Thursday, June 30, 2011

Being Verses Doing

Any dead fish can float downstream, but if we are going to swim against the current present in our culture, we must be alive spiritually. The New Testament is clear that life in Christ is countercultural. The world’s system says to get even if someone wrongs you. Christ says we should love and pray for our enemies and bless those who curse us (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:38). The world’s system says get what you can now because stuff is what gives us our identity. Christ says to store up treasures in heaven, not earthly ones that rust, break, and are stolen (Matthew 6:19-20).

The world also defines who we are by what we do. If someone says, “who are you?” we tend to respond by telling them what we have done. The Bible centers in on who we are in Christ. We are to express our identity in Christ by what we do but what we do does not make up our identity. We are not human doings, we are human beings. While being and doing are interrelated the order of them is very important. Our worth and identity cannot be determined by our achievements and accomplishments. Why? When we stop performing and producing then we would be worthless.

Here is a bold statement: you are not what you do. If that were true, then when you cease doing, you cease to be significant or important. You may work as a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or accountant but these are not who you are. After all, who were you before you did these things? Wearing many “hats” (doctor, coach, father, husband, friend, etc.) can leave you feeling schizophrenic. You may have many titles and responsibilities in this life (many hats) but you only have one being (one head). What you do must flow out of who you are.

Having your identity in Christ brings security and stability (Galatians 2:20). This brings true worth and meaning because who we are is founded on what God has done for and through us. Our external actions should stem from our internal being. To accomplish this, we must spend intimate time with Christ, allowing Him to restore, shape, fill, teach, and correct our old way of doing things (Acts 17:28). We need the inner power given only through the Holy Spirit to respond and deal with the outer world and pressures around us. When we spend time with Jesus and become more like Him, we gain power and right perspective to live and respond to the world around us.

How is your “being” when it comes to the Christian life? Is your “doing” shaped by your “being”? Your Christian life is not made up of your deeds for Christ but your relationship with Him. Deeds must flow out of relationship or you will be left empty. Your relationship with Christ precedes the works done for Him. Read and Romans 12:1-2 and allow Christ to shape your being. Your meaning and purpose is not found in the quest of self but in a relationship with God.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

10 Random Things I Thought About While Playing In The Sand

What a vacation at the beach!  I couldn't help but see God in everything while I was there.  Here are 10 random things about God that I thought about while playing in the sand (and no I'm not going to talk about any footprints).

1.  Building your life on material things is like building with sand - when the tide rolls in (and it always does) it will wipe you out.  Build on the Rock! Matthew 7:24-27
2.  God made me out of this stuff.  Wow!  What a Creator!  Genesis 2:7
3.  I made an octopus out of sand.  I worked hard on it.  Here is what I learned (besides that I can count to 8):  I worry too much about the end result sometimes.  I am way too focused on the product and not the process.  I was working so hard on making a octopus that I didn't take time to enjoy the process of doing it. 
4.  Dry sand won't stick.  It needs to be wet so it can be shaped.  I must be washed by the water of the Word or I'll be dry and unshapeable by the Lord.
5.  Everyone on the beach had a bucket and a shovel.  They all made the same things - castles.  I made an octopus.  I must not follow the crowd and do the norm.  I have to branch out, be creative, and use my giftings for Him.  Who likes mundane and uniformity anyway?
6.  The sand and buckets were only means to an end - time well spent with my kids!
7.  I buried Kylee in the sand.  When she got out, she was filthy with sand.  She was trying so hard to brush the sand off with her hands.  I said, "just get in the water and you'll come out clean."  Wow - when we try to get rid of the dirt and sin by ourselves, it is as useless as trying to get every grain of sand off our bodies.  When we immerse ourselves in God's forgiveness, He washes us clean!!!
8.  The Lord promised Abraham that He would make his descendants as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.  God will bless us beyond our ability to count, interpret, or fathom.
9.  God's thoughts toward me outnumber the grains of sand in the world.  How could I ever count them?  O how He loves me.  Psalm 139:17-18
10.  Digging into the wet sand with my hands was an awesome sensation.  The more I dug, the more I found and created.  I also had more and more fun.  Soon I got tired, but the benefits (fun, experience, time with family, etc.) outweighed the work and I was right back at it.  Digging into God's Word is a lot like this:  rich and rewarding.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Help! I'm a Single Parent!

A family with only one parent used to be an exception, not the norm. Now, it seems lots of children are growing up in a single-parent home. Most of them are fatherless. Single parents can sometimes feel hopeless as they struggle to raise their children alone. Does God have anything to say to single parents?

Listen, God is for you as a single parent. Regardless of how you became a single parent you must realize that God loves and cares for you. David says this in Psalm 27:10, “My father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up.” That’s good news! God will take you up and care for you when a parent is absent. God can and will meet your needs. He’ll be a dad when there isn’t one. He’ll be a mom when there isn’t one. He will be whatever you need Him to be because He is all-sufficient. He is, as Psalm 68:5 says, “a father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows.” God acts on behalf of the woman who has been abandoned and abused. Psalm 146:9 says, “He supports the fatherless and the widow and prevents the way of the wicked.” If you are struggling as a single parent then run to the Lord for your strength, wisdom, defense, and comfort.

Let me also remind you of this: God has not forgotten you! He sees everything and knows everything. God will always provide for you. God is the only way out of your circumstances. Listen, you have to give the welfare of your children over to the Lord and not any other organization or agency. God knows the mess you are in and the plans to get you out of it. Hagar named her baby Ishmael which means “God hears”. Every time she called his name she would remember that God hears her (See Genesis 16).

God is your supply. He will show you how to make it on one salary. He will show you how to put food on the table. Hear this: God will be a husband to you. Isn’t He that to the church anyway? We are His bride and He is our groom (Ephesians 5:21-33; Revelation 19:7). God said He will never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). If you are living faithfully to please God then you have this promise, regardless of your marital or financial status.

Jesus understands your situation because at one time He was the son of a single mom. Scripture indicates that at some point in Jesus’ life Joseph was not around anymore. When Jesus was on the cross, He told John that he would have to care for Mary (John 19:26-27). He knows what you are going through. Hebrews 4:16 says Jesus knows and sympathizes with you because He too has been there.

Maybe you’ve been away from the Lord. That’s the beauty of His Grace. Maybe your past has been bad but that doesn’t have to stop you from the blessings of tomorrow! Turn back to the Lord and watch Him turn your situation around. He will truly “supply all you needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). God knows how to get you from where you are right now to where He wants you to be. Don’t stop waiting on and trusting in the Lord! He will take care of the things you can’t. Remember, God said, “I know the plans I have for you: plans to prosper you and not to harm you and plans to give you hope and a future.”

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I was thinking about forgiveness this morning.  The word says, "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Colossians 3:13).  Ouch! Especially to that last part!  It is one thing to tell people to forgive others.  At best sometimes we just push whatever it was that they did to us to the side and forget about it until we need to bring it back up again.  Other times we simply "overlook" their offense and don't let it "get to us".  But is this really forgiveness?  The condition on this verse is "forgive AS the Lord forgave you."  This makes all of at some point ask "how do we do that?  After all, He is God - forgiveness comes easy to Him."  Really?  I seem to remember that forgiveness cost Him His life.  That doesn't sound easy at all.

We must forgive as Christians.  It is a central and necessary element of the Christian life. What makes forgiveness so hard sometimes?  I think we presuppose unnecessary requirements on people all too often.  We tend to feel like those who have offended us need to repent or express remorse before we can forgive them.  If they don't admit it, then I don't need to forgive.  Or what that did was so bad and unjust that it needs expression of guilt before I can act on it and forgive them.  NOT TRUE!!!

While it sounds like a good trade off and even a fair way to deal with offense/forgiveness it is not how Jesus did it.  Forgiveness does not start with the other person - it starts with you.  Scripture like "while they were sinners, Christ died for them" (Romans 5:8) sticks out.  Forgiveness is not about what they do to earn it.  It is about how you respond to the Gospel.  Forgiveness is about knowing and expressing that Jesus' cross was sufficient in paying for sin.  They don't owe you payment for their sin before you forgive them.  Jesus already paid for their sin.  Remember all you did?  Would you like to pay for that before you are forgiven?  Jesus died to forgive sin.  When we don't forgive and hold it over their heads till they ask or repent we set up another system of forgiveness.  Remember that Jesus loves and died for the very person who hurt you.  He loves them just as much as He loves you.

People do not have to repent to you for you to forgive them.  After all, who did you die for?  When you come face to face with the reality that you would hardly die for any one's forgiveness then you realize that only Christ's obedience to the cross sufficiently deals with sin.  Unforgiveness holds you in bondage.  What they did to you has been taken care of at the cross by Jesus' blood.  Why are you carrying it around and letting it weigh you down?  Why not leave it at the cross and be set free?
When you relive that thing they did to you over and over and over and over and over and over (you get the point) it only makes things worse.  When you withhold forgiveness you only hurt yourself.  Ever seen a kid who holds his breath because he is mad?  That is what you and I look like when we choose not to forgive.  We withhold "air" only to "prove our point".  It looks silly on a kid but even more ridiculous on a believing adult!  Choose to forgive like Christ - unconditionally, repeatedly, and immediately.  Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you!  Read the following verses and never forget what you have been forgiven from.

  • "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins." - 2 Peter 1:5-9 
  • "Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs." - Proverbs 10:12
  • "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8