i have decided



** Originally Posted here: http://bigdbentley.com/2012/12/14/sermon-notes-ordination-of-michael-monicaa-heart-set-apart/



John 12:26
If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant also will be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.

The heart of the PASTOR
A Servant Heart

A Set Apart Heart

A Spiritual Heart

A Solid Heart
1 TIMOTHY 3.1-7

This saying is trustworthy: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.” An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy — one who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil. Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Devil’s trap.
A Servant Heart

One of the truths about a person with a servant heart is that, long before there is a title or office designating them as a servant, they find ways to serve. Serving includes noticing a need a meeting that need. For a minister this is one of the key ingredients in the toolbox of the pastor.
A Set-Apart Heart
0Part of the significance behind the ordination of a person for service in the kingdom is the recognition that they have been selected, called, and gifted by God for a specific purpose. In a sense, every believer is ordained and expected to fulfill a certain role in God’s plan and purpose for their lives.

Answering the call to ministry, however, carries with it the weight of being responsible for the care and life of the Bride of Christ, the church. The weight of that calling, and the accountability before the Lord for this role is not something everyone is capable of managing.
A Spiritual Heart

· The Disciplines of Ministry

Spending Time in Prayer
Scripture Reading/Study
Keeping a Clean Heart, Mind, and Walk
Confession and Repentance when Mess Up
Seeking God’s Direction
Living Yielded to the Holy Spirit
A Solid Heart

Notice that Paul instructs Timothy that the Overseer should be:

above reproach
husband of one wife (a “One Woman Man”)
an able teacher
not addicted to wine
not a bully but gentle
not quarrelsome
not greedy
one who manages his own household competently
not be a new convert
have a good reputation among outsiders
In other words, the person must be grounded, having a firm foundation of faith on the bedrock of beliefs and the teaching of the Bible. This foundation must be visible through their life to those around them.

Consider a building with a poor foundation…how long before it is visible?

A person who is living with a poor foundation in life will be evident to others
What if all of us, pastors or not, were striving to live with a firm foundation?
· Are there some who need to be saved and come to faith in Christ? The first step of the greatest journey of your life is to make your way to Jesus and find forgiveness for your sins and the promise and hope of eternal life.

· Is there anyone here who has felt the nudge into ministry, a deeper calling to something greater, an urging to serve the church and the Lord in a specific role that carries greater responsibility. For example a missionary, a pastor, a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have all been given gifts (Super Powers), and we all have a calling (reason/purpose), but not everyone is called to make a career out of those gifts and callings. That is what I’m talking about here. This person is like a soldier under command, and may be “called-up” to “go” and must be willing to follow those orders. Is that what you feel today?

Charges for the Ordination Ceremony
Michael, on behalf of the Church of our Lord, Jesus Christ, in the power and authority of His name and by witness of the Holy Spirit, I charge you to…

Live up to a Standard set by Scripture
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize of Christ
Serve the Lord Jesus in His Body, the church, in accordance with your gifts and calling doing all things as though you were doing them unto the Lord.


By laying our hands on Michael today we state with the blessing of the church that we believe that he is called and gifted by God to serve as a pastor, elder, and overseer in the church body. As Michael come forward to be ordained today I charge the church body …

Church, on behalf of the Church of our Lord, Jesus Christ, in the power and authority of His name and by witness of the Holy Spirit, I charge you to…

Pray for this man
Serve along side of this man in the ministry and service in the body
Hold this man accountable in love and grace, always encouraging him in his ministry and service and aiding him as you are able.

i have decided| written by dave bentley



this is the end of my story



(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


“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.


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!”


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.


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

you hide, i seek


[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)

all in for jesus|guest post


But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, And all that I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 1:8)


The gospel is a scary thing.


God always calls us to the uncomfortable. Abraham, leave your relationships and your career and your home, and set out. David, the time for shearing sheep has been overcome by shepherding a people. Moses, I know the agony and fear and humiliation of your princely failures and the misery of your humbled life, but it is your pain which shall lead many to a land of great promise. Ezekiel, the definition of your ministry shall be its ceaseless failure. Jeremiah, to the painful pit of your abandoned dreams I will lower your beaten body and raise your beautiful soul. Hosea, the entirety of your life in its betrayal shall be the beautiful redemption I offer and the tragic rejection I receive. Peter, how would you like to stop fishing, and start finding? Paul, out of great success and unmistakable brilliance I shall summon you to the simplicity of my cross and the wonderful shame of my sufferings.


The gospel is a scary thing.


So God says, do not be afraid of them…them. And who are they? Abraham fear not the kings around you. David you have fought the lion of the wild but do not fear the lies of man. Moses dread not the clamor of a dangerous crowd but come up to the stillness of a consuming God. Hosea let the brokenness of your marriage be redeemed by the revelation of my Word. Peter, fear not the questioning glance of a slave girl but share the gospel to a searching centurion, a vast multitude, the frightened faces of an exhausted gathering. Ezekiel, want to see some dry bones be called so no more? Paul, how would you like to go from killing others to dying for them?


The gospel is a scary thing.


Jeremiah is afraid. He is afraid because he sees not the infinite power of the gospel’s God but the inadequacies of its messenger. Ah Jeremiah, Jeremiah, says the Lord. What I have planned, pursue. I will not make you old. Moses, I will not fix your speech. Paul, I will not heal your hurts. I will conquer the fears of a frightened people not by consuming their worries with personal wonders but fixing faith on a fearless Christ.


Perhaps I will not cure your cancer. Perhaps I will not heal your marriage. Maybe I won’t save your son. Maybe making ends meet isn’t important. I might not be the God of your security. But doubtless I shall be the one of your salvation.


The gospel is a scary thing that takes us to scary places and makes us lose nice things, safe things, pleasant things, comfortable things. The gospel is scary because prior to this unspeakable redemption there is most often certain ruin. Who is called without chaos, or summoned without suffering? Was the invitation of Jesus to come, or stay? We cannot live our lives as if we can or could or should determine the where, when and how of our redemption. If He says to come, can we then act as if called to remain?


Paul was shown how much he must suffer (Acts 9:16). Moses was told that pharaoh wouldn’t listen (Ex. 3:19). The first revelation of Ezekiel’s ministry was its ultimate failure (Ek. 2:1-7). The gospel is a scary thing because it is the endless reminder that grace is not the continual improvement of our circumstances but the radical resurrection of a ruined soul.


When Jesus reinstates Peter, there is a sacred second between a man and his Redeemer. Jesus says, Peter, I won’t give you the life that you want, the relationships you desire, or the safety you might crave. I will show you how you will die (John 21:19). And after giving undoubtedly the most depressing pep talk of human history, Jesus says with unshakeable optimism, “Follow me!” (21:19). Almost no one in the scriptures begins a powerful life for God with a pleasant one. And almost anyone who creates a restful life – David, Nebuchadnezzar, Solomon, Pharisees – ceases from a redemptive one. Maybe Jeremiah was less afraid of being young and more frightened of never growing old.


The gospel is a scary thing. Fear God only, it says. Even the demons do that – and shudder at the thought (James 2:19). Everyone else is pretending. The gospel is a scary thing because in a culture which trains us to cling to life we are encouraged to abandon the same. The gospel is a scary thing because like Eve we would rather feel the faithless fruit in our hurting hands than ponder the uncertainty of a life giving garden. I think the gospel is scary for a lot of reasons. But most of all it is frightening because it returns us to the garden – the everyday Eve experience. The gospel is scary because it means that my life isn’t based on the person living it but the One who gave it.



I don’t know who “they” are in your life. But God says to Jeremiah, you preach.


I’ll plan.


all in for jesus| written by james backing

*Originally appeared as A Jeremiah Journey on ssamegodnewme.wordpress.com



dead on arrival


James 2:14 & 17|

“What good is it, dear brothers and sisers, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone…So you see, faith by itself isn’t  enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.”

Have you ever experienced one of those days when you wake up, lie in bed, only to realize you want to call in sick to work? At my previous place of employment I had a number of those days. I had very little desire to exert any energy into getting into my vehicle, driving 45 minutes and then working.

Perhaps you  feel under the weather or the day is too perfect to go to work. Regardless of the reasons why not go, there are always reasons to go. For starters, calling out makes one look like they’re not dependable. When you’re not working, you’re not getting paid and there are always bills to pay. So, for me, its always been a struggle to call out of work because I over think the good and the bad. More often than not, I rolled up my sleeves and went to work.

The basic principle we live under is this; first you work, then you receive.  After 2 weeks of working, I get a paycheck. After years of studying, I received a diploma. The process is rather simple, first I put in my own efforts and then I receive the fruits of my labor.

Should we expect anything different when it comes to Gods way? Well the truth is, God operates quite different than we do and think. God provides what we need and accomplished what we couldn’t. That is the starting point for God and from that starting point, God calls us.


[God provides all the essentials for good works to be produced.]

First, we must begin with the acknowledgement that ALL good works come from God himself. (Heb. 13:21)


Secondly, it is not us believers producing good works but rather they are being produced in and through us as we abide in Christ. (John 15:4-5)


Third, while faith is not idle; we are saved by grace through faith alone. As such, our good works are a response to the salvation we have already received. (Eph. 2:8-9 & Phil. 2:12)


So what is dead faith as James is describing?

James discussion on faith is a hot topic among Christianity because it is focused so much on works and that paints a very different picture than Paul who penned much of New Testament spoke of salvation as the free gift of grace which comes through faith alone.


We can move beyond the argument that James is not discussing the assurance of salvation but the assurance of rewards in heaven. As believers, we are called to good works because they show the faith we already profess and those works point to the Savior Jesus.


Dead faith paints the picture of a believer who believes the gospel message and receives it by faith but fails to “work out their salvation…”  Salvation is from God and is a work of God. Our contribution to salvation is to believe.


[We don’t work for our salvation, we work from our salvation. ]


》Good Works reflect the internal transformation which is Christ in us working his will and purpose for our lives.


[We are called to a faith that works.]


》Living for God begins and continues as we surrender to God.


[We are called to have faith that bleeds.]


》Our faith is alive. When we exercise our faith, it reflects the reality of God’s existence. Our faith should bleed as we live for Christ and participate in his sufferings.


As followers of Christ, we should continually encorage and motivate each other to good works, bringing glory to the Father.



Dead on arrival| written by mike monica