November 27, 2007

Where's the PASSION?

Hannah Montana is in town tonight. (in case you haven't heard)
The question that came up in our staff devotions today is this: "How is it that people go so extremely nuts over some 14 year old girl who sings on a stage, but won't dare tell their neighbor about the love that Jesus Christ has for them?"

Ever thought about that? It drives me absolutely nuts! Now don't get me wrong, I don't hate Hannah Montana. My daughter is going to the show. They're going to have a ton of fun! But it will be over in a couple of hours. We'll wake up tomorrow, and go back about our daily routine. In 5 years will we even remember it?

Our eternity, and that of our friends and neighbors is at stake. Why don't we get as excited about telling them about Jesus? I think it comes down to this: PASSION.

We get emotional about whatever we are passionate about. When it comes to Christ, we somehow muster up enough passion to sing a few well written worship songs on Sunday morning, and maybe even Wednesday night. But then we leave church behind and go and try to fill the void in our lives with the emotional highs we get from big shows and entertainment.

What will it take for Christians to become passionate about Jesus? I don't know. I do know this: where your treasure is there your heart is also. Where your treasure is, there is your passion. What are you passionate about? Do your neighbors know?

November 26, 2007

Living Consistently

I wanted to let you know about our next Wednesday night series. How many times have you 'tried' to live the Christian life--but failed miserably? We're supposed to have a quiet time, we're supposed to pray, we're supposed to worship. But when it comes down to it, those things never really seem to have any impact on 'real life.' You know the feeling?

And when it comes down to it, how do I really know for sure that all this Bible stuff is even true? These are normal questions, and normal feelings. The Christian life is full of ups and downs. The trick (if you want to call it a trick) is to learn how to live what you believe.

I hope you'll join us at Southbrook Church for the next four Wednesday nights as we look at these questions. We will look at the Bible and learn that we can know for sure that when we die we will meet Jesus face to face. We'll talk about the importance of personal devotional times. Prayer and worship are also very important. How do we take these practices and make them effective in our daily lives?

Come Wednesday night and find out...see you there!

November 15, 2007

Knowledge & Instruction

In our quest to build a solid foundation (our worldview which is based in doctrinal truth) we must accumulate knowledge. That's just the way it works. We do because we know. Knowledge comes through study and experience. It can be our own experiences or the experiences of others. What you believe is going to be partly rooted in what you know.

Knowledge – A good atheist spends time getting to know her beliefs. A good Mormon spends time learning about what they believe. In order to defend your beliefs, you have to know facts about your beliefs. Today it seems to be pretty common for people to claim that what they believe doesn’t have to agree with what we believe. What’s true for you may not be true for me. But that’s ok, we can agree to disagree. But in order to know what you believe, you have to know facts about what you believe.

As a Christ follower I can claim that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died to take away my sin so that I could experience an eternal and personal relationship with the Creator of the universe. But if I have nothing to base that on, what’s the point? How do I even know it’s true? I have to read and study the Bible, the book that contains the claims of Christianity, so that I can build on the foundation of my doctrinal beliefs.

Reading and studying the Bible happens in several ways. Yesterday I wrote about personal devotion. That is a great way to begin to gather knowledge about what I believe. Church attendance, small group or Bible studies are important as well. The important thing is that you have some kind of systematic instruction in your life. This means consistency. This means orderly, not just a shot in the dark hope I learn something today approach.

Systematic Instruction – Having personal times of devotion is good, but is usually rather unstructured. It is important to pursue some kind of systematic instruction. Whether it be through schooling, or classes offered through a volunteer organization such as the local church. It is essential for followers of Jesus Christ to pursue a systematic study of God’s Word. We can learn a lot on our own. We can learn so much more from those who are gifted in the area of teaching.

November 14, 2007

Personal Devotion

If doctrinal truth is the foundation on which our worldview is built, then we need to understand how to build that foundation. The fact is, the foundation is being built and has been built over the years - with or without any effort of my own. I either intentionally built the foundation, or it gets built for me. Every experience, every relationship, every book I read, every person I talk to has some input on my worldview - the foundation on which I base my decisions.

Personal Devotion – You will spend your personal time devoted to the things that support what you believe. If you believe there is no God, then to what do you devote your time? If you believe that money is the goal of life, then you will likely devote yourself to making more of it. If you believe that fun and excitement is what it is all about, you will spend a lot of time chasing fun and excitement. If you believe in a personal God who loves you and desires to have a relationship with you, then you will likely spend time getting to know this God through His Word – the Bible.

While there is only one way to God (through Jesus Christ His son) there are many ways to grow in our relationship with Him. It all starts with His Word - the Bible. Personal devotion for the Christ follower means we spend time in the Bible, reading, praying, meditating, memorizing. It is His word spoken to us. We have access to the very words of God! If I want to build my foundation on the solid rock of Jesus Christ, I must spend time digging for truth. The bible is the source of all truth. I must devote time to the study of the Bible.

With so many resources available today, it is not hard to come across a devotional guide to help us get started. The bottom line is this - does the book, study guide, or devotional book base its teaching in the Bible? If it does, use it! If not, then find something else. Be very careful what you choose to spend your time doing, your personal devotion time. Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you.

November 13, 2007

What I Believe Determines What I Do

How do you make day to day decisions?

Each of us has what is called a worldview. Each of us has a filter through which we view the world. It is based on this filter that we make decisions. We base our lives on what we believe. Many of us never really think about it. We rarely consider the foundation on which we are basing our lives. But we should.

Doctrinal Truths – What do you believe and why? The most basic foundation on which everything else is built is the doctrinal truths to which you subscribe. What do you believe about God? What do you believe about man? If there is a God, how does He interact with man? If there are many gods, what is our relation to them? Maybe there is no God?

Why do we exist? Do we exist? What about moral – good and evil? Is there such thing as evil?

All of these questions deal with our doctrinal beliefs – our doctrinal truths. Whether you agree or not, every decision you make in life has its roots in your doctrinal beliefs.

November 07, 2007

Running on Empty

This last several weeks I have faced some serious and difficult circumstances with people. Not anything personal, but difficult none the less. I have been to more funerals in the last month than in my entire life combined!
Last week was especially tough. I spent my week reaching out to a young couple who lost their son. He went to be with Jesus last Tuesday.
It's been an emotionally draining week, but God has taught me some amazing things:

1) It's only in His power that we can accomplish anything - as I walked into the hospital room to meet the family, my mind was racing with "what do I say?" As I left, I remember thinking "Wow...God totally took over and spoke through me." It has nothing to do with me - what I am going to say - it's all about letting God use me to love others.

2) God will replenish our strength as needed - Saturday night after the funeral I remember feeling just drained. I didn't know how I would have the strength to get to church on Sunday. I woke up Sunday morning as fresh as ever. God will honor our faithfulness. He not only gets us through the valley, He gives us the strength to climb the mountain on the other side.

May God encourage and strengthen you today.

November 01, 2007

Hearing Problems

I’ve heard enough. My blood boils every time I hear preachers start talking about hearing from God. They make it out to sound like you have to have some special ability, or some special favor, in order to hear and do God’s will. That’s another one that really gets me going – knowing God’s will.

Why do we try and make it so hard? Hearing from God really isn’t so mysterious. There is no preparation. There are no special steps to go through. Sure, there are a few pre-requisites, a few requirements if you will. But come on! Quit making it sound like I have to jump through certain hoops and wait for some amazing miraculous revelation of God’s will in my life!

Did Moses ‘prepare’ himself to hear from God? NO! He was minding his own business, tending the sheep, when God appeared to him in the burning bush. Moses was not ‘waiting to hear’ or ‘preparing to hear’ from God.

What about Abraham? Did Abraham sit around wondering “Hmmm, when will I hear from God?” Again, no. But when God spoke, Abraham obeyed.

The problem is this: we have somehow come to think of God as some kind of vending machine, or a mystery needing to be cracked. If we insert the right amount of change, or get the combination right, God will finally break forth and give us His message. He will finally be able to tell us what we need to hear. It’s really not like that at all!

As I mentioned before, there are a few pre-requisites: the first being a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Yes, you have to be saved before you can hear/know God’s will for your life. Then, as a Christ follower, we are to live a Spirit-filled, Spirit-guided life. This means we follow God’s directions, given to us in His word – The Bible. That’s right. Too many Christians sit around with dust on their Bibles asking God to show them what to do! We ‘wait to hear from God’ but fail to read His word!

As a Christ follower, we are called to live pure and holy lives. Stay away from sin. Avoid immorality at all costs. Submit to your authorities. God has already told us what we need to know. He has given us guidelines for living. It’s really not a mystery. It’s right there in black and white. “All Scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16).

You want to ‘hear from God?’ Do you wonder why you haven’t heard from Him? Maybe it’s because you aren’t listening. Or maybe it’s because you aren’t reading! Stop praying for God to speak until you are willing to read His Word.