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Showing posts from November, 2007

Obedience and Knowing God

If life is a quest to become the people God created us to be how do we discover which way to go? There are many roads out there on which we can travel, but only one leads us to God. If we are unwilling to follow this road we will miss out, not only on God, but also the life He created us to live.

Henry Blackaby in the workbook Experiencing God wrote:
God’s commands are designed to guide you to life’s very best. You will not obey Him, however, if you do not believe Him and trust Him. You cannot believe Him if you do not love Him. You cannot love Him unless you know Him (pg. 63).
The road we are to travel is the road of obedience.

This quest to become the people God created us to be begins with our knowledge of who God is. We cannot love, trust, and obey God unless we first know Him. Knowledge is the foundation of faith. This is what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote:
14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom the…

Broken By Sin

One day when Jesus was teaching He compared Himself to a shepherd and His followers to sheep. During this time of teaching Jesus told His listeners: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10; NASB). Today I want you to just think about the first part of this verse.

The thief symbolizes Satan. I have no idea if you believe Satan is real, but let me tell you that he is. The reality of Satan is one of the core doctrines of Christianity. C. S. Lewis wrote:
“One of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a Dark Power in the universe--a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death and disease, and sin. The difference is that Christianity [compared to other religions] thinks this Dark Power was created by God, and was good when he was created, and went wrong” (Mere Christianity; pg. 51).
Satan wants my life destroyed because it …

Liberty and Personal Freedom

During my brief drive to the gym yesterday I caught a few moments of Rush Limbaugh. I cut my political teeth on Rush and still like to catch him occasionally. Rush was on a rant about the fact that the Democrat presidential candidates don’t talk about freedom as much as about mandates. In other words the Democrats are interested in using government to dictate the way people live their lives. From banning smoking to mandatory health care to environmental regulations they are in favor of bigger government and more government intrusion into our everyday lives. The bigger the government gets and the more laws that are passed means a lose of freedom and personal liberty, the foundation of our nation.

The thought I pondered as I listened to Rush is that the Republicans don’t offer any good alternatives. What Republican candidate talks seriously about personal freedom and the Constitution? For the most part the only difference between Republicans and Democrats is that government would g…

We Need Relationships

"Our need for relationship comes from the core of our being. It would be the greatest of tragedies to sacrifice others in the effort to find ourselves. Our souls crave to belong. The experience of love, though it emanates from God, is not limited to him.

"We are created for each other.

"We are all far more affected than we would like to admit by the community we are a part of. It is hard to believe in God when our world is deficient in love. It's just not that hard to convince people who have been loved deeply and freely that there is a God who also love them." ~ Erwin McManus, Soul Cravings, Intimacy: Entry 15

After the Fact

God doesn’t operate the way we would like Him to. We would like Him to provide us with a step by step guide for living and irrefutable proof of His existence. What He does is provide us with ancient revelation and ask us to live by faith. For us who have committed our lives to Jesus Christ we know there are evidences that make our faith reasonable, but doesn’t stop the doubts and uncertainty from coming. Wouldn’t it be easier, we think, if God just revealed Himself once and for all? While we want to live in certainty God wants us to live by faith. Let me give you a couple of examples.

One day Moses was watching his father-in-law's sheep when something caught his eye. It was a bush that was burning, but it was not being consumed. Moses decided to investigate this strange sight. When He approached the bush spoke, or rather a voice called from the bush. It is at this moment God called Moses to deliver Israel from Egypt.
11 Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to P…

Needing Encouragement

Take a moment and ponder what Mike Yaconelli wrote in his book Messy Spirituality:
Sprinkled throughout our congregation are good people who have been paralyzed by feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness, insecurity and self-doubt, insignificance and guilt, which are what cripples most of us who are trying to follow Christ. (p. 24)

Think about your church family. While we are dealing with our own doubt and uncertainty we miss out on all those around us struggling with the same thing. We end up hiding in the very place where we should find help. This is what Mike Yaconelli made me think about: Followers of Jesus need to encourage one another. Following Jesus is hard if we don’t have a support system to help us keeping going when we would rather give up.

I don’t know about you, but I have been there. In 2005 I was ready to throw in the towel and walk away from God, Jesus, and the Church. Guilt, doubt, and insignificance weighed me down and I wondered if this Christian thing was worth …

Identity After God

Being a follower of Christ I believe that we find our identity in Jesus Christ. Dr. Pete Lowman at Be Thinking has an article, Identity After God, which deals with what happens to our identities and self worth when we ignore or deny the existence of God.

Dr. Lowman writes:
It's only slowly that we're seeing the longterm results of our culture's move away from a Christian worldview. Human beings are not (in God's mercy) entirely logical. For a long time after a culture has swung away from God, things that logically depend on God for meaning can continue to function for us. But, slowly, they begin to fall apart, to fade away

Take some time and read his thoughts about the connection of our identities and God: Identity after God .

We May All Draw Near

"As a result of the unique priesthood and perfect sacrifice of Jesus, to whom we have fled for refuge and through whom we have received a complete forgiveness, we may now constantly draw near to God. In Old Testament days only the priests might draw near. Through the veil into the very presence of God in the Most Holy Place, only the high priest might come, and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement. All others had to keep their distance, on pain of death. But now this distinction between priest and people has been abolished by Jesus. Now there is a 'priesthood of all believers'. For now through him all may draw near, pastors and people, sovereign and commoners, without any discrimination whatever." ~ John Stott, Life in Christ, p. 21

Are You Thankful

The holiday of Thanksgiving provides us with an opportunity to ponder what we have to be thankful for. I am certain that many of us could have a long list which includes the blessings of family, friends, and health. Today I want to challenge you to give thought to what you would have to be thankful for if all that was on our lists were taken away from us. What if in a blink of an eye your life was turned upside down, like Job’s was, and everything that seemed so dear to you was gone; would you still have reason to be thankful?

It is easy to thank God for things when our lives are filled with abundance and things are relatively smooth. For all the trouble Christians have seen throughout the years we have been spared most of it. Our trouble is not coming up with reasons to be thankful, but narrowing the list to a manageable length. We have been overwhelmed by the blessings of God.

This should give us pause to consider two aspects of our lives. First, are we followers of Jesus simpl…

Shaping Theological Agendas

"What I am saying is this: sometimes our own theological agendas are shaped as much by personal and social factors as they are by a concern for the truth. The keen Christian is alert to the social world shaping the positions in vogue at any given time." ~ Scot McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary: Galatians; p. 91

Getting to the Right Place

Life is unpredictable. Regardless of the plans we may make it rarely works out the way we hoped. It is the rare person who is experiencing life the way they imagined it would be. Far too often life is filled with disappointments that force us to cope with life rather than live life. When life doesn’t turn out the way we planned we have no other option but to deal the best we can as we adapt to the new circumstances.

Following Jesus doesn’t change any of this and many times makes it far worse because our dreams tend to stand in the way of what God has dreamed for our lives. Jesus will ask us to lay down our plans and follow Him into the uncertainty of the future. If we are unwilling to do this He will allow our dreams to shatter so that we will be forced to discover the life He wants us to live.

One of the frustrating aspects of this whole process is that God doesn’t treat us all the same. For some God allows great tragedy into their lives in order to prepare them for what lies ahead. Ot…

Faith in a Box

"Religious faith itself, however, does not usually get you in trouble in this subculture [secular intellectual] so much much as allowing that faith our of its box so that it pokes its nose where it does not belong. Many are perfectly content to allow a fellow intellectual to practice a private faith. After all, some people are into jogging or stereo equipment, and others are 'into' God. The trouble begins when it appears that your faith has influenced (contaminated) your thinking in other areas. Worse yet is to imply that your religious outlook has given you insights to which the secularist is blind." ~ Daniel Taylor, The Myth of Certainty, p. 49

My choice for president is...

There was not a presidential candidate that I even liked, let alone got excited about, until I started to read and listen to Ron Paul. As a conservative he makes a lot of sense and being part of the Restoration Movement, which believes that the Bible is the foundation for belief and practice, his message of returning to the Constitution resonates with me as well.

Here are some links to find out more about Ron Paul and his beliefs:

Who is Ron Paul?

Debt and Taxes

War and Foreign Policy

Life and Liberty

Five Kinds of Christians

The fall 2007 edition of Leadership Journal (part of the Christianity Today family) has an article discussing a recent survey the differences between all the people who claim to be Christians in the United States. The point of the article, besides highlighting these differences, was to help church leaders get a grasp on how connect with these different kinds of Christians.

Here are a few excerpts from Five Kinds of Christians:

Leadership discussed the survey results with leading pastors and religious experts to ascertain the ramifications for church leaders. Three critical issues emerged:

* The local church is no longer considered the only outlet for spiritual growth.


* Churches must develop relational- and community-oriented outreach.


* Lay people have to be better equipped to be God's ambassadors.
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"These days, people can get good teaching, wonderful music, and excellent writing, whether through iPods, TV, or online," says Wilkerson. "They learn to…

Reason and Objectivity

"Related to this is the myth of objectivity. Objectivity supposedly flows from the unbiased use of this universal instrument called reason. Just as two people can use the same scale to measure different things, thereby relating them to an objective standard, so, theoretically, can one use this thing called reason to objectively evaluate evidence and generate insight into the nature of reality. Objectivity is supposedly something the intellectual can have, while the person of faith wallows in mere subjectivity." ~ Daniel Taylor, The Myth of Certainty, p.51

7-0 Best Start in 35 years for the Celtics

Paul Pierce had 15 points to help Boston beat New Jersey on Wednesday.
Elsa/NBAE/Getty Images

Change and Faith

Lately I have been making a conscious effort to change my life. It is partly due to the reality that with out change then I will never be able to accomplish what I want to accomplish in life or to live the life the God has created me to live. Too often our dreams and good intentions are lost because we didn’t do the hard work of making the necessary changes to our lives.

Positive changes always take work, some are harder than others, but the all involve determining what needs to be done and doing it. Negative changes are much easier. They sneak up on us and all of a sudden we realize that we have changed and we don’t like it.

One of the changes that I have been making is a change to my diet. My beautiful and wonderful girlfriend has encouraged me to adopt a healthier way of eating focused on eating more meat and vegetables and less processed food and sugar (which is in about everything that is sold as food). I have been eating this way for the past week and so far it has been fair…

Stick to the Calling

"Whatever areas we are called to, it is important for each of us to discern what God has called us to do and to do that without trying to do everything else. What I am getting at is that when we sense the call of God on our lives, we need to stick to that calling and not let distraction prevent us from fulfilling God's will for us." ~ Scot McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary: Galatians; p. 78

Celtics 3-0 and Looking Impressive

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Following Jesus Isn't Safe, but It is Good

Take a moment and consider your life. Examine the way you live and the desires of your heart. Now answer this question, is that what Jesus wants from your life?

Here is the problem with the way many of us, myself included, live. We want the promises of God, we want the hope that comes from being a Christian, but we are not willing to live like a follower of Jesus. If all that was required to be a Christian was to show up on Sunday morning and sing few songs and listen to a sermon, then being a disciple of Jesus would be easy. The pew would offer us safety and security.

Being a true follower of Jesus is anything but it easy and it certainly isn’t safe. It requires getting out of the pew and living to a high moral standard, a standard that will make us seem like fools or prudes: you are foreigners and aliens here (1 Peter 2:11; NLT). If people don’t think we are strange for the way we live, then we are not living the way God’s wants us to live. It is hard to be different and stand …

What is Sin?

"Whether or not anything is a sin is not determined by what we think or how we feel about it, but solely by this: does it or does it not agree with the Word of God? Sin is not a physical, but a moral condition, and it consists in this, that a given act, behaviour, or condition of man is not what God wants it to be; it is nonconformity with the will of God...The question whether or not anything is or is not a sin, is not determined by our person opinion, our knowledge, our intention, or our will, but solely by this one fact, whether or not it is in agreement with the will of God." ~ William Pile, What the Bible Says About Grace, p. 18

Called for a Purpose

One of the reasons I continue to be a follower of Jesus Christ is because the call God has placed on my life is a call to purpose. Just as Jesus called His first disciples away from fishing to become fishers of men (Matthew 4:19), we are called to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). Calling isn’t just about believing certain things and hold on to core doctrines but it is about how we live life. Ultimately God has called us to make a difference in our world and at the very least this difference is about meeting the basic needs of people (Matthew 25:31-46). The apparent fact that many American Christians don’t live their lives this way doesn’t mean that we haven’t been called to be agents of change and the bringers of good in this world. The follower of Jesus is to make a positive difference in our families, communities, countries, and in our world. The body of Christ, the Church, is to show God’s love to the world.

Consider for a moment the evangelical atheist. To what does he/she ca…

Living Differently

One of the difficult responsibilities that we face as Christians is living in the world without being part of the world. It is difficult because, for what ever reason, the world is so attractive to us. We long to be like our friends and have the stuff that we see advertised on TV. We don’t want to be different. We want to be the same as everyone else, and do it with the blessings of God. Yet God wants us to be different for the world. Consider the words of Dave Stone:
“Nowadays, if you’re sold out for Christ you probably won’t have to worry about the President throwing you into a blazing fire. But the committed Christian can expect to take some heat from a boss who expects you to be unethical, or the fiancee who tries to pressure you into being sexually active with the line, After all. we’ll be married soon...Most of us would rather fit in, than stand out. Christ is expecting us to stand our so that people can see the difference.” (I'd Rather See A Sermon, pp. 23, 24)


Doesn…

Forgiving the Church

"Preserving and strengthening that relationship to God and living out its implications in an undiscerning and troubled world is the great challenge to the Christian. For all of its failings, the church as a whole is an ally in that cause. The reflective Christian can draw great strength and insight from it if he sees clearly what it is and is not, forgiving the church its trespasses as he is forgiven his own." ~ Daniel Taylor, The Myth of Certainty, p. 44

Making the Most of Our Talents

“Excellence is doing the best with what you have.” Bo Boshers; Student Ministry for the 21st Century, p. 41

A battle that I constantly fight with myself is this attitude of “If I only....” I believe that most people at one time or another has experienced this. “If I only had musical ability I would do a special on Sunday.” or “If I only made $100,000, then I would tithe.” Hopefully you see my point. Too often we focus on what we don’t have rather than doing the best with what we do have. We write up our failures and our lack of effort to the fact that we don’t have this or that.

Many times as we look around the Church and our local church families we see all sorts of things that could be done. What keeps us from making changes is this idea: “If we only...” Sure it would be nice if money wasn’t an issue, if we had the time and the personnel to do all these great and wonderful things, or if tradition wouldn't tie our hands, but wishing doesn’t make it happen.

There is a lesson…

Submission to the Text

"Our stance is submission to whatever the text says, regardless of what that means for our thinking and lifestyle. We are using a slippery escape when we distort the interpretation so that it fits our predispositions; we are not finding a slippery escape when we accept the text as it stands, regardless of its implications for life. Every honest interpreter can give countless examples of find himself or herself to be simply wrong and in need of God's grace as a result of reading the Bible with the purpose of hearing God's word." ~ Scot McKnight; The NIV Application Commentary: Galatians; p. 56

He Gave Himself

In my humble opinion the greatest way we can communicate love is to give ourselves. That requires a sacrifice of our time, of our agendas, and of our money so we provide that person we love what they need most. It isn't simply buying flowers to say I am sorry, but actually showing repentance and forgiveness. It isn't indulging your child with every want, but making sure you spend time with him so you can positively influence his life. Without giving of ourselves we are unable to truly communicate our love to others.

In order to show His love for us, Jesus, gave Himself for us. It was a sacrifice that echoes through history and echoes into eternity. It is because of this sacrifice which provides so much hope for the follower of Jesus Christ. Read what the apostle Paul wrote as he began his letter to the Galatian Christians:
1 From Paul, an apostle (not from men, nor by human agency, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead) 2 and all the brother…

Holding On To Our Beliefs

"We believe what we do about the world, of course, for many different reasons. All ways of explaining the world tend to be self-verifying and self-sustaining. An outlook does not have to be 'right' in order to seem right. It need not be logical (though most people will consider their position reasonable), nor consistent, nor thorough, nor defendable, nor anything else to fulfill its primary function--providing an explanation of things. Once in operation, a belief system processes all information, all evidence, in its own terms, appropriating that which verifies its outlook and defusing or ignoring anything else." ~ Daniel Taylor, The Myth of Certainty, p. 23