Why The Bible Matters


bibleReposted from Radical Mentoring

Why do so few people read the Bible?

I’m not talking about a random verse pulled out to make a point, I’m talking about the book itself . . . the entity . . . this thing that’s integral to our faith. It’s one of the most important topics!

God’s Word is eternal . . . it’ll last beyond the internet, the Super Bowl, the iPhone, the Final Four . . . everything. In heaven, we’ll recognize the words, the wisdom, and the authors, and we’ll never tire of learning what it all means.

So why bother now? Why not wait until heaven when we’ll have all the time in the world? (. . . or out of the world?) Besides, is this stuff really important? Is it really true? Why do we struggle to ‘get into it’?

There’s the fact that God’s Word has been around . . . unchanged for hundreds, if not thousands of years, and almost half the world’s population believe its essence. A friend of mine was ready to commit his life to the nine ‘insights’ spelled out in The Celestine Prophecy. I asked, “Wow, what if the author changes his mind, or discovers some new truth?” Shortly after, he published The Tenth Insight. My friend later became a Jesus-follower.

Isn’t it smarter to build your life on a time-tested plan?  The New Testament approach to life is wise, effective, stable, practical, and true.

“But isn’t the Bible just a compendium of stories and folklore, pieced together by church people with a motive?”

Sounds convincing, until you try to explain how the Dead Sea Scrolls perfectly matched earlier manuscripts and were untouched by church people from their recording until their discovery in the 1950’s. The Bible is true. You can depend on it.

“But is it relevant?” You bet it is! Here’s just one example . . .

You get a new job or have your first child or move to a new church. You’re scared out of your skin! But when you read 2 Timothy 1:7, God reminds you “the spirit of fear is not of God, but God is love, power and a sound mind.” Suddenly, you realize “Hey, I can do this! God loves me! This fear I’m feeling isn’t coming from Him . . . I have His power within me . . . I can discipline myself . . . I have a sound mind . . . let’s get on with it!” You’re no longer afraid.

And one more point . . . the Bible is supernatural! I’m not kidding.

Remember Hebrews 4:12? For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Paraphrase: God will use His Word to help you sort out your thoughts and attitudes regarding what you want (i.e., your “heart”).

I take that to mean when I read the Bible and ask, “God, what are you teaching me here?” or “Lord, what would you have me do?” He’ll often give me wisdom I’m not smart enough to discover on my own.

And then I try to obey. I also write it down in my journal, because I don’t want to forget. I’ve unearthed much of what’s written in my blog posts this way.

So . . . read your Bible. And chat with the Author as you read. Pray. Ask questions. Listen to His answers and instructions.

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In Light of the Facts


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Reposted from Radical Mentoring

“Just give me the facts.” We men say it all the time. But sometimes our biggest problems stem from not accepting the facts. From deceiving ourselves and believing something other than the truth. This is particularly true of optimists like me. I’ll tell myself all kinds of lies to keep hope alive . . . to see a pony in the pile, to think a particular problem can be solved. Here’s a painful principle . . .

A problem without a solution is a fact.

To illustrate. Suppose I decide my problem is that I can’t dunk a basketball. Now I’m about 5 feet 10 inches, and I can’t jump. At all. I can lose weight, work out, hire a personal trainer who works with the ‘vertically challenged,’ practice jumping 8 hours a day, whatever. But this side of heaven, I’ll never dunk a basketball. There is no solution to this problem. So failing to dunk a basketball is no longer a problem, it’s a fact. I cannot dunk. Period.

Think about how much time and effort we spend on unsolvable problems. To call it a fact seems so final. So hopeless. The ‘cold hard facts.’ But wouldn’t it be smarter to accept the facts and then live in light of the facts?

Okay, that’s the post.

So what’s bothering you these days? Are you stuck, trying to solve a problem that has no solution? Will you accept the facts and set yourself free?

God is with you. He might not take away the problem, but He’ll help you deal with it. He won’t change the facts, but He’ll be with you as you live in light of the facts, no matter how hard they are to accept.

 

Is that really in the Bible?


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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.

Four of the Worse Reasons to leave a Church


Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 3.55.53 AMReposted 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.

Whats Your Watts


wattReposted fromRadical Mentoring

Walk into a dark room and flip the light switch. Darkness disappears, replaced by light. In fact, darkness isn’t really a ‘thing’ in and of itself.  Just something that happens when there’s no light.

Genesis 1:4 recounts the creation of light . . . “And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” Sometimes, we think of someone as bright. Every now and then, we’ll run into a Jesus-follower whose spirit shines. In church world, we want people to plug in. I guess it’s easy to compare spirituality to electricity because both are invisible and somewhat hard to understand.

The reality is that some people seem to be ‘15-watt’ people, others are ‘60-watt,’ while a few seem to glow naturally like ‘100-watt’ bulbs. If that happens to be you, you’re going to inevitably attract people (and maybe a few moths!). But what if you’re a ‘15-watt’ person? Or ‘30-watt’? Maybe you’re diligent about your faith walk but kind of private and quiet. Should you aspire to more light? And for what purpose?

I see three reasons we should aspire to have higher ‘wattage’ . . .

  1. Our personal peace deepens– When the Holy Spirit shines brightly within us, we’re more confident. When we trust God with outcomes, we deal better with our circumstances and we’re affirmed that Jesus is real and He’s right here with us and for us.
  2. Our influence grows – When we go public with our faith in Christ, others watch our lives in a special way. The cynics are waiting for us to fail so their lack of faith can be confirmed. The doubters will pay attention because our lives will enter into their decision to follow Jesus or not. And true believers will want to celebrate our faithfulness; they’re encouraged by our ‘bright light.’
  3. Our sin becomes more apparent – It is so easy to be dumbed down by the world, the flesh and the devil. “Hey, I know I’m not the best Christian in the world, but I’m not the worst either.” When our wattage is higher, we’re more sensitive to the sin that tempts us . . . our conscience quickens, and we’re more apt to turn away from bad stuff and ask forgiveness, both from God and from each other.

So how can we increase our wattage?

Through prayer. For over two years, I’ve told people about the strength and confidence I felt going in for my lung transplant. It was supernatural! I truly believe James 5:16 which says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective,” whether that prayer comes from you, a few or a multitude. I’m convinced the more people who pray and the more fervent the prayer, the higher the wattage of the person prayed for.

Let’s pray for each other in 2018, but don’t forget to pray for yourself. Ask God to raise your wattage for your good, the good of those around you, and for His glory.

Scripture: Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

WWJD Revisited


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Reposted from Radical Mentoring

Back in the ‘90’s, “What would Jesus do?” was all the rage. The phrase came from the subtitle of Charles Sheldon’s 1896 book In His Steps, a novel that sold over 30 million copies. WWJD caught on with young people and thousands of bracelets and bumper stickers were sold. In 2010, a movie called What Would Jesus Do? told the story of a drifter whose needs were ignored until someone thought, “What would Jesus do?” and took action. Serving caught on, the church woke up and lives were changed.

Although I never wore a bracelet, I loved the WWJD movement. But as my kids got older and sometimes acted out, I realized there weren’t many specifics about what Jesus would do in those situations since he didn’t have kids. Same for marriage or dealing with aging parents. In many ways, asking “What would Jesus do?” required imagination and was open to interpretation. For instance, my sister and I would have come to opposite conclusions as to what Jesus would do if confronted by a teenager with an unwanted pregnancy.

So, I came up with an alternative . . . “What would Jesus have me do?” That question got a little more in my face. Instead of hypothesizing about a young Jewish man living in a different millennium in a culture I don’t understand, this question led me to make it more personal. But when I stopped and thought about it, this question didn’t make sense either. Who is the question being asked of? Am I asking God? Jesus is God, so it’s like saying “George, what would George have me do?” That seemed a little crazy.

Then a few years ago, I learned to ask God directly “Lord, what would you have me know about this situation?” Amazingly, He’s often ready to answer. What He shows me is about the heart, either mine or the person I’m asking about. He leads me to patience, kindness, understanding, compassion and self-control. Sometimes I need more, so I’ll ask, “Lord, what would you have me do with what you’ve shown me?” Often that little prayer gets answered with an unction . . . a leading . . . a next step. Every time I obey, my faith gets stronger and often, it brings a ‘God-sized’ blessing.

The problem is seeing the people around us, stopping to bring God into the situation, listening to His voice, and then obeying without question. God will never direct you to do something that’s inconsistent with His Word and usually obeying requires faith . . . doing the right thing and trusting Him for the outcome. As we mature in our faith, we’re able to distinguish His voice from our own self-talk. The more we push ourselves to trust and obey, the louder and clearer His voice becomes.

I believe this is what ‘abiding in Christ’ is all about. I believe this is what ‘walking with God’ is. I believe this is what ‘following Jesus’ is all about. I believe it’s way better than “What would Jesus do?”

Scripture: My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

From A Mustard Seed


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Reposted from The River Walk

“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” (Matthew 17:20)

I remember going to a conference when I was a student at Central Bible College. Tommy Barnett was doing a leadership seminar and Nixa Assembly was sending its ministry team to go and hear him. Pastor Barnett was speaking on faith, I don’t remember the specifics, but at the end everyone was to write their dream on a little piece of paper, go up and leave it at the altar, and pick up this mustard seed in exchange.

Up to that point I’d never seen a mustard seed before. I knew conceptually that they were small. I’d been told so in countless Sunday School classes. This little seed was tiny. I’d say it was less than half the size of the little bullets you would use for a BB gun. On the flip side I knew that mustard trees were a pretty good size. I saw them on those Sunday School flannel graphs. I just didn’t realize how big they really can grow. From a seed that is less than two millimeters in diameter can grow a plant up to twenty-five feet high and nearly twice as wide,

There are different gifts given to different people in the church. Some people have faith. I can look at them, listen to them, and I am amazed. I’m more of a “trust, but verify” type of guy. You might say my faith is as small as a mustard seed. Good thing that is enough. I remember there used to be a magazine called Mountain Movers. It was chuck full of miracle stories of missionaries in other parts of the world. Each of those stories seemed to have two things in common, the missionary needed, God provided. There would come a point when a missionary realized they couldn’t possibly do what needed done, and then God would step in. Sometimes it was protection, sometimes provision, sometimes healing, always God would move.

I don’t need a lot of faith to see God do the miraculous in my life. All I need is to attempt the impossible. If I am always doing what is easy, if I am always living in the safe and the comfortable, I will never see a miracle. There won’t be any need. It is only when I step out that I will see Him step in. If I want to see Him move in big ways, I need to take my tiny faith and attempt big things with it. It will grow, but only when plante