Are You Tired and Empty? Find Jesus.

False belief leads to fatigue and emptiness. Are you worn out and running on empty?

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mark 1:1 (ESV)

Jesus heralds the beginning of great significance in the history of the cosmos. By leaving the throne of God and becoming the Father’s humble servant on Earth, Jesus ushers in a paradigm shift of breathtaking magnitude.  Prior to Jesus, we were eternally separated from God. Through Jesus, you and I can choose to live a life marked by the eternal truth that nothing can separate us from God, our Father.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)

By the time Mark wrote his Gospel, “Jesus Christ” had become a proper name, not a name (Jesus) and a title (Christ). However, Mark intended “Christ” to have its full meaning—Jesus, Messiah. Mark further identifies Jesus Christ as the “Son of God.” Together, “Jesus,” “Christ,” and “Son of God” present Jesus as a man who was God’s special agent but who was also fully divine. Fully Human, Fully God. Jesus took on the role of a servant of the Father to save humanity and restore our relationship with God.

Mark’s Gospel tells us about Jesus. It also mixes in stories about the religious authorities-those who stood in opposition to Christ and the disciples who sought to follow Him. God is for you not against you. Nothing can separate you from the love of the Father. Nothing.

Find Jesus

Fellowship With God

So let me ask you: How are you and God doing? What’s the status of your relationship? How are you and God? If you updated your Facebook page to show your relationship status with God what would say? Close? Distant? Intimate? Removed? Deep and Wide? Broken and in need of repair? Unwound?

Maybe your reeling and hurting inside. Healing can’t begin until we’re ready to admit our hurt. We won’t tend to our wounds if we choose to ignore them and keep them hidden from view.  Our broken habits won’t change if we don’t admit that we are powerless over them.

Jesus came to make a way for us leading to restoration. There is no hurt so deep that God cannot heal it. There is no fear you face that the Lord can’t help you overcome. There is no sin too great for His grace and mercy. There’s nothing too big for Him to forgive.

How you view the first verse of Mark’s gospel defines your relationship with God. Do you follow Jesus? Do you call Him Lord? Have you received Him as Savior?

Who Are You Following?

We all follow someone. If you’re not following Christ, who do you follow?

Who/what do you have faith in? God? Yourself? Someone else? Something else? Money? Things? A door knob? Door knobs are great after all. They are used to open doors. They help you get from A to B. But beyond that, door knobs can’t do much for you, can they?

Before he died, my Dad used to spend a lot of time in his workshop. In that workshop hung a sign that read:

shield-1165991_1920

My Dad was a boss in real life. My Dad was Boss in our home. He was the boss of our lives. It was his way or the highway. He controlled everything. Naturally, I rebelled, wanting to do things my own way. Then one day I became a boss myself.

Like my Dad, I sought to control people, situations, and things. In his world, my Dad was god. And like my Dad, I saw myself as god of my life, until one day, tired and empty, hurting and broken, I gave my life to Jesus Christ. Today, Jesus is the God I serve. He is whom I have placed my faith and trust in–Him and Him alone.

God is for You, not against You.

Apart from Christ, I can’t do anything. But in Christ, I am a new creation. The old has washed away and the new has come. I am refreshed, restored, and renewed. I am no longer tired and empty. I am no longer dry like the desert. Rather, I am overflowing with the Spirit.

Jesus is for you, not against you.

Are you tired and broken? Are you wounded and hurting? Through Jesus, you can change that today.

Are you tired and empty? Find Jesus.

DSC00324 (2)

4th Friday Prayer Time

 

Do Not Be Dismayed

This week I have been reminded of the importance of putting on the whole armor of God daily. You can bet that if you’re working anywhere close to the front lines of ministry that you will battle the enemy, who seeks to silence you, discourage you, and thwart your efforts on behalf of the Kingdom of God. Do not be dismayed.

The Apostle Paul gave the Christians worshipping in Ephesus some very sound sage advice, explaining to them to be prepared for combat not only against things seen, but also things unseen. Paul understood that powerful forces existed then, as they do now, desiring to derail our ministry and destroy our witness as we seek to share the love of Jesus with a hurting and ailing world.

Fortunately, our power and strength does not rest in ourselves, but in the Almighty God we serve. Therefore, we can go forward with confidence that God is with us, fighting on our behalf, clearing the path of obstacles attempting to be roadblocks as we go about doing the work He has called us to do.

How can I pray for you?

Blessings.

Rb_edit_TDG

“When the enemy comes with shame and blame, tell him to go measure the distance from east to west and get back to you.”-Louie Giglio

The Whole Armor of God

10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we  are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NLT)

 

Like Love, Prayer Is a Verb

The line of men waiting to pray last Friday night after chapel was long. I lead a team from our church that travels down to the Union Gospel Mission once a month on 4th Friday to minister to the 300 or so men at the shelter. Some of them are staying there, participating in the discipleship program. Others are there for the night, while some are bussed in for the evening from other shelters, to have a meal and hear a message. While a group of volunteers and staff are feeding the men physically, our job is to feed them spiritually. Our job is to meet them where they are, much like Jesus did when he sat down next to the Samaritan woman. We worship with them, we share a biblical grounded message with them, and we pray with them, corporately multiple times throughout the service and one-on-one at the close of service.

This past Friday I had the opportunity to experience powerful prayer time with several of the men. I prayed with one man who wasn’t sure that he could trust God. I prayed with another man who was in dire need of physical healing from a disease that may lead to his death. I found myself dumbfounded and nearly speechless as I prayed with a man who confessed to me that he had contemplated suicide and that our being there that night saved his life because he heard us speak of a God who loves him and values him. He understood that even though he was homeless and his life had been turned upside down, he still mattered and God had not forgotten nor forsaken him. I prayed with a young man, full of joy, who prayed Psalm 23–the Lord is my shepherd–in my ear as I prayed for him. These are just a few samplings of the prayers expressed Friday night. It is a glimpse of the prayers we hear each time we go. It is through these prayers, God affirms that He is in control and He is indeed at work in this world.

Prayer Works

Lately, I’ve seen and heard a lot of discourse about acting “apart from prayer” or “instead of prayer.” There are even people who are convinced prayer is a waste of time because it doesn’t work. And I guess if you’re not a believer, that should be the response I expect.

I think that prayer, like faith, should often be accompanied by additional action. But prayer isn’t like an ATM machine either. In fact, it’s more of a conversation between me and the God of the universe. Perhaps you find my belief in God, let alone a powerful, personal God alive and at work in the universe, a fool-hardy endeavor. That’s certainly your right. You don’t have to believe what I believe. You don’t have to agree with what I think. But for me, it’s too hard not to believe that there is a God. I’ve simply seen Him at work too often. I’ve experienced answers to prayers too many times. I’ve witnessed God at work in my life and in the life of others. I’ve found myself in far too many God moments to discount that He exists.

Yes, prayer alone may not end gun violence. But that’s not my prayer. I’m praying for God to transform minds and change hearts. To reduce incidents of gun violence, including mass-shootings, drive-by violence, and domestic disputes, certainly requires we act. I don’t believe locking up everyone’s guns is the answer. I know it’s not. People have been killing each other far longer than we’ve had guns. I grew up when gun laws weren’t as strict as they are today, yet it seemed like we had less gun violence. I agree, something’s changed.

R Bantau 2017_edit

I think we value our own life more and we value the lives of others less. We are more transactional than we are relational. The only god we worship tends to be the one we see in the mirror.

Personally, I don’t think the effort to decrease the permanence of faith in the various aspects of our lives is unrelated to the outcome that faces us today. As imperfect people, we don’t always express our faith perfectly in our daily walk. Yet, faith values life. All life. The born. The unborn. The living and the dead. The here and now and the eternal hereafter.

Do we need to figure out how to keep weapons out of the hands of madmen? Absolutely. Do we need to improve our outreach to those who find themselves on the fringes of society? Probably. I’m not sure they want to be reached. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Do we need to recognize that our self-identity shouldn’t rest on the opinions of others or measured by our level of celebrity? Damn Skippy. As a believer my identity rests in Christ. I am who he says I am. Redeemed. Forgiven. Free. Servant. Minister. Warrior.

Prayer is an essential part of my life. It serves as a reminder that I have much to be grateful for and it helps me get out of my own narcissistic perspective and train my thoughts on the concerns of others. It helps me work through my own stuff too. Which is good, because I’m a hot mess most days.

When I’m praying, I am doing something. Just ask the people I pray with, pray for, and pray over.

Like love, prayer is a verb. It is one of the most powerful actions I can take. I have personally witnessed prayer change lives, circumvent courses of direction, and alter outcomes. I’ve witnessed the healing power of prayer as well as experienced the comforting solace prayer brings. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a physical component that needs to accompany our prayers, just like love is often accompanied by a smile, a hug, or a kiss. Believe it or not, prayer works. 

Blessings.

Time Time