I’M STARVING!!!

Posted: April 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

How many times have we said “I’m starving!!!” in our life. Me… a lot. A WHOLE LOT! However, in reality 99% of people that read this have no idea what real starvation feels like. All we know is our body is telling us “HEY I’M HUNGRY!” So, naturally when the feeling of “starving” hits we fill the need our body has for food.

Here lately I’ve been starving to KNOW God. Probably more than I can ever remember in my life God has placed a hunger inside me to get to know Him. Not just to know more about Him, but to really KNOW Him. It may sound subtle and like splitting hairs but there is a really big difference in “knowing about” somebody and “knowing” them. Let me try to explain. I can know A LOT about Shaquille O’Neal and in high school I did. As an Orlando Magic fan in the early to mid 90′s “Shaq” was the big deal here in central Florida where I grew up. He was my favorite basketball player and I knew a whole lot about him. I knew his stats, I read books about him, knew his parents names, where he went to school, his shoe size, what cars he drove. There wasn’t much about Shaq that I didn’t know. But I didn’t really know him. Had you gone up to Shaq and said “Hey, Jon Rearden knows you” he wouldn’t know who in the world you were talking about, because even though I knew about him I didn’t know him.

That’s where I’ve been in the last couple weeks in my relationship with God. I know about God, but I’ve had a real hunger to get past knowing about Him and moved into a place of knowing Him. I know this sounds like elementary Christian 101 stuff, but I believe it’s missing in much of the church today. I believe much of the church has stopped at a false finish line. We’ve taken knowing “about God” as adequate knowledge for our Christian walk and called off the pursuit of really knowing God.

Currently, I am reading “God Chasers” by Tommy Tenney and in the book he makes a statement that is so true. He says, “It’s simply not enough to know about God. We have churches filled with people who can win Bible trivia contests but who don’t know Him.” We need to have a longing for knowing Him not just knowledge about Him. The power we need to make a difference comes in knowing Him. The ability to make an impact for heaven comes when we seek to know Him. Time in His presence comes through knowing Him. Helping to bring salvation to the lost comes through knowing Him.

The good news is He’s not hiding. All the while we’re chasing Him He’s not running away He’s running toward us saying “Well it’s about time.” Look at these scriptures… Isaiah 55:6 “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.”  Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” I mean you can find scripture after scripture that says you when you desire Him and the things of Him you’ll find what you’re exactly what you’re looking for and even more. Let’s get hungry to know Him. Let’s move past the religious “knowing about Him” Sunday School Bible Quiz badge we pin on our shirts are so proud of and get hungry to know Him.

Show Love

Posted: April 8, 2011 in Father's Day Friday, Fathering

Father’s Day Friday post…

Once again for those that don’t know. This is a reoccurring theme on my blog. It’s every Friday  and they are usually longer than normal and I look at importance of “fathering” students that are missing the important relationship in their lives. I have many father/son relationships with students that don’t have that a natural father but are desperate one. I am not an expert I just try to share my experiences so I might help others that are in my same position. I’ve had 2 previous post about this if you’d like to read them (FATHER’S DAY FRIDAY) (BE THERE)

The young men I have in my life that I look at as my sons all come from different walks of life. All for one reason or another lack a real father figure in their life. Some of them literally don’t know who their dad is. Some have no experience with their dad. Some have dad’s that have passed away. Others don’t have dad in their every day life because of divorce. Yet some have “dad” at home but still don’t have a father. These young men are from all different walks of life and all have different life experiences, but all of them deep down desire the love from a father.

There is something in every young man that desires a father’s love. Growing up without a dad in my house I had this desire and didn’t even realize it. Growing up I didn’t think much about not having a dad in my house like most of my friends. I never had all these questions or anger or bitterness about my situation. I can honestly say it wasn’t until much later in life that I even thought much of it. For me that’s just the way it was and that was it. But I remember one specific instance that is still so fresh in my mind even to this day. The instance, as I look back, showed that even though I didn’t know it there was a need for a fatherly type love in my life.

I was in JR High and it was after a gym class where I just acted a fool the whole time and gave my teacher all kinds of attitude and trouble. He held me after and sat me down and told me he loved me and wanted to see the best for my life and the way I was acting wasn’t the way to be heading. He said all the things we as teachers, mentors, pastors authority figures say to kids that we see wasting their great potential. I remember crying that day as we talked but I remember not knowing why. He didn’t threaten to tell my mom or send me to the office or anything like that. He just poured into my life it showed me that this dude cares and loves me.

No matter what a young man looks like or how he acts or what he says deep down every young man desires to have a father’s love in their life. It’s crucial to there development as a man. I know we’re men and we front like we’re not emotional and all that but that front is not who God created us to be. Emotions and showing love doesn’t strip of our “manliness” it actually solidifies it. God didn’t create us to be void of being able to give or receive love he created us to give it and through it ultimately show His love. Students that desire a father in their life desire more than a buddy or another friend. If they wanted a friend they’d pick one that’s their age. They are desiring the love of a father and all that comes along with it. Affection. Discipline. Correction. Emotion. Fun. Communication.

If you have students in your world that are in need of a father it’s not just cause they need somebody else in their world. They need to feel the love that can only come from a true father’s heart. Listen the young men in my life aren’t drawn to me because I’m their “buddy.” Or because I’m their ride home. Or because I’ll buy them a double fish fillet sandwich from McD’s. (Ok, maybe they’re drawn to the last one) They’re in my world because God given me a place in their life that allows for a father’s love to be poured into them. I tell my guys all the time “I love you” and they say it back because they need and want that in their life.

Show love. Tell them you love them. Let them know it. It might feel weird at first but the longer you show them the more you telling them will make since.

The Power in Knowing Him

Posted: April 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

As a Christian our greatest goal in our walk should be to know God. It’s in the journey of knowing Him that all encompasses the word “Christian” will happen. Love for people. Holy living. Passion for the lost. Kindness towards our neighbor. The list could go on and on but if our burning hunger in life becomes to know Him all these things will be a byproduct of that hunger.

Paul writes in Philippians 3:10-12 that he wanted to know Christ to the point of sharing in Christ sufferings so that he would receive resurrection from the dead. What’s interesting about this  is that Paul had just listed all the natural religious things that would have given him supreme confidence in his relationship with God. But then he went on to say all those things I just listed I consider them garbage if I can gain Christ. Paul knew that it wasn’t religious natural things that were going to make the difference in his life. It wasn’t going to be man made efforts that would set him apart because anyone could have those things but it was the deep desire to KNOW God that was going to be the thing that separated him apart and made him different. It wasn’t just head knowledge that Paul wanted to have it was knowledge through personal experience with Jesus that Paul desire.

Paul said “that I may know Him.” The phrase in the original language “that I may know” is something that is grouped together. It’s a phrase that when interpreted can’t be broken apart into individual words but it stays together as the phrase “that I may know.” The phrase “that I may know” doesn’t point to a one time event of meeting God but it points to an ongoing knowing of God. Paul was saying what I want is to all the time come to know God more and more.

Whenever I meet somebody I know them. If I never see them again for the rest of my life I can say “Yes, I know them.” because of that one time meeting. On the flip side people that I am engaged with on and everyday personal level I get to know more and more and more. I knew my wife the first night I met her, but I obviously didn’t know her like I know her now. Through time together and experiences and life and all that I have a knowledge my wife today that I never would have had the almost 9 years ago when I first met her and first knew her.

That’s how our relationship with God should be. To know God like Paul was saying is an ongoing daily process of  gaining a knowledge of who He is. When we give ourselves to really come to know God the sky is the limit for what we can do for His kingdom. Paul did amazing things for the kingdom of God and it’s because his heart beat wasn’t just a head knowledge of God it was a deep desire to continually get to know Him. If we want to do extraordinary things for God it starts with out desire to continually know more and more about Him. Extraordinary things are the result of a simple, pure, and passionate desire to know God more than we know Him now.

Tag You’re It.

Posted: April 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

Last night around 9:30 I had a real moment of clarity about something God was calling me to do. It didn’t come on my face in prayer. It didn’t come listening to some worship music and hanging out in His presence. It didn’t come from reading the Bible. It came at my kitchen table over some crackers and a glass of milk with my 5 year old. Hunter was having a snack before bed and we just sat and talked for about 10-15 minutes. I asked about his day. We laughed at silly things that dads and sons laugh about. The TV wasn’t on. Nobody else was around. There were no distraction. It was just really great father son hang out time.

He finished his snack I took him upstairs, prayed with him, kissed him goodnight, walked out of his room and thought “Man, that was awesome we gotta do that more often.” I spend a lot of time with my kids, I’m not an uninvolved parent, but last night there was something different about those few moments around the table that were special. Maybe it was the quietness of our house at 9:30 at night. Maybe something about being alone without distraction that made it special. I can’t put my finger on what it was but those few moments were very special to me. As I walked out of Hunter’s room God spoke to me and said “I want that kind of Father/son time with you more often.”

As a father those uninterrupted few moments with my son were priceless and I began to get a better revelation as to why God desires to have those moments with us. Moments away from the noise. Moments without distraction. Moments to just talk. Moments where He talks and we listen. Just Father/son time with His kids. I believe God desires as a father, not just as THE HEAVENLY FATHER but as a father, to have moments with us.

I mean look at God in the garden with Adam and Eve. Everyday in the cool of the day he’d come walk with them. Why? Because those moments with His children are special to Him. Why do you think He sent Jesus to die for us? I know it was to save us but I think more than that it was so He could have moments with us. I mean for thousands of years God had made a way for His people to get their sins forgiven. There was a whole process they went through but they were forgiven. But they didn’t have access to moments with God like we do know. They didn’t have the ability to approach God like we do now but when Jesus died and rose again and the veil that separated us from Him was tore in half.

God desires moments with you. He really DESIRES them. But ultimately it’s not up to Him if they happen or not it’s up to us. He always there waiting but it our choice whether or not we step into those moments and put away the distractions. John 6:44 says that He initiates the drawing of us to Him but it’s up to us how we respond to His drawing.  AW Tozer said it this way “The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him.” He draws us but it’s our response to the drawing that makes the relationship work. The more we respond to His drawing the more we desire to be drawn and the more we desire His drawing the more we’ll respond with yes. It’s like a game of tag with God but the prize at the end isn’t a ribbon, it’s a moment with the God that created all we see and loves us more than we’ll ever know. Moments with God produce a prize that will never gather dust on a shelf,  rust away or fade to nothing that prize will be around for eternity. You’ll never one time be sorry for a moment you spend in communion with God but as you’ll look back over your life you’ll regret every time a temporal distraction kept you from a moment with the eternal God.

So, tag you’re it.


Flesh vs Spirit

Posted: April 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

EPHESIANS 1:19-20- “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.”

ROMANS 8:11- “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”

Reading scriptures like that challenges me. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is in us as Christians. Jesus said it himself in John 14 that we’ll do greater things than He did. That challenges me… A LOT! Makes me want to see more. Makes me want to do more. Makes me want to stay in the fight. Makes me unable to settle for average students in my group. Makes me not “okay” to have students not being changed. Makes me not sleep at night because there are teenagers in my world and circle of influence cutting themselves and on drugs and being sexually active but yet according to God’s word I have the power that defeated death IN ME. Scriptures like those make me want to see and believe for miracles to happen when I pray. It makes me want to pursue Him until, like Paul said to the Ephesian church, I begin to “understand the incredible greatness of God’s power” that’s available to me. Sometimes, I feel like Neo in the Matrix (the first Matrix, the good one, not the 2 sub-par sequels). He was the “one.” He had what it took all along, but he didn’t operate in what was available to him until the final scene.

I don’t think I am alone in feeling this way… at least I hope not. So, what’s it going to take? How do I get there? What do I have to do, Paul, to understand about the power that’s in me? Personally I believe it’s a matter of allowing the Spirit to reign in our lives. In Romans 8:11 Paul once again talks about the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is living in us and once again I was challenged. As I began to read the scriptures leading up to and following 8:11 to get some context I began to get some revelation as to what it going to take to get the “understanding of that power.”

The scriptures surrounding Romans 8:11 talk about living in and allowing your mind to live and operate in the flesh as opposed to living and operating in the Spirit. We can’t live in the flesh. Feed the flesh. Allow flesh to dominate our mind and our actions and expect to see amazing things of the Spirit we desire. If we want to see Spirit things we must live Spirit lives. We must allow the Holy Spirit to guide our lives, our thoughts, our actions, our tongues, and our everything. This doesn’t mean we become the “spiritual weirdo” but it means we make our flesh become subject to the desire of the Spirit inside us instead of making the Spirit inside us become subject to the desire of our flesh.

I want to be a part of something greater. I want there to be such an evidence of God working in my life that people can’t deny that there is Someone bigger at work than Jon Rearden. When Paul writes in Ephesians and Romans about the power that defeated death working in me, I don’t want it to be just words I read I want it to be a reality I see. In order for it to happen in our lives the flesh has to bow to the Spirit every single day. Not once a week. Or a few days here and there… but every single day we have to hang our flesh on the cross and kill it. That’s why Jesus said in Luke 9:23-24 that it’s not a one time event but an everyday occurrence of killing our flesh. One of my all time favorite writer’s is AW Tozer he said “The same cross that saves us, is the cross that slays us.” Overcoming our flesh is not a one time event it’s an ongoing daily process.

For this to happen it has to be deliberate on our part. It’s not something that’s going to take place without effort. It’s not something that we’ll all the sudden wake up doing. It’s going to take pursuit and desire. It’s going to take discipline and determination. It’s going to take self-control and sacrifice.  And the sad reality is that even though it’s available for every believer not every believer will see it because  not everyone will be willing to pay the price of what it takes. However, I will see it in my life, and I pray you do to.

BE THERE.

Posted: April 1, 2011 in Father's Day Friday, Fathering

Father’s Day Friday Post. This post is written about fathering young people that don’t have person in their life that is a natural father. There’s a father gap that needs filled in this generation. I posted last week (click here the read) about the importance that this position has become in my life and ministry. Every friday will be a post about fathering those that aren’t your “natural kids” but yours kids none-the-less.

Fathering like any relationship takes time and effort. Both at home with your natural children and with the kids that see you as “dad.” One of the greatest tools I found to develop this type of relationship is the ability to simply “be there.” It’s taken literally years of going to games, being a ride home from church, praying at the altars, just being around for me to develop the father relationship I have with certain students. For some students it happens fast. Immediately there’s a connection and they are hooked to you because they are so desperate for that void in their lives to be filled. But typically it takes a while to get there because for a lot of students there is such a wall that has been built up from past hurts, let downs and problems that they don’t trust you enough to let you in right away. No matter how pure your motives. How much you love them. How much you care. Sometimes, no matter how bad you want that relationship it to form quickly it just won’t.

There are a lot of things you can “be” to try and speed up the process… “be cool” “be funny” “be down” “be real” whatever but perhaps the greatest “BE” I’ve found to show a kid you’re really “in it” for them is to simply “BE THERE.” Be where? Wherever that student will let you go. Some will start with a “what’s up?” and that’s as close as you can be for a while. Some will let you in closer. I don’t mean become “the stalker” and follow them everywhere like the guy trying too hard. Cause kids can pick up on that and it just makes it harder for you. (been there… done that) Just be there… maybe at a distance for a little while but still there.  Sports games. Classrooms. Dramas. Musicals. Wherever. Over time it will let them know that maybe they haven’t had people there for them in the past but you’re different. Why? Because you’re there.

Right now at home it seems nothing means more to my son than for me playing basketball with his little 6 foot basketball fisher price goal. Every free second “Dad, let’s go play.” It’s not the hoop that’s amazing. Or that we have an amazing basketball court. I mean its a plastic hoop on carpet floors. It’s that I’m there with him doing something he loves. Whenever he has a tee-ball game or something at school or catching a fish the most important thing to him is that me and my wife are there. It’s no different with those kids that I’ve come to be “dad” to. They just want me there. Not because I’m anything special but because God has allowed me to be the one that’s there and has been there.

The most important “be” you can be is there. At the end of the day nothing matters more to a kid than to know that no matter what my parent is going to “be there”. Good or bad I know they are there for me.

Last thing. I’ll share a conversation I had with one of “my sons” last night via text… this kid is a phenomenal athlete and if you saw him and me together in the physical there nothing that says father/son about us but I have the honor of being “dad” in his life. So, I heard he had a basketball game in town last night so I text him to get the details on the game. He was a little slow in responding for whatever reason so I was kind of iffy on whether he wanted me to go. An hour and a half before the game my phone buzzes with a text from him “Are you coming?” I said “Yea. That cool? He answered back “Yea it is very cool.” After that there wasn’t anything keeping me from being there.

Kids want fathers. They need fathers. If you don’t know what to do… start by just being there.

PASSIONATE PURSUIT

Posted: March 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

PURSUIT: an effort to secure or attain; quest… the act of pursuing, chasing, or striving after

Pursuit. I was reading AW Tozer’s “The Pursuit of God” today. (If you haven’t read it… go read it) As I was reading today I came across this statement I had previously highlighted… “Moses used the fact that he knew God as an argument for knowing Him better.” In Exodus 33:13-18 we see this pretty amazing conversation taking place between Moses and God. We see Moses asking God to continue to show him His ways and Moses acknowledged the fact that this was all about God’s people. Then God tells Moses “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

What an incredible encounter. For most of us we would have been content to stop right there. To know God’s presence was with us wherever we went and that He would give us rest. Game over. Amen. Thank you Lord. Talk to you later. Moses, however, didn’t want to just settle for the presence. Read verses 15 &16  and you’ll see Moses knew how desperately he needed God’s presence, but he still desired more. In verse 18 Moses makes about a bold of statement as you’ll find in the Bible. God had told Moses He was pleased with him and was going to do everything that Moses asked and then Moses goes for it when he states “Now show me your glory.”

Moses wouldn’t settle. God’s presence was enough to get him through, but he wasn’t about just getting through he wanted more. He wanted God’s best no matter what kind of pursuit it took. God’s presence was enough but Moses wanted to see God’s glory and if you read the rest of the story we got what he pursued.

Let’s learn from Moses. Let’s not be satisfied with an average or even an above average walk with God… let’s get all we can. Let’s not pursue GOD-and… God and this… God and that… Let’s just pursue God. When we get a hot pursuit after God everything will fall into place. (Matthew 6:33) Let’s put a great effort into securing or attaining Him. Let’s go on a quest after Him. Let the act of pursuing, chasing, or striving after God consume our lives. Let’s not use the fact that we think we know God as an excuse for not knowing Him better. Let’s be like Moses and use what we know about God make us want to know Him more!