Tag Archives: faith

Daily Life and Our Reactions to It

God has a tremendous sense of humor!  He also allows lots of scenes to play out in our lives to give us the opportunities to react and live how He has instructed us to.  Here’s a great case in point:

If you’ve read this blog before chances are you know I have been unemployed since January 2011.  God has provided and for that I am thankful!  While I have been searching for employment, luck has not been with me!  A new friend this year has been praying with and for me in this search.  He has been very encouraging along the journey.  So much that as a job became available in his organization, he encouraged me to apply.  And while he couldn’t guarantee anything, he was on the interview committee! Interview day came and I had a good session with the three men on the panel.  Granted I didn’t have some specific experience they preferred but I did have a boat load of the general experience they required.  As the weekend came I was a little bummed that I had not heard the results yet but went on about my duties.  Sunday I led an orientation session after each of our morning services.  Before I could start the first one, my friend on the interview panel came up and told me someone else was offered the position.  Timing is usually everything and this really wasn’t the best!

My reaction could have been extreme at this point.  It would not have been unheard of to become discouraged, angry, disappointed, bitter, (you fill in the adjective).  But God provided me with calmness and a sense of direction as I was able to continue with my volunteer job and my orientations went very well.

The next day I texted a friend about my discouragement in this job search.  Later I apologized for whining to him and acknowledged that God has been very faithful to us and for that I am grateful.  His response to me is one that I hope I remember for a long time – simple but so true:  “God is good all the time.  All the time God is good. But life is real and sometimes it stinks.  And at times we just don’t know what to do.”  That’s not just pastor talk, that’s friend talk.  And I love him for saying those words to me.

I’m convinced this is another specific example of God providing me the opportunity to add to large inventory of experiences that I will be able to share with someone who needs to hear about it.  While I don’t like the outcome of the interview, I am grateful that God allows me to see a bigger picture.  While sometimes I think this is all about me, I really know that it’s not.  It’s really about Him!


2012 – New Year – New Goals?

Great conversation this morning with Cyndi Ellzey! As we talked about some scripture we read today, it was interesting how God used different passages to bring us to the same conclusions!

2011 was an incredible year of change, challenges, new friendships, faded friendships, God filled experiences, frustrations, doubt, success and sorrow. As Christ followers we are not immune to the wide range of emotions that capture the human race! But as Christ followers we do have something that others do not have – the Holy Spirit. And it is that Spirit that allows us to face all of these emotions and life circumstances with a different viewpoint – with a hope that we will conquer!

We followed God’s lead in 2011 like we have never done before! I quit my job as Executive Pastor of FBC Inverness the first week of Janauary 2011. We began volunteering at City Church Tallahassee the same week. We began a weekly commute that lasted all year-long. We laughed and cried with new friends and new relationships. We lived on faith like we have never done before. God provided in a unique way. God didn’t provide me a paycheck but He made sure our bills were paid and we didn’t lose our house!

As we begin 2012 we are excited to continue what God has begun in us! We are excited to continue to disciple others and to be a part of what He is doing in Tallahassee. Our goals have not changed, our resolutions have not wavered. My expectations are higher now that we have lived as we have. I find myself wanting a paycheck because it is secure but I know that God will take care of us in some form or another!

My prayer continues to be one that I will have faith. That I will listen to Him. That I will respond to His direction. That I will do what He wants me to do. That in 2012 I will be who He wants me to become!

My prayer for others is much the same. That Christians will become followers and not fans. That churches will raise the expectations for those that attend beyond attendance. That action will become the standard. That selfless giving will become normal. That more will become followers. That He will be made great in all that we do – not just in all that we say.

New goals in 2012? No, I just want to be really good at the ones I already have!


God Will Provide a Way for You to Do What He Wants You to Do!

Here’s a profound truth I’ve learned this year – 2011:  God will provide a way for you to do what He wants you to do!

I haven’t received a paycheck from a paying job in 2011.

But God has provided for our needs the entire year!  He has provided a place for us to live when we’ve commuted to Tallahassee each week through our friends Matthew and Rachel Robinson. More than just a room, He has provided a place where we can relax and recharge. He has provided financially for us in Inverness by allowing us  to make our house payment each month and on time!

We made more than 40 trips to Tallahassee this year to volunteer our time with some dear friends who are being used by God to share the gospel through a local church plant – City Church Tallahassee. We shared our time in Inverness so Cyndi could continue her business with established clients. God provided a great year for Cyndi and I know it was so we could pay our travel expenses this year!

God has blessed us over the years and as a result we have been able to use those savings to follow His leading.  God always provides enough!

We have had a great 2011!  Leading a community group of around 15 people has been refreshing!  Becoming part of other believer’s lives as encouragers, teachers, helpers is what God has created us to do and as we do it God blesses us in ways that seem beyond explanation! We are now friends with Christ followers who have given up their jobs to plant churches, people who have gone to Bible college and now work in the secular work place because that is where God has called them to be a light, people who are new Christ followers and need mentorship and role models, people who are hurting and need love, people who we can pray with on a regular basis and most of all just living life together in this crazy chase after God’s will in each of our lives!

We have had an opportunity to be part of the leadership team for City Church.  Helping to flesh out a vision for Why Not Tallahassee!  Helping to craft practical ways to share the gospel beyond the weekly sermons or worship time. Helping bring wisdom, knowledge and leadership skills to a group of people dedicated to serving God!

We’ve had the opportunity to be part of several services at a local night club! Opening up a non traditional location for thousands, yes thousands, of people to hear the gospel – many for the very first time.  Seeing dozens and dozens and dozens of people cross from death to live for eternity! Knowing that hundreds of people will be with Jesus for eternity – not because of what we did but because we were faithful to do what He wants us to do!

We’ve shared Jesus with hundreds of people in Colombia this year. Making friends that don’t understand our language and we don’t understand theirs. But we do have a common bond in Jesus! Providing cloths and shoes and food to people who have so much less than we do. Walking among families whose homes have been destroyed. Telling them about the love of Jesus, praying with them, holding them in time of sorrow – showing compassion.

We’ve shared our lives with people we didn’t know. Telling our story of how great God is! Trying to be an example. Trying to be Christ followers.

Our savings are dwindling. But this I know: God has a plan for us and He will provide for us.  He always has. He always will.


One of My Favorite Devotionals – Jesus Calling

A few years ago, one of Cyndi’s friends gave her a devotional – Jesus Calling, Enjoying Peace in His Presence, by Sarah Young.  This gift was given in a time of extreme dispair on our end.  I had just lost my job, didn’t know what to do next, daughter beginning senior year at FSU and son beginning senior year in high school.  That summer was perhaps the most intimate season we’ve had with Jesus and I credit a lot of it to this book. 

Here is one of the entries for this week:

“Worship Me in the beauty of holiness.  All true beauty reflects soem of who I am.  I am working My ways in you: the divine Artist creating loveliness within your being.  My main work is to clear out debris and clutter, making room for My Spirit to take full possession.  Collaborate with Me in this effort by being willing to let go of anything I choose to take away.  I know what you need, and I have promised to provide all of that – abundantly!

Your sense of security must not rest in your possessions or in things going your way.  I am training you to depend on Me alone, finding fulfillment in My Presence.  This entails being satisfied with much or with little, accepting either as My will for the moment.  Instead of grasping and controlling, your are learning to release and receive.  Cultivate this receptive stance by trusting Me in every situation.”

Some great words to let sink in.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.


Faith and Finances

I have a confession. 

I had begun to feel sorry for myself the last few weeks.  This unemployment thing was beginning to get to me.  Nine months without a paycheck was starting to affect my self esteem.  I was questioning a lot of different things – not the least of which was my judgement!  Afterall I am a husband and a father and I still have financial responsibilities in this life!

About the same time as I began this self pity party, God provided some areas for Cyndi and I to take a huge leadership role in.  Our church is faced with some good issues – ones that come with rapid growth.  Our experience and knowledge are going to prove valuable in these areas.

The first area God has shown me we can lead is in finances.  Finances?  I know I just admitted to being unemployed for more than nine months!  But God is bigger than employment!  Cyndi and I have had the opportunities over the past two weeks to share our faith in God to provide, to be bigger than any financial issue and to encourage others to give – yes, to give.  To give obediently, to give gladly, to give without regret, to view giving as not only a responsibility but an opportunity – an opportunity to worship!

Everything I have, everthing I have ever had and everything I may have in the future is His.  He has entrusted me with a lot of resources.  What I do with them is a test.  One I hope to pass!

God doesn’t need our money.  It’s his to begin with.

As Cyndi and I share the responsibility and blessing of giving, it’s our hope that others will begin to grow and understand that God wants to use our resources as we give them back to him – as we surrender ourselves to Him.

We often think that giving is a financial issue – and to some who have become slaves to debt, it appears to be a financial issue.  But giving is really a heart issue – it’s a measure of our relationship with God.  Not that if we give a larger $$ amount than anyone else we have a better relationship with God – not that at all.  But our love for God and our relationship with Him should be evident in all areas of our lives – the things we treasure show our true love.

God used the past two weeks to show me He has some great things in store for us.  I really am excited to see what it will be!

 


Passion

Tonight, I skyped (was this even a word 10 years ago?) with our friend Alex who lives in Cartagena, Colombia.  We met Alex on our trip to Cartagena this summer.  Alex speaks fluent English as well as his native Spanish. 

After conversing for a while we both realized the same thing at the same time:  People are people, wherever they are.  We all have the same dreams, we have the same fears, we have the same passions.  People tend to want the same things – recognition, respect, fame and fortune.

Alex and I both have a burning desire to do that what God has called us to do.  Sometimes it seems that others don’t really understand what we are trying to do.  And in that not understanding, actions and words can get in the way or even become a barrier to our goals.  Sometimes it hurts and we take it personal.  Often that not understanding is rooted in fear.  Fear that your passion or your dream is bigger than theirs.

God is bigger than any of that!  We know His plans for us are good and that He has plans for us to prosper and succeed!  I believe God allows others to act in ways that cause us to rely on our faith and our trust in Him.

All of us are passionate about something.  Whether your passion and vision is big or small, I encourage you to pursue your passion.  But along the way, understand that your passion is not the same as the one you’re explaining it to!  The other person is not going to care about it as much as you do.  And they may even try to disuade you from pursuing it.  Don’t let them.  Follow your passion.  Not only will you be glad you did but you may change the lives of generations by what you do.

 


Living in Community

Each Monday night, Cyndi and I lead a small group discussion group – a Community Group that delves deeper into the weekly message from Dean Inserra at City Church. As a group we honestly address issues that we face in our daily lives. Issues about faith, forgiveness, holiness, salvation, redemption, sharing our faith, living out our faith and generally what it means to be a real Christ follower.

Last night was another good time with some people who are really committed to Christ. One couple brought a friend – Michele. Michele will leave next week for a two year long mission to Hungary with the International Mission Board. I tend to ask a lot of questions and Michele intrigued me – so you can guess the rest!

Michele will spend her time building relationships with college students and members of the community she will live in. Her goals will be to disciple believers and lead them to a point of facilitating comm;unity groups when she leaves in a few years.

Although Michele will be paid to do this, aren’t each of us as Christ followers charged to dod the exact same thing? Isn’t our primary goal as a follower of Christ to share his love and glory with others? Doesn’t Jesus Christ himself leave us with a charge to go throughout all nations and teach others about Him?

I’m excited for Michele! She is embrking on an adventure that is beyond cool to me! I challenged our group to pray for Michele. I know I will.

As we closed our time together, Michele’s friends asked me to share a little of our story with Michele. While I look at our life and our actions as doing what God has called us to do, others seem to look at it with a different view. When I quit my job and began commuting 200 miles one way each week to facilitate this group and to offer my skill sets and knowledge to City Church, I did what I heard God telling me to do. He was in fact answering a prayer I’ve prayed for a very long time. I’ve begged God to let me be a part of a big movement of His. He is answering that right now! God is working through City Church in Tallahassee in a remarkable way! And I get to be a small part of it!

God has blessed us in so many ways. Last night I was reminded of the people He has surrounded us with and that may be the biggest blessing of all!