Archives For His Story

Honor’s Reward

September 8, 2015 — 1 Comment

I had the privilege recently of speaking a message regarding honor – specifically with respect to honoring our Pastors at my home church, Without Walls Church. Lucky for me, I have the greatest Pastors on the planet! They make the task of honoring them to be a very simple one. They are a true demonstration of Christ as a Servant Leaders. I can’t say enough wonderful things about them.

Yet, there is an important message to be heard regarding honor and what can manifest through honor. Our society is plagued by a culture of disrespect towards those in authority. God’s word is very clear, there is a reward that comes through honor. This does not mean just honoring those in Spiritual Authority, we are also called to honor those in the Government, our workplace and elsewhere.

Watch the video below and chime in on the comments to start the discussion!

Question: How do you show honor to those in authority?

Who Am I?

July 13, 2015 — 1 Comment

Today’s post is a guest post courtesy of my amazingly talented wife, Alisha Anderson.  You can follow Alisha on twitter at: @AlishaAnderson7

MirrorWhoAmIWoman

There seem to be a sweeping attitude in our American culture today that upholds, admires, and respects individuals for their extreme commitment to science, industry or work accomplishments.  However, when put in context of ones religious or spiritual beliefs, that is held lightly.   You see this all throughout popular culture; in our films, newspapers, magazines, etc.  Characters and individuals are praised for what they do – but not what they believe (ironic, considering what they believe is likely at the core of why they do it).

We have become focused only on the earthly and temporal and have not given credit to God.

This attitude says, “I’m a Christian, but if that offends you, I won’t act like one around you.”  Or, “I’m a Christian, but that’s just my Sunday thing, so that won’t impact everything else, I’ll keep it PC.”

It seems holding firm to your religious faith just isn’t “the thing” anymore.  It’s outdated thinking and deems you to be intolerant or not open to other ideas.

I am a wife, mother, real estate agent, soccer player, and much more. These are roles I play and things I do, but central to who I am is a Christian. I believe I am who the God of the Bible says that I am and I cannot separate that from the rest of me.  Furthermore, it is the belief as a Christian that is the most central to me and defines everything else about me.

Does this make me not open or intolerant?  I don’t think so.  I respect others for their commitments to their beliefs in the face of a society that increasingly says “anything goes”.  I believe it makes me more loving to all people types, wanting to share the good news of God’s grace with them, just as He has shown me His grace.

My standards are not something I have conjured up on my own, it is not me deeming what is moral and what is not. Rather I’ve decided to adopt God’s standards. By doing so, it removes me as being the judge – everything rests on what God’s word says.

God is pretty clear – His way is better than ours!

For as the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9 NKJV)

Question: Do you have examples that you have seen of this type of attitude in our culture?

Who Defines Morality?

June 28, 2015 — 1 Comment

equal justice under law

This week, after the Supreme Court decision, Christian bloggers from across the globe took to the internet to express their opinion. Social media lit up with a flood of cheers as well as an onslaught of groans. I would venture to say the hashtag of #lovewins is likely one of the most trending topics on the internet.

I don’t know that I have anything new or unique to add to this topic, yet I feel compelled to chime in. As I read many of the blogs over the past few days, my heart just broke. It broke for 2 very distinct reasons:

1. My heart broke for those who call themselves Christian and spew such hatred and venom in their rhetoric. No matter your opinion on the subject, we are to always walk in love (now, that doesn’t mean we don’t express our opinion – we just need to have a better method of doing so…read more below).

2. My heart broke for Christians who have a distorted view of what Godly love is and of what Jesus demonstrated as love.  My heart breaks for the Christians that have compromised God’s Word and refuse to make a statement. My heart breaks for those Christians who don’t love their neighbors enough to tell them the truth found in the Word of God. My Heart breaks at an open acceptance by Christians of a sin.

Let me state the obvious: I believe in the Biblical definition of marriage – one man and one woman. Period. End of story. Let me be absolutely clear as a follow up to that statement – this does not mean I think anything less of the LGBT community or their desire to “marry”.  Do I think it is a sin? Yes. Do I believe the Bible calls it a sin? Yes. Do I love these people? Without a doubt!

I also think stealing, cheating, adultery and fornication are sins – but yet I love those people as well. There is no difference in my eyes – one person is not worse than another due to their sin.  The Bible is clear in Romans 3:23

For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God!

You, me, everyone. We have all fallen short.

As Christians, it is our job to be the light in a dark world and the example of God’s love – not His judgement.

The Supreme Court of the United States does not and cannot define morality – nor can they re-write God’s law. Yes, I believe all people should be treated equally with equal rights, but I do not believe that a “law” should be made that encourages someone to walk further out of God’s will for their lives.

If a law made by our legals system stands contrary to God’s law, we must express our concern. We as Christians must stand up and be the voice of morality according to the Bible.

I am fully aware that others will not agree with my opinion just as I don’t necessarily agree with theirs. That is what I love about our great country. We all share an equal right to believe what we believe and to freely express those beliefs without fear of persecution.

So where do we go from here? As a Christian, how do we proceed?

To me, it is simple. We show the world what #LoveWins really means. We show them that 2,000 years ago love won because a man died on a cross for you and for me. He died to free us of our sins. We show the world – just as Jesus did – that we can love and that sometimes love means we tell you what our God defines as a sin – that we open our Bibles and share with you the Truth.

Our desire should be the same as God’s desire – that none shall perish, but that all shall have everlasting life. The only way to do that is by boldly declaring His words through love.

I am reminded of Isaiah 40:8

The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the Word of our God stands forever.

There is nothing that can come out of Washington DC that will change the Word of God. To those in the LGBT and Christian community – let us find a better way to have the discourse. Hear me clearly, on behalf of Christians – we are sorry for any hatred spewed toward you – that is not the intent. We desire to introduce you to a savior that is all sufficient, all encompassing and all loving. It might sound foreign based on what you have seen – but Jesus desires nothing else but to love you and show you a better way.

Question: How do you show God’s love?

Fairy Tales and Christmas

December 18, 2014 — 2 Comments
Photo Credit: Iryna Yeroshko

Photo Credit: Iryna Yeroshko

We live in a world filled with wonderful stories, fairy tales and fables. From mythology to mysticism and fantasy to fiction, the choice is abundant. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a story. We get enraptured with the characters and the adventure of it all. Then, we remember, it is just a story and nothing more.

My fear, is that many people treat Christmas exactly the same way. For a few short weeks of the year, we get excited about this amazing story of a baby born in a manger – the angels, the shepherds, the inn – all of it is almost intoxicating. The idea that the King of the Universe would be born alongside a donkey in a smelly stable, you can’t help but be captivated by it all.

During this season we put our guard down and delve into this story. Christmas comes and goes, and quickly many forget that this was not just some folk tale but rather the triumphant entrance of God into humanity to begin the process of salvation for all.

The story of Christmas doesn’t end with a mother swaddling her precious little one in a stable that cold night in Bethlehem. The story of Christmas continues for over 30 years and ends on a dark lonely hill where that same baby is hung on a cross.

The ultimate gift.

As He cried out “It is Finished” and was raised three days later – the greatest gift in the History of the world was revealed – salvation for all.

I love the the festivities of Christmas. The lights, the smells, the parties; I love it all. But, let’s not forget that it is not just a simple story about a baby in a manger. You cannot lump this tale in with the likes of “The Night before Christmas” and read it on December 24th in order check your box of “Christmas Tradition”. One of those is nothing more than a child’s tale while the other is the living, breathing answer to life’s greatest question.

This Christmas, let us all make a commitment to remember not just the birth of that little baby, but the full adventure He took from the lessons He taught to the willing sacrifice He gave. The true gift of Christmas was just that – Jesus gave you and I salvation – don’t miss that key point of the story.

Question: How do you stay focused on the Truth of Christmas?

 

 

Consistently Thankful

December 2, 2014 — 1 Comment
Photo Credit: https://openclipart.org/detail/204505/thanksgiving-dinner-family-by-j4p4n-204505

Photo Credit: Link

Thanksgiving has come and gone. All that remains are the leftovers sitting in the fridge (and the added weight from all the desserts).  I am sure that many of you spent time reflecting over the weekend about what you are thankful for.

My list is extensive. I am thankful for my amazing family. I am thankful for my wife who constantly supports and encourages me. I am thankful for our beautiful Son – a proof that God does do miracles! And, I am particularly grateful for all of the hard seasons in my life that have led me to where I am.

That last statement might sound absurd to some. Why on earth would I be thankful for hardships? Simply put, they have developed my faith and strengthened my resolve allowing me to constantly focus on the fact that God is in control – my life, after all, is His story, not mine.

This concept of rejoicing in our sufferings is one that was all too familiar to the apostles. I have read the book of Acts countless times, and somehow I always breeze past the verses like that of Acts 5:41 “So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

This was not their first time being arrested and threatened.  A chapter earlier, Peter and John were arrested and released being strictly forbidden to ever speak the name of Jesus. Most people would either take heed the stern warning and follow instructions or flee from this persecution and go elsewhere. They however, pray for boldness and go about their mission. Shortly after, they are back in the temple preaching and subsequently were arrested again – although freed by an Angel in the night, they were again back in the temple teaching the next morning. They were a persistent group of people!

Acts 5 tells us of their trial and how at the conclusion they were beaten, threatened and released. We read in Acts 5:41-42

So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ

Persecution did not immobilize the apostles – it fueled them. Their version of a “bad day” was one that I hope many of us never have to endure – yet they chose to rejoice amidst their suffering. They chose Jesus over self-pity, they chose the greater story over their own story.

The realization of what Jesus has done for you should change not just your perception but your behavior. You walk away from troubles unscathed and motivated to turn any issues into testimonies for Him.

He is our All in All – He is our peace, provision, joy, strength, healing – our Everything.

So take some time to be Thankful this season for all He has brought you through – reflect on what you have become because of His greatness.

Let the trials be fuel to the burning fire inside of you to tell the story of Him this Season.

Question: How have you turned trials into rejoicing? 

It is Finished!

April 18, 2014 — Leave a comment

It Is Finished

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. (John 19:30 NKJV)

Those are three of the most powerful words ever spoken in the history of the World. “It is finished”.

At the time, the disciples watched in horror as their teacher took His final breath on that fateful Friday. Everything they had been taught over the previous years was now being put to the test. Little did they know that this was just the beginning. Some followers fled, and some even denied ever knowing Jesus. To many of them, those final words meant exactly that – “it is finished”. What we had hoped for, dreamed of and desired are gone. Everything was shattered.

But Jesus meant something completely different. Those three words were not a statement, but a proclamation. A deceleration of Freedom, Forgiveness, Grace and Love. “It is finished” meant that we are now the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, that we are heirs of an amazing inheritance, that sickness and disease must flee. Those three words bring forgiveness, healing, joy, strength and provision to all who simply believe and accept.

The cross was gruesome. The cross certainly appeared to be an unfortunate and disastrous finale. We have to go through the cross to arrive at Redemption.

It’s not over. It’s never over. No matter what you may feel, think or see – the joy of Sunday’s resurrection is coming fast. When Jesus uttered those three words from atop of that cross sitting on the hill, He was thinking of you. All the pain or sorrow that you may have, He was speaking to you – He was paying the price on your behalf and stating that all of the sadness and pain is over – you have an option for joy beyond description, for forgiveness that is unexplainable and peace that is insurmountable.

I am sure for the disciples, this was the darkest hour they ever experienced. It was in this darkness that all things came to pass and the plan of God was finished.

Don’t let the dark hours deceive you. The deceleration has been made. The work has been done. The sacrifice has been paid.

It is finished.

Question: How do you stay focused on the fact that we are the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus?

Is Fear Enough?

September 18, 2013 — Leave a comment
Photo By TJDwewy at http://www.flickr.com/photos/22416200@N05/

Photo By TJDwewy at http://www.flickr.com/photos/22416200@N05/

“Not me Lord” or “I am not able Lord.” How many times do we see that in the Bible when God calls forth His people for a purpose or cause? I spoke about this last year in my post “No More Excuses“, but this morning I was reading in 1st Kings 18 and couldn’t help but pause and reflect on a few points in that chapter. I will give you the back story in one sentence: Elijah is a man of God, who told Ahab ( the King of Israel, evil in the sight of God) there would be a famine and Elijah has been gone for 3 years now returning.

As Elijah begins his journey back in encounters Obadiah. The Bible tells us that Obadiah feared the Lord greatly and even hid and saved 150 prophets of God from Jezebel. Obadiah knows that Elijah is a man of God and drops before him when he encounters him.  Elijah then tells him to go and tell Ahab that he is here.

Without a delay Obadiah spits back:

So he said, “How have I sinned, that you are delivering your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? (1 Kings 18:9 NKJV)

How quickly Ahab moves to a place of fear.  But it doesn’t stop there:

12 And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from you, that the Spirit of the Lord will carry you to a place I do not know; so when I go and tell Ahab, and he cannot find you, he will kill me. But I your servant have feared the Lord from my youth.13 Was it not reported to my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, how I hid one hundred men of the Lord’s prophets, fifty to a cave, and fed them with bread and water? 1 4And now you say, ‘Go, tell your master, “Elijah is here.” ’ He will kill me!” (1 Kings 18:12-14 NKJV)

Here we have a man of God, who fears the Lord and he is being instructed by the Prophet of the Lord on what he should do…and he jumps straight to fear and a myriad of reasons why he shouldn’t do as Elijah (and God) is asking him to do.

There is one very important lesson to take away from Obadiah:

Fear of the Lord is not enough – action is ALWAYS required.

God is calling you and I to move. Yes, it is scary. Yes, it is dangerous. And yes, it is most certainly unstable and unpredictable.

Don’t hear me wrong – fear of the Lord is essential – but without action, it means nothing.  Obadiah had to step outside of his comfort zone, outside of what he viewed as “safe” and carry out the command of the Lord…no matter the cost.

The reality is quite simple. No matter what we are venturing into, no matter what He is telling you to do, He will never leave you or forsake you. It is a promise and God cannot break His Word:

5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6 NKJV)

Today, I encourage you to step outside of your perceived comfort zone and move into the next stage that God is calling you into.

Question: What is your strategy for making sure you are aligned with God’s plan?

© Patrícia Soransso, All Rights Reserved

© Patrícia Soransso, All Rights Reserved

Earlier this week we started with the first two truths we can take away from the story of Joseph:

1. It doesn’t matter where you find yourself, God will show you favor!

2. When you are favored, everyone around you will be benefit!

This brings us to the next stage in Joseph’s journey and another promise. During Joseph’s time as a slave in Potiphar’s house, he was falsely accused of a crime and thrown into prison. I would think it in a public vote, prison would not be a place that many would chose to go. Yet, Joseph knew that God was with him and favor yet again followed him (see Genesis 40).

We see in Genesis chapter 40 that while in prison, Joseph interprets the dream of Pharaoh’s cup bearer. When the cup bearer was released, Joseph asked him, this man of power, to remember him. He didn’t and it says that Joseph remained in prison for two more years! We don’t see Joseph become discouraged or walking away from God during this time – he maintains his focus. This is where we find truth number three:

3. Even if a season persists longer than you think it should, it doesn’t mean God forgot about you!

No matter where things stand, when we keep our focus on Him, we allow an opportunity for God to demonstrate His power and ability to bring us through better than we could ever imagine.

I always am in awe when I read Ephesians 6 starting in verse 18:

18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Here we see Paul in prison while he writes this. Notice what he asks those to pray for: that he may boldly proclaim the gospel!  If I were in prison writing this letter, I know I would be asking for others to pray for my release! Not Paul. He knows that his God will make all things good. That whatever the season, whatever the pain, whatever the trial if he keeps his eyes on Him – than it will all come together in a more miraculous way than he himself could conjure up.

Back to Joseph. A chapter later, we see his release as Pharaoh needs a dream interpreted and the cup bearer now remembers Joseph.

Pay attention to these verses in Chapter 41:

14 Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him quickly out of the dungeon; and he shaved, changed his clothing, and came to Pharaoh. 15And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that you can understand a dream, to interpret it.” 16 So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.”

Note his answer to Pharaoh in verse 16 as this is where we find the final truth:

4. Your position and ability mean nothing without God!

Joseph recognizes and emphasizes to Pharaoh that it is not him, but God who preforms! So many times we can allow our “position” or even our lack of “position” dictate our behavior. Remember, it is not your story – it is His story! If He is endorsing you, than it does not matter what your position is! Simply follow His command.

Question: How do you find encouragement from the story of Joseph?

 

Garden Picture

We have a garden in our yard, however, there is one big problem with this garden: I do not have a green thumb.  Maybe it’s lack of knowledge on how to care for it, my lack of attention to it, or maybe I can blame it on the desert heat…but one thing I know is true, untended seeds do not grow.  That is simple enough.  When it comes to growing anything in my garden, it requires time and attention. You must apply the right amount of nutrients, water, and effort otherwise all you will end up with is empty fruitless dirt.

God has provided each and every one of us with seed.  He has entrusted us with talents and gifts that we are supposed to use for the purpose of advancing His Kingdom.  So how exactly do we “tend” to those seeds?

In John 15, I feel that Jesus outlines a very simple 1-step plan for this: Abide in Him.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. (John 15:4 NKJV)

I am convinced that we make this too difficult.  We expect growth simply by being a good person or showing up to church a few times a month – but if we desire true growth it is going to require a true pursuit of Him.  The word “abide” simply means to “dwell” – we are to “dwell in Him”.  Daily.  Always.

How do you do this?  Read His word (daily), talk with Him (daily), serve His people (daily).  It is not about you, it is all about Him!  When you focus on the vine (Him) versus the branch (you) things begin to change.

When you pursue Him with a relentless passion, the seeds that you have been entrusted with and the seeds that you are sowing will have no choice but to bear great and prosperous fruit.

Don’t let your seeds return as fruitless dirt, but abide in Him and see the great return.

Question: What practical steps do you take to walk out John 15:4

The “Even If” Mentality

September 16, 2012 — 1 Comment

Even If Mentality

There are so many people in the Bible that take on what I call the “Even If” mentality.  And it is those people that I want to model my life after.  But there is one story in particular that really seems to sum it all up and it is the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel Chapter 3.

These three young men took a stand against King Nebuchadnezzar who had recently decided to build an image of gold that he commanded everyone to worship.  Just to put things in perspective a bit, that image was said to be 90 feet wide and 90 feet tall of gold (that is roughly a 9 story building).  I would imagine this would be quite the impressive sight to see.  It also says in Daniel 3 that when the music would play, everyone in the land would bow down to worship this idol – except these three young men.

As we jump ahead, King Nebuchadnezzar confronts them and it is their reply that we should focus on:

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.18 But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18 NIV)

Here they are, looking into this blazing furnace, standing firm in their faith.

They truly understood that this was not their story, but rather, His story.  Even if God does not deliver us – we will not bow down.  Even if God does not come through like we think He should – He is still God Almighty.  They acknowledged that God was powerful enough to deliver them, but also Sovereign to the point, that even if they were not delivered, it would serve a bigger purpose for God’s ultimate plan.

We know the end of that story – God does deliver them (without even a smell of smoke on them) and a new decree from Nebuchadnezzar is issued to serve the God of these 3 men.

Their faith changed a nation.  Their submission to ultimate story of God allowed for a miracle to occur.

The “Even If” mentality is not easy.  We are told to pray constantly and believe.  We are told that whatever we ask of our Father in Heaven we will receive.  But…even if He does not provide the answer the way we desire, He is still Alpha and Omega and He promises to make ALL things good.

Stop and think about that for a moment.  If what you are standing for does not occur in your timing, are you going to throw it all away because of it…or will you surrender to the fact that God’s timing is perfect?  His story for you works out so much better then any story you can create on your own.

Even if God does not deliver me from _________(you fill in the blank for your life), I know that He reigns and that just as it says in Jeremiah 29:11, He has a plan for me:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Question: How do you walk out the “Even If” mentality?