Archive for the 'Following Christ' Category

18
Oct
10

Come as You Are; But You Won’t Stay That Way (Re-post)

As I was reviewing the statistics for this blog, I noticed the post that has received the most views of all was on February 9, 2010.  It was refreshing and powerful for me as I went back to read it again.  So, I thought I would re-post it today in hopes that it will be a powerful word of truth to someone today.

Jesus was a controversial figure in His day…during His earthly ministry.  He spent time around those whom the religious community considered the scum of the earth (Luke 5:29-32).  He reached out to them in love without expecting them to “clean up” before He would have anything to do with them.  This is where we get the idea for the old hymn, “Just as I am.”

I’m glad that we don’t have to get our act together before we come to Jesus.  His love and grace calls to us to come and experience His healing touch.  Contrary to some post-modern thinking, however, we don’t come to Jesus and stay the same.  It isn’t an “addition” of Jesus to our lifestyle.  He doesn’t accommodate His truth to our situation.  It is a transformation that takes place (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Actually, it would be a cruel thing for Christ to accept us and then leave us as we are…in our sins.

I am a new creation…and I’m becoming a new creation.  It is an event (salvation) and it is a process (sanctification).  Thank God it is real!

Check out the video below “Come as You Are” by Northland Church.  Celebrate your new life as you watch.  If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, go here to find out more.

Advertisements
17
Oct
10

Refuse to Do Nothing

This Saturday, hundreds of people from First Church will be heading out into the River Valley to touch lives with the love of Jesus.  We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus by making sure that our faith is a loving, practical, active faith (James 2:18).  We’re calling this Servolution Saturday, but our desire is to adopt a Servolution Lifestyle.

If you are a follower of Christ, how are you demonstrating your faith?  What is the difference you’re making?  Whose life has been impacted for good because you cared and you stepped up to get involved?  It is easier to look the other way and not be bothered.  It is easier to think, “Someone else will do it.”  Let’s quit taking the easy way.

Josh Wilson, singer/songwriter, has written a song that says, “I refuse to do nothing.”  He produced the video below after experiencing Nashville’s 1000-year flood and being convicted about his involvement to help the victims.  I hope as you view this, you will be inspired to ask how you can be the hands and feet of Jesus.

How are you inspired to serve?  Where do you make a footprint for the Kingdom?

15
Oct
10

An Easy Way to Make a Difference

The focus verse for Hydrate this week is James 2:18.

But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

Faith and works are inseparable for the true believer.  If we are the recipients of the tremendous grace of God through salvation, how can we help but want to share that grace with others?  Real salvation will result in real concern and love for others because we have experienced real love from the author of love:  God Himself!

We need to ask ourselves, “How am I expressing the love of God to those around me?”  Is there a way to make a difference in both the eternity and present  life of people with whom I have influence?  The love of Christ motivates us, the Spirit of Christ guides us to be intentional.  How will you let Him use you?

Look around you and pray for God to show you the needs of the community in which you live and the world beyond your locale.  Submit yourself to be used by God to meet these needs and open doors to share the life of Christ through the gospel.

If you want to take an easy first step of making a practical difference, click on the Blood:Water Mission link on my page and complete the activity.  The sponsoring business will make a donation to the organization which provides clean drinking water and AIDS care for people in Africa.  Let that activity then be the first step in a long list of ways you become involved in touching the world with the love of Christ and His gospel.

Celebrate!  Comment and share the ways and ministries through which you are making a difference.  I would love to hear all the ways God is at work through you.

12
Oct
10

Multi-faceted Discipleship – 24/7 FAITH

A diamond in the rough does not provide much beauty.  It’s brilliance and luminance is not fully radiated until the skilled gem smith carefully cuts it with multiple facets so that the precious stone catches and reflects the light in all of its grandeur.

Discipleship can be a diamond in the rough.  When a Christ-Follower is only self-centered in his focus, or even neglects his own relationship with Christ, there is little brilliance of the presence of Christ reflected.  It is not until multiple facets are “cut” into his life that the true radiance of the Son is reflected.  Here’s what I mean.

1.    Individual Discipleship – True discipleship occurs when a person follows Christ as Lord of his/her life.  This process is the cultivation of a relationship that is real, honest and vibrant.  It, like any relationship, revolves around time spent together.  Hydrating one’s life with the Word daily provides the listening ear for the Savior to speak into our lives the truth for which we hunger.  Meditation, communion, solitude, fasting and prayer all provide avenues for the relationship to grow as we walk with Christ daily.

2.    Generational Discipleship – As Deuteronomy 6 proclaims, generational discipleship occurs in the home.  Parents who are individual disciples, actively pass on their faith to their children through teaching, modeling, discussing, applying and living out their faith.  The children see that the faith of their parents is genuine and is the priority of their lives.  The faith then becomes more “caught than taught.”  Children in this environment naturally come to faith earlier in life and tend to remain faithful through the stormy years of adolescence and young adulthood.

3.    Relational Discipleship – Acts 2 gives us the story of the emerging church that Jesus said He would build.  The unique development of this organism instituted by God is characterized by the relational nature of its structure.  First-century Christ-Followers met together at the temple and in their homes.  In these contexts, they studied the Apostles’ doctrine, they worshiped, they enjoyed social interaction and they ate together.  This was discipleship in action.  When we read of Paul’s ministry in Philippi, we find that entire homes were transformed by the gospel.  Husbands and wives were in partnership, living and ministering for the Kingdom.  All of these relational connections are venues for discipleship.

So what does this mean for our churches…for our lives?  I think there are a few things we can take away.

1.    Individual discipleship alone is, at best, incomplete.
2.    Self-improvement is not the end goal of discipleship…it is to pass along faith in relationship.
3.    The only way to rear children effectively is to live our faith openly and honestly before them in our homes, with intentionality.
4.    If we neglect the relational discipleship of community, we lose a vital component that has been integral to the church from the beginning.

The beauty of the disciple comes radiating through as he is “cut” with the various facets of true discipleship.  As we allow this process to envelope us, our radiance shines with the presence of the Savior in us and points all those who observe it to the Father.  I guess you could say we’re the diamond He wears on His hand.

How have these facets been effective in your journey?  Where do you need to improve?

09
Oct
10

Next Gen Motivation Connects with Biblical Truth

Daniel Pink, noted business leader and speaker, points out that there are three basic motives for behavior.  Specifically, he speaks of motivating behavior in the business world.  Studies and observation of human behavior tell us that we are motivated by…
1.    Biological Motives – food, sleep, sex.
2.    Reward Motives – greater productivity brings greater reward.
3.    Purpose Motives – understanding that what one does has a greater purpose and contributes to a greater cause (involving ownership).

We know biblically, as well as scientifically, that biological motives are very powerful in controlling behavior.  However, when it comes to problem solving, they are not very effective beyond simply taking care of one’s biological needs.  Unmanaged, they can even become enslaving and lead to less productivity in life.

Reward, as research indicates, is effective for relatively low-level cognitive problem-solving situations.  And, actually, when creativity and innovation are needed for more complex problem solving, productivity actually decreases when reward is increased.  This is certainly counter-intuitive, but proven to be true.

However, when an individual gains an understanding of purpose behind their problem solving and are encouraged to take ownership of the overall purpose, their creativity and productivity increases.   This is even more pronounced when they are given “authority” or freedom in their activity rather than being delegated tasks.

So What?

So how does this apply to life and the church beyond the business world?  I think there is a very significant application in regard to the cultural relevance of the gospel.

Thirty-plus years ago, American culture was primarily a reward motivated culture.  If you do these tasks, you’ll receive this reward.  Do more tasks and you’ll receive more reward.

The “Next Gen” culture is not motivated merely by simple reward.  The bigger picture motivates them.  They want to know there is a cause bigger than them and want to become a part of something that will make a difference in their world.

Place that dynamic over our spiritual journey and it looks like this.

Past generations have been concerned primarily with the gospel redemption that gets a person saved so as to gain the reward of heaven.  After that, they wanted to enlist as many as they could to join them.  Great goal, but I would argue–incomplete.

This alone is not a motivator to the Next Gen’ers.  They want to know that they are changing the “here and now” of people AS WELL AS their eternity.

For the church to reach the Next Generation we must be focused on engaging and reforming the culture as a natural outcome of the redemption process of the gospel.  We can call it a means to an end, the ultimate step in the discipleship process, or just the other piece of the puzzle.  However, we label it, we know that the Bible speaks prolifically about the people of God caring about the poor, the oppressed, the disenfranchised, the broken and the forgotten.  For us to embrace the gospel of redemption, and not embrace the responsibility to bring healing and physical restoration to these, is to fail to fully embrace the gospel.  I speak not of a “social gospel” that tosses aside the message of salvation in favor of only addressing a physical or emotional need.  I do reject the notion that we only focus on bringing people face-to-face with the opportunity for salvation with no concern for their physical needs.

This is not just a Next Gen issue.  It is a biblical truth issue.  Can we possibly look at the life of Jesus and all that the Scripture teaches about caring for the needy and think that addressing social injustice is not an integral part of the gospel?  The only answer in my mind is reflected in the words of Jesus.

“ The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

Luke 4:18-19

What are your thoughts about the connection between the gospel and social injustice?  How have you involved yourself in connecting the two?


28
Sep
10

Unclogging the Stagnant Pool

I was in a resort area a month or so ago and passed by a motel that touted its great rates and nice accommodations.  As I glanced into the outdoor pool, I noticed that the water was a very gross greenish brown color.  It was obviously NOT in a condition to be used.  As much as this place of lodging wanted to promote its value, the message of the stagnant pool said “Don’t stay here.  You’ll be disappointed.”

This morning I met Steve.  He’s a mild-mannered guy who has spent the past 20 years as a contractor, building homes and working with the skills of his hands.  About a year ago, he came upon hard times and hit “rock bottom.”  Remembering the faith of his childhood from which he had strayed, Steve turned to God in despair and God responded with love and forgiveness.  Steve proceeded to find a church to attend, devour the Scripture and look for opportunities to fill his life with worship, study and growth.  He became so engrossed in pursuing his spiritual journey that family and friends cautioned him not to burn himself out…find a balance.

It seems God was already at work to address this concern in Steve’s life.  In his walk with God and God’s pursuit of him, Steve began to feel that something was missing.  It became apparent that the missing part was service.  “I want to do some kind of mission work where I can use my skills,” Steve said.  He has found the key to the “balance” that he needs…a “drain.”

What I mean is this.  The Dead Sea cannot sustain marine life because the salt content is too high.  Although fresh water enters the sea, there is no outlet.  The lack of an outlet makes the body of water lifeless and stagnant.  With the best of intentions, we may become students of God’s Word.  We may soak in everything we can from study, worship, preaching, etc.   However, if there is no outlet for serving, sharing and dispensing what we have gained, we can become spiritually stagnant.  Steve has found a way to unclog his stagnant pool of knowledge and growth.  Fulfilling the Great Commandment and the Great Commission is not only spiritually necessary, it is practically beneficial.  It keeps the stream flowing well.

Have you experienced spiritual stagnation?  Is there a nudge of the Holy Spirit calling you to serve in a particular way?  Where have you found an outlet for serving?

21
Sep
10

Helping God Out

Doesn’t God need a little help sometimes?  Well, I know that isn’t the case, but sometimes I act as though He does.  Permit me to give you a recent example.

This past weekend, my wife and I were in middle Tennessee for a speaking engagement at our former church.  It was also an opportunity to see our daughter who is in college in Nashville.  Our plan was to leave for Tennessee on Saturday morning and return to our Russellville, AR, home on Monday afternoon.  However, on Saturday night I received a call (see last post) asking me to come to Saint Croix, Virgin Islands, to help with crisis counseling for a school where a student had died in a tragic accident.  My immediate response was to begin planning logistics with the contact on the ground in St. Croix.  I needed to get my wife home, re-pack and arrange for a flight out of Little Rock as soon as possible.  The best scenario put me into St. Croix on Tuesday afternoon.  This was at least 24 hours too long under the circumstances.

The contact in St. Croix and I discussed several options, but none of them improved the arrival time…not until we realized that God had already pre-arranged my location for the best possible logistical plan.  We were reminded by the travel agent that it was better timing, a logistical advantage, and economically more practical to make our travel plans from Nashville…the location God had already arranged.  God was not caught off guard by this situation.  He had already put me in the best possible location for making a quick connection to the Virgin Islands.  So…my flight was booked for 6 a.m. Monday morning and my wife’s flight home was at 6:30.  We traveled to the airport together, left the vehicle at the airport for me to drive home, and the ministry to which I was going provided for my clothing needs since I had packed for only two days.  The timing?  I was on the ground at 2:45 Monday afternoon.

Since that initial plan began, I have continued to see God arrange circumstances and people in the right places at the right time for His purposes to be worked out.  He has a master plan that is being completed.  I thought I had to figure it all out, while in reality, He had already done so.  The next time I feel I have to devise a plan to accomplish God’s purpose, I will stop and let God show me how He is already at work to make it happen.  And guess what!  He doesn’t need my help.

How have you experienced God’s hand working out His plan in your life?




GET CONNECTED

Click Here to Subscribe

Subscribe via RSS & Email - Click Here!

My Tweets

eFlections Review

My Facebook


%d bloggers like this: