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A Double Celebration

This Easter is a huge double win for me thanks to a happy accident of the calendar. I get to celebrate the resurrection of my Lord and the day He redeemed me from the pit of hell and brought me into His Kingdom. Easter Sunday, April 5th, marks twenty-three years to the day that Jesus took charge of my life. Easter hasn’t been this personal in a long time.

Sunday, we will remember Jesus’ death on the cross and his triumphal resurrection as he gave His life for the sins of many and conquered death. Even more than His birth, this is the pivotal day in all of history. All of history before lead up to the cross and all of history since then has been looking back to it. Love Him or hate Him, only a fool would refuse to acknowledge the impact the Lord’s incarnation had on the world. Those three days, it all changed.

For me, the change happened at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis hotel ballroom back in ’92. To be brief, before that day, my life was a huge mess with a hodgepodge of beliefs blended into a brand of Luciferianism and my personal life an even bigger mess. I was angry, arrogant, lustful, drunk, smoker, and a whole list of other things even worse. I was evil. But, at that Amway meeting (!) so long ago, everything changed. Jesus came into my life and everything about me started to transform. I am a completely different person than I was back then and am growing into something new every day. His power, love, and grace in my life has been remaking me since that fateful day.

For many years I had a Disabled American Vets sticker on my car that proclaimed, “Freedom Isn’t Free.” I know that to be true. The price Jesus paid for my freedom, for your freedom, was greater than anything that anyone else could have paid. Only Jesus could have done it. His death and resurrection is the once and done  for anyone who will trust in Him and His love and grace.

The greatest compliment I can receive is one that points to the glory of God and his redemption. Whenever I share part of my testimony with someone and they tell me that they can’t even imagine me being the person I described, that’s a huge opportunity to share the Gospel. My continuing transformation would not have been possible or, if the truth be told, even desired. Not only has He changed me but He creates the desire to change. I wasn’t looking for Him when He found me. That gives me hope for everyone and is why I won’t ever give up sharing the Gospel. I know that no one is beyond redemption.

Celebrate Easter, celebrate Him. He’s worth it.

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Baptisms and The Big Why

This morning at Rock Church where the Lovely Bride and I have been going while preparing to launch Freedom Church, they were having a vision and baptismal service. I’m already familiar with the simple vision of RC and have used a great deal of it as a model for FC so that part wasn’t news to me. It’s clear, simple to understand, and implemented with gusto. Today’s baptism service is the result or that vision.

As I’ve grown in Christ, I’ve found that my emotions are closer to the surface than they used to be and I am moved by things that would have never even hit my radar pre-Christ. Today’s baptisms were a prime example. More than once I found tears welling up in my eyes not of sorrow but of joy. The greatness of the celebration in Heaven mirrored by the joy in my heart expressed itself in complex and powerful emotions. Joy is obvious but it was mixed with a sense of honor, compassion, and others that I do not have the words to express. Some of them were especially moving as I know a large portion of their testimonies.

There are times when all the tasks in front of me get overwhelming. If you’ve been following this blog in the week or so since I started it then you know I’ve had a lot of major decisions facing me. It has largely been a question of priorities. Even as I take things off my plate, there’s still a mountain in front of me. It’s easy to allow it to look at it and shut down.

In all the work, busyness, and stress, it’s easy to lose sight of the reason I do this, the big why if you will. When I see how far behind everything related to building Freedom Church has become, condemnation, doubt, and discouragement are my constant companions.¬†When I get to these times, days like today are just what I need.

Today as I watched people who have accepted the gift of grace and mercy offered through Jesus and make that confession public, I remembered why I do all this. Sometimes knowing I’m being obedient isn’t enough to keep me motivated. I need to be reminded of His purposes. Seeing these public professions of faith did a lot to restore my drive and restore my priorities. I do the work, suffer hardships, go without rest, and much more to see people transformed by the Gospel. There is nothing else that could make the sacrifices worth it.

Those tears I shed this morning affirmed in me all that the Lord has told me. His Glory is what matters. Preaching the Gospel to snatch souls from the fires of Hell and sharing the freedom that comes from following Jesus is what I must do. That’s why Freedom Church is happening and why I do work so hard. My Big Why is in front of me. I can never lose sight of it.

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Cutting Back to Move Forward

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on The Stainless Steel Soapbox about fighting the tyranny of the urgent. In it, I stated that I needed to make several decisions to combat it and change the way I’ve been doing things. This has proven to be more difficult than I anticipated. One major decision has come in stages without me realizing where it was leading.

I need to take things off my plate. The truth is, I’ve got far too many areas to work in and none of them are getting the attention they deserve. Because of that, no progress has been made on anything. All excuses aside, I’m just overloaded, dividing my energy into too many directions. It’s overwhelming to take up all that’s in front of me. With limited time and energy, I’m not getting anything done and what little I’ve accomplished has not been up to the standards of work I expect of myself.

Through prayer and counsel, I’ve had to look at my priorities and where each demand on my time and energy fit into them. There were winners and losers. The bottom line, the winner must be the one that the Lord has ordained as my calling and the great task He assigned, Freedom Church. The urgency of income has kept me from doing anything significant with Freedom Church. It’s the reason I dropped to part time at my day job but has commanded the least of my time and energy. I’ve come to see this as a major act of disobedience the I need to repent of before the Lord will bless us again.

The big loser is Deep Mystery. The time I’ve spent on the studio has been driven by the urgency of building an income. In truth, none of those efforts has resulted in any real income. The business plan has always been a mess. I’ve never been able to settle on what services to offer, who the customers should be, or how much to charge for most of what I could offer. The only part of the studio I get excited about are internal projects like web videos, audio books for friends, and other personal projects. Even to help the church, I just can’t get excited about anything that I would get hired to do.

That’s not to say that the studio is going away. It will continue to exist as the home for the projects I want to work on, mostly of my own creation. I will still take on select work from friends and aquantences but I’m not going to advertise. I’m going to  take a little time and alter the website to reflect the changes. Deep Mystery Studio will become what it should have been all along, a place to build great media to preach the Gospel, build up the Body of Christ, and provide alternatives to the existing media. However, that time isn’t right now.

I was lead to make changes to build Freedom Church but far too many decisions the last couple of months have not been built on a foundation of prayer but desperation for money.  There’s been a lot of really bad decisions that I believe have lead to the Lord’s hand of blessing to be removed from our finances. We spent the last few years able to pay the bills and have money left over. We started this year in the black but as bad decisions, health problems, and a shot of disobedience that we didn’t even know we were committing compounded, we’re in the red now.

The time has come to cast off the crap and focus on what I set out to do. If we’re going to experience God’s provision, then we need to do what He told us to do. I need to do what He told me to do. That is Freedom Church.

Look for more posts on the FC Facebook page, more videos, and blog posts on what’s needed to launch. In the short term, due to some problems with setting up an official FC bank account (thanks to a government program called “Operation Choke Point”), I’m setting up a temporary working name to take advantage of existing accounts. Until the incorporation for the church is complete, Deep Mystery Ministries will be the working name for the purposes of fundraising. That way, no one needs to write a check to a person but to Deep Mystery. It may even continue past that as a part of the church as we grow, if the Lord leads.

There will be more soon. Check here and on the Freedom Church blog.

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Sometimes, There Are Things That Don’t Belong Anywhere Else

I write a lot of blogs. There’s one for Freedom Church, another for Jesus’ Outsider, and another for Deep Mystery. I’ve shut down two more that just aren’t worth keeping. The problem is, there are some things I want to write and share that don’t pertain to any of the others I write. It’s just personal thoughts, struggles, or ideas that I want to share.

So, that’s one of the reasons I created another blog. Here, on a personal blog, I can share those thoughts, snippets of other writings, ideas, and challenges that are worth writing about and sharing. The other reason is a little more practical, I’ve never used WordPress before and needed to learn how to use it. However, my experience with it, once more thorough, will wind up on The Deep Mystery Files.

In fact, it was Deep Mystery Studio that prompted starting the blog. I have been working on it for some time now but have not made any real headway in the official launch of the business. Something just didn’t seem right. The business plan I had wasn’t working to inspire the passion it should have for the studio to make a profit and support the family while planting Freedom Church. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Was it the service offering? Was it the idea itself? What was the problem?

It didn’t make sense. I love producing media. I love to write, I love to sit behind the Big Boy Mic and record. I truly enjoy directing and creating web videos. There’s nothing I offered that I didn’t find fascinating and wonderful. All of them have the potential to be great profit centers not only for us but for freelance artists of all stripes. Over the years, I’ve accumulated the knowledge and skill necessary to make Deep Mystery work. Yet, despite all of that, something was holding me back.

I have been in a sort of holding pattern lately with everything. Activity has been replaced with contemplation and large amounts of prayer to push through the barriers I have been hitting. It’s been going on for the last several weeks as I’ve sought the face of God for Freedom Church, Deep Mystery, and a whole host of other things that need decisions to be made. Doing little to nothing is very hard for me. I prefer to do things, accomplish tasks, and move forward towards goals. I hate being idle. The post on the Stainless Steel Soapbox touched on the problem.

During this time of concentrated prayer, I came to a realization: None of the things I listed above get me out of bed every morning. I may enjoy them and even have some passion for them, but that’s not what drives me. No matter what I do, I can’t muster the enthusiasm to build the studio as I had planned it. I just can’t.

At the risk of sounding super spiritual, there is only one thing that gets me out of bed in the mornings, no matter what the day may hold. I live to preach the Gospel and to see lives changed by the power and love of Jesus Christ. For some of you, this will not be much of a shock. Many of my passions have passed away or at least greatly dwindled in the last few years. For example, I used to eat, sleep, and breathe politics. Now, I stay informed but I don’t get as fired up about it anymore. Likewise, business and marketing were serious passions for a long time but now those are no longer all that important.

I came to the conclusion that I just can’t do a commercial for a steakhouse. There’s nothing wrong with it and I truly love a good steak, but I can’t do it. I am called to help people change through redemption in Christ. Period. There are skills I have that help me do that. It’s those skills that need to be shared with the Church-at-Large to fulfill the mission we’ve been given. I have to do what God called me to do in every area of life.

I will be shifting the media and studio into a ministry support and building role instead of it’s current secular marketing model. I need to build the Kingdom and help others who are called to do likewise. The more I move into my coming role as the pastor of Freedom Church, the harder it is for me to prioritize anything beyond the Gospel. This is the message that must be shared with all the world. The skills I have spent enormous amounts of time and money learning need to be used for that purpose. I can’t get anything else to matter enough to spend my time and energy on beyond meeting immediate financial needs.

I’ll be detailing the meaning of all this on the business blog as I get ready for the full launch. Thanks for indulging me. I’ll be writing here as often as the mood seizes me.