Thursday, December 30, 2010
Sometimes the plans you had for your life are interrupted, shall I say blind-sided, by “dream-crushers”. Maybe the plans for your job, children, marriage have failed. Who would have thought they would be jobless at age 46? Maybe your perfect marriage of 20 years has been suddenly interrupted by adultery and divorce. Perhaps you find out that your kid has been on drugs or is even in jail? Sometimes bad news hits us between the eyes like a ton of bricks. Cancer. The death of a child. Three months, maybe weeks, to live. Everybody has dreams but it can feel like they have all been swept away in a moment when things don’t go as you had planned.
Maybe none of these things have happened to you. Maybe tragedy has passed you by. But maybe you still feel like your dreams will never come. Something always seems to sideline what you feel like is best for your life. The things we assume are going to happen to us in life don’t always happen.
A lot of times when we are faced with any kind of trial we are blown away. We assume that our plans and aspirations are what God intended for our lives. Why aren’t they happening? Why isn’t my “storybook ending” working out? When things don’t go as planned, we are left empty and spinning our wheels.
John 16:33 is an amazing verse. Jesus and the disciples had been doing great things all around them. The disciples are seeing their lives fulfilled. No longer are they fishermen and tax-collectors. No longer are they reject rabbis. They have purpose. But Jesus just rocked their world and told them He was going away. What! You can’t Jesus. Life is good. We are finding our purpose. This is not how things are supposed to go. Then, like only Jesus can, He comforts their grief. He says to them, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
What was Jesus saying to them? The same thing He is saying to you and me today. Our purpose is found in Him but we have to remember to look to Christ as our only source of fulfillment. We will have trouble in this world - expect it. But Jesus offers peace. He has overcome the world. When Jesus said, “But take heart,” He was offering healing to a broken heart. He was giving peace to a disappointed soul. He was supplying hope in the midst of a storm.
Christ is our anchor when the world is tossing our lives back and forth. When our lives start to be rocked by this hurtful world, we need to remember to look to Christ’s cross as a reminder of what God has done to redeem our circumstances. God loves you. The plans for your life are trivial compared to the ones He has for you. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” It goes on to say that when you call on God, He will listen. When you seek Him with your whole heart, you will find Him.
Maybe you don’t understand what is going on in your life right now. But remember to trust God. Trust is what you need when you don’t possess understanding. If you are desperate for answers and relief, trust in Jesus. He knows the plan for your life. He desires to walk you through each step, including the painful ones. Remember the last part of Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” The suffering all of us endure in this fallen world can seem unbearable without the joy and peace that only Christ can bring. While we may be utterly desperate and unprepared when suffering comes, Christ is a solid rock (1 Corinthians 10:4). “On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Sometimes (we think) it is easier to stay stuck than to move forward. Change can be hard. Whether it is positive or negative change, it can be difficult to move forward through change. We get comfortable with familiar and detest the unknown. We tolerate instead of create. Don't be complacent this next year. Move forward.
It is like Spiritual ADD. We hop from one thing to the next and never develop a discipline or full understanding in any area spiritually. What are the major things Christ wants to do in your life? Don't know? What has he called you to? What are you passionate about? What does His word say you should be doing? We avoid making major adjustments in life because we are too busy with insignificant ones. Stop avoiding and diverting your attention from God's main callings. What are you doing that really doesn’t matter at all? Don't let distractions keep you from God's best in 2011.
I think this one only applies to 1 out of 1 people. Everyone has regrets, but they can leave you immobile and cause you to abandon your calling. Regrets can often overpower ambition and desire. Regret can leave you paralyzed and fearful of advancing. Don't let past failure keep you from future success.
If you don't want to stay stuck, then put your life in gear, get out of neutral and PUSH! Don't abandon the vehicle God has put you in because of complacency, distractions, or regrets. What shift are you supposed to make to get your life in gear? Pray this to get started:
"God, I desire to move ahead at your speed, in your direction. I desire to transition spiritually and do not want to become stuck."
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." - 1 Peter 1:3
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
2. Found people find people. Who are you going to share the gospel with this year?
3. Free people free people. Who do you know in bondage? How can they be free in 2011?
4. Hurt people hurt people. Have you dealt with all the offense, bitterness, and hurt in your life?
5. Forgiven people forgive people. Who do you need to forgive?
6. Growing people help grow people. Are you growing in Christ? Who are you discipling?
7. Gifted people give to people. Who are you blessing? Who needs a blessing?
8. Thankful people thank people. Who has impacted your life for Christ? Have you thanked them?
9. Sticky people stick with people. If you stay close to Jesus, you won't give up on people.
10. On Fire People Fire Up People. Live out loud for the Lord in 2011 and watch others join you!
Monday, December 27, 2010
Luke 8:12—Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
John 1:12—But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.
John 2:23—Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did.
John 3:14-18—And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:36—He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
John 6:35—And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes [by faith] to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
John 6:40—And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 6:47—Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.
John 11:25-27—Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
John 20:31—But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
Acts 8:37—Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
Acts 10:43—To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.
Acts 16:31, 34—So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” . . . Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God [confirmation of Christ’s deity) with all his household.
Romans 10:8-11—But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth [an expression confirming genuineness of action] the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart [reinforcing the fact that faith must be genuine] that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation [the natural outgrowth of an inward imputation of righteousness, which is solely by faith]. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
1 Corinthians 1:21—For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
Galatians 3:22—But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
Ephesians 1:13—In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.
Ephesians 2:8, 9— For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
1 Timothy 1:16—However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.
1 Timothy 4:10—For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.
1 John 5:1, 5—Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. . . . Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
1 John 5:13—These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Jesus brings the hope that He desires relationship with us when all our other relationships may fall apart. Jesus' cross brings hope that our sins are forgiven and there is no condemnation in Him! Jesus' tomb brings hope that Jesus conquered sin, death, and the grave. In Him, we too can conquer whatever we face. Jesus' birth brings hope for the long awaited Messiah. People had waited for hundreds of years for the greatest gift of all (and my kids can hardly wait 2 days for Christmas presents).
Biblical hope is not wishing or guessing. It is not maybe or might. The English language, and probably our lack of faith, has done the Biblical meaning of hope much damage. Biblical hope is synonymous with the word "trust". It contains no uncertainty whatsoever! In the New Testament, the word elpis, the Greek word for hope (used 10 times), is also the word used many times (18) for "trust". One definition for hope is: To look forward to with confidence or expectation. Scripture brings hope when it says, "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." (Psalms 27:13)
What is interesting is that the use of the word hope for "confident expectation" does not appear in the Gospels. Probably because of Jesus' constant, reassuring presence throughout them!
5 Things about Hope
1. Hope comes from God's Word
"For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." (Romans 15:4)
"Because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel, which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth." (Colossians 1:5-6)
2. Hope comes from God's Grace Towards Us
2 Thessalonians 2:16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace,
3. Hope comes from a Spirit-filled life.
"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13) (what a prayer!)
"Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:13)
4. Hope gives us confidence "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope." (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
"Be strong, and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the LORD." (Psalm 31:24)
5. Hope in Christ's Saving Power
"For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it." (Romans 8:24-25)
Christ is our blessed hope! - Titus 2:13, 3:7
Here is a short study on hope. Enjoy!
1. In God. Psalm 39:7 ; 1Peter 1:21
2. In Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:19 ; 1Timothy 1:1
3. In God's promises. Acts 26:6-7; Titus 1:2
4. In the mercy of God. Psalm 33:18
5. Is the work of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13; Galatians 5:5
6. Obtained through:
a. Grace. 2 Thessalonians 2:16
b. The word. Psalm 119:81
c. Patience and
comfort of the Scriptures. Romans 15:4
d. The gospel. Colossians 1:5, 23
e. Faith. Romans 5:1-2; Galatians 5:5
7. The result of experience. Romans 5:4
8. A better hope brought in by Christ. Hebrews 7:19
9. Described as
a. Good. 2 Thessalonians 2:16
b. Lively. 1 Peter 1:3
c. Sure and steadfast. Hebrews 6:19
d. Gladdening. Proverbs 10:28
e. Blessed. Titus 2:13
10. Makes not ashamed. Romans 5:5
11. Triumphs over difficulties. Romans 4:18
12. Is an encouragement to boldness in preaching. 2 Corinthians 3:12
a. Are called to. Ephesians 4:4
b. Rejoice in. Romans 5:2; 12:12
c. All have the same. Ephesians 4:4
d. Have it in death. Proverbs 14:32
e. Should abound in. Romans 15:13
f. Should look for the object of. Titus 2:13
g. Should not be ashamed of. Psalm 119:16
Thursday, December 23, 2010
1. We will experience peace in our personal lives when we stop trying to do so many things ourselves and simply rely on God alone to save, heal, strengthen, protect, provide, and deliver.
2. Ephesians 2:14 - "He Himself is our peace." Let Him break down the walls of hostility in your life.
3. Peace is NOT the absence of crisis but the presence of Christ!
4. When you do not have peace you do anything to get it - including faking it and chasing false peace.
5. You cannot bring peace on the inside by merely addressing what is on the outside - clothing, makeup, surgery, etc.
6. We do not lack peace because we don’t have enough stuff. We lack peace because our relationship with God and those around us lack (or you could say stinks).
7. Focusing on fear brings failure. Focusing on the Father brings faith.
8. Peace is not something we work for – it is a gift given to us.
9. John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you, peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."
10. The world attempts to have peace through war. Jesus offered with a word.
11. The world offers peace at a huge cost to you. Jesus gives it freely.
12. Jesus' peace is for the sons of peace only (believers). The world's peace (oxymoron) for everyone.
13. John 16:33 paraphrased - "My words bring you peace. This world brings you trouble. My peace trumps this world's trouble."
14. Speak this over your household - let it be your household theme in 2011: "Peace be to this house!" (Luke 10:5)
15. We have peace from Christ but we are to share His peace with others. "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." (John 20:21)
What relationships in your life need peace? What part of your world is divided and in turmoil? What have you been doing to achieve peace that has only led you to frustration and unfulfillment? Let Christ's peace, which transcends all understanding and comprehension, fill you. I pray Philippians 4:6-7 happens to you. Here it is in the Message Bible:"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
John Wesley’s Small Group Questions:
1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
3. Do I confidentially pass onto another what was told me in confidence?
4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work , or habits?
5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
6. Did the Bible live in me today?
7. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?
8. Am I enjoying prayer?
9. When did I last speak to someone about my faith?
10. Do I pray about the money I spend?
11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
12. Do I disobey God in anything?
13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
16. How do I spend my spare time?
17. Am I proud?
18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican?
19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it?
20. Do I grumble and complain constantly?
21. Is Christ real to me?
Thursday, December 9, 2010
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!"
Paul was telling the people that there is no other Gospel than that which already exists. We tend to water down the Gospel. We even tend to make it something that was only good for conversion but not applicable for the rest of our Christian lives.
Everything is connected to the Gospel. From the Old Testament events pointing forward to the writings of the New Testament. The topics we teach about in church today also must be connected to the Gospel. Sometimes we disconnect the two. We preach on morality or topical issues and do not relate it to the Gospel. The Gospel isn't just for the salvation, but for the entire life! The Gospel doesn't just get you into the Kingdom - it should be revisited in everything we teach and to. The Gospel isn't just about justification but also sanctification.
If we teach moral topics without the Gospel as their foundation, we simply teach people to just practice good discipline to be good people. In essence, we teach them to do good works in order to be holy. If we disconnect the Gospel from morality we make Christianity works based like all other religions. The Gospel isn't just what gets you in - it is the basis of EVERYTHING in the Christian life. The Gospel should be why you do what you do. It is the foundation. It is the base.
You cannot take the atoning work of Christ on the cross out of anything when it comes to your life or your world view. You cannot take the blood out of discipleship, morality, ministry, family, you name it. Maybe your church does great things with kids - fine. Maybe they are very creative and have good worship - good. But, do they center everything on the Gospel? It must be central. The Gospel is why we do anything (ministry, church, preschool, food pantry, etc). It is why we have anything (family, house, car, money, etc.). It is why we get up in the morning. It is why we shower and shave. It is why we plan to eat where we eat. It is why we live where we live. It is why we move where we move. It is central. It is the fuel that keeps Christians going and growing every day. It is not just what gets us in the door of Christianity only to leave it in the threshold to move on to deeper theological issues. It is not just the ignition or spark of the Christian life - it is the fuel that propels it!
We must make sure we are not, as Paul said, turning to a different Gospel - which is not really a Gospel at all. No matter who says "this is the Gospel, this is what Christianity is all about." He even said don't listen to me or to even an angel from heaven itself if they are are teaching you a wrong Gospel. The Gospel of Scripture must be the Gospel of today - active, launching us forward for His purposes. The finished work of Christ on the cross was simply that - finished. He said it was finished. We do not need to add anything to the Gospel or take anything away from it. We must rediscover what it truly is. What Jesus did to save us is that which sustains, supplies, and motivates us.
Church is not defined by us. The Gospel is not open to interpretation. The Christian life IS coming to Christ through the Gospel but letting the Gospel work through you EVERYDAY to make Him know to the world around you. The Gospel must be explicitly displayed in our lives, not assumed to be present by those around us.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
We must depart from the usual and customary model of most Americanized churches. Instead of walking out faith like Jesus taught, we sometimes twist His words into a more comfortable version. Christianity-light is a warped faith that brings us comfort and pleasure, while pursuing the American dream. The American dream for a lot of believers is to make much of ourselves. Biblical Christianity says we are to make much of God. Dietrich Bonheoffer wrote, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” If Christ has called us to Himself, we must do as Paul taught - "die daily" (1 Corinthians 15:31). This dying daily is to us and our view of Christianity. We die to us and live for Him!
There are some out there who are truly and radically being changed and changing the world for Christ. But as a whole, American Christianity is characterized by half-hearted, lukewarm, indifferent, uncommitted, mediocre believers. Jesus taught that we are to abandon our lives for the sake of following Him. Yet, our culture redefines Christianity. Americanized Christianity at its worst says the believer can accommodate whatever form of faith they want.
David Olsen, the Director of the American Church Research Project (www.theamericnachurch.org), did a very extensive 15-year survey of over 200,000 American congregations. His research found that only 17% of Americans are in church twice a month. Did you get that? There are not even 1 out of 5 Americans Christians attending church regularly (assuming that more than 2 times a month is regular). America has produced Christians who are comfortable with God, but not committed to God.
We have to live out the Gospel of Christ in a radical way. We cannot compartmentalize our Christianity any longer. Christianity is not something we do on the weekend for a couple of hours or when we are faced with uncertainty or tragedy. For those who claim the name of Christ - It is in our DNA! It is who we are 24/7! Jesus clearly said that to follow Him, we’re to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him. He said that if anyone is to save his life, he will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Him will save it. In essence, our lives conform to the Gospel's message - we become (in what we say and do) the vehicle for the Gospel. Every conversation is soaked with Christ. Every thought is preceded and prolonged by Him. We are consumed with Christ and His values, mission, vision, and purpose. This drives us to BE the Gospel to the world around us.
Charles Spurgeon once described the good news of Jesus as "a lion--you don't have to defend it, you just have to let it out." If that is the case, we must let the Gospel out (through our lives) of the cage of American Christianity. Why not let the Gospel capture and cage us instead of us placing it in our Americanized cage for a change?
I'm not trying to guilt you into doing more for Christ. Christianity should thrive on the gospel, not guilt. A radical Christian life should result from God's grace. We should do more for the Lord BUT we need not to just get busy with Christian "feel-goods" that produce nothing but a pat on the back but change no one. Trusting in what God has already done for us is our motivation for doing more for Him. We must find relevant ways to be change-agents for Christ. I once had someone say to me, "If God is real, why does he allow suffering? There are three little kids on my block who go to bed hungry every night." I replied to them, "The real question is if you claim the name of Christ, why did you let those kids go to bed hungry every night. God didn't allow that, you did."
I wrote this to make you think about the current condition of your Christian life. Don't be comfortable and satisfied with the norm of Christianity. Desire Him more. Let Him change you through and through. BE and DO as His Spirit prompts. Modeling the Christianity of the Bible at first glance is radical. But it really isn't radical at all. It is reality. There is only one kind of Christian Christ taught and modeled. Radical is the reality. It is the call of every believer.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
2. Hey guys...if you don’t lead your family then satan will do it. Step up men!
3. Stop pursuing image over integrity. Be OK with less stuff and more character.
4. A man's greatest hobby is not hunting, golfing, or fishing. If you desire to do these things more with your free time than spending time with your wife and kids then all you get at the end of your life is a dead dear head and a bunch of sorry score cards.
5. Too many men are walking away from the challenge of leading their family spiritually. Don't check out. Don't give up.
6. Check this out - if a woman takes her kids to church there is a 1 in 50 chance they will regularly attend church as an adult. If the father does it, there is a 1 in 3 chance! Let your kids see you worship Jesus.
7. God is looking for men to take a stand (Ezekiel 22:30). Does He see you standing tall or wimping out?
8. Come on guys - quality time with your kids is not popping in a DVD in the car so they will be quiet while you run a 10 minute errand and talk on your cell phone to your buddy about the deer that you almost shot during the only off day you and your family had last week. Spend time with your kids - TALK TO THEM!
9. Why does it seem that men like spending time at work more than they do at home? Ladies - encourage and build up your husband at home. Men - GO HOME and find fulfillment in your family! Do your best at work but give your best to your family. Work through lunch, reschedule appointments, deny overtime, be happy where you are - not with that next promotion. Say no to work - not your family.
10. The words you say (or don't say) to your wife and kids will either build them up or tear them down. You choose.
11. Stop intimidating your wife and kids to get them to do what you want. Yelling doesn't make them respect you more. This doesn't lead them anywhere but away from you. Choose intimacy, not intimidation.
12. Wives want to submit themselves to husbands that look like Jesus. Give her something worth submitting to! You only look like Jesus when you know what He looks like. You have to spend time in the Word EVERY DAY!!!
13. Tell them you love them and are proud of them...everyday!
14. Stop putting off talking to your kids about the tough issues of life. I guarantee the world is already speaking loudly and often to them. You have to step in, stand up, and stop the trash the world is preaching at your kids. It is you job to show them the truth that will shape and bring life.
15. Your kids see how you treat your wife. Is how you treat your wife how you want them to treat their spouses?
16. Today is the best day to start being a better husband and father. Repent, forgive, try again, give grace, speak truth, learn from mistakes, love unconditionally, fall asleep, wake up and do it all over again but even better tomorrow.
17. The hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done is be a husband and a father. Good think I have God to show me how to do it right every step of the way.
Monday, November 29, 2010
1. Knowing Jesus Through The Old Testament by Christopher J.H. Wright.
This book helps today's Christian understand Jesus in light of the Old Testament. We cannot really know Christ without knowing his story. His purpose, ministry, identity, and values are all wrapped up in the Old Testament.
Critique: Very in-depth. Somewhat devotional but more academic. The writer does a good job of explaining how Jesus ministry was shaped by the Old Testament. He also shows how the OT complements and is as important as the New Testament. About 250 pages.
2. You Were Born For This by Bruce Wilkinson
Dr. Wilkinson tells how God wants to do a miracle through every believer. We just have to be ready for it. In his other book, The Prayer of Jabez, Wilkinson talks about being blessed. This book is about being a vessel God can use to bless others.
Critique: I just finished this book tonight. I walked away from it ready for God to do a miracle through me! A powerful read. You must get this book and let God start working through you. People all around you today need a miracle. God wants to use you to help them and show them Him! About 225 pages. A fast read, but don't go too fast.
3. The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner
This book on leadership was formed out of a conference by John Maxwell. The five leadership practices the authors propose are powerful and go hand-in-hand. We must 1) challenge the current methods and not be satisfied with business as usual, 2) share our vision with others and inspire them to join us, 3) we must enabling others to act in the vision, 4) we must model the vision and 5) encouraging those who we lead.
Critique: One of the best books on leadership. I read it all at once - I couldn't put it down. The stories the contributing authors (John Maxwell, Ken Blanchard, Nancy Ortberg, Patrick Lencioni, etc.) share are very inspiring. About 250 pages.
4. Doing Church As A Team by Wayne Cordeiro
Wayne Cordeiro is the pastor of New Hope Church in Hawaii. He shares great insight about how the church should be done as a team of people. The church is full of gifts and abilities and we as pastors need to learn how to help people join together and build the church. He gives great insight through examples of his church.
Critique: One of the greatest things he said was "church should be a battleship, not a cruise ship". A cruise ship has only a few people working to serve the others there. On a battleship, everyone has a job to do. Great book on using the spiritual gifts of people in the church. About 230 pages.
5. The Peacemaker by Ken Sande
One of the best books on bringing peace and restoration to relationships. Conflicts will happen. The Christian response to conflict is making peace and restoration. Do you know how to do this? Do you know what steps to take? This book will tell you how.
Critique: Great book on restoration. The "4 G's" were really good - 1) Glorify God, 2) Get the log out of your own eye, 3) Gently restore, and 4) Go and be reconciled. About 300 pages. Great workbook and website as well. www.peacemaker.net
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
1. Team members work together. This precedes winning together.
2. Team members each have their own voice, but only one heart.
3. Team members resolve to always find solutions, not faults.
4. Team members improve themselves so the team will improve.
5. Team members are relational - they get along. Relationships are the glue that hold the team together.
6. Team members are prepared. Preparing is better than repairing.
7. Team members are not selfish - they put the other ahead of themselves. Getting separates. Giving unites.
8. Team members change for the benefit of the team. They are flexible.
9. Team members are dependable. Don't just do your best - do what is required.
10. Team members never quit - especially over petty issues or disagreements. When times get trying, don't quit trying.
- adapted from John Maxwell's book "The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player."
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Here is a simple formula:
Faith > Struggle = You Endure
Faith < Struggle = You Quit
The greatness of a man is not determined by what he achieves in life, but by what it takes to get him down. What does it take to get you down? Is it just a little? What is causing thoughts of quitting? How is your endurance? Better yet - how is your faith?
You have to move past resignation towards revolution. The urge to fight back has to overcome the urge to walk away.
Sometimes becoming great is simply resisting the urge to walk away. Don't walk away from what God has called you to. Let your faith rise up over your feelings. Resist the urge to walk away. Trust me, what is driving you to walk away is not nearly as big as what has driven you to stay to this point. The best, for those who resist the urge to walk away, is yet to come!
Here is a video of someone who didn't quit despite their problems:
Monday, November 8, 2010
Disclaimer: I am in no way saying support this ministry financially. Please don't read into it. I just wanted to share a story of someone who is truly making a difference in the lives of orphans. This is true religion according to James 1:27. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
Her story really touched me and made me want to go all out in what God has called me to.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector."
I want to look at this step-by-step for a moment:
Step 1. Talking privately
This isn't usually confrontational at first but merely an attempt to understand where the other person is coming from. Sometimes there are misunderstandings or misconceptions you can come to terms with by just simply sitting down and taking time to talk. If there is an impasse or an offense, forgiveness or repentance may be needed. Be humble and open in your confrontation. Don't go into it judgemental and ready for a battle. Check your motives and heart. Be full of compassion as well. If you cannot get past the one-on-one meeting without resolution and reconciliation, step two may be necessary.
Step 2. Witnesses
Sometimes private conversations are not enough - even when you've tried everything. The witnesses you choose must respected by both parties and willing to defend or oppose both parties. These are not people you are trying to get on your side. Don't pick a "yes man". Don't pick someone who will be for you. You want a mediator. You want someone who can look at both of you and say "you are both wrong". You want someone who you know will always reside with the truth of Scripture. Don't act alone. Get an elder, pastor, small group leader or someone mature in the Faith involved. Remember, the point of this is still reconciliation, not "sick em".
Step 3. Tell It To The Church
This probably is the most misused and misunderstood part. It does not mean run and tell. It is not, at this point, public information to be posted on every Facebook wall and emailed to the entire church. It is not a trial with the congregation as the jury. It is not a public hearing. It is not for the permission to list their name in a sermon. Not everyone in the church should be told as most cannot handle or discern correctly. The point is to tell other mature believers who can help in the reconciliation and restoration process where your attempts have failed. The point is not punishment but restoration. Only in extreme (I mean extreme) situations where this sin affects the entire church should it be brought before the entire church. This is only done by Senior leadership (Senior pastor with elders in agreement). Still, love and restoration are still the motives.
Step 4. Treat Them As A Pagan Or Tax Collector
This also misused and misunderstood. Sure, this is a recognition that they are no longer part of the body - but by their choice alone. It is not booting them out but simply recognizing what has, in fact, already take place by their choices of resisting restoration and repentance. This is not shaming or despising them either. Think about how Jesus treated sinners - especially pagans and tax collectors. He loved them. He didn't pretend they were soul mates. He knew they were not part of the church but still tried to love them back into it. He always confronted sin, but He loved the sinners in the process. Steps 3 and 4 are always the last resort. These steps, especially 4, are only used in situations where continuing, confirmed, unconfessed sin resides.
These last two steps are only done if the leadership of the church supports it and, for the most part, leads it. Go to leadership first before taking action on your own. Don't be a rogue renegade and do these on your own. You'll be as bad as the offender you are addressing. Don't move too quick either on these last two steps. Give time for the Holy Spirit to move. You should pray through situations at length and give lots of room and time for the offender to repent and seek restoration before steps 3 and 4. I would and have even repeated step 1 and 2 a few times before moving on. Remember you don't wrestle against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). People are not your enemy. We also must remember that we are called to the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). We must also expose deeds of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). The balance must be walking firmly in truth, loving the sinner, and humbly confronting sin - all at the same time.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
In ORBITING THE GIANT HAIRBALL, Gordon MacKenzie, longtime creative director at Hallmark, describes what, in that environment, seems to me to be a healthy team leader:
"My last boss at Hallmark, a fellow by the name of Bob Kipp, sat at the wheel of one of the corporate speedboats. I was at the end of a towline on water skis. We spent our time together skimming across the great Lake Hallmark. Kipp was so sure of who he was and why he was where he was and where the power was that he was not threatened at all when I would ski around in a wide arc until I was up even with the boat and sometimes even past it. He knew I was not going to start pulling the boat with him in it. It just doesn't work that way. The power remains in the boat. But, in allowing me to ski past him — in a sense, allowing me to lead — he would unleash in me an excitement about our enterprise that served our shared goals."
Then MacKenzie drives home his point: "If you are in a position of power and want to lead well, remember: Allow those you lead … To lead … when they feel the need. All will benefit."
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
2. Our church is a serving machine! We had somewhere between 3,000-4,000 people at our Fall Festival. We gave away about 1,400 bags of candy to that many kids. We served (I was told) 5,000 hot dogs. Our people came early, stayed late, served and loved everyone they came in contact with. Our church ROCKS!!!
3. Found People Find People! (Read John 1:35-51) We who have been changed by Jesus must be attentive to those who need changed by Jesus. Keep your eyes open for people who need Christ in the middle of their problems and obstacles.
4. Christians must share their faith. Philemon 1:6 - "I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ." Who have you spent time with for the purpose of sharing your faith? Set up that meeting today! Lunch, coffee, an outing, etc.
5. Having power without expressing love always leads to legalism and domination. It's an abuse of power. That is what sometimes happens in government, marriage, businesses, etc. A "power trip" is a dangerous place. We must love and serve those we have been given authority over. This means listening to them to pick up on things they need and are going through. This means spending time with them. If you don't spend time with the people you are over you'll only see them as tools - a means to an end - you'll only use them for gain. Gain is always good but not at the expense of people. The good news is you can do both well simultaneously.
6. Most couples who come in for counseling don't have a marriage problem - they have a Jesus problem. A life formed and filled by Jesus is usually lacking. It is hard to be one with your spouse if you are not being (note the tense "being" - this means ongoing and ever-growing) formed and filled by Christ.
7. Parenting question: Are you more concerned with what you are getting your kid for Christmas or more concerned with what your kid will get out of Christmas? I'm saying this early so all us parents will have time to get creative on teaching our kids the true meaning of Christmas.
8. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to pick out the imperfections or mistakes of one's spouse. Any idiot can do that. A wise spouse, though, can pick out and own-up to their imperfections and mistakes. When you start doing that, you are truly fighting FOR your marriage. The other just leads to fighting IN your marriage.
9. Don't ever forget what it was like to be lost. Don't get into the trap of looking down on people far from God - remember that is where we used to be. If you have forgotten this, read Ephesians 2:1-10. You'll soon remember what Christ has saved you from and realize how much you desire others to have the same awakening.
10. As pastors and leaders, either people believe what we say or they think we are full of crap… Let me explain: INTEGRITY AND CHRIST-LIKE CHARACTER!!! We must do what we preach. We must do what we expect others to do. We must love our people by our actions and getting involved in their lives. We must do what we say we are going to do. When we screw up, we admit it. When we don't do our part, we fix it. We must tell our people "thank you" and "I believe in you" a bunch. We must honestly listen to the input of our key people - give them an ear (and a voice) and realize God speaks to them too. We must trust our people we put in place to make decisions without them feeling like they have to run every minor detail past us first. Sure, we must inspect what we expect and there must be accountability, but we must give them room to lead too.
Friday, October 29, 2010
1. Repent - first to God. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Repentance is the first step towards restoration. Without it, nothing else will work. Admit what you have done. Next, repent to those who you may have hurt in the process. Own up to your weaknesses and sins and begin to mend your relationships. You have to expose sin. You can be made whole and forgiven. (1 John 1:9)
2. Humility - Pride will ruin you as well. "The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God…" (Psalm 10:4). When you humble yourself, God will lift you up. (1 Peter 5:6-7). It cannot happen any other way.
3. Memorize Scripture - Find some verses that you can hide in your heart to overcome sin.
Start with James 1:14 and 1 Corinthians 10:13 and quote them when you are tempted.
Make Psalm 51 your own prayer. Here are some others to help you. Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Peter 2:11; Romans 8:13; Romans 6:12; 1 Corinthians 6:13; Galatians 5:17; Philippians 4:8; 2 Timothy 2:22; Psalm 101:2,3; Proverbs 6:25-29; Proverbs 5:18-20; Proverbs 8:13; Job 31:1-4; Matthew 5:8; Romans 8:6; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 6:18-19; 2 Corinthians 10:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; James 1:15 and 4:3; 1 John 2:16
4. Be Accountable to Someone - Don't let shame and guilt keep you trapped in sin. You can't deal with private sin privately. Confess your sins to someone (James 5:16). Find someone who is more spiritually mature than you and confide in them. Let them ask you tough questions. Be willing to show them your cell phone, computer history, etc.
5. Set Up Boundaries - Get an Internet filter. Set blocks on your phone. www.bsecure.com, www.covenanteyes.com, and www.hedge.org are great. Remember, whatever boundaries you set up do not deal directly with your heart. You must get sin out of your heart. You'll always find a way around any boundary if your heart is not pure.
6. Guard Your Heart - As I said before, the main issue is your heart condition. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Psalm 119:37 asks the lord to turn my eyes away from worthless things and preserve my life according to Your Word.
7. Find Materials To Teach You - Stephen Arterburn's book "Every Man's Battle" is good. He has some for women, young men and other situations of life. Bill Perkins book "When good Men Are Tempted" is also good.
8. Find A Support Group - There are many support groups online.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I went to a meeting last night for the table hosts for the Hope Women's Resource Center fundraising banquet. That place has really changed in such a short time! They now have an ultrasound machine and have remodeled the whole place. It looks incredible! Since about September, they have given almost 70 free ultrasounds to ladies. Statistics show that if women see their baby through ultrasound, they are 90% more likely to keep that child rather than abort it. It's great to be part of such a wonderful ministry. They were talking about an mobile RV that they want to purchase to reach the ladies of other smaller cities in the area. HWRC is located on 6th street in Pine Bluff across from the old Sears building.
I start my training as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) at the first of November. Is a program established to provide a voice for abused and neglect children brought to the attention of the courts. Voices for Children is the Court Appointed Special Advocate program established to provide a voice for the children of Jefferson and Lincoln counties, who have come to the attention of the court because of abuse or neglect, until a safe and permanent home is established. What Do Court Appointed Special Advocates Do? 1. They stand up for foster children so they'll stand a chance. 2. They serve as a fact finder for the judge by thoroughly researching the background of each assigned case. 3. They speak for the child in the courtroom, representing the child's best interest. 4.They continue to advocate for the child until a safe and permanent home is established. What a great opportunity to reach troubled families for Christ in Jefferson County!
I've been reading a ton on pro-life lately. Randy Alcorn has a lot of great things to say at his website - http://www.epm.org/ Type in "Pro life" in the search field.
Our Fall Festival is this Sunday night, October 31 from 6-9 pm. Last year, we had over 3,000 people in attendance - it was amazing! We have more games, activities and food this year and expect an even larger crowd. What a safe, family-filled, alternative to Halloween!
I'm reading through the Old Testament right now - did you know that the first recorded word of mankind was about marriage! (Genesis 2:23). God was the first dad to ever give his daughter away in marriage. He was the first pastor to ever perform a ceremony!
Go VOTE!!! November 2nd!!! Watch this video at http://www.valuevotersusa.com/.
Monday, October 25, 2010
What types of personalities generally stir up conflict? There are 8 types of potential conflict personalities:
• Bird Dogs - They sniff out items for your attention
• Wet Blankets - They have a negative view of every situation
• Entrepreneurs - View ministry as a great "network" for their business, sales, or dating life
• Captain Bluster - To them, every sentence ends with an exclamation point!
• Fickle Financiers - They vote with their offering - withholding or giving
• Busybodies - They love to tell others how to do their jobs
• Snipers - They pick off the leadership in private conversations
• Bookkeepers - They keep written record of offenses
Conflict usually happens because of four reasons: 1. Doctrinal differences, 2. Moral differences, 3. Cultural differences, and 4. Personal differences.
We must be peacemakers - rightly upholding the Truth of Scripture and the Vision/Mission of our Church while loving and helping those who stir up conflict. We must confront conflict and those who bring it with Truth in Love. Remember - there is a TON more that unites us than separates us. We must walk in unity and resolve conflict. We must not compromise Scripture, Christ-like character, the Church or our calling to please any of these personality types.
"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." - Ephesians 4:1-5 NIV
Sunday, October 24, 2010
1. The church is the most powerful force on the face of the earth. Acts 1:8 says we we will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come so we can be witnesses to many areas. The church must display it's power and be a change agent in Jefferson County and every county that touches it.
2. When Pentecost came, ALL the believers were present - from every nation. Acts 2 lists these out. The church MUST be made up of ALL believers from every culture, nation, people and language. The church must be black, white, yellow, red, and brown. Not just the church as a whole, but each of our churches.
3. One of the biggest obstacles that has prevented the church from being powerful today is the spirit of racism. We must break racism and come together. If the church doesn't come together, then we say God isn't powerful enough to break ANY bondage and stronghold in Jefferson county.
4. We see that the early church - ALL of the races present in the first part of Acts 2 - ate together in each other's homes, worshipped together in the church, sold their possessions to help each other out (rich helped out poor), and many more things in fellowship and unity. WE TOO must return to the model of the New Testament's 1st church. WE TOO must come together. What divides us is small compared to what unites us - Jesus unites us. We are no longer a black, white, Hispanic, or Asian race - we who are in Christ are all brothers and sisters in Him. We are the chosen generation - a royal priesthood!
5. In Revelation 4:9 we see God worshipped and every nation, tribe and language was in heaven. Heaven is not segregated. Heaven is not racist. Heaven is full of white, black, yellow, red and brown people. All together worshipping and praising the Lord!
6. We must come together and break the spirit of racism in Jefferson County. John 4 tells how Jesus (a Jew) asked the woman at the well (a Samaritan) to give him a drink. At first she was unsure of it. After all, she and he were different races. But she gave him a drink from the same dipper she drank from. IF OUR CHURCHES ARE GOING TO BE POWERFUL AGAIN IN JEFFERSON COUNTY, WE MUST DRINK FROM THE SAME DIPPER. The church must show it's power given through the Holy Spirit. Racism divides us.
7. Race is not the most important thing - while our heritage and cultures are important, race can divide us. What brings us together is not RACE, but GRACE. We have been saved by grace through faith. We must allow the grace of God to be poured into our lives and then we must pour into the lives of others - regardless of race.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
1. Confrontation should always be for restoration of relationship - to God and to each other.
2. Follow the steps of Matthew 18:15-17 for confronting sin and offense
- Confront one on one - in private
- If that doesn't bring reconciliation, take one or two witnesses with you
- If that doesn't work, the church leadership should become involved for discipline purposed
in repentance and restoration
3. Make sure you don't confront if you are offended, bitter, or angry
4. Confront in love. This means show gentleness, humility and encouragement.
5. Confront early on - when you see "smoke". Don't wait till the situation is blazing out of
6. Only seek counsel about how to confront from someone more mature spiritually than you.
7. Don't gossip about the situation. Don't go and tell everyone what the person has done when you haven't gone to them.
8. Make forgiveness and repentance priorities.
9. Pray with the person and offer to meet to help them overcome sin.
10. If others have been wronged, counsel the person to go to them and make it right. Offer to go with them.
11. Be prepared for rejection. Don't try and force repentance. Don't get angry. Continue to pray for this person and practice love and forgiveness towards them.
12. Use scripture not personal opinion.
Scriptures on confronting: Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:24-25; James 5:19-20; Matthew 7:3-5
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Here is what I had to do and hopefully good advice on how to deal with mistakes:
1. Make sure you are not in sin. Check your heart. If you have sinned, repent and ask for forgiveness.
2. Make sure you are under authority. If your actions were intended to undermine your authority, you must repent.
3. Take ownership of your mistake! Don't try and blame others or find a small glimpse of bringing others into sharing the responsibility of your mistake. Especially don't lie or bend the facts. Nothing says "lack of integrity" like shifting blame.
4. Don't fall back on stupid sayings like, "Everyone makes mistakes" or "I'm only human". While true, these statements only communicate lack of responsibility and that you are only trying to weasel out of the consequences.
5. Be at the mercy of those you have hurt, wronged, or failed. Ask for forgiveness and the possibility of making the wrong right.
6. Be willing to accept the full consequences from your mistake - even if you don't agree with the consequences. Be appreciative of any grace or mercy.
7. Learn from your mistakes. How do we keep this from happening again? What processes or structure can we implement to prevent mistakes in the future?
8. Move on. After you've done everything you need to do - repent, make it right, etc. - move on. Nothing will put you more into neutral than being bummed out about something forever. How well you recover from mistakes is a sign of maturity. Don't quit saying your sorry over and over once restoration, restitution, or forgiveness has taken place.
Lord, let me always be quick to repent, quick to listen, quick to receive correction, and always be willing to remain in You and you in me.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
...He asks you to build an ark - especially because when it had never rained before. (Noah)
...He asks you to walk on water. (Peter)
...He asks you to leave your homeland and go the land He will SHOW you. (Abraham)
...He asks you to undergo rib removal to create something called a woman. (Adam)
...He asks you to use trumpets to make a city crumble to the ground. (Joshua)
...He asks you to marry a prostitute. (Hosea - and her name was Gomer too!)
...He asks you to hold your walking stick out and the sea in front of you will split. (Moses)
...He tells you that you are going to have a child at the age of 100. (Abraham)
...He tells you that you are going to birth the Son of God when you are a virgin. (Mary)
...He asks you to return to the place where you killed someone and set 3,000,000 people free. (Moses)
How is your relationship with God? You'll never agree with His rules and requests if you are not growing in your relationship. Rules without relationship always leads to rebellion. Grow your relationship - get to know God better so when He asks you to do the impossible you'll say yes and let Him change the world through you!
Friday, October 15, 2010
1. Inspect what you expect! You must evaluate your ministry before, during, and after. Don't just hope something is going like you want it.
2. Deal with the smoke before the blaze! If you sense a problem arising, take care of now before it gets out of control.
3. Bring correction early in the game. Don't let correction be something your people see you do seldom and abruptly. Let them know you correct all the time to point them and your ministry in the right direction.
4. Let your systems serve you! Stuff is meant to serve you, not you serve the stuff.
5. Make sure your people are not just WITH you but FOR you. If they are just WITH you, they will leave you when issues/problems arise. If they are FOR you, they will stick through thick and thin times.
6. You gain the people you serve.
7. Don't resist respectful push back from your people. Give them a chance for feedback and teamwork. You don't want "yes men" who just agree with you all the time. If they are on your team, they have the right for RESPECTFUL push back.
8. God is in the details! Make sure you go over every detail (or have someone assigned to the many details of your ministry).
9. Put more stock in the "touchdowns" rather than the "extra points" of your ministry. If you concentrate on the extras too much, your main stuff will suffer. What are your "must-do's", "should-do's" and your "could do's"? Prioritize and do the main things first and best.
10. Mercy must accompany truth! (Proverbs 3:3; Psalm 85:10)
Monday, October 11, 2010
2. I agree with the Arkansas Unmarried Couple Adoption Ban. There are many reasons I agree with this. One of them is kids coming out of an unstable home life need to go into a stable environment. The church, rightfully so, helped push this through to being accepted back in 2008. Now, the same church that pushed this through has to step up and start adopting kids and becoming foster parents. We just can't tell others they can't adopt and hope someone else does it - the church's married couples and singles have to start adopting and being foster parents!
3. I'm so desperate for our young families in the church to succeed. My heart is full of things to say to them. I've recorded 6 lessons on CD and have 3 more in the works. My plan is to give one lesson out every two weeks to the families of our church to help them grow as a family.
4. I'm excited about the single ladies' oil change/car wash this coming Sunday afternoon. It is going to be good as we serve some of our single moms, widows and single women of the church. Anyone who wants to help, let me know. We'll probably serve about 30 or so ladies.
5. Why should you pray for the impossible - because Jesus did the impossible!
6. What should your vision be as you walk through the door at church? 1. How can I serve and love those who are visiting today? 2. What can I write down from the message today so I can it share with someone this next week? 3. What is the Holy Spirit wanting to do in my life today? 4. What do I need to leave outside these doors that will inhibit #1-3?
7. If you don't take a double take when God reveals His plan for your life, you probably didn't hear from God. Just when you think you've got everything about His will for your life all figured out, He'll spin your head around every time.
8. "One of these days..." is not a good excuse for procrastinating God's plan for your life. Most of the time, "one day" never comes. Don't consider His plan - DO IT! Go for it!
9. A person's first step away from God is usually when they step away from the people of God.
10. Whenever God asks you to give up something, trust Him - He will always replace it with something better!
Friday, October 8, 2010
It is important to ask the right questions - in prayer, in counseling, in small group, etc. Right questions bring about right answers. Asking who, what, when, where, why and how are very important for knowing God's will. We tend to ask questions out of order. You don't ask, "What is God's will for me?" before you ask, "What is God's will?" He has a specific purpose for you but not before you find out His purpose for all mankind.
Be sure to ask questions to the Lord in order as well.
Who? Who am I? Who are you? Who am I to be with?
What? What am I to do? What's my purpose on this world?
Where? Where am I to do it?
When? When am I to do it?
Why? Why is it important?
How? How am I to do it?
I preach, teach, counsel and minister ONLY because I asked the "who" question first. I found out who I am in Christ. Then, because of who I am in Him, I found out what I was to do, when I was to do it, where, why and how. I find out these each new day as I reaffirm who I am In Christ. "Who" reminds me of my calling.
John 1:12 - I am God's child.
John 15:15 - As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1 - I have been justified.
1 Corinthians 6:17 - I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.
1 Corinthians 12:27 - I am a member of Christ's body.
Ephesians 1:3-8 - I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.
Colossians 1:13-14 - I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
Colossians 2:9-10 - I am complete in Christ.
John 15:5 - I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life.
John 15:16 - I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.
1 Corinthians 3:16 - I am God's temple.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 - I am a minister of reconciliation for God.
Ephesians 2:6 - I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm.
Ephesians 2:10 - I am God's workmanship.
Ephesians 3:12 - I may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Hebrews 4:14-16 - I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:1-2 - I am free from condemnation.
Romans 8:28 - I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances.
Romans 8:31-39 - I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 - I have been established, anointed and sealed by God.
Colossians 3:1-4 - I am hidden with Christ in God.
Philippians 1:6 - I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me.
Philippians 3:20 - I am a citizen of heaven.
2 Timothy 1:7 - I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.
1 John 5:18 - I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.
That's who I am in Christ and so much more!
Neil T. Anderson wrote, "The more you reaffirm who you are in Christ, the more your behavior will begin to reflect your true identity!"
What question are you trying to answer? If you're feeling, stuck, maybe even frustrated with God, perhaps you need to go back and make sure you're asking him the right question at the right time. Make sure they are in order. Make sure you know who you are. This only comes about as you know who He is.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
In Acts 5:19, the Angel of the Lord opened the door and let them go and told them to speak words of life to the people at the temple. So, the apostles left and obeyed - at the risk of being beaten and killed. When the council found out what they were doing, they sought to kill them this time (5:33). Most people stop doing what put them in jail when they are released because they don't want to go back to jail and face a stiffer penalty. But not the people of God. They had a calling to preach and teach - to build the Church.
Gamaliel, a doctor of the law and Pharisee (Paul's mentor before he was converted), said not to hurt them because if what they were doing was not real, it would quickly fade. He even gave a couple of examples of those who had done the same in their own names and failed.
Acts 5:38-39 is awesome - "So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God."
They agreed partially with his advice and just beat them and told them not to speak in Jesus' name anymore. Again, what did they do? They rejoiced that they could suffer for the Lord and continued daily in the temple and from house to house teaching and preaching Jesus!
Don't let opposition keep you from preaching and teaching Christ. Acts 6:1 says that the number of disciples was multiplying. Keep on preaching and teaching the word. What you are doing is of God (v. 39). I'm amazed at the apostles resolve, dedication and loyalty to the Lord. I pray that my devotion would increase to that of the early apostles! I must preach and teach in Jesus' name. When we do this, His church will grow and multiply! Preach Jesus!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
1. History - Genesis to Job
2. Wisdom/Worship - Psalms to Song of Songs
3. Prophets - Isaiah to Malachi
4. Gospels/Early Church - Matthew to Acts
5. Letters/Application - Romans to Revelation
Reading a 3 or 5 circle plan simply means to start with the first book in the "circle" and then read to the last book in that circle. When you finish the last book, start over in the circle.
Decide if you want to do the 3 or 5 circle plan.
The Three Circle Reading Plan - 3 chapters of the Bible a day
Start at the beginning of Psalms, Matthew, and Romans. Read one chapter each day until you complete each circle, then start over.
The Five Circle Reading Plan - 5 chapters of the Bible a day
Start at the beginning of Psalms, Matthew, Romans, Genesis, and Isaiah. Read one chapter each day until you complete each circle, then start over.
Here is a diagram to help.
There are many more Bible reading plans out there. We have some posted on our church website:
I would get a bookmark for each section or write down the chapters you read each day so you'll stay on track.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Myth #1 - I have a right to be happy in my marriage and if I'm not happy, then I need to move on to someone who can make me happy.
Truth - Only God can truly make you happy and full of joy. Only Christ can meet your deepest needs. Only He can give you joy. Joy is different than happiness. Happiness is based on circumstances - if they are good, you are happy. If they are bad, you are unhappy. The Joy of the Lord is unwavering. Paul wrote Philippians while in jail in Rome. He used the word "joy" (rejoice and joyful) 16 times to show us how to be content no matter what the circumstances are. Also, obeying God and becoming more like Him brings you joy. If you are looking for someone else to make you happy, you'll be forever searching for the person that doesn't exist. Find your joy from the Lord.
Myth #2 - The person I'm married to isn't my soulmate. I need to find my soulmate.
Truth - If you are married, the person you are married to is your soul mate. Mark 10:7-9 says, “A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” A husband and wife are “united.” They are “one flesh” and “no longer two, but one." You are “joined together,” and God has made you "soul mates."
Myth #3 - I don't love my spouse anymore and want to find someone I really can love.
Truth - You probably don't love them like Christ loves them if you are feeling this way. True love is patient, kind, not arrogant, not rude, not easily angered, not self-seeking. True love keeps no records of wrong. It rejoices with the truth. It protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. True love never fails! (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) Fake love is selfish, rude, unforgiving, arrogant, prideful, unkind, manipulative, angry and abusive. Are you loving your wife/husband like that or like 1 Corinthians 13? 1 John 4:8 - "God is love." Are you doing God-like acts toward your spouse? (i.e. forgiveness, patience, serving, devotion, prayer)
Myth #4 - We have "irreconcilable differences". That's grounds for divorce.
Truth - The only grounds for divorce for the Christian are adultery (Matthew 5:32, 19:9) and abandonment (1 Corinthians 7:15) by an unbeliever. Still, reconciliation is to be sought and divorce is to be seen as a final resort. In an abusive situation, the wife (or husband) should definitely separate herself and the children from the abusive husband. But even in this kind of situation, a time of separation with the goal of repentance and restoration should be the goal. Remember this about irreconcilable differences - you are different from your spouse - that's not grounds for divorce. It's grounds for marriage! Men and women are different. Men and women think differently, communicate differently, and want different things from relationships. You are made to complement each other and need to find out the true Biblical roles of husbands and spouses. Your weaknesses are complemented by their strengths and your strengths complement their weaknesses. Plus, saying that there are things that are irreconcilable is saying that God isn't powerful enough to solve your problems. He can do anything! Your marriage isn't too far gone for God to solve!
Myth #5 - I married the wrong person.
Truth - Yes, this is possible. Perhaps you made the decision to marry this person out of disobedience or lack of close fellowship with God. Maybe He was saying "NO", not to marry someone whom He did not desire you to marry. Even if a marriage was not God’s desire and He was saying "No, No, No," the moment you said "Yes" He said "Yes". It is still within His sovereign will and plan. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), and “marrying the wrong person” is never presented in the Bible as grounds for divorce.
A good marriage is not about marrying the right person. It is about doing the right things - doing what God says you should do to be Christ-like. It is about growing individually in Him - letting God pour into your life and then letting that overflow onto your spouse.
Let me put it another way - hopefully one you'll remember. Proverbs 14:4 says, "Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much increase comes by the strength of the ox."
Marriage is like the ox - strong, great, and productive. But remember this - if you are going to have an ox (marriage), then you will have ox poop (problems)! There is no such thing as a "poop-free marriage." Most couples don't think they are going to have poop in their marriage. When they find things that "stink" in their marriage, they think they married the wrong person or they fell out of love, etc. You don't throw out the ox (marriage) because of it's poop (problems). You scoop it up. You put it in it's place. You avoid walking in it. You get rid of the poop, not the ox!
Don't bail on your marriage just yet. Let God work on you first. Don't point out the shortcomings of your spouse. Ask God to change you first.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Moses cried out the Lord (v. 25) and the Lord showed him a tree. Just an ordinary tree. He threw the tree into the water and the water became sweet. Notice something important here - when Moses cried out, God SHOWED him a tree. God didn't create one on the spot. He didn't cause one to just appear. The tree had always been there - God just showed it to him.
I'm sure Moses and Aaron, along with the Israelites, walked right by that tree a hundred times without once seeing the potential inside of it. It was ordinary and simple. It didn't stick out and was not glamorous. It was not a huge western red cedar. It wasn't the mighty, 100 year old oak. Just an ordinary tree. Imagine - they probably ate lunch under it and complained about their lack of water, not realizing that the solution was right in front of them.
Can you hear them? "God brought us here and we are in need - we don't have good water. We don't have a solution to our problem. Wah, wah, wah." The answer to their problem was right in front of them the whole time. Because they were complaining about what they didn't have, they couldn't see what they did have. Isn't that like us sometimes?
We too are sometimes so blinded and concerned with what we don't have. We mumble and complain about what God has not given us and miss out on what He has given us. We are looking for the perfect answer when it is right in front of us. "I don't have enough workers for my ministry. I don't have enough money for that. Hasn't God called me here? Why won't He provide?" The answer could be right in front of you. Have you cried out to God and asked Him to show you the solution? Are the people you need to help you fulfill your ministry right in front of you?
We need to stop complaining while surrounded with the answers to our problems. We need to open our eyes - the people and resources to accomplish God's will are right in front of us - we just have to recognize it, go get them and put them to use - turning our bitterness into sweetness.
Who do you need to have lunch with this week to talk about joining you in your ministry? What resource are you stepping over or ignoring that can be invested into the Kingdom today? What have you been complaining about instead of crying out to the Lord about? He will show you the answers every time.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Hebrews says this about Bible study: "In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil (Heb. 5:12-14, NIV). God wants you to grow and mature in the Word.
Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of the time you spend in the Word:
BEFORE YOU BEGIN: Get a quiet place. Block out a certain amount of time to study. Try to study in the same place at the same time each day. Get your materials together (Study Bible, notebook, pen). Lose the cell phone and turn off the TV and Radio/MP3 player. Pray for God to reveal His Word to you and then begin.
1. BIBLE VERSION: Get a Bible translation you can understand. The NIV, NLT, and NASB are good. I recommend a study bible that has a summary before each book. A good study bible will have commentary at the bottom to explain each verse and what's going on. The NIV Life Application Bible, NLT Study Bible, MacArthur Study Bible, Thompson Chain Bible, and Nave's Topical Bible are all good.
2. BIBLE TOOLS: There are even Bible study tools out there. Bible dictionaries and a good commentary are helpful. There are also study books that go along with a certain topics or books of the Bible. Take time to browse your local Christian book store's Bible study section. You can also find a lot of things online for free. I recommend http://www.biblestudytools.com/ and http://www.studylight.org/. A good online bible is found at http://www.biblegateway.com/.
3. START IN THE RIGHT PLACE: If you have never read much of the Bible before, start with the Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament. Read to understand the life, ministry, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus first. He is the center of all scripture. If you have a red letter edition of the Bible then read the words in red. You may even read a chapter of Psalms and Proverbs a day.
4. PICK A BOOK AND FIND OUT ABOUT IT: Another thing you can do is pick a book of the New Testament - lets say Philippians. Find out things like 1) who is the author?, 2) why was it written?, 3) to whom was it written?, 4) what is the historical background? and 5)when was it written? Asking "who, what, when, where, why" will help you to understand the overall meaning of a particular book of the Bible.
5. GO SLOW: Start with the first chapter of the book. Go through it verse by verse. Ask what each verse is saying. Look for key words. After you read the first section or chapter, ask yourself what you got out of it and how you can apply it to your life. You may want to make notes in a journal or notebook.
6. STUDY BY TOPICS: You can also study the Bible by topics. Most bibles have a concordance at the back to help you find the topic you are looking for. This will help you with specific issues in life (i.e. patience, love, anger). Remember, the Bible is a book of principles. Ask yourself, "what principle of God's Word did I learn and need to apply?"
7. MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE: I recommend finding and memorizing scriptures that deal with what you are going through or what you are studying. Write down the verse on a Post-it or index card, put it in your pocket and pull it out throughout the day to memorize it. Repetition is the key to memorization.
8. MARK THINGS IN YOUR BIBLE: For example, you might want to use a yellow highlighter for key scriptures you want to memorize. You may want to use a blue pen for making notes of something the pastor said in the margin. Write in red another Bible reference that applies to what you are reading. Develop a system of marking that works for you.
9. APPLICATION: The things you read in the Bible are always meant for you to apply. They are never just simply head knowledge. Ask yourself how you can apply the principles of what you have just learned. Write out an action step. Then pray that God will help you apply this to your life.
Studying the Bible takes time, consistency, and diligence. Start small, be consistent, and watch how you grow spiritually.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
The word "Amen" is translated the same in Hebrew, Greek, Latin and English. In fact, it is the same in every language. The literal meaning of it is not "so be it". This may be the popular definition but the literal meaning is "truth". When you say "Amen" you are saying "that is the truth".
The word "Amen" is used 183 times in scriptures. 153 in the New Testament and 30 in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, 24 out of the 27 books end with "Amen". Wow! After the book is written, the word "truth" is stamped at the end of it!
IN THE OT
In the Old Testament, one of the places the word "Amen" is used (12 out of the 30 times it is mentioned) is in Deuteronomy 27:14-16. After the Israelites went into the Promised Land, God asked part of the half of the 12 Tribes to stand on Mount Gerizim and bless the people as they crossed over the Jordan River. He asked the other half to stand on Mount Ebal to speak cursing to the same people. Now, God wasn't cursing them. He was warning them of the cursing that could happen if they disobeyed His commandments. He was warning them of the consequences. But notice this about "Amen". Only after the cursing did the people say, "Amen". Why not "amen" the blessings too? I think it is because saying "amen" to the blessings is easy to do. It is easy to agree or say good things are true. Anyone can do that. God made them say "Amen" or "I understand the truth" to the potential cursing (warnings of consequences) because He wanted to make sure they understood the consequences for getting out of His will. He was warning them to keep them in fellowship with Him!
Its kind of like when I tell my daughters, "if you do that bad thing again, I'll discipline you. Do you understand?" I want them to say, "I understand the truth, Daddy". I don't want to discipline them. But I will if it will bring them back to the truth. I want to make sure they fully understand the consequences. The warnings and mention of consequences are there as boundaries to keep them in fellowship with me and walking in the truth. The same is true with God. He made them say "amen" to the consequences/cursing to ensure they understood. They couldn't come back later and say "I didn't know".
IN THE NT
In the New Testament, Jesus said "amen" 106 times. 104 in the Gospels and two times in Revelation. We usually say "Amen" at the end of a sentence. Jesus did something new using the word "Amen". He not only used it at the beginning of a sentence, he said it twice at the beginning - "Truly, truly..." or "Verily, Verily...". Why did he say it twice? I think the first time he said it signified "it is true with God in heaven". I think the second time he said it he was saying, "it is true with me (Jesus) on earth. My Father and I are one."
Now, not only did Jesus say "Amen" he was "The Amen". Revelation 3:14 says, "“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God.'" He said "Amen" at the beginning - He is the Alpha! He said "Amen" at the end (i.e. Revelation 1:18) - He is the Omega! He is "The Amen" - the Way, Truth (Amen), and the Life!
Jesus Christ is the Son of God - AMEN!
Jesus Christ died for our sins on the cross - AMEN!
Jesus Christ rose from the grave - AMEN!