Thursday, December 27, 2012

God, how could this happen, I thought You were with me?  

In July 2006 Jeanie and I were in Colorado Springs, CO. to attend a meeting in the back yard of a pastor friend that consisted of a small group of pastors from all over America.  The morning of the fellowship I awoke early to spend some time in prayer.  While praying I asked God for clear confirmation that we were to plant the church in Pueblo West, CO.  I recorded my request  in hopes that this day would provide certain direction from God.

What transpired  would "blow your mind!"  It did mine!  Not once, not twice, but three times God confirmed that planting the church was His plan for us.  I'll not give all the details in this blog but you could see the hand of God at work , do doubt!

So in June 2011 when we decided to discontinue the church plant in Colorado and I'm packing my bags to go work a job in Texas you might see why I would ask the question, God, how could this happen, I thought You were with me?  Not that working a job back in Texas is a bad thing but it can be very disheartening if you believe you're called to plant a church in Colorado.  Not only that but you left a great church to go plant this church.  What was I thinking!  Well, what I was thinking was that I was following the plan of God for my life and ministry.

Let me share some words from Pastor Wayne Cordeiro he recorded in his book "Sifted" that I just finished reading. "When things don't go as we expect we falsely conclude that things did not go as God planned.  We tend to define God's goals so that they match the way we want our life to unfold.  We assume that the way we see things should be the way God sees them too.  Each of us is only a change in perspective away from seeing our circumstances as God's good will for our lives instead of a disappointing, frustrating setback."

I don't know what your struggle has been but if you're human like me I'm sure there's been times you've asked God, "how could this happen?" What I want you to know is that God can handle your questions and the good thing about your questions is that you're still talking to Him!

The Bible tells us in Romans 8 that there is nothing that can separate us from God's love.  NOTHING! Don't allow anyone or anything to tell you today that God no longer loves you.  He loves you and still has a great plan for your life.  Maybe your struggle is part of God's process to prepare you for the future He has planned for you!  

So here's the big deal.  Don't allow anything to separate your love from God!  Did you catch that?  I know you have questions and God can handle them. But while going through some of your most difficult times, you might say hell on earth, do you still love Him?  Don't allow what God is using to refine you to drive you away from God.  That's not what God desires.  He wants you to run to Him and not away from Him.  He wants to be more than enough in your life.

Jesus is always more than enough for us, but we will not know it until our faith has been tested.  It bears repeating.  Don't allow anything to separate your love from God.  He's not allowing anything to separate His love from you!

Make it your goal in 2013 to get closer to God!  I know it's my goal.

Stay Tuned

Friday, December 21, 2012

In my last blog I talked about two verses in the Bible I have a hate, love relationship with.  Let me share the verses again from Luke 22:31,32

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat.  But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail.  So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers."

I've already talked about my hate relationship with these verses.  I hate the sifting process but I willingly submit to it because of the love relationship I have with what we've just read.  I want to open the eyes of your heart to what is taking place here.

Those of us who read and know the Bible have the luxury of knowing "the rest of the story" when it comes to Peter (Simon).  How God used him one day (Acts 2) to stand and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to a mass of people and thousands received his message and accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.  And this is after he denied Jesus three times.

What we need to remember is that Peter didn't know "the rest of the story," but Jesus did!  And you can be confident today that no matter the difficulty in your life, the failure, the divorce, the failed business or whatever, Jesus knows, and He still has a great plan for your life.

Think about it!  When Jesus knew Peter was going to deny him, He still pursued Peter and His relationship with him.  Can you see it!  He's right there telling Peter that He's going to pray for him during this time of sifting and when it's over, go and strengthen others who have been struggling as well.  Jesus was pursuing Peter even when Peter was going to fail Him.  I love it!

Just before Jesus was crucified and right after Peter denied Him the Bible indicates that Jesus was pursuing Peter with a look of compassion (Luke 22:60-62).  After His resurrection Jesus pursues Peter (Mark 16:7).  I have to share this verse, it's awesome.  "But go, tell His disciples,and Peter, that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you."  Again Jesus pursues Peter in John 21 showing up on a sandy seashore while Peter and the disciples are fishing.

Here's the big idea.  GOD'S GRACE IS GREATER THEN YOUR MISTAKES!  I want you to be encouraged today.  God still has a great plan for you and at the right time you are going to step through the door of a "New Day" right into God's destiny.  That's how it happened for Peter.

But let me admonish you as well.  Don't allow your mistakes to become greater then God's grace.  Did you catch that?  This can only take place in your heart because God's grace IS greater then your mistakes but you must believe this!  His grace is available to you today but you must embrace it.  Your greatest days are before you!

Now I need to add one more thing.  Other people will also allow your mistakes to be greater then God's grace but that's just something you have to kindly ignore and move on.  For some reason in our moments of failure we often face our greatest rejection from others.  Jeanie and I had people that called us their best friends reject us.  Yes it hurts, but remember God will use whatever it takes to refine you during this sifting process.  Keep your heart pure and move forward.  Just because people allow your mistakes to be greater then God's grace you don't have to.

Don't allow the rejection to become your focus.  Hey listen, Jeanie and I have some great friends who have committed to walk with us through this season of sifting.  We're certainly thankful for them but the bottom line is that God is for us and I want you to be confident that God is for you!  

Today you can DREAM.......AGAIN because God's grace is greater then your mistakes!  After all, isn't this what Christmas is all about.  God pursuing us through sending His Son Jesus Christ to the earth!  The best is yet to come!

Stay tuned!

PS- I was about to close this out but felt like I needed to say it again.  Don't allow your mistakes or the mistakes of others to be greater then God's grace.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

There's two verses in the Bible that I have a hate,  love relationship with.  Once I share the verses I think you'll understand. In the last month I've studied these words of Jesus over and over again and read many commentaries.  Last week a friend, who knew nothing of my recent journey, recommended a book based on what I'd been studying.  Coincidence?  I don't think so!  In all of this, God has basically summed up the last two years of our life and ministry with this conversation  Jesus is having with Peter.  In a strange way it has brought  peace to my heart.  Let's look at Luke 22:31,32 together. Jesus is speaking to Peter. 

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat.  But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail.  So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers." 

I think you can see my hate relationship with this verse.  I hate the "sifting" process yet God confirmed  to me that this is the season we've been in.  And if you're reading this and you've been going through a difficult time it just might be a "sifting" season for you as well. 

But knowing the season can also bring you into a place of peace if you'll allow it.  Please let me elaborate on this point.  You see, when you and I go through difficult seasons we have the tendency to play what I call the "blame game."  We blame God.  We blame other people. We blame ourselves.  Let me encourage you, living in the world of "blame"  will not help you recover. 

Have there been times I've  questioned God in the last two years?  Absolutely!  Have there been times I felt like some of our friends let us down?  Absolutely!  Have there been times (many times) I felt like a failure believing this was all my fault (if I would've just stayed in my place of comfort as the pastor of those people who loved us and we loved them)? Absolutely!  But friends you can't dwell in this place because if you do, you open the door for unforgiveness and bitterness to take root in your heart and then your bad situation gets worse! 

Notice this.  Jesus knew Peter was going to deny Him, not once, but three times, yet He never condemned Peter.  But Jesus did identify to "Simon" that what he was about to go through was an attack from Satan.  Now I don't know your worldview but personally my Biblical Worldview has been confirmed in the last few years. Satan is real!

What am I saying?  In some kind of strange way it has brought peace to my heart to know that we have been under an attack from Satan.  I know, sounds strange.  But friends our ministry has been attacked, our identity has been attacked, our finances have been attacked, our relationships have been attacked and a few other things I'll not mention.  Only my wife knows some of the very low moments I've experienced. 

How can knowing this bring peace to your heart and my heart?  No longer do we set around "blaming" flesh and blood but it's time to identify the real cause of our struggle, Satan. The Bible tells us that his job is to "steal, kill and destroy." 

So here's the good news.  God will use what Satan meant for your harm and turn it around and use it for His (God) GOOD!  In my next blog I'll talk about what I love in the these verses.

But let me encourage you as I close this out.  Jesus tells Peter that He's praying for him, that his faith fail not.  In the Message Bible it says it like this:  "Simon, don't give in and don't give out."  If you're in a difficult season right now that's my encouragement to you.  "Don't give in and don't give out!"  God is about to turn your situation around for His good so DON'T QUIT! 

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Me:  God are you punishing me for my past? (We all have one)
God: "No but I am refining you for your future!"

These words are still ringing in my heart weeks after I heard the Spirit of God speak them to me.

When we walk through traumatic situations sometimes there are more questions then answers but this is one time God responded to one of my many questions concerning the failure of our church plant.  Trust me, I've had many questions.  But the one I've asked the most is WHY?  And I think that's probably true in any persons life that has been through difficult circumstances.  Why did my marriage end in divorce?  Why did my business fail?  Why did this person die suddenly.  Why, why, why?

Sometimes it takes years to discover why,  or we may never find out why.  These are things we sometimes just don't understand.  But what I want to focus on in this post is the answer I did get from God.  "No but I am refining you for your future."

Can you see the bright light of hope in this response from God?  I did, and it's the word FUTURE!   No matter the struggle you're going through or the difficulties of your past God wants you to know that He still has a great future for you.  I love the following verse in the Bible that was actually written to some of God's own people that were going through a very difficult moment.

Jeremiah 29:11- "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."

Among all of my unanswered questions here's what I know.  God still has a great plan for my life and for yours as well.  I really believe that God is more interested in preparing you for your future than He is punishing you for your past.  And many times He uses the difficult moments to prepare us.

The next is another verse I've quoted over and over again in this season of preparation or should I say "refining."

Romans 8:28-"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."

I don't know where you're at today or what you've walked through but I do know that God has a great future for you and if you will allow Him, He will work everything together for YOUR good.  That's just how good God is.  TRUST HIM!

And that's why you and I can  DREAM.......AGAIN!

Stay tuned! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The time had come!  After being the pastors of a great church in Texas for 10 years my family took a bold step of faith to plant a church in Colorado.  Although it was difficult to leave the people we had served and lived life together with for a decade, my wife and I were elated about our transition.  We knew for certain God was leading us to live the dream He had placed in our hearts to plant a life-giving church in an area we absolutely loved.  Yes it was a "dream come true!" 

I can't tell you how many confirmations I received that this was the right step for us.  How many hours were spent in prayer seeking God's strategy and plan and the number of books I read and conferences I attended to learn as much as I could about planting a church. 

There were people from Texas that made the transition with us.  And combined with those who joined us in Colorado we had an incredible launch team.  We just knew we were on the brink of doing something great for the Kingdom of God! 

Well it's been just over two years since we launched "Community Church" in Pueblo West, CO. and today the church doesn't even exist.  Yes you read that right, there is no "Community Church!" 

Simply put our dream fell apart.  My family has expereinced total financial devastation, the loss of a home and now we find ourselves back in Texas trying to put our lives back together. 

To try and explain the last two and half years would be impossible.  There's still to many things I don't understand.  But here's what I know!  God is good and He still has a great plan for us!  But for us to experience that plan we need to "Dream.......Again!" 

I'm writing this blog to share our experience and to help others that need to "Dream.......Again!"  If you've experienced something similar whether it be in ministry, a business, marriage or any other area of life I want you to know I'm writing this blog for you.  You can be certain that because Jesus Christ lives  your dreams will live again and THE BEST IS YET TO COME!

Stay Tuned,
Ken Woolf