restoration

Restoration

Have you ever appreciated the work of a restorer? The restoration process can be long and grueling, but the outcome is often incredible. One of the most intriguing things to me about restoration is how the restored piece of furniture, instrument, vehicle, or house can have more value than the original. There is somehow more beauty, or maybe things work better than they have before. The restorer see potential in the broken much like a sculptor sees a masterpiece in a block of marble.

Saturday Morning Prayer

I met with a few men for prayer this morning, and it still amazes me how God speaks when we seek Him. Our Saturday morning prayer times might not look the way you imagine when you think of men gathering together to pray. We have a specific theme to focus on as we seek God, but before we pray together, we spread out and pray separately. In those moments of seeking Him, God speaks.
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fire

A Prayer of Spiritual Awakening

Father,

You are wondrous. Your marvelous love goes beyond what human language can describe, yet I still know it deeper than understanding allows. Let Your Kingdom be know in the Name of Jesus and let Your plan unfold in my life. Open heaven and show me Your glory.

I know that You provide my every need. Let me not worry about what I do not have. I trust Your timing in all things. Forgive my mess. I know that You’ve already cleaned it up through the blood of Jesus. Help me to break the cycles of sin in my life and to forgive those whom I need to forgive.

Heal the areas of my heart that have atrophied or hardened and fill me with The Holy Spirit. Let Your fire burn through me and your fruit come forth. May the words of my mouth proclaim Your magnificent goodness and draw people to Your heart. In The Name of Jesus, let the lost be found, the deaf hear, and the blind see.

Fill me with Your power and love. Let me see people healed by the blood of Jesus. Speak Your truth through me by the power of The Holy Spirit. Break strongholds in The Name of Jesus and destroy the chains of addiction. I declare that Your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.

Enhabit my worship. May Your presence be know as I praise Your Name. Shake the earth with Your love and power as I give you honor and let Your Name be glorified. I want to see You.

Your people long for Your embrace. We yearn for a fresh encounter with You. Lead us into Your presence and give us a unified heart to worship You in spirit and in truth. Break open the box that we’ve tried to put You in and let Your wonder shine.

Awaken us to the plan You have for us. Let a new day break across the horizon and shine Your light throughout our circles of influence. Show us Your glory in all of Your splendor so that we may reflect it in full to everyone we encounter. Ignite a fire that completely consumes us.

Take hold of everything that does not belong and cast it away Replace it with Your Spirit. Let love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control flow from within us to awaken others to Your love.

May the greater things that You promised come to be, and nations come to faith in You. Send Your Spirit to plant faith in the hearts of the faithless. Bring hope to the hopeless. Give us all wisdom and a renewed hunger for You. Let us dream dreams and see visions. Put a new song in our hearts and draw near to us as we draw near to You.

Yours is The Kingdom.

Yours is The Power.

Yours is The Glory.

Forever.

Amen.

Dickinson, Texas

It’s been one month since 21 strangers from Crossroads Church left Pittsburgh to help with the relief and recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey. Three groups of flyers, a pair of 3-day drivers, and a 2-day caravan of seven guys embarked for Dickinson, Texas, without much knowledge about what we would be doing. We knew we were helping people, but that’s about it.

We had a great time getting to know each other during those 20 or so hours of driving. I only knew 3 other people on the trip, and had met 3 others before the planning stages, so we had plenty to talk about on the journey south. We made sure to have some fun along the way as well with a stop at B.B. Kings in Memphis for some live music and dinner.
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More than a task

More Than a Task to Accomplish

Almost every Thursday night, I gather with a group of musicians to rehearse the music for the weekend worship services. Like many other worship rehearsals at churches across the nation, we are normally focussed on the task of working through the songs to make sure we are all on the same page and ready to go for the weekend. It is not all about the task of preparation, but that is often the main goal. We pray together. We worship. But there is always that goal of being prepared in the back of our minds. It’s actually at the forefront of my mind most weeks if I’m completely honest. But worship rehearsal is more than a task to accomplish.
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value others

Value Others Above Yourselves

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in The Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:1-4 (NIV)

Three hurricanes, an earthquake, and a mass shooting have left a wake of destruction over the past month. I truly believe that there is power in prayer, and I ask you to pray with me for all of those effected. Without discounting the power of prayer in these situations, I know that I can do more. To value others above myself has been instilled in my life since I was a young child, and true empathy is an area of my life that has been growing in significant ways over the past several years. I can do more, so I need to do more.
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Deeper Issues

Deeper Issues

Social media, sports talk radio, and news outlets have been mostly filled with polarized perspectives of the NFL, the national anthem, the flag of the United States of America, respect, honor, equality, and our military. Articles and posts about hurricane relief needs, the volatility of North Korea, and satirical pieces about the happenings of the weekend are intermittently dispersed among the rest of the noise. That’s really what a majority of it is right now. Noise. Arguments and debates over surface emotions. You might occasionally find someone who wants to have an actual discussion about the deeper issues, but those discussions are lost in the noise.

If you happened to find this post through all the noise, allow me to pose several questions to you before you take to social media with your own opinion (any more than you already have).
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You're Doing It Wrong - Bread of Life

You’re Doing It Wrong

I think I give off a vibe of “You’re doing it wrong.” I have to consciously make an effort to not jump into projects that others are working on without being asked for help. It’s not that I think I can do everything better, I just notice little things that can help streamline processes and I have a desire to maximize results. I have a wide range of talents. Chalk it up to undiagnosed ADD if you want. I’ve just always had a desire to learn as much as I can about as many things as I can. I also have a tendency to jump to the next thing that comes along, often before I’ve finished what I was already working on.

I don’t share this to make myself look good. A number of people have told others about my diversified talents in front of me, and I usually feel awkward and brush it off as nothing.

Now I know, that may sound incredibly arrogant, but that is not my intention. I realized last night that I am the one doing it wrong. I spent much of yesterday working through a timeline of where I thought things may have been missing the mark in our church. Let me say here that I don’t think anything is truly wrong, and I know the leadership of the church is on track with the vision that God has placed on their hearts. I had a sense that something was amiss, but I could not put it into words. That’s where the timeline came in, because that’s the only thing I could make sense of. The problem is that I was doing it wrong.
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What is truth?

What Is Truth (Finally Following Up)

I said that I would write a follow-up about The Shack after reading the book for myself. Fiction has not been on my reading list for quite some time, and it was not the easiest read for me. I found myself pressing through to read it because I said I would. I took notes to reference back to when writing this post. It did not take me long to read through the book, but after nearly two months it seems as though I have misplaced all of those notes. That’s no big deal though because they largely supported what I wrote in The Most Dangerous Lies as well as the other reviews that I linked there.

I do, however, want to touch on a few things that I think are important to keep in mind if you’ve read the book, seen the movie, or choose to do either of those things in the future.
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Dangerous Lies - The Shack

The Most Dangerous Lies

Sometimes it is easy to tell the difference between the truth and dangerous lies. Other times, it takes practiced discernment to see the difference. I do not claim to have a highly tuned gift of discernment, but with the help of Scripture and others who have gone before me, I can recognized when truth has been tainted with lies. The most dangerous lies are the ones that we cannot tell where the truth ends and the lie begins. There are elements of truth that draw us in, often followed by distorted truth that still sounds good. The problem is that distorted truth is not truth. When you look into a curved mirror at a carnival, is the reflection you see a true image of yourself?

If you want to understand truth, you have to start with a standard to base all other truth on. If there is no standard of truth, then there is no agreement on what truth is. The standard of truth on the road is the law concerning motor transportation and highways. It states that driving in speeds over the posted limit is illegal, and that is the truth that speeding ticket are based upon. The fine you are required is a true fine, not imagined, and it traces its roots back to the law that is the basis of its truth.

The Bible is the gold standard for truth. If you do not believe that The Bible is true, then we are not likely to come to any form of agreement beyond the above paragraphs. I wrote a blog post in 2011 that focused on my belief in The Bible as fully true, and you can read it here. There was even the beginning of a discussion around it. Since I believe The Bible is the gold standard of truth, I think it’s a good place to go to understand lies and deception as well.
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