teaching, fear

teacher beware! or perhaps just aware…

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” ~ 1 Peter 4:10 ~

I like to write. I like to teach. I read the verse in James this morning and realized that the fact that God has called me to teach is very treacherous territory for me if I am not dedicated to teaching truth. If I am not praying and meditating on the word of God I can get drawn away from the truth of God.

James says “Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For, if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” The scary thing is the mistakes that I make (if I allow this to cause me to fear, which most of the time I don’t) cost more than anyone who isn’t called to teach.

I used to think it didn’t matter if I accidentally taught something wrong because it wasn’t intentional right? But when I read this verse what I hear is this absolves me from having to be perfect but the flip side to this is very scary. I know that I have the burden of stricter judgment based on whatever I teach and people hear and take for themselves as truth. I am accountable for that. If I don’t teach truth and I don’t preach the Gospel then I suspect that I will be judged quite harshly for that. Which, if I’m being really honest, is terrifying, and makes me never want to open my mouth to teach another soul, another thing for as long as I live. But I have made the choice to do what God has asked.

God gave me a passion for teaching. To tell you the truth I am sure that it started when I was a child. I am what people sometimes like to refer to as a know-it-all. I don’t try to be nor have I ever wanted to be and it actually really hurts my feelings when people call me that, but I love knowledge. I love to learn and I love telling other people what I’ve learned. One of the things I love about writing is that the only people who have to listen to what I’ve learned are people who want to “hear” what I have to say.

When I joined the military and I was going through medic school I loved the teachers. I remember one day they brought up the fact that several of them were retired Army medics and that if any of us wanted to teach after we got out that we should know that the opportunity was there. That really started me thinking about teaching. I knew the second I thought about it that I would love it.

Then a few years later I went through nursing school at Ft. Lewis and in nursing school you actually have to give lectures (at least in Army nursing school). I loved it. I would get up there and I would go through my PowerPoint slides and I would teach my heart out. I loved it and if someone in the class engaged… oh man that was the end. I would be over the moon. It was great. I loved it just as much as I knew that I would.

Then I started learning that I could teach anywhere. I would go on missions with the military and teach classes on things like heat casualties and how to avoid being one in the Texas heat. I would go work in hospitals and I would help all the young medics and nurses with things that they needed practice with. I was so dedicated to their learning something from me that I would even let them practice starting IV’s on me. My passion for teaching just kept growing.

Now my interest has turned from medicine. I still love medicine because I love helping people, but I think that my teaching skills are better used to teach people the good news. Isaiah says it like this and I love this verse it’s one of my favorites, he says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!”

I mean of all the things in the world to teach what could be more worthy to be taught than the Gospel? Where I get in my own way is not feeling like I am worthy to teach it. I don’t know enough. I haven’t REALLY been reading my bible long enough to know as much as other people and if they already know then I won’t be able to teach them anything. Funny thing about God though, he really likes to whisper in your ear when you’re thinking these things, and he reminds me: who he is makes who I am. And I am good enough to tell other people who he is. He will MAKE me an effective teacher. None of that is on me. None of my insecurity is grounded in truth. What God tells me to do I will succeed. I may not be successful (if that makes sense) but that may not be the point. I will accomplish what he means for me to accomplish.

Every time I feel like I am being ineffective I know that I am putting my faith in the wrong place. When that happens I like to remind myself of what Jesus says to the disciples when they ask why they were unable to drive out a demon. Jesus told them, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Did you get that part? Nothing will be impossible for you.

God will accomplish his will through you so there is no fear in teaching, or any other thing that God calls you to because he will do what he wants as long as we stay out of the way and allow him to use us fully for his purpose.

“…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

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

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

sovereignty of God, Kingship, Submission

Jesus is not my homie: sovereignty

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” ~Isaiah 6:1-5~

I’ve always loved Isaiah 6. I love everything about it; the meaning, the imagery, the poetry. It’s just beautiful. I wish I were a better painter. I can see it in my head it’s just such a perfect picture of who we are, but more importantly who God is. I mean we think of God a lot of times in terms of “he’s my best friend.” Absolutely. He absolutely IS my best friend, but we have to remember who he is as the creator and RULER of the universe as well.

Sometimes when I am alone with God it’s almost like being wrapped in his arms. It’s restful and peaceful and comforting. I feel warm and safe, and it’s easy to forget he’s sitting on a throne above all of creation. You have to realize he is so much more than warm fuzzies and wooing his creation. I mean he IS wooing and he is MADLY in love with you. That is all true, but we cannot forget his sovereignty. He is holy.

He’s not just holy, but according to the bible “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6:3) We as Christians are holy because Jesus makes us holy. We get one holy. God gets three holies. Everything that is in the bible is intentional and meaningful. There are 3 holies for two reasons I believe. The first is this: There are three persons of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Therefore three persons equal three holies. The second reason is that biblically speaking the number 3 is the number of completion. Completion, in this instance, should probably more appropriately be stated as wholly holy. His holiness is complete. He is 100% holy. He is the definition of holy.

I actually struggle with this. His sovereignty sometimes makes me feel detached from him. He’s so much higher than I am. I can feel (at an exponentially smaller degree since I’ve never been in the throne room of God) how Isaiah felt when he stood in the presence of God. “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)  I am not good enough, but I’d like to try to give you a slightly different perspective.

Imagine a father. Now imagine that this father is best friends with his child; never acts like a father, just like a friend. As soon as the child learns that his father won’t discipline him he begins to act out and do whatever he wants because there are no consequences to his actions. It may even go so far as the father acting out with the child just to maintain the perceived (distorted) relationship. Now let’s think about the father who acts as a father first and a friend second. The child will respect and obey much more when the roles are clearly defined as father and son. It doesn’t mean that the father can’t be the child’s best friend, it just means that his role is to first be the example and rule setter.

I think this is a great picture of the role of God in our lives as well. I believe that God created the roles of relationships for our benefit so that we can know him and understand him better. So while God is the nurturer and lover of my soul, he is also the father and the disciplinarian. He is the rule maker. The definition of what is acceptable and right. When you fall off your bike dad hugs you and tells you you’re ok, but he’s also the one who grounds you or whoops you when you break one of his rules.

Let me paint you a picture. There is God in all his magnificence seated upon the throne above all of creation. Surrounding the throne of God are angels known as seraphim. The word seraphim means burning ones. I believe this is literal and figurative. I think these angels shine like bright lights, and they worship with burning passion. They passionately worship for two reasons. One reason is that, well, they are in the presence of GOD almighty in all his magnificent brilliance!! And secondly, that is what they were created to do. So here is God on his throne and his magnificent brilliance is so bright that even these angels, who are literally named burning ones, have to cover their eyes, but not just because the light of God is so bright. “For the seraph remembers that even though sinless he is yet a creature, and therefore he conceals himself in token of his nothingness and unworthiness in the presence of the thrice Holy One.” (Charles Spurgeon)  See creation, whether sinful or sinless, must still always be in submission to the creator. Regardless of sin we (people and angels alike) will always be less than the one who created us. So it shouldn’t take away from our closeness to God but add to it because we understand more clearly the nature of God. And deeper understanding always leads to deeper intimacy, and intimacy is directly related to love.

There are so many sides to God and so many glimpses he gives us into his character and his being that are evident in every life form, every relationship, every passion. He wants to be close to us so he uses all that he has created to show us more about who he is. We won’t know him completely until heaven. “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Cor. 13:12) But he longs for intimacy now, here “on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10) And we get there by “thy will be done.” (Matt. 6:10) Submission of created to the creator. Your will, Lord. Every day.


jesus is not my homie: sovereignty| written by: jaime meeks

connect with me on my weekly blog @ http://www.jaimerenee.com

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)