Archive for March, 2012

Have you ever gotten a speeding ticket when you didn’t feel you deserved it? How about when you did deserve it, did you ever not get a speeding ticket? One day the Lord showed me the difference between His mercy and grace with a story in my mind, and I know it will encourage you!

There was a single man named John who lived in the city and his home was right next to an elementary school. Everyday he would leave his home for work and pull out of his driveway into the traffic that was full of school parents and children in order to get to his work that was thirty minutes away. He knew he could leave earlier but he had to drop his own daughter off at school because of the child being so young. He would walk his child across the street and then he would leave for his office and try to be back by the time school let out.

One afternoon being caught up at work, John realized he needed to continue the work he was doing at home so he could pick up his daughter at school. He probably left in more of a hurry than usual, because as he was going down the same highway he travels daily and not far from home, a police car pulled behind him with its lights flashing. “I was just following the traffic!”, he thought to himself as he pulled over. But when the officer walked up to his window he knew not to say anything but “Yes sir”. “Did you know you were going 70 miles per hour in a 55 zone?” ,the officer asked robotically. “No sir, I didn’t”, John replied. “Did you know your tail light is out as well “, the officer sounding put out. ” No sir I didn’t”, John  said, now trying to calculate in his head the expense of these two mistakes. “I need to see your license and insurance ,so wait here and I will be back” , the large police man said. John placed his head on the steering wheel while cars zoomed past going at least 70 miles per hour, or so he thought. Fifteen minutes later, with no facial expression whatsoever, the officer handed him back his license and insurance and a warning and said “Make sure you fix your tail light and have a nice day!”

Disturbed by his delay, John’s thoughts were completely on his daughter now and he called from his car knowing the school would place her in an after class program but hated the thought of her not knowing why and where her daddy was! Before he could get off the cell with the school, he was pulling close. There wasn’t near the traffic as normal, so he knew he was really late. So little traffic in fact, that while on his cell and in an effort to get there, he didn’t realize he was going 40 miles per hour in a school zone. Once again those familiar lights began flashing behind him and once again a police car was pulling him over. So John pulled directly into the school parking lot where his daughter and her teacher were waiting for him near the sidewalk of the front of the school. How embarrassing and expensive this will be, John was thinking! His daughter opened the passenger door and jumped inside full of joy to see her daddy, but he couldn’t concentrate on her at the moment. What was her teacher going to think?  John knew not to get out of the car when an officer pulls you over but now he was wishing he had pulled over anywhere else but there. How much could this ticket be, he thought, I was going 20 miles per hour over in a school zone, on my cell phone, with a broken tail light. Thoughts of his business, which was near bankruptcy, and his personal bank accounts ,which were all overdrawn, flooded his mind.

What seemed like hours were simply minutes and the police officer finally got out of his car and began walking towards John’s vehicle looking at his tail light. Then the police officer turned his head and began talking to his daughter’s teacher.  “What were they saying?” John thought, “Were they talking about him?”.  John’s five year old daughter never stopped talking when she entered the car and John was trying not to ignore her but pretty much had been doing that the whole time but now he was desperately trying to hear the conversation behind his vehicle! “Shh baby, daddy needs to talk to this nice policeman” John said,  as the policeman walked around the car to the driver’s side window. “John I pulled you over because you were going 40 in a school zone. I couldn’t help but notice you were on your cell phone which is against the law in a school zone and you probably know this, but your tail light is out as well.” John could only think of what prison would look like and his daughter watching the whole thing, but then the officer handed him an envelope. With a confused look on his face and his hands now shaking he opened the envelope only to find a check written out with his name for one million dollars. He recognized the last name on the check as one of his first clients in the building industry when he was building small houses, it was the same last name as the teacher. “My wife and I were going to come see you after work to give you the down payment for our dream of building a retirement center.  My dad put me in charge of the project and gave me his financial backing and since you built our first house and we still love it and now you are into bigger commercial buildings, we prayed and knew you were the right person for the job!  I’m sorry, I haven’t seen you in such a long time, you probably don’t remember who I am, because I certainly didn’t recognize you! Can we come by your office tomorrow and go over the contract?”

This story was given to me in thought but can you see how God did this for us? Do you see the first officer gave John mercy which is what everyone need?. John was doing something wrong and didn’t get what he deserved, the true definition of mercy. the second  officer gave John mercy and grace which is favor that is undeserved and what everyone wants! Most believers agree that radical grace saved them but did you know God wants you to continue in that radical grace? Paul said to continue in the grace that which saved you!  Mercy is Jesus forgiving our sins which everyone needs, but Jesus went further and overpaid for His righteousness to be ours and His Holiness to be imparted to us so that for all eternity we can have a right standing with God in Christ, that my friends is radical grace! I recently saw a vision of a tsunami hitting my life and bringing restoration instead of devastation and God showed me that was the grace that He paid for on the cross and when He said it is finished, He meant it! Do you need grace in your life today? Of course you do, he paid for it, just believe Him!

One of my favorite things to do with my kids when they were toddlers and couldn’t sit still at night for a story, was to play the guitar and let them dance before bed. I would sing praise songs and we would laugh, dance and jump on the bed. Their favorite thing was for me to stop playing and they would freeze and then I would play again. This might not have been the smartest thing as a parent, because it would get them all riled up before bed but often times it would wear them out and we had fun doing it! When I was a child living in Papua New Gunea, as a missionary kid, I remember worship was my favorite time of church! It might have had something to do with the preaching being an hour  to two hours long but I remember the worship being long as well. Picture two thousand natives jumping straight up and down in a church and me, the only little white boy dancing away on the front aisle with his sister and parents. To me as a child, worship was the only time in church I could express myself fully. The church I attend now, few adults jump or dance except for the people on stage because of room constraint. However when I get home with my kids and have the praise and worship pumping in the living room, “Soul train” has just begun! So you may ask yourself, “how do I teach my children to worship, I don’t play guitar or sing?”. Let me just say this, You may not be a worship leader or a Bible scholar, but please know Jesus calls you qualified to teach your children.

You might not enjoy dancing with your kids or even loud music, but did you know God doesn’t define worship as music or dancing? When Jesus was at the well with the Samaritan woman, He said He was looking for those who worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. So for years I would pray to God asking that I could worship Him in Spirit and Truth, because I knew that we should offer our bodies a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to God because this is our spiritual act of worship. Then one morning as I was worshipping God in my living room with the stereo blaring, He reminded how easy it was for me or anyone to worship Him in Spirit and Truth. He told me it was like breathing, it is so easy and believers don’t know they are doing it. Paul said we are crucified in Christ and no longer live but Christ lives in us. Sounds like a living sacrifice to me, do you think maybe Jesus was looking for people to believe in Him and called them worshippers?  Did you know when we accepted Christ we were born again? Our new self began to breathe(worship)! Now, you are welcome to take as many classes on breathing as you like, but your children know how to breathe and just remember back to when you first got saved did someone need to teach you to express your gratitude towards God in worship? No you had breathing down and loved it because you once had been dead in darkness (unable to breathe) but now you are alive in Christ!

I have friends that teach about worship and to me it is really exciting and I enjoy learning everything the Bible has to say about it.  But think about how a doctor could make different types of breathing so technical and sound so difficult, especially for kids. For example: “The diaphragm is a large muscle located between the chest and the abdomen. When it contracts it is forced downward causing the abdomen to expand. This causes a negative pressure within the chest forcing air into the lungs. The negative pressure also pulls blood into the chest improving the venous return to the heart.  ”  (Wow, after that I’m not sure I could breathe if someone asked me to)  Think about how many classes and books are taught on how to worship God. Please hear my heart in that I believe we should study to understand the old testament and the new testament and it is one of my favorite things to do. But also know your Bible says we are the temple of the living God, so we don’t have to go to church to worship Him or have a certain song playing. He is always right there with us! We are seated in Heavenly places with Him. He says  for us and our children to come boldly before the throne of grace and how do we do that if we tell our children to overthink what He created us to do. By the way,  the greatest  spiritual worship I have ever experienced is living life with my family!  Well Brandon, you just haven’t been in the right worship service because one time I heard angels sing and everyone in the room saw Jesus and they were healed!  Wow that is awesome, one time I cleaned the whole house and my wife walked in surprised and she had to take her shoes off because she was standing on holy ground. She saw Jesus standing there with a dishtowel over his shoulder and the kids were tucked in bed early and let me tell you my friend, angels sang that night as well, because momma was happy! Now you may laugh but some of my most intimate times in expressing my love to Jesus is when I clean for my wife. Worship is an expression and I know that when I cook or clean for my wife and family, I am putting actions (expressions) to my love for Jesus.

I try and make it a point to acknowledge my kids when I see them worshipping God in many different ways but I miss alot of those times and so will you. Just be confident that Jesus sees your children and will reward them and encourage them as well. I have been in over a hundred different churches all over the world, because of my parents ministry and my own, leading worship and being a part of it, but every church worships differently and they all think they do it better or more than the next church, but remember the next time you are bragging about how well your church worships or your children worship, God is probably smiling because He knows it is as easy as breathing and comes natural to every born again believer!