Reposted from Radical Mentoring
We’re Christians because we have faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Which can seem sort of easy to have faith in since it happened 2,000 years ago and didn’t cause us any personal pain.
It’s much harder to have faith when God allows a man to get hit by a car while he’s biking with his son. Or when God tolerates an innocent child being sold into the sex trade. Or when God seemingly doesn’t answer cries for mercy for loved ones suffering debilitating pain.
There are two elements of God’s perspective missing from ours . . . two things we have to grasp and embrace by faith if we’re going to make sense of pain and tragedy in this world . . .
- The long view – God sees timelessly. We think right now; He thinks eternity. What looks like tragedy to us in the short-term is grace and mercy in the long. We must learn to trust in the long view and trust that God knows what he’s doing through pain and tragedy in our lives.
- The broad view – God is always doing multiple things in multiple lives at the same time. We have no idea how momentary pain or overwhelming tragedy are being used to challenge someone, to break down a hard heart, or to raise up compassion.
When Romans 8:28 starts with “We know” (that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them), it means we “know in advance.” We know God loves us and He’s in charge, so in faith, we surrender. We yield our demands for a certain outcome. We trust He knows what’s best, and is doing something good, even while we struggle through tough times.
In faith, we choose to rest in the fact that He’s using our pain and the suffering for His purposes. In faith, we choose to pray continuously and rely on His strength to get through whatever we’re going through. In faith, we choose to trust that after we do all we can, the outcome is up to Him. And in faith, we choose to believe God has a plan and will use our pain for good somewhere for someone.
That’s what faith is.
Scripture: Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1)
Reposted from Rethink
You don’t have to look far to hear or read something that claims to be biblical that clearly isn’t. The internet is full of wackos claiming some kind of truth but in reality are just spewing lies. Most of us can recognize those untruths from a mile away. However, there are a couple unbiblical statements that have gained traction and made it into our common beliefs.
In fact some of these statements get used by Christians everyday. Worse yet, people who decide to follow Jesus assume this is what he is offering.
Here are a few statements that are unbiblical that we need to rethink how we use.
God wants me to be happy
We elevate our value of happiness way above healthy levels in this country. Now being happy is not bad, but God’s first concern is not our happiness. God is more concerned with our holiness rather than our happiness.What does that mean? In other words, God is more concerned that we are in right relationship with him, rather than us being happy.
God is more concerned with our holiness rather than our happiness.
Craig Groeschel says it this way: “God doesn’t want you to be happy when it causes us to do something wrong or unwise.”
Too often we use our happiness as an excuse to get away with something we shouldn’t be messing with. God wants you to be in a right relationship with him. Will there be happiness there? Sure, at times. But as in any relationship there will be struggles and difficulties as well. Happiness should not be our top concern.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me
I know, I know, I can hear you now, “But I read this in the Bible, it has to be true!” It’s not the verse that is wrong, but it’s how it’s applied. This verse is not a hype up verse to gain strength to do some human feat. This verse is not about getting enough strength to win your game or gain that promotion. Not that those are bad things, but what’s going on here is much deeper.
We read this verse like this: “I can do all things, that I want, through Christ who strengthens me.” What Paul actually means is this: “I can do all things, that God leads me to, through Christ who strengthens me.” Do you hear the difference? Paul is saying that regardless of your life circumstances God will sustain you in what he has called you to.
The bottom line is I Am Not Good Enough but the God I serve is more than enough.
Everything happens for a reason
This phrase typically shows up following a tragedy. And I get it, we are trying to offer a little hope in a difficult situation. But I just can’t believe it. It doesn’t add up. And the Bible seems to paint a different picture. Just take a glance at the story of Job.
We are grasping at straws trying to make sense of a confusing and out of control world. The truth is, in this world crap happens. Life is hard. People die. Relationships end. Our health deteriorates. And God is not up there causing these things to happen.
I know I just painted a rather bleak picture. And while I do not believe everything happens for a reason, I do believe that God takes the mess of this world and gives it reason. I have seen it time and time again. God takes the worst of situations and turns it into something beautiful. God takes our mess and points us to the hope in Christ.
God won’t give me more than I can handle
I used to tell myself this whenever I was tempted or was just facing some difficulty. I’d tell myself this only to give into temptation a moment later or throw in the towel the next day. Most of my life has been more than I can handle.
Instead of thinking God won’t give us more than we can handle, we need to give up and let God help us. Listen, there will be things in your life that are more than you can handle, but it’s not more than God can handle. God doesn’t call us to a life that we are capable of living. He calls us to a life that we are only capable of living with Him; more this here.
In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says come to me when you are tired and burdened. Stop trying to do life on your own and let Jesus help you.
Here’s the bottom line of this article. Our beliefs need to be rooted in scripture. Much of what the church is known for is not biblical. We need to each examine our lives and our beliefs and see if it lines up the truth of the bible.
Reposted from Rethink
I once heard a pastor say that the church is like a body. Sometimes you eat food and sometimes you “release” food. In other words, a church will always be bringing new people in and letting people go. And both are required to be healthy.
There certainly are valid reasons on why you should leave a church, but that’s another topic of another post. In this post we are going to examine some of the worst reasons to leave a church.
1. I’m Not Being Fed Anymore
If a church abandons it’s call to teach God’s word and grow and develop the congregation, this can be a legit concern. However more often than not I see this used as an excuse to leave based off a dislike of the new direction, type of preaching, or some other stylistic preference.
It is not the church’s job to feed you. It is your job.
It’s popular in our culture to abdicate our responsibility and assign blame to someone else for our own failure. If you are not being fed in your spiritual life the only person to blame is you. It is your job and your responsibility to feed yourself, not anyone else’s. If you are not being feed at your church I suggest you find a way to feed yourself. Buy a book, download a podcast, journal, pray, dust off your bible, just find some way you can feed yourself.
If you aren’t getting spiritual fed at your church, don’t leave; find a way to feed yourself.
2. I Don’t Have Any Friends Here
Whenever I hear “I don’t know anyone here” or “I don’t have any friends” I always ask, “Do you go to a small group?” “Have you tried to hangout with anybody?” Most of the time the answer is no. If you aren’t plugged in anywhere outside the Sunday service you will never build relationships. Relationships are built when you invest your time. In other words, the grass isn’t greener over there; the grass is green where you water it.
Friendships rarely just happen. They are forged by time spent together. If you go to church once or twice a month for an hour on Sunday you aren’t going to develop any friendships. You need to spend more time with people.
Find a place to serve, check out a small group, find a common interest with someone and just hang out. Learn people’s names, listen to their story, and when you find someone you connect with hang out with them outside church. You aren’t going to get connected without first putting in effort.
Instead of waiting for someone to invite you, invite. Don’t leave your church until you at least put effort into building a few friendships.
3. They Don’t Have “________” Ministry
As a pastor I get approached regularly about starting a ministry for “__________.” Nine times out of ten they are great ideas. We won’t talk about the one out of ten bad ideas… When I ask if they would want to lead, start, or help in the ministry the answer is essentially no you do it, I just want to attend. This consumeristic mindset is crippling the church.
Maybe the reason you have such a great idea for your church is because God wants you to do it!
Every church cannot have every kind of ministry. Each church is unique and will look different and have different ministries, and that’s okay! Just because your church doesn’t have this great ministry doesn’t mean it should be started. It might not align with their specific mission and vision.
If you have a ministry you think would be beneficial to your church go meet with your pastor. See if it will fit the direction your church is heading. If it does, don’t assume your pastor will do all the work; offer to help start it or even lead it. The pastor of your church isn’t the only one gifted to lead a ministry. You are too! Use your gifts to grow and benefit the church.
4. The Pastor Doesn’t Know My Name
If you go to a smaller church or hang out with the pastor regularly you might have a case. However, I have seen people get mad that a pastor cannot remember their name when they talked to him once, and they are part of a 1000+ congregation. I am terrible at remembering names, and I feel TERRIBLE when I forget someone’s name. But there are 100’s, sometimes 1000’s of names pastors have to keep track of. Give them a little grace.
While in a larger church not everyone can have a personal relationship with the lead pastor, there is a benefit. The larger the church the more pastors will be on staff. You might not be able to be best buds with the lead guy, but find another pastor on staff that you can connect with.
The purpose of this article is not to convince you to never leave a church again. Most of us will not be at the same church for our whole lives. And that’s okay! The purpose is to challenge why we leave. A lot of people bail at the slightest inconvenience, and in doing so they are robbing the church of their gifts and skills and they are robbing themselves of what the church has to offer them.
Sometimes the greatest things in life are on the other side of difficulty. Maybe, just maybe, if you stick it out you will find it was well worth it.
Before you leave your church prayerfully consider your reasoning. Have you considered talking to someone on staff or in leadership at the church? Is the issue a reason to leave or can it be solved with a few conversations? Doing life with others is hard, and there will be conflict. But if we push through that conflict there is beauty on the other side.
Reposted from Rethink
It’s no secret that most people don’t stay at a church for very long. The reasons are many, some good, some bad. The reality is people leave churches. The question is how are you supposed to know when is it time to leave?
Maybe you are thinking Well, if that’s true, then you should be telling people to stay in their church!
I have written on the worst reasons to leave your church before. But there are also good reasons to leave your church. I get it, church attendance has become increasingly sporadic. But the answer to that issue is not telling people to stay in bad situations.
I’ve talked to many people that have been considering leaving their current church. In the majority of cases it’s a decision that weighs heavily on them. It’s not always easy to discern and figure out when it’s time to find the door.
While there are plenty of reasons to stay in your church, there are also things that should cause you to leave. And that’s what I want to look at in this article. Here are reasons to consider leaving your church.
You Haven’t Found Community (but you’ve tried)
One of the biggest reasons that church is important for Christians is that we have people to do life together with. If you aren’t finding that in your church, it might be time to look for a different church. But hear me on this, you have to TRY first. I have heard the complaint from a lot of people that goes like, “I’m not connecting at my church.” Then I ask, “Well what have you tried?” And often times it’s nothing… Or “I went to something once.” Before you can say you can’t find community you have to try first.
The Church Isn’t Doing Anything for People Outside The Church
Churches should have a balance between growing the spiritual depth of those in the church and loving those outside the church. If you church has become all internal and has no focus on what’s happening outside the walls, it’s time to go. Any church that only focuses on those inevitably become sick and dies. The church was never meant to be exclusive, but rather inclusive. That responsibility lies not only on the church, but on you as well. Find a place that puts an emphasis on loving people outside the church.
There is Abuse of Power in the Church Leadership
It’s a sad reality we live in that this even has to be said. But it’s commonplace to find a church consumed with the pursuit of power. I have heard many heartbreaking stories of spiritual, emotional, and sometimes even physical abuse that have taken place inside churches. If the leadership in your church is demanding, twisting the Gospel to give them power, or is using the Bible to put others down, get out. If there’s even a hint of that in your church, RUN.
You Don’t Agree With the Vision
One of the beautiful things in the church in the western world is that there are a thousand different kind of churches, each with a different look, feel, and vision for why they exist. Most of these differences aren’t right or wrong; they are just preference. If you don’t agree with the direction your church is going, that’s fine; go find one you can get behind. That’s the beauty of having so many unique churches; each one will make an impact in a different way.
You Don’t Trust the Church With Your Money
Do you trust your church to use the money you give to make an impact on people’s lives inside the church, in the community, and around the world? If you cannot trust the church with your money, you shouldn’t give them your time.
I know of a lot of churches that keep closed books and will not share where the money that comes in goes. They might show broad categories, but no specifics. Giving to a church is like making an investment. If you shifted your 401k to a new broker and they wouldn’t show you where your money was, you would pull it fast! If you regularly give and attend a church you should know exactly how your money is being used and you should see “returns” on your investment.
Church Politics Have Overtaken the Pursuit of Jesus
Wherever two or more people gather the one thing you can guarantee is there will be issues. Every church has, and will continue to have, issues. You cannot expect a group of broken, messed up, people to come together and all of a sudden be perfect. Not going to happen. If you want to be a part of a church, or any group of people, you will have to have some grace.
However there are some churches where the church politics have overtaken everything else. If your church is all about the church politics, drama, or he said/she said it might be time to look for a new church.
There’s No Place For You to Use Your Skills/Gifts
Every single person is different and has a unique set of skills. This means that you were created in a way that you can serve and use your skills to benefit those around you. There is a place in which you can use those gifts inside the church. If your church doesn’t have a place or aren’t willing to let you use your skills, you need to find a place where you can use your God-given gifts to benefit those around you.
Maybe you are living one of these things out and now you are wondering, How do I actually leave my church? That is a whole other article and is highly situationally based. However let me say this. It should always start with prayer and conversations with trusted friends. Don’t make this decision on a whim or in search of green pastures.
I want to hear thoughts… What reasons do you think someone should leave? Have you left a church? What drove you to that decision?
Reposted from Winning With Jesus
The past few weeks Jesus has led me to make time on my day off to “review the film” What went right, what went wrong and what can be changed.
As I sat down for the film session, I was ready to hear all the things that needed improvement.
As I closed my eyes, Jesus rattled off 10 areas where I did an excellent job and a whopping 1 area to improve upon. It helped to totally change my perspective of God.
I couldn’t help but laugh, here I was going into the film room with a mindset of what I was doing wrong and instead God flips the mindset into what I was doing right!
The more and more I understand God’s nature, he isn’t about berating me into make changes. He does it in a kind and loving way and it is for our benefit!
Romans 2:4 says,
Prayer: Father I thank you for every reader. I pray that you help remind each reader of how kind and loving you are. Holy Spirit, help us not be hard on ourselves for the sake of sounding spiritual . Help us to recognize where we are doing what is right and make note of it. And if we need a correction, you do it in a kind and loving way. In Jesus name! Amen!
Comments and Application: Are there areas in your life where perhaps you are too hard on yourself? How can you show more grace to yourselves in those times. I would love to hear about it in the comments below!
Reposted from Follow the Good Shepherd
How’s your relationship with God today? Is it dull or intimate? Do you still remember your honeymoon stage when you first encountered His love? Do you still feel the same way now? Do you still feel the strong urge to fulfill your mission and to realize your godly vision now or is it long gone?
A lot of Christians go through this stage when they feel bored because there’s not much action (this is not true though as a lot of miracles happen everyday, we just overlook it or take it for granted sometimes). Although it’s normal, it doesn’t mean that we should not address it. Love is not just about feelings. It’s a commitment.It means to stay in the relationship through the ordinary and extraordinary, through the routine and the unusual, through the highs and lows, through the similarities and differences. It’s a piece of work but we need to trust our Potter to turn us from a simple pile of clay to a glorious work of art.
Most of the time, when our relationship gets boring or if we feel like His path is not where we want to go, we tend to run away from God. We don’t want to do what he asks us to do. We try to tune His volume down in our lives so we can live how we please. If we continue to do this, things might get dangerous. Consider the story of Jonah and how God pursued Him: Letting Go: Running Away From God.
So, what should we do if we feel like the fire inside us is burning out?
Pray Unceasingly. No matter how boring our prayer might sound like to ourselves, remember that our God is a very personal God and He is mindful of us. Communication is vital in any form of relationship and prayer is our main communication tool with God.
Keep Reading. Not everyone hears God audibly speak to us. Reading his Word would allow us to get advice and teachings from God himself without waiting to hear a thunderous voice from heaven. The Bible is our ultimate instruction and guide book that He left for us. Everything we need to know is already in here.
Stay Connected. Attend the church service, listen to podcasts, and catch up with your life group from church. Hearing God’s Words through godly people is a way for us to reconnect to God and vice versa. Remember, if you take a coal away from the rest of the burning coals, it will become cold. But if you put it back with the rest, it will burn again.
God never fails to provide and take care of us. He has given us a mission to fulfill in various areas of our lives. That should be enough to keep us from getting bored. Sometimes, the problem is that we don’t like the mission itself, thus, we ignore it and pretend nothing is happening in our lives which leads us to getting bored. It’s never gonna work this way. God gives us the opportunity to live a full and meaningful life but remember, it takes two to tango!
Reposted from Kristen Wetherell
What are you afraid of?
Between the two of us, I’m sure we could fill a sheet of paper with reasons for fear. I used to be afraid of a failing body and uncertain future, as Lyme disease took its toll on my immune system. That fear has been subdued to a degree, as God has allowed much healing and worked in my heart—but new fears have replaced it.
When our daughter’s due date was approaching, I feared labor and delivery. I feared complications. I still fear something going terribly wrong.
With financial responsibilities increasing, I fear being unable to make ends meet. I fear surprise expenses. I fear we won’t get to fully enjoy the home God’s provided for us, or freely give to those in need.
I still fear the chronic pain in my body. I fear it will never go away. I fear that the rest of my days will be strewn with even minor discomforts, a constant reminder of the disease that’s taken its toll.
Fear is not of God. I’m exhausted simply writing this list of fears, let alone feeling them. I know the enemy of my soul uses fear as a tool to steal, kill, and destroy faith, when Jesus came to give me fullness of life, his perfect love promising to cast out my fears (1 John 4:18). So I’ve been thinking lately, What are some truths we can cling to when fear looms and threatens our faith?
PROMISE #1: GOD IS ALWAYS GOOD.
The psalmist extols God’s goodness in Psalm 119:68: “You are good and do good.” What a simple, yet profound statement. Because God’s character is good—no ounce of unrighteousness dwells in him—all God’s intentions, plans, and works are good. Everything God is and everything God does is wrapped in goodness.
Yes, yes—God is good. We believe this. But this truth is hard for us to wrap our minds around when circumstances seem bad. When the grim news arrives, the tragedy strikes, and our worst fear becomes a reality—what then? Can we still declare, “You are good and do good”?
Here’s how the promise of God’s goodness casts out fear: God is for you in Jesus Christ, not against you. The giving of his Son for the sake of your soul is the ultimate demonstration of his goodness toward you. Not only this, but what happened at the cross proves that what appears bad, God is using for good: Death thought it had the final word, until Christ disarmed it by canceling the record of debt that stood against us (Colossians 2:14-15).
As much as we want to make sense of our situation because that makes us feel in-control, God’s ways and wisdom are higher than ours. Somehow his goodness undergirds everything that passes through his hands to us—even the thing we most fear. To trust in God’s goodness toward us as we walk by faith, not by sight, is the great challenge of the Christian life, with all its trials and sufferings—but it’s also the great, blessed assurance Christ lived, died, and rose to purchase for us.
Be not afraid; God is always good.
PROMISE #2: GOD WILL LET NOTHING GO TO WASTE.
This promise has comforted my heart and given me strength to trust God: He uses everythingfor the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). In Christ, all things work together for our growth in holiness and the exaltation of his name—all things meaning both life’s joys and sorrows. In God’s infinite wisdom, nothing that touches us goes to waste.
As for sorrow and suffering, the outcomes we most fear, God reminds us that he redeems our most difficult circumstances: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
Affliction prepares us to enjoy glory all the more as it loosens our hold on this world; it teaches us how to submit to God’s will, conforming our desires to his; and it causes us to yearn more fully for the day when every tear will be wiped away in the presence of Christ. This doesn’t mean affliction is easy, but that it’s ultimately worth it.
Be not afraid; God will let nothing go to waste.
PROMISE #3: GOD WILL PROVIDE EVERYTHING YOU NEED.
When God gave Paul an incessant thorn, the apostle pleaded with him three times to remove it and wrestled with what he was doing through it:
But [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Because he knows that Christ is somehow more glorified through his thorn than without it, Paul is able to say, “I am content.” Yes, God, do what you know is best; only give me what I need to trust you in the midst of it!
The Christian whose faith is upheld by Christ in suffering is a display of his all-sufficient strength to the church and the world. Trust in God’s promise to supply for our every breath is a testimony that he is indeed enough for us, through the most incessant thorns and unceasing storms of this life.
The truth that “when we are weak, he is strong” casts out the fear that we’ll be left to our own devices and resources, that we won’t make it through the darkest night of the soul. But Jesus passed through the valley of the shadow of death at Calvary so we would never walk alone. He knew the darkness of forsakenness so we would never be forsaken. And he held the victory over sin and death so our hope for eternal life would be in him.
Be not afraid; God will provide everything you need.
LET NOT YOUR HEARTS BE TROUBLED
So go ahead. Make your list of fears—but don’t stop there. Hear Jesus say to you, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
Meditate on the promises of God that have the power to cast out your fear and uphold your faith, and praise him that these promises are for you through his Son.
Reposted from The Life Project
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
This is a really neat little passage; there’s so much to see. As Paul closes out his letter, he reminds the people to be devoted to prayer, and while this may seem routine, after all, Apostles talk about prayer a lot, Paul here seems to bring it to life. I’m always struck by the idea of prayer being “watchful and thankful.” Maybe thankful, as in giving thanks isn’t so surprising, but watchful! How often do you hear someone say that we should be watchful in our prayers?
Watchful for what? Things you want God to give you, like little favors? “Oh yes, and Father please send me that new Lexus…” something like that? Somehow I doubt it. Maybe watchful for someone who needs intercession, maybe an opening for the Gospel, maybe something that is within God’s priority system− yes that seems more like the kind of “watchful” that Paul has in mind. He continues by asking for the people to pray for him, but again, not in the way we might expect. Notice, that even though he is in prison, he didn’t ask them to pray for his release, he asked them to pray that he might preach the Gospel effectively.
I don’t know about you, but that gets my attention every time! When Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6:5. He taught us to pray for God’s priorities. “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” Do we remember to do that? Are we watchful for specifics that fit into this category? Well, I can only speak for myself, but truth be told, I forget or overlook this more often than I’d care to admit. Paul seems to continue in this line of thinking when he advises us to be wise when speaking to “outsiders,” non-Christians. We are to be ready to make the most of every opportunity, to show them the love of Jesus Christ: Maybe we should pray for those opportunities. We are to speak to them “with grace, seasoned with salt…” Grace is often defined as “unmerited favor” meaning that we are to deal with them in love; more love than they might deserve.
I have a little secret for you to consider: Speaking to someone with grace is not telling them that they are wrong, even if they are. It doesn’t mean calling them names, or being critical of the way they live. Yes, there is a fair chance that they live as unbelievers, but guess what? They are unbelievers, and that may be just how they are supposed to live. Our job isn’t to correct the world, it is to save the world for Christ. This requires grace, not criticism. Salt is an interesting metaphor; I’ve heard many different explanations for this, so I’ll throw out my thoughts. When we season food with salt, we add it to bring out the full flavor of the ingredients, and when we speak with grace, seasoned with salt, we are sharing the full love of God who so loved the world that He sent His Son to die to save it. We need our speech to be so full of His grace, that nobody hears the slightest little bit of condemnation come from our lips!
So, when you put this all together, maybe I should remember to pray that God will bring me opportunities, and give me the words to share, so that some may be saved. What do you think; do you need to join me in praying this way? If not, I’d love to hear why that is.