Mountain View

mountain view

Luke 6:10-12 (NLT) 10 He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! 11 At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him.12 One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.

These Chills Are Multiplying

I remember I was sweating, my knees were weak, and I was terrified as one of my friends was pulling on my arm saying “Come on Hank, it’s awesome!” I had always thought of myself as a brave kid, but here I was on top of a mountain, showing that I was all talk and no action. You see I grew up in East Tennessee, surrounded by hills and mountains, in fact my family and I would vacation frequently in Gatlinburg, TN which had the most breath taking views of the Smoky Mountains. We would travel the mountains and climb forever and ever into the sky in our silver Buick Regal. The climb was uncomfortable and it took what felt like forever to reach the top. Once we reached the top I was unable to look over the edge and see where we had just come from, I was terrified and I would think to myself “What if I fall?” and “What if they pull me so hard I fall?” I was so afraid of falling to the point I was missing the best part of the journey, the view.

Ain’t No Mountain High… Ain’t No Valley Low

For many of us, looking back on the past is painful. I’ve heard it said that we should leave the past in the past, and never look back. I absolutely agree with that to a point. My thought is, never look back when your pulling yourself out of the valley. When you begin to climb the mountain, looking back will only cause distractions. The valley has been used as an analogy for describing the dark times in a person’s life, whereas the mountain top has been described as the pinnacle, the goal that we are striving for. For many of us we are still reaching for that mountain top experience.

What Jesus Teaches Us

As I study the scripture in Luke 6 I see Jesus who has done the impossible, he has just healed a man’s hand, completely restored! Those who hated Jesus only became more angry at him and began to plot how they might get rid of him. I could only imagine how I would feel if I were Jesus at this moment. I would be confused because I have just done this great thing, I’ve shown compassion to this crippled man, and most of all I’ve been used by God! Yet, they want to kill me! I believe that Jesus thought on this for a while, just like I would have, and yet his reaction is what ours should be. Jesus went up on a mountain and prayed to God all night.

Have you ever been in the valley, upset, disappointed, confused, and needing answers? I have! Being in the valley is a terrible experience, yet I have found myself here so often, and I have to ask why this that? The smart alec in me wants to say, “It’s because your from Rockwood!” which is located in the valley of East Tennessee, surrounded by mountains. As a kid I learned a valuable lesson. If you want to get out of the valley, then climb a mountain. Climbing won’t be easy, it can be painful, and it can take time, but with focus and determination you will reach the top. As Jesus climbed the mountain, and walked it’s trails, he was focused on God alone. The Lord shows us that when the enemy comes against us, climb a mountain, get away from the chaos, be alone where it’s just you and God, and once you reach the pinnacle you’ll be able to see things more clearly. You can look over the valley and say “with the help of God I overcame all of this.” Once Jesus left the mountain with God he was focused on one task, and that was task was to pull others out of their valley’s. What’s neat is Luke tells us in his gospel that Jesus started with twelve ordinary men, who would turn the world upside down. (Luke 6:13-16)

Disciple Making

I encourage you today by saying this, if you find yourself in the valley, make up in your mind now that you’re going to get away with God. It’s not going to be some patty cake prayer that gets you out, but hard work, determination, focus, and time with God in prayer. Once you’ve reached the pinnacle with God, you can overlook the valley with a new perspective, with a sense of victory. I encourage everyone to have a “mountain top” mentality, but be sure to bring someone with you. That’s how we make disciples for the kingdom.

17 When they came down from the mountain, the disciples stood with Jesus on a large, level area, surrounded by many of his followers and by the crowds. There were people from all over Judea and from Jerusalem and from as far north as the seacoasts of Tyre and Sidon. Luke 6:17

Blessings,

Hank

By the way, I finally gave in and looked over the edge. Sure I was scared, but it didn’t last long because now I had a feeling of victory. Wow what a view!

Black Mountain
Black Mountain located in Crab Orchard, TN
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Preparing Yourself to Receive

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5 ESV

We are quickly coming up on Valentine’s Day weekend, which for the Tennessee District United Pentecostal Church means Winter Youth Retreat in Sevierville, TN. This is an awesome event packed full of fun, worship, and the preaching of the Gospel. As vans full of youth arrive at the Sevierville Convention Center, some are beyond excited, while others are nervous (first timers), but everyone knows it’s going to be a great event.

This year Vertical Student Ministries is taking 19 students, and three of them are new to the youth group. As their student pastor I wanted everyone to be prepared for this event, because I knew without a shadow of doubt, that all of them would come back with their lives changed. I’ve experienced this countless times as a youth myself, and later on as a youth worker. There is just something about young people, who are passionately seeking God in worship, that causes the universe to explode (ok, maybe not that violent), however in all honesty it is a very powerful experience. It reminds me of the Book of Acts when the disciples were waiting for the promised Holy Spirit in chapter 2. Once the Spirit arrived, it was powerful, and caused many to question “What is this?” I believe that when our young people arrive back home on Monday, many will proclaim “What is this!” and ask “What has got a hold of these young people?”

On Sunday I taught a lesson to the youth titled “How to Prepare for Youth Retreat.” I covered having fun, meeting new people, participating in all the activities (which is important for the experience), but that’s not the most important thing. I told them that this week they need to be in prayer for Winter Youth Retreat and focus on what they want to experience from God. I pointed out to them that if they prepare now to receive, just like the disciples did in Acts 2, then they would also have a powerful experience with God. They took it to heart and made up in their minds that tonight at church they wanted to start preparing to receive from God a powerful experience.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, our youth have been in focused prayer, and these young people have really been preparing themselves lately to touch God. That’s exactly what happened on Sunday night. They worshiped, they went to the altars after the preaching, and then they had a life changing experience with God. Many of them prayed like I haven’t heard them pray before. My wife was touched in such a way that she was used in the gift of Knowledge, which is one of the Gifts of the Spirit spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12.

 

I’m proud of our young people for making up in their minds that they were not going to settle and wait for Winter Youth Retreat to experience the presence of the Holy Spirit. They are realizing that seeking God is more than having book smarts and theology degrees, but we accomplish it when we study his Word in focused prayer. In order to receive from God, we must first be actively seeking him, and then we must be ready to receive.

Blessings,

Hank

 

 

A Legacy of Prayer

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This year my youth group will be embarking on a journey to grow closer to God through prayer. I know this sounds typical, however for our group young people it’s something we are taking serious. We have purchased books from the Christian movie The War Room to draw inspiration, insight from others, and develop a battle plan for daily prayer. We have realized that our time is short, and if we want to impact the world for Christ, it first starts with a relationship with him.

Tonight I’m teaching on The Legacy of Prayer, which is the title of chapter 1 in The Battle Plan of Prayer. I would like to share with you a quote from the book that really caught my attention, “And there is no greater legacy we could embrace or leave behind us than one of faithfulness in prayer.” It’s from this quote that I get my thought today.

I like to highlight and write in my books. This is advice I took from my former youth pastor. I’m not encouraging you to do the same, however I do like to flip through the books I’ve read and remember the thoughts I had when reading that particular book. The note I made next to that quote was this, “The greatest legacy I can pass down to my daughter is a legacy of prayer.” When I took that thought to heart, I began to allow my 1 year old daughter in my room during my hour long prayer meetings. She quickly grabbed a hold of what I was doing, and though her words aren’t formed like mine, she bows her head, gets on her knees, and speaks to God like her daddy.

My wife experienced this one night. As my daughter and I were praying, Sydney walked in to see her husband and baby girl on their knees praying for mommy, and being 8 weeks pregnant with our second child, she became emotional and began to cry. There is nothing that overjoys a parent than knowing their child is doing what’s right and good. In this case we’re training Harper (my daughter) to develop her own relationship with Jesus.

Harper can’t live off her parents faith and relationship with God alone, she’s got to develop her own. But it’s my job to pass down to her a legacy of prayer. Rev. Anthony Mangun of Louisiana preaches passionately at The Pentecostals of Alexandria that he has got a hold of a legacy of prayer passed on by his parents. The key to the fire that Bro. Mangun has is found in his own prayer life, and his model was his parents. For me I’ve been blessed to have prayer warriors in my life, and none more prominent than grandma Hayes. I remember watching my her pray and sow as a kid growing up. She was in constant conversation with the Lord. Next time I see her (she’s 90 years old), I’m going to give her a big hug, and thank her for passing down a legacy of prayer, that touched me and her granddaughter.

Blessings,

Hank

Kendrick, Stephen, and Alex Kendrick. The Battle Plan for Prayer: From Basic Training to Targeted Strategies. Nashville, TN: B&H Group, 2015. Print.