Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Creating a Perfect People

One of the questions skeptics ask of Christians is: “If God is all-powerful and all-knowing why didn’t He create people who couldn’t sin?” Christians usually respond by talking about free will and how love requires a choice. For true love to exist we need to choose to love.

While I believe that is true I think we should examine another answer: He is. God is creating a people who will posses the ability to love Him and free from the temptation to sin. Life is about God creating us to be the people He desires us to be.

If we go with the premise that love needs to be chosen, then if God desired creatures who, not only could He love, but also would love Him in return, then He needed to create creatures who also had the ability reject Him.

The first creatures it seems God created were the angels. These are beings who are able to live in the very presence of God (Luke 1:19), and even with their close contact with God one angel, Satan, leads a third of the angels in rebellion with God. Avoiding sin is not necessarily contingent on our closeness with God.

Then God creates people. In the first book of the Bible we read about Adam and Eve, people who walked with God every day. Again, even though they enjoyed a close relationship with God, Satan was able to convince them to rebel against God. People who experience a relationship with God at its best and they still fell into sin.

The rest of the Bible is about God’s pursuit of a people who are wholly devoted to Him. People who live, not by sight (because they have seen God), but by faith (the trust God). It is this element of faith that is essential in the creation of people who will not sin.

If people live by faith now, even though they have never sin God. If God can find people who trust and love Him now, even though they have never seen Him, how much more will they trust God when they are able to see His face?

In other words what we are experiencing right now is the necessary step that needs to be taken so we can arrive at that world in which we can have a perfect relationship with God.

This is really just me thinking “out loud” and have no idea if I made any sense, but it is a thought I chased a bit last night as I got ready for bed. The more I thought about it the more it seemed that I understood what God was doing. Hopefully you were able to follow along, but if you couldn’t just write it off as a guy that needs more sleep.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Our Need to Believe

"You get to choose in what and you get to choose how much you will believe or how little. You are already a universe of belief. Whether you believe in science or Buddha or Jesus or Oprah or yourself, you believe in something. While you may have thought yourself above the need to believe, you're just like the rest of us.

"You get to pick what you believe in, but you have no say over your need to believe. You shouldn't really need to make sense of life to enjoy it, but there it is every day nagging at you.

"Believing as an intellectual exercise is dificult enough, but our need to believe goes much deeper than that. The Enlightenment changed what it means to believe. To believe can mean nothing more than to agree with data. When Jesus spoke of believing, he meant something very different. To believe is to wrap your soul around something. To believe in God has to do with trusting. What you believe in is what you trust in and, more important, who you trust." ~ Erwin McManus, Soul Cravings

Evidence for an Unbelieving World

For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. ~ 1 Peter 2:15; NASB

It is more important to God that we live righteously than having the right answers to people's questions. One thing that I have been continually frustrated about is the arrogance of people who portray Christians as a bunch of simple-minded morons. It is as if these people truly believe they have a monopoly on intelligence and if you don't see things their way then you are a moron.

In reality the list is full of men and women who are highly intelligent and still hold to a deep Christian faith. You do not have to stop thinking to be a Christian, and if we are truly are serious about our faith we will be compelled to use our minds to ponder things that are truly unthinkable. Ravi Zacharias in Jesus Among Other Gods put it this way; "Loudly or quietly, these critics express their doubts. You might or might not to be able to help them past their misgivings about the Christian message. But unbelief is contagious; it's easy to catch if you don't think hard about what you believe and why" (Youth Edition, pg. 44). You will not believe in Christianity unless you look at the evidence for Christianity, and a non-Christian will not provide you with evidence about something they don't believe in.

It is no great virtue to be a "free thinker" or a skeptic. If you are predisposed to question Christianity and then only read, watch, and listen to things that feed that skepticism of course you are going to think that Christianity doesn't have a leg to stand on. Again Ravi Zacharias wrote; "I promise you this: You will never hear a challenging question so radically new that it hasn't already been asked and adequately answered" (Jesus Among Other Gods: Youth Edition; pg. 46). There are adequate answers out there, but most "free thinkers" never take the time to find them.

I have become convinced that no matter what proof you have to offer a skeptic it will never be good enough. Why? I don't know. The reasons probably vary as much as the people who disbelieve in Christianity. C. S. Lewis wrote; "To some, God is discoverable everywhere; to others, nowhere" (The Joyful Christian; pg. 6). No amount of evidence will be enough for the person who refuses to live by faith.

I will not try to justify my faith to people. I am not going to invite debates and I am not going to look for debates. To debate with a person who is not interested in your evidence and is only looking for a place to showcase their evidence is futile and accomplishes nothing. God never asked us to prove to the World that Christianity is true.

What God has called us to do is to live righteous lives. We will not silence Christianity's critics with a war of words. We can debate with people until we are blue in the face, but if they are not interested it does no good. I think that is what Jesus meant when he said not to throw pearls before swine.

What will silence Christianity's critics is the way Christians live. If we actually decided to live the Christian life many of our critics would disappear. When we believe it is our job to defend God's truth and to prove that we are right then we get distracted from what is really important. God doesn't need us to defend His Word. If we unleashed His Truth and allow it to transform our lives the truth of God's Word would defend itself.

The very best evidence that Christianity is true is the way Christian people live their lives. Consider what your life is saying to an unbelieving world.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Blasphemy Challenge

What is your reaction to this challenge?

Submitting to Jesus' Authority

"But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence" (Luke 19:27, NASB).

In Luke 19 the historian Luke records a parable Jesus used to illustrate the kingdom of God.
11 The crowd was listening to everything Jesus said. And because he was nearing Jerusalem, he told them a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away.12 He said, "A nobleman was called away to a distant empire to be crowned king and then return.13 Before he left, he called together ten of his servants and divided among them ten pounds of silver,* saying, `Invest this for me while I am gone.'14 But his people hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, `We do not want him to be our king.'
15 "After he was crowned king, he returned and called in the servants to whom he had given the money. He wanted to find out what their profits were.16 The first servant reported, `Master, I invested your money and made ten times the original amount!'
17 "`Well done!' the king exclaimed. `You are a good servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward.'
18 "The next servant reported, `Master, I invested your money and made five times the original amount.'
19 "`Well done!' the king said. `You will be governor over five cities.'
20 "But the third servant brought back only the original amount of money and said, `Master, I hid your money and kept it safe.21 I was afraid because you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn't yours and harvesting crops you didn't plant.'
22 "`You wicked servant!' the king roared. `Your own words condemn you. If you knew that I'm a hard man who takes what isn't mine and harvests crops I didn't plant,23why didn't you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.'
24 "Then, turning to the others standing nearby, the king ordered, `Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one who has ten pounds.'
25 "`But, master,' they said, `he already has ten pounds!'
26 "`Yes,' the king replied, `and to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.27 And as for these enemies of mine who didn't want me to be their king—bring them in and execute them right here in front of me'" (Luke 19:11-27; NLT).
Part of this parable is familiar to us. The dividing of the talents and the accounting of what the servants did with their talents. The part got me thinking this morning was verse 27 where the newly established king executes those people who actively worked against the nobleman becoming king.

There are two implications for our lives that are worth considering from this parable. First is our responsibility as servants of Jesus. We are to use the blessings that we have been given to expand God's Kingdom. When we refuse to take risks and to work towards expanding the Kingdom we will be punished.

We need to examine our lives and consider whether or not we are using the blessings God has given us to bless other people. This is at the heart of what Jesus expects of His followers. For when we horde God's blessings, when we refuse to risk what we have been given, we show that we do not care about what God cares about. It is when we risk and use the blessings we have been given that we are most like Jesus and impact the lives of other people.

The second implication is the destiny of the opposition. What condemns these individuals is their refusal to submit to the authority of Jesus. Think about the number of people who are basically "good" people but have yet to give their lives to Jesus. We need to understand that this isn't about morality. People are not condemn to hell because they live immoral lives, but because they refuse to submit to the authority of Jesus.

This is what repentance is all about. Repentance isn't feeling sorry for the evil that we have done, but it is about giving our allegiance to Jesus. No longer do we live based on what we think is right, but we live based on what Jesus tells us is right. We submit to the authority of Jesus and He becomes the ruler of our lives. Have you submitted to the authority of Jesus?

We need to take time to examine our lives and ask the question: Have I allowed Jesus to be king of my life?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Identity Deceived

Dark times had fallen on the realm of Kindron. The treachery of one of King Solon’s sons meant that the Verilent Empire now held sway throughout the land. The treacherous son Amnon now sat on the throne as regent king for the empire while his parents and siblings lay in their graves (there was one still alive, but that is another story for another day).

In the third year of Amnon’s reign there was a revolt by the freedom loving people of Kindron led by Duke Basil, governor of the Vale (which is the fertile region in southern Kindron). The Battle of Migron was the final battle of that horribly bloody civil war with the forces loyal to Amnon emerging victorious. Since that day Duke Basil has not been heard from and many assuming he was killed along with so many others.

The Duke had two sons, Andrew and Benjamin. Two days after the battle the youngest Benjamin disappeared. This is his story...

A cool breeze flowed in through the open window. It was early fall and perfect weather for sleeping. Though the figure on the bed hardly seemed to be getting an restful sleep. He tossed and turned and groaned. Suddenly he sat upright and let out a scream, sweat streaming down his face despite the open window.

He looked around the room as if he was expecting someone else to be there. Realizing that he was all alone he shook his head and got out of bed. On the wall opposite the open window was a dresser and mirror with a basin of water sitting on it. The man got out of bed and walked over to it and splashed water on his face. Leaning over the basin and staring into the mirror the man whispered, “Who am I?”

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Burmese Christians cry for aid

Penny Hollings in an opinion piece for SperoNews focuses attention on the persecution of the Christian minority in Burma. Here are some excerpts from the article.

This week Christian Solidarity Worldwide released a report on the persecution of Christians in Burma. The report cites a document, allegedly from the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Burma, which carries the title “Programme to destroy the Christian religion in Burma”. It begins: “There shall be no home where the Christian religion is practised.”

Burma is a country where citizens who do not conform to the regime’s version of Burman Buddist nationalism - which, as argued in the report, is a “perverted and distorted form of Buddhism” – face “potentially serious consequences”. The regime’s tactics range “from churches in Rangoon finding it difficult to obtain permission to renovate their buildings, to pastors in Chin State being killed,” the report claims.

still more:
The report also cites some horrific stories of violence. One pastor was arrested and interrogated in 1993. When his answers failed to satisfy his interrogators they cut his mouth open to the neck and said “We cut your mouth open so you can no longer preach.”

last one:
The resilience of these remarkable people in maintaining their faith under fire is a shining example of true courage and belief. It is time that their cries were answered. China and Russia recently vetoed a UN Security Council Resolution on Burma, but that is not and should not be a green light for the regime to carry out these atrocious human rights abuses. The international community has a responsibility to make sure it is not seen as such.

Let us not forget our brothers and sisters who are experiencing horrible atrocities for their faith. May we continually pray that they will have the faith and strength to be lights in their dark world.

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. ~ 1 Corinthians 12:26, NASB

Remember to check out The Voice of the Martyrs blog for more information about persecution of Christians throughout the world.

Oliver North: Who Cares About the Military?

I thought some of you might be interested in what Lt. Col. Oliver North wrote in his blog at FOX News. Here is an excerpt:
In the aftermath of the president’s State of the Union address, Democrats claimed that, "the majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought — nor does the majority of our military." Regrettably, no one in the so-called mainstream has bothered to challenge this unsubstantiated allegation about the members of our armed forces. There certainly isn’t a shred of evidence to validate that sentiment here — or with any of the scores of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Guardsmen or Marines with whom I stay in contact from my eight trips to the war. To the extent, that there is discontent in our military it is aimed at the way the war has been misreported by my "colleagues" in the media and how it is being depicted by politicians in Washington.

So much of the time we let things said by politicians and members of the media go by without ever challenging them. If Followers of Christ are praised for making an effort to make sure what their teachers are teaching is truth shouldn't we also spend some time to make sure what we are being fed by the powers that be is also truth? Just a thought.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Choosing Our Moments

We all have dreams. I have dreams of writing books, preaching great sermons, traveling to far away places, and having a family. There are so many things that I would like to accomplish or to have as part of my life, but when I take time to examine my so called life I realize that time constantly moving forward and my dreams are gradually falling away. Life, quiet literally, is passing me by.

May I assume for a moment that the same is true with you? Sure you dreams maybe different, but the life you have is not the life you want. You want your life to count for something and to be part of something special but it seems like time is running out on all that you would like to accomplish. Just like me you look at life and realize that another day has passed without any of these things coming true.

Why does life seem to gradually slip away? I believe it is because of the choices that we make. I am not talking about choices between good and evil, but between using time and wasting time. Erwin McManus wrote, “This may sound too simple, but the abundant life that Jesus promises is ushered in through the choices we make in the ordinary moments of life” (Seizing Your Divine Moment, pg. 35).

Each day we are given time to use at our discretion. Yes we have responsibilities that need to be taken care of. Clothes need to be washed, meals need to be prepared, jobs need to completed, and children need to be attended and love. Yet even with all our responsibilities we still seem to find time to watch 24, American Idol, CSI, and Lost. While we want to be seen as being busy, because being busy in a badge of honor in our culture, the reality is that we do have quite a bit of time to be used at our discretion.

In this moments when we get to choose what we want to do how do we use our time? I am afraid that too often I end up wasting my time. Reading blogs, watching movies, and playing my Playstation 2. Rather than doing something productive I choose to entertain myself. In the process I squander the moments of life God has blessed me with.

A moment may not seem like a big deal, but a moment is all that is needed to change the course of our lives. Again I like what Erwin McManus wrote in Seizing Your Divine Moment:
“The present moment is where the past and the future collide, and within a moment there is monumental potential. That’s the mystery of a moment. It is small enough to ignore and big enough to change your life forever. Life is the sum total of what you do with the moments given you” (pg. 18)

When we choose the path of least resistance, whether it is to be lazy or simply to seek out fun we miss out on the life God wants us to have. There will come a time in your life when you look back and wonder: Where has my life gone?
{15} Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise,{16} making the most of the time, because the days are evil. {17} So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17; NRSV)

We are to be careful in how we use the moments God has given to us. To live carefully has very little to do with the safety precautions for our protection and has everything to do with how we choose, wisely or foolishly, to use our time. Time is our most precious commodity, it is more valuable than money, and the direction of our lives are determined by the we decide to use those seconds that are continually ticking away. The choices that we make effect how we use our moments. Our moments effect the condition of our lives.

Here is the question I want to leave you with: Are you being careful in how you use your time? It is never too late to start being careful with our God given moments and pursuing the life He has created for us to live.

My Blogging Personality

I took the Blogging Personality Quiz at About Web logs and I am...

The Pundit
I like to blog about a specific topic of interest that I am passionate about - be it business, politics, technology, law, education, entertainment, or literature. I blog regularly and I welcome relevant discussions about my topic. I have a constant thirst for knowledge.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Living the Light of Truth

It is not always easy to understand what Jesus taught. One reason for this is because we live, not only in a different time, but also a different culture than when Jesus walked the earth and taught people. This is something we have to keep in mind as we approach Scripture: the true lesson may not be obvious. In other words we might have to work a little bit in order to understand what Jesus was saying.

I recently came across a difficult teaching of Jesus which left me wondering what He was trying to say. It is found in Luke 11:33-36:

33 "No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket.* Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.
34 "Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is bad, your body is filled with darkness. 35 Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. 36 If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light." (NLT)

It is easy to skim over this because is sounds a lot like Jesus’ teaching on being light that we have read before (i.e. Matthew 5:14-16), but a closer read will have you shaking your head thinking: What did Jesus mean? William Barclay in his Daily Study Bible on Luke wrote: "The meaning is not easy to grasp..."

Why don’t we attempt to work at this a little bit and see if we can’t come up with an application for our lives? First we cannot lift these 4 verses out of there context and hope to arrive at the truth Jesus wants us to understand. Luke 11:14 I believe gives us a good point from which to understand the context of Jesus’ teaching. What we notice is that people are questioning who Jesus is. He can cast out demons, why? Is he the ruler of demons? Is he the messiah? Is he a prophet? To get an answer to their questions the mob begins to demand a sign. They want Jesus to prove who he is, as if all his miracles and teachings were not enough (if the people who saw Jesus’ miracles tried to come up with alternate explanations for them how much more will people today doubt the evidence of Jesus’ miracles).

In response to the crowds demand for a sign Jesus begins to teach. As he is teaching a woman shouts: “God bless your mother--the womb from which you came, and the breasts that nursed you!” (verse 27, NLT).

I believe Jesus’ response is the key to understanding the point of verses 33-36. Here is what Jesus said: “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice” (verse 28, NLT).

Sandwiched between Jesus’ response and the passage we are looking at is Jesus’ condemnation of the crowd. It is here that Jesus offers the people a sign. It is the sign of Jonah. In Matthew 12:39-40 Jesus explains what this sign is: just as Jonah spent time in the belly of a fish and then was spit out, Jesus will spend time dead before being resurrected. The people of Nineveh saw the sign before Jonah’s preaching, but Jesus is giving these people a heads up on what to look for that will confirm his preaching.

Jesus tells the crowds that they will be condemned. They will be condemned by the queen of Sheba who came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom. She was on a quest to discover the truth and she went to great lengths to find it. The crowd around Jesus has great wisdom at their doorstep and yet they don’t seek it, but rather they come to challenge and question Jesus.

The people of Nineveh will condemn them, because Nineveh repented when the heard Jonah preach. These crowds following Jesus did not repent at his preaching. They continued living like they always had done.

I think it is interesting that Jesus uses these Gentile examples. The Jew thought he would stand in condemnation of the pagans because the Jews had God’s law, but Jesus says that is not so. The important thing wasn’t who had the Law, but how you respond to God’s Truth. Will you seek it out? Will you be changed by it?

Let’s stop here for a moment. As Christians we have God’s Word. God has given us the Bible so that we can know who He is and how to live. Have God’s Word isn’t enough! The queen of Sheba will condemn us as well if we are unwilling to search God’s Word for the wisdom we need for life. The people of Nineveh will condemn us if we are unwilling to apply God’s truth to our lives and live according to God’s will. The condemnation Jesus gives to this crowd of people who claimed to follow God’s Law does not apply today for the atheist or pagan who doesn’t claim the truth of God’s Word, but applies to us who claim the Bible to be truth but do not treat it as truth.

Hopefully now we are in a better position to understand the truth in Jesus illustration about light, lamps, and eyes. Truth is meant to be shared and seen. Truth is useless if it is hoarded or hidden. How well are we sharing the light of truth?

Verses 34 and 35 are what are confusing to me. So perhaps the next step to take is to ask a question: how can I have a pure eye? Let’s take a step back and look at the examples of the queen of Sheba and the people of Nineveh again. The queen of Sheba was on a quest to discover truth. The Pharisees and other religious leaders of Jesus’ day were not looking to find truth, they we eager to prove their point. So could a pure eye be the result of our willingness to be taught?

The men of Nineveh changed the way the lived when they were confronted with God’s truth. The Pharisees were always looking for loopholes to explain why God’s Law did not apply to them and why they didn’t need to repent. So could a pure eye also be the result of our willingness to repent when confronted with God’s truth?

In other words an evil eye is the result of insistence that truth is only truth if it agrees with preconceived ideas and philosophies. An evil eye is also the result of our unwillingness to do whatever it takes to respond to the truth God has given us. An evil eye is a closed eye that does not allow in the light of God’s truth.

Having a pure eye allows us to receive God’s truth which in turn leads to a life that is full of life. God’s truth is not limited to facts and propositions but is demonstrated by the way we live. Jesus said the person who is blessed is the person who not only hears the truth but also obeys it (verse 28). We debate philosophies and spin facts to suit our needs, but a life lived as the result of truth is a beacon of light. The question we need to ask ourselves is this: Is my life being radiant?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Striving to be Different

I don’t know about you but I find it extremely difficult to live differently from the world. It is just so easy to go with the flow and to allow ourselves to be influenced by all the same things that the people of this world are influenced by. And perhaps it is harder because the enemy, Satan, wants to make sure that the light of our lives doesn’t shine by our different way of living.

Yet it is essential for people claiming to follow Jesus to live differently from the world. The Apostle Paul tells us:

Don’t participate in the things these people do. For though your hearts were once full of darkness, now you are full of light from the Lord, and your behavior should show it! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true (Ephesians 5:7-9; NLT).

Christ-Followers need to live differently from the people of this world. So how do we do this? How do we prevent ourselves from being influenced by this culture in which we live? I believe the writer of Hebrews have provided us with some answers to these questions:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven (Hebrews 12:1-2; NLT).

In these two verses we find four actions we must do if we are going to live differently from the world.

First we must remember the witnesses. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith...

Hebrews 11 is filled with the examples of faith. Men and women who trusted God through the ups and downs of life. The writer of Hebrews then tells us: be encouraged by these people. The examples of Abraham, Moses, Ruth, David, Esther, Daniel, and Peter should give us encouragement as we attempt to live faithfully in our culture. Remember there is a reason God preserved their lives on the pages of Scripture so lets learn from them.

It is also important to remember that through the past two thousand years more and more people have been added to this great cloud of witnesses. People like Jim Elliot, C. S. Lewis, Lillian Trasher, Dawson Trotman, and Si Steele (my grandfather). On the pages of history and in the years of our lives are more men and women who can serve as examples of what it means to live faithful lives and be a source of encouragement as we seek to live differently in the culture in which we live.

The second action we need to do is remove the hindrances. let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress.

Change is difficult. One reason it is difficult is because it means that we were wrong. If things were right then a change wouldn’t need to happen. A second reason why change is hard is because of habits. It is hard to break a habit, no matter how much we may want to be rid of it.

There are things in our lives that need to be changed. We all have junk in our our lives, and none of us are carrying around the same set of baggage. Some of us have self-image issues that need to be dealt with. Others of us have relationship problems that need to be worked through. Still others of us have emotional problems (depression, anxiety, perfectionism, guilt, etc.) that need to be dealt with. All these things are hindering us from become the people God created us to be, and so we need to face them and deal with them, even if that means going to a professional for help.

The universal weight is sin. Yes the weight of sin maybe different, but each of us has sin in our lives. We need to attack it, struggle with it, confess it to God, and continually turn our hearts over to God. We cannot go with God and allow sin to remain in our live unchecked. If we are not struggling to rid our lives of sin then we are not living a life of faith.

The third action we must do is run the race. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.

I like what Erwin McManus wrote in Seizing Your Divine Moment:

“God has created you to do something. It is not enough to stop the wrong and then be paralyzed when it comes to the right. God created you to do good. And doing this requires initiative. There is a subtle danger of hiding apathy behind piety. Getting rid of the sin in your life? Great. Now it’s time to do something” (pg. 35).

God has created us to do good. That means we are to bring good into the lives of other people. I like to say that we have been blessed so that we can be a blessing. Running the race that God has given to us is about doing the good works that God has planned for us (Ephesians 2:10). When we use the blessings God has given us to bring good into this world then we are running the race of faith.

The final action is to reflect on Jesus. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.

Jesus is our ultimate example on how we are to live. He showed us how to love, how to serve, and how to forgive. We must model our lives after his life.

The sacrifice of Jesus is the ultimate encouragement as we strive to live a life of faith. Knowing that Jesus went through brutal times, for the purpose of saving us from sin, should encourage us when we are going through those dark times of life and motivate us to whatever it takes to remain faithful.

We can only keep our eyes on Jesus and reflect on his life by learning about his life. I think one of the reasons fall is because we have created an image of Jesus that appeals to us rather than discovering who Jesus really is. This means we have to spend time in God’s Word and reading the Gospels so we can have a better understanding and appreciation of who Jesus is and what he did for us.

The Followers of Jesus Christ need to be different from the rest of the world. It is easy to participate in the activities of this world and to go along with our culture, but we must fight the hard fight to be different. Are you willing to do what it takes to change your life and be different?

The Seriousness of Sin

"Dear people of God, please listen. God wants to see His people acknowledging that their sin is as serious as He says it is. He wants to heart that we are determined that sin will not reign in us. God wants to see us on our knees crying out to Him." ~ Henry Blackaby, Holiness, page 56

Monday, January 22, 2007

Trust God to Forgive

It is never easy to admit that we have made a mistake. The bigger the mistake the more we want to hide it, deny it, or ignore it. So it is no wonder when it comes to sin, our sin, we have such a hard time confessing it, even to God. Many of us are carrying around the baggage of guilt for past sins and the chains of habit for present sins while are lives become more and more complicated.

I find it hard to confess my sins to God and seek forgiveness because I am so embarrassed about my weakness. After all I should know better! If I truly had faith I wouldn’t behave is such a manner. So I keep my distant from God because I don’t want to appear like a fool before Him.

Perhaps you struggle with seeking forgiveness because you are afraid of God. There is a voice inside of you telling you that if you confess your sins to God then He will punish you. After all isn’t God out to get all the lawbreakers?

In his book Created to Be God’s Friend Henry Blackaby wrote:

“When a child of God sins, what he does next will reveal his heart-relationship with God! Faith in God always returns a person to God for forgiveness. Faith always trusts and obeys” (pp. 88-89).

Faith is a by-product of trust. The question we need to ask ourselves is this: Do I trust God to forgive me? If we don’t trust God to forgive then we won’t return to Him and confess our sins. We will run away and hide. We will ignore the sin that is ruining our lives. We will do every thing we can think of except turn to God.

Let’s stop and think about this situation we find ourselves in. Is there any reason why we should trust God to forgive us? Of course there is and that reason is Jesus Christ. The life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the evidence we need to understand that God is willing to forgive us. No matter who we are or what we have done God is waiting to forgive us for what we have done.

The writer of the book of Hebrews gave us this gem of truth:

14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most (NLT).

How do we come before the throne of God? First it requires our surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord. If we are not willing to be a follower of Jesus then it is impossible for us to receive God’s grace of forgiveness. Jesus is the High Priest who has prepared the way to God. There is no other way to God except through Him.

Second we need to confess our sins to God through prayer. God knows our sins, but we need to acknowledge our sins to Him. This is an act of trust. We lay our sins at His feet so He can deal with them, rather than trying to deal with them ourselves.

Third we need to worship God. From singing God’s praises to serving a person in need it is important that we set our hearts to obey that greatest of commandments: To love God with our entire being.

As long as we live in these bodies of flesh sin will be a part of our lives. Not only do we need constantly struggle with sin as we try to eliminate it from our lives as much as possible, but we also have to learn to trust God to forgive us when we do sin. God is gracious and willing to forgive us if we will just return to Him and ask for it.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Tale Of Princess Laughing Dove

by Tish Farrell

Once there was a man, neither young nor old, and his name was Wainaina. He lived alone on his farm at the forest edge, in the house he had built himself. The house was small but that did not matter, for whenever Wainaina opened his door, or drew back his curtain he could see the blue peaks of Mount Kenya. Up they rose like church spires and whenever Wainaina saw them, his spirits soared too - high in the blue.

"I'm lucky to be alive," he'd say. But then he would sigh, "If only I had a wife to share this with."

A wife indeed! So why couldn't Wainaina find himself a good woman when the countryside was alive with good women? And why, when a village girl caught his eye, did she walk straight on by, before he'd said hello? This was what he asked himself, day in day out, as he sowed and hoed and tended his crops.

"Perhaps," said Wainaina. "I haven't the heart for it."

Read the whole story

Thursday, January 18, 2007

What Happened the Year You Were Born?

In 1973 (the year you were born)

Richard Nixon is president of the US

Supreme Court rules in Roe vs. Wade that states may not prevent a woman from having an abortion during the first trimester

US announces the end of the military draft

Spiro T. Agnew resigns after pleading no contest to charges of tax evasion while governor of Maryland

Gerald R. Ford becomes the first appointed vice president under the 25th Amendment

A total ban on oil exports to the US for six months is imposed by Arab nations after the outbreak of an Arab-Israeli war

President Richard Nixon announces that a peace accord has been reached in Vietnam

Drea de Matteo, Tori Spelling, Carson Daly, Monica Lewinsky, and Kate Beckinsale are born

Oakland Athletics win the World Series

Miami Dolphins win Superbowl VII

Montreal Canadiens win the Stanley Cup

The Exorcist and American Graffiti are top grossing films

Elvis Presley's Aloha From Hawaii television special is seen around the world by more than 1 billion viewers

KISS performs their first concert, at the Coventary Club in Queens

"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Roberta Flack wins a Grammy for song of the year

Schoolhouse Rock premieres

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Spiritual Maturity and Sin

One of the evidences of spiritual maturity in our lives is our attitude toward sin. We begin to understand that sin is more than just a mistake and that it has costly consequences. William Pile wrote:
“It [sin] has in its very nature not only habituation, but degradation. We seldom curtail sin, or taper off. Once it has severed our relationship with God, God’s image, in which we created (Gen. 1:26), seems to dim, and we become more like animals than people, driven more by instinct than intellect” (What The Bible Says About Grace; pg. 21).

The more we understand sin the more we begin to hate it. We hate sin because of the way it enslaves us and keeps us from becoming the people God created us to be. Sin holds us back and steals our lives away. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy...” (John 10:10a; NASB). As we mature in Christ Jesus we hate sin because in destroys who God created us to be.

Not only do we hate the sin that is in our lives, but we hate the sin that enslaves other people. Matthew tells us that Jesus looked on the crowds of sinners as being “harassed and helpless” (Matthew 9:36b, NIV). The Greek that has been translated harassed literally means “flayed, torn, and mangled.” Do you have a visual image on how Jesus sees sin in the lives of people? It ruins our lives! Sin not only harasses us, but it tears at us, cuts us, and leaves our us in the mangled wreckage of humanity that we find ourselves in.

Now how does this hatred of sin show itself in our lives? First it is seen in our constant struggle with the sin that is in our lives. It is through this struggle that we become intimately familiar with the nature of sin. If we truly hate the sin that is enslaving our lives then we will do whatever it takes to get rid of it.

Not only will we struggle against the sin that we have in our own lives, but we will also fight to help other people get free of the sin that is in their lives. If we truly love our neighbors then we will do what we can to help them discover life. How else can people find life unless we help them find the Life-Maker and help them break free from the sin that has mangled and destroyed their lives?

The question we need to consider is this: How do we view sin? Is it something that we are willing to dedicate our lives to destroy? Do we believe that sin is evil which mangles and ruins our lives? Are we willing to bring everything we have against this great enemy of humanity?

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.* Because of the joy* awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people;* then you won't become weary and give up. 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin (Hebrews 12:1-4; NLT).

How far are you willing to go in your struggle with sin?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Obedience to God's Word

"'Godly counsel is never a substitute for a word from God! God may use our friends to speak His word to us, but mere counsel from godly family or friends is never a safe substitute for a word from God and obedience to Him." ~ Henry Blackaby, Created to be God's Friend, pg. 108

Monday, January 15, 2007

Key To Spiritual Maturity

“Adjustments prepare you for obedience. You cannot continue life as usual or stay where you are, and go with God at the same time. That is true throughout Scripture.” ~ Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God (workbook, pg. 127)

One of the turning points in my relationship with God was when I did the Experiencing God workbook. Going through that study really increased my understanding about what a relationship with God is like. It showed me that I was pursuing the wrong goal and going it about it the wrong way when it came to a relationship with God.

One of the key points Henry Blackaby makes is the need for us to adjust our lives to God’s will. It is not enough to know correct doctrine or simply go to Church each Sunday. What is required is for us to obey God and follow Jesus wherever He leads us.

The road to Spiritual Maturity is not hard to find, but it is difficult to follow. The adjustments God expects us to make are not always easy, and many times will not make sense to us. The way we would do things is rarely the way God does them.

Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher what good things must I do to have eternal life?”

“Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “Only God is good. But to answer your question, you can receive eternal life if you keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” the man asked.

And Jesus replied: “Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.”

“I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”

Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went sadly away because he had many possessions. (Matthew 19:16-22; NLT)

The Rich Young Man I believe is a person we, as American Christians, can relate to. He is rich and most of us would be consider rich compared with people around the world. The Young Man, like us, has a problem with materialism. What he had had provided him with a certain amount of comfort and security that he had come to depend. Too many of us are in the same boat as the young man, we are religious moral people, but we have more trust in our possessions than we do in God.

The reason the Rich Young Man could not mature past the point of where his religion had taken him is because he was unwilling to make adjustments and follow Jesus. This is key for us as we seek to grow spiritually. The key to spiritual growth are not small groups, Bible Studies, or books. The key is to follow Jesus when He calls, even at the expense of the good things in our lives.

We need to be involved in a small group of Christian, to study the Bible, and to read the thoughts of other Christians because it is often through these things that God reveals His will for our lives. Once God has revealed His will then we are faced with a choice: to ignore God’s voice or to follow Him regardless of the cost. Spiritual Maturity is found on the other side of obedience.

Spiritual Maturity is not a product of methods and programs, but it is a product of faith being lived out. When we decide to follow Jesus, accepting the call He has placed on our lives, is when we begin to head down the path of Spiritual Maturity. Obedience is the key to becoming Spiritually Mature.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sunday Link: North Point Sermons

One of my favorite activities to do is to listen to sermons. Last night I listened to a great one by Andy Stanely lead minister at North Point Community Church in Atlanta. The sermon is titled It's Only Physical sermon 4 of the Twisted sermon series. You can find this sermon and a bunch of others at North Point Community Church's sermon page. Go and check it out and listen to a a sermon or two. Who knows it might do your heart some good.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A Testimony

This week as I write about the persecuted Church I want to turn your attention to a guest Steve Deace had on his program (1040 WHO Des Moines) this past week. The man, identified only as Umar is a man who went from a Muslim Persecutor to a persecuted Christian Minister (click here for Umar's testimony). A fascinating story and one that should remind us what many of our brothers and sisters in Christ face in their daily lives.

For more information about the persecuted Church make sure you visit the Voice of the Martyrs blog.

If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. ~ 1 Corinthians 12:26, ESV

Friday, January 12, 2007

News Media and Contemporary Culture

Here is an opinion piece from FOX News that I think is worth a read. Do You Want to Change the News Media? is a good reminder of our responsibility to monitor what we watch. Here is a quote from the article:

I am convinced there’s something tragic happening in the news media. It goes beyond legitimate differences of taste and form. At an unprecedented rate, hard news, good news, and non-sexualized news are disappearing. In their place has arrived a tantalizing concoction of celebrity gossip, fear-mongering, partisan drama, and lowbrow feature stories. Scandal and intrigue are the glue which holds together this eclectic mix of entertainment, while a sprinkling of Associated Press wire reports serves the all important purpose of keeping up a fa├žade of news reporting.

Let me know what you think.

A Journey into the Unknown

Jehucal knew it was time to leave. The tribes had been camped at the edge of Murrian for two months, and food was becoming scarce. He looked off to the north. Jehucal had heard of a green land there, filled with wild game and fertile soil. He did not know if it was fact or legend. If all he had to think about was himself, Jehucal would leave, but that was not the case. He was the Chieftain of the Seven Tribes. There were five hundred other people to think about.

The truth is that Jehucal had no other options. The famine that had devastated many of the southern lands continued to push north. Not only was the famine a problem but the Verilent Raiders, the vicious Nomads of the Palos Desert, were conquering more and more territory with each passing month.

Jehucal knew in his heart that it was worth the risk to take the tribes north through the Badlands of Murrian. But there were moments when Jehucal became very apprehensive about taking his people through that God-forsaken bit red rock and sand. He had heard it said that there was no water for 200 miles and he knew that would be too far to travel with this size of group without a source of water. The apprehesion Jehucal felt was his belief that not everyone would survive the journey. It had been almost two hundred years since the fall of Theriel and these five hundred people were all who were left of the once great race of men that ruled the Southern Kingdoms of Ther. For that reason Jehucal was cautious about any decision that would effect the entire group.

“Husband what troubles you so much?”

Jehucal turned around and faced his beautiful wife Josphinia. Her dark hair cascaded down past her shoulders, and the sunset reflected in her brown eyes. Jehucal sighed. His wife could always tell when he was bothered by something.

“It is this decision to go north. I fear that it is not the right decision.”

“Jehucal, you have agonized over this decision for many months now. What other options do we have?”

“There are no other options, but if we go forward people will die.”

“And they will die if we stay here. And they will die if we turn back. There is no safe road Jehucal.”

“I know you are right my dear Josphinia. It is just that I would feel better about the risk if I knew if the legends were indeed true. What if we get to the other side of these badlands and discover that things are not any better there.”

“Then at least we will not be any worse off than we already are. Let’s not think about what if, but let us focus on the hope of a green fields, cold water, and a better life to live.”
Jehucal drew his wife to him and gave a hug and a gentle kiss on her forehead.

“We will move north in hope and face whatever the future holds for us together. May the Great Arkia be with us.”

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Keys to My Heart

The Keys to Your Heart

You are attracted to those who are unbridled, untrammeled, and free.

In love, you feel the most alive when things are straight-forward, and you're told that you're loved.

You'd like to your lover to think you are loyal and faithful... that you'll never change.

You would be forced to break up with someone who was insecure and in constant need of reassurance.

Your ideal relationship is open. Both of you can talk about everything... no secrets.

Your risk of cheating is zero. You care about society and morality. You would never break a commitment.

You think of marriage as something precious. You'll treasure marriage and treat it as sacred.

In this moment, you think of love as something you thirst for. You'll do anything for love, but you won't fall for it easily.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

What Motivates You?

What motivates you to live a Christian life? Is it guilt? Guilt comes into our lives and tells us that we are bad people. Having guilt makes us believe that we are not good enough to receive God’s gift, and so we begin to live out a plan that will make us good enough to achieve the gift. The problem is that we are not strong enough to keep going, and we fall, and guilt again condemns us for being failures and not loving God like we should. We are trapped in a vicious cycle of sin and work, and we never make any progress in our relationship with God.

Perhaps you aren’t motivated because of guilt, but your motivation is one of fear. You are fear the consequences of sin, and so you are constantly worried if you are doing the right things or even enough of the right things. “Am I going to church enough?” or “Am I praying long enough?” Not only are we worried about what we are doing we begin to see every bad thing in our lives as God’s judgment on us for our sins. The unexpected bill, the car accident, the sickness, or the job loss all are interpreted as punishment for sin. So we discipline our selves to do better, to spend more time with Him, and in the end nothing changes. We are still afraid.

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God—for God is love.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. ~ 1 John 4:7-10; NLT

The greatest motivation to live a Christian life is love. Not our love for God, but God’s love for us. The reason we should go to worship services during the week, the reason we should pray, the reason we should study the Bible, the reason we should extend a helping hand, and the reason we give is in response to God’s love for us. Any other motivation is inadequate and will continually lead us to disappointment.

If we are to live this type of life we will need to constantly be reminded of the ways God has shown us His love. We need to focus the blessings He has given us, and the supreme blessing is Jesus Christ. Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection we are assured of an eternal relationship with God. Because of God’s love for us He has made it possible for us to come to Him. That knowledge alone should constantly motivate us to live a life loving God and loving people.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Christian Living

"And here is the essence of Christian Living to Paul: living in Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. When a person lives in the Spirit (i.e., under the total guidance of God's Spirit), that person does everything God wants, and so the law cannot condemn that person. When a person lives according to the leading of the Spirit, that person will always do the fullness of God's will, of which the law of Moses was but a preliminary glimpse." ~ Scot McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary: Galatians; pg. 35

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Persecution Remains for Christians

Persecution has been a constant for the Universal Church. Though we in America and other western countries may escape its darker side, many of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world still suffer for the name of Jesus.

In an article published by Christian Today an estimated 250 million Christians will face some persecution in 2007. Here is a quote from the article:

New research found that governments in even moderate Muslim countries often fail to safeguard the rights of their Christian minorities, which results in Christians suffering from kidnapping, forced conversion, imprisonment, church destruction, torture, rape and execution.

As this new year continues on let us remember our brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering because of the commitment they have made to follow Jesus. Let them be on our hearts and minds. Remember what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:26; "If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad" (NLT).

For more information about the Persecuted Church visit Voice of the Martyrs or the VOM Blog.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Resist the Devil

Have you ever done something that went against what you believed? Perhaps you had a frustrating day and you yelled at your children, even though they did nothing wrong. Maybe you were a little strapped for money and you figured out a way to get a few extra dollars from work. Or perhaps you are on a business trip and the loneliness creeps in and you decide to get a X-rated movie for you room to take you mind off the situation.

Here is one that happened to me recently. My birthday is December 30th and the next day my sister called to wish me a happy birthday. The problem was that she called while the Denver Broncos were fighting for a spot in the playoffs. So instead of trying to engage her in a conversation I was short with her to make it clear that her call was an inconvenience to me. The rest of the evening I was miserable because of the way I treated her. In moments of clarity I know that it is more important to have a conversation with my sister than it is to watch the Denver Broncos play football, but at that moment things got twisted and I forgot what was important.

Why does this happen? Let me offer you an explanation. It happens because there is an unseen world which affects our lives. There is more going on than what we can see and touch. We are under attack and we don’t even know it.

Read how John Eldredge describes this conflict that we are in.
The world in which we live is a combat zone, a violent clash of kingdoms, a bitter struggle unto the death. I’m sorry if I’m the one to break this news to you: you were born into a world at war, and you will live all your days in the midst of a great battle, involving all the forces of heaven and hell and played out here on earth (Waking the Dead; pg. 13).

If there is a war that means that we have allies and enemies. Through the invasion of Jesus Christ into the world to free humankind we can trust that the forces of God are the forces of righteousness and thus our allies. It was Jesus who pointed out who the enemy is:

"For you are the children of your father the Devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning and has always hated the truth. There is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character, for her is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44; NLT).

The Devil is the enemy, the prince of this world, and his agenda is to kill, lie, destroy, and twist every good thing God has given us. The reason why we do things that seem so out of character or against our fundamental beliefs is because Satan is there lying to us to make us see wrong as right. He wants us to put more value on football game than our relationship with family. He wants us to twist the pleasures God has given to us and make them addictions. He wants to do whatever He can to steal our lives away and keep us finding the life that is available to us in Jesus.

How do we become active combatants in this unseen war? The Apostle Paul gives us some suggestions:

10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.11 Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

13 Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness.15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:10-17, NLT).

If we are honest with ourselves there is a mystery to what Paul is saying here. We are not exactly sure what the Apostle is trying say, but lets not worry about what we don’t understand for the moment. Let’s focus on what we can understand. If we are going to resist the Devil and his attempts to twist what we believe and the truth we know then we have to rest in the power of God. The way I know how to do this is to become people of the Text, of God’s Word. It is extremely important that we spend time reading, studying, and listening to God’s Word. Whether it is reading from the Bible, reading a book, listing to a sermon, or attending a class the Bible must be a part of our lives.

Not only do we need to be people of the Book, but we need to be people of prayer. One of the examples Jesus gave to us through the way He lives His life was that prayer is essential in keeping a connection with God. If we are going to resist the Devil’s advances we must be connected to the One who has power to resist him.

We all do things that are inconsistent with the life we want to live. Remember that part of the reason is because there is one who opposes that life and will do anything in his power to destroy the life God wants you to enjoy. But he can be resisted:

8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world (1 Peter 5:8-9; NASB).

Resist the Devil as he makes attempts to destroy your life. Be people of the Book and pray so that our lives can be examples of God’s mighty power.

The Dragon Rock

By Ellena Ashley
This story begins with Once Upon A Time, because the best stories do, of course.

So, Once Upon A Time, and imagine if you can, a steep sided valley cluttered with giant, spiky green pine trees and thick, green grass that reaches to the top of your socks so that when you run, you have to bring your knees up high, like running through water. Wildflowers spread their sweet heady perfume along the gentle breezes and bees hum musically to themselves as they cheerily collect flower pollen.

People are very happy here and they work hard, keeping their houses spick and span and their children's faces clean.

This particular summer had been very hot and dry, making the lean farm dogs sleepy and still. Farmers whistled lazily to themselves and would stand and stare into the distance, trying to remember what it was that they were supposed to be doing. By two o'clock in the afternoon, the town would be in a haze of slumber, with grandmas nodding off over their knitting and farmers snoozing in the haystacks. It was very, very hot.

No matter how hot the day, however, the children would always play in the gentle, rolling meadows. With wide brimmed hats and skin slippery with sun block, they chittered and chattered like sparrows, as they frolicked in their favourite spot.

Now, their favourite spot is very important to this story because in this particular spot is a large, long, scaly rock that looks amazingly similar to a sleeping dragon.
The children knew it was a dragon.
The grown ups knew it was a dragon.
The dogs and cats and birds knew it was a dragon.
But nobody was scared because it never, ever moved.

Finish reading the story.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

You Will Keep Your New Year's Resolution

You planning on making a resolution that's smart, attainable, and perfect for where your life is.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Life Significance

So many of us have settled for a life of mere exsistence. Part of the reason is because we believe, as Christ Followers, that the point of Christianity is to make us moral. We live our lives trying to be “moral” in whatever situation we might find ourselves in. Life is about adding morality to the cycle of bill paying, work (school), church, and chores that we find ourselves doing every week, if not every day. Yet something seems to be missing.

The life God created for us to live is a life filled with meaning. The lack of meaning in our lives is the first indication that we have wandered away from God’s plan for our lives. Being a Christ Follower isn’t just about becoming better moral people, in fact that is not even the main concern, it is about trusting Jesus more than we trust ourselves. It is stepping to the edge of the unkown and trusting Jesus to do the right thing. Morality doesn’t add meaning to our lives; following Jesus does.

Jeremiah 29:11 reads; “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope” (NASB). God has a plan for our lives and this plan is designed to give our lives purpose. It is more than just facing life in a moral manner, but it is about God working through us to impact the world.

Yes, I am aware that how we live our lives, the moral standard that we live by, is very important and provides a contrast to how the rest of the world lives. My point isn’t that morality isn’t imporant, but that it isn’t the main thing. Answer this question: By following Jesus will we be moral people? Morality is the natural outcome of a person seeking to follow Jesus. If we focus on morality we might miss Jesus, but if we follow Jesus we will find morality.

Purpose is not found in morality but is found in following Jesus. What Jesus asks us to do on the journey looks different for each of us, but the call He gives is always the same: “Come follow me.” While following Him Jesus might have us teach a class, write a book, sing a song, wash feet, serve dinner, give money, build a house, go to another land, give our lives, or any number of combinations or other things. The purpose God has for us in following Jesus is always about Glorifying God, expanding His Kingdom, and loving people.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in Acts 20:24. “But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus–the work of telling others the Good News about God’s wonderful kindness and love” (NLT). The Apostle Paul discovered his life only had meaning when he was living out his purpose, doing what God has called us to do. If we giving our lives away to anything else besides what God has given to us we will always find our lives meaningless and insignificant. We were designed to live a life of meaning which we only find in following Jesus. Are following Him?

Accept the Differences

Most of us understand that people are different and those differences are a good thing. The world would be a boring place if everyone beli...