Monday, February 24, 2014

5 Parting Shots From James 5


1. The words you use to respond to suffering or success are a reflection of your heart. Is your heart full of yourself? Do these experiences cause you to turn to God?

2. You can always choose to speak positively.

3. Setting ourselves apart for God's service is extremely difficult but extraordinarily important.

4. If you want to know what God's plan is for you, pay attention to how He answers your prayer.

5. Confession without repentance is like a Twinkie without the cream filling. It looks good on the surface but it's really just sticky and hollow.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

5 Reasons You Should Be More Generous

You can always give without loving, but you can never love without giving.  ~Amy Carmichael


1. God’s creation was GENEROUS. Instead of just creating a functional, mechanical world; He gave us an amazingly creative, colorful, complex yet simple world. The variety and beauty of creation is a constant reminder of God’s GENEROSITY.

2. The most beloved characters in the history of the world are those who were viewed as GENEROUS by their contemporaries.

3. The hero of every story is the one who GIVES AWAY for the good of others.

4. The best meal is one that is prepared by a GENEROUS chef (delicious is important, but useless if you only get two bites)

5. The single greatest act of all time was the GENEROUS gift of life, given to us by God through His Son, Jesus.


Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed. 
- Proverbs 19:17

Saturday, February 22, 2014

5 Guidelines for Healthy Disagreement

Have you ever found yourself in a discussion with someone who refuses to listen or have a civil conversation? It doesn't matter if they are right or wrong, they don't convince anyone because of the manner in which they debate.

Sometimes we need to disagree with people. When those moments arrive, consider these 5 Guidelines for Healthy Disagreement:

1. Be Gentle, not harsh.

2. Listen well before you formulate your answer.

3. Weigh your answer, don’t immediately gush.

4. Give answers that reflect Scripture.

5. Don’t endlessly debate with a fool.

These guidelines came as the result of studying this topic in Proverbs. Below are some of the verses that helped inform these thoughts:

Proverbs 1:28 - “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me.

Proverbs 15:1 - A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:28 - The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.

Proverbs 18:13 - He who answers before listening— that is his folly and his shame.

Proverbs 18:23 - A poor man pleads for mercy, but a rich man answers harshly.

Proverbs 21:13 - If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.

Proverbs 22:21 - teaching you true and reliable words, so that you can give sound answers to him who sent you?

Proverbs 24:26 - An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.

Proverbs 26:4 - Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.

Proverbs 26:5 - Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.

Proverbs 26:16 - The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who answer discreetly.

Proverbs 27:11 - Be wise, my son, and bring joy to my heart; then I can answer anyone who treats me with contempt.

Reading these verses is a challenge to me regarding my own skills in answering graciously. Especially after preaching about seasoning my “truth” tendencies with grace, I’m aware that this is an area I need to keep developing. I’ll continue working on answering THIS way, I hope you will to. Below are a few nuggets of wisdom I gleaned from these great verses:

Monday, February 17, 2014

9 Character Traits of God Worth Remembering

On Sunday, we talked about James' statement that God is "compassionate" and "merciful". Of course, He is also much more than that! Check out these thoughts from a prayer in Nehemiah 9 which remind us of several more of God's character traits. While you patiently wait for God to act on your behalf, use these to remind yourself that He is indeed compassionate, merciful and much more!

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God is sovereign -- "You alone are the LORD"

God is faithful -- "You have kept your promise because you are righteous"

God is a savior -- "You divided the sea before them, so that they passed through it on dry ground, but you hurled their pursuers into the depths, like a stone into mighty waters."

God is a provider -- "In their hunger, you gave them bread from heaven, and in their thirst you brought them water from the rock"

God is forgiving -- "But they, our forefathers, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and did not obey your commands...But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love."

God is compassionate -- "Because of your great compassion, you did not abandon them in the desert."

God is generous -- "You made their sons as numerous as the stars in the sky, and you brought them into the land that you told their fathers to enter and possess."

God is long-suffering -- "But when they were oppressed they cried out to you. From heaven you heard them and in your great compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies."

God is patient -- "And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion you delivered them time after time."

God is merciful -- "in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God."

If you read Nehemiah 9, you can match up each of the above attributes with one paragraph of the recorded prayer.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

10 Pieces of Advice for Every Young Person (and old person!)

I came across these tonight. They are from my study of 2 Timothy a few years ago when I was preparing for a Family Camp at Barakel.  They seem to be fairly relevant for today…

  • Don’t ever be ashamed of doing the right thing.
  • Don’t ever be ashamed of doing the thing God gifted you to do.
  • Don’t ever grow tired of doing the thing God gifted you to do.
  • Be very ashamed of following the wrong pursuits.
  • Be very ashamed of following the wrong people.
  • Finish the race.
  • When you are absolutely positive about who you are, it is no longer embarrassing to act like yourself.
  • If you are not content to let people think you are wrong, you will embarrass yourself by pursuing silly arguments.
  • Embarrassment for Christ’s sake is far better than popularity for my own sake.
  • A Christ-centered life will never bring me shame.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Just Sit Down and Let Jesus Do His Thing!

"Have the people sit down" (John 10:6)

This was Jesus' response to the disciples doubts about Christ's ability to feed the crowd.

Jesus had told his disciples to find enough food for more than 5,000 people who had come to hear Him teach. Andrew had found a small amount of food, but wasn't sure it would do much. The disciple's were stressed that they could never find enough food to feed everyone.

Jesus' simple response to have everyone sit down was all that was necessary.


Sometimes, we're so busy running around that we don't allow Jesus to do his thing. We are, like the disciples, doing everything we can do to "make things happen", but we don't realize that things will happen when HE MAKES THEM HAPPEN!

This command is a good reminder to us that it is good sometimes to simply sit and be patient.

Take some time to just sit down and allow God to do His work in you.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Learning Patience from Aaron Rodgers

Patience is a big theme in the Bible. We touched on it last Sunday, and we'll focus more on it this week. I wrote this nearly six years ago. Brett Favre was still a Packer. Turns out things worked out okay for that "discount double check" guy...

My advice for Aaron Rodgers?

Poison Brett Favre's food.

Just kidding.

I feel for Aaron. I really do. It would appear that the Green Bay Packer organization has made a decision that it is time for Rodgers to step up and replace Brett Favre. He's been waiting for this day patiently since he was drafted several years ago. After being a highly touted college QB, he's quietly taken the back-seat, watching, learning, waiting until it was his turn to shine. The coach and team executives have made it clear that the future rests in his hands, but it's been a long time coming.

Finally this year, Favre retired and Aaron prepared to take the reigns. Now it looks like he may have to wait again... and even if he doesn't, he's going to have the enormous pressure of justifying the team's decision to pass (pun intended) on another season of Brett.

Never mind that maybe Rodgers is better. Never mind that Favre is on the down-side of his career. Never mind that maybe the Packers as a team will be better with Rodgers running the show. Never mind how unfair it will be to compare Rodgers' 2008 season with Favre's career, perhaps the Packers know that Favre doesn't have enough left in the tank. Never mind all that. The simple fact is that this guy has waited patiently for something that was promised to him, and now just when it was within his grasp, he might have to wait some more.

My advice? Remember King David. He was anointed (like Rodgers) to be the future king, but had to wait years. While he waited he was chased around the wilderness by the sitting king who wanted him dead. When it finally looked like he was going to be king, he had to wait seven more years for Saul's son to lose the throne (and his head).

In the end, though, David's patience paid off. He eventually became known as the greatest king Israel ever knew. His throne was established forever.

I might be wrong on this, but I think Aaron Rodgers has a great career ahead of him. I think that the Packers know this and that is why they are okay not having a washed up Brett Favre anymore. But it may turn out that Aaron Rodgers has to wait one more year, and if he does he should look to the example of David.

And so should we.

We're all waiting for something (although sometimes the things we are waiting for are not necessarily the "right" things). While waiting, we would do ourselves a great favor to learn the patience of David. Those who cannot be patient, will become frustrated.

"But wait!" you say. "I am not like King David or like Aaron Rodgers. They've both been promised something, and so waiting is easy for them. It isn't so easy for me to wait, I don't even know if God is going to give me the thing I'm waiting for."

You want a promise? Try this:

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

That's a better guarantee than Aaron Rodgers has. Whatever the good work God is doing in your life, he's going to finished. So that painful waiting you're experiencing is a result of being unfinished. The solution is not to try to finish yourself, but rather to be patient, to pay careful attention to what God is doing in your life, and to allow him to do his finishing work. He promises to complete it.

And if you need to be reassured, read 1 Samuel 16 - 2 Samuel 5. Consider what David had to endure while waiting for God to do his finishing work, and realize you probably don't have it as bad as you think.