Good Friday – Good, Good Father

Holy Week 2022 – Good Friday

Calvary Of Jesus – Old Cross With Crown Of Thorns Hammer And Bloody Spikes

If you did not know about the resurrection, then Good Friday does not seem very good at all. It seems nothing more than a tragedy. A man named Jesus seemed to make such a difference in the world around him. He loved so well, especially those who often seem neglected and forgotten. He gave hope to ordinary men and women who were willing to leave everything behind and follow Him. He did miracles, real miracles – healing the blind, cleansing lepers, and there was even a lame man who got up off of his mat and walked home after being told by Jesus that his sins were forgiven. Then there was Lazarus, the friend who had been dead and lying in a tomb for four days. Jesus arrived and called him forth from the grave, and then Lazarus started hosting parties for every one who wanted to meet the “dead man walking.”

Jesus seemed to be riding a wave of great publicity coming into Palm Sunday, but there was also a devious plot to get rid of him brewing among the religious leaders. The more popular Jesus became among the people, the more hated he became among the religious elite. And finally they framed him – betrayed, arrested and sentenced to death. It seemed like a horrible injustice. He was a man sent from God, who spoke with authority and even healed people and cast out demons to authenticate his ministry and words. People felt seen and loved by God when they encountered Jesus.

And now He is on a cross! Between two thieves! A number of disciples had already fled the seen upon his arrest. Peter “followed at a distance” according to the Gospel narratives. Peter and John, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and some of the others were there at the cross watching in horror and unbelief as Jesus was gasping for breath, held by rugged nails to roughly hewn cross of wood. He was dying! His life was ebbing away. I imagine they wanted it to stop. I am sure they thought this could not be happening. He had healed and helped so many… What is happening for heaven’s sake?

Exactly! Something was happening for heaven’s sake and for the world’s sake as well. While at first glance, the crucifixion of Jesus looked so incredibly wrong and bad – and yet it was good. Who killed Jesus? The religious leaders turned the crowd against Him. The people shouted Crucify Him, and Pilate consented to their wishes. It seems like many people were responsible for the death of Jesus, but in the end His death lay in the hands of one party. It was God the Father who ultimately had Jesus delivered up “by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). It was the plan of God for his son to suffer on our behalf. There was no other way. For the sin of man and woman to be paid for, only a human could die in their place. Only God could be sinless though. So God sent His Son Jesus, born of a virgin, taking the form of a servant and becoming a man. Jesus was fully man and fully God and his body was now the battle ground for the souls of men. He who had no sin became sin for us in order that we might become the righteousness of God.

A Divine Exchange was taking place at Golgotha. It was totally unfair and undeserved. The pure sinless Son of God was dying in the place of a traitorous race of rebels who had snubbed God for their own wills and desires. The traitors deserved judgment and hell, and yet were being offered the promise of heaven as the God-man was facing hell on their behalf. Demons and darkness were circling the cross without the slightest notion they were being set up for a blind side attack come Sunday morning.

Jesus died for the sake of heaven. Only a glorious God could rescue and redeem a traitor race and turn them into whole-hearted worshippers. It was a plan worthy of heaven. Jesus died for humanity’s sake. “For Christ died for sin once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). He died for us to bring us back to God. He died to remove the barrier of sin so we could draw near to God. He died to remove the penalty of sin so we could be forgiven and live forever in the presence of Almighty God. Whose plan was this? It was the plan of a Good, Good Father and that is why this is a good Good Friday. Amen!

Enjoy this classic: Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman – The Wonderful Cross performed at Passion Conference 2011

God Has Good Intentions

Holy Week 2022 – Monday Devotional

 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. ~ Luke 12:32

Questions after listening?

  • How do you see God’s disposition toward you?
  • Do you see and feel God’s love & delight to give you His Kingdom?
  • Do you feel God is reluctant to be good to you, but feel He would rather curse or judge you?
  • Can you see that if God had anything but kind intentions, Jesus would not have set his face towards Jerusalem?

What is God up to?

I have a sincere desire to see God at work in me, around me, and through me. I know much of our Christian experience is lived in practical daily and sometimes mundane moments. And yet there has always been a hunger for more – to see the supernatural become natural. There have been seasons of seeking and seeing the Presence and Power of God continually breaking through into my daily existence. I still believe we should contend for that. I believe too many Christians – and often older “mature” Christians – have often settled into a lifestyle that doesn’t have expectation for breakthrough and the supernatural. I myself have often settled for far less than I believe scripture reveals and that the Spirit is inviting us into. NO MORE!

If there is more, it is time to discover it. Let’s either believe God and step more deeply in realms of faith and power, or stop it altogether. The World doesn’t need another good Bible Study, but they need a Church that walks in fullness – fullness of love, fullness of the Spirit, fullness of faith, and fullness of the gifts and power. With all of my heart, I want to believe that is where God is taking me and Church on the Hill in this new journey. As I think about my history as a leader, I have always desired more but I know at times that I let fear and insecurity keep me from reaching out for more. There are parts of me that wanted to live in dangerous faith, but other parts that wanted to keep everyone happy. I know I have let my fears too often control me, and I repent. Lord I want to care more about breakthrough than my reputation.

Going forward, I am going to listen more to the hunger in my heart, the testimony of Scripture, and the Holy Spirit who calls me deeper. Words are coming to me, and to COTH in this season that stir my heart – not towards pride and selfish ambition, but toward heaven longing for a move of God. I have been tasting a fresh reality in prayer with these people as we cry out to God for MORE. We are inviting the Spirit’s Presence to fall in fresh power, and for COTH to become a habitation of the Lord’s Presence. There is a fire in my bones as I write this now. I want more Jesus. I invite you to bring all you want to bring. I welcome you Holy Spirit – all that you are, all that you want to bring, all you want to say! What is God up to? I believe there are a number of us that believe is stirring up promises of revival, awakening, and an authentic move of God!!!

Am I crazy? Am I presumptuous? Perhaps, but if I were to be so, I would want it to be leaning in fully to faith to believe God for more instead of settling for less. The more we pray, the more I see the Lord doing! And the more the prophetic Words of encouragement keep coming.

  • This is a season of new beginnings and God is inviting us to step into more. This has come time and time again. Yes, this seems simple enough in that it is a new season, but this promise seems to be bigger than a new location for me to live. This promise involves a people ready to step into a new season with God and all that He is. I receive the promise of the NEW SEASON. Lord come move among us.
  • There have been Words of COTH being a house of healing with people coming from all around up the hill to find healing – physical, emotional and otherwise. I say Yes. This has been in my heart for years to see God release more healing. I am going to believe it – the Lord really seems to be speaking this into my heart. And the healing ministry of Jesus is not over. It continues. We will do the works of Jesus.
  • The Prodigals will come HOME. The Lord keeps saying to call the Prodigals home, so we will keep calling them home and believing He will bring them home. We are seeing the first-fruits. Lord call them back to you, and bring them Home. And let us play a part.
  • COTH will be an operating room where God will be doing heart surgery, and hearts will be changed and softened/tenderized. I will preach with tears in my eyes as God softens my heart! I say Yes to this word. I believe it is from God with all of my heart. Lord release this words to fully find their place in our hearts.
  • COTH will be “brimming.” Like a pool that brims over at the edges, this will happen and people will come seeking something deeper in their walk with God. Again I say Yes, and the Lord is already showing this to us.

I will stop there for now. I write these now as my own act of faith. I have nothing to prove anymore, nothing to lose. I love Jesus Christ whole-heartedly and want to run after Him with a people and seek His Kingdom fully come. I write for me and for them that we might believe! May we no longer settle for less than God’s fullness and best. May see the Supernatural become natural. May we see God pour out His Spirit for His glory in our midst. Lord you have done it in the past, come and do it again Jesus. Come do it again. Amen!

An Unforgettable Week of Prayer!

Pray with out Ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17)
Seek me with all of your heart and you will find me! (Jer. 29:13)

In March of 1999, at the age of 29, I began the first week as pastor of then St. Simons Community Church (now by calling our people to pray. If I remember correctly we had a prayer meeting each evening at 7 pm Monday – Thursday. It was very meaningful and sweet for me. It was a statement for how I wanted to begin and build in ministry.

I had a chance at a new beginning this week as I have begun my new role as the pastor of Church on the Hill in Dalton, GA. I am much older, grey/white haired, a lot slower but a little wiser, and more hungry for Jesus than I have ever been before. With this new opportunity, I have a strong call to be a part of a move of God. So I called the people of COTH to a week of prayer once again – but this time it was a little more ambitious. Over the course of a week, there were 18 opportunities for prayer from Sunday morning, June 27th through Sunday, July 4th. A few opportunities were online via Zoom or Facebook, and many of the meetings were live in our worship space – and one was a prayer walk in downtown Dalton.

My friend Mike Shoates probably summed it up best. It is one thing to talk about revival and want revival, but it is another thing to pursue revival. I felt this week we were pursuing revival. We were seeking God wholeheartedly and for all that He wants to do and release in our midst. We did not pray quiet, soft prayers (though nothing is wrong with that), but we prayed fervent prayers filled with faith, boldness, and passion. We worshipped and prayed. We prayed and worshipped. We met with Jesus, and Jesus met with us.

I will write more about it this week. As I do, I want to be careful to not to share in any form of pride or boasting. I write to encourage and stir you and continue to stir our faithful little church to keep going hard after God. We were stirred powerfully this week in prayer. We prayed Sunday morning at 9:30 before worship on June 27th, and it was powerful. There was a real weightiness that slipped into the room – God’s presence and glory. That morning of celebration and transition were powerful as we ended with a baptism and closed with the song “The Blessing.” I felt the roof would come off the place as the Spirit of God was moving. I had a sense we were in for something special.

On Monday morning, we initiated the first of the week with our longest session stretching from 8 am until 12:30 pm. I am so thankful for my times at IHOP (International House of Prayer) where they incorporate the harp and bowl model with worship and prayer. While we did not emulate the IHOP style completely, but we did worship all the way through our prayer sets with song and cries to God for Him to move. Time and again, we sensed His presence. Each meeting was unique and yet added to the overall symphony of prayer. I come away with quite a few take-aways. I will share just one now, and save the rest for later.

I believe we were sowing into the future of COTH’s calling as a place to manifest the presence of God. So many times, we began our sessions welcoming the Lord into our midst, to allow us to become a place of His Presence. There is nothing of higher value than the presence of God and His glory. His Presence always brings his glory where people are drawn to Him, humbled by Him, changed by Him, and moved in ways that we cannot imagine. When the Presence of Jesus comes, all that He is comes with Him. How good is that? It’s really good for ALL THAT JESUS IS is more than enough. When Jesus walks into the room, everything changes. Jesus is the Forgiver, the Healer, the Comforter, the Savior, the Deliverer, the Warrior, the Dream giver, and so much more. When He comes, all that He is comes with Him. He can meet everyone in the room in a way that meets them where they are and at the point of their need.

I long for COTH to be a House of His Glory and Presence. We can’t just wish that and hope that however, but we must pursue it. I want to see revival and renewal in my day. I do not just want to read about it, but I want to experience a whole-sale move of God. I know everyday in the Kingdom is not always supernatural, but I think the American church has settled for far too little. I want more. God wants to give us more. All that He has to give is absolutely free, but it is not cheap. We must adjust our lives to seek Him with all of our heart. We cannot say He is priority without living like, and praying like it. This past week, we set aside time as if nothing else was more important. We prayed morning, noon, and night – and we were changed. We were humbled. We were healed. We were satisfied, and yet we want more. So we will seek God’s will on what our prayer life is to look like now on the other side of this week.

Lord, pour out your Spirit. Revive us. Renew us. Move O God. Please do it again! Amen.

Praying the Scriptures

Last night (Wednesday, June 23, 2021), I had the privilege of leading my first Wednesday night service at Church on the Hill (COTH). I had not been a part of a Wednesday night service in a while, and I wasn’t even sure what we were supposed to do – but I figured if we worshipped and sang to Jesus and prayed and talked to Jesus that we would be okay. And we were more than okay.

We did a few things last night in our hour together, but my main goal was to introduce them to “Praying the Scriptures” back to God. Now this was a fairly mature group of believers who had most likely prayed through scripture before, but they “took off” last night with even new passion and authority. It was holy and it was beautiful.

Quite a few years ago, I went to the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City and heard Mike Bickle teach on the Praying Scripture. He provided a list of New Testament/Apostolic prayer and promises. This has been one of my favorite prayer lists to return to through the years – prayers from Ephesians 1:16-19, Ephesians 3:16-20, Colossians 1;9-11, and more. They are so powerful for numerous reasons. These prayers and promises are rich with depth regarding the church’s need for wisdom, revelation, oneness, power, strength, boldness, love, maturity, and more. The other reason they are powerful is that they are God’s Word. When we pray God’s Word back to God, we know we are praying the will of God. When we pray the promises of God back to God, we are praying the heart and mind of God. It is like a child coming boldly to their Father reminding him of what He promised, and asking Him to make it happen.

So at the close of our time last night, we practiced praying these New Testament Prayers and Promises. We would read the scripture aloud first, and then turn it back to God in prayer. When I first invited those in the gathering to begin to pray these promises, it was a little quiet for a minute… I thought to myself, “surely someone is going to pray…. I think.”

And then Lynn Starks stood and read one of the passages from Philippians 1 where Paul prayed for their love to abound for one another in all discernment and resulting in righteousness among them. After Lynn read the scripture, she then turned it back to the Father asking Him to do this at COTH. As soon as she called out for God to release love in us, to mark us with love, to fill us with discernment, the room was alive with the Spirit’s witness to the WORD of God. This was a prayer that honors God. This is a prayer that connects with God. I had Holy Spirit goose bumps thinking – Yes. Yes. Yes. Do it Lord.

And then another stood and read one of scriptures and beseeched heaven to make it come to pass in us. You could sense the power and anointing released into the atmosphere. You could begin to sense the boldness in the prayers and petitions, and I could feel faith in the room. We were praying the promises of God back to our Heavenly Father and it had power! It was hitting the mark. It was as if prayer and prophecy were crossing over into a place of focused intercession – where heaven meets earth. I felt the fullness of these prayers expressing God’s will that are more than enough for our needs.

The bottom line: It was a good Wednesday night service. We sowed into heavens. Next week, as I begin my new charge as lead pastor, we are committing a solid week to prayer – morning, noon, and night. I can’t wait – I can’t wait to keep praying the promises of God with these people. Let it rain Lord. Hear our cries. We are hungry for a move of God!

Here are just a couple of my favorite NT prayers for you today.

 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,  and his incomparably great power for us who believe. 

ephesians 1;17-19

 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 1:16-19

Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Acts 4:29-31

Find below the Prayer List that I shared last night.

Whispers from Heaven (Pt. 2)

Back for Part 2 of Whispers from Heaven. In Part 1, I shared some pictures and thoughts from our trip to Montana. The beauty of God’s creation filled my heart and mind with inspiration, awe, and worship. I thought it was worth sharing. While the pictures cannot fully contain the glory to be witnessed with the human eye, they still capture a solid glimpse of God’s handiwork and hopefully along with my words can draw your gaze toward heaven. So read on, look on, and may your eyes behold beauty and your heart be stirred with a greater affection for God, again!

Lord, let us see your glory and hear your whispers from heaven – becoming ever more in tune to your voice.

In His Hands are the depth of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. ~ Psalm 94:4

This is going to be good. That was my thought as I pulled up the window shade from my window seat on the plane as we were beginning our descent into Bozeman, Montana. As I lifted the shade, this is the view that greeted me! My eyes opened wider, as the beautiful land of Montana greeted me. I felt like the mountains were welcoming me and announcing to me, “Get ready. You ain’t see nothin yet. This is just the warm up!” I was immediately filled with excitement and anticipation. This was definitely going to be good. Have you ever had a true glimpse of the glory of God? If so, do you remember your initial encounter(s) with Jesus – like when Sunday school Jesus suddenly became glorious King Jesus and you knew you would never be the same? And you knew you were just stumbling into something new but it had only just begun. You ain’t seen nothing yet. Even more than beautiful Montana, the Spirit always has much more to show us of the glory of Jesus!

Look Up and lift your heads, for your redemption is drawing near! (Luke 21:28) Walking through the woods in Yellowstone, not far from Ole Faithful, we stopped. I looked up and saw this break in the trees and the sun forcing its way through. Wow! Look up. I kept looking up – enclosed in the woods and yet the sun’s light finding it’s chance to shine upon us. Life can seem and feel like being lost in the midst of a thick, deep forest of trials, troubles, testings, and temptations. We easily become lost, confused, distracted and disoriented. Stop! Look up and lift your heads, for your redemption is drawing near. And He is much closer than your think!

Falling, falling, always falling – from High Places to the Low Places (Palisades Fall – Bozeman)

Click Play on the Waterfall Video and watch for a second (lower left corner)

The Water always flows down right? You never see a waterfall flowing up. It’s source is from the high places, and it continually flows, and pours itself out – always looking for the lower place, going lower and lower. What a message for us! And did you see the rainbow in the midst falls? That is still God’s rainbow – meant to be a sign of His Covenant promise to humanity. God promises many things. Like this waterfall, He promises to overflow and pour out into our lives. The flow of HIs Spirit is always looking for the low places though. From the high places of heaven to the low places of humbled hearts, God promises to meet us, fill us, empower us, and transform us. Lord may our hearts be humble before you – so the Fullness of your Spirit can flow from on high, poured out below to a contrite, humble, and faithful heart. And guess what – there is a never ending supply flowing from the heights into the depths of men and women who are prepared to receive.

Together – Eli and Emma doing life together1

Together! That’s what I call this picture. This is my son Eli and his wife Emma as we were walking the trail of the Northern Rim of the The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. As I looked ahead of me on the trail, I saw them and thought – that is a great thing. It was worthy of capturing. The Lord said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for Him” (Genesis 2). We were made for companionship, not only with God, but with one another. God designed family. He created most of us with a desire for marriage. It is a good thing – not always easy – but good. And here is a picture of God’s design… Notice, they are walking side by side on this journey together – not one in front of the other. They are faced in the same direction TOGETHER. There is certainly time for us to turn FACE to FACE for sure, but much of life is shoulder to shoulder. Where are we going – we, us? Not just you, not just me, but WE! They walk together. Notice how he has his arm slightly around her. They are co-equals, both of incredible and equal value. She brings the heart and nurturing into their journey, and he helps guide, protects, and offers his strength to her. A beautiful picture of God’s design – as marriage is called to bring us a companion in the adventure of life, a partner in the struggles of life, a lover in the intimate places of life, and a fellow heir with whom to share the glory and goodness of God. God saw this was good – very good!

Jonathan Yarborough – gainfully employed, single and available. All around good dude! 😄😄😄

Jonathan! My other son. No super spiritual lesson in this picture, but I just love Jonathan and was glad he was on the trip. I want a picture for him one day like the one above of his brother and Emma. We have prayed since he was a baby for God to bless his life, and bring the right woman into his life one day. So Lord do it. Amen. By the way – he is employed in a good job, loves music, plays a mean guitar (Acoustic or Electric), and has a solid sense of humor. If you know a good match for him, I would be glad to broker a date… Oh wow, he will kill me if he ever discovers I posted this. Shhh…. I am not telling him. Just our little secret.

Lower Falls from Inspiration Point – south rim of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

We stood at Inspiration Point and looked back up into the Canyon to Lower Falls. Well, I quickly understood why they named this spot Inspiration Point. I was inspired, awestruck, overwhelmed, and just amazed at such beauty and majesty. I was like SMH – standing for Shaking my head. But I wasn’t shaking my head in a sense of sarcasm, or pondering the stupidity of someone else for which SMH is often reserved. No, I was SMH – because what do you do with that scene? What do you say? Wow! Whoa! Holy Cow! Glory! Hallelujah! Or maybe just stand there and SMH in awe and wonder. Sometimes there are no words to say or adequately describe the moment. When we see Jesus face to face, it will certainly be a SMH moment, for we will be speechless. Or actually it will be a face down, trembling in awe, SMWB moment. That stands for Shaking My Whole Body because we will be undone – but don’t worry. If you know Jesus, He will lay his hand on you, strengthen you, transform your lowly body to one like his, perhaps hug you, and welcome you into Eternal Kingdom – our heavenly home. Wow! SMH!!!!

What about you? Anything jump out to you in this blog! If so, comment below, or comment on Facebook and share with others please. God bless. DY

Whispers from Heaven

Recently, Amber and I had the incredible gift of traveling to Big Sky, Montana with our sons Eli and Jonathan, as well as Eli’s wife Emma. (Our daughter Hannah was working a camp and could not join uss. No we did not kick her out of the family. She is still very much loved and was missed. ☺️) People ask how our trip was… It was heavenly. It was beautiful, awe inspiring, and full of God’s beauty. He revealed Himself time and again through the beauty of his creation. We took too many pictures in an effort to capture the essence of God’s glory we felt we were soaking in. Amber declared this time at Yellowstone and around Big Sky was her dream vacation because of the absolute beauty that God crafted into His creation.

So, here are some images and thoughts that contain some of God’s whispers. The pictures are stunning as I look at many of them again, and yet I know they can hardly represent in fullness what I witnessed first hand without the aid of a camera. As I looked and beheld, I knew God was speaking. He was calling, inviting, wooing, and pursuing me once again to see His beauty through the lens of His creation. I hope you enjoy the whispers – perhaps even a shout or two in here as you take in the second hand glory captured by an IPhone. Enjoy! He is there to be found.

The Chapel at Big Sky as the sun was going down.

Let’s call this – “His Chapel in the Sky.” Pulling into dinner one night, we parked near this beautifully built chapel. Well kept with simple yet tasteful detail, the building seemed inviting – a perfect little chapel where people can gather and meet with God. I loved the little man-made chapel, but was truly captured by the Heavenly handiwork above and around the chapel as the sun was going down. This was just one of about a dozen pics I took from different angles with sun still peaking as it was cresting behind the chapel and the mountains. The incredible BIG blue sky filled with clouds seemed as if it were all alive – speaking, perhaps singing and dancing in worship to Almighty God. I was fully drawn into the moment wanting it to never end as man’s chapel on the ground and God’s chapel in the sky converged in this moment of glorious sunset. Behold the skies; gaze upon the mountains in the background; see the trees almost stand in reverence to His majesty as His light in the sky fades at the end of another day. And the little chapel made with human hands invites us to worship and encounter the ONE who holds heaven and earth in his hands. Hallelujah!

Another peak at God’s Chapel in the Sky!
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone!

I looked upon this canyon from many angles, and along many points of a several mile hike. Every new corner and turn was just one more chance to have one’s breath taken away. Looking down into the canyon, I felt small but not in a bad way. I felt overwhelmed, but in a good way – in the best way. I felt wonder in a holy kind of way… What do you say to this? How do you respond at a sight like this? Some in ignorance would choose to worship nature itself and it’s beauty for the sake of beauty. But no, while I was drawn to keep looking, my internal gaze was focused upon the King of all Creation. I felt I was in the Presence of Greatness. One may enjoy the beauty of the Sistine Chapel, but you know there was an artist who was behind the work. You might get swept up in the soulful sound of inspiring music, yet you know there was a Master who put the notes together. As I gazed upon this canyon, I sensed more than thousands upon thousands of years of erosion and the force of nature. No, I sensed the timeless nature of the Eternal God who has given evidence of Himself even in His created order. The canvas of creation should draw us close to the Creator. And I was… and it was good to sense His nearness, and to be embraced by His Transcendence and Immanence at the very same moment – beholding the mighty canyon and the river running through it. Behold our mighty God as His Spirit runs through our lives like Living Water. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord!

Such beauty was meant to be shared. – and we shared in it with those we love.

When you witness beauty and greatness, you have to respond. Something inside of you must react with expressions of awe, joy, delight, and wonder. Wow! Oh my! Glory! It is as if part of the enjoyment of greatness is actually found in enjoying and appreciating the greatness! You just can’t hold it in. You were made to actually express your admiration for beauty and greatness. In such moments, we often look around to others to share the moment. Did you see that? Isn’t that amazing? It is more fun watching the Georgia Bulldogs win in a room full or stadium full of people than by myself. It as if the joy of a great play and great game is enhanced by sharing it with others, watching them share your delight in the triumph of your team. In a somewhat similar way, the joy of our trip to discover God’s beauty was made even more rich by sharing and soaking it all in with those we love. We gasped together in breath taking wonder. We shook our heads in amazement, searched for words to describe our emotions and reactions to the scenes that unfolded. Our delight in the beauty of Yellowstone and Big Sky was amplified by the delight we shared together. We each had our own lens of senses and experience to take in God’s handiwork, but it was all the richer to take it in together – to feel awe and wonder in the corporate sense of our family. Even talking about it again in the car ride home. That my friends is WORSHP. We each have our own encounter with God, but yet is made much richer when our delight in Him is amplified by the delight we encounter in others – and the delight that we share and sense together at His feet in His Presence. Yes, that is worship!

Come and walk with ME. There is always more.

Right on the other side of Ole Faithful (yes the reliable geyser) in Yellowstone Park, I saw this bridge and path off a bit in the distance. It seemed to call to me. I wanted to go down the path so I could get to the bridge and walk across to follow the way of the path. It was like I had no choice. I was compelled. I wanted to go across to the other side. I felt another whisper. There was nothing overtly spiritual about the walk across the bridge other than the sweet satisfaction of a walk in the woods. Yet my spirit was connecting with the call to walk with Him. There was the invitation of God in this picture. It was as if I could hear the Lord calling, “Come away with me. Come and walk with me along the path I have chosen. My way is different than the world, but it is good.” Looking down and taking this picture, I just came in touch with my true desire to walk with God. I was not made necessarily to walk across that bridge. I was made, however, to walk with God – and so were you. Jesus calls us to His path, His way. And yet He is the Way. He gave his life, died for our sin, and is now the only one who can bridge the gap between us and God. We can cross over from death into life as we trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus is constantly calling us to cross over from our way of life into His way of life. His way is peace. His way is love. His way is forgiveness and grace. His way is found through faith – faith in His blood, and trust in His Spirit. I want to keep walking with God, going deeper and deeper into the heart of God. There is more… always more.

Did you enjoy that? Did you hear God whisper today? This was part 1, so come back for more whispers here on my blog as I have plenty of more pictures. More importantly though is to pay attention to the whispers in your own life. Shhhh. Slow down. Now, lean in and listen.

5 Lessons from the “Land Between” (Pt. 2)

Welcome back, or maybe welcome for the first time. I started to blog last time regarding 5 lessons I am learning as I am between my old job as the lead pastor of Community Church (on the coast in South Georgia) and a new role as the lead pastor of Church on the Hill in NW Georgia. I will begin this new role on June 27th, 2021. My previous position entailed 22 years serving at Community Church starting off as the first and lone staff person in 1999 to a staff 30 people in 2020. I gave a lot of my life and time to the Glynn County community and to helping this church grow and make an impact in our area.

A Peaceful mountain cabin in the Montana Mountains.

I know God used us there, but I also know I was far from perfect. I made mistakes (plenty of them). Some were made because I had never done it before, some were made out of stubbornness and pride, and some were made out fear as well. I have no sense that I will do it perfectly going forward. I am comfortable with the fact that I will not be the perfect leader, but I am seeking to evaluate so as to learn from the past. So I shared in Pt. 1 of this post a few of the lessons I am continuing to learn along the way – (1) God’s voice is greater than our plans, (2) Nothing is more important than the Lord’s presence, and (3) I cannot avoid the hard and needed conversations. I am sure I will keep having to learn these lessons until I graduate to heaven. And I have a couple of more lessons to share today. So on to lesson 4 & 5.

(4) The Church in America must wake up to be the church, and not play church. I believe most church leaders in America have felt this to some extent in this current season. 2020 was not a great year of vision but rather of clarity. Our weaknesses and gaps as the church became more clear/visible and were exposed in this season of crisis. Truthfully, I saw many good things during COVID but also many areas that embarrassed me as a leader. Many “church folks” were not equipped to handle this season without the Sunday morning experience. They drifted, fell out of touch, stopped watching video- church, and did not thrive. The reality that I had helped create much more of a consumer culture in the church caused me to grieve. As hard as it was, a large part of the American church needed COVID to shut it down and rediscover what is really important, and how will it function going forward. I do not have all the answers, but just a renewed desire to do church differently. The body of Christ needs to be alive and activated. The people of God need to live into their gifts and callings. Churches really need to hear the voice of God, and sense His activity in their midst on a consistent basis. Believers cannot just consume sermons and programs, but they must come alive, get out of the pews, and give of themselves for the sake of the world. I know I need to focus more on developing people and not just delivering content; more on empowering the body and not just engaging them in a service, more on training and not just talking to them. The body of Christ is too weak, too shallow, and too fickle. I do not blame that on the people. These are leadership issues that begin with people like me. I am asking God for revelation and grace to be more effective in this season to help his church thrive and not just survive.

(5) I need to take rest and sabbath more serious. The Lord keeps saying SLOW down! These are concepts the Lord has been speaking to me about for a while now that I have somewhat incorporated into my life – but not effectively enough. I believe COVID exposed once again a flaw I have in my wiring and thinking. I have a hard shutting my brain down sometimes with all of my racing thoughts so I just keep on letting my mind be occupied with work and ministry. It is not necessarily fear and anxious thoughts – those are terrible – but often just constantly thinking about ideas and initiatives, or reading another article or book. Subconsciously, I think I believe I could figure it all out and solve all the problems if I just keep thinking and working on it. Instead, I start to go backwards. I become tired and worn out, confused with too many thoughts and ideas, and subtly dismissing God’s voice because I am too busy thinking my own thoughts. I feel the Lord calling me to slow down… I have a high capacity and I use that as an excuse. I think I can do it all, and I end up doing less. Jesus calls us to take on his yoke and burden for they are easy and light. Jesus started his ministry by spending 40 days alone. He often withdrew for prayer. Jesus said that man was not made for the sabbath, but the sabbath was made for man. Sabbath rest was a gift for humanity. It was meant for rest, peace and trust. It was an act of faith that God could handle the world without needing our help. It was a reminder that we are finite and He is Infinite. It was a time to unplug so we can be recharged. A time to slow down so we can be re-filled and refreshed. A time to remember we are human beings and not human “doings.” I am committed to letting go more in this next season. I am not God. I can’t ever get it all done – but I can trust Him to more than make up for it. I can keep going – but I can trust Him to renew and refresh me. My mind must slow down so I can let Him speak more clearly. So what do I do? Turn off the phone more, shut the lap top sooner, and have an established Sabbath where I do not do any work – just rest. Just BE! Just Worship. Just connect with my wife and friends. Just rest and trust God to take care of everything else in the world. I know He’s got it under control. Amen.

%d bloggers like this: