Saturday, June 5, 2010

Humbling Food For Thought...IMHO

"How is your prayer life?"

I HATE cliches. I hate them. I hate, hate, HATE them. They grate against my ears...they make me cringe. I'm pretty sure I hate them so much that I end up using them... A LOT.

The above quote is a cliche used in the Christian realm. "How's your prayer life?" or "What's your prayer life like brother?" Such a cliche, but SUCH an important and introspective question that every follower of Christ must ask themselves.

I had a great conversation with Jake Lewis today about our daily walk, ministry, and the upmost importance of prayer. We also realized how much our prayer lives just plain suck. We're good at "arrow" prayer...random prayers here and there we shoot up to God throughout the day. Cool...good stuff. Honestly, I think that is a good practice and is effective communication with God (more on that later).

But what about our personal time...our personal prayer time with God. It's so easy to just read the Bible and say we've spent time with God. Reading and knowing what the Bible says is critical to our walks with Christ, but personal communication with Jesus is just as equally and, dare I say, even more important than reading our Bibles. Every Jewish man had the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, memorized word for word...more than you and I will ever have memorized...but so many of them who came in contact with Jesus missed Him completely.

I'm sure there are non-followers of Christ who probably know more about the Bible than I do...hell, the devil probably knows the Bible word for word...but all of that means absolutely NOTHING unless that knowledge is joined with communication with God where a relationship can be cultivated. It is in that personal time that we find who we are in God, and where I believe the understanding of the power of the Holy Spirit inside us is awakened.

So often we come to the conclusion that the things the Apostles did were reserved only for them. I don't think so...they had that power and boldness because they knew Jesus. How did they know Jesus? They spent several years with Jesus; day in and day out. They all had a relationship with Jesus. They knew who they were in Christ. But then there's the statement, "Well that's not fair. They got to be with Jesus face to face."

I don't think that is a good argument at all. I LOVE 2 Peter 1:16-19:

"We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place."

It is so plain and clear here. Peter says of how he and the rest of the apostles (James and John specifically as he is focusing on the transfiguration) were eye-witnesses to the "power and coming" of Jesus. But verse 19 is the trump card. Peter, an eye-witness to Jesus...Peter who spent years with Jesus face to face says himself that the words of the prophets...words that came hundreds of years prior...are an even more reliable source of Jesus' "power and coming" than the Apostle's eye-witness.

That statement of Peter's blows my mind. I totally believe that the conclusion can be come to that we can have just as strong a relationship with Jesus as the Apostles did. This happens with daily communication with Jesus...what we call prayer...spending, what we call in human relationships, quality time with Jesus.

What is quality time with Jesus? Well, what is quality time with someone you love?

This conversation with Jake carried over to someone I absolutely LOVE: Charity :) During our Skype conversation tonight, while talking about this subject, the analogy hit me. Remember those arrow prayers I was talking about? Those are kind of like texts that people in love send to each other: "I love you baby!", "I miss you!", or "I can't wait to see you". Now, for couples who do this I'm going to go out on a limb and say that those type of texts never get old. They would get old if that was the only way you communicated with your significant other. If your relationship consisted only of superficial, on-the-surface texts like these, wouldn't be in a relationship for long.

Those texts work and mean something because of the time you've devoted to each choose to commit your undivided attention to each other several days, if not every day, of the week. Those texts merely enhance your love, and the feeling that can come with love, during the day. Charity and I text each other all day...we love's so much fun to send sweet and loving texts to each other throughout the day. But the stuff that really moves our relationship forward are our 2-3 hour nightly Skype dates. My nights are reserved to talking to would take a lot for something to get in the way of that. It's awesome! I love it!

Back to prayer...

I say all that to say this...does our relationship and communication with God consist just of random texts/arrow prayers during the day? Or do we set apart time daily to communicate with God and give Him our undivided attention; time of yours that no one but God can have?

What Jake and I were getting at is this: we both have awesome dreams and visions for life and ministry...of which we believe is inspired by the Holy Spirit. There are two ways we could pursue those things: 1. try to do things on our own abilities and eventually not go as far if we had 2. spent quality time in prayer and in communication with God every day and allow what we do in life to be from the overflowing of love that we experienced during those times with God.

Ok, I've said too much and there is so much more I want to say. I am challenging myself, and hopefully whoever reads this, to devote a good chunk of time each day of just spending time with music, no cell phone...nothing. Let's give Him our undivided attention...the attention He alone deserves...and I believe we'll begin to see pretty cool stuff happen because of it.

Friday, May 28, 2010

"I don't know, I'm making this up as I go."

That is one of my favorite lines from Raiders of the Lost Ark...also one of my favorite movies of all time. Also, in my opinion, it is one of the greatest action-adventure movies of all time.

I think what sets Raiders apart from most all other action-adventure movies is not its plot, elaborate set pieces, or memorable action moments...all of which are top notch and still stand so strong to this day. What sets it apart is, you guessed it, Indiana Jones himself...the globe-trotting archaeologist. I think the character Indiana Jones is one anyone can identify with. He's rough and tough, smart, witty, he can take a grazing bullet, slide under a truck, hold his breath under water for minutes on end...but yet never does he seem to have it all together. He gets his equal share of punches to the gut, he gets stuck in the traps, and he gets caught by the enemy. But of course, at the end of the day, he escapes and gets his "fortune and glory".

The aforementioned quote embodies his character completely. He's flawed...he's never sure what's next, but is determined to seek after the treasure; be it the Ark of the Covenant, the Shankara Stones, or the Holy Grail. Nothing gets in his way; no Nazis, traps, or even snakes.

I think deep down at the core of each one of us is that desire...that dream or vision for something...something bigger than us. But none of us have it all together, just like Indy. We all have that something that we are chasing, or at least want to chase, after. Some are chasing...others are sitting around talking about it. Indiana Jones never found any treasure, or accomplished anything of much importance at his cushy professor job. Don't get me wrong, that is not a knock against teachers...but it's obvious that teaching was not Indy's passion. If what you are pursuing is teaching...then that's great!

What is your passion? What is that adventure you have been dying to go on, but never had the courage to embark on. Are you afraid to fail? Are you afraid that you don't know every step of the way? won't. That's part of the fun of an adventure...not knowing where you are going and then one day being able to look back and see where you have come from and how you got where you are.

I believe that if you are not living life as an adventure then you are most certainly not living it to its fullness. Fullness is found in God alone and living life for Him is the greatest adventure.

Coming out here to Tulsa is definitely the most adventurous thing I've done so far...I'm pretty sure marriage will be the next. After that...who degree...first church plant? I have no idea how all this stuff happens, but that's the coolest part...when I live my life for Him, God will order my steps in the most mix-matched way imaginable and all of a sudden my life becomes a GREAT and UNPREDICTABLE adventure. There is no RUSH or FEELING like it. (all of the sudden this became a Perry Noble blog with my all caps :)

Pursue that dream with all you have and until you have nothing left to give. I seriously think we confuse ourselves when we think that God doesn't want us to pursue certain dreams or visions. If God is the Creator and if we are created in His image...then we have that same GREAT creativity inside us. Too many times we brush aside truly God-given gifts, because we think it would not be honoring to God. Please...that is the DUMBEST pile of crap I've ever heard...and I've listened to it too many times (unfortunately I still do from time to time) myself. As a musician you don't have to write music that has the Jesus stamp in every verse, chorus, and bridge. Just listening to music will not bring people to Christ. What about writing music that the secular crowd wants to listen to and then you, the artist, can stand strong for Christ. Write music...write, write, write, and then stand for what you believe in. I believe that is honoring to that could eventually lead them to its creator, who could then turn them on to the gospel...not music that turns them off from the gospel.


Just think, if Indy didn't go after the Ark...then we would be in a world controlled by Nazis...melted, imploded, and exploded Nazis that is...

Live life to its fullest and most adventurous!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My New Home

This is the first entry in my prolifically popular blog in eight months! Ok, that's not all entirely know...the popular part. Maybe if I were more diligent with my blog it would be more popular. Maybe...


So what has happened over the past eight months? A LOT! Like, a whole butt-load of stuff. Yes. Nine months ago I was just beginning Gettysburg Master's Commission. My original intention of going to GMC was to basically get my head back on straight. Nine months ago I was really not liking life at all. I thought I had dug myself a hole that I could not get out of. Sounds so dramatic I know...and in reality I wasn't even close to being at that point. But at the age of 20 it was a place I did not want to be at all. Keep in mind, this is not one of those "I gave up on God" stories. No, my faith was strong enough and knew enough that these rough patches hit every single person on this planet....born again or's called LIFE (this has been a recent revelation to me by the way...the living life part).

So I went to GMC with a, what I thought at the time, very vague idea of what I wanted to do in life. I felt the call to ministry when I was in 9th grade. Nine months ago, that's still about all I had...the calling...just not sure where. At the time I was leading my youth group back home. God did some really cool stuff during my tenure there, but I saw it as more of a starting point...not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So I went to GMC expecting a clear-cut vision for ministry by the end of the program (which is right now).

Has that happened? Yes and no. Ambiguity ensues. Let's just say so much more happened to me. All freakin' crazy and awesome.

I came to GMC with a humbled and broken heart (various reasons that ate away at me for too long a time, but that are, praise God, no longer relevant in my life). My expectations were that God would fix all those things, the way I wanted, and then send me back to Pittsburgh. It's a funny thing when you pray, "God, Your will be done in my life", but then proceed to ask that it happen this way and that way. Sometimes I have to wonder that God hears our prayers and goes, "Que?". James 1 talks about this...doublemindedness (that might be a word). Know what you want...your way or God's way.

Fortunately, I'm pretty sure God sifted through my humble ramblings and made sense of them in the only way that God can. I think His way won out (which is a good thing :). My goals, my expectations, my views, my pre-conceived notions about almost everything were turned upside down on its head. Long story short, I started to actually receive dreams and vision for ministry and more

So what is my vision? I guess the short and simple answer is church planting. It's kind of funny because I don't know if there is a long answer. There are, I believe, a million details that are a part of that vision, but I'm just not sure how they all fit together right now. That was a scary thing 9 months ago (ok, so it's still a little scary...not knowing exactly for sure what to do), but I've learned a little more about faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Now, I've had this verse memorized for who knows how long. But I guess my heart really didn't soak it all in until a short time ago. Let's face, I don't know how it all pans out. Nobody can ever know. But I hope and believe in God's promises especially Romans 8:28: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."

Pretty cool huh? Yeah! So cool! But what does it mean to obey God? According to the Bible, to love God is to obey Him. There are several passages that point to this, but my favorite is 2 John 6, "And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it." So how do you obey God? Read, pray, and find out for yourself :)

So put it all together, you can place your faith on the fact that if you obey God...then you are loving God. And if you love God, He will direct your footsteps.

This truth and finding confidence in who I am in Christ are probably the two greatest things I got from GMC and Freedom Valley Worship Center...ok...I'll tell you in a minute about a third HUGE thing I took away from these past nine months....:)

A side note on vision and faith. Like Hebrews 11:1 says, if we knew everything about our vision and how things were going to play out...where does faith come into play...ultimately leading to the question, "Where does God come in?". I think Oswald Chambers said it perfectly in one of his devotionals when he said that (and I am probably bastardizing what he put so beautifully) we are never ready to receive all of our vision. God will reveal the details we need as we go along...nothing more and nothing less....just what we need. And that when God initially gives us the vision, it is not our own yet. We have to pursue God and that vision to grasp it completely.

So I am relying and know that God will reveal more and more nuggets of information along the way

So back to church planting...

When I initially caught the bug for church planting my thought process was this: "Church planting? Cool. Pittsburgh?...plant a church in Pittsburgh!" It sounded perfect. But it was more like the fall back plan...Pittsburgh was all I knew.

Jumping way ahead to late February of this year, God opened the door (and by door I mean it was the Red Sea being parted and I could see all the way across to the other side) for me to go to Tulsa to be a part of the Freedom Valley Tulsa church plant. I more or less was sold instantly.

I was basically beside myself to know that I was going Tulsa...I felt such great purpose in my life. Way cool stuff.

About a month later in March, something else MAJOR and SUPER AWESOME happened in my life. I fell in love with a girl. I won't say that her name is Charity. She would be especially unhappy if I told you that her name was Landis.................her middle name is Joy


It was during a time that I was completely content in being single. I guess I was living the 1 Corinthians 7:32 life...and I was totally cool with that. I was following God to Tulsa and I couldn't be happier. But this was totally a God thing. I believe God told me, "You really like this girl"...this girl that I had admired much about but never really thought much more than that. My response to God, "You know what? I really DO like this girl." But wait....I was going to Tulsa and she's firmly set at FVWC...this couldn't possibly work.

Well...we talked... and we found out we were both CRAZY about each other. But we were questioning the whole thing and how it could possibly work out. But after much prayer and wise counsel we both trusted...we realized if this is truly a God will work out. Remember that Romans 8:28 thing? So we took the approach to take things just a day at a time and trust that if we were obeying God...He'll put it all together.

Let me just say that the short journey I have had with Charity has been, for a lack of a better word....AWESOME! It's so cool being with someone with such a passion for God and ministry and one who listens for God's voice first and not someone else' mine! I'm so excited for what the future holds for us :) And we are so excited to build our relationship long-distance by building on God's rock solid foundation. I'm pumped for that!


So flash forward to right now...7:26 PM Central a Panera Bread on Lewis Avenue in Tulsa, OK. You want to know something? After all that I said above...I have absolutely NO idea what's going to happen to me during this year at Tulsa. Not a clue. I'm going through the phase of settling in...that super uncertain stage with mixed thoughts...was this the right or wrong choice? I miss Charity so uncontrollably much (so it's only been since Saturday since I saw her...don't judge me haha).

Do you want to know something else?

I'm really not worried. Not at all. I love her SO SO SO much, but my faith is not in Charity...we will fail each other over these next 12 months and many times after that. hope, faith, and trust is in God alone.

Psalm 18 says, "I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.........For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? - the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze."

A year ago at this time I was confused, uncertain, and pissed beyond belief. What has a year of seeking God first (never, ever, ever forget Matthew 6:33) changed? Everything. You may ask, "Aren't you still uncertain?" My answer is that I am 100% certain in God. And that is enough to sustain me through the good times and the bad times that will come again.

For the next 12 or so months my home is Tulsa, OK and I am so fact SUPER excited...for what God is going to do in me this year. He changed so much in me over the past year, I can't even imagine what He is going to do in me this next year. If hope like that doesn't get you excited....I'm not sure what will.

And to answer any questions of what do I do after this year? Haha, who knows. That's for God to know and me to find out. Charity and I have gone with the open-handed approach. We love each other very much, but it's God's to do with as He pleases. I'm trying to take that approach with my whole life in no promises!

So, until next time...I promise it won't be eight months :)