this is the end of my story

endofmystory

 

(this is my story)

I recently celebrated the one year anniversary of my blog. Over the past year I have written more content than ever before. There have been highs and lows throughout the entire process. I have loved creating content and sharing my insight and heart with others. Through it all, I’ve learned a lot about myself.

I’ve glanced over my blogs and realized I have a major shortcoming. I am often worried and very insecure. I write about it pretty often as well. I have spent so much time thinking about and wondering about and worrying about where God wants me. I haven’t seen much change in the area where I serve. My community is sinking in despair, looking for hope in sex and drugs.

I’ve also noticed I grow more and more frustrated when my blog doesn’t see big numbers. Of course I always feel happy and content when the views are higher but that only shows my happiness is completely circumstantial to the how well the blog is doing.

I’ve met some really awesome people and I have been honored to step aside and allow a number of people share on my blog. The ride has been a roller coaster to say the least.

Not long ago, I felt this desire to church plant. I don’t know why though; church planting is hard work. It is something that continually keeps coming back to me, again and again and again. Recently, I shared the news that I was planning on moving to Texas but I didn’t have a set time when I would do so.

So began the process of asking God how and why things would work out. Questions became frustration and led to worry and insecurity. I came to wake up one morning, excited about the possibility of moving and then I would wake up the next day worried that I was making the wrong choice.

I’ve never really know the exact reason why I started to blog in the first place, just that I wanted to write. I finally have an answer to that question. In the most simple terms possible: I want to share my story with you.

(this is my confession)

I like reading. A lot. I love reading but i also read very little. Those sound like a contradiction but it isn’t. I have tons of books, tons of them. Yet, as many as I have, there are a handful at best which I have actually read. I like reading just not a lot of reading. That’s why I love blogs. Of course, I subscribe to so many that I am so far behind I doubt i’ll ever catch up.

Without fail, I tell myself, again and again, I need to read this or that because I think it will be for my own benefit. In addition, I love reading quotes from social media outlets (face book and twitter mainly).

So the issue that came up is that when ever I felt God saying something, I would read Scriptures and quotes. As far as church planting, i have one of the most unlikely stories ever. Most church planting stories go like this…
The planter is serving in a church.
The planter has experience in the church.
The planter is called to plant a church with a specific location in mind.
The planter’s call is confirmed by the church where he currently serves.
The church where he serves becomes the sending church.
The sending church acts as a mother church and sends him and often a small team out.
The rest is history.

I don’t share that story. Yes, I have served in the local church and have been ordained. Yes, I feel like God wants me to do something but I don’t always know what that is. I look at what he has called me to, I look at my gifts and pray and seek counsel. But I always struggle because i feel like I am in the middle hearing two voices, by reading endless quotes, blogs and books.

About a week and half ago, I felt God press on my heart, “Who are you listening to? Me or other people?”

I have freedom in Christ. With that freedom, I am letting go…

(this is my resignation)

I am NOT planting a church, I am following Jesus so he might build his church.

I am NOT moving to Texas, I am following Jesus to Texas.

I am NOT qualified to lead others, Jesus is my qualification for all he calls me to.

The great thing about my story is that its finally over. I am no longer the point of the story; Jesus is.


this is the end of my story| written by mike monica

Advertisements

realigned theology

realigned

“But Moses told the people, Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” – Exodus 14:13-14

As a disciple (learner) I love reading the Word of God. As a prior student of theology I love learning about God (theology) and as a Pastor I am charged with the task of defending the Word of God. Being able to articulate what the Word is saying and what it is not saying is rooted in an understanding of context. Without context, we are capable of manipulating the Word to our hearts content.

The above Scripture is proof of the classic manipulation.

This might destroy your theology but hear this…God isn’t always going to fight for you!

Look at Exodus 14:13-14 and then look at what I just wrote. On the surface level, they are polar opposite statements. Most would side with the Scripture. And those who would side with Scripture would be dead wrong. Dead. Wrong.

Context|

Israel has been led by Moses out into the wilderness. The Egyptians are now chasing them. The Egyptians have an army and horses. Israel are not warriors, have a ton of goods which were given to them, women and children and elderly. It’s not to difficult to see how this battle would turn out.

Check Mate-Egyptians win!

But God…|

When God is in the picture, everything changes and I mean everything. God called Israel to cross the Red Sea. Here’s the lingering problem with that though; the Red Sea doesn’t part until Israel begins crossing. Thus all they see is a Sea before them and no way of getting across.

So here comes the motivational speaker Moses with this line. “God will rescue you. God will fight for you. Be still. Stay calm.” Such a great motivational speech they all need to hear, right? God wasn’t impressed with it though.

Need proof. Okay. Here you go…

Exodus 14:15
“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!”

BAM!

Here’s the deal. Did God rescue the people? He sure did! Did God fight for them? Sure did. But God was informing Moses and the people of Israel that they had to do something; to get moving so they could live out the victory God has already established.

One of my favorite lines in a song is from a rock band, Petra and the line is this. “Waters never part until our feet get wet.”

I think the issue we have caused for ourselves is the idea that we have NOTHING to do but be still and remain calm. That simply isn’t true. God calls us and God gives us the victory. Then it is up to us but it’s not about us.

When you have time read through the Exodus account. It’s pretty cool the way God calls to Moses and says…

“I have seen the suffering Israel has endured.”

“I have heard their cries.”

“I have come down to rescue them.”

“Now Moses, Go and lead my people.”

Check that out. Pretty cool stuff there. God hears the sufferings of his people. God’s love compels him to act. God calls Moses. God informs Moses the work of God will be done. There’s a whole lot of God doing stuff in this story. But then, out of the blue-Moses is told to go.

Why should he? Why can’t Moses just say, “I’m just going to be still and stay calm. Go ahead and fight for the people!” God is fighting for the people of Israel through MOSES! It’s not about Moses, it’s about God! And while God fought for the people and led them, he allowed Moses to be his servant.

The truth spills out into the Red Sea. What if Israel listened to Moses and just stood there? What if they loosened up, stayed calm and chilled out? They would have a radically different story to share. The people were not to “be still.” (Moses’ command) The people were to “get moving.” (God’s command)

God calls us to accomplish things and places us in situations we cannot possibly handle. Moses could not lead the people of Israel out. God could. Moses could not stand up to the Pharaoh and convince him to let the people go. God could.

You see, the issue that arises from this verse(s) like this is that it creates a philosophy that isn’t aligned with God’s truth. Exodus 14:13-14 by itself would indicate that 1) God is going to fight for us and 2) We just need to be still.

The opposite was true in this situation! God already had fought for them-he already led them out of Egypt. He already told Moses to lead the people across the Red Sea. But, if we get stuck on Exodus 14:13-14 then we live our lives believing that God is going to fight for us and rescue us when God is actually calling us to live out and enforce the victory.

The people of Israel were not called to be still and wait for God to carry them over the Red Sea; they were called to pick up their feet and walk across the Red Sea but they had to get moving! The point of this story is that it revealed God’s power.

Question…

What are you doing to accomplish the task God has called you to do?


realigned theology| written by mike monica

in search of a new god

new god

 

John 6:29|

“Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” (NLT)

[the search for significance]
Context is vitally important in understanding any Scripture so here’s the background information we all need. A large group of people had followed Jesus and in the evening hours, sat down. The disciples urged Jesus to send these people away because they were hungry and the disciples felt they could become upset or frustrated. Jesus, being the cool guy he is and all, told the disciples to feed the people with five fish and two loaves of bread.

Jesus is always asking us to do the impossible!

As the story continues, Jesus blesses the food and it multiplies, again and again and again. The food is multiplied so that the entire crowd (5000 men at the very least) were fed by the hand of God. Over 5000 people witnesses and experienced a move of God.

The next day the crowd woke up and discovered Jesus and his disciples had left them and went to the opposite side of the lake. The crowd followed Jesus. When Jesus saw the crowd arrive, he pointed out the reason they were there; they had not come because he had performed miracles but because they were given something to eat.

I want to pause for a second to ask this question: Why are you looking for Jesus?

Jesus continues on and shares with these people that they were seeking something perishable but they should be seeking eternal life. The crowd, wanting to please Jesus, told him, we want to do the work of God as well.

Then Jesus reveals the truth about the work of God. That the only work God wants from us is this-to believe.

[the search for purpose]
Jesus has this way of breaking down walls and barriers and revealing truth and grace in a way that impacts those who are truly seeking him. You see, Jesus said something that sounds so simple but it’s deeper than we can imagine.

First, Jesus plainly told the crowd, “I know why you’re here! You didn’t come because I have the ability to heal the sick, raise the dead and change water into wine; you came because you were hungry and you were given something to eat.”

Sometimes people seek Jesus because of what he offers in the temporary settings of this world. Sometimes all we are seeking is the blessings of a future with hope, we throw our lives towards a God who is all about us and is willing to give us what we need. Make no mistake, food was something this crowd needed but the focus was wrong, their hearts were wrong. They were seeking, not what Jesus wanted to give them but what they wanted him to provide.

Sometimes, personal satisfaction is the catalyst for following Jesus.

Jesus’ response not only expels people who seek him for their own purpose but also for the religious minded as well. In Jesus’ time, the religious leaders had built themselves into a society of demigod’s who believed that God was for them because of their religious activities.

Jesus made it more simple. What does God want from us? Faith in Christ.

True faith rests on the person and work of Christ alone.
True faith always seeks after Christ.
True faith abides in Christ and through grace produces obedience.
True faith leads us to live a life worthy of the calling we have already received.

When we seek after Jesus because of temporary needs fulfilled, we are in search for a new god. Yes, we are already loved by God. Yes, he cares about us and he will provide for our needs. Prosperity is not what we think though; prosperity is what God gives us, even if that doesn’t lead to much.

When we seek after Jesus because we believe he approves of our activities, we are in search of a new god. We are not seeking to worship Christ but simply to work and we work for ourselves when we do that. Working for God flows out of our worship for God.

Follow Jesus for who he is and what he has done for you.

in search of a new god| written by mike monica

these five words will change your life!

5 words that will change

[The Burden of A Calling]

Several months ago I sat across from Pastor Rod as he asked this question, “What are you doing right now that requires faith?”

The truth is, I was living within my means and inside a comfort zone that I never wanted to leave. Never! I didn’t say that of course.

A few months later, I was at Pastor Dave’s office while we discussed a range of topics. One of those topics inevitably was about where I am supposed to be in my life. I’ve been curious about this for a long, long time. I still remember what he said, “There is a difference between a burden and a calling.”

I like my comfort zone. I like the freedom I have right now but in my heart and mind, I know its only temporary.

I would say the number one reason I don’t want things to change in my life is that I’ve never had to step outside of my comfort zone on my own. I’ve put my foot outside the circle before. Yet, I’ve had the comfort of others who were around me and I knew I could fall back.

But then I remember somethings that I have written and I knew they were directed towards me; I simply wasn’t ready to take them all in.

I recall when I first left my first church, Abundant Life, I prayed two things.

1. If God is calling me to do something specific, I want him to take everything away from me so I know it can only be accomplished through him.

2. I asked God to never, ever ask me to leave the New England area all by myself.

These Five Words Will Change Your Life…

“I am with you always.”

– Jesus

[Next Steps]

So, dear readers, here’s what is going on in my life.

Over the past several weeks God has been speaking to my heart and bringing an awareness to my mind and placing things in such a way that I am finding it is only God who can do these things.

Here’s a huge announcement…

I am moving to Texas!

I am moving to begin a Community Group and launch a Church.

No, I can’t begin to believe those words myself. I still struggle to see God calling me, using me and somehow figuring out everything that needs to be accomplished but I suppose that is why he is God.

I am in the initial phases right now of saving money and preparing to move away. I am nervous and excited, terrified and calm.

[Get Involved]

Moving away and driving across the country to a place I have never been to makes you stand on your toes. So this is where YOU come in.

Here’s how you can help.

1. Pray.

If that is all you can do, that is more than enough!

2. Donate to my “Go Fund Me” campaign which I set up. All the proceeds will contribute to both the moving expenses I will have as well as the initial church planting expenses.

God bless,

Mike.

http://www.gofundme.com/f3ayfo

you hide, i seek

HideandSeek-Series-Graphic1

[the games we play]

I recall a number of years ago, I spent some time with some friends over the weekend. My friends were actually visiting family and had invited me to go with them and so I tagged along. Their family lived in a huge house and i mean, HUGE! We are talking three bathrooms and ten bedrooms. A weekend wasn’t even enough time to explore the entire place!

We all knew Sunday was the day we would go out to eat and rent some movies, which of course left Saturday for us to find something to do which would be entertaining. We decided to play the game, “Hide and Seek.”

One of my friends had located a really cool hideout spot and suggested that we hide in three together. I obliged with this request and we went into a closet on the very top floor of this house. The problem was this: the closet door locked automatically from the outside and so when the door was shut behind us, we were trapped.

It was a great bidding place but we valued our lives a bit more so we spent about five minutes banging on the door and yelling for help. We were rescued of course.

[finding God in the games we play]

Newsflash: if you keep in touch with this blog (and I hope you do) then you already know how often I deal with my own insecurity and my calling. It’s not only an issue of who I am but this age old question of where I am going or more accurately, where is God calling me to?

Hide and seek is a really awesome game when we consider the will of God for our lives. It’s sort of like this: God the Father begins counting and we run off with Jesus to go and find a place to hide. Jesus leads us into a closet and we follow him in there because we trust him. Of course, Jesus closes the door and it locks from the outside.

With everything in me, i want to scream as loud as I can and break the door down. Since I cannot do that, I yell so I can rescued. Jesus, on the other hand, would whisper, “Be still.”

[remember this]

i. When you or I are so wrapped up in seeking God’s will for our lives, we can easily forget that our most basic call is to pursue Him. (Jeremiah 29:13)

ii. When you or I are wrapped up in working for God, we can easily forget that we should cultivate a life centered on intimacy. (Luke 10:38-42)

iii. When you or I are wrapped up in going where Jesus is, the storms in our lives can shake our faith as we forget the most important thing is that, regardless of what we are going through, we are with Jesus. (Matthew 8:23-27)

iv. Everything we need in life is provided to us following our response to God’s call to seek his kingdom and his righteousness first. (Matthew 6:33)

don’t call me a christian

Dont-Call-Me-a-Christian

 

[A Broken Image]

When I was a kid, my parents would take us down to the local beach. It was a small little place but we enjoyed going there from time to time. No one in my immediate family was a great swimmer nor were we enthusiastic about it either. But, at least three times during the summer, we would travel the 20 minutes it took to go down there and enjoy our day at the beach.

Since we were not big on swimming, we often found other ways of entertaining ourselves. My older brother and I would often build sandcastles. If you are a brother, then you know that you live in constant competition with your brother. I don’t know why that is but I know there is some unspoken law about that. That being said, my sandcastle always had to be bigger than his.

My brother, being older and wiser, would build his sandcastle much closer to where our parents would be relaxing, bathing in the sun. I, without fail, would build mine close to the waters edge. The sand was close enough to the water to be a little more muddy and as such, a bit more stable and so I could always out build him. My sandcastle was always bigger.

It is also without fail, my brother would warn me against not building so close to the water but I always ignored the advice. Then, after completion, I would mock his sandcastle and we would go for a quick swim. When we returned, my sandcastle was gone. The tide had come in just enough to wash it away and there was my brothers sandcastle, still standing tall.

I was, of course, devastated!

My beautiful creation was destroyed and my hard work was for nothing! That being said, I cannot begin to imagine how God felt when he walked through the garden, calling for the man, only to find his created beings hiding from his presence. They had fallen into sin. God’s creation, it seemed, to crash down, right before his eyes.

While I was growing up in the church, the christian world had its share of “shocks.” I still vaguely remember the suicide from a Christian musician artist and later two more christian artists who had engaged in an extra marital affair.

Here’s the thing, over the past month, I have read more “shocking news reports” than ever before! Here’s a small snap shot of what I have seen and read…
1] Mark Driscoll and Acts 29|
Mark Driscoll is the lead founder and lead pastor of Mars Hill Church and also began a church planting network, Acts 29 several years ago. Over the past few years, a high number of interns and elders have left Mars Hill citing Driscoll’s leadership as a concern. Driscoll has been flagged for plagiarism, leadership abuse and mishandling church finances.
Due to the concerns, Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church have been removed from the Acts 29 Network and Driscoll has since stepped down while an internal investigation is being conducted into the reports concerning him.

2] Vicky Beeching|
Vicky Beeching is a well known and well established worship leader, She has come out as being a lesbian. She has gone on record to inform the Christian world that she believes God loves her the way she is. This of course has led many to question whether or not to support any of her ministry, present or past.

3] Victoria Osteen|
The co-pastor and wife of Joel Osteen has made the announcement that when we go to church and worship God we should do it for ourselves. If taken at face value, it is a message of entitlement and happiness.

As a writer/blogger, I have already come across the numerous blogs that have been written about ALL of these issues. If, for any reason, you think this blog is going to launch into a debate about these people, move on.

I’ve come to find that when Christian leaders say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing, there comes a flood of responses. This leads to the question, how does God feel when his children fall and what should our response be?

[Should We Call Christians out?]

[Yes]
If we believe it is right to call out leaders for moral failures or sharing a “watered down gospel” then our theology is built around the idea that we need to “guard the truth” and “exposing the darkness.” (1 Tim. 6:20)

[No]
If we believe we don’t have that right, our theology is often built around “Not judging others.” (Matthew 7:1-2)

[WWJD]
A biblical approach is outlined in the gospel of Matthew 18:15-17
Go to the person IN PRIVATE!
If they are unrepentant, take the matter to them again with 2-3 witnesses.
If they continue to be unrepentant, bring the matter to the church.
If they are still unrepentant, remove them from the body and treat them as unbelievers.

Now here is the point, we do have the right to judge other believers. However, I wonder how many of us have actually personally met Joel Osteen and or Mark Driscoll and discussed these matters with them. If you are not one of those people who have done this, then you’re ignoring the Scriptures call, which could place you yourself in the same category as a “false teacher.”

Guarding the truth should occur within the confines of your own church and congregation as these matters arise. The disciples and early church fathers dealt with false teachings and false teachers as they arose.

Some people will call out Christian leaders left and right for preaching a “watered down gospel.” I’m not really sure what that means because, let’s be real, there is only ONE GOSPEL. If you can water down the gospel then its not the gospel so that should tell you right away that you should stop calling it a watered down anything.

Defending the truth does not mean we start with false teachings; rather the Gospel of Jesus is the starting point!

[Don’t Call Me A Christian}

As believers, we can easily get wrapped up in our own theology and allow our theology to be our starting point and our guide for life. Make no mistake-what you and i believe about God will ultimately determine how our lives are lived. How we respond to God is how we will respond to others!

The way we respond to God is how we will respond to people!

It is, without a doubt, a touchy and tricky topic when dealing with moral failures of leaders and false teachings. As Christians, we are representing Christ at all times. With that in mind, let’s remember these two things…

Who’s Getting the Glory?
Philippians 1:15-18|
“It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me.But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice.”

Paul knew in his heart some preachers and teachers were sharing the gospel for false purposes. Some of them liked the idea of exerting authority over people and knew that authority allowed them the opportunity to manipulate them. Others saw the gospel as a way to become financially stable because they could appeal to the commands of tithing. What Paul saw in the midst of this turmoil was Jesus’ name being preached and through that, the Spirit’s work of regeneration was changing lives.

Follow the Leader.
John 21:20-22
“Peter turned around and saw behind him the disciple Jesus loved…Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”

A quick context lesson is this-Jesus reinstated Peter following his denials of Christ. Peter was then called to care and feed the flock of Christ and then Christ, in essence, informed Peter he would die a terrible death. Peter got fixated on John (the disciple Jesus loved) and asked, what about him? Or we could say, “Is it fair for me to die and not John?”

Jesus redirected Peter’s attention. Don’t worry about him, don’t worry about the plans I have for others; you need to do one thing, follow me. As Christians that is our call-to follow Jesus.

Jesus is in the midst of his people, redeeming, restoring and transforming us into his own image.

don’t call me a christian| written by mike monica

 

Check out these resources|

8 Things Christians Should Be Known For

http://jarridwilson.com/8-things-christians/
Was Victoria Osteen Really That Off Base?

http://chadashby.com/2014/09/04/was-victoria-osteen-really-that-off-base/

marks of a movement

Marks-of-Movement-WEB

[Marks of A Movement]

Gen. 12:1“The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go the land I will show you.”

– Sometimes God tells us to go without telling us where. This is so we trust in the Person of God and not the plan.

Ex. 2:25 | “He (God) looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act.”

– Our calling always begins with God’s love and his desire to reveal himself through us.

Joshua 1:9| “This is my commandment-be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

 – The promise we are given is the promise we need, that God is with us.

I Sam. 16:11-12| “Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied, “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.” …”So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes. And the LORD said, “This is the one, anoint him.”

God not only looks upon the hearts of those he calls, he will give them opportunities to serve as he prepares them to lead. Look for those opportunities as you seek God’s calling.

Isaiah 6:8|Then I heard the LORD asking “Whom shall I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am, send me.”

– There are times in our lives we need to stop asking God where he wants us to go and we need to start asking God who he wants us to serve! 

[Prayer]

Today I share a special and specific prayer request. On the topic of God calling us out, my dear friends Dennis and Rachael LeCouffe have felt the call of God on their lives to serve as missionaries. Recently, Dennis and Rachael have been accepted as part of the ministry team for YWAM (Youth with a Mission).

Currently, Rachael and Dennis reside in Vermont and have begun a fundraising campaign to help raise the funds necessary to serve as missionaries. The Missions Trip in January 2015 and they will serve for six months in Mexico. The funds raised will cover the costs of travel, living expenses and medical coverage.

Please pray for them and if you would like to donate, you can do so here|

http://www.youcaring.com/mission-trip-fundraiser/missionary-outreach-program-fundraiser/203871

[Quotes]

1. If there is one thing that sets the life in the Spirit apart from the one trying to live by human effort it’s this, to recognize that everything comes from God and nothing comes from ourselves.

2. Rest in what Christ has done and let the Spirit transform your outward life into His finished work.

3. The reason the Old Covenant couldn’t succeed is because it was dependent upon people performing the work of God and remaining sinless.

4. The fact is that God established His works completely, and then formed creation around His completed work.

5. Yet God doesn’t measure faithfulness by accomplishments but by obedience by faith.

6. Grace is the completed work of Christ offered to us as the fulfillment of all that God desires for us to do and to be.

7. My most feeble effort, if it is a work of faith in God’s power, can accomplish wonders if God enters that work to accomplish His purpose. When we trust in His works, we will experience

8. The message of scripture is to rest fully on the assurance that our promise is dependent on Christ alone.

9. To walk in the Spirit is to walk by faith – trusting completely in the work of God.

10. The call of the gospel is to trust completely in Christ and allow Him to transform us into His likeness.

All quotes taken from, “It Is Finished.”  By Eddie Snipes (GES Book Publishing Carrollton, GA Copyright © 2013)

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

marks of a movement| written by mike monica.