You Have a Compass

As a kid I was fascinated with maps. This will date me, but this was before GPS and turn-by-turn directions! I would sit for hours studying interesting places and how to get from one place to another and plan hikes. But when you begin your journey, you realize that although the map stays the same, what’s in front of you is constantly changing and doesn’t look exactly like the map. New trails, washed out trails, changing weather conditions, and though I know I am supposed to go North, how do I know where North is??

Enter the humble compass.

A compass does 1 thing — it keeps pointing North. It is my reference for where I am currently headed. The map tells me where I am and where I need to go. The compass tells me in which direction to take the next step. Obstacles along the way require frequent side steps which then require constant compass checks for course corrections. Without them, I can easily end up headed in the opposite direction without me realizing it!

The Bible, God’s Word, is our spiritual map. It lays a path before us in line with God’s redemptive plan for mankind.

The Holy Spirit is our spiritual compass. He was given to us by the Father to guide and empower us, to bring the words of our map, the Bible, to life.

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. John 16:13

Without a compass, your journey becomes a LOT more difficult. A map was always designed to be guided by a compass. The Word of God was always meant to be guided by the Holy Spirit.

As a kid, when I learned there was such a thing as a compass it changed my perspective. When I learned how to use a compass, suddenly the journey was a lot easier. I started taking on more difficult hikes. Terrain and distance didn’t matter, I knew where I was going and I knew how to get there. If I got lost, the compass always put me back on the right path.

When I discovered the Holy Spirit, I couldn’t believe I had ever tried to live the Christian life without Him. Being continually filled with the Spirit has been the most empowering thing in my life. He’s a constant voice giving direction to me when other resources are silent. If I get off track, He gently nudges me back in line. So if God seems silent in your life, I encourage you to get your compass, be filled with the Holy Spirit and listen to Him as he guides you on your journey. Your life will never be the same.

A Lesson from AW Tozer

Romey Ritter —  October 14, 2016

Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow (Jesus Christ). So one hundred worshippers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship (it’s false human loyalty). ~A.W. Tozer

Eloquently stated Mr. Tozer!

Tozer is, of course, speaking about unity and where true unity comes from. If our eyes are diverted from Jesus and look to man, the teachings and traditions of men, we end up tuned to each other. This is a warped version of unity–a religion that is social.

religion that is social looks good. It entertains. It may grant success. Yet, it is powerless. But because it’s social, we like it, or think we are supposed to like it, everyone else seems to…

Socialization is conformity. We conform to whoever or whatever is around us. We give up our convictions of Truth, and even ignore the Holy Spirit, to follow a crowd. It’s hard to turn your back on a crowd; all those voices; sometimes respected voices. 

Why did Paul say to the church, do not conform to the pattern of this world, Romans 12:2? He was saying, do not be socialized… not to the world, not to a crowd, not to a religious form, not to man’s traditions. These are all powerless and we begin to look like, sound like, taste like, feel like, love-or-hate like, whoever or whatever we socialize to. If it’s man, our faith will be powerless.

Jesus is the standard. By continually fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, Hebrews 12:2, we are transformed by the renewing of our mind, Romans 12:2. As we are being transformed into His image, 2Corinthians 3:18, we grow more like Him in nature and character. It is in this place that our hearts will be nearer to and filled with true love for each other. This is the unity Tozer is speaking of.

There are moments in our lives when God seems silent. There can be several reasons for this but sometimes, He just simply chooses to be. As we discussed in a previous blog When God is Silent, this may be because God wants us to use the tools He has already given us to discern His will and make wise decisions. Be encouraged that God’s silence does not mean his absence. He is the omnipresent God whose Spirit dwells in every believer (2 Timothy 1:14, Romans 8:9, 1 Corinthians 6:19). He will never leave you and never forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:8). Whether you hear Him or not, He IS there. But what do we do when we can’t hear Him?

A primary way God speaks to us today is through His Word, the Bible. Many question how a book written so long ago could be relevant in today’s digital age. Haven’t we outgrown that stuff? Isn’t the bible just a bunch of rules and regulations for people who lived in the Dark Ages? Isn’t it just a book written by man to keep the world from chaos? Good questions.

The bible is a book like no other. More than just the 10 commandments, the Bible is the most historically accurate book ever written, full of beautiful poetry and stories that even Hollywood couldn’t make up, and contains a surprising breadth of topics. There is wisdom for raising kids, healthy marriages, managing finances, and finding a life partner but it is so much more. That’s because the Bible does not just contain the words of God. It is the Word of God. The Word of God was in the beginning and is God.  The Word, embodied in Jesus Christ, made His dwelling with us. He brought life that was light to all mankind (John 1:1-3). The pages of the Bible we have today reveal Jesus as the author of life, the light of the world, and God’s great plan of redemption for all mankind. Because of this, the Bible is not just an instructional manual on good moral behavior. It is the Word of God that requires something more than knowledge — it requires relationship.

Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is alive and active. Living things require relationship. To fully understand the Bible you need to develop a relationship with the Word. This begins by giving your heart to Jesus (the Word made flesh), being filled with the Holy Spirit, then studying to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15 AMP). When you develop a relationship with the Word through spirit-filled study and application, you begin to discover the power it contains. Words on a page, no matter how well crafted, lack the power to change a person. Only a relationship can do that, and relationships require action.

A preacher named Charles Stanley used to teach was that if you haven’t heard from God in a while, go back and do the last thing He told you to do that you didn’t do. Perhaps God is silent because He is waiting for us to act on what we already know. As James 1:22 says, Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what is says. If you want to hear God through His Word, action is required.

Psalm 119:11 says, I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. The key to hearing God from the Bible is to apply what you’ve read. When you do, the Word gets hidden in your heart; ready for whatever circumstance life throws at you.

Psalm 119:105 also says, Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. We live in a world that can get really dark. God’s Word is our light to get us through the darkness. LIGHT IT UP! 

So if you feel God has been silent on an answer you need, the first place to look is the Bible. If you don’t know where to start, just Google “bible verse ____” and include the topic you need to know about. Don’t just read what the links say. Look the verses up in your bible and read them. Read the whole chapter to get the context. Read several passages on the same topic to get an overall view from God’s perspective. You’ll soon see the answer you’re looking for has been in the Bible all along waiting for you to discover it.

Light it up!

Next up: When God is Silent: Use Your Compass



When God is Silent

Clayton Ritter —  October 4, 2016

God speaks to us. Sometimes clearly, sometimes subtly but He has a voice and, no, it doesn’t sound like Morgan Freeman. That would be cool though, right? There have been moments in my life when I have heard God so clearly that it drowned out every other voice and even the often most powerful voice — my own. My voice in my head is often the most powerful because what I tell myself can have the biggest impact on the fruit my life produces. We’ll talk about that more in another blog.

God can speak to you in several different ways. A voice from a burning bush, the mouth of a donkey, a voice from the clouds, God is one creative communicator! Regardless of the method, as a follower of Jesus, when you know you’ve heard from God and He has given you a commission you really only have two choices — obedience or disobedience. For perspective on the latter option read the book of Jonah. Jonah eventually got it right but, as I frequently remind my young sons, delayed obedience is disobedience.

God is infinitely patient with us but there are moments when God wants us to move without hesitation. Luke 9:59-62 tells of a time when Jesus commissioned two people to follow Him. Though the call was clear, they both told Jesus they first had other important matters that needed their attention. Jesus essentially told them to stop looking back and move forward with what He was telling them to do now. Leave behind whatever you have and do exactly what He has told you to do. As He said, the dead (the things you leave behind) will bury their own, Luke 9:60.

The lesson is this: when you clearly hear the voice of God the time to act is NOW.

But what if God is silent in other areas? What if, although God has told you what He wants you to do, He has been silent on how to do it? What if you really need to hear from God on a particular issue but it seems as though He’s not answering your texts, never returns email, hasn’t commented on your Facebook post, the gates of heaven have closed, and your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling? Trust me, we’ve all been there. Left to our own devices we can think either God isn’t listening or we’ve done something wrong.

There are several instances from Scripture why our prayers can be hindered. A husband who who does not respect or honor his wife will struggle to hear God (1 Peter 3:7). Spiritual opposition (Daniel 10:12-14) can cause a delay in receiving your answer. These are just a few. But sometimes God chooses not to speak to us. Only He really knows why but I often suspect it is the same reason I don’t always answer every question my kids ask me. I want them to figure it out for themselves. I want them to realize they had the answer all along, they just needed to use the resources and wisdom I had already given them. In the next few posts, I want to show you a few of the valuable resources God has given us to help us obey Him and proclaim the Kingdom of God to our generation.

I want to show you what to do when God is silent.

Coming up: When God is Silent: Light it Up!

We Are Planting A Church!

Romey Ritter —  September 20, 2016

By Clayton Ritter.

We are planting a church!

Yep, that’s right. Romey and I are planting a church. Just a year ago I never thought I’d be saying these words but a lot can happen in a year. So how did we get here? What kind of church will it be? When are we getting started? Where is the church going to be? Let me tell you the story of how we heard from God about His next step in the plan for our lives.

In 2000, we were invited to come onto the pastoral staff of what was then Virginia Beach Christian Life Center, now Wave Church, to begin “full-time ministry.” Though Romey had been on staff at two previous churches, I’d only had one job since college, playing professional basketball. I used quotation marks around “full time ministry” because I believe playing basketball was as much ministry as being a pastor on staff at a church. That’s because every Christian is in full time ministry.

2 Corinthians 3:6 says, “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

2 Corinthians 5:19-20 says, “God has given us the message of reconciliation and we are therefore Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making His appeal through us.”

In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…”

Every Christian is a minister.
Every Christian is an ambassador.
Every Christian has the message of reconciliation.
Every Christian is a disciple.
Every Christian is a disciple maker.

While every Christian is called to ministry, that ministry will look different for each individual. Romey knew before she was ten years old that she would serve God. I knew God had called me to spend the rest of my life helping others meet Jesus and find their own calling. When we found Wave Church, we knew it was the next step in our journey.

We have spent sixteen years on staff with Wave Church and are grateful for our years there. We helped the church grow from just a few hundred people to thousands and multiple campuses.

God spoke specifically and consistently during our time at Wave Church, to “be a son and a daughter of the house, and serve Pastors Steve and Sharon Kelly.” So for sixteen years that is exactly what we did.

About two years ago, God began to speak to my heart, saying, “You have been a son, now it’s time to be a father.” I wasn’t sure what that meant exactly so I asked God to show me. Through His Word and in my prayer time, He started to show me what spiritual fatherhood looks like.

Another year later, we both began to feel the Holy Spirit was conceiving in us an incredible vision for a church and ministry that was different from where we were. We knew this was God wanting to birth something through us. Like a baby growing in a mother’s womb, we had something growing in our spirits, something big and something beautiful. At first it was unseen, but eventually it was getting bigger and stronger, and it was becoming obvious.

I wrestled with whether this was something God wanted to do at my current church but it soon became clear this was a new work of God and He wanted to do it through Romey and me. We loved our church and pastors but it became clear what God was doing. He was calling us to lead a church and He wanted me to do it as a father.

We did what anyone should do in our position, we brought this to our pastors, Steve and Sharon. They listened to us, prayed for us, and blessed us to seek God about the where and the when.

I had accrued a lot of sabbatical and vacation leave so we decided this was a good time to pray and fast and ask God one simple question: Where was this church going to be? I firmly believed God would give us a heart for a city or a people group. We went into this prepared to go anywhere. We looked at cities up and down the East and West Coast, Colorado, we looked at Australia and Africa.

On the second day of our fast God showed up in a powerful way. On that day I heard from God clearer than I have heard anything in my life that he was calling us right where we were, my hometown of Virginia Beach! I was floored. I honestly thought we were headed to the West Coast or maybe D.C. On that same day God gave me several miraculous signs, as confirmation of His words to me. I have only shared these with a few people, but may share more openly some day. Every day since, God has confirmed His words to us by directing us to passages of Scripture. We both received several prophetic words from people confirming what God had been speaking to us.

I know God has spoken to us about this. I know we are called to plant a church in Virginia Beach. But this comes with complications. In the church paradigm in which I have served, planting a church in the same city where you have been on staff is frowned upon. There are several reasons for this, some legitimate, some not. When God first told me His plan for us I told Him He was wrong or that I must have heard Him wrongly. Though we have since found several churches in our city that have done this and are flourishing, it was not the vision of Wave. I argued with God, “I can’t plant a church in the same city as Wave.” But God had other things in mind.

Knowing for certain that God has spoken to us, we brought it to Pastors Steve and Sharon and after some very honest conversations, we agreed to wait a year before starting our church. In doing so, Pastors Steve and Sharon told us we will have their blessing.

So we are happy to announce that in September 2017 we will be launching SEASHORE CHURCH!

I’ll explain the name later but it’s a pretty cool story. In the meantime, Romey and I are looking for jobs to support our family, praying over our city, sharing the Gospel with anyone who will listen, and spending the year letting God shape the vision for SEASHORE CHURCH.

If you are reading this and planted in a good local church, we encourage you to stay there. If you’re looking for a good church, there are lots in this city. We will have a church but it is a year away. Psalm 68:6 says, “God sets the lonely in families…” Our desire is for people to hear from God for themselves about where He has called them.

Here is what we do know:

SEASHORE CHURCH will live to see God’s Kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

We will make disciples.

We will plant churches… LOTS of them.

We will worship our amazing God passionately in Spirit and in truth.

We will preach the Gospel of Jesus and teach the Bible with authority from heaven.

We will win, build, and send people to fulfill the call of God on their lives, no matter what or where it is.

We will endeavor to develop every believer as ministers of the new covenant through the power of the Holy Spirit.

And we will have the time of our lives doing it!