Posted tagged ‘Christian Life’

Sticks and Stones

July 28, 2014

Use what you have. Stop worrying about what you don’t have.

If God can use sticks and stones, he can use you, right now.

stones

Stones:

David faced Goliath with 5 smooth stones in 1Samuel 17. Can you throw a stone?

Reject the false belief that dramatic results require unusual skills and resources. There’s nothing special about picking up and throwing rocks. David used simple skills and meager resources to get a big job done.

What’s special about the David/Goliath story is the faith David exhibited.

Faith isn’t about resources or guaranteed results.

Sticks:

Moses told God, “Suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to him?’”

God asked, “What’s in your hand?”

Moses was holding a walking stick in Exodus 4. God said, “Throw it on the ground.” It turned into a snake. How hard is it to throw a stick on the ground?

Our issue is trusting God to use what we have.

You’re too worried about what you don’t have. I wonder what God could do with what you have?

An Open Serving Policy

July 8, 2014

Greystone Bakery taught me about grace once again.

Anyone that comes to the front door of their bakery is given the chance to work, no questions asked. When a job becomes available they take the next person off the waiting list and give them a job.

keep out

I want to be part of a church that has an “open” serving policy. Anyone who wants to serve, can. This doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want, in whatever way they want.

There are standards and expectations for certain types of service. Elders and deacons are held to higher standards than others. But, graceful churches, like Jesus, can adopt an open serving policy. Think of the band of misfits Jesus used. One of them wasn’t even a believer.

The open hiring policy of Greystone says your past isn’t your future.

Reluctance:

  1. Children need protection from predators.
  2. Financial integrity is essential.
  3. Quality of service needs to be held high.

In other words, open serving doesn’t mean anyone can do anything. But, its incumbent for those who believe in grace to express grace by providing places of service for anyone.

Religious pressure:

Could it be that you are worried about what other believers think? After all, what would “they” think if the person who is passing out bulletins was drunk last night?

I’d rather offend a religious person than belittle an unbeliever by excluding them, unnecessarily.

Bigger issue:

The bigger issue is you feel superior to “them.” Your sins aren’t as bad as their sins. But, you don’t have permission to look down on outsiders, especially when Jesus loves them and died for them.

Low responsibility jobs have low or no standards. For example, the next time you take out the garbage, ask the guy who was drunk last night to help.

Why God Whispers

June 2, 2014

When you’re as big as God, its easy to overwhelm people. Everyone who ever caught a glimpse of His power or glory, fell to the ground.

whisper

I’ve had believers ask me why God isn’t more obvious or direct. Why all the guess work?

Pudding or people:

If He wanted to turn us into puddles of pudding, He’d just have to peel back the curtain and let us see Him. A loud voice from heaven would do it for most of us.

When he arrived, Jesus laid aside the full display of his glory to establish a new way of relating to mankind.

Jesus is God’s whisper to humanity.

Two reasons God whispers:

First, God wants us to walk by faith. Faith requires uncertainty and ambiguity. You might think you want God to tell you more, but, too much clarity undermines daily dependence.

Ask yourself, why God wants you to depend on Him. Is He needy? Or is there something more?

Second, God wants meaningful relationship. Human dignity and volition are essential. Meaningful relationship ends when God starts yelling from heaven, and so, He whispers.

You may feel close to God when His voice seems loud and His presence feels obvious, but, you’ll know him best in a whisper – Jesus.

The Right Idea – The Wrong Idea

May 5, 2014

Grace is under-appreciated and abused. But, protecting grace from being abused turns some into self-righteous rule-makers.

wondering

I was reminded yesterday that people might get the wrong idea when they hear a graceful message from the Bible. The “wrong” idea is that sin doesn’t matter.

Paul was concerned the Roman believers might get the wrong idea.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? Romans 6:1 (ESV)

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? Romans 6:15 (ESV)

10 Observations:

  1. You haven’t taught grace until people start asking, “Does sinning matter?”
  2. Grace always goes one step beyond your sin, regardless of how much you sin (Rom. 5:20).
  3. Don’t solve your concerns about abuse by re-instituting the law. We aren’t under law (Rom 6:15)
  4. Sin has negative consequences, even for people under grace.
  5. Believers who fall into sin need more grace not less.
  6. Grace changes us from the inside out.
  7. Laws don’t have power to change us. Telling people what not to do never changes their heart.
  8. Freedom in grace is freedom to love and be loved.
  9. The standards of grace are higher and nobler than law. We live by the law of love.
  10. Holy living must be freely embraced.

Source of concern:

Why was Paul concerned that believers might get the wrong idea about grace? Because he was teaching in a way that might give people the “wrong” idea.

The question, “Does behavior matter,” only comes up when you teach that people are made right with God by faith, apart from behaviors. (Rom 4:5).

The idea that someone could be righteous before God and have unrighteousness in their life is astonishing. Grace is astonishing.

Can grace be abused? You abuse it everyday.

Should we remind people that sin matters? Paul did.

Glorify God and Pass the Salt

March 27, 2014

Christians say, “Glorify God,” as easily as, “Pass the salt.” Actually, pass the salt may have more meaning.

salt

We exist to glorify God. The Church exists to glorify God. Even, nature exists to glorify God. But, glorifying God isn’t a mystical experience that happens in isolation.

One behavior best exemplifies what it means to glorify God.

One purpose:

Everything the Church does has one purpose – winning people to Jesus and helping them grow so they can win people to Jesus. We are here to win people.

Paul teaches us that the Church is the body of Christ. Luke tells us that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. So, if we are the body of Christ, we are here to seek and save the lost.

Lets give teeth to religious language and say that everything the Church is here to do one basic thing – win people to Jesus and help them grow so they can win people to Jesus. Nothing less. Nothing more. Nothing else.

Everything:

What the Church does:

  1. Teaching
  2. Fellowship
  3. Worship
  4. Support
  5. Encouragement
  6. Friendship
  7. Social engagement
  8. Meeting needs
  9. You name it ….

Everything we do traces back to one objective, win people to Jesus.

The “edification of the saints,” is so they can win people.

Teaching the Bible loses it’s ultimate purpose if it doesn’t equip us to win people. Furthermore, fellowship isn’t just for our comfort and enjoyment. It’s to enable us to win people.

Winning people gives purpose and meaning to everything believers do. Without the objective of winning people, we’re just going through the motions and God is not glorified, regardless of what you do.

Method:

The method is as clear as the mission. Love people.

Now that I think about it, glorifying God is a bit like passing the salt.

Stop Making it Difficult

March 17, 2014

The first church fight addressed issues we grapple with today.

Who can be part of us?

What do you have to do to belong?

don't make it difficult

The issue, back then, was do you have to keep the law to be/become a Christian?

The fight is recorded in Acts 15. After the fight, James summarizes the key principle in verse 19 (NIV):

It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.

In other words, make it easy. The rule applies to those who have and those who are turning.

Make it easy:

  1. Invite people to turn TO God. It’s easy to point out what’s bad. Turn away from drugs, sex, and rock-n-roll, for example. But, the gospel is good news, not bad.
  2. Forget about fixing people. Let God fix.
  3. Err on the side of grace. When in doubt choose compassion over confrontation.
  4. Avoid arguments on peripheral issues. Trusting Jesus is THE issue. Nothing else matters until that issue is resolved.

Four rules:

The four rules James gave gentile believers in Acts 15:20 (NIV) illustrate the “make it easy” rule.

Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.

  1. No “idol” food.
  2. No sexual immorality.
  3. No strangled animals.
  4. Drain the blood.

Why these rules? Acts 15:21 (NIV):

For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.

James says the principle of “don’t make it difficult,” applies both ways. Jewish believers in Jerusalem are working to make it easy for Gentiles to turn to God. Gentile believers should be concerned for the Jews in their communities. Make it easy for them to turn to God, too. Avoid offensive behaviors for the sake of the Gospel. 

Praying for Boldness

March 2, 2014

Confidence

We have forgotten that we are believers today because of a long line of men and women who boldly spoke up when silence would have been easy, even desirable.

They were told to shut-up, but they would not and could not.

Acts 4:20, “For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.

In situations where we would pray for safety and protection, they prayed for boldness.

Acts 4:29, “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.”

After severe beatings, Dr. Luke, the careful historian, writes that they rejoiced rather than whining. When it would have been smart to shut up, they kept talking.

Acts 5:42, “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.”

Their message was simple: Jesus

Their mission was simple: Talk about Jesus.

Those of us who are gripped more by fear than faith cannot imagine a boldness like theirs. But, we can step toward it.

Step one: Pray for boldness. (When was the last time you did that?)

Step two: Go beyond praying for opportunity to praying, “Help me seize opportunities to speak up.”

Step three: Go beyond praying to seize opportunities to praying, “Help me make opportunities to speak for Jesus.”

The story of Jesus escaped the first century because of bold people who spoke up when they were told to shut-up. Without their boldness, we would not have heard the story of what they heard with their ears,  saw with their eyes, and touched with their hands.


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