Resting in His Faithfulness

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Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

~ 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

You, me, your co-worker, my neighbor, the lady at the supermarket, we all have them; special gifts that make us come alive. Those gifts and desires that we long for opportunities to use them. They are part of who we are, and come naturally to us, and that is because we have been created this way. All of us have special gifts and talents the Lord has specifically designed us with; the reason we have these longings is because He created us to express them and use them, to serve the Church, and to honor Him.

Over the past ten days I have been reminded that much like everything else in our lives we can completely rest in His Faithfulness regarding our gifts and talents. We can trust Him, because if He has created us with these specific talents and longings, He will provide us opportunities to express them. David writes in Psalm 139 that God, formed our inward parts, knitted us together, and that every day we would live He wrote out for us before there was anything in creation. This is an intensely personal God being extremely active in creating us.

If He has hardwired us with these desires and talents, we can trust Him for the opportunities to use them. We don’t have to stress over when will we get to express them, we don’t have to wonder will the opportunities come, they will because He was written them out for us before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 2:10; Psalm 139:16). We simply have to be faithful and obedient in our pursuit of Him. When we are faithful in our pursuit of Him and faithful in our exercising of our gifts, He is faithful to provide those opportunities.

Since He is the One gifting us, shaping us, and writing out our days we can trust Him with our gifts and talents for opportunities to use them. I spent the past ten days with a team in East India using our gifts and talents the Lord has granted us for kingdom work. There were several on the team that a month ago this opportunity wasn’t even on the radar, but yet the Lord opened the door, provided the means, and made much of Himself to strengthen His Church. Our role was to walk in obedience and faithfulness by putting in the appropriate preparation time, and then to trust Him.

As we are in pursuit of Him and seeking to honor Him with our lives, giftings, and talents, let us remember that He is the one writing our stories. Because He is the One writing, we may be given opportunities that we don’t expect; He may lead us to places we never could have even thought of, and He can be trusted in those moments. For He has prepared these moments for us to make much of His Name and to bring us ultimate joy.


He has wired us with special gifts and talents that we may worship Him in the use of them.


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What to Say

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

~ Revelation 21:3-4

This morning as I laid in bed trying to wake, scrolling through Twitter, waiting for the snooze to go off and I began seeing the hashtag #PhilandoCastille, as I began to put together the story I cried out, “Lord not again,” not a day after #AltonSterling. Now tonight as I sit at my computer reading the reports of a sniper shooting in Dallas, my home, I find myself mourning and at a lost of words.

Honestly I have been trying to find words all day to say. This morning as I read the news, I probably began and deleted who knows how many tweets, trying to process all that is going on. Trying to understand all that is going on, praying for those directly affected and those indirectly affected. Praying for those close friends who are in bi-racial relationships and those who have so lovingly showed the Gospel to the world and have adopted from multiple races, wondering how the tension in America is and will affect them. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t understand it all, as a Mexican American who is considered a Caucasian, and  grew up in a city that was 90%+ Caucasian, race was never really an issue. But hear me on this, I am trying to understand and I am trying to grasp all that is going on.

I don’t understand it all, but here is what I know:

  • There is a great racial tension in America that hasn’t died and isn’t going away; it must be addressed.
  • There is a large population of people who are hurting and have scars going back centuries, and to combat the #BlackLivesMatter with #AllLivesMatter is simply unloving and evil.
  • That as I read comments online and responses on social media to men and women I would consider leaders in the Church, who are African-American, there is a great racial tension in the Church today as well.
  • That the Church is to display the Glory of God in our cities.
  • A divided church cannot display the Glory of God in our Cities and to our neighbors.
  • That we are called to love, and loving those around us means sitting and listening, without telling them why they are wrong to feel how they do.
  • I know that men who were created in the image of God have lost their lives this week, and that should break our hearts.
  • That as I write this, five families have lost men who were sons, fathers, brothers, and husbands, and that those families will never be the same.
  • There is a large part of the population that will go to bed tonight and wake up tomorrow living in fear, pain, anger and hurt.
  • That we are called to mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).
  • That our response to the command that we are to love has nothing to do with “others” and what they have done or their response to us, and has everything to do with the simple question of, will we be obedient?
  • That the current conditions of the world daily remind us that we are living in a Genesis 3 world and things are not how they were created to be.
  • That there is coming a day when the Lord will come back and make everything right.

I don’t know a lot, but I am seeking to learn. To my brothers and sisters who are hurting and walking in fear, I want to say I am sorry you are walking through this and that I love you and am praying; where I don’t fully understand please help me. I really want to understand because I love you.

Come Quickly Lord! Maranatha! 

The Greater Story

FullSizeRender-4And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

~ Genesis 1:28

 

Its simple to do, the alarm goes off in the morning maybe you hit snooze, or maybe you jump out of bed and begin your day of work, errands, meetings and before you know it the day is over and you’re back in bed wondering if you accomplished anything at all. Asking if tomorrow will be the same busy pace as today; if this is what you will do with the rest of your life? Will the bills be paid this month? Will my co-worker annoy me again tomorrow? Is this all there is?

What about the future? Will I work here forever? In 5 years or 10 years, where will I be? In the same city? Same Job? Will I be married? Have Kids? Will I be retired? These questions and many more run through our brains, keeping our focus simply on ourself, and on trying to write and finish our stories.

But, there is a Greater Story being written, one that is being written across the course of history, since the creation of the world, and we have been invited in to play a part. From the Garden in Genesis One and Two and the First Commission of, “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it;” that is to Edenize the rest of the world to look like to Garden; that all of creation may be brought to the footstool of Christ in worship. Through the Fall of Man in Genesis 3, and into God’s glorious working of redemption as He establishes His dwelling, dominion, and dynasty over and with all creation across the pages of the Bible. To today and into the future, God is writing a story, one that is more glorious than anything we could write ourselves and we have been invited in.

To see the Greater Story we simply have to look around, to take our eyes off self and our small stories. Only then are we able to see the Greater Story and how our stories play a part in it.

Earlier this month I traveled to Guatemala and was reminded yet again that the Lord is doing a great work in and around the world, and we have been invited into the story to be active participates not simply spectators. Seeing the Greater Story play out and actively participating along with others left me encouraged.

Encouraged by:

  1. Gospel: The Gospel crosses boundaries of language, cultures, and all barriers and simply does work. The power of the Gospel is going forth in lives that have been forever changed by it, and into lives of others never leaving them the same.
  2. Students: Seeing former students the Lord allowed me to opportunity to pour into over the years, take time away after the school year to go and participate in the Story.
  3. Missionaries: Being around and serving alongside those who have stepped out in obedience into the Lord’s Greater Story, left me greatly encouraged. As I had conversations with them and many shared how they don’t know where they will be in a few months but currently the Lord has them in Guatemala and that they trust if the Lord shuts that door He will open another for them to walk though.
  4. Creation: Guatemala is beautiful, to stare in awe and remember there is a Creator God that spoke all of this into being and who holds it all in His hands.
  5.  Changed Lives: To hear the stories of lives that have been changed by the Gospel and to see how they are now participating in the Greater Story.
  6. Love: Love of God’s people. Love for friends to come to know Him. The love and joy that only comes from the Father impacting and filling the lives of those around us.
  7. Friendship: This trip created friends amongst those who were strangers at the beginning of the week. Centered on the Gospel not only are friends but family. Brothers and sisters in Christ who have been called to be active participates in the Greater Story.

There is a Greater Story being written, and we have been invited in to be active participates for the Glory of God and joy of His people. The people of Guatemala helped remind me of this. We are all writing a story, and our story only has purpose and fulfillment when it is part of the Greater Story, let us look up and see.


“The church has become the theater of the gospel, and in this theater, there are no passive spectators, only engaged participants, acting out what is in Christ.” 

~ Kevin Vanhoozer 

Why We Go


John Piper begins his book on missions, Let the Nations Be Glad, with the quote: 
 “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is. Missions exist because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate not man.” 

His point being that and God alone is worthy the be worshipped, therefore we go. We go because there are people across the street and around the world that God is worthy to be worshipped by. There are people in the States in cities we know on a map, and people in the fields in cities around the world that He is worthy to be worshipped by. Many are worshipping idols of self or false gods that will never satisfy. Therefore we go. We go because He is worthy to be worshipped by the self-consumed american, the one in a field who has never heard His Name, and the one chasing another god. We Go! 

The call to go isn’t one for just for “special Christians” but for all. We all have been commanded by our Lord to go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). All nations includes the one next door that we may not get along with and the one around the world who is hostile to Americans and Christians, therefore we all have a part in the call to go. 

Is it sometimes uncomfortable or dangerous? Yes, but remember that our Lord alone is WORTHY, He is Worthy to receive the praise and worship of all peoples. So we go! We all do our part. And in answering the call we seek opportunities where we are at to make disciples and be about obedience. 

Some can’t go around the world, but all can go next door and in our communities. Some in obedience answer to call to go around the world when the opportunity presents itself, but it takes the Church for this to happen. Therefore some answer the opportunity in obedience by sending and helping those who are going. 

Piper goes on to say: “So worship is the fuel and goal of missions.” 
Having our hearts captivated by the beauty of the Lord we go, so others may be captivated as well and give Him the worship He alone is worthy of. 

“Every Chriatian is either a missionary or an imposter” ~ Charles Spurgeon 

Appearing Full, Yet Empty

FullSizeRender-3For my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.

~ Jeremiah 2:13


Earlier this week I read Wright Thompson’s piece on Tiger Woods entitled The Secret History of Tiger Woods” and found it a spectacular read, as Wright is extremely good at what he does, but also found it tragic and sad. Much like Wright’s piece on Michael Jordan last year,Michael Jordan Has Not Left The Building” we are reminded that fame and fortune doesn’t satisfy. In both instances Wright peels back layers into the lives of seemingly two of the greatest athletes of all time and what we see is men on top of the world, in the worlds eyes, lost and lonely and searching for more. Looking for something else that will satisfy, looking for somehow to recapture the glory they once had, and something that will scratch their competitive itch. Much like the now famous Tom Brady interview on 60 Minutes, where he declares “there has to be more than this;” after he had won three super bowls, signed a $60 million dollar contract and married the top supermodel in the world, we are reminded that things of this world will never fully satisfy. As Christians we remember:

  1. Life is Only Found in Christ (John 10:10) That all longings and pursuits outside of Christ will only lead us empty.
  2. Treasures on Earth Will Fade (Matthew 6:19-21) But that there are treasures to pursue and store up that will never fade or be destroyed.
  3. We Were Made For Eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:11) The longing in our hearts and lives are meant to remind us that this is not our home, we were meant for another place.

Augustine said it best when he declared:

 “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

Looking into he lives of todays heroes we are reminded that no amount of money, sex, power or fame will every satisfy. There is One who will satisfy and we were made for Him!


Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”

~ King Solomon


On the Horizon

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Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

~ Revelation 21:1

 

 

 

Almost three years ago I moved to the Big-D, Dallas, Texas and have fallen in love with this city. It has become my home, not just the place I currently live, but home. It’s here, Dallas,  where my community is, the place I work, and the place I long to see the Lord move and do a great work.  Anytime I travel away from the city there is always a healthy-longing to be back home, with my family, friends and my church. This is what home does for us, when we are present it reminds us that we are where we are supposed to be and when we are absent it reminds us that we are not where we meant to be. Anytime I am traveling back to Dallas and get about twenty minutes out, I see it, the Dallas skyline, reminding me that I am almost there, that home is near, and my travels haven’t been in vain.

This past weekend as I made a quick weekend trip away for ministry on the way back I saw the Dallas Skyline and was reminded that this is not our home. There is another City, a Heavenly one, awaiting us. One that we should long for and be looking for. As we look around here on earth, we should be reminded that this is not our home. Our Home is on the horizon and when we see it we will know that we have not traveled in vain. Home is near lets us not forget Paul’s reminder:

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. ~ Philippians 3:20-21 

This is not our Home, our Home is awaiting, let us not travel this life in vain. At the end of our days may we be able to say with the Apostle Paul:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. ~ 2 Timothy 4:7 

The longing in us as we look around is to remind us that this is not our home, but our Home is coming. Look out to the Horizon.


“To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here.”

~ Jonathan Edwards 


Actively Waiting

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Wait for the Lordbe strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

~ Psalm 27:14 

 

 

We learn early on in Geometry that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, maybe one of the only things from math we remember and continue to use today. When traveling we look for the shortest route; when planning out goals we want the easiest and quickest way possible to obtain them; etc. (your math teacher wasn’t lying when they said you would use math the rest of your life).

The shortest distance being a straight line (or as straight as possible) is great for math homework, or traveling, or even new years resolutions, but what about when you feel the Lord has called you to something or is leading you in a certain direction, and it isn’t happening at the pace you want? The Lord isn’t bound by laws of math, and doesn’t always lead in a short straight line. Think about Abraham, the Lord promised him his offspring would be more than the stars in the sky, then he had to wait 25 years before Issac was born. Or think back to Moses, the Israelites were oppressed by Pharaoh and the Lord heard the cries of His people then sent Moses to Midian for 40 years before bringing him back to Egypt to set the Israelites free. More often than not we see in the scriptures the Lord preparing someone much longer than we would like to see in our own lives today.

So what do we do in the waiting? Continually I find myself having this discussion with people, a lot of brothers in the Lord who feel that call of ministry on their lives and they long (rightly so) to be pastors, church planters, missionaries as soon as yesterday but the Lord hasn’t opened that door yet. So what do they do?


Actively Wait!


I have been thinking about this a lot and believe we can look at David’s life as a guide on how to actively wait, until the Lord sees fit to open that door we are longing to be opened in our lives. If you remember in 1 Samuel 16, David is anointed as King, but it’s not until much later that he actually receives the position God had called him to. So what did David actively do in the waiting:

  1. Remained Faithful – For David, being the anointed King, the King in waiting, meant to spend a season where he was still watching over his father’s sheep, and meant that he would serve as a lyre player in the presence of the current King, Saul (1 Samuel 16:14-23; 1 Samuel 17:14-15). For us, we must remember what the Lord asks of us is Faithfulness and Obedience where we are, today.
  2. Understood all of Life is Preparation – David understood that everything he would face in life would be preparing him for all that the Lord was calling him to do. That when lions and bears attacked his sheep, the Lord was teaching him that He is faithful and able to deliver him (1 Samuel 17:31-37). Also as David was constantly fleeing Saul, the Lord was training his leadership skills, and fighting skills, all skills the Lord would use in David to free Israel from all their surrounding enemies. For us, we must trust the Lord in the process and see that He is molding us a preparing us for all that He is calling us to.
  3. Remained Who He Was – David, the anointed King, did not seek to be anybody that he wasn’t. He was called to be David, and be King as David, not to emulate Saul (1 Samuel 17:38-40). If God has called you to preach, plant, or be a missionary, He has called you and is equipping you for that calling, we don’t have to try to be someone else.
  4. Didn’t Seek the Position on His Own – Multiple times David could have killed the one man standing in between him and the position the Lord had called him to, and yet he wouldn’t lift a finger against God’s Elect, instead he honored him and served him (1 Samuel 24; 1 Samuel 26). We can trust the Lord, that if He is leading us in a direction and preparing us, He will use us in His timing.
  5. Constantly Sought the Lord – Once Saul, the man who was King, died, David didn’t seek to rush to power, like it’s finally my time. The scriptures tell us that David sought the Lord first to see if it was His time to go up. The moment he had been waiting for, he first stopped and asked, “now Lord?” (2 Samuel 2:1-7). This is why David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). For us as we wait, seek the Lord at every turn and let us not get out in front of His timing.

Whatever season of life you currently find yourself in, the Lord has not forgotten you, He is at work, trust Him. We can actively wait on Him, knowing that the desires and longings in our lives were crafted and placed in us by Him; and He will use them in His timing, for His Glory, and our joy!


“If the Lord Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts; for blessed are all they that wait for Him. He is worth waiting for. The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes. The Lord’s people have always been a waiting people”

~ Charles Spurgeon