Friday, November 30, 2012

FAITH is Focusing on Gods Authority Rather Than My Own Ability


We get in the way of our own faith when we are focused so much on ourselves that we can’t focus on God:

  • We focus on our material needs instead of our spiritual needs 
  • We focus on what we want from God instead of what God wants from us 
  • We focus on what we are capable of accomplishing instead of what God has already accomplished 
  • We focus on our own righteousness instead of Christ’s righteousness in us 
Jesus told us to focus on our Father’s authority instead of our own ability:
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? ”So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

5 Questions That Make Church People Uncomfortable


1. From what SPECIFICALLY did Jesus save you? A while ago, I talked to someone after church who was convinced that salvation didn’t necessarily bring life change. She was already a pretty moral person. If you don’t know what sin Jesus saved you from, you don’t know why you need salvation. Besides, we don’t like thinking about our own sinfulness.

2. Whom did you invite into relationship with Jesus this week? Even though this is the prime directive for Jesus followers (see Matthew 28:19-20), Christians (self-included) only find time for this activity on very rare occasions.

3. What needs do you have? Church people are pretty famous for not having any problems. We like to show up looking our best, and behaving our best and saying “fine” about thirty times when people as how we are. It’s strange that the one place on earth where we should wide open about how broken we are is the one place where it is socially inappropriate to admit neediness.

4. How can I pray for you to have victory over a besetting sin this week? :)

5. How has your time with God this week altered your life forever? The reason this is an uncomfortable question is because we would all say that we want God to regularly be altering our live in amazing ways… but most of us are pretty similar to the person we were two years ago.

 *picture from the ongoing adventures of ASBO Jesus

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Everyone Should Be Part of a Braid

 

Who are the other strands in your life's rope?
Into whose life are you closely braided?
Does this principle describe your family life?
 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Four Stages of Generosity

We all want to be generous people, but generosity is not something that we acquire overnight. We are by nature self-centered, and so it is counter-intuitive for us to be generous. Below are four stages we can work through to develop generosity in our life.


1. Satisfaction.
"I don't need anything else in order to be happy and fulfilled."
Adam and Eve had everything they needed in the garden, but they wanted more. They wanted to be like God. Rather than be satisfied, they instead chose to covet. We can never be generous if we aren't first satisfied.

2. Contentment.
"Even if I lost everything, I could still be happy and fulfilled."
This is a big step up from satisfaction. Job experienced loss unlike most people could ever imagine. Yet he realized that his joy and his fulfillment didn't come from anything he owned or any relationship he had. They came from God. As long as Job was able to focus on God's character and promises, he was able to be content. All generous people must first be content.

3. Gracious Giving.
"I choose to give to people even when they don't deserve it."
People who give gifts so they can receive something in return are not generous. True giving means we give to someone who will not necessarily repay us and someone who may not deserve our good favor. Generosity is rooted in a desire to give to others, without receiving anything in return.

4. Sacrificial Giving.
"I choose to give to people even though it will cost me dearly."
Jesus is the perfect example of generosity. He gave his life for those who hated Him. Just before His death, he said, "Greater love has no one than that he lays down his life for his friends." This is ultimate generosity... giving your life away for the good of others, even if they don't deserve it.

Once you are ready to give your life away, you are ready to live a generous life.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Before You Slumber. Take a Moment...

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Exhale the carbon dioxide in your body.

Inhale the pure oxygen your lungs are craving.

As you breathe out, let go.

As you breathe in, embrace.

Let go of the day’s pain and trouble and disappointment.

Embrace tomorrow’s joy and possibilities, and excitement.

Let go.

Embrace.

Exhale.

Inhale.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Sleep well.

Discovering the Joy Filled Life

Oh, the joys of those who do not

follow the advice of the wicked,

or stand around with sinners,

or join in with mockers. (Psalm 1:1 NLT)

Other translations begin this verse with "Blessed is the man..." I like the phrasing of the NLT, "Oh, the joys..." This is a good reminder that the blessed life is a life of joy. Blessings do not necessarily come in the shape of material or financial gain. Blessings are not always related to our circumstances. Blessings do not have to be us receiving something really wanted. However, the blessed life is always a life full of joy.

JOY IS NOT RELATED TO OUR CIRCUMSTANCES. (Here are some other thoughts on "joy")

Interestingly, in Psalm 1, the author first points to what does NOT bring the joy-filled life (He will use verse 2 to explain the source of the blessed life). Here is the conclusion. Joy is not found in the coalitions you create for your own benefit. I know it maybe doesn't exactly say this, but let me suggest that is exactly what it means. Consider this:

  • Since the garden of Eden, self-exaltation has been at the root of all evil.
  • The wicked, the sinners, and the mockers are all people who can be characterized first as those who are selfish.
  • These are people who create relationships for their own gain. Those who enter relationships with these people do so for their own gain, even if that "gain" is simply feeling more popular or better about oneself.
  • Relationships which center around my own desires and advancement will never bring me joy.
Take it from someone who has lived this experiment, and who has seen the devastation caused when relationships are leveraged for personal gain. The relationships you have will never completely fulfill you... ESPECIALLY, if they are relationships formed with the wicked, the sinners, and the mockers... aka the self-absorbed.

But...

Wait for verse 2, there the secret of a joyful life is revealed.