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Heaven, the Citizen’s Final Frontier……Or Is It?

Heaven, the Citizen’s Final Frontier……Or Is It?

One of the most heartfelt worship songs of the 21st century is I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe. If you haven’t listened to it, you should. It’s a wonderful song! Here is the first verse and the chorus.

I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk, by your side
I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When you face is before me
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

Surrounded by You glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

As I was listening to the song, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “You don’t have to postpone this experience to Heaven. You can have this on Earth right now.” Wow! Can we really? If so, then why do we sing so many songs declaring how we can’t wait to get to Heaven? Why do we delay experiences meant for Earth?

The short and sweet is that many of us have traded the promise of the Kingdom for the empty hopes of religion. God’s intent has always been to establish His heavenly influence on Earth among and through a citizenry of people who manifest and spread His culture. If you’ve been following along with us for even just a short amount of time, you have heard this message several times. Check out our archived messages on our website, Facebook page, or YouTube channel for more on the subject.

Religion is man’s attempt at reclaiming the Kingdom. It is our best shot at understanding and fulfilling God’s intent. Unfortunately, anything we try to do in our own strength and wisdom falls short of God’s marvelous standard and intent. The hope of going to Heaven to live and stay is one of these things.

Jesus makes it quite clear during His ministry that He came to bring Heaven to Earth and not the other way around. “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). From the outset of His ministry, Jesus was laser-focused on restoring the Kingdom back to man, not taking man to the Kingdom. Yes, we will go there one day on an excursion, but make no mistake it’s not our final frontier.

We spend so much time praying to leave Earth and not enough time praying for God’s Kingdom to impact it. “Pray then like this: Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matt.6:9-10). That doesn’t sound anything like some of the prayers you’ve probably heard. It’s a prayer for impact, not isolation. It’s a request for God’s government to come, not to take us to the government.

If that wasn’t enough, in John 17:15, we hear Jesus having a conversation with His Father, saying, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” That seals the deal! If Jesus didn’t pray for us to leave, but to stay, then what should our prayer and focus be? It should be on impacting the world with Heaven’s culture while we are here.

Don’t worry, your “hope in glory” isn’t going anywhere. You will go to Heaven someday, put on your white robe, walk the streets of gold, and worship around the throne. However, if that consumes our attention, then how can we fulfill the assignment we’ve been given here on Earth?

Imagine if our churches were all laser-focused like Jesus was on impacting the world with Heaven. Imagine if we were so in tune with the Holy Spirit that we knew exactly what to do to make it happen. What would our churches look like? How would we structure our ministries? How would we see our role in the world today? I’ll tell you!

Our churches would be blossoming with Heaven’s culture. There would be no lying, no stealing, no bickering, and no gossiping. There would be no adultery, fornication, or sexual immorality of any kind. Children would obey their parents. Husbands would love their wives. Wives would submit to their husbands. There would be no divorce and no incest. The moral standard would be high, our vision would be clear and the witness we set for the world would be so weird to outsiders, they would come just to see how all of this is even possible.

Sound crazy, far-fetched, or out of this world? It’s because it is, according to the world’s way of operating anyway. Church On Purpose is determined to be this kind of church. It’s why teach and preach so heavily on the importance of manifesting culture. My prayer, and I hope after reading this your prayer, is that God will renew our understanding and vision for what the church is supposed to be. When this begins to take place, we won’t be singing about how we imagine what Heaven will be like, but about how real Heaven has become on Earth.

Grace and Peace,

 

Professor Q

Just Say No

Just Say No

Since the inception of Church On Purpose, Coach Jonathan and I consistently and repeatedly teach this understanding of religion: Religion is man’s attempt to gain God’s attention and approval. That is to say, for God to give any care or concern for our existence, we must do something or a series of things of which He approves. It’s like a child doing whatever she can to be considered her father’s daughter and get his attention; she already is his daughter and has his attention by virtue of the relationship.

The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry (Psalm 34:15).

The entire 34th Psalm is thanks given unto God by king David for the attention God has given him. David knows because of his right relationship with God, he has God’s attention. Again, because of his right relationship with God, he has God’s I. The Gospel of the Kingdom is the only message maintaining the belief that pleasing God comes through faith in God’s gracious gift of salvation to humanity, not religious works.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

There is no religious activity a person can do to please God—no amount of praying, worshipping, service, sacrificing, or giving will get God’s attention. One either has it or he doesn’t. One is either a child of the King or not. God cannot and will not be appeased or coaxed into giving His attention.

Since this is the case, then why are so many believers that are very religious? Why are there so many added stipulations in some churches—a list of dos and don’ts that if you don’t follow them, then you somehow lose sonship or fall out of God’s good graces? The answer is simple, really. Somewhere along the way, the church lost the proper understanding of God’s intent and has slipped into religious activity, trying to get God’s attention. Unfortunately, many believe that God wants things over people; that He wants activity more than relationship.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26).

God wants a family of sons and daughters who reflect and carry out His intent, values, and culture in the earth. As always with God, His intent never changes and His purpose is never thwarted no matter what we may or may not do. So, regardless of what religion may have taught you, this was and always will be God’s intent.

Armed with this knowledge, my charge is simple: Just say, “NO” to religion. Say no to any thought, doctrine, or belief that teaches or implies that you must do something for God to accept you. It’s simply not the case.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:3-6).

God’s acceptance of and attention towards you is based on His choice to include you in His family and your choice to accept His invitation into it. Say no to religion and yes to the Kingdom.

Grace and Peace,

 

Professor Q

The Most Valuable Question You’ll Ever Ask

The Most Valuable Question You’ll Ever Ask

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)

Some years ago, I began my journey with an amazing network marketing company. Now, regardless of what your opinion is about network marketing, it is a great industry that helps a lot of people but of course has its bad eggs and bad moments. Kind of like your family. Haha. The good, however, certainly outweighs the bad. But anyway, back to my post.

Up until this time in my life, most of my decisions and governing philosophy for life were based on WHAT I was doing or WHAT needed to be done, and HOW I was going to get it done. This consistently left me with mixed results and outcomes that rarely met my expectations so that even in my mid-twenties I was beginning to feel like I was spinning my wheels chasing an ever-elusive state of fulfillment.

Then I went to my first Saturday training with a company that I believed in and had vision for. There on that Saturday morning I was introduced to the life-changing concept of WHY, and I realized sitting in that seat that for most of my life I had be asking the wrong questions. Like a lot of people, I would ask “Who am I?” instead of “WHY am I?”. I would ask, “Where should I go?” instead of “WHY should I leave?”.  The list could go on and on, but suffice it to say that the power of that WHY question began a transformation in my life that DIRECTLY influenced where I am today.

As an outgrowth of that moment I began asking the WHY question about everything in my life. It helped me begin to understand my motives, my habits, my behaviors, my patterns of living, why I went through the cycles of life I was going through and why I was getting the results from my efforts that I was getting. When I began asking WHY, I started to realize that I was more responsible for the condition of my life than I had liked to think up until that point. It was always easier to find someone or something else to blame for my condition in life, until I started asking WHY. When I did, I realized that no matter the external circumstances, there was always SOME role I played in the equation. And the exciting part was realizing that since I’m a part of the equation that produces the results, then if I change, if I get better, then things around me would get better.

And they did.

But not overnight. It’s been, and will continue to be, and life-long journey toward understanding the WHYs in my life. But I wouldn’t change this sense of awareness of purpose for anything. And that ladies and gentlemen is the foundational premise for Church On Purpose. One of our primary goals for the culture of the church is to be able to create a community where it’s ok to ask WHY.

My prayer for you, is that with all the questions that you have in life, that today you will just start asking WHY. Why am I here? Why did that happen? Why am I the way I am? Why do I struggle with the things I struggle with? Why do I care so much? Why do I care so little? Why am I so mean? Why am I still at this job? Why am I afraid? Why am I worried? Why do I deserve to be respected and loved? Just begin to ask WHY.

When you do so, with a sincere and open heart, our Heavenly Father will begin to answer you, and help you begin to understand yourself and your place in His plan. Now it is important to understand, that just like in all of your other interactions, there will be some answers that you don’t necessarily like. Asking why you struggle with relationships may very well take you back to a place in your life, long forgotten, that He needs to heal for you to move forward. But appreciate the fact that any hurts or pains He uncovers, He is more than able to heal. And your life on the other side of that brokenness, is the life that you’ve been dreaming of.

Start today with one WHY, and allow that to take you down the rabbit hole of WHYs. And over time, watch how the fruit of your life begins to line up with the desires of your heart. Because like I learned at that network marketing Saturday training all those years ago, when the WHY is clear, the HOW is irrelevant.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

Live each day, but especially today, on purpose!

Coach J

Live For Today, Not Yesterday

Live For Today, Not Yesterday

To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” -Luke 9:59-60

For the Christmas holiday, my wife and I visited family back in Virginia. We stopped by the cemetery to visit the grave of a family member who had passed last year. When we got there, we had a little trouble locating her grave and the Holy Spirit asked me, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

Wow! This family member passed away with their Kingdom citizenship intact and is having a good ole time in the Kingdom of Heaven with the King. We shall see her again and we’ll all return to the new Earth someday, so why were we looking for her when she wasn’t here anymore? We were looking for her here on Earth while she is there in Heaven. For that moment, we were pursuing what was in the past and had lost focus on the present. Understand me properly; reflecting on the memories and lives of loved ones is a good thing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.

I began to think what it must be like to be the individual who oversees the cemetery. Day in and day out, this person is responsible for watching over the remains of people who have moved on from this life, some as recent as a few days ago and others decades ago. Keeping up the appearance of the graves, trimming the lawn, etc. All these activities were so that people could come and visit the remains of people who were no longer with them.

In this moment, the Holy Spirit was showing me what I want to share with you in this post. Let the dead situations of yesterday remain in yesterday. You go live for today!

In Luke 9:59-60, Jesus told a man to follow Him, but this man gave the excuse of having to bury his father first. Jesus replies, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” There are a couple reasons why this man wanted to bury His father first. He was likely the first-born son and it was his responsibility to bury his father, and he likely wanted to receive his promised inheritance that was to come now that his father was dead. Regardless of the motivation, one thing is clear: Jesus knew that this man’s purpose was more important than even burying his own father!

Ouch! But, how can the dead bury the dead? I believe Jesus is referring to the spiritually dead who would rather stay stuck in the past with the dead, rather than move forward and live. Dead men don’t speak. Dead women don’t proclaim good news, only living ones do. Dead folk don’t inherit the life and responsibility of being Kingdom citizens on Earth. Jesus saw who this man was to become and sternly encouraged Him to let the past be the past. Perhaps if he went to bury his father, he wouldn’t return to follow Jesus. Perhaps family and friends would pressure him to stay. Whatever the possible outcome, Jesus knew that today was the day for this man to truly live.

Too often, we spend entirely too much time and energy trying to be where God was and not where He is. Whether it is relationships that were meant to be temporary, jobs that were supposed to be seasonal, or past situations we had no control over in the first place, we spend unnecessary time and energy trying to make something dead come alive again. We rob our present and our future by investing in the past. We tend, dress, keep, and make our homes among the dead. We revisit our mistakes, shortcomings, and failures. We blow balloons for pity parties and wallow in the grief of yesterday. We long for the good old days and what ifs. We become keepers of cemeteries in our lives.

I encourage you to come out of the cemetery. Leave the dead situations of the past there. Leave your mistakes and failures in the grave, but take the lessons with you. Let what is dead, remain dead. Go live for today! Live in the Kingdom of God. Your best days are ahead of you, not behind you. Your purpose is fulfilled in the future, not in the past. Everything God desires to do through you, requires that you live!

The new year is right around the corner, but you don’t have to wait until then to live for today. Live for today, now!

 

Grace and Peace,

 

Professor Q

The Hope of Security

The Hope of Security

If there is one thing that every person wants and needs in life, it is security. We want to know our future is not in jeopardy and everything we will need shall be in place. We want to know we’ll have enough food to feed our families, enough money to pay our bills, good health, a place to live, adequate resources in case of emergencies, and a long life.

For most people, we seek to obtain our security through our jobs, businesses, trying to eat right, and saving up for a rainy day, but many of us know that even our best efforts can’t stop life from laying an unexpected and staggering sucker punch. Being faithful on the job won’t prevent a layoff. Eating all the right foods won’t fully prevent a cold or cancer. And at just the right time, tragedy can strike and you are completely unprepared. It’s like my dad would always say, “Just keep getting up in the morning…”

Many of us depend on our local, state, and federal governments to provide security. Through laws passed and the fair execution of the laws, we hope that our elected and appointed officials will discharge their duties faithfully and in the best interest of the people they are sworn to serve. We want to live without threat of our leaders and public servants causing us harm. Yet, one doesn’t have to look far to see cases of bad apples, rogues, and self-centeredness that compromises the security we expect to receive from our government.

There used to be a time when people left their front doors unlocked, expected visitors, and generally felt safe in their own neighborhoods. Now, we have 300 locks on the door, a security system, a guard dog, and if anyone rings the bell that didn’t schedule an appointment, we pretend like no one is home. Why? It is because of a lack of security. We generally feel less safe and understandably so. From the constant barrage of violence and crime highlighted in the news to stereotypes reinforced to us through culture, it won’t be long before your first instinct is to suspect people of ill intent. For quite some time, our world has been spiraling down the funnel of insecurity and it stems from our distrust of one another. So, what are we to do and where can we turn to obtain the security we so desperately desire or is this simply a foregone conclusion?

Most people would tell you, “Look, this is the just the world we live in. You need to accept it and understand that you can’t change anything.” I can completely understand that perspective. When you look around, from where is hope going to come? Who among us is going to solve the problem WE have caused? A friend of mine has a saying, “If you hang around 9 broke people, what makes you think you aren’t number 10?” It’s funny every time I hear it, but the point he makes is relevant. We look to people with the same problems as us to fix them. That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works. Blind folk don’t lead blind folk the last time I checked. Could it be that these individuals limit their vision by their sight? Are we looking to the right people and places to solve our problems?

However, every once in a while, you’ll run into someone who has a wild optimism and an obstinate belief in a world that is polar opposite of the one we live in today and takes steps every day to make it so. No, our heads are not in the clouds, our feet are firmly planted in reality. We simply believe there is more to life than what we see. We believe in the potential for goodness within every human being. And we believe we all have the capacity to change our world.

For myself, this hope and belief come from the unchanging and unshakeable reality of the Kingdom of God. It was one verse of Scripture I’d read dozens of times before that began a revolutionary change in my life a little over 2 years ago.

Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. -Matthew 6:33

This is the ultimate promise of security! I have access to an infinitely powerful God with unlimited resources, has boundless love and care for my life, promises to meet all my needs and righteous desires by simply entering His Kingdom and staying rightly related to Him. The most reassuring thing about being a citizen in the Kingdom of God is that God’s provision in my life is not a product of my labor, but a product of my right relationship with the Him. My needs become His top priority. My life is now His concern. Where I live, what I drive, my family, my health, my wealth, and everything in between now becomes the responsibility of the King.

You may be wondering, like I did, if this means all my efforts become irrelevant and I can be lazy. Certainly, not. It is God who gives us the ability to create wealth (Deut. 8:18). We are called to be responsible and industrious stewards of the resources God has given us (Luke 12:48). Laziness brings poverty (Prov. 20:13). We are to use every gift, skill, talent, and ability we have to be productive in the world.

What this promise guarantees us is that no matter what economic system we are part of in the world, the outcome of our lives is determined by the commonwealth economy of Heaven. God’s commonwealth is not like capitalism where everyone must make their own way. It’s not like socialism where the wealthy are heavily taxed to take care of the poor. God’s economy is based on the personal wealth of the King; He gives all His citizens common access to His personal wealth at His discretion (Psalm 24:1, Job 1:21). The King gives His citizens resources with the responsibility of using those resources according to His will. When we are faithful with those resources, we keep the gates open for more to come to and through us, thereby, securing His provision in our lives (Matt. 25:21).

That sounds way better than everyone competing for resources. That sounds better than being a heavy tax burden on the people. That a vast improvement over stressing where the money is going to come from to pay the bills. That’s better than being filled with anxiety about my health. That’s better than fretting when crisis hits. God’s economy is never in crisis, never needs a bailout, never sees recession or depression, and is never in jeopardy of shutting down! What’s more secure than that?!?

I want to strongly encourage those of you reading this, if you aren’t already under God’s economy, to get under it! All you need to do to become a citizen in His Kingdom is repent of your sins, confess Christ to be Lord/Owner of your life from here on out, stay rightly related to Him, and there you have it! Life won’t get easier, but you will have security.

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. -Romans 10:9

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. -Prov. 3:5-6

Grace and Peace,

 

Professor Q

You’re moving where???

You’re moving where???

That’s right! We’re moving to Omaha, Nebraska!

Your reaction may be like that of some who’ve heard the news already. You’re thinking, “Omaha??? What’s in Omaha, Nebraska? Corn fields?” Trust me, there are plenty of things in Nebraska besides corn.

Why are we going out there? Short and sweet is because God told us to. Since 2013, I knew the Lord was leading me to work with church plants, but didn’t know in what capacity. The vision of Church on Purpose confirmed and gave the next step for me and Priscilla’s vision for community and family empowerment aligned with the direction of the church, so the response to God’s invitation was clearly going to be a yes.

CoP Alive

Who else is out there? My friend, business partner, and brother, Jonathan (Lead Pastor) and his wife Jene’ (Kingdom Kids Coordinator), along with their two children have been living there for a year; we consider them family. We also have our friend, Anthony, who is there finishing up doctoral studies. So this is essentially totally unfamiliar territory for us, but we’re not worried because God has already begun and will continue to provide new relationships to facilitate the vision He has given us.

quentinWhat are we going to be doing in Omaha? We’ll be starting a brand new church! We are super excited. I’ll be serving as the Discipleship Pastor and Priscilla will be the church’s Community Connections Coordinator. I’d honestly have to share more with you over the phone or in person because this post just would not do it justice, so check out the site and let’s talk!

When are we leaving? We are set to leave at the end of August, so if you’d like to get together with Priscilla and myself, shoot either of us a text, message, email, or call. We’d definitely love to see you before we leave.

How can you support?MovingBanner First, join us in prayer for safe travels and for success with the plant. Be sure to download a copy of our prayer calendar on the church site to learn how you can pray for us. Second, consider sending a gift to support our transition by clicking our picture. Donations are tax-deductible and you can specify that you want it to go toward our relocation by adding the note “Rogers Move” to your contribution. Third, thanks in advance for your support!

Prof. Q

How The Grinch Steals Your Christmas

How The Grinch Steals Your Christmas

Galatians 4:4-7

But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage. You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!” Doesn’t that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you’re also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance.

We are all familiar with the Dr. Seuss holiday classic about the bitter green monster living in the hills above Hooville. There, isolated on the mountaintop, with no company except that of his dog, the Grinch devises the perfect plan to steal Christmas from those annoyingly happy Hoos living below. It is his belief that without the trees, and presents, and feasts that the Hoos will be too depressed to celebrate one of the best holidays of the year.

In an amazing turn of events, with all of their decorations, presents and food in a huge sack on the back of his sleigh, the Hooville Hoos wake up, make a beeline for the town square, grab hands and in a marvelous demonstration of the foundation of Christmas, they lift their voices in song together in celebration of their relationship. Listen to some of the words they sang:

Fahoo Fores Dahoo Dores
Welcome Christmas Come this way
Fahoo Fores Dahoo Dores
Welcome Christmas, Christmas day
Welcome, welcome fahoo ramus
Welcome, welcome dahoo damus
Christmas day is in our grasp,
So long as we have hands to clasp
Fahoo fores dahoo dores
Welcome Christmas bring your cheer
Fahoo fores dahoo dores
Welcome all Whos far and near
Welcome Christmas fahoo ramus
Welcome Christmas dahoo damus
Christmas time will always be,
just so long as we have we
Fahoo Fores Dahoo Dores
Welcome Christmas bring your light
Fahoo Fores Dahoo Dores
Welcome in the cold dark night
Welcome Christmas fahoo ramus
Welcome Christmas dahoo damus
Welcome Christmas while we stand,
Heart to Heart and Hand in Hand
Fahoo Fores Dahoo Dores
Welcome Christmas,
Christmas Day!

Touched by their meaningful display, the Grinch decides to return what he has stolen, and in perfect Who fashion, is welcomed and embraced with the same love the Whos shared among themselves.

how-the-grinch-stole-christmas-6

The truth about the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, is that the Grinch had it wrong from the very beginning. He thought to steal Christmas he had to take away the things, the decorations, the presents, and the food. When in fact, all the Grinch had to do to steal Christmas again was the very same thing he had been doing every year up until then. For sitting atop that mountain in his judgemental isolation far from the warmth and love of Whoville, the Grinch had been stealing Christmas for years. What he didn’t realize is that he had been stealing it from himself. And if we’re not on our guard, our flesh will turn us into Grinches who have Christmas stolen from us because we wont come down off our mountain.

In fact, the Christmas story at its core is about the restoration of relationships and the great lengths that God is willing to go, for us to have a chance at enjoying Christmas every day. Galatians 4:4-7 highlights the intentionality of God’s plan to fix the relationship that was broken with him. He didn’t haphazardly wait for a random moment, he didn’t wait for us to come to him. From the moment our relationship with him was broken, He had a specific time designated in the timeline of the world when he would implement an intentional plan that, highlighted by his coming to us, would give us the opportunity to embrace reconciliation.

But like the Grinch, we all have that moment when we have to choose to remain angry and bitter, or decide to allow love to overwhelm our hearts. True, it often times seems so hard to do. Especially when we review the laundry list of transgressions that has produced the feelings of frustration that dominate our thoughts. But when we allow love to fill us, like the Grinch, we access supernatural strength that allows us to do what seems impossible. We are able to lift loads that previously dragged and even crushed us. And more importantly, we are able to give the greatest gift of all to others, our presence through a loving relationship.

fanart

Christmas is our designated time of the year to emphasize the incarnation, the coming of God in the flesh of a baby named Jesus through the womb of a virgin named Mary. But the real miracle of Christmas wasn’t the miraculous birth, the perfect timing, or even the heavenly announcement. The real miracle of Christmas is that God knew the greatest gift that He could give, was His presence with us. And like the Father, Jesus gives us the gift of His Spirit to be with us in our hearts. And that Holy Spirit serves as a constant reminder to us of an inheritance that is ours. As sons of God, we get to have Christmas every day, because Christmas isn’t about the decorations, the presents, or the feast. Christmas is about the reconciliation and restoration of relationships. And in the Kingdom of Heaven, just like in Whoville, that’s the only way to live.

The Grinch Stole the joy, the love, the peace, the unimaginable and uncomparable feeling of Christmas from himself for years because he chose to be bitter and resentful instead of reconciling his relationship with the Whos. True, we aren’t clear whether they ever made any attempts to initiate reconciliation, but I’m so glad that God didn’t wait on any of us to make the first step. The culture of the Kingdom of Heaven is one of healthy, reconciled, restored, and loving relationships built upon the same self-sacrificing love that was extended to us when we didn’t deserve it, and the same mistake erasing grace that is extended to us every day. As citizens of God’s Kingdom, let’s learn how to live Christmas every day.

The Grinch would have enjoyed many more Christmases if he’d simply had the words Paul wrote in his letter to the Colossians beginning at chapter 3 verse 12: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Baby Steps: The Journey From Vision to Reality of Church On Purpose

Baby Steps: The Journey From Vision to Reality of Church On Purpose

JUST BE PATIENT. Those were the words consistently expressed to me by each of the individuals whose counsel I sought prior to moving with my family to Omaha, Nebraska to plant Church On Purpose.

As much as I wanted to believe those words weren’t going to apply to this story, wisdom and experience taught me a long time ago that the best pace to move is always God’s pace. Regardless of how clear the vision may be, how many smaller steps you may have broken it down into, or how many bullets you’ve already checked off the list, the truth of the matter is that God will do, what God will do, when God will do it, and not before. And the last thing you want to do is try to force the vision to become reality.

For me, I accepted the position long ago that if God has a plan to get me from point A to point C, then sure, I could spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to get there myself. Or, I could stay connected and just follow directions. I could learn to maximize the potential of where I am today, so when tomorrow comes I am already equipped with everything I need to maximize the potential of that day too. And over time, I learned that that method not only allows me to arrive at point C with everything that I need to move forward, but it would ensure that I would hit point B along the way.

So here we are. We’ve been in Omaha for two months now, and when I talk to people back home I smile whenever they ask me any of the following questions:

  • Have you had your first service yet? (no, we’re finally actually getting settled in a brand new place and getting our bearings)
  • Have you found a building yet? (no, we can’t just buy a random building for two reasons: 1. we have to designate an area where we will serve and 2. we haven’t grown to the point in size to generate the income to financially support any type of facility yet, as a matter of fact we’re still just trying to make sure our own rent is paid every month)
  • Have you preached at any of the churches out there yet? (you know that old TV show CHEERS where the theme song said, “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name…”? Yeah, well this is pretty much the opposite of that. Nobody knows who I am, or even that I exist at this point.)
  • How many people do you guys have now? (well, including me and my family, we’ve got……..well……me and my family, and our Admin Leader Anthony. We start vision dinners soon so more people will be able to connect to the vision, but it takes time)

I smile because when you’re in an established church, everything seems so simple. But when you move halfway across the continental United States, to a place where you only have a pre-existing relationship with one person, and you’re planting a church for the first time, it’s going to take a little longer than a few weeks to get things up and running, make the connections, and start growing; much less buying/constructing a facility to house the operations of the ministry.

So here are some baby steps that we’re focusing on now and we prepare for the realization of the vision of Church On Purpose:

  • CONNECT CARDS: As we connect with people in the Omaha community, our connect cards allow us to leave them with something tangible in their hands so they can CONNECT with Church On Purpose via social media or directly with the person they talked with. The back of the cards have directions for registering for our Vision Dinners where I’ll be sharing the vision of Church On Purpose with interested people over a monthly meal. (design complete and just  arrived on 10/8! super pumped!)
  • VISION DINNERS: As we make connections with the community, individuals interested in learning more about Church On Purpose will be able to attend one of our monthly Vision Dinners where I will share the history and vision of Church On Purpose over a meal. This is afford them the opportunity to decide whether they feel called to partner with us in this effort.
  • LEADERSHIP TRAINING: As individuals connect with the vision of Church On Purpose and express a desire to partner with us, they will be invited to attend Leadership Trainings where I will walk them through a curriculum of culture development. During these sessions, through Bible Study, role play, and candid discussion I will, as clearly as possible, paint the picture of the kind of culture we want to create with Church On Purpose. These meetings are not training for positions and titles, but preparation to be leaders in creating the culture of the church family. Over time, these sessions will expand into the equivalent of a New Members type of class.
  • SMALL GROUP BIBLE STUDY: Once we’re clear on the kind of culture we want to create and have a core group of individuals that will help lead us in developing that culture, then we will initiate our regular weekly Bible Studies that will be open to anyone that wants to join us.

After all of that, THEN we move into PHASE 2!!

hahaha

And in between all of those bullet points are sub bullets including but not limited to: (in no particular order)

  • paperwork processing
  • financial management
  • lesson development
  • relationship building
  • pastoral care
  • other administrative duties
  • clarification of next steps of the vision
  • prayer, prayer, prayer
  • website and social media maintenance
  • and two lovely children that I happen to be homeschooling as well!!

BABY STEPS!!!

So rest assured, you may not see a lot happening on the surface with Church On Purpose right now, but that’s only because the seed has just recently been planted. And before a seed ever breaks through the surface, there’s a lot of work that takes place underground and out of the view of the world.

Sequance of bean seeds germination in soil
The work of the tallest tree begins underground and out of sight

We’re germinating right now. And although we want to grow and change Omaha and the world for the Kingdom, we understand the value of preparation, building a solid foundation, and patience.

We’re going to get there. We didn’t move halfway across the country to NOT get there.

But for now……..baby steps 🙂

SIDENOTE: Some of the items on our list are only hindered by the availability of finances to complete them. Starting a ministry is expensive, and if they Holy Spirit so prompts you, any contribution you make would certainly help us to continue to advance toward our goal of community impact for the Kingdom! You can make contributions here —> DONATE, or you can find me on social media and get our mailing information. Thank you in advance!

Live each day on purpose!

Coach J

Back To Scratch…

Back To Scratch…

The last time I got to start from scratch was in the Fall of 2002. I was a freshman at Norfolk State University and nobody knew who I was. Nobody cared who I was. I was just another face in the crowd with no reputation, no relationships, and no history. It was a chance to reinvent myself and become the person I’d always wanted to be but couldn’t because where I came from, I already had a reputation.

Over the next thirteen years, rather than DEFINING who I am I would DISCOVER who I am. Through good times and challenging times. Through celebratory moments and moments of distress, I came to understand who I was. The more comfortable I became with who I was, the more clearly I began to see who I could be. And the more clearly I saw who I could be, the harder I worked to get there.

Over time, I developed a reputation. I leave that to others to reveal what that reputation was, but I was proud of the associations I had developed with my name.

Then I moved to Omaha, Nebraska. A place where only one person really knew me besides my wife and children. In a new place, where nobody knows who I am, nobody knows what I’ve done, nobody knows what I can do, and honestly at this point, nobody cares.

It’s a humbling experience, but a refreshing one. There is a new fight and a new drive within me to continue chasing who I know I can be. A refreshing opportunity to move beyond the failures and start building something new.

It’s the same thing that happens everyday when God wakes us up. Each day is a new opportunity to start back at scratch, to strive to be the person that you know you can be. Every day God gives us new mercy and fresh grace so we can move beyond our faults and failures and pursue the excellence of who we were created to be.

Today is a new day, and if you desire, it’s a chance to start back at scratch. Today is a chance to move beyond the failures of yesterday and look forward to the potential and possibility of tomorrow.

I was afraid starting over was going to be difficult, then I realized how exciting it’s going to be to become an even better me.

Decide today to become a better you! You can start from scratch.

~ Coach J

Moving Day…

Moving Day…

Monday, August 10, 2015 will forever be a LIFE moment.

A “LIFE moment” is an event that you remember vividly for the rest of your days. Today was a LIFE moment. Today was moving day.

A little less than a year ago, I journeyed to Omaha, Nebraska for the first time in my life. Today, I packed up my family and left my home, my friends, my church family, everything familiar to me. I left my comfort zone in search of God. I already know Jesus, have a relationship with the Father because of him, and dialogue with Holy Spirit regularly (how do you think we ended up in Omaha?? lol) But one thing that has been clear to me since making the commitment to obedience over comfort, is that God has been waiting for me BEYOND my comfort zone.

My comfort zone was that place where I knew all the short cuts to get from point “A” to point “B”. It’s that place where I could drive most of my usual places on autopilot. It was a place where I had an established reputation that did most of the heavy lifting for me.

What I didn’t realize is that my comfort zone had become my CRIPPLING ZONE. The familiarity, the routine, the established customs and habits were leading me down the path to mediocrity because my life was on autopilot. Until God pushed me out of my comfort zone.

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY out of my comfort zone.

When the call to plant Church On Purpose in Omaha, Nebraska became clear to me, one of the things that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt was that I was going to get to see more of God than I ever had.

And I have!

Obedience to a plan that hasn’t always made sense to me has opened the door for God to do miraculous things. This last year has been a constant reminder of how God works and how He desires to work through Church On Purpose and the Body of Christ as a whole. Over the last year, there has not been a single week that has gone by where God didn’t make himself known, and EVERY time he did it, it was through one of his children.

This last 12 months has exposed so many of the people around me as genuine, loving, humble, Holy Spirit-led believers as God has moved through them to bless my family with love, encouragement, support, prayer, and resources for the work. The outpouring of love and support has been God’s tangible demonstration to us that we are on the right track, and that He is faithful to provide for the call.

We haven’t always had more than enough. As a matter of fact, there have been a number of times where it seemed like we didn’t have enough. The testimony of being able to pay every bill on time isn’t our testimony. Our testimony is that when it got cut off, we found out whether it was a necessity, and the necessities always got cut back on. But those things that weren’t necessities found themselves being cut OUT. Our testimony is one of education and equipping. We have had many difficult, but much needed lessons over the last year.

And it has been a looooooooooong 12 months. It’s crazy to think back and realize that nearly EVERYTHING has changed. What’s weird about all of this though, is that I’m actually more “comfortable” in all of the newness than I was in all of the familiar.

Even in the familiarity of the familiar, there was always an uneasiness inside of me poking and prodding me toward MORE.

But there’s a wonderful thing that happens inside of you, in your heart and your mind when you actually TRUST God. I don’t mean just say it, but I mean ACTUALLY TRUST HIM. In the face of challenging, confusing, and even ridiculous circumstances, He still provides His peace. Through all of the good byes and moments of reflection, He still provides His peace. The Bible puts it perfectly because it truly is a peace that passes all understanding. It isn’t logical. It rarely makes sense. But it’s real.

I don’t know how it works. I don’t how long it last. But I DO know, that the same peace I’ve experienced in these last 12 months, is available to you too. It’s waiting for you in your obedience to His call. And in case you were wondering, yes God is still calling people from the land of their father and mother to a land they never knew, to be salt and light, and to experience the limitless power of our God, that we can only access beyond the borders of our comfort zone.

God changed my borders from Norfolk to Omaha, but YOU have to find out what lines you need to cross. Maybe your borders will expand to the neighbor next door, or maybe even the next cubicle over. That’s between you and Him. But one thing is for certain, there’s a reason his final charge to us all started with the word “GO”.

Is this moving day for you too? It CAN be.

Where is He calling you? His peace is waiting in your obedience.

Remember, everything is created with purpose but only you have your vision.

~ Coach J