He Gets You!

Dear friend, you are on my heart this morning as I pray through Psalm 73. In this psalm, Asaph struggles to understand how those that ignore God prosper while some who diligently pursue Him struggle. In verse 21 there is an angst recorded. Maybe you’ve been here. I’ll write it out in my style.

My heart grieves. My mind is distraught and confused. So disturbing is this moment, I thrash and yell like a caged animal looking for a way out. I pace and banter within my own mind. I just don’t get it. But I never quit looking to You. Somehow, I know You will get me through this moment. I’ll get it. I just have to stay with You. I’ll get it. You will get me there. You will get me where I need to go.

Really, where else would I go. Who do I have in heaven except You? Is there anyone on this planet to whom I could turn besides You? You are my strength, redeemer, friend, confidant, power, enablement, and friend. You get me when no one else gets me. You get it. You will get me there. You will get me where I need to go.

When I fail and question and just sit back and think about it, where could I go? And right now, I am tired. My mind and will and emotions are spent. You are my strength, my peace, my portion, my life, and the end of every search. You get it. You get me. You will get me there. You will get me where I need to go.
In the end of it all, I will find myself next to You and You next to me and that is really all I need.
So I pray this morning, friend, that you get it. If there is an angst you don’t understand, I pray you thrash it out with an understanding God. He’ll get you there. He gets you.

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Meet Jesus: Secretly Open

Matthew 6: 1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly  

5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly

 Jesus is secretly open.  What He does in secret, He does not to hide, but not to bring attention.  It isn’t that He is trying to be secret.  He just is not interested in men’s approvals and accolades.  He is interested in His Father’s approval and His Father’s will being done in secret.  It is for our example not our preoccupation.

Self Promotion? The right thing just seemed so obvious to Greg.  Why did others not see what needed to be done?  Over and over he worked to convince other managers of the prudence of his actions on the project.  They just kept acting like he was promoting himself and his team.  That was not the point at all.  He just wanted to see the company advanced and his team had the best opportunity to take it on this project.  Greg mulled over his options with the team.  Finally, they concluded they just needed to act and not talk about it anymore.  Just get the job done, they decided.

ACT! Take inventory of your “good works.”  Are they done for the Father and for example to provoke others?  Are they done to be noticed?

PRAY!  Father, increase in me attention to Your will and ways.  Let me concentrate on the private days of my life and the private  moments of my days.  Let me excell in secret that exposure of my life would only reveal Your activity.

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

Journey Through Self: Nesting In Who I Am.

477323_4775650149056_1095401088_oPsalm 84:1-4

How lovely is Your tabernacle,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young—
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You. Selah

This Dove and Me.

This dove gives me pause for reflection.  Well, much of life gives me pause for reflection.    A friend asked yesterday, “Phil, what are you doing for a living?”  Whew.  Surviving was the answer in my heart.  My answer surprised me.  Quick gut answers in the middle of a challenge reveal a lot.  I’ll get to the answer in a minute.

Back to This Dove.  This Dove showed up in a flower pot on our front porch.  My wife and I took a few days away at the lake cabin.  When we came back, This Dove had build a nest, laid an egg (now two), and taken possession of the front porch.  Being the kind soul that she is, my wife has blocked the front walk and given the entrance to the house to This Dove.  I get the back door and walk around the house.  This Dove has disrupted my life.  How dare she be who she is.

She is just This Dove being a dove bringing more doves into this world.  I like that. She is purposeful without having a little goals card in her wallet.  She is purposeful without going to twenty seminars.  She is purposeful in just being who she is, This Dove.

Now, my answer to my millionaire business friend was this.  “I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do.  I’m helping fatherless fathers be good fathers.  I’m helping unfathered kids get a better dad.   That is my heart and my passion and that is what I am doing.  I believe people will see that and support as I need.”  Silence.

Maybe he wanted me to come back with some sideline business proposition to reduce his credit card charges or shipping improvement or business development or marketing proposal.  Many do. They want me to sell them some service in order to support.  When I sell the service, I quit being This Dove.  I can do that, but then I’m not This Dove, I’m This Dove with a dark suit.  My light grey beautiful feathers become sullied and indistinguishable. That means leaving the flower pot and the two eggs and hoping they will survive on their own.

Some days we need to just be This Dove.  Take up residence in a flower pot on a porch.  Nestle in the arms of a loving God, who created me to be me.  Be who I am and trust that He will let me rest on His most holy altar just like I let This Dove take over my porch and my front door.  He will comfort me.  He will provide.  He will let me be This Dove.

So, This Dove is going to work on bringing healthy, dedicated men into two elementary schools where the kids are 95% unfathered.  This Dove is going to work on having a catalyst weekend in a community of 80% fatherless homes in June.   This Dove is just going to build the nest in the most unlikely places and trust a good God will let me have some space on His altar at His temple of love and helping others.

Psalm 84:1-4

How lovely is Your tabernacle,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

 Even This Dove, me in who I am, has found a home,
And This Dove, me in who I am,  a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young and fulfill her life’s purpose simply—
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house of acceptance and allowance and support;
They will still be praising You. Selah

Meet Jesus: Peacemaker Matthew 5:9

Matthew 5: 1: And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, ….. 9: Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 

Peace is tough to produce. In a world of accusations and self seeking, most want to know quickly, “What’s in it for me?”. That rarely leads to peace. But, we can have peace both inside and out. It takes work.

Nothing soothes the soul like peace. One who makes peace is always welcome. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He will keep you in perfect peace if you stay your mind on him. With prayer, you can ensure your heart and mind are guarded by peace. He is a Shepherd of still waters and quiet resting places. He is peace. These are all promises. And they take work.

Following Him in the peacemaking business will grant you “child of God” status. Hmmmm.. Others are impressed, when you lead to peace what is a troubled situation. Others are impacted when you take a conflict and bring it to resolution. Peace or conflict affects so many people around you that everyone notices the peacemaker. They like to be treated with a peacemaking mentality. People just love it. They will call you a child of God, they love it so much.

The normal way of making peace in organizations is to eliminate one of the parties. Now that is not conflict resolution. Neither is separating them a resolution. That is not peace but tolerance for war and selfishness. Real peace brings the parties together. That is a tougher way of resolution, but the best.

At first peace must be found internally. Our own angsts have to be quiesced. When we are struggling inside, it can be impossible to be at peace with others. The pain just keeps erupting into conversations and communications.

A friend walked into a hectic computer facility some years ago. As he recounts the story, another worker looked straight at him and commented on his peaceful attitude. He laughed. He had felt anything but peaceful. Problems had been growing in number and impact on the company. The constant push and pull had wearied him. Yet, the other person saw was peace. Yes, he had helped many others resolve conflicts. Yes, he tried to put it all on God instead of carrying it. It just made him laugh to think that they saw peace and he felt turmoil. The work of peace in him and on him from the Father amazed him. It was impacting others and he did not realize that fact.
No slick answers here. Just a reminder that peace is work the work. There are promises from the Prince of Peace that He can make it work in you and out of you. Let Him. Work on it.

ACT! Do you make peace with yourself? Do you make peace with others? Do you make peace for others? Think about a situation with strain exists. Don’t pick a conflict, just a strained issue. Take time to speak some encouragement and confidence to the other person before conflict develops.

PRAY! Father, my heart wants to live like You. Being Your child is all I want. Help me follow the paths of peace to be called a child of God. Embrace my heart with peace from the Lord of Peace. Collapse my self-made bubbles and pride with peace in the midst of self-created conflicts. Show me a strain so I can apply the balm of Gilead in peace and encouragement. Peacemakers have smoother days. Let me have it.

Meet Jesus: Mercied Matthew 5:7

Matthew 5: 1: And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, ….. 7: Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

 Mercy interests me.  I need a lot of mercy.  All of us do.  So what is mercy?

Mercy is acceptance in spite of my pain and problems and persistent pressures.

Mercy is being received by others regardless.

Mercy is not receiving bad results from bad actions.

Mercy is having a friend I just offended do an act of kindness for me.

Mercy is having my punishment revoked and let go free.

Mercy is someone loving me even when I continually hurt them.

Mercy is good.  It is kind.  It is abundant in Jesus.  He is full of mercy.

When mercy comes to us through others around us, we want to give it back to them.   A merciful person receives mercy from others.

When mercy is held back in a needful situation, we are deeply wounded.  We can decide to respond with mercy and protect our soul.

A really painful act with no mercy was dumped on me last year.  Really, it has taken me many months of pain and speaking blessing and forgiveness over the offenders to even have a day with rest.  The pain of a merciless act can dig deep into our soul.  This one did.  I won’t recant the actions.  They were disloyal, unfaithful, dishonest, and lacked any small amount of mercy.

Yet, I can apply mercy.  It has taken much of my emotional investment and trust in God’s protection for the future of my family, but He is giving me the smile of mercy for these that were unmerciful.  My joy is more certain and more consistent.  The wound of a friend goes deep.  These were friends.  Really, they were friends turned sour.  An unmerciful act of an enemy is expected.  But, a friend of over a decade is not expected to act such a way.

The great news is that we can take from our storehouse of mercy received over life and apply to the ugliest of situations and offenses.  We can dispense mercy in the face of evil and keep the light in our countenance.  Mercy has power.  Mercy received or mercy given  is healing.

ACT!  Mercy is learned by example.  Who around you is always taking care of others even when others take advantage of them?  You think about it and wonder if the person is all connected upstairs.  Why do they keep putting themselves at such risk?  Go spend some time with that person.  Learn from them. 

PRAY!   Father, I hunger for my family to be complete in You.  That is my hunger.  I wish to see all my friends connected to Christ.  There will never be a total satisfaction in me, Father, until I see my community committed to living fully in You and by character and moral principles revealed in Your word.  Satisfy my soul, Lord.  Show me a way to advance the righteousness of the kingdom in my family and friends and community this week.  Don’t let me sit on the sidelines.  Launch me into action.