Saturday, January 19, 2019

Doing Life Together

I've said before that fasting is easier when you do it corporately.  There is something about knowing that others are going through the same struggles. One of the strengths of LifeSpring Church is the sense of family we have.  It is one of the most frequent comments I hear when new people come to the church.  The concept of family is deeply ingrained throughout the scripture. In fact, when you look at the plan pf redemption, it is about family.

When God created Adam and Eve, He told  them to be fruitful and multiply.  Part of this was to replenish the earth, but the reason behind the reason is that God wanted kids! When I think about it, it blows my mind.  Do you realize that God gave mankind the ability to produce eternal creatures? He didn't want them to just produce children to live for 70 or 80 years, He wanted them to produce sons and daughters that would live with him in eternity.

It is one thing to see yourself as God's servant. It's a totally different thing to see yourself as God's child.  John 1:12 tells us, But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. Scripture then goes on to tell us than if we are children, then we are heirs.  It's all to amazing to comprehend.  So we, as different races, cultures, and peoples are invited into His family.  Look at the diversity in His family.  There are black, white and brown, rich, middle class and poor. There are highly educated and non-educated. There are people who sing like an angel and some who can't carry a tune in a bucket.  If you think about it, I've just described church.

I'm proud of our "family feeling" at LifeSpring, but not everyone necessarily feels tightly connected as family.  Just like any family, there are the shy ones, the lonely ones, the socially awkward ones, the struggling ones.  But if we are truly family, there is always that one relative that reaches out to draw those people closer.  As we fast together, we are drawing closer to one another.  I want to encourage you to look around and seek out your brother or sister who's sitting on the fringe.  When we do that, we are truly the family God wants us to be, and that will be irresistible to the visitors that come through our doors.

Let's take our family mojo to th next level!

Pastor Dale

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Do You Know What Day It Is?

It's hump day! You are officially past the half way point. I want to encourage you to stay the course and finish.  The word has a lot to say about finishing well but as you read through the Bible, you won't find a lot of people who actually did! One of my constant prayers is that I finish well. When we look at our heroes of the faith, all those Sunday School lessons you heard, very few of them finished well.  Why is that?

I read a great book years ago that still sticks with me today, The Making of A Leader - Frank DiMazio.  In his book, he describes 17 or 18 tests that every leader goes through.  I believe they are tests that every believer goes through.  But the last test, is the test of promotion. Have you noticed that few ministers fail in the early years of their ministry.  They fail when they are at the pinnacle. One of the reason they fall is because they fail to recognize that success is a test.  They look at their success as a reward for their hard labors and years of toil. And because they let up on the gas pedal, or let down their guard, the enemy comes in to steal, kill or destroy a church, a leader or a legacy.

We can never coast in any relationship, human or divine. You might be able to coast a long way, but the minute you start to coast, you're slowing down! In our walk with God we must always pursue Him.  We must keep our foot on the spiritual throttle of our lives. The classic example of a great finisher is Paul.  When you read his writings you see his drive to finish well.  Phil. 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Heb. 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus. And his most famous verse, 2 Tim. 4:7-8, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day.

I remember the faithful words of a friend years ago.  I was probably in my early 30's and my friend told me, "I don't see the same spiritual drive in you I used to."  Well, of course I defended myself.  I was going to church every week, still serving, still trusting in God.  But deep down, I knew he was right.  I had eased off the gas pedal just a little.  The Bible says we are to spur one another.  You need it. I need it! Let's finish this Daniel Fast well.  And then move on to the next challenge and finish that well.  Let's finish conversation we left unsaid.  Let's finish forgiving the one who wounded us.  Let's finish reading through the Bible.  Let's enter into heaven to hear those words, "Well done, good and faithful servant!

Pastor Dale 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

In God's Forge

Yesterday, we met with a young couple going through a tough time in their ministry. As we sat and listened to their story it brought back memories of our "dark night of the soul". Many years ago, the church we attended went through an ugly split. (all church splits are ugly). After much prayer, we decided to leave with the pastor who was dismissed and spent the next 7 years with him. As we rose into leadership in that church, we eventually found out why he was dismissed because the same problems surfaced in the new church. We wound up leaving that church, going back to the original church. We repented to the leadership of the church and they welcomed us back. But going through the process was very difficult. I remember praying, "God, you called me to be a pastor. How can I lead people if I missed you so badly? His answer to me was one of the most defining moments in my spiritual life.

God lead me to a scripture in Isaiah 54. Everyone knows Isaiah 54:17 No weapon formed against you will prosper!" But not everyone knows the verse directly before that one. Isaiah 54:16 (NIV) See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. When I read that verse, I understood that those 7 years were God's forge to prepare me for my future ministry. I realized God taught me a lot about ministry. He taught me what NOT to do!

We all go through seasons of struggle and doubt. Some seasons are results of our own decisions. Some seasons are the result of other people's decisions, either way, God is the blacksmith. So even in our mistakes, God is molding us, shaping us, and yes, even hammering us. But it is all for the purpose to make us into a weapon He can use!  

In that season of our life, I learned to not question my decisions. I learned that God can redeem any decision I make if I am sincerely yielding to him. I learned that God uses every situation in our lives, good and bad, to mold us into the shape He desires. When life seems to hammer us, ultimately it is God who holds the hammer. I can honestly say in that moment, I learned to trust the Blacksmith.

 Pastor Dale & Deb

If you want to hear an amazing song about God's forge, listen to Bebo Norman's, The Hammer Holds.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

7 Prayer Points

I thought it would  be a good time to remind everyone about our 7 Prayer Points. Since we are supposed to be praying a little more, I thought I'd give you something to pray about.  There are so many new people at the church, they may just think the banner on the stage is a decoration.  It is much more than that.  It is a declaration!

Even us "old-timers" need to be reminded of why we have that banner in the first place. So I will retell the story by asking you a question.  What single man has done more to spread the Gospel of Jesus than any other person on the planet?  Did you answer Billy Graham, or D. L Moody.  Maybe you said Billy Sunday or Oral Roberts.  These men had tremendous impact but all their efforts combined do not even come close to the impact of one man, Dr. Bill Bright.

Many of you have never even heard his name mentioned, but I bet you know his legacy.  Bill founded Campus Crusade for Christ, the largest parachurch ministry in the world.  Probably his most enduring legacy is the Jesus film, which he produced in 1979 as an evangelizing tool for missionaries with the help of his friend, oilman Nelson Bunker Hunt, who put up $4.5 million. Today, the film has been translated into 816 languages and has been seen by an estimated 5.6 billion people!

At the end of his life, Bill Bright was asked how he managed to be such a person of influence.  He said it was simple.  Every day for nearly 50 years, Bill bright prayed for four things, Laborers in the work of the Gospel, Open Doors to spread the Gospel, Supernatural Resources to fund the Gospel and Lasting Fruit, the result of the Gospel. These are the first four of our prayer points.  Then a few years ago, during a Daniel Fast, God impressed on me to add Return of the Miraculous, Divine Protection and A Great Awakening.

So if you're looking for something to pray for, pray these 7 prayer points.  Do them every day for the next 30, 40 or 50 years.  Maybe you will become the second most influential person in the world for the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Pastor Dale & Debi

Monday, January 14, 2019

You Uncircumcised Philistine!

Well, I figured I'd get your attention with a blog title like that!  Last week, I was in Oklahoma and something I heard got me really stirred up.  The speaker said that David never called Goliath by name.  I had to re-read the story just to make sure that was true  The writer of the book of Kings names him.  The soldiers named him but David never did.  The only name he called Goliath was an uncircumcised Philistine.  At first glance, it just seems like David started a fight with an insult.  I've been called some ugly names but no one every called me uncircumcised.  And if they did, it would really be a rather lame insult.  So what was David saying?

David was circumcised.  Goliath was not. But, why was David circumcised?  He was circumcised because he was an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham.  Circumcision was not just a "Jewish" thing.  It was a covenant thing!  Circumcision was simply the physical proof that the person had entered into a covenant agreement with God.  So, what David was saying is, "I am in covenant with Almighty God.... and you are not!     When David spoke to Goliath, it was from a position of covenant and that gave David the authority and the power to overcome his enemy.  Here's what he said, 1 Samuel 17:45 (NIV)  David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  David knew he was not fighting Goliath alone.  He was confidant the covenant God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would defeat the enemy.

So let's apply that same thinking to our lives.  When we accept Christ, we enter into a covenant relationship with Him.  The New Testament is really the New Covenant.  There is no one more faithful to covenant that God.  He never breaks covenant.  So, we can face trials, temptations and outright attacks of the enemy with the knowledge that our Covenant God will back us up.  So the next time the giant of fianances or sickness or despair or hopelessness arises in your life, just remember your covenant and shout, "Get away you uncircumcised Philistine!"  

It might raise some eyebrows if you're in Wal-Mart or at the doctor's office.  But, it will cause you to think about your covenental right as a child of God.

Pastor Dale & Debi

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Week One Is Done!

I hope you're still holding strong during our Daniel Fast.  I can't thank you enough for making this commitment.  Even though we are fasting as a corporate body, the fast is still about you and God.  How does fasting benefit LifeSpring.  I know we are in unity and we are praying for specific things, but the real benefit to the church is you get closer to God.  And as we collectively draw closer to God, guess what?  He draws closer to the church.

I hope you read today's blog before church.  If not, reread this next Sunday.  Because I want you to do something different this Sunday in church.  First, get there 20-30 minutes early and join us at the altar for some pre-service prayer.  Then, worship a little deeper and listen to my sermon on Persuing God.  But the biggest thing I'd like for you to do is pick someone out of the crowd to bless. Take some time to scan the faces and then do something.  It might be just a big smile and a hug.  (we like to hug around here) Or, a sincere, "How are you doing." or a quick prayer.  It might just be a listening ear.

I'm asking you to do this to prove a point to you.  If you've fasted for a week, your spiritual senses are sharpened.  They may not feel sharpened.  You might not feel any closer to God.... but you are.  You have just completed one week of drawing nearer to God.  And I promise you, God has drawn near to you in the process.  My goal is to get you to the place where your reason for coming to church begins to change.  Most people come to church to be re-charged or to hopefully hear their favorite song.  Or they come to hang out with people they really like.  But what I'd like to see is a church full of people who come to church, poised and ready to minister.  What would church be like if we came to minister to others? I'll tell you what it would look like.  It would look like the church Jesus said He would build!  And that would be a church that is irresistible to the world.

Pastor Dale

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Remember the Former Things

Today we celebrated my Mom's 80th birthday.  No one enjoys a party more than her.  My brother, sister and I knew that one thing mom would love at her party was to hear her three kids sing together. And not just any song, we had to go back to the oldies.  We sang. "I'm Feeling Fine" and "My God Is Real". Good ol' southern gospel songs.  Then we did a bluegrass accapella number, "Three Men on a Mountain".  No one harmonizes like family.

If you know me, you know I am not one to look at the past.  Because most of the time when people do, it stirs up a longing for the past.  But God does tell us to remember the former things.  In Isaiah 46:9-10 (NIV) it says, Remember the former things, those of long ago, I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.

What a powerful passage. When God instructs us to remember the past, it is not so we can long for those days again.  It is to look back and remember what God has done.  He declare, "I am God, there is no other." As we rehearse all the good things God has done, it stirs up new faith for what God can and will do in th future.  When I look back at the 60 years I've known my mom, I remember things like singing around the piano on a Sunday afternoon.  I remember her making me do a night time prayer... out loud!  I remember when she got baptized in the Holy Spirit.  When I look back, I see all the things God was doing to shape my life and my relationship with Him.  God said, "I make known the end from the beginning, and from the beginning (ancient times) I tell what is to come. And then He declares, My Purpose Will Stand!  Can't you just hear God thundering those words?

Every now and then it's nice to take a walk down memory lane, but the next time you do, look for God in your memories.  He was there through every victory and every defeat.  He was there in the darkest night and your brightest day.  He was there when you were wounded and there when you were made whole.  He was there when you turned your back on Him and there when you ran toward Him.  He was there because he knows your end from the beginning.  And long ago, in ancient times, he decreed your future.  And He says over all of us, "I AM God!  There is no other, and my purpose will stand and I will do ALL that I please.."  

Now that is a comforting thought.

Pastor Dale & Debi