does neurontin cause weight gain

For The World To See

I suspect that many of us have heard the story of Peter denying Jesus three times and probably thought, “I can’t believe he did that!” Have you ever had that thought? I know I have.

I mean really, how could you deny Jesus? Weenie!

In Matthew 10, Jesus says, “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.” (v.32-33).

It is pretty simple the way Jesus explains it. If you acknowledge me, then I will acknowledge you. If you deny me, then I will deny you.

I remember the Christian band DC Talk had this lyric in one of their songs that said, “you acknowledge me with your lips, then deny me with your life.”

We have all probably done just that. We say we know Jesus and then do whatever we want.

I think this statement by Jesus is pretty sobering. He expects us to live out our faith, not in secret, but publicly. He wants the world to hear and see his followers. This seems like a reasonable request for someone who died so that we might be reconciled back to God. Don’t you think?

I honestly can say that I don’t want Jesus to deny me before His Father, so my only proper response is to acknowledge Jesus in everything I say and do.

Pretty simple, right?

Consider:

We acknowledge Jesus when…

  • We aren’t afraid to SHARE our faith with others.
  • We lead our family in morning or evening devotionals.
  • We start a lunch time Bible study at work.
  • We won’t cheat at work or at home.
  • We vote our principles.
  • We love and help people.
  • We refuse to compromise our sexual purity with anyone.
  • We STAND UP any time there is an injustice.
  • We won’t allow the government to take away our FREEDOM.

-Pastor Daniel

Mark 6 + 7

It is important t0 point out a few recurring themes in Mark’s gospel up to this point in the story:

Mark is constantly locating Jesus by a lake, in a boat, or on a lake. It seems that the lake is one of the safe places for Jesus to get away from the crowds of people. A place of silence and solitude.

The crowd is ever growing and continuously pressing against Jesus. I think noticing how he handles this is important to any leader or follower of Christ.

There is an increasing tension between Jesus and the religious leaders of the day.

Jesus is constantly telling the people who get healed to keep the event on the down low…none of them do.

The heart is a significant metaphor being used by Jesus to explain the kingdom of God and what a worshiper of God really look like.

Allow these observations to help you as you continue reading through the gospel of Mark.

I wanted to land on something I found interesting in Mark 6. Mark tells us that Jesus isn’t being accepted in his hometown. People are treating him without honor. Mark also tells us that Jesus was “unable to do miracles among them” because of their “unbelief.” (Mark 6:5-6) Jesus even says, “he was amazed at their unbelief.”

Jesus does go ahead and heal a few sick people, but no miracles were done. I guess healing sick people is more like an everyday thing for Jesus. Apparently, miracles were different and required faith. I know this is getting sticky for some.

Someone might ask, “Daniel, are you saying ‘people don’t receive miracles because they lack faith?’” I am not really saying anything at this point. I am simply making an observation from the text. Actually, Jesus is saying that miracles didn’t happen in Nazareth because of their unbelief.

SOOO…what do we do with do that?

I absolutely think that there is an argument to be made that there are times when miracles don’t happen because of lack of faith. This isn’t the first time this happens in the Bible. It even happened to the Disciples when they tried to cast out a demon from a little boy and Jesus tells them they were unable to do it because they lacked faith. Do we then extrapolate that every miracle that doesn’t happen is somehow our fault?

Lord, I hope not. If miracles only depended on you and me, the world would be in BIG trouble.

However, I do think there is something to be said for the relationship between miracles happening and faith. We are told to have faith in our God, who is able to do miracles. He tells us to pray for healing and for our world. If there was no point, then why would he tell us to do it? There is a point to putting our faith in a God who can do miracles.

I believe that miracles happen when followers of Jesus pray in-line with God’s heart and God determines that the situation being prayed about is going to draw people to worship Him.

A little explanation is necessary. Miracles are intended by God to bring Him glory and worship. They are designed to draw people to the overwhelming power of God and cause them to repent, to worship, and surrender, to pray, to focus themselves again on their all-powerful, healing, and loving God.

BELIEVING FOR A MIRACLE

1). BELIEVE

We are called to believe and put our faith in a God, who can and does do miracles. I feel as if too often we doubt God can do anything. I know we say all the right things and pray all the right prayers, but do we really believe that God can do something about the impossible situation we are facing. Do YOU really believe? REALLY?

2). TRUST   

You aren’t God. I know this comes as a shock to many of us, but it is true. All we can do is pray. We can’t determine the outcome. God is still in control and still on the throne. He invites us into the story, but ultimately he is the one who decided. (I realize this gets into did God do this to me, or why didn’t God answer by prayers–all are great questions; however, I can’t deal with them here. Perhaps you can check out my message series called “Life’s Toughest Questions” for some insight into these difficult questions). We must trust Him even when we don’t understand Him. We must trust that he knows best, even though that is extremely hard to do. Trust is essential to faith and vice versa.

Lastly, never apologize for asking God for a miracle. He is gracious and loving and hears our prayers. Where do you need a miracle today? Pray and believe in faith for this to happen. I’ll believe with you.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, I need a miracle today! I need You to show up in this situation. I need You to show up in this relationship. I need You to show up at my job. I need You to show up [insert need]. I put my faith and trust in You. I submit my desires to You, so that they are in-line with Your desires. I relax and trust in You. When I doubt, Lord, draw me close to see Your heart for me. Help me to see it how You see it. Give me faith. I believe for a miracle today! In Christ strong name. Amen!

-Pastor Daniel

The Big News Revealed!

This past weekend we made a very important announcement: We’re moving!

Rockwood Summit has decided not to renew our contract and so we are currently looking for a new place to call home. We are working diligently to find a new space and I believe God is able.

I wanted to express my deep appreciation to Rockwood Summit High School. It was a great gift to be able to meet in the school.

When we arrived at Rockwood, we were a few months old as a church. We hadn’t even officially launched the church yet.

One of the reasons we were looking for new space at the time was that we had outgrown our other space. Rockwood gave us an opportunity to establish our church in the community in a very recognizable place and allowed us the space to grow as a church.

We have tripled in size since we first came to Rockwood. I am so grateful for the time we had there. I pray continued blessings, safety, and prosperity on this great school.

It’s time to move on. It’s time to write a new chapter in the story of Elevation. It’s time to take our next step of faith.

I believe this is an important step. Each time we have moved we have grown as a church. I am believing for exponential growth.

Will you believe with me? Will you pray and work to make this next move our best move yet?

God is able, so let’s get to work!

Blessings,

Pastor Daniel

All Day Long

Romans 10:21 But regarding Israel, God said,
“All day long I opened my arms to them,
but they were disobedient and rebellious.”

“All day long”…

God has been revealing himself to Israel over and over again.
He has welcomed them into his loving arms “all day long”.

What was their response?
They were “disobedient and rebellious.”
They didn’t listen.
They didn’t respond properly.
They rejected the LORD’s invitation.
…They said, “NO!”

In the same way, God is welcoming us in his arms of grace.
So, what will be your response today?
Will you respond by turning towards God and receiving his embrace?
Or will you turn away from God and continue trying to do it on your own?

God is standing with his arms open wide and very clearly telling you and me that we don’t have to do it alone.

Whatever your situation looks like today…turn towards God, run into his loving arms, and feel his warm embrace.

He loves you and wants the best for you. You are not alone.

You don’t have to live another day without Him.
You don’t have to live without his guidance and peace.
Don’t just stand there, RUN to him.

How do you do that?

It’s simple.

Get on your knees, right now, and simply pray:

Dear God,

I need you in my life and in this situation. I can’t, but I know you can. I am running towards you today will you, please, embrace me in your arms. Forgive me for the times that I have been disobedient and rebellious. I turn from that way of living and ask for your power to live differently. I need you. Please, receive my prayer as a fragrant offering and change me from the inside out. Be LORD over my life, my circumstance, and my future. In the strong name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!

-Daniel

Have You Settled the Issue?

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our LORD has done for us.” –Romans 5:1

So, have you “been made right” with God?

That may seem like an odd question, but seriously. Have you settled this issue with God?

It’s not a matter of whether you are a good person or not. The Bible clearly states that not one of us is good. We are all in the same boat.

This is all about relationship.

We are separated from God because of our sin and THIS ISSUE must be addressed.

So, I’ll ask again…have you “been made right in God’s sight?” This is such an important question. So many people believe that if they are good people and they go to church that they have been made right with God.

But that’s so WRONG.

Romans tells us that we are made right “by faith” because of what Christ has done for us.
We have peace with God because of Jesus not because of us.

Now that you know that; have you “been made right” with God?

If you are uncertain today about your relationship or standing before God, then settle the issue. Put your faith in Jesus. He died for your sin, so that you might have life again and be free from sin and death.

If you want to say, “yes” to Jesus today simply pray this prayer:

God…I am a sinner in need of a Savior. Will you forgive me and come and live in my heart so that I can be free from sin and death. I love you and trust you with my life. Use me how ever you want for your glory. In Jesus name, Amen!

If you prayed that prayer, the next step is telling someone and getting into a bible believing church. I would love to hear from you, so send me an email at dtaylor@elevationstl.com.

If Elevation Church can be a help to you please let us know, and if you live in the area please join us for worship. You can find worship times on our website at www.elevationstl.com

Going Higher!

Daniel

Worry Revisited

This past weekend, at Elevation Church, I spoke about worry, anxiety, and fear.

We were able to go over some of the basics in Matthew 6:25-34.

How Jesus tells us, three different times, “do not worry”.

Because worry hurts us, it adds no value to our life, and it creates the potential for idolatry.

We talked about how the word “therefore” is extremely important in this passage. It implies a cause and effect relationship between what was just said and what is about to be said.  Jesus just finished saying that you can’t serve both God and money.  In other words, if we don’t have God at the center, if God isn’t the One we seek first, then ultimately we will serve something else.

Since I didn’t have enough time to cover all that I would have liked to in my message, I thought I would add a few other thoughts in this blog post.

APPLICATION…

People sometimes think that Jesus is making to big a deal out of this worry thing. What about things like our kids or our necessities; shouldn’t those things be okay to worry about?

Good question, but the answer is still no.

The reason isn’t that we shouldn’t be concerned for our kids or necessities.  The issue comes when we begin to worry, and in turn, stop resting in Jesus. We stop taking our worries to the Lord and try to do it on our own.  We try to control something that is uncontrollable.

This is the basic human problem.  We possess an illusion of control.

Knowing that, here are two different thoughts that might help:

1. If there is something you can do about the situation then do it. We don’t need to worry when there is something that can be done. We simply need to act.

2. If there is nothing you can do about the situation then worship through it. If we can’t do anything, then we need to simply take it to Jesus. As worship goes up worry goes down.  Worship isn’t just singing songs; worship is a lifestyle that points towards God in every aspect.

When was the last time you read your Bible?

When was the last time you really prayed?

When was the last time you asked for help from someone in the church?

When was the last time you attended a small group?

When was the last time you attended worship in a Christian community?

Are you starting to see it?

We can’t expect to receive the promises of God without seeking his presence. We MUST seek his face before we seek his hand.  Seek him first is what Jesus says and if we do “all these things will be added unto you.”

Another thing that I wasn’t able to mention on Sunday was the TRUSTING GOD BOX.

You can use any box you want, but label it the “Trusting God Box”. When you have a worry or a fear, put it in the box and seek God about it.  Then close the box.

This is a symbolic behavior that says you are putting it in the Lord’s hands and shutting the lid. If you begin to worry about it again you will need to open the lid to do so.  It creates a barrier to indulging in the destructive behavior of worry.  It allows us to intentionally surrender it to the Lord and prayerfully lay it down.

My hope is that you have found this message helpful in confronting any worry you’ve been wrestling with. If you know of others who are tangled up in worry and fear, please pass this message along.

Blessings,

-Daniel

Give Till it Hurts, and Then Give Some More

One of my desires is to lead the most generous church on the planet. You may say that this seems a little audacious, but with the Lord’s help it is absolutely possible.

I’m not sure about your experience with giving and tithing at this point; you may or may not be a regular giver. But either way, giving is about stewardship and Lordship.

We are called to steward the blessings of God well, for He is Lord and we are not.

Why does He ask for a portion?

He asks because He knows what money can do to our lives. As broken and fallen people we have become dependent on money, so much so, that it becomes an idol in our lives.

God knows the danger for us, and in His mercy He rightly and wisely puts a regular discipline of giving into the rhythm of our life.

When we refuse to participate in this discipline we put ourselves in a compromised position. We ultimately reap the consequences and miss the blessings.

I remember when I was in seminary several years ago; one year, I literally made $3000. My wife was working at a bookstore for minimum wage and we were basically “American poor”.

But even in the midst of that, we were blessed. It was a simpler time. We didn’t have much, but life was good.

I remember times during that season when we literally didn’t have the money we needed to pay the bills. I also remember the goodness of God when we needed $100 for some bill. But one day we opened our front door to find an envelope sitting there with the exact amount of money we needed.

I also remember the tension around tithing. When you have so little It’s really hard to step out in faith. God knows this. Trust Him.

We learn to be generous when our giving costs us something. If we have everything, then giving might not be hard–unless the Lord requires you to give everything like he did with the Rich Young Ruler. However, it is when we have little that giving begins to form a generous heart. God uses these times as a fire where our faith and trust in Him are forged.

Sometimes I want to go back to that time in seminary; God’s love for us was so real and tangible during those days.

But then I realize, the Lord is moving in the same ways all around me as we step out to plant this church. God is blessing this church.

The Lord is providing for His people.
People pray for jobs and jobs come.
People pray for houses to sell and be rented and that is exactly what happens.

I remember an old spiritual that went something like–“He may not come when you want Him, but He’s right on time!”

Be encouraged today. God blesses us to be a blessing. Give generously and watch God work.

I can’t wait to see what the Lord does in your life as you step out in faith to trust God with your money. Remember the word in Malachi 3:10, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” Bring it in and watch God work!

Rain down your blessings, O God, so that we might be a blessing!

There is a button (Giving) at the top of this blog if you would like to start today! Gretchen and I use the online giving feature because it makes giving so easy to do. We just enter the amount and press a few buttons and you’re done; it’s ready to be used by God through the church for His kingdom’s expansion.

I also want to say thank you for your continued faithfulness and commitment to giving!

-Daniel

God Isn’t Fair

“Then Moses went up to Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab and climbed Pisgah Peak, which is across from Jericho. And the Lord showed him the whole land, from Gilead as far as Dan; 2 all the land of Naphtali; the land of Ephraim and Manasseh; all the land of Judah, extending to the Mediterranean Sea*; 3 the Negev; the Jordan Valley with Jericho—the city of palms—as far as Zoar. 4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have now allowed you to see it with your own eyes, but you will not enter the land.”
-Deuteronomy 34:1-4

This passage of scripture has ALWAYS bothered me!

I’m not sure I know how to make since of it, but I do know that the Lord meets us in scripture. Those feelings that come when we read are given to us for a reason.

The best thing we can do is press into those thoughts or feelings.

Moses had the assignment of leading a massive amount of whiny, cranky, and stubborn people, out of Egypt, through the desert, and almost into the promise land.

Yes, I said “almost”.

He worked so hard. He endured so much. However, he still was unable to go into the land that God had promised to his forefathers.

The reality of the situation is that Moses didn’t do what the Lord wanted (Numbers 20).

When we are disobedient to the Lord we can’t expect that He is going to bless our actions. That’s impossible.

God Doesn’t Bless Disobedience.

Which is why the most frustrating part of the story is that over and over God had mercy on those rebellious people, but when Moses does one thing wrong, he’s out.

It doesn’t seem fair.
But God isn’t all that concerned about being fair.
However, He is just.

Fair means that everyone is treated the same.
Just means that everyone is treated in accordance with God’s known Law.

Moses and Israel were both held to the known Law of God.

Israel was given mercy, and the mercy they received allowed them to make it into the promise land.
Moses was given mercy, but the result wasn’t being able to go into the promise land.

Verse 4 says, “Then the Lord said to Moses, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have now allowed you to see it with your own eyes, but you will not enter the land.” 



Even though he couldn’t enter the promise land, Moses was allowed to SEE it.

I can’t begin to imagine how he felt at that moment, but God was undeniably showing Moses mercy and love.

God isn’t the government trying to make sure everyone gets the same amount of this or that service.
God isn’t making sure everyone gets a participation award.
God isn’t making sure that everyone makes the same amount of money. 


Remember the Parable of the Talents? All three men were given different amounts and yet they were all held to the same standard (Law).

They were given different amounts for a reason, but in no way does that make God unjust or unloving. 
 


God loved Moses.
Out of everyone on Earth, Moses experienced one of the deepest relationships with God.

I believe Moses understood that not entering into the promise land wasn’t the end of the world.

He knew he had messed up; however, he also knew, that very soon after he saw the promise land he would die and forever be with God.

We don’t picture death this way very often.
To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

Moses desired God more than he desired the promise land.

So, how about you?

-Daniel

Knocked Down

Have You Ever Been Sucker Punched?

One day every thing is perfect and the next day BAM. Out of nowhere someone or something hits you, and you find yourself lying on the ground thinking, “what the HECK happened to me?”

Just yesterday everything was great, and now you’re busted up and bleeding.

Now, there are two types of people: those who have taken it to the chin and those who have not.

If you haven’t taken it to the chin…know that it’s coming. The Bible says, “PRIDE comes before a fall.” Life will not always be neat and tidy.

So, what kind of foundation are you building on?

People are fickle and opportunistic.
When you’re up, everyone wants to be your friend, but when your down, suddenly no one is around.
Your friends are the ones who stand behind you when everything falls apart.
And remember that God will never forsake you.

You will get knocked down, so be prepared.

Maybe you are on the ground right now, or you are trying to get your senses back… God has a word for you today:

YOU CAN RECOVER FROM A FALL!

Let me say that again, “YOU CAN RECOVER!”

When you’re knocked down the only place to go is up. You’ve gone through hell and now you don’t have anything else to lose.

Winston Churchill said, “If you are going through hell, keep going!” Don’t stop; keep going. One big difference between people who have taken it to the chin and those who have not is that people who have been through HELL recognize that they need HELP. This is a great place to be. You aren’t struggling with pride; you are struggling to get back up.

The truth: there isn’t anything more dangerous than someone making a comeback.

When the rose colored world that someone was living in is gone, they are ripe for increase.

When you don’t have anything to lose, you can fully embrace the presence and power of the Lord, and that makes you dangerous.

So, GET UP! Don’t just lie there on the ground. You can recover from this fall. Allow the Lord to heal you and empower you for the work He has planned. GET UP! GET UP! GET UP!

The devil had no idea what he was getting into when he knocked you down!

Because when you get back up, you are going to be stronger and more dangerous for the Kingdom of God than ever before!

If you are struggling with a fall or know someone recovering from one, check out T.D. Jakes sermon “You Can Recover From A Fall”.

-Daniel

Denial -Part 2

“Suddenly Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: ‘before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.’ And he went away, weeping bitterly.”
Matthew 26:75
Peter remembered.

It was in that moment that Peter came face to face with a harsh reality…

He wasn’t who he thought he was.
He was the opposite.
He discovered inconsistency.

Can you relate? 


There is nothing easy about being confronted with your own brokenness; your own weakness.

Peter was a strong and confident disciple. He had decided early on that Jesus was the Messiah and that he would follow him to whatever end necessary.

However, when time came for “whatever means necessary,” Peter didn’t follow through with his commitment.

We may not know exactly why he denied Jesus, but we are told how it affected him.

Matthew tells us he went away “weeping bitterly.” Have you ever wept bitterly over your own sin? Have you ever wept over your own denial of Jesus?

My heart hurts for Peter in this moment.

Because I’ve experienced life at this level.
I’ve experienced my own sin at this level.
I know what it feels like to want to run away and hide.
I know what it feels like to experience a tsunami of hopelessness that leaves you wondering if life can ever be restored.

I imagine Peter “went away” wondering if Jesus would ever speak to him again. Was his life, as he knew it, over? 
 


…YES!

Peter would never be the same.

And in John 21, Jesus restored Peter. Peter is asked three different times by Jesus “do you love me?” There is no doubt that Peter loves Jesus, but Jesus is trying to get Peter to believe again. Jesus is pulling Peter out of the hole of despair and re-assuring him of their relationship.

It’s critical to notice that Jesus is restoring the relationship first. Peter needed to feel the security that comes from knowing you are a child of the King; from knowing that he is beloved. 
 


The reason I answered, “yes” earlier is because Peter would never be the same…and isn’t that the goal?

The goal is to become more like Christ. Peter was restored by Jesus and ultimately given the mission of leading this young movement in the world.

I know Peter never forgot what happened that day when he denied Jesus three times.

I also know that Peter never forgot the day that Jesus restored him back into fellowship.

It is a hard lesson when we are confronted with our own duplicity.
It was for Peter. It was for me. It will be for you.

But HOLD ON! Don’t give up just yet! God isn’t finished with you! God still has a plan!

If you are sinking, REACH out to someone who can help you. Joy comes in the morning! God’s mercies are new everyday! On the other side of pain is JOY!

Don’t bail. Don’t medicate. Don’t hijack the process.
Remember the promise and go through the process, so that you might experience the payoff.

If you need someone to pray for you send me an email at dtaylor@elevationstlouis.com 
 

You don’t have to do it alone. You can make it. Believe today that God is ABLE! 
 


-Daniel

Load more