… the thoughts from a life in the Son-shine State

I am now in a new demographic.

As my 32 birthday quickly approaches, I have been reminiscing on the goodness of God and how different my life is now than I could have ever imagined.

This nostalgia is not because I feel as though I am getting old, but it is because when I was 15 something happened to me. Twenty two days before my Sweet Sixteen, I was radically transformed by the power of God in the fires of revival.

Each year that passes, I can’t help but reflect on how my life has been more than I could ever have imagined.

This year is special.

Just yesterday, I had the honor of meeting for the first time the man that was preaching the night I was saved. His name is Steve Hill, and one thing I have desired for some time is to simply shake his hand and say, “Thank you… thank for you for being obedient and preaching the Gospel.”

Me with Steve Hill

[I always try to be careful when I talk about this, because there are other people that played a HUGE role in my life as a young believer. For example, there is Mike Montag. Mike was the Youth Pastor at South Attleboro Assembly of God, is truly a humble and faithful man of God, and was my first mentor. He discipled me in many areas of life, and was crucial in forming my life as a teenager.]

This opportunity to sit and talk to Steve Hill landed right between my spiritual birthday and my biological birthday; which this year is significant. (Have I mentioned that yet?)

So, why is this significant? What new demographic do I now fit into?

I was born March 13, 1981.
I was born-again February 19, 1997.
I am turning 32 on March 13, 2013.
This means I have now, officially, been a born-again Christian for more than half of my life.

For many people this may seem insignificant; but to know how screwed up my life was, how bent I was for hell, and how my life was on a serious downward spiral, this is a testament to how amazing God is!

His grace continues to blow me away!

I spent a half hour this morning just crying as I thanked God for His faithfulness.

I really feel as though I have entered a new season of my life. There are things I feel as though God has been speaking to me and showing me… I have been having dreams, and am experiencing many “divine connections” with individuals in the city and in ministry.

I don’t know all that God has in store, but I am excited!

I have been given a birthday gift that I feel perfectly commemorates this unique time in my life—The Revival Study Bible.

The Revival Study Bible

With my rebirth having been forged in the flames of revival, and Steve Hill being the general editor, to me this is a special sword that will be used to fight many spiritual battles in the years to come.

Thanks to everyone that have been a part of my life, and I pray that we see greater things to come!

ONWARD!!!

Steve

It will be messy.

Many churches, when starting out, experience an initial rapid growth in attendance. Some refer to this as a “swell,” and not true growth. Most often it’s attributed to Christians that are unhappy with their current church and are looking for something new.

Real growth happens, not when a community simply gains people that are already followers of Christ, but when they start reaping a harvest of seeds sown in fertile soil.

This requires something many Christians don’t enjoy—finding good soil.

In his book Organic Church, Neil Cole reminds us that “bad people make good soil—there’s a lot of fertilizer in their lives.”

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The more messed up we are, the more manure we find ourselves standing in; and as a result our lives become very fertile for the seeds of the Gospel to take root. (Encouraging, isn’t it?!)

Don’t go looking for the people that have it all together. Find the fertile soil… it’s ready for seeds of Life to take root!

Sniffing-out fertile soil…

Steve

Wrong focus?

Sowing Seeds

The Apostle Paul reminds us that God is responsible for the growth of the seed of the Gospel in people’s lives.

It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.
1 Cor 3:7

Neil Cole, in his book Organic Church, points out the over-emphasis on growth in today’s Church at the expense of sowing seeds and reaping the harvest.

Marketing and business guru Seth Godin reminds us today of the importance of planting and harvesting (even outside the context of the Church).
Read Seth’s post Planting, harvesting and your fair share.

As you read Seth’s post, you may notice that even he says nothing about the growth process. Interesting.

Where should churches spend the majority of their time, energy and money? In growing our church attendance, growing families, growing our worship team, growing our bottom line, growing our influence, growing… growing… growing…? Or maybe in planting and harvesting, relinquishing the responsibility of growth (which was never our to begin with)?

Food for thought this Monday.

If we were all like me…

… would that be good?

What if we were all like you?

What if we were all like Jesus?

Most people I meet want to have an impact on those around them.

At least, we should desire to have an impact…
and hopefully a positive one.

The trouble is, we often attempt this our own way.
We do what we think is important, and in return seek recognition for the great job we did, or impact we had.

What we need to be doing instead is asking the Holy Spirit to leads into the life of impact that will matter in light of eternity, and that God will receive the glory for it.

Francis Chan, in his book Forgotten God, has some challenging words for us regarding this truth:

How would you be missed if you left [the place God has called you to]? What would change? Basically, what difference does your presence here make? … What would your church (and the world-wide Church) look like if everyone were as committed as you are? If everyone gave and served and prayed exactly like you, would the church be healthy and empowered? Or would it be weak and listless?

Ouch!
Tough words from our fiend Mr. Chan…

Much work to be done in my heart, and then lived out in my life.

Holy Spirit… HELP!

Approval

Today, don’t live for the approval of others. Live for the approval of One—your Heavenly Father.

Common practice does not always mean right practice.

Need instruction? Open the Bible. His Word will guide you in living a life that honors God.

Whether it’s in what to eat, how to dress, what to say (or not say), relationships, raising children, entertainment… It’s there.

Don’t believe me? Google it.

A shout out…

This one goes out to the heresy police.
(You know, the ones who feel the God-ordained mission to point out all the “false teachers” out there, instead of just living out the gospel and discipling others in the truth.)

It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives… But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice.
(Phil. 1:15, 18 NLT)

In the world of the Internet, there are so many “experts” today.

It seems as though technology and social media has made everyone a political analyst, theologian, sports commentator, photographer, journalist… the list could go on.

No one is short of opinions (and this includes me).

This is one of the reasons why, apart from my resolution to be changed by the Holy Spirit, my only other resolution was to do everything in my strength to not get involved in political commentary on social media.

There is a very wise man of God that has invested in my life… one thing he would often say is, “Unless you are next in line for the position, your opinion doesn’t matter.

There are too many pew-warmers that have opted to use Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere as their platforms for proclaiming to the 50 people that read their updates their displeasure with Mr. Christian Public Figure… and how he is a heretic… and how she has lost her way, and is leading the flock astray…

And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. (Matthew 12:36 NLT)

This passage scares the crap out of me.

You could even say this blog is hypocritical.

Honestly, I pray that this is something that encourages you. My desire is to motivate you to acts of love and good works, just as I was urged to do more times than I could count in this same area.

If there is something that really upsets you about a public figure, maybe the Holy Spirit is moving your heart to pray for them. But, please be careful when taking the seat of judgement.

If I’m busy doing what God has called me to do, I probably wouldn’t have the time to be so concerned with what everyone else is doing.

Not that I should be ignorant, but in the end, I simply answer for what I did, said, taught, etc… No one else.

Let’s rejoice in the good God is doing, not be burdened with the evil the enemy is doing. Let’s be focused on preaching Christ, and Christ crucified! Let’s lay aside the world’s ways of debating and thinking of ourselves to be wiser than we really are! (1 Corinthians 1:18-25)

Looking upward…

Steve

Where Life Happens

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We believe that church should happen wherever life happens. You shouldn’t have to leave life to go to church.
— Neil Cole, Organic Church

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