Children of the World Choir to perform at PSM

The Children of the World International Children’s Choir, comprised of orphaned and disadvantaged children from several different countries, will be performing at PromiseLand San Marcos on March 15th at both 9am and 11am services.

The choir represents a rich and culturally diverse set of backgrounds and experiences, each with an urgent story to tell. This year’s Rescue Tour calls attention to the staggering impact that poverty, malnutrition, and dirty water have on millions of children around the world.

Through the powerful medium of song, dance, spoken word, and creative media, Children of the World provides a compelling message of hope and opportunity, leaving an unforgettable impression with audiences across the country.

The children have performed in such venues as Focus on the Family, Brooklyn Tabernacle, and Disney World.

cotwc_slide

About World Help

World Help is a faith-based humanitarian organization that exists to serve the physical and spiritual needs of people in impoverished communities around the world.

World Help is committed to meeting people’s physical needs by providing humanitarian, medical, and educational assistance and ensuring access to clean water to as many communities as possible. We promise to meet people’s spiritual needs by providing Bibles and establishing churches.

Since 1991, World Help has impacted over 74 million people in 63 countries worldwide, offering both physical and spiritual restoration for individuals, families, and communities.

Name Dropping

talkingtogod

Sermon Notes for week 2 of Talking To God.

Today, I want to talk to you about, “Talking to God. Experiencing the Awe and Intimacy of Prayer.”

Do you know any name droppers? They use a person’s name in a conversation to position themselves. Using that name helps their ego.

Also, when you happen to meet someone that is powerful or popular and you want to relate to them, you can mention someone that you possibly know in common. Other people might be getting the ordinary “hello, good to meet you, shake hands, go on.” But, when you know someone that they possibly know an instant connection can form.

 

Names are interesting, aren’t they? They are powerful to unlock or bind.

A signature is binding when it is the legal name of someone. I couldn’t put “son” or “dad” on my check. But, when I put C. Robin Steele on the check, it becomes valuable.

 

Sometimes we don’t want people to know a name. We might be related to someone with a “bad name”. If we say their name, then we are negatively associated with someone and we don’t get a fair chance in the relationship.

 

Scripture actually talks about dropping a name in life:

Ephesians 2:18 For through him (Jesus) we both (Jews and Gentiles) have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

You have backstage passes. Actually, you have more than backstage passes. You can go get on the tour bus and go home with the star of the world.  “Access” in that passage was the permission granted when an ancient king granted someone an audience.

 

When you (an insignificant, messed up human) go to have a conversation with the eternal, all powerful, perfect, creative force in the world what you need to do is start the conversation by dropping a name. JESUS.

Dropping the name Jesus gives us access, credibility and common ground in our conversation with God.

 

What name dropping does is create or try to create common ground. In order for there to be a substantial relationship there has to be common ground. It is extremely rare for friendships to begin where people are in completely different places in life.  The majority of the time it is because you “click”. You relate. You are similar.

 

The ancient philosopher, Aristotle came to this same conclusion thousands of years ago. He reasoned that friendship requires that both parties share much in common as equals.  And when it came to the gods, he said, “while it might be possible to honor and appease the gods, actual intimate friendship with a god was impossible.”

All ancient lands and cultures had temples, because human beings once knew innately that there was a gap, a yawning chasm, between us and the divine. God is great and we are small – God is perfect and we are flawed. Temples were places where an effort was made to bridge that gap. Sacrifices and offerings were made and rituals observed by professionals “mediators” (priests) who sought to bring the remote divinity near. No religion claimed that the gap could be officially closed.

 

But since God is infinitely greater than human beings, “the possibility of friendship ceases.”

 

Hebrews 4:14 …since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

 

Hebrews 2:17 Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.

 

How could we approach God with a complete confidence?

It is because God became like us, equally mortal and subject to suffering and death. He did it so we could be forgiven and justified by faith apart from our efforts and merits.

 

We has humans surrender our life to God and we are confess the name of Jesus Christ. We are saying that I will no longer get my validation from anything other than my family name: Jesus.

After you profess your surrender to God and confess of your sinfulness. You are then baptized into the name of Jesus Christ, the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

 

Because of Jesus, we can run to our Heavenly Father without fear. We have the most intimate and unbreakable relationship possible with the God of the universe.

 

That is how we begin talking to God…”Father, I come in the name of Jesus Christ.”

The name of Jesus Christ is my ticket. My access.

Ephesians 2 said that we have access through Jesus in The Holy Spirit. In this one text, we see: Son, Holy Spirit, and Father. Prayer involves the fullness of God.

Nothing quite explains it like Romans 8:22-28

Romans 8:22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering….

 

23…We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

 

26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

 

This is a symphony. A conversation where your human voice, blends with the power of the Holy Spirit, some things heard, some understood, some unheard, some unintelligible by the human ear, all weaving together creating a sound, a message reaching the heavenlies. It makes a point. This world is heart broken and despondent. The whole thing is groaning and looking forward to a day of freedom and release of the pressure and inconsistency.

The groanings of Romans 8:26-28 does not apply to our direct, personal feelings of depression and despondency, but to our entire human situation of frustrated longings as we wait the future glory. We know that God is working out all things for our good according to his will.

 

The Holy Spirit give us an inward confidence, a legitimacy that the pressure you are feeling is valid and at the same time God is in control.

 

In other words, the Holy Spirit makes you feel good.

 

Martin Luther said this about the power of the Holy Spirit in prayer:  Although…you could rightly and properly be a severe judge over us sinners…now through your mercy implant in our hearts a comforting trust in your fatherly love, and let us experience the sweet and pleasant savor of a childlike certainty that we many joyfully call you Father, knowing and loving you and calling on you in every trouble

 

Timothy Keller once said, “Prayer is the way to experience a powerful confidence that God is handling our lives well, that our bad things will turn out for good, our good things cannot be taken from us, and the best things are yet to come.”

 

 

Talking to God

talkingtogodHere are the sermon notes for week one of the sermon series: Talking to God!  You can listen to the podcast also. First, let’s start with the question of: Why do you listen to me?

  • Some aren’t. That’s ok. I understand I probably won’t either at some points.
  • You are new. “What’s going to happen?” A short attention span.
  • Your life situation has placed you in a desperate spot and you are listening for the pastor to shed some light or offer some hope.
  • Others that have been around a while are listening because you like me. You don’t have the prerequisite of, “This better be good, or I’m out.” Instead, you are like, “I’m here. I’m family. I like this place. I like pastor robin. What is he going to say today? I’m in.” I could tell you that we are going to have church at the river and you would go. Hint hint….

My job as a preacher is to consider all of the different subsets of people in the audience and try to capture everyone’s attention. Examples: the ones who aren’t listening by doing something crazy, loud or funny. To say something intriguing or profound for the curious.  To study, pray, and seek God for those who are struggling and need hope and revelation.  It’s a Tough job when there is a tough crowd. Talking to people is not always easy.  Especially when you don’t really know who you are talking to.  Strangers are so hard to connect to sometimes. I’ve come to several conclusions. One is:

Our attention span is longer the more we LIKE someone.

There could be someone talking to you with all the knowledge in the world.  However, they could be so boring or arrogant or verbose. No matter how much they articulate or pontificate, you don’t communicate because of what you know about them. The opposite is true as well. We love our kids. When our kids are too young to be understood, we will listen intently to their babbling straining to pick out words that we recognize. We are intently listening. We are eager to communicate with our kids.  Those of you who don’t have kids, have dogs. You talk to and listen to your dogs.  YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. Moms and dads never change.  I love hearing my 8 and 10 year old speak to me. I sit beside my daughter who is 13 and unable to form words and speak audibly because of her disability and decipher her non-verbal communication. (she loves me more than momma) I love to hear from my kids. My mom and dad love to get calls from their 38 year old son (me). About what? Nothing. They would love to just talk…about…nothing. What do they want to hear from me? Anything. Call me. Let’s talk! They desire to talk to me, not because of what I can offer them or what interesting info there is to share.

In an intimate relationship, the desire to talk is solely based on the value of the relationship. “I want to talk to you…..because you are you.”

Here is another observation: Most of us have a problem talking to God because: We don’t understand how much God really likes us.  We don’t understand how much God is excited about our life and eager to connect.  Our problem as humans is that we judge how much God likes us by how much other people like us. Especially, people in authority. Therefore, our relationship with God is hindered and handcuffed by our own mentality and limitation we put on God.   I want you to see a video of a father and daughter and the baby is so cute, but I want you to pay more attention to the father in the video.

It is with this context that Jesus teaches us how to pray | How to talk to God.

Matthew 6:5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the heathen do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

What he tells us is not to be preoccupied with our oratory skills or what others think about our prayers. INSTEAD…

9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

The very first step in talking to God is not focusing on what to say, but focusing on who you are talking to.

The more you get to know God: the more often you pray, the longer attention span you have, the more you will long for it, the more you will take others with you.

Author and Pastor Timothy Keller said in his book, Prayer, “Prayer is a personal, communicative response to the knowledge of God.

Job is a great example of someone who went through a journey to learn more about who God is. His journey was brutally hard. As you read throughout the book of Job you see his prayers change. His journey changed his knowledge of God and thus changed the way he talked to God. At first, he is processing his pain and suffering through prayer, then God reveals himself to Job. From that point, Job talks to God in repentance and adoration. The more clearly Job saw who God was, the fuller his prayers became – moving from mere complaint to confession, appeal, and praise.   The power of our conversations with God lie not in our effort and striving, or in any technique, but rather our knowledge of God.   God spoke to Job out of a whirlwind. Oh, how we long for God to show himself to us clearly and distinctly. The truth is that God speaks to us much clearer than a whirlwind.

Hebrews 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Jesus Christ is the Word of God. (John 1:1)  When we look to Jesus Christ we are looking at the glory of God through the filter of human nature.  Let’s get to know God! The easiest and clearest way to get to know God is read his Word. Read the whole thing, but if you are new to the relationship, read about Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Once you read about God in the flesh. You start to communicate his language little by little.   Most likely no one in the room remembers when you learned to speak. Why? Because you were little. Think about the way a small child learns to speak. The child is not trying to learn a language. Instead, that language is being spoken into the child from the parents and others around her.

Eugene Patterson says, “We are plunged at birth into a sea of language…then slowly syllable by syllable we acquire the capacity to answer: mama, papa, bottle, blanky, no. Not one of these words was a first word….all speech is answering speech. We were all spoken to before we spoke.”

Studies have shown that children’s ability to understand and communicate is profoundly affected by the number of words and the breadth of vocabulary to which they were exposed as infants and toddlers. We speak to the degree we are spoken to.   Therefore, if we want to talk to God, we first listen to what he is saying to us. What is he saying to us? Our conversations with God arise out of immersion in the scripture. We should plunge ourselves into the sea of God’s language, the Bible. We should listen, study, think, reflect, and ponder the scriptures until there is an answering response in our hearts and minds.   When we are immersed in God’s Word and presence, we will learn how to pray. It might take as long as it does for a baby to learn his primary language.   Discovering God so that our conversation with him is rich and meaningful.  So that conversation helps us know him more and more.   Christians, however, have an infinitely greater word of promise. God will not merely build us a house (as he did with King David), he will make us his house. He will fill us with his presence, beauty, and glory. Every time Christians merely remember who they are in Christ, that great word comes home to us and we will find, over and over again, a heart to pray.

A Thriving Fire

If you are new to my blog, all of the sermon note posts are directly from my actual speaking notes.  Therefore, there will be a few gramatical errors and possibly notes to myself.  If you ever have questions concerning the notes, please send me a comment.

 

Week2_thrive_mainToday, we are in week 2 of THRIVE. If you missed last week, please get the podcast or video of it. People are saying that it really impacted them. It is crucial to your spiritual and emotional maturity.

Last week, we talked about the garden having elements that made it thrive.

Today, I want us to look at the miracle of a fire.

 

There is nothing like a Fire on a cold day! – my enjoyment and skill of starting fires

 

thrive_FIREThe triangle illustrates the three elements a fire needs to ignite: Heat, Fuel, and Oxygen. A fire naturally occurs when the elements are present and combined in the right mixture, and a fire can be prevented or extinguished by removing any one of the elements in the fire triangle.

 

Ignition (heat) starts the chain reaction. You need soft materials or kindling that will burn easy. Slowly, the fire burns larger. When more and more fuel and air is added, more and more heat is generated. That in return give power to burn more and more fuel. All the while, air is needed to continue the chain reaction.

 

Why a Fire Goes Out

Water puts a fire out because it lowers the heat. The fuel and oxygen is still there, but there is no heat. You can throw dirt on a fire and put it out because you are removing the oxygen.

Example of our fire at church started burning again 10 days later when oxygen returned.

If you quit putting wood on the fire, the fire will go out because it has heat and oxygen but no more fuel.

Throughout scripture, God uses fire as a metaphor to describe himself. Sometimes, it goes beyond metaphorical language and is actual (burning bush).

Read the rest of this entry

Knowing Yourself Helps You Know God

thrive_webToday, we are launching the first sermon series of 2015 THRIVE, and it is going to be transformational for me. INCLUDING ME!

You can always listen to PromiseLand podcasts: click here.

We are believing that there is a possibility for us to Thrive based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Do you think you could be spiritually mature and emotionally immature?

Or maybe this is a better question:

How emotionally mature are you? (meaning you are fully aware of your emotions. Why they are present and where to go in the future)

How spiritually mature are you?

Most believers have heard of the 9 Spiritual Gifts from God: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and self-control.

Here is what those mean, and I as I read down this list I want you to think about how deeply you walk and live in these gifts: Affection for Others, Exuberance about life, serenity, A willingness to stick with things, A sense of compassion in the heart, a conviction that basic holiness permeates things and people, involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Hhhhhhmmmmm. Where are we on these? The bible is quite clear that these characteristics are A gift from God, through the power of His Holy Spirit.  Instead of walking in these gifts, we often find ourselves subconsciously dividing our lives into secular and sacred compartments.

Today we are basically talking about one thing:
Knowing yourself helps you get to know God.  Awareness of yourself and your relationship with God are intricately related.

Ephesian 4: 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

 

YES! At church I feel like doing that. I after I prayed at the altar I feel like doing that. After Lacy just sang my favorite song, I feel like doing that. After I just got through reading scripture in my favorite recliner with a nice cup of coffee, I feel like doing that.

But, then there seems to be a separation. There seems to be a chasm between those sweet moments and the real tug-of-war, the daily grind of life.

Most of us are taught as Christians that our feelings are unreliable and can not be trusted. However, let me propose this to you…I know that feelings often feel random and not very nice, but at the same time, our emotions are the language that we feel and experience the love of God as well! We love emotions when they are positive.

When they are negative, we believe they are from the devil, and maybe they are influenced by the evil one.  Researchers have narrowed emotions down into 8 types: anger, sadness, fear, enjoyment, love, surprise, disgust, and shame

Remember our message today: Knowing yourself helps you get to know God. Awareness of yourself and your relationship with God are intricately related.

We often think as Christians that we do not have permission to consider our emotions.  MEN – Christian or not – often don’t believe they are supposed to feel certain emotions.

There are three that are commonly not dealt with:  Fear, sadness, and anger are often suppressed and or ignored by believers.  When these come up, we think, “NO! I can’t have that emotion! Something is wrong!”  Then, we either start saying “No, I won’t accept this emotion! God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of love, joy, and a sound mind. YEAH! YEAH! That…is…true…??”  Then, if our little pep rally doesn’t work or the situation gets bigger, we are confused. I am a Christian and I am starting to feel this emotion. I am afraid, I don’t feel love. I don’t feel joy, and I sure don’t have a sound mind, because I am fixing to kick someone in the rear!”

Pete Scazzero in his book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality says,

“When we deny our pain, loses and feelings year after year, we become less and less human. We transform slowly into empty shells with smiley faces painted on them. But when I begin to allow myself to feel a wider range of emotions, including sadness, depression, fear and anger, a revolution in my spirituality is unleashed.”

 

God feels!

  • God saw that it was good…very Good!    Genesis 1
  • He was grieved that he had made man on the earth    Genesis 6
  • God says that he is jealous    Exodus 20:5
  • Like a woman in childbirth, He said, “I cry out, I gasp and pant”    Isaiah 42:14
  • The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart    Jeremiah 30:24
  • My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused    Hosea 11:8
  • Jesus was angry and deeply distressed   Mark 3:5
  • He was full of Joy            Luke 10:21
  • He was sorrowful and troubled…his soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death Matthew 26:37

Maybe getting to know our emotions better. Why they occur, why they impact us so deeply could give us a better picture of our savior and our path to true thorough healing that will last day in and day out.

I propose today that we stop neglecting our intense emotions.  What could God be saying to me that I am missing when I ignore or suppress them?  It is quite possible that when we stop for a moment and learn about our own emotional health that we could be allowing God to speak into those cracks and crevices of our well-being.

We actually have an obstacle in front of God and knowing him more intimately is restricted because of our own lack of self-awareness. We end up wearing a mask at church so that no one knows our true hurt inside. We wind up wearing a mask when we are alone in the car, believing that you have let God down or you are not a good Christian, you messed up the plan of Christianity and are sort of the black sheep of PromiseLand because everyone else seems to have it all together, but what you don’t realize is that there are a lot of those people that you think have it all together and they simply have their mask on too.

Let’s take off the mask and simply tell each other…I need help.

I am mad.

I am afraid.

I am lonely.

I am a wreck. I know that I am a leader here at the church, but I need some prayer.

Allow yourself to experience the full weight of your feelings. Allow them without censoring them. Then you can reflect and thoughtfully decide what to do with them.  Trust God to come to you through them!

Satan’s greatest temptation for us is to believe a false sense of self. When you study the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness in Luke chapter 4, you see 3 core identity challenges.

Keep in mind, this series of temptation from the devil occurs right after Jesus was baptized and the Bible says we hear from the heavenlies, “This is my son in whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

In other words, “You are loveable. You are good. It is so good that you exist.”

  • Temptation 1: I am what I do (performance) – “If you are the son of God, turn these stones into bread.” Do something to prove yourself. Our culture keeps asking you: What have you done lately? What have you accomplished this month? That success you had was good and all, but what have you done since then?  Earthly success (when it actually happens) tempts us to find our worth and value outside of God’s inexhaustible free love for us in Christ.
  • Temptation 2: I am what I have (Possession) – The devil compared what Jesus had to everyone else. You have nothing. You need more.  Our culture tells us that our possessions and talents and applause from other people are sufficient for security. Jesus models that surrendering to the love of God is the only true anchor for our identity.
  • Temptation 3: I am what others think (popularity) – the devil tempted Jesus to throw himself down to prove himself to others.

 

Next Steps

  1. Pay attention to Your Interior in Silence and Solitude – get alone and unplug. Quit talking. Be in silence.
  2. Find Trusted Companions – Small Groups launch today!
  3. Pray for Courage

 

 

 

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