Archive for the 'Maturing in 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.

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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?

19
Aug
10

Escape

My New Desktop Background…

I just decided to change my wallpaper in the middle of the month.  I’m always looking for variety and something different, I guess.  That’s just the way I roll 🙂  I like this image because it makes me think of a pleasant place that is inviting…a place to which I would enjoy escaping.  I love being in tropical settings.  The sun and heat are no problem with the ocean breeze blowing.  I am very invigorated when I spend time at the beach.  I love to run on the beach, to get in the water and just hang out in the sun.  I love the atmosphere of the seashore and how relaxing and tranquil it can be.  I can think of no place on earth that is any more rejuvenating to me than this.  The bridge in this image even makes me think of crossing over to a place of refuge.

I can’t always go to the beach.  It’s funny…when we lived 15 minutes from the beach for 12 years, I didn’t go that much.  Now that I live 15 hours away, I want to go so badly.  Unfortunately, I can’t.  I can, however, always find retreat and refuge that is readily available and much more satisfying.

Psalm 91:1-2

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High

will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

2  This I declare about the Lord:

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;

he is my God, and I trust him.

Daily, I can escape the race of life and the concerns of ministry to find refuge and escape in the presence of God.  The Lord awaits me eagerly as I come before Him and just commune in His presence.  When I neglect to do so, I forfeit that peace and contentment He brings.  When I fail to stop for that refreshing refuge, I find myself more tense, less grace-giving and merciful and more oblivious to the needs of those around me.

I need an escape…and it’s as easy as being alone with my Lord.

How do you spend your time in refuge with God?  What tends to stand in the way of that priority for you?  What have your learned through you time with Him?


07
Jun
10

Soak it Up

One of the privileges I have as a pastor is to participate in making converts into disciples.  This is a slow, pains-taking process, but it’s what we’re called to do (Matthew 28:19-20).  Notice, we’re called to make disciples, not build the church (that’s Christ’s job–Matthew 16:18).

The thing that blesses me and convicts me about this process is the eagerness with which true converts desire to soak up the truth of God’s Word and to grow in their knowledge of Christ.  This is exactly what they’re suppose to do (2 Peter 3:17-18).  As I taught my S.O.L.I.D. Foundations Class yesterday, it was awesome to see these new disciples eagerly devouring the Word and learning and growing in their faith.  They soak it up like sponges.

The convicting part of this is that we often, as seasoned disciples, lose that zeal for growth and learning.  Perhaps we have gotten comfortable in our salvation and have stopped being disciples…growing and learning.  Unfortunately, I find that means we aren’t just being stagnant, but we are digressing.

If you find yourself there, get around some new disciples and let their excitement and zeal spark and rekindle that fire in you for the relationship and the Word.  A sponge can get saturated and hold no more water.  Spiritually speaking, we may be saturated with self, or the world system or almost any other thing that can take the place of the power, presence and person of Jesus in us.  The miraculous truth is, we can’t get saturated with Jesus to the point we don’t need any more.  He continues to fill and we continue to soak.  Do you, like me, need to be emptied so you can soak up more of Jesus and His Word?

Psalm 42:1-2

1 As the deer longs for streams of water,
so I long for you, O God.
2 I thirst for God, the living God.
When can I go and stand before him?

What tends to saturate your life and squeeze out the fullness of God?


29
Mar
10

Launch Into the Deep

Last night in our Life Group, the overwhelming topic that came to the surface in our sharing was the deep desire to have intimate communion with God in our personal walk with Him.  There are many distractions, hindrances, and road blocks that threaten to keep us from this depth of relationship.  After my time with the Lord this morning, I ran across a copy of the following prayer that expresses the heart of one seeking to “launch into the deep” with the Lord.  Perhaps it will be a blessing to you in your personal time with God.

A Prayer to Launch Into the Deep

Author Unknown

Call me, Lord, out from a shallow faith

Near the shore,

Which requires no risks and offers no rewards.

Call me to a deeper commitment to You.

~

I can hardly comprehen such a love–

Love that came so costly to You

And yet so freely to me.

~

Help me to look at You through the eyes

Of the thief on the cross.

And grant me the grace, I pray,

To see in Your eyes

The forgiveness he saw.

What hampers your intimacy with God?  What helps you to maintain a deep walk with Christ?  What has God been teaching you recently in your walk with Him?

20
Mar
10

Presuming Upon Grace

I just listened to a chapel sermon by Dr. Steven Smith preached at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on January 19, 2010.  Dr. Smith is bringing his message from Psalm 19:12-14 and, although he and I would differ on at least one point of his theology, the message of his sermon is powerfully poignant and applicable.  In our attempt to live fully in the freedom we find in Christ, we must be careful not to think lightly of sin…not to sequester sin in our hearts.  To do so will disqualify us as followers of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

In case we need a concise list of biblical reasons not to sequester sin in our lives, consider the list written by Jim Eliff and quoted by Dr. Smith in his conclusion.  I challenge you to listen to the sermon, consider these reasons and respond to God’s Spirit as He speaks to where you are.  The greatest way to experience the grace of God is to celebrate it by allowing His grace to enable us to “keep back…from presumptuous sins.”

35 Reasons Not to Sin

by Jim Eliff

  1. Because a little sin leads to more sin.
  2. Because my sin invites the discipline of God.
  3. Because the time spent in sin is forever wasted.
  4. Because my sin never pleases but always grieves God who loves me.
  5. Because my sin places a greater burden on my spiritual leaders.
  6. Because in time my sin always brings heaviness to my heart.
  7. Because I am doing what I do not have to do.
  8. Because my sin always makes me less than what I could be.
  9. Because others, including my family, suffer consequences due to my sin.
  10. Because my sin saddens the godly.
  11. Because my sin makes the enemies of God rejoice.
  12. Because sin deceives me into believing I have gained when in reality I have lost.
  13. Because sin may keep me from qualifying for spiritual leadership.
  14. Because the supposed benefits of my sin will never outweigh the consequences of disobedience.
  15. Because repenting of my sin is such a painful process, yet I must repent.
  16. Because sin is a very brief pleasure for an eternal loss.
  17. Because my sin may influence others to sin.
  18. Because my sin may keep others from knowing Christ.
  19. Because sin makes light of the cross, upon which Christ died for the very purpose of taking away my sin.
  20. Because it is impossible to sin and follow the Spirit at the same time.
  21. Because God chooses not to respect the prayers of those who cherish their sin.
  22. Because sin steals my reputation and robs me of my testimony.
  23. Because others once more earnest than I have been destroyed by just such sins.
  24. Because the inhabitants of heaven and hell would all testify to the foolishness of this sin.
  25. Because sin and guilt may harm both mind and body.
  26. Because sins mixed with service make the things of God tasteless.
  27. Because suffering for sin has no joy or reward, though suffering for righteousness has both.
  28. Because my sin is adultery with the world.
  29. Because, though forgiven, I will review this very sin at the Judgment Seat where loss and gain of eternal rewards are applied.
  30. Because I can never really know ahead of time just how severe the discipline for my sin might be.
  31. Because my sin may be an indication of a lost condition.
  32. Because to sin is not to love Christ.
  33. Because my unwillingness to reject this sin now grants it an authority over me greater than I wish to   believe.
  34. Because sin glorifies God only in His judgment of it and His turning of it to good use, never because  it is worth anything on its own.
  35. Because I promised God he would be Lord of my life.

Is there sequestered sin in your life?  Take a moment to confess and repent.  Seek another believer to come along side you to help you find victory and celebrate grace through that victory.

17
Mar
10

Christ in All Things

Being of Celtic descent, I am intrigued by things Irish and Scottish.  I recently watched a video that gives a brief history of St. Patrick’s work in reaching the people of Ireland and the resulting spritual impact upon Europe and the United States.  His heart for Christ and desire to win others to Him challenge us to have the same desire.  His famous “Breastplate Prayer” speaks of His unwavering dedication to Christ.  Though I do not hold him up as one to be idolized by any means, the words of his prayer inspire us to have a heart of such dedication…a heart that longs for Christ to be all and in all (Colossians 3:11).  This section of his prayer gives the gist of his heart…and could be an appropriate prayer for every believer to pray.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

On this St. Patrick’s Day, instead of just focusing on wearing green, kissing one another because everyone is miraculously Irish, or endulging in alcohol, let’s determine that we’ll make Christ known through our living, while we depend completely upon Him for everything we need.  It could put a new spin on our St. Patty’s Day celebrations!  (St. Patrick’s entire prayer can be found here).

What are some practical ways you can think of to make Christ known through your life?  How has someone else touched you with their life of dedication to Christ?




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