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Saturday, August 26, 2017

We Worship The Faithful One, Who Rescues Like No One Else Can!

Sitting here. Listening to the rain. And getting amber alerts on my phone, due to Hurricane Harvey! Needless to say, I just ran into this devotional that I had charted out for my wonderful friends at Stillwater Community Church sometime last year. So, I thought it would be good to share it on here - especially due to the nature of Houston's inclement weather.


The Daily Dive Devotional (A Series of Stillwater Community Church)


Short Bio: One of the greatest gifts that the LORD has given me, is to be married to Stephany my wife, my crown & my joy! God has also blessed us with four beautiful children...Daniella Ellie, Olivia Grace, Noble Jedidiah, & Finley Judah. An desire & aspiration of mine is to write books on the subject of worship - and make the "Unknown God" known to the Church and to those who would desire to grow in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Fun things I like to do: Hang out with my family & make some memories, play my guitar & write songs for the Church. I also like to take road trips (short & long) with the family! And maybe one day, take my little ones camping and get into the outdoors as a new family tradition. Books I've enjoyed reading: Blue Like Jazz, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years, In The Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day, & The Furious Longing of God. Favorite Food? Mediterranean Cuisine. Favorite Movie? The Passion Of The Christ (for many reasons). It is our joy & privilege to be at Still Water - to serve & connect to a community of believers who love Jesus and enjoy doing life together.


Title: We Worship The Faithful One, Who Rescues Like No One Else Can!


Passage (Daniel 4 NLT):1 King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.2 Then he sent messages to the high officers, officials, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials to come to the dedication of the statue he had set up. 3So all these officials came and stood before the statue King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 4 Then a herald shouted out, “People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king’s command! 5When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other musical instruments,bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue.6 Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully dressed in their pants, turbans, robes, and other garments. 22And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in. 23 So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames. 24 But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?” “Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied. 25 “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!” 26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire. 27 Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke! 28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be turned into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!”


Commentary/Application:


In these few passages, we can actually see a dark time for these young Hebrew men. a series of several crazy-like events that led them to this particular predicament. However, there they stood, they had a choice to make. Standing before a king: and a tyrant whose only interest was himself and making his own name glorious and that of his god. He was interested in getting these young men to bow regardless what the cost would be. And these young men chose to NOT bow their knee to the image made of gold. Even if it meant killing themselves in the process!


Ah, but isn't it just like God. To show up at just the appointed time! Yes. He is never late, seldom early, but always on time.

Let's break it down a bit further and take a look at what these young men really did. They faced a powerful enemy who wanted to harm them for the conviction of their hearts. Which was to only worship the Living God. Nothing else. No one else. Moreover, to fully understand this, you must understand why they stood their ground; what for really? Couldn't they have 'bowed' and God have 'seen' their heart. No friends. Faith that is real and alive - needs evidence. Evidence equals works. Therefore their faith was NOT DEAD but ALIVE!! This is the kind of faith that we need. Faith that is real. Faith you can touch. And the kind of faith that can be applied to our everyday lives.

This faith is the kind of faith that fuels our worship.

And the thing that fuels faith is the Love of God in our hearts. Which has been shed abroad for all to receive freely.


Anyway, it sounds a bit like what these young men also had was perspective. A clear perspective of an all powerful God. The kind of God who is faithful. If He said it, shall He NOT do it. If He said it, shall it NOT come to pass? For us, we have to maintain this outlook; this perspective of faith. Where we know the Enemy, who has come to ‘kill, steal, & destroy’ and goes around about like a ‘roaring lion’ seeking whom he may devour is NOT an all powerful equal to God. He is a defeated foe. Perhaps, I would argue that the Bible talks to us about fighting the 'good fight' of faith. And yes, the Enemy will do whatever it takes to get us to bow to a golden image (fill in the blank ____fear, failure, success, greed, sexual immorality; etc.) - whatever that may look like to you, just as long as we only bow & worship this 'false god'. The Enemy is not saying, “don’t worship God” but in actuality he is saying, “in addition to worshipping God, also worship this golden image!” You know that golden image that we try and justify - ie. those people who hurt me; I'm justified in my anger - in my bitterness. No friends. That only is hurting ourselves. These young Hebrew men, are still teaching us how to hear the call of worship. And let our faith rise higher! Our perspective get clearer - and allow God to be God all by Himself. He is worthy of our worship! Let me say this about worship:


When we worship' God. We are ascribing value to Him. We set our affection on Him fully. And in turn, we become more like the object of our worship. We become more like Him. Men and women of faith that are NOT moved by these temporary and light afflictions; but have transfixed our gaze on the glory that awaits us.


I'm sure, that these Hebrew men knew if God would of let them die, the glory that awaited them was far greater than the temporary fire they were facing. The Enemy will spew out his lies in order to make us believe them and skew our view of God’s nature. Once this happens, then we let begin to lose our perspective. We cannot afford to lose our perspective. Because if we don’t have our perspective, then we begin to lose our faith. And that my friends cannot happen. That good fight of faith, has already been won!! So don't let some tricky deceiver shake you. Stand on Jesus. He is the rock of our salvation.


In conclusion...


What I love about this passage of scripture is how these wildly passionate young men faced such clear opposition, but nevertheless were NOT easily shaken in their faith and belief in a God of Wonders who still delivers. They definitely had the right perspective of their God, who showed himself as “faithful” & strong. They had this crazy like faith & an attitude that was everything; but unshakable, unmovable, & unstoppable!


Yes, these young men lived by a principle. That is, that God is the one who saves us. He saves, He heals, He restores, & He delivers us like no one else can! He alone is deserving of our full attention, our full worship & adoration, & even our full devotion!

Key Verse:
"There is no other god who can rescue like this!”
Daniel 4:29


Application Questions:
Are there any lies you have believed the Enemy about God’s nature?
Could there be some place or an area in your life where the Enemy has gotten you to bow?
Is it time to confess our false view of God’s nature to God Himself?
Lastly, confession, Prayer, Scripture reading, Becoming a part of a small group, seeking Godly counsel, all can help us to have a greater dependency & trust in Christ.


Prayer:
Father, make us more like you. Help us to trust in You always. To not be fearful of what is to come, but to be of good courage. To keep fighting the good fight of faith; knowing that it is us fighting from a place of victory. Jesus, be the rock of our lives and the center of our affection towards You. We love you. In Jesus' name. Amen!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Unlock Your Greatest Blessings #guestblog #DrTonyEvans

“I still have a plan. It’s not over. I still have a divine purpose for your life.” #read //This will bless you!!


May 2017 e-Newsletter - Unlock Your Greatest Blessings

The Key to Unlocking Your Greatest Blessings
Have you ever seen people who have lost their hope? I certainly have. People lose their hope because they don’t see a future.
Yesterday was bleak… today is bleak… and tomorrow doesn’t look any better.
The weather report for life says, “No sunshine. One hundred percent chance of thunderstorms.” There’s nothing out there that has your number on it—nothing good, nothing dealing with purpose, calling or destiny. It’s dark, and the sun is nowhere to be found. That’s exactly what the people living in Jeremiah’s day felt.
If you feel that way, you are not alone.
We all love to quote Jeremiah 29:11.

"'For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'"
This verse talks about God’s good plan for the Israelites. When I preach on it, there is always a hearty Amen! We love this verse, don’t we? But did you know that this wonderful verse is found in a really bad chapter?
This is not a great verse in a great chapter. No—it’s a great verse in a not-so-great chapter. So if you are having a challenging life or a challenging season in your life, this verse will fit right in! Verse 11 was written for people who had been placed in exile in a foreign land. And to make it worse, the place where they were held captive was about as pagan as you can get. Babylon was not where the Christians hung out. This was a pagan pit—evil, idolatrous and a terrible place, especially if you were an Israelite. 
Yet in the midst of this hopelessness and discouragement, along comes verse 11. If you’re looking for hope, if you’re tired of aimlessness, wandering and strongholds, this verse gives you the answer. Because God looks at us in our miserable state and says,
“I still have a plan. It’s not over. I still have a divine purpose for your life.”
When God told the Israelites in Jeremiah 29 that He had a plan for them, He gave them hope. But hope doesn’t do much good in a vacuum. It needs a nurturing environment. He didn’t give them permission to take that hope and then just sit back and do nothing. On the contrary, He told them exactly what He wanted them to do in the meantime while He was working out some of the details for their future.
We read in Scripture, “Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.”(Jeremiah 29:5-7)
In other words, get busy in obedience to God. Seize the moment. God might not do everything in a single day, so build houses, and live in them. Plant gardens, and eat what you grow. Become as productive as you possibly can right where you are before He moves you into your destiny. Don’t sit and do nothing. Do all that’s at your hand to do—maximize your potential. A lot of us, while we wait for God, think we can do nothing when there is plenty to do.
Become a blessing first.
God instructed the Israelites to seek the well-being of others, which is exactly what you need to do as you believe the Lord for the good future He has in store for you. Find out how YOU can be a blessing. Pray for the city you live in right now and its people, for its well-being is your well-being. This is one of the fundamental keys to spiritual victory.
As you become a blessing, you set yourself up to be blessed.
God says (in my paraphrase), “While you’re waiting on Me to do something for you, do something good for others.” That’s what Paul meant when he quoted Jesus, saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Because by blessing others, you literally open up a channel for God to come through when He blesses you. That’s what God refers to a little later in Jeremiah 29 when He says:
“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,' declares the Lord, “and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,' declares the Lord, 'and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.'”(Jeremiah 29:12-14)
Unfortunately, most of us don’t read verse 13 as it’s written. Instead, we read it, “When you seek the solution, you’ll find the solution.” But that’s not what it says. It says, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Mewith all your heart.” That’s the ultimate answer for all of us. God says, “I have the plans. Don’t go looking for the plans; look for Me. I know where I put them. You find Me, you’ll find the plans. You want to know your calling? Find Me. I know it. You want to find your mate? Find Me first. I know where he or she is.” In Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).

God has a plan for you. He knows what it is. He guarantees that it’s a good one, and He offers you a future and a hope. God is inviting you to participate with Him in the drama of the ages. If you don’t know which way to go—seek Him. If you are in pain—seek Him. If you are confused—seek Him. If you are tired of waiting—seek Him. If you come to Dallas and ask me what to do with your life, I am going to send you right back home and right back to Him. Because God Himself is your answer. It is only in living a life of obedience to what He is telling you to do right now, right where you are, that you will discover the blessings He has in store for you in your future.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Real Truth about Romance & 'Boring' Men — and the Women who Love Them: Redefining "Boring Romance" Guest Blog - Ann Voskamp

The Real Truth about Romance & 'Boring' Men — and the Women who Love Them: Redefining "Boring Romance"

So not every guy proposes with lip syncingrolling cameras, and a choreographed entourage.
Yeah, kids —  so what if the guy I married, your Dad, didn't?
He just pulled that beat-up Volkswagon Rabbit of his over in front of Murray Reesor's hundred acre farm right there where Grey Township meets Elma Township, pulled out a little red velvet box, and whispered it in the snowy dark: "Marry me?"
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"He didn't even get down on one knee or anything?"
You kids of ours, you can go ahead an ask it incredulous, like there's some kind of manual for this kind of holy.
And I've got no qualms in telling you that: No, he didn't even get down on one knee – it was just a box, a glint of gold in the dark, two hallowed words and a question mark.
"Boring."
I know. When you've watched a few dozen mastermind proposals on youtube, shared them with their rolling credits on Facebook, marvelling at how real romance has an imagination like that.
Can I tell you something, kids?
Romance isn't measured by how viral your proposal goes. The internet age may try to sell you something different, but don't ever forget that viral is closely associated with sickness – so don't ever make being viral your goal.
Your goal is always to make your Christ-focus contagious – to just one person.
It's more than just imagining some romantic proposal.
It's a man who imagines washing puked-on sheets at 2:30 am, plunging out a full and plugged toilet for the third time this week, and then scraping out the crud in the bottom screen of the dishwasher — every single night for the next 37 years without any cameras rolling or soundtrack playing — that's imagining true romance.
The man who imagines slipping his arm around his wife's soft, thickening middle age waistline and whispering that he couldn't love her more…. who imagines the manliness of standing bold and unashamed in the express checkout line with only maxi pads and tampons because someone he loves is having an unexpected Saturday morning emergency.
The man who imagines the coming decades of a fluid life – her leaking milky circles through a dress at Aunt Ruth's birthday party, her wearing thick diaper-like Depends for soggy weeks after pushing a whole human being out through her inch-wide cervix, her bleeding through sheets and gushing amniotic oceans across the bathroom floor and the unexpected beauty of her crossing her legs everytime she jumps on the trampoline with the kids.
The real romantics imagine greying and sagging and wrinkling as the deepening of something sacred.
Because get this, kids — How a man proposes isn't what makes him romantic. It's how a man purposes to lay down his life that makes him romantic.
How a man proposes isn't what makes him romantic. It's how a man purposes to lay down his life that makes him romantic.
And a man begins being romantic years before any ring – romance begins with only having eyes for one woman now – so you don't go giving your eyes away to cheap porn.
Your dad will say it sometimes to me, a leaning over – "I am glad that there's always only been you." Not some bare, plastic-surgeon-scalpel-enhanced pixels ballooning on a screen, not some tempting flesh clicked on in the dark, not some photo-shopped figment of cultural beauty that's basically a lie.
"The real romantics know that stretchmarks are beauty marks and that different shaped women fit into the different shapes of men souls and that real romance is really sacrifice."   ~The Broken Way
I know – you're thinking, "Boring."
Can you see it again – how your grandfather stood over your grandmother's grave and brushed away his heart leaking without a sound down his cheeks?
50 boring years.
50 unfilmed years of milking 70 cows, raising 6 boys and 3 girls, getting ready for sermon every Sunday morning, him helping her with the zipper her dress. 
50 boring years of arguing in Dutch and making up in touching in the dark, 50 boring years of planting potatoes and weeding rows on humid July afternoons, 50 boring years of washing the white Corel dishes and turning out the light on the mess – till he finally carried her in and out of the tub and helped her pull up her Depends.
Don't ever forget it:
The real romantics are the boring ones — they let another heart bore a hole deep into theirs.
Be one of the boring ones. Pray to be one who get 50 boring years of marriage – 50 years to let her heart bore a hole deep into yours.
Let everyone do their talking about 50 shades of grey, but don't let anyone talk you out of it: Commitment is pretty much black and white.
Because the truth is:
Real love will always make you suffer. Simply commit: Who am I willing to suffer for? 
Real love will always make you suffer. Simply commit: Who am I willing to suffer for? 
Who am I willing to take the reeking garbage out for and clean out the gross muck ponding at the bottom of the fridge?
Who am I willing to listen to instead of talk at?
Who am I willing to hold as they grow older and realer? Who am I willing to die a bit more for every day?
Who am I willing to make heart-boring years with? Who am I willing to let bore a hole into my heart?
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Get it: Life – and romance — isn't not about one up-manship — it's about one down-manship.
It's about the heart-boring years of sacrifice and going lower and serving.
Real love isn't about how well you perform romantic gestures. It's about how well you let Christ perform your life.
Sure, go ahead, have fun, make a ridiculously good memory and we'll cheer loud: Be a creative romantic — but never forget that what wows a woman and woos her is you how you purpose to live your life.
I'm praying, boys — be Men. Be one of the "boring" men – and let your heart be bore into. And know there are women who love that kind of man.
The kind of man whose romance isn't flashy – because love is gritty.
The kind of man whose romance isn't about cameras — because it's about Christ.
The kind of man whose romance doesn't have to go viral — because it's going eternal.
No, your dad did not get down on one knee when he proposed – because the romantic men know it's about living your whole life on your knees.
There are Valentine's Days. 
And there are the quiet romantics who will take out the garbage without fanfare. There will be the unimaginative calendar by the fridge, with all it's scribbled squares of two lives being made one. The toilet seat will be left predictably up. The sink will be resigned to its load of last night's dishes.
And there is now and the beautiful boring, the way two lives touch and go deeper into time with each other.
The clock ticking passionately into decades.
 Excerpted in part from The Broken Way
Our daring story of taking the life-transforming way of boring love, of taking The Broken Way
Come encounter God and live broken and free: brokenandfreetour.com
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