Walking By the Spirit

I find it so interesting the older I get and the more I read the Bible, the more hungry I become to learn and grow in the ways that Jesus taught. My standard M.O. is I will read a passage, a chapter, a story, etc. and it will get stuck in my head. I will mull it over in my brain throughout the day and into what becomes days of processing. Usually the Holy Spirit will use other circumstances and people to speak a very similar message in a slightly different way causing me to look at all angles of the idea or thought. Such a thought entered my mind last week when I was reading Acts (specific passage to come later).

When Jesus died and His Father raised Him from the dead, he made this statement to His disciples…

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the [a]Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you].

John 16:7 AMP

Jesus left so the Holy Spirit could come and journey with us through this life. Ensuring we had the help and guidance along the way to meet His purpose and accomplish the works the Father created for us before we were even born…IF we choose to be obedient and open ourselves up to host the presence of the Spirit of God. Every Christian denomination believes in the Holy Spirit in some capacity; it is one of those absolutes of our faith. There are many interpretations and doctrines throughout the denominations that attempt to capture the Holy Spirit and His purpose. I am not confident any of them or any of us as individuals capture His essence and purpose well enough, because honestly, how to describe and capture the Spirit of God in words completely. I do not think you can and I believe that is part of the mystery of God. We can only know the Holy Spirit if we invite Him to journey with us in every area of our life and even then, it is a journey of mystery where you discover more of Him every single day.

There is a specific section of Acts that the Lord used to once again demonstrate to me the significance of His Spirit and challenge me to continue to let go of my perceived control and open myself up in a deeper manner to His guidance. Acts chapter 10 tells the story of Cornelius and the Apostle Peter; for the sake of space, I will include the link here to read the chapter. Ask for the Lord to guide you and then read the full chapter if you have time. Acts Chapter 10

Everything that takes place in this chapter is due to obedience and faith in the Holy Spirit; it is pretty incredible when you sit down and put yourself in the shoes of the people in the story. I want to walk you through a few observations.

  • Cornelius – He was Roman Centurion or as I understand it the commander of about a 100 men. Caesar was god in the Roman Empire, but Cornelius was different and worshiped the True God. He feared God and gave charitably to the Jewish people.
  • Cornelius had a vision where the Lord told him to find Peter who was staying with a man named Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea. Invite him to your house.
  • Cornelius sent 2 of his servants or Roman Soldiers to find Peter.
  • Peter (missionary to Jews only at this point) all of sudden got hungry and as he was waiting for food he fell into a trance and had a vision.
  • The Lord told Peter to kill and eat all sorts of animals. To which Peter said no, I have followed Jewish law all my life.
  • The Lord told Peter what I have made clean is good for you to eat. The Lord showed Peter this vision 3 times, because we all know Peter is stubborn and needs to hear things 3 times…I think my name may be Peter too, haha.
  • Peter was trying to figure this out when the Lord told him to go down stairs because there are people waiting for him there.
  • Peter left with the men and they went to the house of Cornelius where Peter offered the Gospel message.
  • As Peter was speaking the Holy Spirit fell and all of Cornelius’ household was baptized in the Holy Spirit, thus confirming to Peter and eventually the whole church that God wanted the Gospel to go to every person including all gentiles.

This story is one of the coolest stories and examples in the Bible of who the Holy Spirit is and what He can accomplish with individuals who are devoted to following the path of the Lord. Throughout this story, the Holy Spirit speaks through visions, guides the footsteps, directs multiple individuals in different areas to converge on one house whom the Father loves and wants to pour out His Spirit on. There is no research on which is the best road to take, what restaurant we should stop by, it is simply 2 individuals seeking God and being available to the Spirit of God. There is no way for me to put into words the desire that arrises in my heart when I read this passage. I can only say I want to make myself available to be a host for the Holy Spirit in such a significant way that he directs every action I take so His will and purpose can be demonstrated and achieved in my life. I don’t want to strive, I don’t want to guess, I don’t want to follow the desires of the flesh, I only want to do what the Father does and say what the Father tells me to …

How can we as the Body of Christ begin to host the Holy Spirit in our lives in a greater capacity? How can we let go of our plans and allow the Holy Spirit to achieve His plans through us? How can we stop saying the words of the flesh in favor of only saying what the Father asks of us…to speak words of grace, mercy, love, encouragement, etc? How can we break down the box we have built around the person of the Holy Spirit, you know the one that say He can’t do that or He doesn’t do that any more? How do we, most of all, let go of our pride and our concern for what people might think if we fully surrender to the Holy Spirit?

I don’t know about you and your family, but for me and my family I want to experience what Peter and Cornelius experienced; the active guidance of the Holy Spirit that led to God’s Spirit being poured out on Cornelius’ entire family and more.

What will you change today to begin the process of hosting the Holy Spirit in your life?

I love you…may you be blessed today in the name of Jesus!

Scott

Encouraging Communities

I read this somewhere and I have been pondering it ever sense. I cannot remember the author, but know this thought sparked from someone else willing to share their journey. It went something like this but definitely adapted to my own journey; my 20’s I spent seeking mentors and people who could help me be the best and most successful person I could, in my 30’s I spent a lot of time wanting to be like those people and this went even in my 40’s a bit. I spent way too much time trying to be something that someone else wanted me to be, to my own and my family’s detriment. For the last 3 years, I have had a single focus in this area…working hard at being who I was created to be and surrounding myself with healthy and whole people who want the same for me.

What do those people and communities look like? Every 2nd Wednesday I get on a video call with 4 other people who love each other for who they are and simply want the best for one another. We have coined this group “The Jesus People Team”. Today we added a 5th and she was a wonderful addition to our morning video group.

During this morning’s meeting one of our amazing friends brought up the Litany of Humility, which I have never heard before. It is a prayer of humility that is designed to be stated and responded to by the congregation. It struck me in a powerful way this morning, which I will explain in a minute and why it is so important to our community.

Lord Jesus. Meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

Did you know we were made for community, we were made for deep relationships, we were made to walk the paths of life with family, friends, and brothers and sisters who share our faith in Jesus.

— Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930)

Humility is a hard thing, because we all have an inner need to be encouraged, to be loved, to be validated, to be included, etc. This brings me to why I love this community…

  • We encourage one another – There no need to seek it, because we love each other and encourage one another.
  • We love one another – There is no need to seek it, because you know you are loved by each another.
  • We approve of one another – We are diverse and unique but each person knows the other person approves of them.
  • We honor one another – There is no need to seek it, because we choose to focus on each others strengths and gifts…honoring those things instead of the shortcomings and weaknesses.
  • We choose one another – There is no need to seek attention, because we have all chosen to spend this hours with one another every single month.
  • There is no fear of ridicule because we love one another and provide support and encouragement.
  • There is freedom to be open and honest with our weaknesses because their is only love, support, and prayer for one another.
  • There is no fear of rebuke, because it is done in love.
  • There is no fear of what others are thinking, because we all have the best intentions for one another and there is no manipulation.

We are a diverse group of Jesus Followers; Catholic, Reformed, Pentecostal, etc…we have chosen to find unity and friendship in the absolutes of our faith and not be concerned with all the little differences. We truly do have unity in our diversity because we are all on the same journey…seeking out the heart of Jesus for each other, our families, our work lives, and every area of our life!

The Litany of Humility struck me this morning, because although we all may struggle with some of the things, the Lord has surrounded me with people that help me not struggle with those things very much, because I am surrounded by people who love me and want the best for me.

Do you have that family, do you have a community of people who help you be the best you can possibly be? Stop seeking out people you inspire to be like and seek out healthy people who inspire you to be the person you were created to be!

I love you, blessings.

Scott

Recognizing His Path…

Yesterday morning I was sitting in Church reading and praying. I was reading in John and when I read 12:37, something struck me. “But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in Him.” People witnessed amazing miracles; eyes opened, the deaf hearing again, forgiveness of sin, and the dead rising…how could you not believe when you witness so many miracles. One of the answers is the Jewish leaders had fabricated a picture of what the messiah would look like, the kind of actions he would take when he arrived, and plainly Jesus did not meet their expectations so they chose not to believe. The Messiah had come, He wasn’t what they wanted, so they decided to kill him and wait for the real one. There are a host of other reasons they did not recognize the messiah; pride, sin, self created law, hearts hardened, etc. but this one struck me personally.

How do I protect myself from fabricating a picture in my head about the way things should go and then completely miss God’s blessing because it did not look like what I thought it would?

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

– John 16:33 NLT

Danielle and I made a pretty significant decision in our lives recently, one that many probably do not understand. It was a decision that came from literally 6-7 months of prayer and seeking wisdom. It was a decision that we had to come to agreement apart from one another as to ensure we were both seeking the Lord independently. On the morning of December 15th, the Lord made it plain to Danielle and I independently of one another, that it was the day. So we took action.

Fast forward 3 weeks and we begin a new season, we start a 21 day fast with our church family, and Danielle and I are at the church each morning from 6-8 to pray. rather than try to write this in paragraph form I am just going to give you a quick bullet pointed list.

  • Danielle catches a cold, virus or something.
  • I bend over and hurt my lower back – I do not have back problems and I do not deal with pain very well.
  • Danielle and I are sitting in church praying the next day and I ask the Lord to please heal my back. Literally the feeling of electricity shoots through my lower back and I stand up from my seat with no pain. HOLY CRAP, Praise Jesus!
  • Sidney catches a virus – She is never sick and doesn’t do sick well.
  • Sidney’s ear is plugged and she is experiencing sharp pain – Danielle prays for her and the pain goes away and hasn’t returned…again, Praise Jesus!
  • Danielle flies to Denver for a conference…excited for her, but man I love her and hate being apart.
  • I catch the virus and am not feeling well…Yes, I am your typical “man-cold” kind of guy.
  • Sidney is still not feeling well and both eyes turn pink…ugh.
  • Sidney is completely sick of being sick – how do I know it is bad, because she now doesn’t mind me giving her hugs and praying over her…even though inside she secretly loves these things.
  • Riley is healthy, but like me, she struggles when we are not around people. Being homebound is kind of like torture for us.

Thankfully today is now Saturday and Danielle is coming home! Why do I walk you through all of this? This is exactly how I protect myself from missing my Father’s good and perfect plans. I know, because His Word tells me, this walk of faith will always come with trials, it is not a clear and perfect path. Our walk will have many ups and downs and for the very reason I know the trials and frustrations are like lamp posts on the path the Lord is calling us to follow. He is good and faithful and longs for us to rely on Him through this journey. The journey will at times throw more at us than what we can handle, it will seem overwhelming, and as if we made the wrong decisions at times. But, we hold fast to what the Lord has spoken and what He has written, and we take one step at a time. We praise Him in the good and we praise Him in the bad, because we are confident in every situation He will show up!

And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.

– Romans 8:28 Amp

So my question to you is…How do you ensure you do not miss what the Lord has for you based on a false perception you have created?

Blessings,

Scott

Learning to Listen Better

When Danielle and I started our life together on July 10th 1999, we committed to follow the Lord wherever He took us. As many of you know that not so little commitment has meant a few moves and a little uncertainty. It has resulted in many people misunderstanding us and at the same time me struggling because I care a little too much what others think. Although that will most likely be a challenge I deal with the remaining years of my life, the Lord has brought me to a place where I know the only opinion that really matters, is His. He is my Rock and my Salvation and the majority of our listening energy needs to be turned towards Him.

Listening is a funny thing for me…I love to listen to people; allowing them the opportunity to be heard and valued. We all need more of that. But when it comes to listening to my Heavenly Father, I listen with the anticipation of a little boy opening up His first big present on Christmas…He opens it up and then forgets there is more! When I hear the Lord, I stop listening and get to work. In doing so I may miss anything else He has for me until a later date.

I was praying at church this morning for a few hours. His challenge to me was to shut up and simply listen. Read his word, sit in silence, and just listen for His voice. Do you know how hard it is for me to sit still for 10 minutes, let alone 2 hours to LISTEN??? As soon as I heard a word, or read something significant my mind immediately went to what can I do with this little piece of wisdom? Then I remembered, stop, continue to read, and keep listening.

This season of the journey starts with listening; listening to what the Father says through His Word, listening to what the Holy Spirit is speaking and listening to what the world needs…a Savior who can remove all fear of death and uncertainty.

The challenge….

What is the Bible saying to you? Are you reading it?

What is the Holy Spirit speaking to you? If you put your faith in Jesus, then the Holy Spirit dwells in you and longs to commune with you…just listen.

What is the world saying to you? Remember we typically act out when we are scared, hurt, lonely, and desperate for help. Our world is experiencing the symptoms of an orphan spirit…it needs the Love of the Father that is in you.

In John 7:24 Jesus said this…”Look below the surface so you can judge accordingly”. Just like judging, listening goes far deeper than the surface. We can only listen when we go below the surface, and look at the heart of the matter. That is why the Father hears and listens perfectly…because He knows our heart.

Father, open the ears of your people, take the scales off our eyes, help us to see the ripe fields ready for harvest and most of all…help us to fully listen and boldly take the step you call us to take today!

Blessings,

Scott

WELCOME…

Welcome to our journey. Danielle has often said that she believes our family is called to live life differently. It is true, we have lived a rather unconventional life where we have done everything we can to pursue the call our Heavenly Father has for us. As we walk into this next season, we believe we are being called to take that principle to the next level. What does that mean? Plainly, we do not know or even vaguely understand what it looks like. What we do know is life will look different and we will have many opportunities to grow in faith and service. We are going to learn how to nurture our desire and dreams to start our own businesses, support and serve one another in our dreams and aspirations in a greater capacity, and most importantly be able to serve and love the people around us in a more significant way. It is our hope that we will meet some awesome people along the way, inspire the dreams and passions in others, and selfishly… it is our prayer that we will grow in our own personal faith, stretching ourselves and relying on our Heavenly Father for our provision.

“Come, follow me”

– Jesus

There is a deep desire within us, one that is woven into the very fabric of my DNA, that longs to live as the first Apostles did. The one that prompted the disciples to drop everything when Jesus looked them in the eye, put His hand out and said, “Come, follow me.” That is our calling, to follow Him, wherever He wants to take us…

– Scott and Danielle