Archive for March, 2010

23
Mar
10

good news

Have you ever been tempted to think you might as well quit trying to follow Jesus in a particular area of your life, or maybe all together, because, as much as you are convicted of your sin and try to change, it seems like your progress is minimal at best? Let me give you some good news-We have all been there.

But there is even better news. The only reason you have a sense of what the Bible calls carnality (more specifically, fleshly desire and/or behavior as opposed to that which is spiritual) is because of the work of the Holy Spirit in your life! If you sense a conflict between these two areas in your life, the flesh and the Spirit, it means you have an awareness of what God is desiring to accomplish within you. Don’t be discouraged. Accept the fact that God hasn’t given up on you but, rather, is still working in your life. Enthusiastically celebrate the intense love he has for you!

But what about real and lasting change? God does not approve of us continuing in our sin, does he? There is good news there as well. The work of transformation is the sole responsibility of the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us that the Spirit brings power (Acts 1:8) and this power is able to change us (2 Timothy 3:5) and give us new life (1 Corinthians 6:14) if we confess our wrong and give the Spirit permission to perform his work in our life. Oswald Chambers explained it this way: “If the Spirit of God detects anything in you that is wrong, He doesn’t ask you to make it right; He only asks you to accept the light of truth, and then He will make it right. A child of the light will confess sin instantly and stand completely open before God.”

16
Mar
10

have a plan

Years ago I was reading a book on time management and the author made a statement that has stayed with me long past my recollection of the book’s title or the author’s name. He said that most of us are slaves to “the tyranny of the urgent”. In other words, we live our lives, not based on a strategic plan moving us towards a set of specified goals, but, if we have a plan at all, it is simply crisis management – running from crisis to crisis trying to put out whatever “fire” is out of control. (Situations that are “out of control” usually fall into one of two categories: someone else’s opinion of what is out of control, or our lack of attention to the situation before it became a wildfire.)

To get to the point, I do not think that this approach to life is biblically sound or a proper demonstration of what it means to be a good manager of the resource of time that God has entrusted us with.

It is clear in Scripture that God is strategic and systematic in everything he does. In other words, God has a plan; that includes a plan for your life. In Jeremiah 29:11 He declares, “I know the plans I have for you”, and in Ephesians 2:10 the Scripture tells us, “We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

You might be naively thinking, “If God has a plan for my life, why do I need one?”The issue for a Christ follower is not to develop their own plan but rather to be diligent in discovering the plan of God for their life and preparing their self for the fulfillment of that plan. Paul instructs Titus, in Titus 3:14, “For our people should not have unproductive lives.” The writer of Hebrews puts the responsibility on us to be creative, as well as strategic, when he writes, “Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds” (10:24).

If God is creative, and thereby strategic, shouldn’t we as “image bearers” (Genesis 1:27) demonstrate the same behavior?

09
Mar
10

called to belong

“You are called to belong, not just believe.” I read that recently in a devotion by Rick Warren. The implications of it struck me immediately.

First, just as the Trinity exists in community, you and I were created to do the same. God said way back in the Garden of Eden, “It is not good for man to be alone.” This is countercultural to the American way of life. We celebrate individuality to the extreme extent that one of our favorite cultural icons is the American cowboy riding off into the sunset by himself. However, the truth is, we need others. As one philosopher noted, “No one is an island to themselves.”

Then there is the responsibility that goes along with belonging. If we do not add value to the community of which we are a part, then we are nothing more than a parasite drawing nourishment and sustenance from the host entity. We suck out life giving resources without ever replenishing those resources with our own talents, time or finances, so that others can draw on the resources of the community in their time of need. Being part of a community, especially a Christian fellowship, means having others we can lean on in our times of need, as evidenced by Paul teaching to bear the burdens of those who are weak.

Another implication is the responsibility we have to be “for each other”. Isn’t it interesting when our child gets into trouble they were just hanging out with the “wrong crowd”; when it’s someone else’s child, they are a juvenile delinquent! The Bible is clear that when we tear other believers down we are grieving the Holy Spirit.

The last thing I thought of while reading Rick’s devotion was the responsibility of shared vision. The writer of Proverbs is clear, “where there is no vision the people cast off restraint.” Thankfully, I learned early in my life that if I did not buy into and support the vision of the leadership covering God had placed over me, I was frustrated, unfruitful and bitter.

03
Mar
10

i appreciate you

I appreciate you! I really do, and I want you to know it. I appreciate your giftedness and all you do for Jesus and his church. I want you to know that your efforts, your passion and your sacrifice don’t go unnoticed.

I am sorry that I, as well as others, don’t always take the time to acknowledge your investment in our lives. It seems like in the “real world” in which we live, the voices of the critics come through loud and clear, as well as with remarkable consistency. However, the voices of the encouragers are muted by those cynical and condemning individuals who try to paint our efforts to build others up as simple or naive. And so, in our attempts to “appear” wise, we neglect or, worse yet, deliberately ignore opportunities to make someone else feel good about themselves and what they are doing to make the world a better place! How tragic! I know from personal experience how easy it is, especially in a time of fatigue or spiritual attack, to be tempted to stop doing anything for God because of just one word of criticism. On the other hand, I know that one word of encouragement, spoken with authenticity, makes me feel like I can “leap tall buildings in a single bound.” I think that’s what the writer of Hebrews had in mind when he wrote, “Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

I challenge you to think of someone whom you admire and appreciate and, in the next 24 hours, call them, email them, or (do we still do this?) actually go by and see them and tell them what a great job they are doing and how much you appreciate them! (By the way, “What goes around comes around!”)