Battle Of The Mind

“I just want to sit down and chill”, I thought, as I pondered the calamity and disappointment of the last couple weeks. 2016 is over and I couldn’t be happier. It wasn’t the worst year ever, but tough, really tough. Not just for me, but for dear friends and family. However, it seems last year was reaching out from the grave with one last defiant attempt to knock me off course.

Like many, I anticipate great things for 2017. I began the year armed with an architecture of resolute plans, a deeper love for those around me, a favorable financial standing, and a broader vision for the future than ever before. I felt a solidarity in my calling as a boss, mentor, parent, and husband and began to walk in a refreshed confidence as a pastor, leading the most amazing group of volunteers I have ever known. This year was set apart as I launched out of the gate and fell flat on my face.

God Is A Good Father
Enter Sunday. I had a conversation with myself much like ones I hear all the time from our parishioners, “Pastor was preaching right at me!” Know this, God is a good father. The deeper you go with Him, the more He challenges and corrects you. This word was for me and I am certain, for all the pastors and elders. I started the year off well, but my attention was quickly diverted. I stopped running and began to stagnate. Can you relate?

Paul said,

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?
This persuasion is not from him who calls you.
Galatians 5:7-8 (ESV)

There are three main reasons we become stagnant.
•    The enemy steals the word of God by distraction
•    We have no endurance
•    We allow the worries of the world to choke out the truth
I am convinced we make the devil’s job very easy. He brings distraction so we lose sight of the goal ahead. This “persuasion” becomes our focus and his job is done. We get tired, sit down and chill out. It’s much deserved anyway, so it’s easy to replace our have-to’s with our seemingly deserved respite. Over time we become accustomed to a sedentary life and when it’s required of us to move again, we lack the endurance necessary. Worry and fatigue increase and choke out the truth. God’s revelation in our life dwindles and we become frustrated and angry. We repeat the vicious cycle and the enemy steals yet another one of our days, and we are the sole accomplice.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
John 10:10 (ESV)

Weapons Of Our Warfare
Praise God for our leadership who sits before our Lord to gleen His truth, and a gracious God who is patient with us, whose plans are so great, even I can’t mess them up! We wage battle against an enemy far more duplicitous than the devil alone, it’s a battle of our mind, a battle of belief. Will we believe the one who came so we might have life abundant?

For the weapons of our warfare are
not carnal but mighty in God
pulling down strongholds,
casting down arguments
and every high thing
exalts itself against the knowledge of God,
every thought into captivity to
the obedience of Christ,
2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (NKJV)

Get passionate about not letting the enemy steal any more of your days. Quit helping him. Take every thought captive and fight for your belief. You have everything you need to win the battle of the mind. I’m fighting alongside you.

In the joy of His presence,

Pastor Dean

We Three Kings of Orient Are…

Christmas time is upon us, a time of wonder, hope and joy. It holds a special place in our hearts as believers because of the promise it holds. Children will hear Luke’s epic telling of Jesus’ birth including the angels, shepherds, Mary, and Joseph. It’s the stuff Christmas shows are made of. Then there’s the one short story in Matthew about the wise men (Magi) from the east which is often included with Luke’s version, perhaps to add some cinematic or literary flare, and it helps fill nativity scenes to boot! I like the wise men in Matthew, maybe because they are shrouded in mystery, or perhaps the obscurity of their story presents more to learn than Luke’s?

Still amidst this Christmas season exists our current world climate shaped and moved by opinion. The media is a cesspool of emotional rhetoric and hate from all sides. Social media is the bully pulpit. Seldom are the wise lifted up, only the noisy. Patient wisdom is a bygone practice. This latest election only proves that no one has convinced anyone of anything, only turned up the volume on opinions from both sides. No one is willing to listen to anything.

Wisdom is…
Wisdom is knowledge properly applied. It comes with patience, birthed of a humble heart, learned of experience, sound counsel, and divine inspiration. Wisdom embraces the understanding that this life is NOT the end-all. We are not finished in our 78 years here. We are more than a little blue tape on the endless rope of eternity that Pastor spoke of this week. Wisdom is a rare commodity. What does the Bible say?

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. Proverbs 9:10 ESV

This verse sticks in the back of my mind like peanut butter in a dry mouth. It has blessed me on countless occasions, and stung me like a wasp on a hot summer day when foolishly, I spewed my opinion in an attempt to salve my emotion.

God has prompted me to pray again for wisdom. He has been encouraging me to pray out of the fear of the Lord (respect, adoration, and obedience) regardless of my desire and opinion, taking a future kingdom perspective before the throne. I am asking only for His will, wisdom in every moment, and the ability to know Him better, and to know when NOT to speak.

In that night God appeared to Solomon, and said to him, “Ask what I shall give you.”  And Solomon said to God, “You have shown great and steadfast love to David my father, and have made me king in his place.  O Lord God, let your word to David my father be now fulfilled, for you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth. Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can govern this people of yours, which is so great?” God answered Solomon, “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked for possessions, wealth, honor, or the life of those who hate you, and have not even asked for long life, but have asked for wisdom and knowledge for yourself that you may govern my people over whom I have made you king, wisdom and knowledge are granted to you…” 2 Chronicles 1:7-12 ESV

Keep Looking Up
Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, had a kingdom perspective. It was “in his heart.” He meant it, believed it, and went to God with it – not to the world. And God granted his request and then some. Reading on, you see God poured out the blessing far above and beyond what Solomon asked. He spoke from an eternal perspective, void of opinion, asking for what only God could provide – divine wisdom.

Walk with me, seek wisdom and ask God for an eternal perspective. Whether in person, email, text, or social media, ask God before you speak. I can promise you, your love will multiply, your worry will dwindle, and your speech will be effective, laced in life.

What have I learned about the Wise Men? They didn’t say much. They kept looking up and sought the King of Kings.

Brothers and sisters, shalom.

Pastor Dean

When You Walk Into The Room

We sing a song by Bryan and Katie Torwalt here at Zion’s River, as do a multitude of churches across this great nation. It declares God’s manifest glory and the fact that when God shows up on the scene the miraculous occurs!

When You walk into the room everything changes
Darkness starts to tremble at the light that You bring
When You walk into the room every heart starts burning
And nothing matters more than just to sit here at Your feet and worship You

When You walk into the room sickness starts to vanish
Every hopeless situation ceases to exist
When You walk into the room the dead begin to rise
‘Cause there is resurrection life in all You do

I took some flak about this song because it flies in the face of our literal understanding of God’s character and promises. “…I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (from Joshua 1:5) ESV. “… And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 ESV.

Literally taken, the lyrics would assume Jesus is at some point not in the room, but how can this be if the Word is true? I don’t begrudge anyone protecting the truth of God’s Word and purity of the gospel. Look at this though, then reconsider the lyrics.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
1 Corinthians 12:27 ESV

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
John 14:16-17 ESV

The Atmosphere IS My Responsibility
If scripture is true, then when we walk into the room, we are a manifestation of Jesus in that place. If this is the case, we should expect nothing less than everything to change, darkness fleeing, sickness healed, hope birthed, and life springing forth. It’s a tall order, but if we have the Spirit of truth, the same Spirit who rose Jesus from the grave, why not?

I am praying differently. Just as Pastor mentioned, I am doing a lot more listening and finding God speaking to me in other ways, or perhaps I am just hearing what He has always been saying?

One of my employees reminded me that when I walk in the room, the atmosphere is dramatically altered based on my attitude or demeanor, good or bad. I know this was God, but I am wrestling with it because I don’t want to be responsible for the climate where I am positioned. Fact is, the same Jesus who calmed the storm, lives and works in me and through me. The atmosphere IS my responsibility and yours. Perhaps you’ve heard this,

We bear The Presence of God
In order that the Reign of Christ
would Heal, Restore, and Release
All into their Divine Story

We as individuals, are the glory of God in the earth, designed and equipped to bring everything that Jesus would to every place, person and circumstance we enter because if you are born again, He lives in you. The song continues.

Come and consume God, all we are
We give You permission our hearts are Yours
We want You

Pray with me.

We want you, to be the fulfillment of every promise for everyone we come in contact with. Consume us, Lord so that when we walk into the room, completely your vessel, EVERYTHING changes. Amen.

Pastor Dean

All In

One of my utmost passions in life is music. Singing, playing, and even listening to good music blesses me to no end. Music is an explosion of creativity, steeped in mathematical equation, that can take us from the heights to the depths of emotion in a moment. Its powerful enough to resurrect memories from a forgotten past. It woos the mind and body to participate in its story, and when its integral in our worship to the King, it touches and nourishes the spirit like nothing else.

Several years ago, God awakened this passion in me for music that I’d forgotten. I never stopped enjoying it, I just stopped participating in it for over two decades. I had a sudden and real desire to play guitar. This was new for me. I wanted to play since the 80’s but had never committed to it; disciplining myself enough to learn to actually play music. My beautiful bride (who often sounds like the Holy Spirit) encouraged me to find THE guitar, the one that spoke to me, the one that said, “I was made for you!” Well, one day I found it or perhaps it found me, and this spark of passion exploded! It was like discovering an appendage I didn’t realize I had; a limb that I was learning to walk with when all I’d known was to crawl, excited that someday I’d run. I wasn’t proficient, but allure was so strong I couldn’t put it down.

When Trouble Comes
A few years later, I had some troubles with the guitar, followed by several more. Over many months, I stopped playing it enough that I only recalled the difficulties. Never satisfied with the repairs or results of any upgrades I tried, I developed a bit of disdain toward the instrument to the point that I bought another guitar with plans to sell the old one. Love the new guitar, I’m just not as moved by it as I was my old one.

I finally got around to having my old guitar fixed by a true expert who’d been recommended to me in the first place. Wow, it plays now in a way that reminds me of what drew me to this instrument. I’m not sure if I’ll keep it or sell it at this point, but I was hit smack in the forehead by the realization that I was once ALL IN, but when trouble came, I doubted what wisdom said and because of the seeming cost, I ceased being ALL IN. When doubt crept in, I forgot my first love, and lost my “Why”. Doubt is a strong man. I let that strong man in to plunder my passion. How do I bind doubt and allow the Stronger man to prevail?

All In
Pastor Jim said, “Every dream, vision and purpose of God in your life requires you being ALL IN.”  My guitar is an inanimate object, but it reminded me to take inventory of my commitments to work, family, God, and His house. I’m taking a hard look at where passion has dwindled in life and realizing that its only in those places where I give less than everything to the best of my ability, that I let connections and commitment falter. Here I experience lack, discord and disdain. It’s the birthplace of offense and the beginning of my focus turning to my own methods to satisfy my perceived need. Can God use something so simple to teach something so essential? You bet. This is my God.

His promises and principles are certain. You can count on them as much as the sun rising in the east, the seasons changing and trailer parks attracting tornadoes. He promises we will be victorious if we are ALL IN, not doubting, but fully committed to the plan and purpose He’s set for us. James 1:5-8

You were drawn to this house. You were drawn to your first Love. Re-center your focus and commit to be ALL IN! Give of your tithes and your time. Commit to connections in C Groups with those He’s surrounded you with. God has an amazing journey for you full of blessing, excitement and provision that often come through valleys and difficulties. If we’re ALL IN, He promises to carry us through.

Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22

Let God reignite your passion. I’m ALL IN. Won’t you join me?

Pastor Dean

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

I am not speaking of your chronological birthday, but to the birth of your spirit today! This is the day the Lord made. Rejoice! Be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24) He doesn’t instruct us to be happy about it, over it, retrospective of, but in today, as part of it, amidst all that it brings. As Christians we put far too much stock in what was or what could be as we drudge through today. Don’t fret about the past (Isaiah 43:18) or worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34). God is working right now in your present. As you are obedient to him, and confident in who you are and to whom you belong, the future will take care of itself and He will position you exactly where you need to be at the proper time. The past is the past. Leave it there, it is detrimental to your future. Take a lesson from Lot’s wife; looking back, longing for what was, will pulverize you.

I know many of you are coming through an incredibly difficult season. It may feel like you’re in the throes of battle as you read this. I am here to remind you of what Pastor said; winter is to kill of the old things so the new things can come (My paraphrase). The winter is over. Yes, there is still snow on the ground, but spring is upon us and the new thing has taken root. God wants me to remind you that He is the light of the world (John 8:12) and you are His reflection, created in His image (Genesis 1:27). Get this into your mind, body and soul. I love how Adriel explained it last Sunday from the pulpit – God placed you here as an image of who’s actually in charge for the whole world to see! Do you recall what Pastor Jim said back in 2014? “God is on a seek and destroy mission for any unbelief in your heart.” That hasn’t changed; so here are the words from the Lord to strengthen and encourage you for every one of your todays.

Isaiah 60:1-2
Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people;
But the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.

Song of Songs 2:11
See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.

Daniel 5:14 (ESV)
I have heard of you that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you.

Matthew 5:14 (ESV)
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

Romans 2:19 (ESV)
and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,

Ephesians 5:8 (ESV)
for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

1 Thessalonians 5:5 (ESV)
For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.

1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Every promise from the Lord is a “Yes!” It is already done. Be born again, and again. I am praying for you. Happy Birthday.

Pastor Dean

Content to Dream

Learning to be Content

I don’t know about you, but it has been a long time since I have felt truly inspired to reach for something new or motivated to set fresh goals and begin dreaming BIG. I am not talking about great ideas, but the kind of colossal thoughts that requires the presently impossible. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me and I have no desire to boast, I just have a very satisfying life full of my chosen career, people I love, and a path that is pointing, to some degree, in the direction I wanted to go. Understand, I am a goal setter and a planner, but there is no pressing need to set lofty goals and reach for the stars to find great satisfaction. Some over-achiever types might call this complacency, I call it contentment.
The Apostle Paul teaches us to be content in all things.

…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
Philippians 4:11

I am learning to be content. Some of it comes with age, some with experience, and some with disappointment. That last one we often hold so close, it is the dangerous one that tends to keep us all stagnant. We are a proud people and often take a knee rather than try for the touchdown for fear of getting knocked backwards and losing yardage. We call it smart, safe – content. It is the comfortable place that protects us and keeps our social standing, well, adequate. I wasn’t always this way though. As a young man I was rarely satisfied with what I had or the road I was on. Like so many, I thought life was a destination rather than a journey.

Awakened to Dreaming Big

Lately something’s been awakened in me. I feel God tugging at old dreams I logically or conveniently laid aside. There is a stirring I have not felt in quite some time – a disturbance in the force? (There, I fed my inner nerd.) I believe my Lord is reminding me there is work to do. If you’ve read this far, perhaps He’s been tugging at your heart too? Whatever the case, my desires have shifted toward expanding my territory, namely my business and thus, influence in the community. Yours could be something as simple (or terrifying) as starting a C-Group, learning to play an instrument, or going to school. What if you don’t believe you have a dream? Often dreams are birthed from the joy of a simple act of obedience to a prompting from the Lord.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalms 37:4

Several years ago God showed me something in this verse. He said, “I will give you desires for your heart; My desires are meant to fulfill My purposes in you. In these you will find your greatest joy.” I realized this verse is cyclical in my whole life and it was the kindling to my ministry.

Paul continues…

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:12-13

What is this secret? I’m certain Paul was living out the cyclical nature of Psalm 37:4. He knew that regardless of the mountain or valley in front of him, God’s dream in him, of reaching the world for Christ, would sustain him. Talk about colossal dreaming!

For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.
Ecclesiastes 5:3

Yah, you’re gonna get busy when you live out your story and follow your God-given dreams. The world is gonna try to talk you out of it at every turn. This is why He gives us dreams so that when we experience the joy in these desires He’s placed in our hearts, no one can talk us out of it!

Be Inspired!

Be inspired! God has something brand new for you if you will let Him “wake-up” your dreams, but you must take that first step. Since most of us aren’t Paul, start small. Take that simple step of obedience to allow God to stoke the fires of the dreams He’s placed in you. Ask God. He’s a good Father after all. Trust Him with everything you have, your time, finances and relationships. See if He won’t tear open heaven over your life. His angels have heavenly provision for you in the place He’s called you to walk. This is the place of your dreams, of God’s dreams in you, that no one but you were created to bring to fruition. Imagine what the world has been waiting to see and didn’t even know it?

Exuberant for your story!

Pastor Dean