A hodge-podge of late night ponderings

You ever have one of those nights where you can’t sleep because you feel like God is on the prowl?

I’m having one of those nights, so I decided to log some of my thoughts. Maybe it’ll tire me out so that I can sleep afterwards. ;)

Uncovering a core value

Every now and then I wonder what my “Jesus core values are.” The things I would try and consistently impart to others. As an intern, I know Pastor Stovall consistently stressed the importance of not being offended and submitting to authority.

So those seem to be core values of Pastor Stovall.

For the sake of God’s purposes, advancing the Kingdom, reaching out to the lost, etc., you can never die to self or sacrifice enough.

I think that is one of my core values.

The natural is just not good enough

You can only get so far in the natural. You can only get so far with a well articulated and organized email with a specific call to action. You can only get so far.

The rest of the way requires some supernatural intervention. It requires God to come in and work his mojo. Maybe that’s why God asks us to pray. We can only do so much with our own hands.

To all my fellow co-laborers

Please don’t ever forget this chapter …

1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

*4 Love is patient, love is kind.* It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. *7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.*

*8 Love never fails.* But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


Initiating Growth Environment, Phase 1

This is a follow-up to my last post talking about ways to ensure continual spiritual growth. In the post, I talked about some big bucket areas that I wanted to check on monthly to ensure I was growing in them.

Along with those buckets, I wanted to look up some memory verses as reference points for my actions during the month.

Here are the buckets/verses I came up with.

Reading/meditating/memorizing the Bible

As I mature in my faith and understanding of God, it’s become more apparent how critical it is that I _saturate_ myself in the Word of God. I’m getting to the point where I feel like it needs to be my #1 spiritual discipline.

I mean, it’s the stinkin’ Word of God in written form. Where else is God’s wisdom, advice and direction going to be more clear? It doesn’t get more burning bush than “Love God, love your neighbor.” Seriously. ;)

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (NIV)
12 And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

Interceding for others

I have a tendency to pray for my issues and my needs _way_ too much. Last I checked, there was only one me and billions of other people. To be fair, it seems like I should probably pray for some of those billions of people a little bit more than I have. ;)

1 Timothy 2:1 (NIV)
1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone

Ability to love people and demonstrate that love

Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34) anybody? We have always got to be growing in our love for God and other people.

Romans 13:8 (NIV)
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

Engaging others about Jesus

I live in a bubble. A gimongous, Christian bubble. It’s time to pop that bubble and get dirty. <– period.

Luke 5:32 (NIV)
32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Confessing sins

This was added after my initial list because it needs to happen. I need to continually be broken before Jesus about all the stuff I’m screwing up.

1 John 1:9 (NIV)
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.


Creating an atmosphere of growth

Last Tuesday, Pastor Paul Scanlon of Abundant Life Ministries came and spoke to the staff at Celebration Church.

It was good stuff.

One of the things he talked about was creating an atmosphere of growth. He used a laptop as an analogy for human tendency. If you let a laptop sit there, it will eventually “go to sleep.” The same goes for us as humans. We naturally tend to maintain the status quo and be lazy.

But use a laptop just a little bit and the possibilities are limitless. Force a human to grow and his/her possibilities are limitless.

So I’ve been thinking about creating an atmosphere of growth in my own spiritual life.

For starters, there are a handful of things I know I need to be consistently growing in regardless of what season or stage in life I’m in.

  • Reading/meditating/memorizing the Bible
  • Praying (not just for my needs, but others as well)
  • Ability to love and show love
  • Being a light to those who don’t know Jesus

Those are the ones I can think of right now. I’m a systems kind of guy, so what I plan on doing is looking up some related scripture, memorizing them and taking a look at my progress on these areas each month.

Let’s call this Phase 1 of creating a growth environment. ;)


Expect more at the line in Wal-Mart

When you’re on the mission field, you expect God to move. All the time and in every little situation. You are more inclined to “go with God” and be open for the tasks and challenges placed before you.

Not so much in the United States. We have 9 to 5 jobs to attend to. Hobbies, friends, sleep to catch up on. Lawns to mow, errands to run.

You find out someone is sick and respond with “I’ll be sure to pray for you.” And you forget. Been there, done that. You’re in Wal-Mart and the line is ridiculously long and not showing any signs of getting shorter any time soon. You get impatient.

In Costa Rica, when we find out someone is sick or has a specific prayer need, it’s like “alright, let’s throw down some prayer and laying of hands right now.”

What? Our plane is delayed because of a watermelon and we have to stay an extra night? God must be doing something. There must be a reason. What? We’re tired and want to go home and have been waiting on the curb for an hour. How about we sing some worship songs while we wait?

How about we go talk to that guy sitting by himself (Leslie) and lead him to Jesus while we’re at it.

At every step of the trip, our eyes were not tuned into our own needs and desires but the needs and desires of God. At every step, the question was not what about me, but what about Jesus? How can we use this situation, whether good or bad, to represent Jesus and bring the love of God into the world?

One of the things I took away from Costa Rica is the understanding that God can and does move in every little situation.

There is a way to bring the Jesus perspective into pretty much every situation. Even here in the United States amidst our “normal” routines. It’s just a matter of consciously being aware of and taking advantage of them. What if we were to pray with people on the spot? Sing worship songs in long lines. Talk to the people in line with us?

There’s too many unsaved people in the world to be ignoring opportunities given to us everyday.


Thank You Giovanni


AngelaFor one of our outreaches, we went into the community of Aurora to pray for people with needs. The first stop was a woman named Angela. <insert prayer requests here>

While we were praying for her, it was easy to see she was overwhelmed by the expression of love from the group.

All 17 of us piled into her house, laid hands on her during prayer and gave her hugs and whatever encouraging Spanish sayings we could muster before leaving.

I think Dios de bendiga (God bless you) was a popular one. ;)


SelenaAfter praying for Angela, the next stop was a women named Serena.

Serena had been bed-ridden for the past five years with complications with her stomach. Again we packed as many people as we could around her bed and began to pray with her.

The presence of God in that room was thick.

But the party only just started. After everyone was done praying, the group started to funnel out of the house. About this time Serena began to speak. Lauren, our translator, said something along the lines of “that’s not Spanish” (i.e. she was speaking in tongues).

For some of our group, it was the first time they had heard anyone speak in tongues and see God manifest himself that way.

That prompted the few left to continue praying for Serena. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the room so I can’t give you any more details. But what I can tell you is that when people walked out of Selena’s house, it was pretty obvious God had wrecked some of our group members through the entire experience. ;)

Thank You Giovanni

GiovanniThe reason we knew about Angela and Serena was because people in their neighborhood knew they were in need and could use some prayer. After we had prayed for Angela, a boy named Giovanni said he knew of another woman who needed prayer. This woman ended up being Serena.

After all this went down, I couldn’t help but think of Duke’s talk about knowing your neighbor.

We found out from Serena’s daughter that it had been a long time since anyone had last came to visit or pray for Serena. But here was this boy Giovanni who knew her, knew where she lived and knew her specific need.

Because of that, we were able to see God move in a powerful way. Both through Serena and in our own personal lives.

As Susannah shared one morning, it’s the power of God through simplicity.

I know your name. I know your needs. I’m going to meet it.