minute has to count and prayer puts the power in the punch.

It is frightening to look into tomorrow and realize the threats and opportunities to fail and opportunities to succeed. Failure and success are not distant partners.  Each brings an element of pain and cleanup.  Each creates a next step that has to be addressed.  Plan for success and handle the failure.

It is frightening to go it alone. Living alongside the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is a fearsome task.  He really does get things done. Boy, am I glad I don’t work in the kingdom alone.  It would be hell.  Yes, I believe hell on earth is trying to do the work of living without family and friends and partners in work and ministry and life. When I make a list of co-laborers, I never get to the end.  There are thousands.  What a blessing.

It is frightening to trust my own hand. Friend, never trust yourself to get it done.  When you stretch out with God, you will find yourself in situations that are impossible.  They take impossible strength, impossible faith, impossible love, and impossible energy.  He has a ready supply of all four.

My prayer for friends.

Father take the hand of my friend and bring impossible strength, impossible faith, impossible love, and impossible energy into the path.  As You walk with my friend enable with everything necessary to live abundantly, faithfully, and effectively.  Let life be changed.  Let fear be put into the street.  Let faith shine so bright those around my friend will lose fear and find faith.

Other’s Need – God’s Supply – Your Hand and Heart

Remember to pray for the Community Transformation Initiative and all those that are helping and joining. After taking a few months of prep and collaboration, you would not believe the demands of the next six weeks at the Community Transformation Initiative.  We are actively engaged in East OKC, North OKC, Stillwater, Del City, St. Louis, Matamoros, Mexico, and online around the world. Every one of these engagements results in life change.  Our goal for 2013 was to impact 1000 families face to face.  In the last 30 days, we’ve exceeded 300 and expect to pass that goal in the next six weeks. Much of this is 1-1.In the next six weeks, we will be presenting live for over 60 hours.  The average pastor will present 10 hours in the same period. Much of our presentation will be bilingual and all of it will occur outside my personal cultural background.  The average pastor/leader never does either of these because they are ten times more exhausting than staying within your personal culture zone or niche. The Community Transformation Initiative is not called to be average.  Our aim is transformation.

 

Our commitment and high level schedule:

General Ministerial Conference – Dallas July 24-26

East Zion Men’s Leadership – July 26th 7pm

Telemundo Radio 33.1 – July 27th Interview on Matamoros outreach 2:30pm to 3pm

Rewrite – Mentoring – Life Church July 31st

Fearless Weekend – Tabitha Baptist East OKC Aug 2,3,4

Fearless Weekend – Regrese de Clase – CAREVI – Matamoros, Mex Aug 8-12

Watch DOG Launch –  Back to School – Tulakes NW OKCAug 16

Watch DOG Launch – Epperly Heights – Del City – date tba

Outreach Planters Training – OKC Aug 23-25

Schools of Prayer – West OKC – Aug 7, Sept 4

Dad’s University – Online Fall Semester Aug 20-end of term

Champion Fathers Luncheon and Tourney – SW OKC Sept 16th

Total cost to get this done – $20,000.  On hand funds $1500.  Faith Commitments $5000. God’s Challenge To Be Met: $13,500

How to support.. <==click it

Impossible faith will see it to completion.

Impossible love will keep us motivated.

Impossible strength will bring us to perform.

Impossible energy will make this fun.

You may lose a life. But, you may gain a future.

copyright AP Photo Steve Gooch

copyright AP Photo Steve Gooch

Ezekiel 47:9  And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes.

You may lose a life.  But you may gain a future.

Days of Tornados

Every day we struggle with the immensity of life and death.  Both are enormous.  Both require tenacity.  Both require courage.  In Oklahoma City, we face another tragedy of epic proportions.  Some would refer to biblical proportions.  Many stories recorded in our Bible are such immense acts of God and people that they can appear unbelievable.  Trust me this morning seems unbelievable.

Last year my family and I lost many friends and members of the clans.  Age, accident, and disease ripped loved ones from our vision and arms.  In just a few weeks, the impact reached from California to Oklahoma to Mexico and touched close to my wife, my children, my friends and me.

Last year my job and work family was torn from my hands in the same weeks when these deaths occurred.  Insurance, office, and just a place to get up and go to work and see friends disappeared in a moment of reorganization and decisions in back rooms.

Last year my wife and I flew upside down at 65 miles per hour in our car landing intact in body but a total loss of vehicle we had just bought.  This happened in the same few weeks as the other disasters of loss.

You may lose a life.  But you may gain a future.

We lost our lives. The familiar is gone forever in many instances.  Months of rethinking and rebuilding create a new future.  The old is gone.  It is gone.  It is dead.  It is passed.  Like a dear friendship accumulated over 50 years, I cannot have coffee with him anymore.  I cannot laugh in the hallways of my old life and friendships, for the hallways are not there.  It is not the first time tragedy has struck and will not be the last.  It is the first time of such immensity and scope and hopefully the last of such proportion.   Life is full of passing and coming.  We pray it happens gradually and we have emotional landscape on which to recover.

This Pales.  May 20th, 2013 families lost children at school, their home, their neighborhood, their neighbors, all their possessions, their work place, their memories and familiar turn points as they drove the same streets for years.  Today, they do not even know where they are standing in front of what used to be a house.  There are no familiar landmarks on which to lean and position thinking.  They lost their lives.  Yes, they may be physically alive.  But they lost their lives.  The death count is not 91. The death count is uncountable.

Gain a Future: Now this morning they must start the work of gaining the future.  The future must be grasped and brought into reality.  That is not easy and will take many friends.

Every morning, I enter a strange new land of new friendships and new relationships.  What took a lifetime to build takes another lifetime to build.  I don’t have another lifetime. Do I?

Build:

Can God build a lifetime in a few months?  Yes.

Can God restore fortunes that took decades of labor and saving in a few weeks?  Yes.

Can God bring new friendships and loving relationships? Yes.

Does that replace what we have lost?  No.

You may lose a life.  But, you may gain a future.

What is lost is lost.  A new friendship does not replace an old one. The old one lingers in memory and mixed emotions.  It is not meant to be replaced.  A future must be grasped.

Grief Changes You: Many times I tell friends in grief, “You do not pass through grief.  It changes you.  The pain of loss only begins to heal when you can see the future without what you have lost.  You must be able to grasp a vision of the future without that person or item in it.  Allow grief to change you.  You become a different person.”

Grief comes in waves.  It can be too painful to process at once.  Tsunami grief can strangle a future and lock us in pain.  Ride the waves and grow stronger.  So how does one handle massive and complicated and expansive loss?  A week and even an entire month passes and I can’t even remember all that happened.  Pain dulls the senses.

Change: I really don’t have the answer, because I am being changed into this future person.  He is different than the old man and in some ways the same.  We are human beings.  We are humans being.   It is the business of being that consumes us, morphs us, moves us, changes us and passes us through life and death, through coming and passing.

There is nothing ugly or evil about living and dying.  It is what it is. The normalcy of it can be called evil.

Defiant: In Oklahoma, we laugh about our defiant men, who when tornados come, run outside to watch.  With hubris, we look up in the fearsome clouds and talk to them.  “Move on”, we declare.  “Get out of my neighborhood.”  And, most times, it seems to work.  We go back to our homes where wife and kids are huddled under the stair well or in the bath tub or down in a safe room and say, “See, it is all gone, come out now.” Our defiance of evil pushes it aside.  Yet, sometimes it does not work and we have no answers for that day.  But, we will defiantly and resolutely stand in the face of such evil again and again and grasp our future. We are made of sterner stuff, we are the Oklahoma Standard.

Pain: It does not mean the pain subsides with a flippant face.  It means we must grasp the future with pain in tow.

Attitude: It does not mean the loss is lessened with a conquering attitude.  It means living in loss is unacceptable if you want to stay alive.

Another: Another loss is coming.  Another gain is coming.  Life is about the living through comings and goings.

So  let us pray!

Father, You are the God of the Future.  Every morning is new with You.  Every grace comes fresh with the rising of the sun and the changes of our lives.  You do not view death as final but You view death as entry to the next opportunity for life.  In You, we never die.  In You, we continue.  We move forward.  We change.  We are changed.  In You, we can live and move and have our being.  No matter the pain or problem or pressure.  In You is all we need. 

When a piece dies and goes on, we are still ready for the next living breath and living moment.  Death, where is your sting?  Grave, where is your victory.  We continue into the future in Christ.

Father, I pray those around me find this reality.  Without You all is death.  With You all is alive into the next moment.  You have no end.  Those in You have no end.

Show us.  Let us grieve into becoming our next self and next victory.  Let us die to the old and live to the new.  In You.

Community Transformation Initiative

Champion Fathers Tourney and Luncheon