Preaching from a prison

Today I was invited to preach at a Texas State Prison with 2800 inmates.  It was one of the most humbling experiences.    There were men from every background, ethnicity, etc.  But, when the music started and we began to worship, none of that mattered.  We were in one mind and one accord.  Just like the day of pentecost. (Today is actually Pentecost Sunday!)

I’m convinced now more than ever that perspective can change everything. And this is probably nowhere truer than when we’re talking about the struggles faced in prison.

Most of us think of our struggles – our circumstances, obstacles, and enemies – as walls. They’re there to set us back or hold us back. We avoid them at all costs. When we encounter them, we usually turn back because after all, who wants to climb a wall? Especially a wall that can sometimes seem insurmountable.

But the truth is your circumstances and obstacles aren’t walls. They’re not there to set you back. In reality, they’re there to set you up.

Your struggles are not walls, they are doors.
Doors to the next level in your relationship with God. Doors that lead to a new horizon of His favor. They’re the necessary passageways through which all of us must pass to get to the place God is taking us to. And until you go through them, you can’t get there.

You can see this truth repeat itself throughout the Bible:
Slavery and prison put Joseph in position and served as his door to save millions.
Goliath gave David a stage and served as his door to public promotion.
The cross gave Jesus the means of His death and served as His door to save the world.

Imagine if any of these men had not gone through their doors. Imagine if instead, they saw them as walls. As things to be avoided or run from.

Millions would have starved to death in Egypt.
The whole David and Goliath story would eliminate 40% of sermons ever preached.
We would still be in our sins.

Luckily all we can do is imagine. I hope the same can be said about the doors you face in life. I’d rather you imagine what life would have been like had you not opened them, than to have to imagine what it might look like on the other side if you had.

Whatever circumstance, struggle, or enemy you’re facing, don’t turn around. God has something for you on the other side better than what you have now. And it’s something you’ll never experience until you walk through the door.

 

-JC

 

Interior views of traditional prison

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Fences Bring Freedom

Nobody likes boundaries/Fences.

They’re constraining. They give us a line we can’t cross. Our view is the best life is the one in which we can say whatever we want. Act however we want. Cheat on/with whomever we want. Essentially, do whatever we want. As long as it makes us happy.

Basically, we feel like boundaries limit our freedom.

It seems to make sense. And on the face of it, it is kind of true: boundaries constrict us.
But Fences also bring freedom.

This is obvious enough in real life. A little while back we put a fence in our backyard for Ian and Ava. The purpose wasn’t to keep them in. It was actually to keep what could harm them out. Did the fence set a boundary they couldn’t go past? Yes. But it also gave them the freedom to play in the yard and enjoy their toys.

In the same way, boundaries give us the ability to enjoy the blessings of God in our lives. A lot of times we think that God puts fences up in our lives and puts things off limits in order to keep us captive. He just wants to limit our happiness. But in effect, He is giving us the ability to enjoy what He has given us. He is actually trying to put us in a position where we can be happy.

I think the reason we have a problem with boundaries is that our mindset is “how far can I go?” rather than “how free can I be?” The first mindset has its eyes on getting as close to the border of God’s blessings as possible. The second mindset has its eyes on actually enjoying them.

We claim we want freedom, but we don’t. Freedom isn’t having the ability to do anything you want. Freedom is being able to enjoy what you have.

God has already given us everything we need to be happy in this life. We’ve got a bigger yard than anyone else in the world. The fences are just there to make sure we have something to enjoy.

Boundaries are a blessing, because what we value, we protect.
So stop focusing on and resenting the fences that God has put around you.
And start doing what they’re there to enable you to do:
Play in the yard.

Day89

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It’s already yours

I get so frustrated with the older brother in the story of the prodigal son.
Here he is, pitching a temper tantrum because of something his father never gave him (a goat, for crying out loud).

We can learn a valuable lesson at the expense his ignorance:
Your Father can’t give you what’s already yours!

This brother had access to as many fat cows as his heart desired.
They were his for the taking. So what was he waiting for?

Many times we pray for God to give us things that we already possess.
We ask God to give us joy. Joy doesn’t come from out-there-somewhere.
It’s a fruit of the Spirit-and it’s already ours-.waiting to be activated.

I’ve begged God before to give me peace about certain situations. When He doesn’t rain down peace, I become irritated and impatient.
But He’s already given me peace through Jesus-a peace that passes understanding.
He’s waiting for me to walk in what He’s already provided.

Don’t wait for God to give you victory when He’s already won the battle.
Don’t wait for God to give you hope when He’s already poured out His hope in abundance into your heart.

Stop waiting for God to give you what’s already yours.

-JC

 

It's already yours

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100 year grid

Short blog today…

Do you love to complain? Does it make you feel better?

When I’m tempted to complain, it’s very helpful to run my potential complaint through the grid of 100 years.

Size up the situation, consider the ramifications, and ask honestly:
Will this matter in a hundred years?

If the answer is no, let it go.
If it’s yes, do something about it.
Either way, complaining is not an option.

The majority of the things I complain about are related to my temporary comfort, not eternal realities. There’s no need complaining about something that will have no impact in 3 weeks. A lot of the things I complain about won’t even matter 3 minutes from now.

Will it matter in a hundred years? Probably not.

So why waste a complaint? You’ve got more enduring work to do.

 

-JC

 

100-Years

 

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Political junkie

I’ve been fooling myself. I’ve kind of been nodding along-”yeah, me too-” -as people complained that they couldn’t wait for the election to be over.
I thought I was sick of it, I guess.

And now that it’s over, I miss it already.
Not just because I enjoyed it (which i did, because the results affect me).

But I’ve also learned a lot through watching the process.
It was fascinating to watch the marketing and branding put into each campaign. ( $1 Billion per campaign) What would I do with that kind of money?

And maybe more than anything else, I’m inspired.
Whether or not I’m pleased with results, that’s not my calling or platform.
But I saw some of the apathy that has characterized my generation begin to lift over the past few months. And I’m inspired by that.

And since the spirit of my generation seems to have been stirred by a political process which, offers only a shadow of hope for change, I believe that this generation wants to believe.
The REAL change of the future is waiting to be created by the churches, saints, and students who will raise the banner of the true hope of the Gospel for a generation to believe in.
The stage is set, your part is here, we are a generation under the weight of the Gospel of Jesus.
Lets take it to the world!

No matter who is president, Jesus is King!!

– Jordan Cunningham

 

mlkpointingflat

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5 steps to a successful school lunch with your students and future students.

I am a firm believer that an essential part of student ministry is getting on students turf. You can reach more students and potentially draw more students to your services by going to them. Here are a few tips I have found necessary.

So, here are 5 simple steps to have lunch with your students.

1. Get permission. First thing, you need to get permission from the administration to visit during lunch. If you have to wear a bright yellow visitor sticker, then wear it! I recommend setting up a meeting with the principal or an assistant principal, so they can get to know you and possibly come to you in the future with opportunities.

2. Tell your students that you are coming. It will get them excited to see you, and encourage them to sit together when they may not normally.

3. Overcome your fears. Lots of times you can feel intimidated being in their environment. Take a staff member or a local student pastor. You may also learn that other student pastors are going on certain days. Try and connect with them

4. Meet other students. Don’t just stay in the clique of the youth group. Find students that have been a few times or just once.

5. Be outgoing and confidently introduce yourself to their friends. Also remember that lunch time is one of the only free times for them to talk to their friends in open conversation so participate don’t dominate.

Good luck

Jordan Cunningham

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Everyday is a 9/11 (Guard Your Heart)

My Experience

Alan Jackson posed the question, “Where were you when the world stopped turning, on that September day?”
I WILL NEVER FORGET:
I was a freshman at North Lamar high school. It was a “B” day and I was in 1st period, Athletics. Shooting around with my friends talking about sports statistics when we should have been discussing chemistry. Suddenly, Micah Morton came running through the doors yelling, “The WORLD TRADE CENTER has been hit by an airplane!! Hurry, come watch it on the TV.” We rushed to the nearest class room where students were watching intensely and teachers were crying. The entire school was silent, the hallways were empty as we watched in total shock of what was happening before our eyes. I admittedly didn’t really know what the WTC was. I later did some research on the computer and found out the true importance of what was no longer. As we watched replay after replay of the horrific scene, suddenly another plane crashed into the second tower. It took a while to register that it was not a replay this time, but in fact a totally new occurrence. A second plane had just struck into the other tower. Two towers… Two planes. What would unfold over the next several hours, days, weeks, months, and now 11 years would change our country forever. Our country had been attacked.

Sometimes i wonder, What if every day was like 9/11/2001? What if everyday we were being attacked by an enemy?

The fact is we are. Everyday the enemy of our soul awaits for our weakest moment to attack.

Put your guard up!

I love Proverbs 4:23:
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Don’t just guard your heart against lust.

Guard it against discouragement. Guard it against pride. Guard it against doubt. Insecurity. Jealousy. Distraction.

Be selective about who gets backstage access in your life.

You can’t let just anyone into your world to speak into your soul.
Be careful who you share your dreams with.
Their negativity can contaminate the possibility before it ever has a chance to become a reality.

Be careful who you take advice from.
Their immaturity or ignorance might confuse the issue and create needless chaos.

Everything flows from the heart.
Put it on lock down… like Fort Knox.
You’ve got valuable stuff in there.

Today my heart is heavy for the families who lost loved ones on 9/11/2001.

God Bless the USA!

-JC

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