The Time is … NOW

Read this quote from Franklin Graham, founder of Samaritan’s Purse and son of Evg. Billy Graham from a recent Charisma Magazine article regarding this year’s National Day of Prayer:

“I think no question … religious freedom is under attack,” Graham told The 700 Club in a recent interview. “There has been an erosion now for many years, but we have seen it really accelerate in the last 10 years.

“This political correctness that has crept in, that if we stand for what we believe in, [all of a] sudden we are not tolerant,” he added. “They almost make it look like we are participating in hate speech when we say that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and there’s no way to God except through Christ and Christ alone. They are interpreting that now as being hostile and hate speech.”

Read more: http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/news/28222-national-day-of-prayer-may-be-largest-ever-#ixzz0nYCPczd6

When I read this, I am personally challenged. A casual observance of many believers today, including myself, is that we live with a sense of apathy toward God. And to read this quote from a Christian leader such as Franklin Graham is provoking, in the sense that it challenges the status quo life that I tend to lead.

Many of us claim to be believers. We go to church on Sunday, we even serve on worship and leadership teams in ministries, but does our life reflect a sense of urgency in making sure those around us who are unsaved have the saving knowledge of the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Does it matter? Does it matter when the beliefs we espouse so strongly at some moments of our lives are being looked at as “intolerant” when believing them used to be seen as living out your faith in Christ? Today’s world is all about relativism, nothing is wrong, live as you please, in the moment, satisfy your flesh for the moment and feel the regret later. It’s okay, God will forgive you.

The words of Phil Wickham’s The Time is Now come to mind:
VERSE 1:
The battle line is drawn, it’s all in black and white.
Hope is pulling forward, can feel it from behind, it’s time.
It’s time to make a move, so what will you decide?
The clock is ticking on, don’t let it pass you by, it’s time.
It’s time.
CHORUS:
The time is now, for lifting souls.
The time is now, for letting go.
From your skin, to your core.
Let light, and love, come rushing through the door.
Oh, come rushing through the door.
BRIDGE 1:
You’ve learned every song, memorized the verse,
took the bread and wine, and even bought the shirt,
it’s time.
VERSE 2:
it’s time to hold your shield,
it’s time to draw your sword,
let’s lead the resistance,
oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord, it’s time.
Yeah it’s time.
CHORUS:
The time is now, for lifting souls.
The time is now, for letting go.
From your skin, to your core.
Let light, and love, come rushing through the door.

If you are professed believer in Jesus Christ, are you taking a stand for him today? I know I’m not fully, and I must make the decison in my life to do so. Do you know where you are?

Narrowing Your Vision

A continued reflection on “How to Live Life on Purpose” by Pastor Art Sepulveda

So I’m still in Chapter 1 and want to highlight a portion that is key to understanding how to narrow your vision to something specific and how to get there.

An excerpt (Page 4):
Vision brings your future into focus. The word “focus” is the key to understanding what clear vision really is why it is necessary to accurately see your future. Once you have had a vision, you still need a strategy to bring it into reality. King Solomon once prayed, “…give Your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart…” (1 Kings 3:9, Amplified). This tells us there are TWO STEPS involved in a vision being formed and fulfilled:
Step#1: Having a hearing heart (the initial desire, dreams, and vision).
Step#2: Having an understanding mind (strategy, direction, and pathway)

Pastor Art states that he wants to “see people transformed by the life-changing power of God into victorious Christians.” But he understands that he can’t possibly reach everyone with such a broad goal. So here is his narrower goal: “When I focus my desire to a narrower scope, my vision is to build a local, New Testament church in Honolulu, Hawaii, that will make successful Christians out of as many people as possible by reaching them with the life-impacting message of Jesus Christ.

Many of us have big dreams, big visions. Some lyrics from “Dream Big”, a song performed on American Idol by then-contestant David Cook:
“When I was a little boy, I swore that I would change the world. When I grow up, nothing else would be enough. I see it every day, we settle for safe. And we lose ourselves along the way. If you don’t dream big, then what’s the use in dreaming? If you don’t have faith, there’s nothing worth believing in. It takes one hope to make a start worth reaching for.”

But if you don’t narrow those dreams down to specifics, you will be left dreaming big and accomplishing nothing. This is where GOALS come in. “Goals are simply ‘bite-size’ pieces of your vision that can be measured and attained. Without goals, a vision never goes beyond a dream.”

One final excerpt that exemplifies the differences between a mission, a vision, and a goal from Pastor Art:
“Let’s say your mission is to build a successful business. Your vision might be to build a car dealership and sell cars; your goal then could be to sell “x” number of cars each month. Someone else may have a mission to be a farmer. His vision is to grow wheat and his goal is to grow “x” number of bushels of wheat a year.

So to summarize, don’t just have big dreams. Consider those dreams, then narrow them down to specific, attainable goals. And God will take you down a journey of a lifetime, sometimes on a route you didn’t expect. Personal example: I graduated with a degree in journalism from UCO in December, and thought that the highest probability of a job was in the newspaper industry. Yet now I am a copy editor in the book publishing industry, and I can potentially visualize a future for myself in it. But I believe this job is God’s purpose for a specific reason: Before submitting each job application that I have sent out in the last several weeks, I prayed a specific prayer understanding that God is a sovereign God who knows my beginning and my end, which path my life will take me on: I prayed that God would open the right doors and close the wrong doors. And after submitting multiple applications, God opened this door.

You may have a certain dream/vision for your life, but when you dedicate and submit it to God, He will guide you along a path that may not seem right at the moment, but He will reveal His purpose to you at the right time. Never lose that faith.

Until next time, God bless!

“It Can’t End This Way”

I signed up a while ago for Pastor Jentezen Franklin’s podcast updates on iTunes. But apparently I hadn’t updated it in a while. And so in the midst of this snowstorm and down period of my life, I updated the podcast and a message entitled “It Can’t End This Way” came up.

I listened to it, and from the very start I was encouraged that this was a message from God just for me in this time.

Because you see, it doesn’t matter what your past is. There are very likely many regrets you are living with right now, as am I. But there’s an urgent message for the body of Christ now, and that now, especially now, is not the time to give up on your God-given purpose in life, on your dreams, on the vision that you have for your life.

If you’re like me, when things get rough, it is hard to hold and the temptation to lose faith and move backward is very strong. Especially when the weak areas of your life are bearing you down and causing you to stress. Especially when it seems like failure is knocking on your door every day. And you constantly wonder why you keep messing up, and you keep getting frustrated at yourself.

But as Pastor Franklin’s message states, It Can’t End This Way! There is a divine purpose for your life, people you are supposed to impact, and you are meant to glorify God with your life. So it doesn’t matter what the past has been, we as believers must choose to make our futures better. And it is entirely dependent on us making a choice to do so, not just hearing about it.

A thought from Pastor Franklin’s message:
Isaiah 6:4: And the post of the door moved at the voice of Him who cried, and suddenly the house was filled with smoke. Another word for post is “Pillar” – The pillar was there from the beginning, for years, and notice the glory doesn’t come until the pillars start moving.

If we can get the pillars to move again at the sound of His voice.

Can this be your testimony:
“I started in the fire and I’m not going to end up in smoke.”

God is looking for some people who can say ‘It doesn’t matter how rocky or how rough the day has been, but the sun hasn’t set yet, and it can’t end this way.

Can we make this statement today? Can we let go of the past and move forward?

2010: A Chance of Renewal

From the Century Dictionary:
Renew: (From Middle English “renewen”) “To make new again; restore to former freshness, completeness, or perfection; revive; make fresh or vigorous again; restore to a former state, or to a good state after decay or impairment.”

I don’t know about you, but I think it is time for renewal. 2009 was a year that was generally bad with the economy worsening and the individual economies of households across America suffering. And a rebound from the chaos of last year is slow at best, currently in progress. On a personal level, 2009 was a bad year, based on mistakes and a lack of certain accomplishments. And I feel I have pushed other parts of my life to a higher place than God with some choices I made.

But sitting around wallowing in guilt and shame will do no good. I know my life needs a “restoration to former freshness.” I try but cannot remember when life was better and I felt more peace. But I know there was a time when optimism ruled my heart. But I’ve sensed more recently that the optimism I used to feel has changed to more worry and doubt in my own abilities. And that’s just it. It’s not in my own abilities. It is only because of the grace of God I am alive and in the position I’m in.

Yes, 2009 was a year of moments of terrible mistakes and great successes. But I would say the greatest moment of 2009, one of the best anyhow, is that I was able to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Central Oklahoma in December. It was the end of a four-year and one semester phase of my life that was filled with many lessons learned the hard way and memorable moments with newly formed friends. But after all those mistakes, to walk the stage and receive my diploma was a great euphoric feeling.

But now it is 2010. The possibilities are endless, as long as I am willing to work to make them happen and trust in God completely. I am proud to have the privilege of working with ICPF for the coming Awake ’10 camp during Spring Break, with OPYF for the coming Annual Drama, and my church with a long list of things involving the youth group and Sunday School. I have only a tentative idea what will define my life past Spring Break week, but I am confident of one thing: my God is in control and He will guide my paths, as long as I let Him and don’t try to manipulate things into my own path and direction.

Don’t let the regrets of 2009 ruin your 2010. It has been on my mind endlessly, this message of having optimism for the new year. Because for me, it is difficult to get over the mistakes of last year. But we all need to take the approach of moving forward. This song by Israel Houghton should be the anthem for this year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYaiGB7eYU8.

Don’t let Satan guilt you into letting 2010 be a bad year. Make a solid, firm decision to have hope and change your reality this year. If your reality last year was one of regret and mistakes, let 2010’s reality be one of being an overcomer. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S52FUX3QY_A). If you don’t make a move and don’t decide to allow the Holy Spirit to embolden and lift you up, you are making a choice nonetheless, to let Satan rule your heart. No matter what phase of life you are in, set specific goals to make this year a dramatic, life-changing year for yourself. And after you set those goals, seek the help of the Holy Spirit to boldly move forward in your life and live your life to the fullest with God by your side.

Insipiration from seemingly nowhere

For the past few months, or perhaps longer, I’ve been in a rut. I’ve been in a place where nothing seems to be happening that is exciting or meaningful anymore. Like everything is just one big cycle where things are the same endlessly.

That changed tonight. God took a random project I was involved in and clarified to me how provident He is. Here I was thinking, I was just aimlessly roaming around, seeking His will, or simply claiming to be seeking His will. But tonight, I discovered a man whose passion is ministry in the most unlikely of scenarios. I was involved with a short film project with a few friends from school, and one of the guys I met through the process is an active Christian who uses his filmmaking skills to minister to others. From the few moments I spent talking with him, I can tell, God willing, we can accomplish some great things in the future for His glory and expanding His kingdom.

The best part about this is that God is active in my life, sometimes I just lose sight of that. I thought I was just doing this film for fun and spontaneity, but through it I found I am in the will of God. Praise God that I am finally inspired to clean up my life (in so many ways) and be proactive about it!

My inspiration seemingly came from thin air, but it was from the hand of God. That is the God I serve.