We can trust that He will complete what He has started.
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Paul was praying for the Christians in Philippi with Joy! Why? Because he had a confidence in the Lord’s ability to work good things within their lives. He also had another confidence. It was in the end result of God’s work in their lives through the Holy Spirit! He knew that at the end they would reach the completion of God’s handiwork in them.
One of THE most profound lessons I have gained since becoming a believing Christian is that of perspective on life.
When I was in drivers education class many years ago I remember Mr. Stribley speaking to us about a bigger picture of our driving experience. He told us that we had to keep our eyes on the horizon ahead of us. He warned us not to focus on the hood of our car because if we did we would waver all over the place. If we focused on the horizon up ahead we would gently and surely follow the curving of the road as it lead us through to where we were going.
That picture has stayed with me all through the years and I didn’t know how it would find a spiritual application in my life. I once read a book that talked about the bigger picture of our spiritual life as Christians. It brought to mind the wedding feast, or some might call it the wedding supper of the Lamb. The description of the time when we will all sit down with our Lord to enjoy the celebration feast of the new life we have with Him was indelibly written in my mind and I quickly pondered the horizon of my spiritual life.
There will be things that are right on the “hood” of my life experience. I can be tempted to focus on them more than is healthy and begin to waver all over the place. The daily disappointments, struggles with sin, business of my daily responsibilities and family issues can all begin to overwhelm me if I forget the horizon!
I have decided that the best way I can walk in the grace of God through a very challenging life is to keep my eyes on the horizon! To keep my mind on the end during trials will give me perspective that will keep me following the road with much more ease.
I also learned a simple and profound lesson. the car doesn’t move forward with my foot on the brake. There have been times when I have felt paralyzed to move forward due to fears of failure or just plain confusion as to which direction to go in. Well, take your foot off of the brake and press the gas! It is really hard to see where I am going from the “Stop Sign” of life.
Where am I going? I am going to sit down with my Lord for a wonderful dinner and enter into an awesome eternity of joy! This will be sooner than I can imagine. Take for example the scriptural reminder that we will live 70+ years. Well, I am now close to 56 years old. That means that I may only have 14 years left. Oh, my! That took my breath away a little bit. But what if God’s grace allows me to live until I am 90? There, that is a little easier but even then, I only have 34 years left. I may have numerous challenges that come about in the next 34 years but even so, I know that my time is coming soon and I can handle 34 more years of a challenging life knowing where I will end up – soon.
God will complete the work He began! I have full confidence in that for myself.
Do you believe that for yourself? Have you pondered the horizon in your own life today?
While the challenges you are facing today seem to overwhelm you, take just a little time to think about the wedding supper of the Lamb the feast that will usher us into eternity with God! Even if only for a moment, you will see there is an end in sight and it is awesome to ponder knowing it is all good. Actually it is more awesome than you might even be able to imagine.
Imagine sitting at this table with the King of Kings.
I would imagine the current trials of our lives would pale in light of this wedding supper. It is all in perspective. When I feel overwhelmed with disappointment it helps to look down the road. When I am discouraged and disappointed, I know that in the end, He will not disappoint me. I can easily get lost in questions about my life and what God is going to do with my daily wrestle. There is one answer that is certain; I will be with Him for eternity and that is a good thing.
When I realized that heaven wasn’t just a bunch of harps and clouds and it wasn’t just a heavenly choir – I started to ponder what it may be. Did you know there are more scriptures that describe heaven than there are those that talk about hell? God wants us to ponder our eternity so He gave us plenty of “travel” brochure information about our life with Him after we die or He returns. Spend some time pondering that and I’d bet your life will start moving forward again.
I am a curious sort. I love to question things, search for deeper meaning than we might see on the surface. I think of an eternity of asking questions and actually getting the answers! In my discovery of eternity with God I will enjoy an environment full of truth. And, I will not be bound by time so I can ask to my heart’s content. I will finally have God’s perfect perspective on things that seem so confusing today. Ummm. Heaven, perfection, unending joy, a life with living forever. Wow, I’m not stuck, I have just begun.
Rev. 22:7 – “Behold, I am coming soon!
For the moment, your daily trials, though they may seem frozen in time, will wane just a little bit while you focus on His plans for your own eternity.
A recent front page article said “A large influential church made the decision to remove a team from their league after a coach spoke honestly about being a lesbian.”
The league was a church sponsored league that was open others within the community and to non members of the church. After a phone call to the church announcing that one of the coaches was a lesbian some things became complicated. The church held a meeting with the coach in which she admitted that she was a lesbian and that there were possibly others on the team that were gay or lesbian. The decision was made to not allow inclusion of the team in their league.
I have been asked by numerous people about my response to this situation so I decided to take some time to include you in my own process. It is really hard for me to be balanced in this situation since I have a burden for the gay community to know Jesus fully and to understand and receive His unconditional love for them. Coming from my personal history with homosexuality I have had my own experiences with biased responses from church folk.
I have toiled more over this article than any I can remember and am still insecure about whether or not it convey’s my heart but I want to get it out there so if you have comments, please leave them below.
I desire more than anything that we as believers in Christ would reflect the love of Christ to all people equally without prejudice. I also know my own human temptation to personal prejudice with those I don’t understand. Somewhere in all of this I hope we grow in our abilities to set aside our bias and spread the gospel in and through all situations without “banning” people without knowing them. The goal is to be honest with ourselves, listen to others, and respect all people – and to understand that respect doesn’t have to agree.
In most cases in scripture where we are asked to “not associate” with others it is concerning those within active fellowship of the church, not in an outreach function such as a church sports league. Well, I’d at least hope that this church had desires for their league to be an outreach since it is an open league.
You may also have strong reactions concerning this situation. What are they? Many people are really passionate about these issues and a great divide exists. This is a very costly situation at a deep kingdom level!
I’d like to invoke an evaluation for us to consider as we ponder the circumstances.
I would say that if at all possible the very best way to handle this would be person to person. The problem here is that the exclusion of the team has already taken place. It seems hasty since the church is called to be a messenger of the redemption of Jesus Christ.
I don’t want to in any way minimize the complexity of this situation but there are some things to think about that may help us all to think this through if not for this situation, for future reference.
What is or should be the response of bible believing and Jesus following Christians? We all know that that there are two sides that are responding to this issue.
1. You believe homosexual relations are biblically immoral?
2. You believe homosexual relationships are biblically acceptable?
No matter which side you feel passionate about the biblical encouragement on how to approach one another remains the same on either side of this divide.
Matthew 18: 15 – 17
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
In this case, someone believed that a lady’s homosexuality was immoral. The newspaper article said that someone called the church and told them about her lesbianism. I am assuming that they felt that the lady was sinful and a bad influence for the league. I question whether or not the “caller” knew the lady. Did they speak with her first? When they called the church was it to pray for God’s grace and restoration or was it just to “inform” them of impending danger - in their minds? Or, was it reputation damage control?
Maybe you are having feelings of resentment or judgment regarding the church, or church leader who made the decision. If you feel that the church or the church leader is wrong, see if you can talk with someone who is connected to the decision making process. Learn to know them better and learn from them. Maybe what you thought happened wasn’t really the truth. Remember, the newspapers are often wrong! And, there are always two sides to every story.
Before confronting someone–
Right or wrong, when we feel a burden to approach someone we believe to be “in sin”, it is very important to go through some personal inventories before the confrontation. We can be assured that if we approach somoene in love and personally, our hearts and minds will likely change and soften!
1. Consider these things:
a. Why are you confronting the situation? What is your motivation?
b. Consider your relationship with them.
c. Consider the true character of the person.
d. Consider your own shortcomings, your weaknesses.
Jesus confronted the Pharisees for their lack of personal life evaluation. (Matt. 7:3-5)
e. Consider their current circumstances or situation.
f. Consider God’s grace with you.
g. Consider God’s grace with them.
Dealing with other people’s lives is a dangerous and sensitive matter. Whenever we see things in Scripture about disagreement or conflict, there isn’t a timeline given as to how long it may take to truly get to the heart of a matter. There are specific processes laid out but these matters may take months, or even years to deal with. I understand in community relations we may not feel we have years to deal with something, but it is always good to begin with a personal approach and not be too quick to lay down the gavel.
1. Ask yourself?
a. Why do you feel passionate that this is a problem?
i. Is this situation very personal?
ii. Is it mainly a family or inner group situation?
iii. Do you believe this is primarily a harmful situation to an individual?
iv. Is this a community matter?
b. What feelings do you expect to be confronted in YOU as a result of this action?
“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.”
Tempted in what way?
To inappropriate judgment?
To false mercy (enabling)?
Tempted in like weakness?
Are we willing to be involved in carrying someone elses burdens?
“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”
In either case, pray for Gods incredible, transforming, redeeming kindness will penetrate all of our lives and souls. Become part of the answer to that prayer by being kind, generous, and loving towards others whose perspective you may struggle with. Loving your enemy can become a personally transforming relationship for you. It is in His kindness that changes us, not in condemnation.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
“Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.”
You believe that the team should be banned from the church league. How does this line up with Jesus asking us to go into the world? I can’t imagine a better way to minister to others regardless of where they are coming from than to play ball with them and rub elbows with them. We are told to be “in the world, but not of the world”. We too often focus on the “not of the world” part and do not go “into the world” enough. There are a lot of people who will not attend a fellowship gathering at a church but will join extracurricular church activities. Have you considered that maybe who choose to join a church activity might be looking for a closer walk with Jesus but they are afraid to come too close!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”
I can’t believe what that church has done!
In any divide over spiritual convictions nothing is any better than to walk together and listen to one another whenever possible. If the door is closed, move away, shake the dust from your feet and keep moving forward with the Lord. Maybe God wants to do something in your heart. There may also be something that He is doing in the church that you are unaware of.
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
I just want to see what they are made of!
Some people come into a church activity to “test” the water. In some cases, this is a dishonest attempt and the motives might be to challenge them rather than to look for something positive. This would be inappropriate. It is not really fair to go into an organization incognito to test their responses. It is better to go in honestly if you feel there will be problems ahead.
“Well, being gay is just wrong!”
That depends on how you define “gay”. Being gay and engaging in sex are two different things. Being gay doesn’t mean that someone is giving themselves over to promiscuous sexual relationships. Being gay doesn’t mean that someone is not a Christian. Someone who is gay may have a closeness to God that may not make sense to you but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Sometimes people are crying out to the Lord in deep groaning that we aren’t aware of. We should not make assumptions about people and act upon those assumptions rashly.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
There are some other things to consider
Some have said: ” Doesn’t God say, one man, one woman for life?” Really?
How many do you know who have been with only one woman/man – for life?
50 % + of church attendees have been divorced.
He says he hates divorce.
“I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel”
Others have said: “He speaks against homosexuality!”
Well, He speaks against fornification, adultery and lust.
A large percentage of regular church attendees practice sexual promiscuity,
Also- addictive use of pornography or practice idolatry.
Are we really prejudiced? Do we really act upon our spoken beliefs that “sin is sin”?
1 Cor. 6:9-10
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
I intentionally underlined the negative patterns that are not called “homosexual”. There are far more of them in the church than homosexuals! Many who are regular church attendees are sexually inappropriate, greedy and selfish with their worldly possessions, not sharing with those in need when they can. Do we practice what this scripture refers to?
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.”
” nor slanderers?”
The story of the lesbian coach was begun by someone who contacted the church to tell them that this coach was a lesbian. Was it their place to divulge this information if they didn’t go to the individual first? What about the other coaches? Is there anything in their life that is sinful or non-productive for the league? We might never know because it isn’t likely someone will call the church on them. I’ve known plenty of people who have negatively influenced others with inappropriate heterosexuality such as loose sexual talk, negative references to the opposite gender and the like. If we want to “pick nits” this can be a never ending hunt for sin issues.
Before you start judging the church-
I am certain the coach and her team were aware that this church was very conservative. I am also certain she was aware that there may be some possible challenges in joining the league. It would not be appropriate to use this situation as a testing ground for acceptance of homosexuality. this would be dishonest in the intentions.
There may be some who are harboring resentment because of the stand the church has taken? The same scriptures apply for you. To go about slandering the church or its leaders is just as inappropriate and unbiblical.
We are called to be a peacemaker within the body of Christ and to love others into His kingdom. What is the greatest goal here? Reconciling relationships and spreading the gospel.
The commandments are summed up like this:
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
So, what am I saying here?
Don’t be too quick to judge someone else’s life, motives, or actions. Go to them personally if it is possible. Don’t slander others, and don’t be dishonest with your intentions.
“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”
What I am saying is that for those of you who believe the church needs to be protected by those kinds (homosexuals) it may be a good idea to evaluate the other’s equally.
And if you believe the church has descriminated or misjudged someone, it may be a good idea for self examination there too.
Remember – It’s a pretty thin pancake that doesn’t have two sides!
The rich undergrowth begins to draw me to breathe in God’s provision of life.
But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand.
The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him
During some counseling I received several years ago I talked about how I hadn’t felt safe in my life lately. Actually, I realized that I hadn’t felt very safe at any point in my life at all!
Relationships were very challenging at this point because I was feeling particularly threatened in some very significant places. We discussed some of the challenges I was experiencing but I didn’t know how I could deal with them because of my lack of feeling secure or safe enough to face them. So my counselor asked me to ponder some of the times in my life I had felt safe.
His request was a real challenge for me to think about. But quickly I came up with one time when I was about 5 years old and I felt warm, comforted, at peace and yes, safe. He wanted me to think about more of those times and to learn to utilize the visual memories in my prayer life. He asked me to take one particular one and to meditate on it and then to invite Jesus to come into the place with me. I went home and prayed and meditated on several places that were similar to the first one.
When I lived in Northern California I realy appreciated its beauty, and the incredible opportunities to visit nationally known places. I liked seeing the ocean on occasion and some of my best Christian growth memories come from the eight years I lived there. In response to my assignment, I was quickly drawn to some of the most awesome times I had in Northern California.
One very significant place that I enjoyed very much was spending time in the middle of the redwood forests. Oh, boy, I can almost smell the humid air right now. I think of the towering trees, and the incredibly soft “carpet” on the ground below from the softened needles that spread out to cover almost all of the barren ground under their shade.
(These photographs are from Samuel P. Taylor Park where my safe place actually came from.)
I had a particularly difficult challenge that I was facing so I wanted to use the new tool of my visual and sensory images to bring some safety to my prayer when I had something very serious to ask God about. He quickly led me to the redwood forests. I pondered them in my eyes, brought up the smells and the deafening sounds of the soft movement of the trees above. The trickling of the little creek beside me. My heart began to open up wider to go to the Lord with my needs at that time. I was really anxious and desperately needed to hear from the Lord.
“God, what should I do?” “I feel so overwhelmed and insecure about making this decision.”
So, I asked God to take me to one of the safe places I had discovered. I began to visualize taking a walk through the forest and I imagined God walking with me. We walked slowly as I looked around and drank up the gift of the forest into my heart. Soon, it appeared we sat down on a picnic table that was close by. As we sat there God began to ask me some questions.
“John, remember what you learned about the redwoods when you were there?”
“I said, “yes”, they are fed from the moist air because they have very shallow roots and they are designed for this arid climate. They only grow on the east side of the hills next to the ocean because the fog rolls over the tops of the hills onto the soft needles of the redwoods. They also grow in clumps because it is hard for a redwood to catch enough moisture by itself and it is better when there are many together.”
God replied, “John, that is the way I feed my people too. I ask them to hang out together so that they can receive my provision more easily. If you are in close community, you will do better too. You have come to me with questions about what I want you to do, where I want you to go, and what that will look like.”
“I will show you my provision through your community. You will know my will by listening to others around you. Take your requests, your burdens to them and you will find my provision there.”
It was just amazing! I felt so affirmed, I felt heard, I felt hopeful! God didn’t answer me at the moment because it appeared He wanted me to go to His people for my questions to be answered. He seemed to be more interested in my relationship with others. Sure, He could have given me a direct answer but instead He wanted to use His body to help me.
The coolest thing about it all was that my prayer life was deeply enhanced through this experience. My prayer wasn’t a litany of requests that I brought to the “Great Answer Giver in the Sky”. Rather, it was a quiet walk with my Lord in one of my favorite places in the world and I didn’t even have to get on a plane to get there. Visiting the redwood forests with Jesus became a place of comfort, solitude, a place of provision for me.
Where is your safe place? Once you find it, invite Jesus to join you.
As I spend time praying for reaching out to those near to me I ponder who that might be. Who is God leading me to this week, this month? The grounds seemed to have been dry with regards to our seeing new salvations in Christ! But, much to my amazement, God is at work in ways I am not conscious of!
June 9th I was sitting in a prayer meeting with our church fellowship. We were praying earnestly for God to move amongst us. We prayed for those He has placed in our lives and hearts. We prayed for divine appointments and prayed for people by name.
During our prayer time my cell phone vibrated and I looked at it. It was my grandson calling me from Louisiana. We have talked with him some since he left after school was out but this was the first time he initiated a call. I wondered what he may have wanted. Since we talked to him on his birthday on Monday I thought maybe he is feeling the freedom now to call “just because” and I looked forward to hearing what was on his mind.
So, on the way home I called him back. “Hey Devin, did you just want to chat?”
No, Grandpa, I have something very important to tell you. (this means, set aside all other distractions and pay attention!) During vacation Bible school today we went through the Roman’s (what was it, oh yea) and we both said Road. When I got to the top of the hill I stopped by myself and God spoke to me! I asked him what He said and Devin said, “God said “accept” so I did”. I asked him if he had ever heard God speak before and he said, “yes but it was mostly gibberish” but this time it was clear”.
He then began going through things in his bible saying he never understood them before and that he couldn’t pronounce many of those words and names. Then he said, “Grandpa, when I get home, you have to go to a church”. I said, we go to a church, it is just a home group church. He said, “no, grandpa, I mean a building church”. I further assured him that we would be certain to include him in our church where he could grow in his faith.
Our new Celebration Fellowship is a great place for Devin. We have six other kids involved and potentially two more coming who amazingly are between the ages of 8 and 12. (Devin is 10) Boys and girls. We’ve talked about how we are going to put special attention on the development of the kids lives in authentic Christianity and relationship with the adults in our faith. I am thrilled to see Devin become a part of this.
He was very excited about his new relationship with God and I am MORE than THRILLED that he was so excited he had to tell Vileen and I. He knew we would relate to his new faith. After we talked a little more about it all he said, “Grandpa, when did you accept God?”. He is really personalizing this special event in his life which gives me even more hope.
He also told me, “My dad cried when I told him, and it takes a lot to get him to cry!” His dad followed up by sharing about his own experience in accepting the Lord. Devin has many who love him and are praying for him, for which we are very glad.
So, as we prayed, God was already at work in a very special place in our lives. Our Grandson had experienced a very real, significant, God ordained, Holy Spirit led, salvation! Just as we had been praying.
God loves us, hears us, answers us, and moves quite of His own initiative. It is not by our works, but by the grace of a loving God, lest any of us can boast!
I think this message is one of the most important messages for us to understand as believers in Christ. As I read, and reread what I have written I get so excited within my soul that I can hardly wait to enter the day ahead of me.
This devotional isn’t some plastic, great idea, that I hope will encourage you. I wrote this about a year ago and I am as excited today as I was when I wrote it. I hope you will be too.
Sitting with several other men at my weekly men’s bible study God brought an answer to a week of turmoil that had me in a very discouraging place. I was struggling with a sense of failure, hungry for something from the Lord that would help. Suddenly during our discussion on the Holy Spirit, God showed up! He brought the answer from a very different place than I had anticipated. From within my relationship with God He showed me an aspect of Himself that I had never seen before.
For more than a year, I had been relishing in a new found understanding of the unconditional love of Jesus. I have begun to grasp the greatness of His freedom from the “laws of sin and death” in a very personal way. I have found that there is nothing I can do that will cause Jesus to love me any more or any less than He does. This has been wonderful and transforming for me but this week something new hit me.
God is three in one, the great mystery of the trinity. I am learning about Jesus more but now, something new rose up about another facet of the Godhead! The Holy Spirit. Through the study of His word, we read through many passages that spoke of the Holy Spirit and my heart began to listen to a very personal message from Him.
I love you, I am your greatest encourager. I believe in you when you don’t believe in yourself. I pray for you perfectly when you haven’t a clue how to pray. I not only believe in you, I have a plan for you that you will discover over time that will amaze you! When you think you have failed, I have already begun to turn your seeming failure into something good and in time you will be thankful even for the greatest mistakes you have made.
I will empower you into growth and maturity that you cannot even imagine today. I will keep you from harm, I will order your steps, I will give courage to face things you would naturally run from. I will speak for you, in you, with you, and through you with words you didn’t even know you had. I am your most passionate “cheerleader” and your best coach. With Me beside you, you cannot fail.
Oh, man! That was amazing to me. I can’t fail? But I have felt such failure in my life. The consequences to my decisions have been great. But He reminded me that in all of my mistakes and seemingly failed decisions, He, the Holy Spirit, has brought them all around for growth, blessing, and made good come out of them that I wound have never imagined!
I made the decision that this week I am going to spend a significant amount of energy pondering the amazing, God ordained, powerful impact that the Holy Spirit has on me each and every day in walking beside me, in me, and through me. I am going to focus on remembering that I have the universe’s most energetic cheerleader supporting me. I also have the world’s greatest coach leading, mentoring, and teaching me how to live each day. But not only is He the best cheerleader and coach, He is also the one and only transformer of my heart.
The Holy Spirit, the Comforter of my soul, the Mighty Counselor, the Omnipotent God! If He is for me, who can be against me? He is not the accuser, Satan is. He is not the one who holds it against me, condemns me, or beats me on the head! That is the enemy of my soul!
The Holy Spirit is not a wind, not a “power” He is my personal trainer that always believes in me. I will not fail because of Him. God brought me an incredible answer to the cry of my heart. I can only thank Him even more for the freedom He is bringing me from condemnation and shame of this world and into His marvelous light!
I have given just a few scripture references that bring this to light. I recommend looking into others that describe the Holy Spirit’s love for us and His role in our lives to do the good work of God in us. There are hundreds! He really wants us to know how much He believes in us and will not let us fail.
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help.
By this I will know that God is for me.
John 14:16,26 (NIV)
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.
Dana loved God’s word to the point of frequent tears. He loved sharing his heart for Jesus with all who knew him. His music was all about reaching the heart of the 10 year old boy with the hope he would know Jesus for his lifetime.
Dana Key was part of the band “DeGarmo and Key” for over 25 years. In 1982, when I was first building a foundational relationship with Jesus the lady who was influential in guiding me to my own salvation gave me a tape of DeGarmo and Key. She said it was an example of the freedom in Christ to find new ways of worship through contemporary Christian music.
Are You Ready? 1985
Going forward to about the year 2000, standing in my office, was Dana Key. He was about to lead a chapel service for some of the men and women who were involved in Love In Action. I told Dana about my first Christian tape from DeGarmo and Key. He was humble in his response but I hope it was encouraging to him to hear how he not only influenced me, but thousands of others like me through the years.
Several years later I had become a part of the church where Dana was the pastor. I was in his office seeking the Lord with him for my personal future. He was very encouraging towards me in my life and spoke clearly of how he saw my gifts and the way they could be used.
Dana was one of my most significant friends and confidants during a very stressful time of ministry transition in 2008. I’ll never forget seeing him laying prostrate before the Lord praying on my behalf for wisdom and insight.
Under Dana’s leadership, The Love Of Christ Church gave me the opportunity to build the foundation of teaching material that later became the Journey of Thomas! It was largely through his encouragement and provision of opportunity that I have come to where I am today in ministry. He encouraged me to write the book I am working to get published from The Journey of Thomas material.
The last few years has been seriously challenging for Dana – in his health, trying to lead a struggling church, and keeping the gospel of Jesus Christ on the forefront of his life. Dana has now fought the good fight of faith and is celebrating his eternity with Jesus. He is among the Great Cloud of Witnesses that will welcome me into heaven when I get there.
Thank you Dana Key for making a difference in my life. I will not forget you.
In the June 2010 issue of “Delivered” magazine, StefanieLewallen wrote a very good article on the ministry of Grace Rivers. It very clearly displayed the heart and soul of our ministry. This is the first media representation of the ministry that has been done. We are thankful for her insightful writing following the interview she had with John Smid.
As we all understand, when anyone outside of an organization writes a report, not everything in the article is 100% accurate but the heart of Grace was clearly seen. We are thankful for this opportunity to report to the Memphis region about what God is doing through Grace Rivers to reach out to others with the Love of Christ.
By Stefanie Lewallen — John Smid, founder and Executive Director of Grace Rivers Ministries, wants others to know the Jesus he knows.
Grace River’s mission is to challenge believers to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit to represent Jesus. He believes it can be done by being honest, authentic and real with people.
According to Smid, The uniqueness in this ministry is to not just give people the four spiritual laws, but to invest in them relationally, to show them “grace, mercy love and redeeming hope.”
Smid believes that our world is very hardened. “too often believers wear a mask of Christianity said Smid. He wants people to take off those masks, say what real people say and not feel like they have to hide themselves to show Jesus. ‘Many believers do not understand how to show Cod’s grace. We tend to be legalistic. Smid defines legalism as any expectations and standards we may set for those we encounter He wants us to instead send the message I love you the way you are.
Relationships are very important to Smid. He loves people for who they are and wants to genuinely share Jesus with them. He believes that being their friend and walking alongside them gives the Holy Spirit more of an opportunity to work in peoples’ lives, “People make people subjects” stated Smid. “We go into a relationship and instead of seeing the person we see a goal. They become a target of accomplishment instead of people, instead of relationship.
Smid, who once lived in the homosexual lifestyle, remembers, that once he knew the love of Christ, he began to love and appreciate the Scriptures and the teachings, of Christ. He is now out of that lifestyle and has been married for twenty-two years. “If someone Is struggling with an issue, we have to be spirit led when dealing with them.” He refers to Galatians 6 where we are instructed to catch those caught in trespasses and catch them gently. Smid believes taht sometimes helping other people may also include getting out of our comfort zones and reaching out to people who are from different backgrounds and races.
Grace Rivers is also the reverse of a typical church. ” A church invites you to church. We invite people into our lives.” commented Smid. The ministry works on individual relationships first than invites the individual to home group meetings, missional groups and celebrations gatherings. “My objective is to not have any agenda, goals or requirements. I just really want to know them and want them to know the Jesus I know. Jesus loves them and cares about them.” ” I reach out to anybody,” remarks Smid. “But I do have a burden for the gay community. I have a burden to communicate the love of Christ.” Smid wants us to get outside of our churches so that the people we get to know may want to follow us through the front doors someday. “We can’t just go after people and think that their sin is any different than ours. We all need God’s grace.”
If you have any questions for John Smid about this article, please contact him 901-753-0744 or check out his website at www.gracerivers.com