Look at Me! I’m Suffering! Luke 23:34

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But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.
Luke 23:34

Last year we looked at the willingness of Jesus to forgive others as He hung on the cross.  This year, I was struck by his willingness to intercede on the behalf of others as he suffered.

While I was looking at the story of our Lord I kept thinking, had this been any one of us, we would have been screaming from the top of our lungs, “Look at Me; I’m suffering!”  “All eyes on me!”  “Look at this crown on my head!”  “Look at the nails in my hands and feet.”  “Look at them gambling for my clothing.”  “Look at Me!  I’m Suffering!”  But, not our Lord!  In the height of His suffering, He opened His mouth towards heaven and sought mercy and grace for those who were abusive towards Him. images (3)

What about you?  In your journey towards the mark, are you in the habit of considering the state and need of others before your own?  If your like me, and I am assuming you are, our personal plights often come with blinders at best, most often a sleep mask!  We are so caught up in our own circumstances that the pain, suffering and needs of others can take sit on the back burner, getting minimal if not any attention.

Not only do many of us ignore others in the middle of our ordeals, we call attention to ourselves, highlighting our struggles, calling for the compassion and empathy of others in a way to cope and compensate us as we travel through.  Though Jesus could have made a legitimate, and I mean LEGITIMATE CASE, that the world revolves around Him, we must realize that the world does not revolve around us.

Jesus was not a narcissistic, and neither should we.  We are neighbors!  We are fellow members of a larger community, though we find ourselves paired with smaller groups  and individually loved by God.  Our God is the creator of all mankind, and desires to be the Savior of all, though all have yet to acknowledged His existence or His sacrifice.  It is this knowledge that must keep us pressing to reach out to all people, and displaying our love for all His creation.

 

Let us follow the example of our Lord.  Remembering others even as we are experiencing the pain and struggles life presents us.  Let us gain confidence and peace such that we show compassion to those who lack the connection to God, and the security of being justified by His sacrifice.

Fight of Flight (Judges 14:5-6)

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Judges 14: 5 Samson went down to Timnah together with his father
and mother.  As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly
a young lion came roaring toward him.  6 The Spirit of the LORD came
powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands
as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor
his mother what he had done.

Are you prepared to Fight?  or Are you preparing for Flight?

As I read this passage, I thought about the many who have not prepared to fight the many lions on our journey.  I first thought of the natural portion given to us called “adrenaline”.   God has uniquely designed our bodies with a “fight” or “flight” system powered by adrenaline.Adrenaline

In key moments, our minds will be called upon to make the distinction as to what should be done in key situations.  In this, the adrenaline produced can give us the strength to “fight” or for “flight”.  This distinction is an assessment that happens on the spot and determines the best way to respond to any given situation.

I thought about the response of Samson, a man of God who as a Nazarite, accepted his vow to live for the Lord.  While others took the vow by choice, Samson was chosen before birth, but had to accept his appointment to live for the Lord.  His response to the roaring lion was based upon his knowledge of Who God is and Who He was in God.

Vineyard; No Problem

Even before addressing the Lion, I was first captured by his position.  His journey to investigate his future wife took him through a vineyard.  As a Nazarite, he is not to drink or eat anything from the vine.  As he travels, it seems as though the presence of the vineyard does not phase him.  He has become so disciplined in this area of his life, that he seems to advance, not even distracted by what he sees.  This comes with a lifestyle of denial and focus to be disciple.  I wondered if I and other could get there?  To be like Samson in this moment or like our Lord in the wilderness.  Samson placed his vow to the Lord before his commitment to please his flesh, considering his pleasure secondary to pleasing God.  If only we could get here!

How close are you?  Would you be snacking from the vines as though walking through Cosco or HEB?  Truthfully most of us would have been full of grapes, stumbling from the wine, and crawling into the Temple with our sacrifice, shaving our heads and starting our vows yet again.

Will you keep your vows?  No you aren’t a Nazarite, but as brides of the Divine, we have a commitment as a disciple to live a life of discipline, denying our self, and pressing towards the mark of righteousness placed for us.  We must position ourselves to be used by the Lord by living out or vows not before man, but before a righteous God!

Are you positioned? 

In this, I took a close look at my life; asking myself am I prepared to be used by the divine?  Sadly, I concluded No; not completely.  I examined my health, and determined that my lack of discipline in eating and drinking, presents to God a temple that is partially prepared to carry out my calling.   Are you positioned?

As we looked at Adrenaline, we see how its use can both save your life, giving you the ability to fight or for flight, but that in certain cases, the use of it can take the life of one who’s temple is not able to handle the power it provides.  Are you prepared?  Samsoms’ temple had been set aside for Gods’ use and was ready to handle his first assignment.  When the Holy Spirit came upon him, it had complete use of his temple to carry out this super natural feat!  Could you?  Are you positioned?  Positioning is the result of preparation.  Denying himself and being discipline with his eating and drinking, Samson was ready to physically handle the rigors of the fight.  He, under control of the Holy Spirit, tore a lion in half, with the inference being that it was with very little struggle.

Are you prepared? 

The Holy Spirit was able to use not only his body, but was able to control his actions by the connection he had to the Divine.  Resembling his covenant daily, He most likely stood facing the lion with a larger mane that the young lion that attacked.  He kept razor from his head, symbolizing his connection and covenant to the Lord, refusing to break his vow.  His close connection allowed him to be overtaken, and his discipline and life of denial allowed him to quickly submit in the heat of the battle.  Fight or Flight?  For Samson, even before knowing the power he possessed, Flight was not an option.

How will you respond to the attack? Diving

Because most of us are not prepared, we choose Flight!  I want to encourage us to take a stand and to Fight!

What I love about the passage is that Samson was taken by surprise!  Many of us feel being prepared is knowing the exact challenge that we will face, but when you are walking with Christ, and guided by His Spirit, being prepared is not knowing what is a head, but knowing who is your head!  Yes, we are a body; and Christ is our Head.  It is the knowledge of this that allows us to fight as though taking a test as though we had the answer key prior to the exam.

We must stay built up in the Word, increase our intimacy with time in Prayer, Chasten ourselves by Fasting!   

Again, being surprised is not equivalent to be unprepared.  That is, unless we are undisciplined.  The reason many of us have to choose flight is our undisciplined lifestyle.  When we assess the situations we face, we have not prepared ourselves or structured ourselves to carry out the fullness of our calling.  Will you prepare?

I’ll show you a Lion!

Samson stood up to the Lion, knowing that he was not standing by himself.  Yes, you guessed it!  Why take flight from a young lion when you are walking with the Lion of Judah?  You want to see a Lion, I’ll show you a Lion.  You might think I am walking by myself, but I am walking in power with the favor and protection of the Lord.  I am covered by His blood and empowered by His spirit to do greater works that already displayed.

I face all challenges with faith, not responding to the roar of the lion, but to the voice of the King!  It is His voice that presents fear and the respect I have for His love and sacrifice that is the power that allow me to walk towards a challenge as opposed to running away from it.

Which Direction are you Running?

You are either headed back or you are moving forward!  You choose how you use the power you are given.  Are you praying to get out or praying to power through?

handsinsoilDid I do that?

I am grateful that God doesn’t do everything for us or without us!  God powered Samson with the Holy Spirit but allowed him to experience the power and the satisfaction of achievement.  It is an honor and so satisfying to see the things God allowed your hands to participate in accomplishing.  Yes, here I am Lord; send me!  Lord forbid that the Kingdom is built while we are spectators!  I want to point to a brick, a wall, a chair, a person, a ministry, an offering, a miracle that God worked through me to accomplish.

Like Samson, I want to travel and see the work of my hands, celebrating and remembering the power of the partnership I have with God, and reveling in just how powerful I am when fully dedicated and submitted to Him.  Don’t you?  Don’t you want to look at your hands as the tools of the Lord to accomplish His will on the earth, and not just as tools to bring pleasure to your flesh? olympic-victory-celebrating (45) As I look to the floor, I see the prior works of my hand.  Feeding my temple things that have brought harm and have been a hindrance.  Lord forbid that this be the only changed visible to mankind by my hands.   I pray that your hands show more than clothes and cars, houses and land.  I pray that God will use you to produce more than grapes on a vine, but fruit from a life lived that honors God.

 

#PastorJDO3

 

 

 

We are Shepherds Not Kings!

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We are more comfortable making followers than leaders.
Jesus recruited followers but developed leaders.
#PastorJDO3

As spoken before in many dialogues/blogs, there is a byproduct of hurt and pain that leaves its imprint on people, groups and organizations.  The insensitivity and lack of remorse in relationship both secular and spiritual cause the receiver of the hurts to suffer long after the encounter.  Relationships are built on a layer of trust which is sealed by loyalty.

1.  Broken Bonds Heal Like Broken Bones

Speaking with leadership, the existence of scars and wounds are revealed.  Though masked and treated with Coco Butter and Alovera, the pain and hurt of broken relationship have left visually faint scars that don’t properly represent the depth of the prior injury.  While the parting of ways is par for the course the manner in which they occur can be drastic.

Come Holy Spirit on meOne can imagine the hurt Moses felt when he descended, not just seeing the people had begun to worship a false idol, but that Aaron had taken his place in leadership; if only for a brief moment.  One can imagine the anger he felt when he charged Aaron up about leading his people and allowing himself to be influenced into sin himself by the people.  As he threw the tablets down, he broke the very stones that had been inscribed by the hand of the Lord in anger of what Aaron and the people did in his absence.

What happens to the Aarons in our lives?  What happens to those who betray you?  How we manage these relationship are key.  Do they heal properly?  For most; NO!  They are like broken bones.  As I learned through my child who had a broken arm, bones must be set properly to heal, and if misaligned will be both stunted in growth and not function properly.  Further discussions revealed:

Creating Leaders Redistributes Power

The redistribution of power is a challenge every leader and organization must face. At points in ones existence or in the life of an organization, the blessing of growth, and the challenge of change require more to design, manage to lead what exist and what is projected to come.  Moses too found himself in this position.  As one having the majority of the power, he found himself overwhelmed by the responsibility of making all the decisions, big and small, and staying in touch with God to continue directing the path of the Israelite.    One stay with his father in law would change his perspective.

Though Moses was not hogging the power selfishly, he held it and accepted the full responsibility that came along with it for the betterment of the people and to insure that the vision of God was carried out among His people.  Moses understood that he was selected to lead, and while God referred to them as Moses’s people when He was angered and disappointment with them, Moses was not foolish enough to believe the people belonged to him, nor did the power.  He was a shepherd and a manager whose job is was to lead in the best manner possible.  The challenge we face today is the lack of knowledge and acceptance of the truth Moses understood.  We now believe that the Sheep belong to us, and this is flawed. 

Much like those before us, we are placed in a field to manage and care for that which we have no ownership of.  Our job is to protect, lead and to feed those whom God has assigned us to look over.  Moses understood this from his prior assignment, and understood that Creating Leaders would make him a more effective leader not a less powerful leader.  It would give him the time to spend with God that would allow them to in turn benefit from his intimate relationship and spot on directions.  This leads us into further understanding:

Developing Leaders Creates Competition

In the race to have the biggest flock, many have ceased to think Kingdom, and have adopted our countries Capitalistic focus.  It’s not longer about the guarding and feeding of the sheep, but about the collection of the sheep and the blessing of having access to their wool that many some have placed as a “muy importante!”JesusWhipSomeAss-425x509

The race to numbers has lead to the development of a mindset that is contrary to the Gospel.  It has caused us to be hyper focused on numbers, finding validation in the knowledge that we are respected by and meeting the approval of other men/women of God.  Though not called by them, their validation has become the idolized.  To some, it is the voice of a peer saying servant well done that has replaced the goal of standing before the master and receiving His stamp of approval.

The need of numbers means that the Kingdom must grow between the walls of a specific house.  This causes leadership to focus solely on the portion given to them, often willing only to nourish that which directly benefits what they have been given to manage.  Keeping competition down has become a focus, as the craft or brotherhood for some has become like some sects that protect trade secrets.

One of the fears articulated during my discussions is one I found when at an internship in grad school.  I had volunteered to work with the kids summer camp program at the church I was attending.  While on break during a training, a leader said to me, “You know what we hate about you seminarians?  We train you, and then you take what you have learned from us and leave?”  I know you are thinking, “Where is the Kingdom Mindset?” Furthermore, I was free labor!!!!!!!!  I digress, this wasn’t the statement from the top man/woman, but does represent a train of thought that exist!  There are some that are not concerned with sharing power within their fold, but won’t place forth an effort that might be used to build another mans house.     Leaders must be comfortable with the possibility of that a leaders could leave.

wisdomOur model, Jesus, had an advantage that we don’t have.  His ministry, 3 years, was set and structured to be passed on to the hands of those following Him.  He was training leaders from the beginning and even laid His hands on a successor (loosely used).  Because of this, He trained them not just in word but in work sending them out with power into the town two by two, planting them into fields to work the harvest that was plentiful, sending them to tend the sheep among the wolves, teaching them what the take, and even how to receive rejection.  He gave them His power, and the ability to speak in His name that His will might be done.  He carefully vetted them, spending time with them, pouring His Spirit in them, and trusted that even in their humanity, the power and presence of Him in their lives would guide them not only to speak the truth but to live a life of righteousness that would bring glory to God the Father!

All in all, the Kingdom of God will not be stopped.  It will continue to advance!  It will overcome challenges.  It will shine brighter and stand up to false teachings and false prophets.  The light shinned from the righteous will be sustained by the power working from within!  This generation must fight the notion of Kingship, acknowledging that there is only one throne, one that none, save one, is worthy to sit upon.  We are Shepherds, not Kings.  We are exalted by man because God holds us up before a lost and dying world and speaks His truth through us.  It is His revelation  inspires, and His anointing on us that breaks the yolk, while His Spirit calls and convicts those He leads our way.  Our job is to build His Kingdom and not kingdoms of our own.  Keeping this focus will allow us to bring glory to the Father and to bring truth to the world.

#PastorJDo3

Waiting to Produce (Judges 13:1-2)

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The Israelites again did evil in the LORD’s sight,
so the LORD handed them over to the Philistines
for forty years. There was a man named
Manoah from Zorah, from the Danite tribe.
His wife was infertile and childless.
Judges 13:1-2

 

Because of disobedience, the Israelite’s find themselves under the rule of the Philistines.  Yes, God’s people found themselves subject to those who were not God’s chosen because they were constant breakers of the covenant God had made with them.  Here we find Manoah in captivity corporately with his brothers and sister, and still having to deal with personal conditions and circumstances. 

012-jacob-weddingThis really struck me.  As a father, husband and as a man of God.  Even in the midst of our corporate struggles, there are still personal struggles going on within the group.  As a leader and visionary, sometimes we loose sight of this, and this lack of sight can cause us to be both instinctive or to appear as though we lack compassion.  In Manoahs case, most were aware of his circumstance because they could not visually see any children, but in many cases, what we go through is not publicized.  Many times we find ourselves struggling and suffering in private.

Though in a in captivity, Manoah had been blessed with a wife.  Though there are many benefits to having a wife that, one was not afforded to him; offspring.  Manoah was not only unable to secure  Verse 2 informs us that his wife is both infertile and childless.

Though we are not given details on how her infertility affected either he or his wife, we are clued in that she has not produced a child.  This means she was barren when betrothed, and barren after covenant was solidified.  Though he was able to produce an offspring, he was childless because she was unable to produce.

I wondered:

Have you ever united with something barren?

I think back to college.  One of the worst things that could happen to you in a lab was to be partnered with someone who was unproductive.  Their unproductively had a direct affect on your ability to produce.  It caused you to work harder, in turn making your shaper, but robbed you of opportunities to take full advantage of your circumstances.

image001I wondered how many nights he prayed, thanking God for what he had, but asking God to add to his numbers that he might produce more and be more efficient with his holdings?  I wonder how many times he prayed over her, anointing her body with oil?  How many days did he fast?  I wonder how many times he stood exhausted looking over land that was not cultivated and wished he had an extra hand to aide him in his duties?  How many sacrifices did he make?  How many times did he fight through the advice of friends?  How many advances did he turn down?  How many offerings were given?  How many hours did his head hang low? One can imagine the frustration and disappointment he might have questioning himself and his relationship with God.

On the other end we have his wife.  

Have you ever been the Unproductive Partner in a Relationship?

Being a faithful and loyal wife, I am certain she served her husband to the best of her capacity.  She was certain to have compensated in each way, working along side him to help him, knowing that she was unable to provide an heir or an aid for anything he acquired.  Furthermore, she would not have a covering or company if she were to loose Manoah.  Each day she awoke to the frailty of her present state, and operated within her circumstances, hoping one day they would change.  She most likely faced the label of her community, and the constant judgement that was given to a woman who had the equipment to produce, but had not been selected  by God to bare one of His gifts.

 

I pray for each tear that was shed.  I pray for each time her head grew heavy and her knees grew weak.  I pray for each time she touched her belly.  Each time she countenance was low.  Each time she cried out to the Lord.  Each sacrifice she made and each offering she offered up.   I pray for each time she saw a mother with her child.  And for each time she held someones blessing and wondered if her womb would every be blessed with a gift from the Lord.

At some level we have all been either Manoah or Manoah’s wife.  From both vantage points, we must continue to be good partners to one another.  We must take advantage of what has been given to us, until more is provided for us to steward.  In every case, God will meet our needs and allow us to function if we will continue to get the full usage out of what we have.   Manoah and his wife find themselves still blessed by the Lord while in captivity, and we can too.  Not having today does not mean that tomorrow will be the same.  For both Manoah and his wife, the day would soon come that they would not only be Monoah/Monoahs wife, but Samsom’s Father/Samson’s Mother.  Soon the tails and chronicles of his actions would not only make his name great, but the name of his family.

 

#PastorJDO3

 

 

Don’t Be Proud….

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This evening Granny Lola shared with us the story of Weldon’s Funeral home. The Funeral home was founded 4 generations ago by her Great Grandparents Mr & Mrs. David Weldon. The question that sparked this blog: Did it make you proud that your family owned land and a business?

bf86fea2f9a38254fa867631c0bdac29She replied. “My parents taught us to never be proud. Carrying on the legacy is a way of showing your pride in the legacy you come from.” She spoke about the way many carried themselves who came from prominent families. Many carried the title and the accolades of the past with pride, but their willingness to rest on what the past generations accomplished ensured the legacy would soon cease.

The true enjoyment of being a part of a rich heritage or legacy is the honor in extending its reach. It’s the ability to not only hold the torch until the flame expires, but to work in such a manner that the flame will not be extinguished by your efforts but will burn with such vigor and fervor, that it has enough fuel to survive to two generations.

What are you doing with the torch? Are you reveling in public appearances? Eating meals from the past? Enjoying the celebrity of the fruit of yesteryear? Or are you taking the seeds from the past and planting a harvest that will put seeds in the hands of your children’s children?tourch

Pride should not found only in what was accomplished by those before you, but in the work of your own hand. One should not only receive the legacy, but should be driven to carry it in the same manner in which it was received.

What are you doing with the seeds of others? What are you doing with the seed you have?

Most squander the seeds of others, and worse are eating their seed, and in turn, ensuring that they will leave no legacy.  A legacy is what you leave behind, not just what you accomplish while you are here.  It’s the torch that continues to bring light from generations past that gives sight to those yet to breath their first breath. Your legacy sets a stage for those coming, and gives power to those who will carry on your dreams both born and unborn.

She concluded by saying, “Don’t be proud; carry on the legacy!” Being a part of a legacy is a responsibility more so than a privilege. While others feel the freedom of not accomplishing and not excelling, the responsibility of extending that which has preceded you restricts from you the luxury of being lazy or complacent. “Don’t be proud; carry on the legacy!” Honor past generations. Give Tribute to those whose hand first tilled the soil. Let every action, accomplishment and accolade be a tightly woven effort to bring glory to all that sacrificed for you to sit and to stand.

 

 

#PastorJDO3  #DrQDO