Archive for May, 2010

Make God’s Promises Practical

Most of us are clueless when it comes to applying the promises of Scripture to our lives.  It’s not because the promises themselves are vague.  God is clear regarding his promises, but we neglect to take them at face value and make them a practical part of our lives.

This isn’t anything new though.  If you look through the Gospels, you’ll find that even Jesus’ disciples were surprised when he applied Old Testament prophesies to himself.

How would our lives be different if we asked God to show us through his Spirit the full meaning of  the promises found in his Word?  What would happen if we began to take note of those promises and declare them over the issues in our lives?

T. J.

Categories: Growth, Leadership

You Have to Believe Before You Receive

Jesus said, in Mark 11:24, that you can pray for anything, and it will be yours.  The reason most people aren’t quick to claim this verse is because there is a condition attached to the promise.

You have to believe that you have already received what you are praying for, and most people aren’t willing to believe until they see.  But belief taps God’s power to accomplish what is humanly impossible.

Faith that gets God’s attention requires us to function as though the answer has been given before we’ve received the actual confirmation.  You have to believe before you receive.

I’m not referring to a “name it and claim it” approach to prayer, unless what you’re claiming lines up with God’s revealed will in Scripture.  Then you can name and claim it all you want, but you still have to believe before you receive.

T. J.

Categories: Growth, Leadership

Should We Use Popular Culture to Communicate the Truth of God’s Word?

This is a question that is heavily debated, and even openly discussed, from church platforms such as this one.  In order to answer the question, it’s important to see how Scripture approaches issues like this.

In Acts 17, Paul presents his case for Christ in front of the Areopagus, the high council of Athens, which contained the most intellectual minds of that time.

During his speech to them, he referred to their love for religion, even though it was false religion, and made a point to mention that he looked carefully at their objects of worship, specifically an altar with the inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.  He even quoted some of their poets.

But why would Paul mention false gods and use Athenian poetry as a part of his explanation of who Jesus was and what he had done?  Because he was leveraging the popular culture and philosophies of that time to gain the attention of his listeners, so that he could share with them the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  The result?  People believed and became followers of Christ.

Sometimes, in order to reach people with the gospel, we have to take Paul’s approach.  We have to be relevant in our methodology without being relative in our theology.  The message shouldn’t change, but the way we present the message must be innovative.

Using popular culture responsibly to communicate truth from Scripture can be one of the most effective ways to “…help people far from God experience new life in Jesus Christ!”

T. J.

Categories: Church, Culture

The Light Meets the Dark

Tenth Avenue North in our home in Jacksonville, FL in 2008

Tenth Avenue North before the Greensboro, NC show in 2010

A few years ago, before Tenth Avenue North released their album Over and Underneath, the school where I was employed as the high school principal booked them to lead worship for, what we called, “Spiritual Emphasis Week.”

Keep in mind, they hadn’t become as popular as they are now.  In fact, I think they only had one song on the radio at that time.  But one of the things I noticed right away was they weren’t there to perform for the students, or promote their soon-to-release album.

They were there to lead us into a meaningful worship experience  designed to lift up the name of Jesus.  That’s the thing I still appreciate about them the most.

We saw them open for Casting Crowns a few weeks ago in Greensboro, NC, and as far as the performance was concerned, nothing had changed.  The venue was different, and the crowd was much larger, but their purpose was identical.  They were there to lead people into a meaningful worship experience designed to lift up the name of Jesus.

When you get a chance, check out their latest album that just released today.

T. J.

Categories: Music

Make Time Your Own Property

We are all responsible for making the most of every moment we’ve been given.  Opportunities exist for you to make time your own property by strategically investing in things that matter.

For followers of Jesus, that should be our relationship with God and with others.   We should feel a sense of urgency to manage our time in light of God’s redemptive plan.  In Colossians 4:5, Paul reminds us to live wisely around those who are far from God.  Our interactions with unbelievers must be purposeful, motivated by love and the message of the gospel.

The choice is yours, you can handle the time you’ve been given haphazardly and miss opportunities to make a difference, or you can be intentional with your time and make it your own property.

Categories: Growth, Leadership

Transform Your Outlook and Your Outcomes

Since moving to Winston-Salem to plant a church during the biggest economic recession in recent history, God has showed me a couple of key concepts that have become foundational for the way we are doing ministry, and life for that matter:

  1. Focus on what you have, and not on what you don’t have. – You can make excuses all day long about not having enough resources to accomplish your goals, but if you will direct your time and energy on what God has made available to you, not only will you live a more grateful life, but you’ll figure out ways to achieve the same outcomes with less.
  2. Operate under the belief that little is much when God is in it. – I heard an old school preacher say this once.  Actually, he sang it, but that’s not the point.  This truth can only be experienced if you’re willing to exercise BIG faith!

If you will put them into practice, these two concepts have the power to transform your outlook and your outcomes!

T. J.

Categories: Growth

Reaping Redemption

When is the last time you allowed God to break your heart for people who are far from him?  When is the last time you agonized over the fact that there are people you know (relatives, friends, neighbors, etc.) who are separated from God?

Earlier today, I was thinking about the people in my life who are in that category, and this promise from Scripture came to mind: “He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:6)

Although this verse refers directly to the effort of a remnant of God’s people to re-establish the nation of Israel following Babylonian captivity, the principle of sowing and reaping is a promise we can claim when it comes to the redemption of those we know who are lost.

So go to work on behalf of the ones who haven’t entered into a relationship with God through Jesus.  Pray and weep over the people you know who have not yet come to him, and then beg God for the opportunity to see them cross the line of faith.

T. J.

Categories: Growth