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A Quick Word

Hey there…well, I forgot to bring my camera upload cable…and have been trying to find one in Moscow…so far not so good, but God is here! After way to many transfers, and flying for about 20 hours, we got into Moscow…Today was rich. We went through the Kremlin, and spent the afternoon and evening with the church planting leadership team. I was incredible to hear their vision and passion for what they believe God is calling them to do, and to answer questions about becoming a missional and moving church here in the city!  They had many…many…great questions about SVA, and leadership…and we spent a great amount of time praying for God to move in specific ways! I speak at the Open Door Church of Moscow tomorrow…so I’ll tag ya all later!

Illuminate Deo,

Monty

To Russia With Love

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Hey there! This week, Amy and I are heading out for a couple weeks to Russia! We will be in Moscow with some church plants, and we will also be in switzerkland and in England briefly before coming home!

My plan is to keep my blog going while I am over there, if all works out! So keep an eye on thee site, and I will upload pictures and what we’re doing with the churches in Moscow!

I figure with all the airport time we will be having between Frankfurt, Amsterdam, and Zurich…I should be able to get an up link!

See ya soon!

Monty

Your Easter Challenge!

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Do you smell luke God or Old Spice?

So then, says the pastor, Easter tells us that God is out there! Easter also tells us that God cares about you personally…and Easter also show us how we can live when we say yes to Jesus Christ, so that when we live each day, people are drawn towards the Living God who mysteriously dwells within us.

What I have found to be absolutely true in life is that the more time I spend with God…the more time I spend in His presence, and aligning my thoughts, heart and body with God…the more I have His aroma pouring out of me, and not my own!

That is what I long for people to experience when I meet them…not an encounter with Monty, but an encounter with the God of grace who Monty follows.If people leave an interaction with me only smelling some Old Spice and not God, then I need to realign my heart with His so that He is moving in and through me…this is what people need from me more than anything else, a heart surrendered to Christ.

So my challenge today is to spend as much time with God as you can…read the Bible, start with the Gospel of Luke so that you get well acquainted with Jesus and His scent…Read slowly and let the words absorb into you, they will change your life!

Spend as much time as you can simple talking to God, and then do the most radical thing ever…wait and listen for Him to speak to you! Give Him your day, your heart, your mind, and let Him move you through your work day into the conversations and circumstances where God’s scent can emanate from your heart…who knows someone may say…wow, that scent of your is so powerfully beautiful, where ever did you get it?

Right then, you need to smile as your heart expands and a smile spreads across your lips…God has just given you an opportunity to take part in His mission…life truly does not get any better than that!

Take my challenge this Easter…live in such a way that you smell like God!

Illuminate Deo,

Monty

The Morph of Grace

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Matthias had never really liked his father
. It seemed that whenever he needed his dad just to -be there, or to listen, he was never around. He didn’t really blame him though, times were hard, and money was scarce. Matthias knew his dad had finally resorted to stealing in order to get his family food, but that left him confused, not sure whether he should be happy that his dad was at least trying to keep them all fed, or angry that he broke the Torah to do it.

He saw the pain in his mother’s eyes every evening as she sat alone wondering where her husband was. But today, for the first time Matthias saw his dad through very different eyes. Today, a tear journeyed down his cheek collecting into a pool at his dusty feet. He heard and saw in his dad the man and father he had always wanted: compassionate, interested, forgiving, and humble. But why did something like this have to happen?

Matthias sat in the dust at the foot of the pole which held his dad. There were two other men up on poles as well. One of them Matthias knew. He had seen him in back alleys and in places where no good would come, but the other man he had only heard about. It was this man that had a life changing effect upon his dad, this Jesus.

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Matthias knew that Jesus had done nothing wrong. His dad had been caught stealing, and so too the other man, but Jesus was innocent. While Matthias’ dad looked alternately between his son and Jesus, the years of hurt and anger began to dissolve. The hard, cold look of a criminal was replaced with the tender gaze of a person who had just received the most lavish of gifts. The other man on the cross began mocking and spewing out words of hatred toward Jesus, but Matthias’ dad cried out,“Don’t you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom."  (Luke 23:40-42)

Matthias had never heard his dad speak out for someone else. There was such passion in his voice, such surety. He admitted that what he had done was wrong, and extended compassion to Jesus.
“Oh, Dad,” Matthias said, as his heart raced between pleasure and pain. Pleasure that his dad had encountered Jesus, and pain that he would soon breathe his last.

But then Matthias heard Jesus speak. It wasn’t very loud at first, but it was clear and definite. He said, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43). The smile that broke out across the face of Matthias’ dad could have filled the temple courts! And Matthias found the meaning to a new word, hope!

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I have been creatively thinking about the thieves upon the cross lately. What might it have been like for them to be there with Jesus, what was happening in their families. You see one of the men upon the cross began taking the steps to work through life’s hurts, habits, and hang-ups. First he admitted that he wasn’t God, and as he hung there with a sentence of death upon his cross, that knew he was powerless to change things. But as he looked at Jesus, he took the second step which was to believe that God exists, and that He had the power to change his reality.

God has a name, His name is Jesus, and the thief upon the cross placed his faith in Jesus as the only one who could change his fate.  The man then took the third step by  consciously choosing to trust Jesus with his life and his future. He openly confessed his sins before God and those who were minglingabout… he came clean. No more blaming, no more deceiving. He finally came clean and Jesus spoke those powerful words to him, words of hope. “Today you will be with me in paradise!”
It didn’t matter what he had done, no sin is so big that God cannot forgive it. He also didn’t earn these grace filled words, they were a gift from the giver of life who was about to breathe His last so that we could breathe eternally!

When we come clean before God, we receive God’s gift of grace and forgiveness. I don’t know what sins or mistakes you might have in your closet today. Perhaps it’s fresh, or perhaps it years old, it really doesn’t matter. Jesus says ‘look to me, trust me, come clean and I will remove from you this load that feels like the world’s weight.’ This is the process of having a clean heart and clean hands.

Matthew 5:8 says, “Happy are the pure in heart, they will see God.” If you want to experience the gaze of Jesus that fills you with forgiveness and hope, you need to start coming clean. Confess to God the areas that aren’t going right, the attitudes and habits that need changing. His promise is to forgive you instantly!!   1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Wow, what a promise! This promise is based upon God’s character and promises, not about your performance!

Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? 
Who may stand in his holy place?
Only those whose hands and hearts are pure,
who do not worship idols and never tell lies.
They will receive the Lord’s blessing
and have right standing with God their savior.
They alone may enter God’s presence
and worship the God of Israel.
Psalm 24:3-6

Grace. A beautiful gift to us when we don’t deserve it, but it is the gift that transforms the coldest of hearts into flames of passion!

Illuminate Deo,
Monty

When God Smiles

“Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Heb. 11:6

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The story is told of a beggar in medieval Europe who approached the king and asked him for a gift. The king peered deeply into the eyes of the beggar and said, “Give something to me first.” The beggar was startled and muttered under his breath. He reached into a large pocket of his robe that was bulging with kernels of corn. He gave one kernel of corn to the king. The king reached into his robe and gave the beggar a nugget of gold equal in size to the corn. For the rest of his life, the beggar lived in sorrow that he had not responded in a sacrificial way to the king’s request.*

Faith is an interesting gift that God gives to us. It comes to us not static or unchanging, but rather faith is ready to morph into whatever we are ready for it to become. The Bible tells us that we receive from God according to our faith, much like the story of the beggar and the king. We desire for God to bless us in mountainous ways, yet we are not willing to give in mountainous way. We give what we never truly miss.

Dynamic faith that God delights in is faith that says, “I have it all on the line, and I am trusting you for the end results!” But before our minds wander too far away, there is something that I want you to know, something that can radically change your current moment of time…and that is the God-reality of constant opportunities.

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Did you know that your life is filled with divine moments of faith opportunities?
Very often when we are buried in the mundane and in the ordinary is when the God-moments come. When we see something enter into our schedule that appears to be an interruption of our routine, but in actuality it is a God-opportunity given to you to exercise your faith in divine proportions.

God has entered your space and offered to draw you out of what is normal, and longs to lift you to what is otherworldly, to what only can be described as His purpose! I have taken advantage of many God-moments in my life, and while they may have seemed likea schedule killer, life interruption, or bordering on the mysterious, they all brought me to a new level of faith because God moved, and He changed lives.

I don’t know what your God moments will be today, but I do know that your day will have them. My question to you is, “Do you want to see them? Are you ready to leave the normal and mundane for a God-moment of extraordinary faith? Maybe it might be the neighbor that is driving you crazy. Perhaps a renewed look into the eyes of your spouse, maybe even the faith to give financially the way God asks us to give, and promises to bless.

Whatever it is, should you accept the faith challenge and step out into the choppy waters of uncertainty, God will be there, and you will see Him move!

You see, Jesus gave everything He had for us so that we could experience the fullness of life, and too often we give less than we can, and live lives that miss the full faith integration that God desires.

Write this down…Faith is believing when I don’t see it; obeying when I don’t understand it; giving when I don’t have it; persisting when I don’t feel like it; thanking God before I receive it; and trusting if I don’t get it.

So, what are you going to do…

Illuminate Deo
Monty