Monday, November 25, 2013

Worship as a Way of Life

from the movie Chariots of Fire
For me, thinking of worship as a way of life is helpful. This goes beyond music in formal church settings or times of prayer. While those are absolutely environments where encounter with God can happen, it shouldn't be limited to that.

I believe that God makes each of us unique and gives us talents and abilities with which to serve and glorify Him. There's a quote from the movie Chariots of Fire that I think captures this well. Eric Liddell is an Olympic runner who went on to be a missionary in China. He says, "God made me fast and when I run I feel His pleasure." I also am a runner and experience the pleasure of God when I run.

In doing what He's designed us to do, we glorify Him and experience pure worship. This could look different for every person; someone may be a great artist, mountain climber, dancer, cook, writer, an inventor, handyman, nurse, teacher, or any number of other areas of gifting. When we use these gifts, we tap into the God given abilities and can encounter Him in the day to day things.

In living worship as a way of life, it's so critical to have times when the door is closed with no one around and it's just you and God. There's no expectation of perfection or worrying about what others think. When you're able to present your heart to Him in pure worship by yourself, He can talk with you and share His desires for you as His child.

Life can get crazy with work, school, friends, family, and other activities so that it becomes critical to slow down and take time with just you and Him.  You can only go for so long on technical ability. Without a heart that's immersed in His love, you'll eventually reach the end of yourself and fall flat at some point. Continuously coming back to the well to drink of His love will refresh and revive your soul and result in greater joy and effectiveness for Him.

Are you experiencing God in worship today?

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Joy In Your Circumstance



It is with great joy that my friend Greg and I (The Outstanding Gentlemen) announce the release of our music video for Joy In Your Circumstance. We wrote, recorded, and produced the song and video over the past year and are excited for you to see it. Check it out!

If you like the song, we'd be thrilled for you to download it on iTunes for future joy. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/joy-in-your-circumstance/id739993412?i=739993545

Joy In Your Circumstance (click for video link)
by The Outstanding Gentlemen

When you're feeling down been knocked to the ground get up
back on your feet again
When it's two steps forward and ten steps back cheer up
there's more to life than this

Who said life was easy, with nothing in the way
Trials and tribulations will lead to brighter days
Well you gotta find...

Joy, Joy, Joy, in your circumstance
Joy, Joy, Joy, in your circumstance
Joy, Joy, Joy, in your circumstance
Joy, Joy, Joy, in your circumstance

Shoulda, coulda, woulda don't have no place
so turn that frown around and put a smile upon your face
Like the sun shining through on a cloudy day
flowers popping up in the month of May
Like the colors of fall and the summer breeze
snow capped mountains in their majesty
Like a warm winter coat and a fireside chat
a cup of hot chocolate and things like that

Joy, Joy, Joy, in your circumstance
Joy, Joy, Joy, in your circumstance
Joy, Joy, Joy, in your circumstance
Joy, Joy, Joy, in your circumstance

Words and Music by: Andrew Allen, Greg Mead
Vocals: Greg Mead, Andrew Allen
Acoustic, Electric, Bass Guitars: Andrew Allen
Keyboards: Greg Mead, Andrew Allen
Percussion: Andrew Allen
Glockenspiel: Andrew Allen
Music Production, Recording, Mixing, Mastering: Andrew Allen

Video Production and Editing: Greg Mead, Andrew Allen
Technical Assistance: Ben Jones www.angeldownstudios.com
Cameras: Wes McCulley & Dominick Racano www.dominickracano.com

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Aim Your Influence


Influence is a little like gasoline. When you leverage your influence, it causes things to really kick in gear. It will accelerate the causes, goals, and tasks it’s used for so be sure you’re pouring gas on the right thing and are pointed in the right direction.

Others will ask you to use your influence for their benefit. Sometimes this will line up with your mission and sometimes it won’t. That’s why it’s so important to know your calling and how God wants to use you. Once you’ve figured out calling, leverage your influence for that purpose but be cautious of who and what you align with to avoid getting caught up in something that is not on mission. (See Nehemiah 6 for a great example of doing this well)

When used wisely, influence can increase but can just as easily be lost if not carefully stewarded. Don’t give away your influence to something that’s not on target.

Aiming your influence can be a little like a hound dog chasing a rabbit. If he keeps at it, he’s got a shot at eventually catching the rabbit. But, if he starts trying to chase two or three rabbits, he’s just going to wear himself out and probably not catch anything. Know your rabbit and stay on track.

You may strongly disagree with someone’s views on a topic but it’s important to consider whether arguing with them will serve God’s purpose for your life. Holding back from response does not equate to apathy, it’s a matter of choosing where to use your influence. By not getting pulled into a heated off-mission debate, you maintain the ability to speak into the other person’s life and engage in a way that will lead them closer to Jesus.

How will you use your influence today?

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pray for Leaders


Everyone follows a leader at some point in their life whether parents, a boss, a coach, teacher, pastor, government officials, military officer, volunteer coordinator, or some other person in leadership. It is important to pray for those who lead us that God will give them wisdom and direction as they make decisions. Whether you personally agree with them or not, pray that they will seek God’s direction and wisdom.

I Timothy 2: 1-2 says, “I urge then first of all that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

The weight of leadership can lead to loneliness in the very ones who are responsible for large numbers of other people. Sometimes a leader just needs a friend to share their burdens with and to encourage them. If you’re not in direct leadership, you can still have great influence by praying with, speaking truth and encouragement into a leader’s life.

When you have the opportunity to lead others, don’t feel that you have to bear the full weight of responsibility alone. Pray like crazy and seek out others for counsel and support. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Pray for your boss, coach, teacher, government leaders, pastor, and anyone who has a position of oversight and influence. When appropriate, let them know about it too. Knowing that someone is lifting you up in prayer can be encouraging in the midst of a stressful situation.

Take a moment right now to pray for your leaders that God will guide and give them wisdom.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Friday, October 04, 2013

Timeless Love

Both of my grandparents have deeply invested in people throughout their lives. My granddad is one of the most positive people I know. His love for Jesus and others is unparalleled. My grandmother is a quiet prayer warrior, has cooked tens of thousands of meals, and baked armies of gingerbread men among countless other cookies, cakes, and delicious deserts.

At a recent family event, I saw one of the most timeless expressions of love that I’ve ever seen. Due to some health conditions, my granddad is temporarily in a nursing home while my grandmother is homebound and they don’t get to see each other. They’ve both been in wheelchairs for mobility recently and saw each other for the first time in 3 weeks. 

The emotion and joy in their faces at seeing each other was like a groom and bride seeing each other on their wedding day. With tears in his eyes and a smile on his face indeed my granddad said, “That’s my bride, isn’t she pretty” as they wheeled her towards him. The beauty and emotion in that moment was priceless.

After 65 years of marriage, their relationship is deeper than ever. What an awesome example of two people’s love for each other. I certainly hope for this depth of love in my own life someday.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Monday, September 23, 2013

Experiencing the Creator in Creation

Photo by Andrew Allen Photography

Since the dawn of time, God has given us beautiful waterfalls, mountains, sunrises and sunsets, forests, streams, stars, moon, flowers, animals, and ocean waves.  As a mother or father creates environments for their children to learn, grow, and have fun in, so too God has created environments for each of His children and invites us into His creation.

We will always be attracted to and seek out beautiful things. Rather than settling for cheap imitations or counterfeit beauty, choose to experience the authentic beauty of God’s creation.

You are special to Him and He wants to you to experience all that He has planned for you. No matter where you live, there's always some part of nature you can enjoy. If you haven't intentionally gone outside to enjoy nature recently, unplug the technology, turn off the noise and get out in the Father's world. That might mean a hike in the forest, checking out a starlit night, a trip to the lake, waking up early to see a sunrise, sitting on the beach and watching the tide roll in, or some other beauty of creation.

Take a Bible and maybe a journal and just spend time enjoying nature and talking with God. Some of the best times of connection with Him can come in those moments of experiencing the beauty of His creation.

This happened for me recently when I hiked to the top of Stone Mountain to watch the sunrise. Part of my reading for that morning was Psalm 65 which talks throughout the chapter about creation and God’s blessing. One verse particularly struck a chord as I watched the sunrise: “...where morning dawns and evening fades you call forth songs of joy.” -Psalm 65:8

You are the pinnacle of the Creator's creation; take hold of His blessings and experience His creation fully.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wisdom for Baseball...and Life

baseball

Don't be so afraid of striking out that you never take an at bat. When you're in the batter's box you may swing and miss but at least you're at the plate. Dust yourself off, learn from the misses, and improve. In time, the hits will come. 

Ask out the girl, sing at the open mic night, go on the interview, have children, make the sales call, get out on the dance floor, speak in public, write the book, audition for the role, ship the product. Whatever you do, don't let fear hold you hostage.

The pursuit of God's best doesn't mean perfection the first time or that you won't get hurt or make mistakes. It does mean getting off the sideline, getting in the game, and seeking after His best in your life.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Monday, August 19, 2013

Wisdom Filter

Filter
Image courtesy of Wikimedia
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” –James 3:17

When your emotions rise to the level of righteous indignation over something you feel strongly about, it can be easy to act or respond without fully thinking through the implications. If not handled with wisdom and tact, the result may be hurt feelings, damaged relationships, and a loss of influence.

Taking a step back allows the emotions to calm down with a clearer head and a more reasoned response. You may be fully justified in your knee jerk response and correct in your logic but the method or tone of communication could result in winning the argument but losing the other person’s trust or even willingness to engage with you.

Likewise, checking the intended course of action or response with a wise friend prior to doing anything provides perspective from someone without the same emotional investment in the situation. As you think through a response, read over James 3:17 and see if your response would pass the wisdom filter laid out in the passage.

Would your words or actions qualify as pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy, and sincere? If not, there’s probably cause for reflection and re-evaluating before further steps are taken.

It should go without saying, of course, that prayer plays an instrumental role in walking wisely. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives generously to all without reproach and it will be given to him.” Take time to pray about the situation and what God would have you do.

Even though logically and practically the way you plan to respond may leave you in the right, He can guide you towards a more effective response that preserves a relationship and leaves open the opportunity for future interaction. Be cautious of allowing righteous indignation to take you down a path that results in regret. Let wisdom and grace filter everything you say and do and lead you to God's best.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Quote of the day


"Get into the habit of dealing with God about everything. Unless in the first waking moment of the day you learn to fling the door wide back and let God in, you will work on a wrong level all day; but swing the door wide open and pray to your Father in secret, and every public thing will be stamped with the presence of God." -Oswald Chambers

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Book Review: Beautiful Outlaw

I've read several books by John Eldredge and enjoy his writing. The imagery, language, and stories he uses to illustrate different concepts really bring into better light the nature of Jesus. While I didn't love Beautiful Outlaw, I did like it.

At times, it was difficult to engage with the book and while the material was good, in places it seemed to miss a driving theme. As the book progressed though, it became more apparent that it was written during a time of recent difficulty in Eldredge's life. This vulnerability does help to more fully appreciate and believe the guidance he offers and understand how to interact with Jesus even in times of brokenness.

It is apparent that Eldredge knows Jesus intimately and talks with him like he would a friend or family member. The most helpful parts of the book were when he asked the reader to stop, pray, and ask Jesus to speak to particular areas in the reader's life and/or heal brokenness. This further encourages people to talk with him throughout the day and not just at dedicated times.

As an overarching theme, the book looks at the personality of Jesus and how he had emotions and a personality like any person does. In turn, it discusses how to use this understanding of him to better engage with him. The book is certainly uplifting and will provide encouragement whether you're experiencing hardship or would just like a different take on the personality of Jesus and how he interacts with us. (hint, it's not just in a church building)

If you found this review helpful, please let Amazon know at this link.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tell You Bout Jesus



Tell You Bout Jesus
by: Andrew Allen

Troubles in life can push you around
holding you back and keeping you down
but you can break free it can happen today
It don't cost a thing no you don't have to pay

Let me tell you bout Jesus and all that He's done
Let me tell you bout Jesus God's only son
Let me tell you bout Jesus He came for everyone
Let me tell you bout Jesus and how the victory is won

You can believe and trust in His name
He helped the blind see and healed the lame
His power to save is also for you
just open your heart and He'll make you new

Let me tell you bout Jesus and all that He's done
Let me tell you bout Jesus God's only son
Let me tell you bout Jesus He came for everyone
Let me tell you bout Jesus and how the victory is won

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Pendulum of Work and Rest

Old Pendulum Clock
Image via: WikiMedia Commons
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me." -John 15:4

In the book Building a Discipling Culture by Mike Breen and Steve Cockram, they use the concept of a pendulum in describing the ebb and flow of work and rest in life. For those who are driven, type A personalities, the concept of rest can seem like a foreign one. Even outside of the professional realm there's a tendency to always be on the go whether in ministry or other pursuits. Slowing down and abiding in God's presence just doesn't come naturally.

It's so critical to do this though. Burn out is a risk when the pedal is always on go. If the pendulum stays pegged on the work side of the equation, at some point, it's going to come off the hinges and rest won't be optional.

There is a temptation to think that doing ministry work is abiding in Jesus. If He has not called you to it, you're operating out of your own power and are on shaky ground. As Oswald Chambers wrote, "Active work and spiritual activity are not the same thing. Active work may be the counterfeit of spiritual activity." -My Utmost for His Highest Only out of time abiding with Him is it possible to be fully alive and functioning how He's designed you. A good resource for learning to abide in Him is The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.

Of course the opposite is true as well; there are times when the pendulum needs to swing back the other way and you engage in the work that God has called you to. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." -Ephesians 2:10 

Is your work/rest pendulum in a healthy place right now? If not, take a few moments to pray about it.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Boogers, Sin, and Jesus

Filtered Water Pitcher
Have you ever heard people say they think they'll go to heaven because they're basically a good person? How do they define this "good?" Is there a scale that at some point tips one way or the other determining in or out? What if not everyone agreed that the person were basically good?

There can be a tendency to compare oneself to others and think "well, at least I'm not as bad as her" or "I help people a lot and that should weigh out anything bad I've done." There's a fallacy in this though; all sin separates us from God.

There are numerous passages that speak to this a few of which are: James 2:10 "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." Romans 3:10 "There is no one righteous, not even one." Ephesians 2: 8-9 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast." Romans 3:23 "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

Think of your life as being a glass of water that you offer to God. If you put a booger in the water He's probably not going to drink it. Same story if other gross or disgusting things get in it. Sin equates to boogers and while a booger may not be the grossest thing that could be put in a glass of water, it makes it undrinkable.

This is how our own righteousness works, if in even one area we fall short, it keeps us eternally out of relationship with God. Put yourself in His shoes, would you want to be friends with someone who puts boogers in your drink?

Thankfully that's not the end of the story. Run the water through a filter and it becomes pure and drinkable again. This is where Jesus steps in. He filters out all the boogers and gross stuff and enables us to have eternal communion with God.

If there are boogers in your life that you need to get cleaned up, talk with Jesus about it, He's got a great filtering service.
 
It strikes me that this post may appeal to those working in middle or high school ministry so feel free to pass it along if it hits a chord. ;-)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mountain Top Experience


I stand upon this mountain top looking all around
for on this mountain top your presence I have found.
Oh God of wonders you’ve brought me to this place where I can see
majesty and glory Lord you reveal to me.
I feel as though I’m soaring Lord flying high and free
encouraged, thank you for this time I’m energized with thee.

Forever I would like to stay and make this place my home
but I know it’s not possible forever to postpone.
So when you lead me from this place wherever I may go
let me Lord shine a light for all to see and know.
I cannot must not keep your truth only to myself
I must tell others of your love so they may share your wealth.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Grace and Forgiveness


This is a powerful video and song on Grace and Forgiveness that they showed at my church on Sunday. Check it out.

I Need Grace
by: Seth Condrey and Matt Melton


I never knew that words could hurt like this
They broke my heart because of what they said
Now inside it's hurting something's gotta give
I can't believe they treated me like this
what happened to love your neighbor as yourself
but deep down in my soul I know I've gotta let it go

I need grace
to show you grace
there's something that I need to say
I need grace

I really wish that we could start again
cause I miss the way it was when we were friends
Oh God please help me now 
cause only you can show me how, show me how

I need grace to show you grace
there's something that I need to say
but I need grace

It's time to start again 
erase the things you said
I forgive you, I forgive you
It's time to stand and run
Let grace overcome
I forgive you, I forgive you

Cause I found grace
to show you grace
Jesus gave His life away
and I found grace

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Subscribe to the Pursuit Via Email

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Saying No to Good in Favor of God’s Best

wisdom
For many years my prayer has been for God’s best in my life. That happens when I place my wants, desires, and future completely in His hands. I can easily interject my own thoughts of what’s best but that doesn’t always match up with what He has planned. So, prayer and reflection on where I’m investing my time and energy is important on a consistent basis to evaluate whether I’m operating in His calling for my life.

Good things can gradually fill up your life till you have no margin and are no longer operating in God’s calling. Ministry is an especially tricky area. While many ministries do wonderful things, when you try to do too much you lose effectiveness and your walk with God can even take a backseat if you’re not careful.

Never allow ministry activities to get in the way of your walk with God. You may be able to keep the balls in the air temporarily but they’ll eventually come crashing to the ground if you’re operating in your own power and not God’s.

Sometimes what masquerades as a “good” option or choice in life can steal away the best option and the plan God has for you. It can be difficult to say no and give up a “good” option when the best option isn’t readily apparent. God will reveal this to you though and give you wisdom if you press in and seek His wisdom. Just be aware that the answer He gives may not be what you want to hear. But rest in the promise that He is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine and works all things for good for those who are called according to His purpose. Ephesians 3:20 & Romans 8:28
 
Don't let your heart lead you down a path that is merely good but instead seek His best in every decision that you make and in everything that you do. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.” –Proverbs 3:5-6

Will you settle for good enough today or pursue the best?

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Friday, March 22, 2013

Prayer and Watering Plants

Generally, I'm a fairly decent plant caretaker. At present, I have one peace lily in my humble abode. It's not too difficult to care for but requires watering several times each week. Left unwatered for more than a few days though and it looks woefully unhealthy and on its way to the compost pile.

In dire need of water
As I thought about it, our prayer lives can be similar. Given regular quality prayer time, spiritually we stay healthy and connected to God but skip a few days and things start to get ugly. When you think of God as providing pure water essential for life, to stop drinking from His fountain means certain spiritual decline.

It's also important to get it directly from Him. While music, followers of Christ, sermons, radio, blogs, books, etc. can provide encouragement in the direction of Him, only He can provide 100% pure spiritual nourishment that will revive and revitalize you. 

Something else that's important is eliminating unhealthy sources of sustenance. If I were to pour battery acid in the plant, it would be dead before the day was over. While it sounds extreme, sometimes toxic media choices, people we associate with, and habits we engage in can act as the spiritual equivalent of battery acid on a plant.

"whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” -John 4:14

Watered and perked up
Next time you water a plant or see one in need of some TLC, let it be a reminder to pause and pray and take a drink from the fountain of spiritual life.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pottery and God

There are lots of passages in the Bible that use imagery of a potter and clay as an analogy for God and us. When we think from the perspective of God being in control, He is responsible for the outcome of the pottery. He has a vision and purpose for the final product and molds it and shapes it specifically for a reason. If in the middle of the process we get impatient or think we have a better idea on how to do it, that’s when things get off center and become misshapen. How much better to allow the Master Potter to do His work and be molded into the vessel He has in mind?

"But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?" -Romans 9:20-21

Pottery
Pottery by Wendy Brunson

Though ideally we will trust in the Potter to fully form us, pottery with imperfections reminds us that God can still use broken people. Not every pot is flawless but can be used nonetheless. Unlike all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, God is fully capable of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. Rather than becoming discouraged by past mistakes or shortcomings, instead allow God to use you just as you are.


Pottery
Pottery by Wendy Brunson
Once a piece of pottery is fully formed, it must be fired in a kiln to harden it and set the form. If the pottery is never fired in the kiln, it will easily become deformed. Similarly, God can use various trials in life to perfect us and make our faith stronger. While these experiences may not be pleasant, don’t be afraid to go through the firing and hardening process.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” –James 1:2-4

Even when you don’t understand, allow the Potter to mold and shape you. He knows best and has a master design that He’s crafting.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

If you'd like to order some pottery similar to the pieces pictured above, Wendy Brunson's Etsy shop can be found at the following link: Wendy Lou Pottery.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Bible Verse Song: Revelation 4:8



This song comes from Revelation 4:8 where the creatures in heaven repeat this phrase continuously.

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty
Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
Who was and is and is to come
Who was and is and is to come

Holy, Holy, you are Holy

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
Who was and is and is to come
Who was and is and is to come

Holy, Holy, you are Holy

Every knee will bow on earth and in heaven
Every tongue will praise your name
Holy, holy Lord Almighty
All the angels praise your name

Holy, Holy, you are Holy

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Father's Love

Deeper than the deepest depth
True as true can be
Faithful is the Father's love
love for you and me

From ages past and evermore
the words in red tell of
Nothing on earth will e'er compare
this matchless changeless love

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

For the Sake of the World

The presence of God is palpable on this album. Bethel Church consistently publishes worship albums of high caliber and this is no exception. For the past month it has been on repeat in my car. In addition to planned songs, there are also several tracks of spontaneous worship. Brian & Jenn Johnson and Jeremy Riddle anchor the roster with contributions from William Matthews and Stephanie Frizzell. Frizzell is very emotive in her singing and on the song "Closer" you can feel her heart as she engages with God.

The album has a mixture of songs of praise and adoration, declarations of truth, and heart cries to God. Musically the style is primarily rock oriented with a few tender songs and lots of vamping in the spontaneous worship moments. Towards the end of the album, songs such as "In Your Light," "Freedom," and "This is What You Do" taking on a more pop sound oriented towards opening a set at church rather than the deeper engaging songs in other parts of the album. Personal favorites on album are: "For the Sake of the World," "Closer," "Forgiven," "To Our God," "Everything to You," "Who You Are," and "Our Father" which is a great version of the Lord's Prayer put to music.

I highly recommend the album whether you're looking for something to facilitate personal worship time or just enjoy really good music. Check it out on Amazon at: For the Sake of the World.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

First Time at Boot Camp (or Church)

Last week I attended a boot camp fitness class after a co-worker invited me and pointed out a free trial week offer. I'd heard of it from a number of people, was curious, and I'll try almost anything once. The workout was pretty intense and caused almost every muscle group to be sore at some point during the week.

The more that I thought about it, I realized that the experience had some parallels to inviting someone to church who doesn't normally go. The first day, my friend was not able to make it so I decided not to go. "You should come to my church. It's great but I won't be there this Sunday." 

When I did attend there was the uncertainty of going somewhere new for the first time. (Not to mention that it was dark, raining, on the cool side of the thermometer, and I'm not a morning person) "Where do I park at the church? What do I wear? Where do I sit? Where’s someone I know?" Nevertheless, I found the meeting spot and got down to business with the other worker-outers. 

Then there was the terminology. Words like Tabata, AMRAP, Plank, Burpee. "Baptism, tithe, sermon, discipleship, apologetics, communion" Being the new guy, it helps to have encouragement both from the coach and if others are friendly. (i.e. pastor is friendly, others at church are welcoming) 

When you grow up in church you just natively understand certain terminology and how things work. It can be easy to forget what it’s like to be the new person or even to try something completely new and all the uncertainty that comes along with it.

Next time someone invites you to do something you’ve never done before, don’t be afraid to try it out. It might even give you a better perspective on what it’s like to go to church for the first time.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World?

Would you become a follower of Jesus if he personally came to visit you? That is exactly what is happening to many in the Muslim world. In DREAMS AND VISIONS: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World? Tom Doyle recounts the experiences of many Muslims whom Jesus has appeared to in dreams. This often creates curiosity and the desire to know more about Jesus which is much more easily facilitated with internet access and online resources available to read the Bible and learn more about who Jesus is.

It is extremely dangerous for a Muslim to become a follower of Jesus due to the potential for "honor killings" performed by family members or others against the new believer. However, the overwhelming love and peace that Jesus offers to them when juxtaposed with the sometimes controlling and fear oriented culture they live in overcomes concern of potential repercussions.

In one especially interesting story, a man becomes a follower of Jesus while on a business trip to Mecca during the Hajj. Christianity is illegal in Mecca and can be punished by death. However, he starts to explore the different places in Mecca and pray for the Muslims there. He's very surprised to meet another follower of Jesus who helps him get out of a very dangerous spot. The author also tells of others living in Mecca who study and bring Bibles into the city to give away though it is not allowed.

In another account, a woman named Dina works as a Female Secret Police agent, a group who hunts down and punishes any slips in modesty by women that go outside of Sharia law. She began watching a call in satellite TV show called Iran Alive! in which the host, Hormoz Shariat, a former Muslim encourages Muslims to follow Jesus. When she calls, she goes into diatribes against Christianity.

Hormoz says, "Dina, whenever you call me, you sound angry and filled with hatred. I think your religion produces that in you." She responds, "I can never have a better life than I have had in Islam." Hormoz says, "Oh? Has Islam brought you any particular happiness that you can point to?" She admits that she does have problems in life and says that she is going to kill herself on his show. Hormoz challenges her to give Jesus a week to answer her prayers. She reluctantly agrees but is amazed to find that her mother is healed of a very bad illness and as a result becomes a follower of Jesus and experiences incredible peace.

It is not only casual Muslims who are coming to follow Jesus, the book also tells of multiple accounts of imams believing in and following Jesus, some of whom have training from the most prestigious Islamic seminaries in the world.

Each chapter tells the story of a new Muslim and their experience with Jesus and many read like a high action thriller novel even though they are true. In addition to the personal accounts, there is also lots of information about Islam. For example, the book says that two of the countries with the most growth in followers of Christ is in Iran and Afghanistan which For example, Afghanistan and Iran have exploded in growth of new followers of Jesus within the past 10 years and is estimated to have some of the highest growth in the world.

Jesus says, Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it." -Luke 9:23-24 For the Muslim who decides to follow Jesus this is no small thing; they may very literally pay with their life.

I recommend this book if you would like to learn more about the exciting work of God and how He's started a revival among Muslims. It also helps soften one's heart for Muslims and encourages prayer for them. Check it out on Amazon at this link: DREAMS AND VISIONS: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World?

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Nothing I Want



Nothing I Want by: Andrew Allen

I'll open my heart and prepare
a quiet and simple prayer
take all of my life every part of me
Let nothing be held back from You
in all that I say and do
make idols fall down till only you remain

Jesus Christ Lord of my Life
Nothing I want can ever compare to you
Jesus Christ Lord of my Life
Nothing I want can ever compare to you

Fixing my eyes on you
the One that my heart pursues
take every distraction and let it be swept away
Heal brokenness come make me whole
Lord fill up my heart and soul
in joy let me sing forever in praise of You

Jesus Christ Lord of my Life
Nothing I want can ever compare to you
Jesus Christ Lord of my Life
Nothing I want can ever compare to you

When there's loneliness let my heart find rest
hold me so closely to you
When temptation calls and my faith feels small
help me to lean on you

Jesus Christ Lord of my Life
Nothing I want can ever compare to you
Jesus Christ Lord of my Life
Nothing I want can ever compare to you
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