Posts Tagged ‘Following God

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.

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.

14
Oct
10

Making Theology Practical and Applicable

Pastor and author Josh Harris has written a book entitle, Dug Down Deep, which he describes as…

…a simple introduction to basic Christian belief. One person described it as systematic theology disguised as something readable. I wrote it so that people who might not normally read theology would be able to digest it and understand how life-giving and important it is for living the Christian life.

I haven’t read the book, but the premise is intriguing.  He is even offering to give away copies to people who will use it to mentor, disciple, or share the gospel with an unbelieving friend.  Check out his website here.

The video clip gives a great synopsis.

What do you think about the importance of theology in living our daily journey as Christ followers?  How could you use a resource like this to impact someone’s life?

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

“Beautiful Things” makes for Beautiful Worship!

I had one of the most moving and genuine worship experiences in a long time this past week as the band, Gungor, led us in worship at the Catalyst Conference.  Their musicianship is exquisite and their ability to lead the audience to the presence of God is powerful.  Their ministry, and specifically the “Beautiful Things Tour,” has been dubbed “God meets Art.”

Actually, God is the author of creativity and all things artistic.  So…it only makes sense that the two naturally mesh.  Check out the video below and others online.  Join me as well, in attending a concert if the tour comes near you.  You won’t be disappointed; you’ll probably be blown away!

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?





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