Reflections & Introspection, That'll Preach Sayings, Worship & Prayer

and if not…

24 May , 2017  

— LORD —
Even if today didn’t go as planned,
and if it’s not at all what I hoped for,
and if we’re not yet quite what we hoped,
and if I’m not yet quite “there yet”,
and if life’s not unfolding to our Plans
and if the diagnosis is not great
and if the forecast is not good
and if not… and if not… and if not… 

YOU STILL ARE.  You still are GOOD and still GOD… even if it all goes well.
And I will be the person who will still… rest in you.
The person who will still worship during the darkness of night.

“and if not — He is still Good. He is still God… He is still faithful. So I’ll just trust wholeheartedly, wait faithfully, and keep moving forward towards Jesus.” IT IS WRITTEN, AMEN! – inspired by Daniel 3:17-18

//

Definitely learned this one over the years… Jesus is still good and faithful despite it all.

 

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Guest Post, Reflections & Introspection, That'll Preach Sayings

Authentic Love for People

4 Apr , 2017  

Guest Blogger, Michael Vanden Berge shares some candid thoughts on authentic love.

If I talk a lot about God, the Bible, and Church, but I fail to ask about other people’s needs, I’m simply making a lot of empty religious noise. If I graduate from theological seminary and know all the answers to questions you’ll never even think of asking, and if I have all the degrees to prove it … and if I say I believe in God with all my heart, soul, and strength, claiming to have incredible answers to my prayers, but I fail to take the time to find out what makes others laugh and why they cry, I’m nothing. If I sell an extra car and some of my books to raise money for poor starving kids somewhere, and if I give my life for God’s service and burn out after pouring everything I have into the work, but do it all without ever once caring about the people, the real hurting people—the moms and dads and sons and daughters and orphans and widows and the lonely and forgotten—if I pour my life into the Kingdom but forget to love those here on earth, my energy is wasted, and so is my life.

Here is what love is like … genuine love. God’s kind of love. It’s patient. It can wait. It helps others, even if they never find out who assisted them. Love doesn’t look for greener pastures. Love doesn’t boast. It doesn’t try to build itself up to be something it isn’t. Love doesn’t act in a loose, immoral way. It doesn’t seek to take, but it willingly gives. Love doesn’t lose its temper. It doesn’t keep changing its mind. Love doesn’t think about how difficult the other person is, and certainly, doesn’t think of how it could get back at someone. Love is grieved deeply over the evil in this world, but it rejoices over truth. Love comes and sits with you when you’re feeling down and finds out what is wrong. It empathizes with you and believes in you. Love knows you’ll come through just as God planned, and love carries on to the end. It doesn’t give up, quit, diminish, or go home.
Love perseveres, even when everything goes wrong and the feelings leave and the other person doesn’t seem as special anymore. Love succeeds 100 percent of the time.

That, my friend, is what genuine love is.
My friend lets pour out His love onto others. Let’s make Jesus look good, for he is that good.

Love is grieved deeply over the evil in this world, but it rejoices over truth. Click To Tweet

Michael Vanden Berge - Authentic Love

Michael Vanden Berge, Reaching the Hungry, Missionary. Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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Guest Post, Randomness, Reflections & Introspection, Worship & Prayer

Worship: It’s not always what you think!

27 Mar , 2017  

Guest Blogger, Lucas Lash shares his thoughts on Worship…

What is worship? How and why should we even worship in the first place? Worship is a necessary part not only in church but in our very own relationships with God. Every day, each one of us worships something, whether you believe in God or not. Sometimes we don’t even intend to, but by how we think and how we use our time, we are always focused on something. It’s easy to get misled and worship those things, and by this I mean we tend to get distracted by so many things we come across in our daily lives. We go to school, we go to work, some of us have kids, or we are focusing all our attention on our boyfriend or girlfriend or even our spouses. Our schedules are so full and we cram so many things into our days that we don’t prioritize the time necessary to worship God and spend time with Him. That is crucial for our relationship with Jesus, and I’m guilty of the same thing sometimes. We fill our plate with work, sports, family or friends, and all those things are great and God blesses us with those things, but I think Jesus deserves a little more than the 5 or 10 minutes a day and then moving to the next thing on our schedule.

I wanted to spend some time pondering the question of why we should even worship God in the first place. It seems like such a small question in our faith, but it really is very significant to remember why you are worshipping God. I want to share a verse that has definitely been one of my favorites ever since I first heard it. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” If you’re a Christian, then you believe Jesus died for your sins, to take the full penalty and weight of your sin and endure the wrath of God so that we don’t have to. It’s very simple, but every time I spend time thinking about this truth it breaks me down and brings me back to the simplicity of why I am a Christian. I chose to follow Jesus because I have witnessed the love God has for all of us, and I want to share that with others and give back to God all that I have. That’s why I worship, and really it’s the only reason we should worship God. Not out of a state of fear or pressure, but out of a revelation of God’s faithfulness and love. Jesus came down to this earth and endured all the pain and suffering that we really can’t even imagine, and Philippians 2:8 says this, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” I think that is amazing. Jesus was God and He came down to this earth because He loves us, and died the death we deserve, all because He wanted to spend eternity with you and I. So again I come back to the question, “Why should we even worship God?” Well, because I believe He deserves it. He deserves every piece of me; my heart, and my life. And for what God has done for you and me, and what He is doing for us each day, I will worship Him and tell the world how awesome and great He is.

I chose to follow Jesus because I've witnessed the love God has for all of us, and I want to share that with others... Click To Tweet

When you look around the world at different cultures and religions, you see different ideas of worship and what it looks like to worship. The question of how we should worship is a strange one, but I think it’s important to talk about. Each of us are very different people, but we all have the common goal and intention of worshipping a God who deeply loves us. How we worship Him will look totally and completely different. God created us to be unique individuals, He doesn’t want us all worshipping the same way and doing the exact same thing as the next guy. He doesn’t want us to raise our arms just because everyone else is doing it, or fall on our knees at the altar just because it looks like a more meaningful experience. God simply wants us to let our walls down and fully accept His love. Once we do that, we feel that incredible comfort and peace that only comes from Him. We let everything down, and open our heart to God, and in response to that, we worship. We thank Him. We praise Him and show Him how grateful and humbled we are. Showing God our gratitude and showing Him love can come in different forms, and as I said before, it will always look different for each of us. For me, my favorite ways to worship God and to praise Him is through playing music and playing drums. I’m one of the drummers for my church praise band, and I do it because I love God, want to make music for His glory, and of course, because I love playing drums! I love skateboarding and doing art, and those things are even considered worship when you do them with the intention of bringing God glory. Each of us has passions and things we love doing, and that’s great! God gives us these desires and fires us up to do things because He wants us to be happy and enjoy this life, but He also wants us to use those passions to grow the Kingdom, reach those around us, and glorify the God who made us.

Worship is such an integral part of our relationship with God. It’s a way for us to communicate back to Him our response to His love. I definitely think He is worthy of it. Worship looks different for each of us, and I believe that’s exactly what God wants. Worship isn’t always through music or singing but it’s the way we live our lives and what we choose to focus on or direct our attention to. Worship is an amazing thing, and God is always ecstatic to hear your voice, to see your heart and your actions bringing glory to the Kingdom. He is and always will be worthy of our praise.

Worship isn't always through music/singing but it's the way we live our lives & what we focus on Click To Tweet

Lucas Lash _ WorshipLucas Lash is a 23-year-old who currently lives in Wichita, KS. His hobbies include drumming, art and design, skateboarding, and running his faith-based clothing brand “Urban Society Co.

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The Road Not Taken

Leadership, Randomness, Reflections & Introspection, Student Ministry, That'll Preach Sayings

The Road Not Taken

21 Mar , 2017  

***Posted this on my Facebook last Friday and wanted to go into some more detail.***

When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God DID NOT LEAD them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the SHORTEST route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” — Exodus 13:17

Sometimes the shortest distance and timeframe is not the best. A wise person once said,”if it’s easy to obtain, it’s easy to lose.” If the people would have gone on the main road (shortest distance) towards the promise land, they would have been easier to spot from Pharaoh… hence face opposition and return to slavery. Often times, the waiting process or journey proves the character and integrity not just of the person, but of the calling.

Young Person & Leaders – Our calling is worth the extra mile… worth not shortcutting or cheating our way, worth the necessary process, and worth the learning experiences. We have a God who will lead us and direct the path. Trust the narrow road he has us on. Psalm 16:11 & Psalm 37:4-5 proves so true, in times of doubt, struggle and taking the “main road” of life.

The waiting process proves the character & integrity not just of the person, but of the calling. Click To Tweet

This reminds me of my favorite poem by Robert Frost entitled “The Road Not Taken.” I wonder how easy it would have been for the people of Israel to take the main road. How much time it would have saved them. I think often how easy it is for us today to go the simple and easy route in life. Life usually presents us with 2 choices – the choice of ease and the less resistance or the choice risk and pressure.

I love how even in Robert’s poem at the end he says, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” This man is faced with a decision to either go where few have been or trot down the beaten path. His decision was to choose the road that only a few have gone, and for him, that made all the difference.

Whatever journey in life you are on… know that God is with you and he has you on the best path for your benefit and for his glory.

Life usually presents us with 2 choices - the choice of ease or the choice risk! Click To Tweet

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Set My Heart

Randomness, Reflections & Introspection, Worship & Prayer

Set My Heart – 2017 Anthem

7 Feb , 2017   Video

I believe I’ve found my anthem for the year…. absolutely LOVE THIS SONG, Set My Heart by Vertical Church Band! Nothing communicates my heart in this moment and season of life than this….

“Quiet the voice of doubt again,

Echo within me every promise,

Let your Word be louder than my fears.

Speak to the void when I can’t see,

Lift up my head in every valley,

Let your joy be greater than my grief.

I have set my heart,

Set my, set my heart on You.

You have every part of me,

I set my heart on You.

 

Nothing will ever break me, ever slay me, all my hope in you.

Nothing will ever shake me, overtake me, all my hope in you.”

Words cannot express what this song is ministering to me even now as I write this journal. My one focus this year is on Jesus and making his name and glory famous. So I will set my heart to pursue him more intently and fervently. I am eagerly excited to see what God does in me and through me as I continue to lean on his Spirit and draw closer to him. I am believing that 2017 will be a landmark year for me in ministry and in my personal life.

*** Watch the video above or click here ***

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Leadership

BOLD. AUDACIOUS. FRUIT

5 Jan , 2017  

So 2017 is here and I am praying for the biggest and most God-filled season of ministry I have ever had to happen. 2016 year started off a little rough, due to some unforeseen incidents, but progressively got better since March. I did the most traveling and speaking I have ever done in one year from April to November. I’ve spoken at some school assemblies, some conferences, preached 10x @ a week-long Summer camp in MI, traveled/preached in Austin, TX and Kansas City, MO amongst other things.

“Take a leap of faith and begin this wondrous new year by believing. Believe in yourself. And believe that there is a loving Source – a Sower of Dreams – just waiting to be asked to help you make your dreams come true.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach

I am praying and asking God for these things this year — and know God will exceed these goals. I have really been praying the Prayer of Jabez (1 Chronicle 4:9-10) over my life and 3 main goals for my ministry, Awaken This Heart. This year the goal is to:

  • travel and speak/minister outside the US
  • See at least 100 salvations and baptisms
  • Strategic Partner with more ministries and pastors (coaching/consulting and speaking opportunities)

To prepare for this, I will be doing a fast, starting next week. I am asking all my friends, supporters and partners to join me in prayer daily for me and the ministry. Some key things to pray for:

  •  the 3 goals mentioned above
  • awakening/revival to break out wherever I go. (believing for a movement of God to break out in this generation. A Joel 2 revival movement and outpouring)
  • financial blessing (it takes financial means to travel and minister)
  • Ephesians 3:16-21 to happen in my life and in the lives of those participating in prayer and/or the fast.
“When you seek God with fasting added with prayer, you cannot see his face in vain…” – John Wesley

Leadership, That'll Preach Sayings

The Pain That Change

17 Nov , 2016  

Over the last 12 years in ministry, I have faced the dreaded pain of life. The Pain of death, failure, betrayal, and lack.  This pain cuts deep but was a part of the process, that God has me on. Pain is a part of ministry and leadership. It’s a reality that must work its course. If you are drawing breath right now, you will go through some kind of pain.

It’s not easy to deal with but it is needed for the journey God wants to take us on. It teaches us wisdom, resiliency, faith, hope and to have tough skin. The necessity of pain is shaped by our experiences in life. Pain doesn’t just show up for no reason; it’s a sure sign that something needs to change.

We have all heard of the old saying that “what doesn’t kill us, only makes us stronger,” or “pain is gain” — both are true and Biblical. A.W. Tozer says it this way about pain and trials of life:

“It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.”

There was a man in the Bible who was all too familiar with pain, anguish, and the tears of life. This man found himself in a garden alone, after living a holy and blameless life, betrayed by a friend and tired. He spent that time in the garden crying and feeling the proverbial weight on his shoulders as he will soon carry the sins of mankind upon his back. Knowing fully well that his father for a moment would turn his back on him and his impending death for a crime he did not commit was near. This man, of course, is Jesus and this reality surrounds his death by crucifixion. But it lends us 1st hand experience into how to deal with pain.

Pain will either propel you to your destiny or cripple you in being stagnant…  the choice in how you respond is solely yours. Jesus could have decided that he wasn’t going to endure the cross (pain). He could have allowed his flesh and human nature to take over his deity. We know with any doubt that if this choice was made, he would have never reached his full earthly potential and destiny (earthly – to atone for sin as the perfect sacrifice, making us sons & daughters of God, the Father).

Practical Ways to Deal With Pain

  1. Identify what or who caused the Pain – was it a boss, parent, friend, an ex, health issues, a death, an accident, yourself?
  2. Seek to understand how you can grow from the Pain – will I grow as a leader, employee, spouse, OR has this happened so I can chase my dream or fulfill my purpose?
  3. Honor the Pain (probably the hardest part) – can you see the good in the Pain and/or even thank the person or thing that cause the pain? This is for you, and not the other person.
  4. MOVE FORWARDsimply embrace the change and growth from the pain! Pray and rejoice in who God is shaping you to become.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 | That’s why we are not discouraged. No, even if outwardly we are wearing out, inwardly we are being renewed each and every day. This light, temporary nature of our suffering is producing for us an everlasting weight of glory, far beyond any comparison, because we do not look for things that can be seen but for things that cannot be seen. For things that can be seen are temporary, but things that cannot be seen are eternal.

1 Peter 4:12-13 | Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange was happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

2 Corinthians 7:8-11 | For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while.  As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.  For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point, you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.

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Leadership, Mind Dumps, Reflections & Introspection, That'll Preach Sayings

Worth It All

26 Oct , 2016  

Two hundred and fifty… that’s 2-5-0. 250 rejection emails. About 5 years ago, I wrote a blog/journal entry about Rejection being my biggest weakness/struggle and learning how to deal with it. Over these 5 years, I have received 250+ emails (sitting in a folder marked “I’m Weak, That’s Okay“) of rejection, with 50 coming since March when I resigned my position in Kalamazoo, MI. That is just emails and not including phone calls, unanswered/unresponded applications or snail mail.  I think for me, what’s hard to come to terms with is that while I know it’s not personal, just business & “ministry” — I still take it personally and feel the weight of it all. And while encouragement from friends & family is needed and good, at times it’s not what I want at the moment. For me personally, I am looking for someone to simply respond beyond church rhetoric & Christianese.

If I hear another person say, “well it wasn’t meant to be, God has a better plan!” I am going to go crazy. Duh!!! I am fully aware that God is in control AND I know what the Bible says. Where has the Church gone wrong with all this Christian “pharisaical” babble. Whatever happened to weeping with those who weep and laughing with those who laugh. Our job is to encourage, and not to say stupid things that really doesn’t help people’s situation!!! We cannot lose our compassion in an effort to handout Bible verses. We have to be better listeners and show grace & love in how we respond. Without grace & love, these Bible verses are merely words on paper, filled with confused noise.

I have come to grips that man’s rejection only means that God has something bigger, better and beneficial for me! I have been in a season (for awhile) where God has been teaching, renewing and redefining who He is as a Father and what true faith is. Not this simple level of faith that we hear talked about but a deeper & stronger level of faith, that is actually lived out.

Back at the beginning of March, I remember sitting at conference table with 4 of my friends (pastors, lead staff @ the church in Michigan) letting them know of my church resignation (due to things on their end) and feeling the sting, weight, and emptiness of leaving people I love. In those moments, I was very emotional and had a lot of questions, doubts of calling, loneliness and uncertainty. That moment then has turned into this moment now 6 months later! Same questions, same thoughts, and same emotions. These were people who I had left my family/friends back in Atlanta, went broke to relocate, and became a part of their life. Their family/friends became mines, I engaged in their culture and trusted wholeheartedly. And at that table, that day in March, all I could think about were these questions to God: “What was the purpose?“, “Are we they YET?”, and “What & where is the Good being worked out?” // Through no fault of my own, I felt the full weight of rejection even though I wasn’t rejected. An all too familiar pain that is deep. And now once again, I’m feeling the weight of it all and simply just tired. Tired of the ups & downs, tired of the struggle, tired of the no’s, tired of the pain… just tired!

This isn’t a journal to get you and even myself into all the feels.. just me expressing what’s in my heart and getting it off of my chest. In this, I feel like Joseph. A man who had a vision from the Lord but was rejected by his family. He too gets pull out of the pit and placed in prosperity only to have that taken from him. Due to no fault of his own, he ends up in jail. In jail, after being rejected by people he helped, he has another vision interpreting the King’s dream. From there, he is propelled out of the jail to the #2 person in charge of an entire kingdom/country and saves the same family who rejected him. The main verse I got out of this reality of Joseph was simply this:

As for you, you meant evil against me, BUT GOD MEANT IT FOR GOOD, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. – Genesis 50:20

I am eagerly awaiting God’s promotion and trajectory into His glorious splendor he has for me. Until then, I wait patiently with joyful courage, working on my character, learning life’s lessons, continuing in love & grace and speaking of Jesus. Psalm 105:19 says this, “Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the LORD tested Joseph’s _______  character.” Beloved, you and I are the blank. Whatever you are going through… trust that he is working out the details. If he promised it to you, know that his heart equals his hand.

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. -Proverbs‬ ‭16:9‬

And so, I said all this to say… I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S NEXT. I don’t know if ministry vocationally is where God wants me. My trust is in that what & where ever the Lord leads, it will be WORTH IT ALL.  Every pit, every jail/prison experience, and every situation are worth it all in the grand scheme of things that the Lord has for me. For he who promised is faithful! 

Guest Speaking, Leadership

Speaking Engagement: Vertical Chapel – Buda, TX

18 Aug , 2016  

Super pumped and stoked to be in Buda, Texas (Austin metro) all next week hanging with the team at Vertical Chapel. I’ll be speaking Aug 28th at their students ministry’s Back-2-School Event and the 1st ever MOTION NIGHT. This is a huge deal as they enter into a new season of ministry and service unto the Lord and for their community. Cannot wait to bring a great message and build relationships. From what I know, this church and it’s student ministry are contending for revival and holy movement of Jesus to be established in the church and in their community. I just love Pastors Shawn Cooper & Jason Eaton hearts and vision.. so there is nothing like being around people who are hungry for God and impacting their community/city.

For more on this church, please go here: Vertical Chapel.  And more information on the is event, please go here: MOTION NIGHT

 

MR_Corey_Gibson

 

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Student Ministry, Worship & Prayer

My 5 Core Values|Main Focuses in Ministry

20 Jun , 2016  

I get asked often what’s my core values or main foci in ministry… So here they go! No particular order

  1. Worship & Prayer
  2. Teachings (Large Groups, Camps/Conferences)
  3. Discipleship (Small Groups, 1-on-1, )
  4. Service & Community Outreach (Evangelism, Missions, Fellowship)
  5. The Next Generation (Leadership Training with Interns/Volunteers)

Here’s my philosophy in ministry as well