Thursday, December 19, 2013

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman,  Did God really say, You must not eat from any tree in the garden?”  (Genesis 3:1)


Notice the very first words the Bible records that Satan spoke to mankind.  “Did God really say?”  What was his tactic?  What was Satan scheming to do?  What was his plan to trip up Adam and Eve and keep them from experiencing God’s best for them?  Simply put he caused them to question what God had spoken to them.  “Did God really say?” 


And thousands of years later nothing has changed.  Satan is still trying to get you and me to question the Word of God.  Especially if you’ve walked through discouraging circumstances or faced some tragedy in life.    


I’m always amused when I read about the early days of Jesus ministry on earth.  After He was baptized by John the Baptist the Bible says, “And a voice from heaven said, This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.”  (Matthew 3:17)


In the very next chapter the Bible tells us that Jesus is “led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”  (Matthew 4:1)  Then it says, “The tempter came to him and said, If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”    (Matthew 4:3)


I just chuckle when I read this because God had just spoke from heaven and identified Jesus as His Son and then the first recorded words of Satan to Jesus are spoken in just a way to try and put a question in the mind of Jesus.  “If you are the Son of God.”  And if you’ll go and read this story you’ll notice something very important.  Jesus never discussed His identity with Satan.  Why?  Because He knew Who He was, it wasn’t open for discussion!  Jesus never questioned His identity because to question His identity would be to question the spoken Word of His Heavenly Father. 


For my wife and me it all started in a hotel room in Colorado Springs, CO.  It was July 2006 and we were in Colorado Springs to attend a pastor’s fellowship at the home of Pastor Ted Haggard who at that time was the Pastor of New Life Church and the leader of the Association of Life-Giving Churches. 


The morning of the fellowship I rose early to spend some time in prayer and seek God for direction.  By this time Jeanie and I both had the desire to plant a church in Pueblo West, CO. and while I was praying I asked God to somehow confirm this was His direction for our life and ministry. I also specifically asked Him to give us this confirmation during the fellowship that day.  And just so we would be certain I entered this prayer in my journal which I still have today. 


I’m not going to share the whole story in this blog but God did give us clear confirmation, not once, not twice but three times in the course of the day. God confirmed this was His direction for us and we should step out and plant the church.  God even went so far as to have someone we had never met before, who was attending the event from Australia, approach us and tell us  that “God has a people waiting on our obedience.”  Now that will get your attention! 


When I returned to the hotel room I entered the events of the day in my journal and I thanked God for confirming His direction. We were excited about returning to Texas and implementing a plan to transition out of the church we were currently the pastors of and stepping out to plant the church in Colorado. 


Our first course of action was to gather the elders of the church and share with them just what God had been doing in our lives and the direction we believed with all our hearts He was leading us.  Let me stop here and say that the elders of the church were incredible people that we loved dearly then and still love today.  Many of them were close friends of ours and very loyal to us and the church.  This was and still is a great church with great leadership! 


But when Jeanie and I shared our desires with these friends their response was one of shock and very emotional which is totally understandable.  Again let me say these folks were awesome leaders and every pastor’s dream of an elder board.  They loved us and we loved them. 


I now believe that Satan used this moment to plant seeds of doubt in my heart causing me to question the direction God had clearly given us.  Just like Satan deceived Eve causing her to question God’s Word he had done the same with me.  When I saw the hurt on the faces of those elders and the tears in their eyes my heart became very emotional and the enemy seized the opportunity causing me to question what God had clearly confirmed. 


Needless to say we didn’t step out and plant the church at that time.  It was four years later before we finally resigned the church and transitioned to Colorado.  What was happening during those four years?  Well my leadership as the pastor of the church certainly wasn’t as effective as it should be because when I questioned God’s direction it led me to being unstable in many ways because my heart was divided and I continually struggled with the thought of planting the church. It was difficult for me to make decisions because I was now uncertain of what God was doing and what direction He was leading us. 


I now believe that when we did finally step out and plant the church there was still a seed of doubt in my heart so that when we faced our first big obstacle I questioned the direction of God and quit! Can you see how dangerous it is to question the Word of God?  That’s why it’s one of Satan’s number one tactics. After all it did get Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden and their disobedience caused sin to enter the hearts of all mankind! 


Why am I being so transparent with you?  First let me say that God used men and women all through the Bible that have their failures on display for all of us to read about.  Second, it’s my earnest desire that those who read this not make the same mistakes I did.  My mistakes caused great pain for my family and other people as well. 


But friends here’s the good news.  Our God is a God of forgiveness and not only will He forgive you but He’ll restore what has been lost through your mistakes or the mistakes of others. Trust Him!  He’ll heal and restore the years that have been lost and once again remind you that He has a great plan for your life.  He loves you with an unfailing love and His faithfulness endures forever!  I can’t help but share the following scripture again. 


“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8:28)


Jeanie and I are now on the brink of a fresh start or you might say a new beginning.  It’s a new day and we’re excited about where God is leading us as we conclude 2013 and enter 2014 with great expectation.  He is working all things out for our good and His glory!


Always remember that God is a loving Father and He desires to restore you and heal your wounds.  “But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds….”  (Jeremiah 30:17)


So let me encourage you today!  As we enter 2014 embrace the Word of God!  Embrace God’s direction in your life and move forward with courage!  Don’t allow Satan to deceive you into questioning God’s Word!  He is a liar, a deceiver and the accuser of the brethren. 


But you and I can DREAM…….AGAIN because Jesus Christ has defeated and disarmed Satan and in Christ we are children of the Most High God and more than conquerors! 


Don’t waste another second doubting what God has said.  It’s time to DREAM…….AGAIN!






Thursday, December 5, 2013

Several years ago God spoke to my wife and me telling us that He was going to give us the ability to pull people from the trash heap of life and make them men and women of God.

That sounded great and exciting at that time but little did we know that God would give us this ability as we experienced our own "trash heap!"

But now we earnestly believe we are entering a season when we're standing on top of the "trash heap," brushing ourself off, dreaming.......again, preparing to rebuild and trusting God that He is going to restore what has been lost.

As we stand on top of our "trash heap" where we can see a bit clearer, one thing has become clear. God has been with us IN THE "TRASH HEAP!" As I look back I can say with confidence God has never left us and He's never forsaken us! In fact God has been using the "trash heap" to prepare us for the future He had prepared for us! That's just the way God works! He never waste a pain and He will use your pain for His glory if you will allow Him!

I love the following verse that many of you know.

" And we know that in ALL THINGS God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28 NIV)

Here's an important key. You need to make your "trash heap" an "all things!" If you do this you'll realize God has a purpose for you and your struggle and it will be like an elevator is lifting you to the top of your "trash heap" and you can at least breathe again the breath of life from Jesus Christ who came "to give us life and life more abundantly."

Don't be smothered in your struggles! I believe there are two main reasons people get smothered in their struggles and never arrive at the place of restoration. First I believe they become victims instead victors! It's simply a matter of perspective but it makes a huge difference. Second they become accusers instead of accepting responsibility for their own actions.

Let me be blunt and say that if you choose to be a victim and an accuser it will be very difficult for you to arrive at a place where you can see clearly and get on the path to restoration. Being a victim and an accuser keeps you focused on your "trash heap" instead of the God who wants to use your struggles for His glory and restore what has been lost whether it was by your mistakes or the actions of another. God's grace is greater than your mistakes and the mistakes of others!

When you have the attitude of a victor you recognize and accept that your "trash heap" fits in the category of God's "all things" and He's working everything out for your good. Everyday you're moving forward knowing that victory is yours in Christ Jesus.

When you accept responsibility for your own mistakes and learn from them and forgive the mistakes of others you recognize that God is preparing you for the place He has prepared for you.

So you're standing on the top of your "trash heap" with the attitude of a victor taking responsibility for your own life. Something very special is about to happen. You're a bit hesitant but then you realize you can't be controlled by fear. Then suddenly, you have an encounter with God and you begin to DREAM.......AGAIN! Yes it explodes on the inside of you and you realize God still wants to use you for His purpose.

"But how can God use me" may be your question? Then you hear this still small voice speaking to your heart and it gives you courage because this is what it says. "I've turned your mess into a message, your test into a testimony and your failure will now bear fruit in My Kingdom."

Then you watch as your "trash heap" transforms into a temple in which God displays His glory through.

“This is what the Lord says: “ ‘I will restore the fortunes of Jacob’s tents and have compassion on his dwellings; the city will be rebuilt on her ruins, and the palace will stand in its proper place. (Jeremiah 30:18 NIV)

It's time to Dream.......Again my friend! May my next blog find you dreaming!

Ken Woolf