Monday, July 11, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
- The core problem isn't the fact that we're lukewarm, halfhearted, or stagnant Christians. The crux of it all is why we are this way, and it is because we have an inaccurate view of God. We see Him as a benevolent Being who is satisfied when people manage to "fit" Him into their lives in some small way. We forget that God NEVER has an identity crisis. He knows what He's great and deserves to be the center of our lives. Jesus came humbly as a servant, but He never begs us to give Him some small part of ourselves. He commands EVERYTHING from His followers.
- God's art speaks of Himself, reflecting who He is and what He is like.
- We forget that we already have everything we need in Him.
- To the Jews, saying something three times demonstrated its perfection, so to call God "Holy, Holy Holy" is to say that He is perfectly set apart, with nothing and no one to compare Him to. That is what is means to be "holy."
- It takes a lot for us to comprehend God's total hatred for sin. We make excuses like, "Yes, I am prideful at times, but everyone struggles with pride." However, God says in Proverbs 8:13, "I hate pride and arrogance." You and I are not allowed to tell Him how much He can hate it. He can hate and punish it as severely as His justice demands.
- When I am consumed by my problems-stressed out about my life, my family. my job- I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God's command to always rejoice. In other words, that I have a "right" to disobey God because of the magnitude of my responsibilities.
- Worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives.
- Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control.
- Both worry and stress reek of arrogance.
- The point of your life is to point to Him.
- In about fifty years (give or take a couple decades), no one will remember you. Everyone you know will be dead. Certainly no One will care what job you had, what car you drove, what school you attended, or what clothes you wore.
- Sadly, many people die while living selfishly. Their funerals are filled by individuals who stretch the truth in order to create a semblance of a meaningful life. Nobody would dare say an unkind word at the funeral; there is an unspoken obligation to come up with something nice to say about the person who died. But sometimes we secretly think the same thing: He really wan't that great of a person.
- Over time I realized that when we love God, we naturally run to Him - frequently and zealously. Jesus didn't command that we have a regular time with Him each day. Rather, He tells us to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." He called this the "first and greatest commandment" (Matt. 22:37-38). The results are intimate prayer and study of His Word. Our motivation changes from guilt to love.
- If God's mercy didn't exist there would be no hope.
- The greatest good on this earth is God. Period. God's one goal for us is Himself.
- (Talking about the parable of the good/ bad soil) Do not assume you are good soil.
- Has your relationship with God actually changed the way you live? Do you see evidence of God's kingdom in your life? Or are you choking it out slowly by spending too much time, energy, money, and thought on the things of this world?
- LUKEWARM PEOPLE think about life on earth much more often that eternity in heaven.
- LUKE WARM PEOPLE ask, "How far can I go before it's considered a sin?" instead of, "How can I keep myself pure as a temple of the Holy Spirit?"
- To put it plainly, churchgoers who are "lukewarm" are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven.
- Jesus says in Revelation 3:15-18, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold or hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, "I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing." But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see."
- Let's face it. We're willing to make changes in our lives only if we think it affects our salvation. This is why I have so many people ask me questions like, Can I divorce my wife and still go to heaven? Do I have to be baptized to be saved? Am I a Christian even though I am having sex with my partner? If I commit suicide, can I still go to heaven? If I'm ashamed to talk about Christ is He really gong to deny knowing me?
- These questions are tragic because they reveal much about the state of our hearts. They demonstrate that out concern in more about going to heaven than loving the King. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey what I command" (John 14:15). And our question quickly becomes even more unthinkable: Can I go to heaven without truly and faithfully loving Jesus?
- James 2:19 says, "You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder." God doesn't just want us to have a good theology; He wants us to know and love Him. First John 2:3-4 says, "We know that we have come to know him,' but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him."
- Call me crazy, but I think those verses mean that the person who claims to know God but doesn't obey His commands is a liar and that the truth really isn't in him.
- Leftovers are not merely inadequate; from God's point of view (His is the only one who matters), they're evil. Let's stop calling it a "busy schedule" or "bills" or forgetfulness." It's called evil.
- As Tim Kizziar said, "Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.
- God's definition of what matters is pretty straightforward. He measure out lives by how we love.
- If life is a river, then pursuing Christ requires swimming upstream. When we stop swimming or actively following Him we automatically begin to be swept downstream
- We are on a never-ending downward escalator, putting up with perturbed looks from everyone else who is gradually moving downward.
- Nothing should concern us more than out relationship with God; it's about eternity and nothing compares with that. God is not someone who can be tacked on to our lives.
- We disgust God when we weigh and compare Him against the things of this world. It makes Him sick when we actually decide those things are better for us than God Himself.
- Are you willing to say to God that He can have whatever He wants? Do you believe that wholehearted commitment to Him is more important than any other thing or person in your life? Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter unless it it about loving God and loving the people He has made?
- Is loving God - and by extension loving people - what you are about?
- Something mysterious even supernatural must happen in order for genuine love for God to grow in our hearts. The Holy Spirit must move in our lives.
- As we begin to focus more on Christ, loving Him and others becomes more natural. As long as we are pursuing Him we are satisfied in Him. It is when we stop actively loving Him that we find ourselves restless and gravitating towards other means of fulfillment.
- But He has overcome the world. So take heart, keep on, fight the good fight, pray continuously, and do not grow weary. There is nothing better than giving up everything and stepping into a passionate love relationship with God, the God of the universe who made galaxies, leaves, laughter, and me and you.
- The promise that our troubles are "achieving for us an eternal glory" seems hard to believe in the midst of the mess.
- David Livingston, a missionary to Africa during the 1800's once said during a speech to students at Cambridge University, "People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa... I never made a sacrifice. We ought not to talk of 'sacrifice' when we remember the great sacrifice which He made who left His Father's throne on high to give Himself for us."
- There really is a God who forgives everything and loves endlessly.
- Having faith often means doing what others see as crazy. Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers.
- 1 John 3:16-20 - Jesus is saying that we show tangible love for God in how we care for the poor and those who are suffering. He expects us to treat the poor and desperate as if they were Christ Himself.
- Giving that is not motivated by love is worth nothing.
- The concepts of downsizing so that others might upgrade is biblical, beautiful...and nearly unheard of.
- God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Dear Family and Friends,
I want to share with you an opportunity that I have to go to Ecuador March 25 - April 1. Since the beginning of the year I have been praying that the Lord would open up the doors for me to serve on some sort of oversees mission project and last week the opportunity presented itself.
I will be going with our church and team of 30 to support an organization called Compassion Connection in their efforts to support indigenous church planters by fostering community relationships so that they can accomplish their goals for the gospel. The focus of our international efforts is all about those serving in Ecuador full time and not on our team going. We are only a shot in the arm for the work of Christ that is already happening there. Most of our time will be spent an Amazon village called Tena - a river town where we will be involved with Bible and leadership training and church planting. Tena is about five hours east from Quito, in the Amazon Rain Forest area.
I am so excited for this opportunity that the Lord has placed before me. The timing of it is perfect since the trip is planned during Jarrett’s Spring Break! He is excited and looking forward to having the kids to himself for the week!
I have to raise $1,000.00 of support by March 14, which is only 3 weeks away. If you feel led to give I would greatly appreciate it. I have $100 towards the trip so I still have a big chunk left! Not only do I need financial support, but people to commit to prayer for our team and trip.
If you feel led to give in any way you can send a check to:
7286 Hazelcrest Drive.
Hazelwood, MO 63042
I love and truly appreciate each one of you.
Love and Blessings,
And he said, “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
- I realize there is never going to come a day when I stand before God and he looks at me and says, 'I wish you would have kept more for yourself.' I'm confident that God will take care of me.
- A quote about John Wesley - [Wesley] had just finished buying some pictures for his room when one of the chambermaids came to his door. It was a Winter day and he noticed that she had only a thin linen gown to wear for protection against the cold. He reached into his pocket to give her some money for a coat and found he had little left. It struck him that the Lord was not pleased with how he had spent his money. He asked himself: "Will Thy Master say, 'Well done, good and faithful steward?' Thou hast adorned thy walls with the money that might have screened this poor creature from the cold! O justice! O mercy! Are not these pictures the blood of this poor maid?"
- Why not begin operation under the idea that God has given us excess, not so we could have more, but so we could give more?
- In 1Timothy 6, Paul tells Timothy to command the rich "to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share." This, Paul says, is the key to being free from the deadly nature of wealth and possessions. Give. Give generously, abundantly, and sacrificially. Give not because your stuff is bad. Give because Christ is in you. Give because your heart has been captured by a Savior who has produced in you "overflowing joy," Welling up in "rich generosity."
- "What do you want me to do God?" The answer is clear. The will of God is for you and me to give our lives urgently and recklessly to making the gospel and the glory of God known among all peoples, particularly those who have never even heard Jesus.
- [In regards to the SS United States] We seem to have turned the church as troop carrier into the church as luxury liner. We seem to have organized ourselves, not to engage in battle for the souls of people around the world, but to indulge in ourselves in the peaceful comforts of the world.
- Jesus reminded his disciples that their safety was not found in the comforts of this world but in the control of a sovereign God over this world.
- From the story of Job to Paul's description of Satan's attack in his life in 2 Corinthians 12, we see how Satan not only acts within the sovereign permission of God but also end up accomplishing the sovereign purposes of God. INdeed, this is what the Cross is all about. Satan's strategy to defeat the Son of God only served to provide salvation for sinners.
- The key is realizing-and believing- that this world is not our home.
- This, we remember, is the great reward of the gospel: God himself. When we risk out lives to run after Christ, we discover the safety that is found only in his sovereignty, the security that is found only in his love, and the satisfaction that is found only in his presence.
- Real success is found in radical sacrifice. Ultimate satisfaction is found not in making much of ourselves but in making much of God. The purpose of our lives transcends the country and culture in which we live. Meaning is found in community, not individualism,; joy is found in generosity, not materialism; and truth is found in Christ, not universalism. Ultimately, Jesus is a reward worth risking everything to know, experience, and enjoy.
- We express enthusiasm, emotion, and affection for football and other sports, and it begs the question, what would happen in our culture if the church prayed with such passion? What would happen in Jesus dominated out affections more than the superficial trivialities that garner our affection?
- In our quest for the extraordinary, we often overlook the importance of the ordinary, and I'm proposing that a radical lifestyle actually begins with an extraordinary commitment to ordinary practices that have marked Christians who have affected the world throughout history.
- God has created us for community with one another, and the community we were created for is called the church.
- If we are going to live in radical obedience to Christ, we will need the church to do it. We will need to show one another how to give liberally, go urgently, and live dangerously. When we sacrifice our resources for the poor and then face unexpected and unforeseen needs in our lives, we will need brothers and sisters to help us stand. In the process we will learn to depend on one another according to God's design. The global purpose of Christ was never intended to be accomplished by individuals. We are a global people whose family spans the nations. So first and foremost, I encourage you to be done with church hopping and shopping in a me-centered cultural milieu and to commit your life to a people who need you and whom you need.
- You and I have an average of about seventy or eighty years on this earth. During these years we are bombarded with the temporary. Make money. Get stuff. Be comfortable. Live well. Have fun. In the middle of it all, we get blinded to the eternal. But it's there. You and I stand on the porch of eternity. Both of us will soon stand before God to give an account for our stewardship of the time, the resources, the gifts, and ultimately the gospel he has entrusted to us. When that day comes, I am convinced we will not wish we had given more of ourselves to living the American dream. We will not wish we had made more money, acquired more stuff, lived more comfortably, taken more vacations, watched more television, pursued greater retirement, or been more successful in the eyes of the world. Instead we will wish we had given more of ourselves to living for the day when ever nation, tribe, people, and language will bow around the throne and sing praises of the Savior who delights in radical obedience and the God who deserves eternal worship.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
- My biggest fear, even now, is that I will Here Jesus' words and walk away content to settle for less than radical obedience to him.
- Yes, you are abandoning everything you have, but you are also gaining more than you could have in any other way. So with JOY - with JOY! - you sell it all, you abandon it all. Why? Because you have found something worth losing everything else for.
- The revelation of God in the gospel is good. I invite you to receive it. Maybe to trust in the Christ of the gospel for the first time and for the first time to receive a new heart, a heart that is not only cleansed of sin but that now longs for him. Or maybe simply to recover a passion for God's Word - his radical revelation of himself - and discover once again the reward that is found in simply knowing and experiencing him.
- We have seen how the American dream radically differs from the call of Jesus and the essence of the gospel.
- While the goal of the American dream is to make much of us, the goal of the gospel is to make much of God.
- He intentionally puts people in situations where they come face to face with their need for him. In the process he powerfully demonstrated his ability to provide everything his people need in ways they could have never mustered up or imagined. And in the end, he makes much of his own name.
- Think about it his way. Maybe you are going through a struggle in your life. A tragedy strikes you or someone close to you, and you are hurting. So you go to God in prayer, and you ask him to comfort you. Do you realize what God does? He doesn't give you comfort. Instead he gives you the Holy Spirit, who is called the Comforter. The Holy Spirit literally comes to dwell in you and puts the very comfort of Christ inside you as you walk through your pain. Suppose another time you are making a big decision in your life and you need help. So you ask God for help. But he doesn't answer you with guidance. Instead he answers by sending the Holy Spirit who is our Guide. God sends the Helper, who will live in you and not only tell you what decision to make but also to enable you to make that decision. Yet another time you need discernment, and God gives you the Spirit of wisdom. At other times you need strength and God gives you the Spirit of power. Still other times you ask God for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control and he gives you the Spirit who makes all these things a reality in your life.
- God our Father delights in this. HE delights in giving us Himself.
- Would you say right now that your life is marked right now for the desperation for the Spirit of God?
- The message of Biblical Christianity is "God loves me so that I might make him - his ways, his salvation, his glory, and his greatness-know among all nations." In this God is the object of our faith, and Christianity centers around him, We are not the end of the gospel; God is.
- Where in the Bible is missions ever identified as an optional program in the church? We were all created by God, saved from our sins, and blessed by God to make his glory known in all the world. Indeed, Jesus himself has not merely called us to go to all nations; he has created us and commanded us to go to all nations. We have taken the command though and reduced it to a calling - something that only a few people receive.
- Now, we know that each of us has different gifts, different skills, different passions, and different callings from God., God has gifted you and me in different ways. This was undoubtedly the case with the disciples. Peter and Paul had different callings. James and John had different callings. However, each follower of Christ in the New Testament, regardless of his or her calling, was intended to take up the mantle of proclaiming the gospel to the ends of the earth. That's the reason why he gave each of them his Spirit and why he gave them all the same plan: make disciples of all nations.
- Jesus reminds me that disciples are not mass-produced. Disciples of Jesus- genuine, committed, self-sacrificing followers of Christ - are not made overnight.
- Disciple making is not a call for others to come to us to hear the gospel but a command for us to go to others to share the gospel. A command for us to be gospel-living, gospel-speaking people at every moment and in every context where we find ourselves.
- Disciple making is not about a program or an event but about a relationship.
- Being a part of a community of faith involved being exposed to the life of Christ in others. To whom can you deliberately, intentionally, and sacrificially, show the life of Christ in this way? This is foundational in making disciples, and we will multiply the gospel only when we allow others to get close enough to us to see the life of Christ in action.
- When we realize we have the responsibility to teach the Word, it changes everything about how we hear the Word.
- According to Jesus, you can tell someone is a follower of Christ by the fruit of his or her life, and the writers of the New Testament show us that the fruit of faith in Christ involves material concern for the poor. Caring for the poor is one natural overflow and a necessary evidence of the presence of Christ in our hearts. If there is no sign of caring for the poor in our lives, then there is reason to at least question whether Christ is in our hearts.
- Isn't the hidden assumption among many Christians in our culture that if we follow God, things will go well for us materially? Such thinking is an explicit in "health and wealth" teaching, and it is implicit in the lives of Christians whose use of possessions looks virtually the same as that of our non-Christian neighbors. One evening I was meeting with an underground house church overseas, and we were discussing various issues in Scripture. A woman who lived in the city and knew some English shared, "I have a television, and every once in a while I am able to get stations from the United States," she said, "Some of these stations have church services on them. I see the preachers, and they are dressed in nice clothes, and they are preaching in very nice buildings. Some of them even tell me that if I have faith, I too can have nice things." She paused before continuing. "When I come to our church meetings, I look around, and most of us are very poor, and we are meeting here at great risk to our lives." Then she looked at me and asked, "Does this mean we do not have enough faith?"
Monday, January 3, 2011
- What's the one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
- What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
- What the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
- In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year and what will you do about it?
- What is the single biggest time-waster in your life and what will you do about it this year?
- What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
- For whose salvation will you pray most fervently for this year?
- What's the most important way you will. by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?
- What one thing you could do to improve your prayer life this year?
- What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?