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Denial -Part 1

“Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man! And immediately the rooster crowed.”
Matthew 26:74

Peter was so confident in his devotion and commitment to his Messiah that nothing could get in the way.

Except for the threat of death.

Peter talked the talk but when his claims were tested, he bailed.

He was afraid! Afraid of what might happen to him if he admitted that he was one of Jesus’ disciples.

When I read his story I become rather frustrated with Peter. I get frustrated because he was SO committed to Jesus; so loyal.

Although, at the same time, reading about Peter’s shortcomings somehow makes us feel better about ourselves. I mean, we’ve never denied Jesus like Peter did…or have we?

The truth is, we deny Jesus on a fairly regular basis. We profess with our words that Jesus is our Savior and Lord, but walk out the door and deny him with our life (DC TALK).

Where are you denying him in your life? Is it a relationship or a group of friends? Is it at work? Is it by some secret life or habitual behavior that no one knows about? 
 


You see, even in my frustration with Peter, I love his willingness to share his shortcomings. This should help us MOVE forward in our life, and not become complacent.

We should never use his example as a means of justifying a static life. Peter’s example is to spur us on towards growth in Christ.

Don’t read his story and say, “Well—Peter struggled with this, so it’s okay!” If we do, then we are in jeopardy of living a life less than God’s best.


 
Where have you settled? Confess this to the Lord, repent, and receive God’s power through the Holy Spirit—so that you might MOVE forward and find a better way. 
 


-Daniel

Dare

A few days ago I was reading through the book, ‘Fathered by God’, by John Eldredge.

In it, there is a chapter on “boyhood,” where he paints this picture of Eden:

“When God set Adam in the Garden of Eden, he set his son in a world that was, at the very same moment, safe and secure yet full of mystery and adventure. There was no reason whatsoever to be afraid, and every reason to dare.”

Isn’t that an amazing picture? Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden and, at that time, there was no reason to FEAR. It was a safe and secure environment for Adam to explore and grow and develop.

Now, we know how the story ends, but let’s take a moment to reflect on the beginning.

Adam was placed in an environment that would allow him to develop into the man he was created to be…a man created in the image of God.

I love the sentence, “there was no reason whatsoever to be afraid…”

Why would that be?

There is one very clear answer to that question: IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD THERE IS NO FEAR. We can be safe and secure, which in turn, makes us who we were intended to be… explorers and adventurers.

We can risk and dare because God is with us.

Questions:

• What would it look like for you to return to Eden today?

• What are you afraid of right now?

• What is standing in your way of daring?

• Where is the LORD asking you to take a risk?

• What kind of environment are you creating in your home, family, or business? Is it one that will foster FEAR of DARE?

• What agreements have you made in the past that could be binding you up right now?

-Daniel

Don’t Be Troubled

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.” –John 14:1

What are you troubled with today? What are you consumed with right now? What are you worrying about? Where are you spending energy that is fruitless?

Jesus was speaking to his disciples in this passage. He knew that things were going to get much harder for them in the coming days.

These words are intended to be words of encouragement. Jesus tells us to not let our hearts be troubled, and He lays down this imperative… “trust in God, and trust in me.”

Sometimes I get so frustrated when I take good, God-given energy, and worry about things that are not in my control. I’m sure I’m the only one, right?

But we are told to place our trust in God and not in our circumstance. This is not always easy to do, but it is the only way to find that security.

When we trust in people or stuff, we always lose. People and stuff will always let us down—God will not.

If you are troubled today, take heart, because God is trustworthy and Jesus has overcome the world!

May you take time today to center yourself again, or maybe even for the first time, on the One who is trustworthy.

-Daniel

Warrior

“The LORD is a warrior; Yahweh is his name.” –Exodus 15:3

It seems as though this imagery of the LORD is becoming more and more unacceptable in our culture.

Maybe it’s because anything associated with fighting, adventure, strength, and power is BAD.

There are times in my life when I just need God to hold me close and comfort me because life is just so hard. However, I also need someone to fight on my behalf.

I find great comfort in the fact that my God fights on my behalf.

I find great comfort in the fact that my God can whip your god’s butt.

I find great comfort in the fact that my God has the power to protect me as a servant in his kingdom.

I am secure because he is the warrior.

I have peace because he stands on that wall and defends the powerless, the broken, the hurting, the widow, the orphan, and you and me.

May you be encouraged today by the imagery and truth of scripture; that our God is a warrior who fights on our behalf.

Simply ask Him to fight for you…

-Daniel

Smaller Churches with BIG Faith!

I am so inspired by small churches, with crazy-big faith! There is something powerful about a church that looks at the books and knows that things are tight, or maybe even in the red, and still presses forward in faith towards what God is calling them to do.

Here is an interesting idea:

“Pragmatism is the enemy of faith.”

A while back I preached a sermon on Jesus Feeding the Five Thousand. Maybe you remember the story…

There was a crowd of people following Jesus around,  listening to him teach about the Kingdom of God. It was getting late and the people were getting hungry. Jesus told the disciples to do something about it, but they weren’t sure how they could feed everyone. All they had was a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread that belonged to a little boy.

…So, they brought the fish and loaves to Jesus and he blessed them.

Guess what happened next?

There was enough food for everyone! Actually, there was more than enough. Isn’t that just like God?

The disciples didn’t know what to do. The boy offered what he had. Jesus made up the difference.

In other words, Jesus plus anything equals possible.

Don’t you see?…So often, we (Christians) and the Church approach problems and challenges from a pragmatic point-of-view. This might be wise or practical, but it might also lack FAITH. For, God calls us to a life of faith, meaning we don’t always know what is going to happen, but, at the same time, we are called to be faithful.

The bigger we are the more we have to lose. When we have much to lose, we run the risk of not acting in faith because of the cost.

I am not promoting that we stay small to avoid this dilemma. However, I am saying that as we get big, we can’t allow MUCH and MORE to keep us from doing what God has called us to do.

May we GIVE BIG and GO BIG. And may we act in FAITH even when things are tight.

-Daniel

Faith

“The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.  If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us.  Only do not rebel against the LORD.  And do not be afraid of the people in the land, because we will swallow them up.” (Numbers 14:7-9)

I love the story of Joshua and Caleb (yes, there is a reason why Gretchen and I named our son Caleb). They had exemplary faith throughout this story and the rest of their lives.

Their faith was BOLD.

It wasn’t a faith that played the numbers. It wasn’t mixed with fear and distrust. It was pure faith; no additives. It was complete and true.

The tragic part of this story is that fear eventually won the day. The people of God decided to not take the land, which resulted in God’s discipline…wandering in the desert for 40 years.

However, Joshua and Caleb were committed to taking the land.

They were committed to doing whatever the Lord asked of them.

Steve Furtick, in his book “Sun Stand Still”, put it this way:

“God’s people didn’t understand that if you want to experience God’s blessings, audacious faith is not optional.”

What does your faith look like right now?

This is a challenging word for all of us.  We are a people of faith.

Not faith in some idea, but faith in a PERSON.

God is alive and active, and our faith should reflect that TRUTH.  Where do you need to have faith today?  What dream is not being realized because you are unwilling to ask?

Take your cues from Joshua and Caleb and go BIG in faith trusting that God is for you.

…KNOW that GOD is FOR YOU.

As I sit here in the middle of an IHOP in St. Louis, the mission in front of me is almost overwhelming, BUT I know God is able!

I need to focus my faith on the Lord Jesus and trust his provision and vision for this new church start.

So, just like you, TODAY, I am putting my trust and faith in the ONE who is able to do abundantly more than I can imagine. COME Holy Spirit and MOVE in a powerful way…move us to faith and move us to action.

We choose, to believe in faith, for all that you have promised!

-Daniel

Abundant

I have officially taken the first step to living in a new area; i.e. currently sitting in the Fenton Starbucks.

I arrived in St. Louis at 6:00pm, after spending a few great days in Tulsa, OK, with family and friends.

It’s been amazing seeing people catch on to the vision for this new movement. At this point, a few churches have decided to partner with us in various ways. There is something so beautiful about churches helping other churches, even when they don’t have much.

Just like in Mark, when the widow gives all she had, which wasn’t much, yet it was EVERYTHING. Jesus praised her actions! She backed up her belief with ACTION.

We serve a God who has “cattle on a thousand hills”.

He has all He needs, and all we need. He is complete and in Him we can be complete.

So, why is it that many churches function with a theology of scarcity? Why do we see the glass half empty?

God is not bankrupt.

God is abundant.

Where is our faith when God prompts us to GIVE; when we are worried about money?

When we get to a point where we can’t loosen our grip on our resources, then they have become idols.

Andy Stanley talks about FEAR being at the core of our lack of generosity. We don’t give, because we are afraid.

Let me say it again.. We SERVE a GOD who has “CATTLE ON A THOUSAND HILLS!”

Followers of Christ Jesus should be ridiculously infused with this crazy kind of faith! Stop living “half-empty” and afraid!

Challenge: Step out in faith; give generously.

Lean into that fear that has held your heart tight and choose to GIVE. God will meet you; and He will bless you!

I want to create a community of people who have audacious FAITH. A Church who goes BIG!

Why?

Because I’m tired of little dreams that can be easily accomplished within our own power. I want to cast and lead dreams that are so BIG that the only way they could possibly get accomplished is by the PRESENCE OF GOD.

We serve an abundant God!

If you would like to GIVE to Elevation Church, please visit out website at www.elevationstlouis.com for more information, or email us at giving@elevationstlouis.com.

Blessings

-Daniel

 

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