Two-Part Life Plan – #SOSSaturday

Draw me after you and let us run together! Song of Songs 1:4

Our young lady has boiled her life plan down into two simple priorities.

She is not looking for riches.

She is not looking for fame.

Just 2 things – Draw me and we will run.

Draw me into your everlasting everloving arms of intimacy and we will run together in a life of ministry.

Have you ever run into a new believer, and been moved by their fresh passion. As we discussed last week, we sometimes mistakenly thrust them directly into the work of the ministry only to see their passion fade and their disciple wane.

OR

Have you seen a young and passionate Christian sign up for Bible School and then Seminary, where they are taught all the how-tos of ministry; how to craft a sermon, how to develop a vision, how to plant a church – all of it great information. But all too often these young recruits for God’s army have lost their focus, their passion, their simple priorities.

I am convinced that much of what turns out as burnout, is due to our upside down system of preparation for ministry.

Why does this happen?

It is because we get the cart before the horse. A carefully and fully developed life of intimacy is the first ingredient to an enduring life of ministry. [Tweet This]

Have you found that sometimes you get the cart before the horse?

There is good news. It is never too late to go back to step one. I don’t care if you have been in ministry for 40 years, or if you just met Christ this morning. It is never too late to press into more of Him.

cropped-BenHeadshotThank you for stopping by today.

See you again soon!

Ben

Heavenly Words

I was reading the first verse of the gospel of John today and a thought hit me.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. – John 1:1

I’ve actually been mulling around the edges of it for a week since I read about Paul’s visit to heaven in 2 Corinthians 12.

There are lots of books out there these days about “my visit to heaven.” Some folks see mansions, some climb up in Jesus’ lap. Honestly, I don’t really know what folks have seen or heard in heaven, and I’m not sure what to do with any of that, if you get my drift.

So I had a heart attack a few weeks back on the 4th of July. I was dead for a minute or so. I got nothing–no visit to heavenno don’t bring me back mama–no white light. In fact, I don’t remember anything at all until the next day.

Back to Paul’s visit. He spent some time in heaven, but what overwhelmed Him?

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago–whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows–such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man–whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows– – 2 Corinthians 12:2-3

Wait for it–what blew Paul away about heaven? It wasn’t streets of gold or angelic choirs. It was the words!

…was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. – 2 Corinthians 12:4

Words fill heaven! Revelations so great, so amazing, it would break the mortal world to speak them here on this terrestrial plane.

We get tired of words. We wish the preacher would shut up. We take it as a chore to read a chapter or two in the Bible as though it was a price to pay for being a Christian. The fact is we just don’t get it.

In the beginning, the very beginning the Word is all that there was. Let me say it again – only the Word existed. The Word was God!

Remember what Jesus said about His words?

“the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. – John 6:63

He also told us this about God.

“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4:24

We know Jesus is the Word made flesh. He is God, in flesh. He is the Word of God. He is the Revelation of God. He is the Words that are so glorious–so beyond–that it’s not lawful to speak in their fullness here and now.

Sometimes I think I know Jesus. Then He shows me how little I know of Him. There is so much more of Him. His glory covers the earth, but that’s small potatoes.

The great wonder of heaven is not a big house with a yard where we can play football. The great wonder of heaven is the full revelation of Jesus.

And it’s going to take us all eternity to discover Him in His fullness.

John tells us one more thing.

… we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. – 1 John 3:2

Throughout eternity we will discover Him, and as we discover Him we will be conformed further and further into His image.

It’s really not about the stuff.

Just like all of life, it’s about Him–Jesus!

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for reading,

See you again soon,

Ben

Mercy not Sacrifice

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. ~ Matthew 5:7

Oh, how we need to hear this! After taking a big step up this stairway to heaven and stirring up a hunger and thirst for righteousness, what do you know, my spirit gets all, well, judgmental! I am a wreck. The more I see Jesus, the more I am amazed. Here is the One who never – ever – no never darkened a commandment with the slightest nod, but does He get all stirred up about sinners and their sin? Nope! He has lunch with harlots and protects the virtue of an adulteress. He goes out to dinner with the drunkards and hangs out with the worst vermin of all, tax collectors.

We have to get this. Have you ever used the line – I love the sinner but hate their sin? Are you aware that there is no chapter and verse for that? I have heard this used as an excuse for hate on more occasions than you can image.

If I am brutally honest with myself I wonder if I would have been the Pharisee in Jesus’ day. Is He talking to me when He says:

“But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Matthew 9:13

Have you read in Paul’s second letter to Corinth where he tells them (us):

…God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them… – 2 Corinthians 5:19

Do you read this the way I have for decades, “God is not counting Christian’s sins against them?” That’s not what it says. If He did we are all without hope.

God is not counting anyone’s sins against them today! Today is the day of mercy and the day that grace is available!

A quick comment about the difference:

Mercy is the fact that God is not counting your sin against you. This is currently true for all men. You will have to give an account on the last day, but today, there is nothing keeping you from approaching God.

Grace, on the other hand, is the free offer of righteousness that is extended to every man. It must be accepted and received.

So here is the deal, and it’s pretty straight up here. If you expect to receive mercy on any level, give it in the same measure your hoping to receive. In this moment of grace, don’t impose condemnation where God does not.

In the meantime, we must keep up our pursuit of integrity, our submission to God’s voice, our honesty with God about our failings, and our humble spirit. WOW! These beatitudes are not just kid stuff, are they?

BenHeadshotThanks for stopping in.

There’s a lot more ahead. Don’t miss it!

Ben

AN ORDINARY DOCTOR’S APPOINTMENT

– A day in the life of the women with the issue of blood

AN ORDINARY DAY MEETS A DIVINE INTERRUPTION – Part 2

In the story of the women with the issue of blood, we find a nameless and anonymous woman who has struggled with a serious condition for 12 years of her life. She searched for many years for help, even using her life savings but to no avail. This day for her probably began just like all the other days prior, seeking for a cure to her illness.

I gather she was on her way to a doctors appointment when suddenly, on her road there, she hears a commotion and sees a mass of people gathered just ahead. By the voices crying out from the crowd she now knows why they were there. Jesus is in the midst and walking on an intersecting road to hers. Suddenly she feels a stirring in her spirit and knows instantly why SHE WAS THERE! In her mind, she tells herself that she needed to cancel her previous doctor’ appointment and go directly to this man they call a healer.

Despite her condition and the laws that hindered her, she pushed through the crowd touched the robe of the newfound physician and her faith made her whole. Her ordinary day was met with a divine interruption. The Lord has used this nameless women’s testimony to resonate through history and encourage countless generations.

Whether it’s God that interrupts your day or something you do by faith that changes the course of your day; God will meet you on that road to your purpose. For those who have come upon a wall on the road to your healing, I say to continue to push through and reach out by faith for your healing today. Your divine interruption awaits!

_5__Steven_Gomez_-_Married_Michele_GomezSteven Gomez

Intimacy and Productivity #SOSSaturday

Draw me after you and let us run together! (Song of Songs 1:4)

Let me start with the idea that our Maiden’s heart cry has 2 parts. I long to be with you in intimacy (“Draw me”) and we will work together in ministry (“let us run.”)

But there are times when we mess this up in the church.

Have you ever seen this happen?

A young man or woman is wonderfully touched by the awesome love of the Savior and begins to come to church. They are so completely engrossed with worship and would do anything for the object of their love.

They so want to please the Lord that they “report for duty.” They volunteer for everything. They are there every time the church opens its doors.

We put them to work gladly, and work they do, but soon the zeal begins to fade.

But WHY?

I believe we have shut down a critical area of the Lord’s work in a life. We do this all too often.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’ve been in church leadership, and I know all too well that getting people involved can be a challenge, and getting folks to chip in and join the workforce is not easy.

By the same token, we are going to see in graphic detail how in the life of the Shulamite, in these next couple chapters, this strategy did not work out too well.

Here’s the thing.

In God’s economy Intimacy begets Productivity, but there is a gestation period. We understand this in life!

A fruitful life is intended to flow out of intimacy.

Infatuation
Passion
Intimacy
Gestation
Birth
Productivity

And this is the pattern for a healthy, burnout proof, long life of ministry. We must not short circuit the romance phase.

When we push people into ministry too soon, we can inhibit their ability to continue to return to intimacy, and they will face burnout. Intimacy is where we are refreshed, and when we elevate ministry over life worship, we can cripple the ability of our ministers to be refreshed and refueled.

We must also be careful not to judge others by the season we are in. We may be in a season of worship, and we can look at the worker-bees and think – they just don’t get it, while at the same time the worker-bees are thinking that the worshipers are no earthly good.

Both Wong–God’s work in us takes time, and seasons are the way He works.

cropped-BenHeadshotI hope this helps

See you next week

Ben

Satisfy Your Deepest Longings!

for they shall be completely satisfied. ~ Matthew 5:6 AMP

I love that the Amplified Bible has it this way “completely satisfied.” Not just, satisfied, not just, they will get what they are hungering after and thirsting for, but they will be completely satisfied. The world preaches that satisfaction comes from evil hungers and desires, but Jesus says, if you hunger for righteousness, you will be satisfied in every area of your life.

It is funny how hard we try to hold onto some of our old stuff, habits, sins, etc. Many a man has stayed away from God for a time, because he did not want to give up some secret sin, and knew that God would never allow it. But the truth is that God invented pleasure, and really knows how to make it work.

David said:

Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; In Thy presence is fullness of joy; In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever. ~ Psalm 16:11

Heaven is a place of complete pleasure like you have never experienced or even imagined. God completely gets you and knows exactly how to satisfy your desires.

During a study of the Song of Solomon, I read the book ‘Seven Longings of the Human Heart’ by Mike Bickle and Deborah Hiebert. These longings are not sin and are not to be repented of. They are not even part of our sin nature. These are all God designed longings and appetites that each of us must manage. We must discover God’s intended means of fulfillment. Bickle details these seven longings, which he says every human has.

» A longing to be fascinated
» A longing to possess and feel beautiful
» A longing to be great and successful
» A longing to know intimacy without shame
» A longing for assurance of being enjoyed
» A longing to be wholehearted and passionate
» A longing to make deep and lasting impact

These longings are often satisfied in unholy ways causing guilt and separation from God and from one another. These unholy actions need to be dealt with specifically in repentance. 2 Corinthians 7:10-11 holds the process of repentance in detail. For a review of the process of repentance, take a look back at “Repentance – the path to Comfort.”

However, because there are so many ways to fulfill these longings that are not glorifying to God, it is easy for us to despise the very longings themselves because we are stuck in a pattern of sin trying to satisfy these God-given needs. Rather than managing them, and directing them with godly wisdom and the Word of God, we try to get free from them or to suppress them. A ‘longing to be great’ can look a lot like pride, and we could try to suppress that drive for greatness that God has put in our soul. Instead, we should look to the Lord for instruction. When the disciples were arguing over who was the greatest, Jesus did not rebuke them but rather pointed them in the right direction, humility, the classic upside-down strategy for Kingdom greatness.

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for coming by today.

More to follow,

Ben

Seven Longings of the Human Heart, by Mike Bickle and Deborah Hiebert.

AN ORDINARY DAY OF TRAVELING – A day in the life of Paul

AN ORDINARY DAY MEETS A DIVINE INTERRUPTION. – Part 1


Over the next several weeks I’m going to repost a series of messages written by my friend Steven Gomez. These were first posted on his facebook page, and I asked his permission to share them here. His heart is to let each of us know that God uses ordinary people doing ordinary things for extraordinary purposes. Know this–God can use you!

Enjoy!


A new day in the life of the Apostle Paul began on the road to Damascus. A divine encounter with the Lord changed his intentions, perception, and heart forever; his life was never the same thereafter. We all need a Damascus road. What’s yours?

If you have not yet had a Damascus road experience get ready because the Lord is going to interrupt your ORDINARY DAY with a visitation. No matter where you’re heading he will find you, meet with you, and deposit life-changing words into your soul. Get ready to hear His voice on your road today.

Your ordinary day will turn extraordinary through a divine interruption. The Lord will even use a simple ordinary connection with someone; maybe even a stranger, to bring you closer to him and his purpose for you. Be watchful today! Your divine interruption draws near.

_5__Steven_Gomez_-_Married_Michele_Gomez
– Steven Gomez

Read the account of Paul’s divine interruption in Acts 9:1-19

Builder Of All Things

What we know about God we learned through His name. If you’ve been around me for any length of time, you’ve probably heard me go off on the names of God and how His nature and character are revealed to us through them.

In Hebrews 3 we come across another one of these name-lessons, one I’ve never heard mentioned before.

…but the builder of all things is God. – Hebrews 3:4

Can I turn it around and say, Jehovah–Builder Of All Things? Maybe not exactly, but you get my drift.

The prior verse shows us that Moses is a house that Jesus built –

For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. – Hebrews 3:3

This feeds into one of my other passions–Jesus’ construction projects–you and me.

Jesus, raised and trained by a carpenter (how fitting) goes to the cross to prepare a place for us. That place is a home we will share with the builder Himself, the Great Carpenter, the Builder of all Things! (John 14:2,23)

This dwelling place He builds for us, is masterfully made to be part of something much larger, much grander. It’s a temple whose glory outshines even Solomon’s great masterpiece.

We forget this on a day to day basis. We let our eye slip from the realization that we are the habitation of the Most High God. The source of all life lives in us. The Hope of the Nations sits in your living room and comforts you. The Great Provider provisions your pantry. The One who said come to Me and I will give you rest sleeps in the bed beside you. The One willing to help you with that plank in your eye looks over your shoulder in your mirror. The One who enabled some fishermen to retire and go into full-time ministry through one afternoon fishing trip goes with you to cash your paycheck.

Builder of all things – such as…

Your gifts and talents.
Your calling.
Your future.

Builder of all things – hmmm.

This requires some pondering.

BenHeadshotThanks for coming by.

Walk with Jesus today,

Ben

Have you missed any of my musings on Hebrews? You can catch up here.

The Maidens #SoSSaturday

Therefore the maidens love you. (Song of Songs 1:3 NASB)

Who are these maidens?

In the Song of Songs, they come up from time to time. They act as the Chorus in a Greek play might, taking on many roles.

When they are referred to as the maidens or virgins, we will take them to be those who have not yet begun to passionately pursue Christ.

Can you make that a little plainer, Ben?

Ok – how about this? These are fellow believers who look at your passion for the Lord and think you are just a bit unbalanced. When they observe your worship, sometimes they think, “I wish I loved God like that,” and sometimes they say to themselves, “Well, he doesn’t have to make a fool of himself, does he?”

You know these people. They do love God, and there is some level where they wish they had your passion and your zeal.

They are in a different place in their walk with the Lord today, but one day soon, they may find themselves calling out to the Saviour “Kiss me with the kisses of your mouth” along with you.

If as you read this, you find yourself among the maidens–looking askance at our passion wasted Shulamite–know this, you can have this passion too. Paul told Timothy to stir up the gift that was given to him.

If you are a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit living inside you, then let me tell you this. The Holy Spirit is head over heels in love with Jesus, and if you allow yourself to be moved, you will be too.

BenHeadshotGo for it!

Thanks for stopping in this week. Come back next week when we look at the Shulamite’s 2 part life cry.

Ben

Completely Satisfied!

for they shall be completely satisfied. ~ Matthew 5:6 AMP

Wait! This can’t be right. Do you believe this? Is it true? Or is Jesus telling us a little white lie to try to motivate us to be good? Does true satisfaction really come from the pursuit of righteousness?

All our lives we are told that the best way to enjoy life is to live on the edge, to walk the fine line between good and bad. This is nothing new either. Generation after generation, it takes different forms, but we live surrounded by the message that a little compromise and a touch of naughty will bring happiness into our lives.

The American culture teaches us that when someone is stressed or grumpy, they just need a little sex and they will relax a bit. When someone has a hard day they need a drink to take the edge off. If you have to meet a budget, a little lying or cheating will go a long way to solving your problems. Satisfaction is just a compromise away.

It’s a lie!

I said, “it’s a lie!

And this lie has worked for thousands of years. In fact, the serpent used this same lie to trick Eve in the garden. God is keeping His best away from you. He wants you to go through life missing out on all the fun, and always just a little frustrated.

This same serpent is the thief that Jesus tells us has come to “steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10) His lies have separated us from satisfaction. In fact this very lie leaves us unsatisfied and distracted from the source of true happiness and real joy. How could we be so foolish, believing this liar! Jesus promised us “abundant life,” not an average, boring, prudish and disappointing life.

Here is the thing. As I sit here writing this, God is bringing to my mind stuff that needs to be done with more integrity in my life. He is asking me if I believe Him, or if I am going to keep on living a compromised, unsatisfied life.

Now you decide, is Jesus telling us the truth? Is it true that complete satisfaction comes from pursuing righteousness? Or is this religious speak intended to manipulate the masses into obedience? Is there actually blessing, happiness and joy in living your life for God? If what Jesus says is true, aren’t we effectively robbing God of that which He purchased when we live in compromise?

Can you quiet yourself and listen for the voice of God as you read this. If you don’t have time right now, plan some time to mull, to consider. If you are like me, right now you are saying, oh, sister so-and-so could use this, or brother what’s-his-name could sure use some integrity. Yep, I thought about brother what’s-his-name, I admit it. But YOU need God’s voice in your life today, and so do I. Get quiet and ask Him this: Am I stealing myself back from You by my lack of integrity? (ouch)

Lord, have mercy–forgive–and empower us to walk in pursuit of righteousness today.

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for stopping in.

Love you,

Ben