Reposted from Radical Mentoring
Years ago, a good friend really handed it to me. He said, “When I see someone running as hard as you run, I wonder who he’s trying to please.” My friend didn’t wonder, “Is he trying to please someone?” He knew that answer. The question was who?
Most of us start out trying to please our dads. For some of us, that’s the who we’re chasing for the rest of our lives, whether we realize it or not. For years, each time I’d get a promotion or a raise, I’d call my dad before I’d call my wife. It took me a long time to uncover what that said about the most significant who in my life.
But after surrendering to God and ‘replacing’ my earthly father with my Heavenly Father, things changed. I released my dad from all my expectations; from all the things I wished he had been and done. I forgave him and accepted him just as he was for the rest of his life. But before long, I was driving just as hard as a sold-out Christian as I was before. Why?
The reality is, some of us make God our work. We make Him something we do. The church loves it because we fill all the volunteer jobs; fill the seats and the fill the offering plates.
But we miss what God really wants . . .
Those things flow from the Holy Spirit living in our hearts when we stop being human doings and become human beings.
This week, spend time just being . . . with your family, with your friends, with yourself and especially with God.
Just as a soldier who takes on his day without having orders from his commanding officer could be in trouble, how then can we head out in the morning without first consulting Our King of Kings?
Instead of just charging out and doing, stop first to be with Him and ask, “Lord, what would you have me do today?”
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
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 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 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.