Tuesday, August 20, 2013

dwell

I recently purchased an art print from a favorite blog. It's a simple image that makes me pause. I can't find a good picture to show the image, buy you can find it here. The word that is the center of this piece is "dwell." It's hanging on the wall across from my bed where I will be reminded when I wake up and when I go to sleep. It's been a great reminder for me to be still before God. To dwell in his presence. Often life is busy, schedules are full, thoughts are racing and stress takes up residence. Those are all temptations to keep us from taking those critical moments each day to intentionally spend time with your Maker, resting in his presence and letting truth from the Bible grow deeper roots. Sometimes you may even fear being still for even a moment because you're afraid of dealing with your sin, pain or thoughts. Abiding with God, is risky. You may find yourself having to get your hands a little dirty as he calls you to repentance, change, and obedience. But it's also the safest place for you to dwell. It's where grace, peace and mercy flourish. Take the risk. Take time to be still today and just sit in silence with God. It may take a while to let your thoughts settle down. But soon your find yourself dwelling with God and just enjoying each others company. And the benefits of being in the presence of God, well, they are too numerous to count. How will you create reminders for you to dwell with God each day?


In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, Lord, 
 make me dwell in safety.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  

One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life, 
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.

I long to dwell in your tent forever
    and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.

 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

But...{insert Truth}

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  
But he said to me, 
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, 
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

When we are having meetings for camps, there is always a portion that covers treating each other and their property with respect. I can hear TC say, "Nobody signs up for camp and says, 'Please put me with people who will pick on me and mess with my stuff!'" I can't imagine anyone ever thinking, "Man, I hope today is tough and I hope everything goes wrong." I'm pretty sure the apostle Paul didn't beg or ask for the hardships he faced (prison, flogging, stoning, shipwreck, constant danger...check it out in 2 Cor. 12). In fact, Paul begged God 3 times to take away the thorn in his flesh. 

Are you facing a hardship?
Is your mind plagued with anxiety and worry? 
Are you desparate for things to turn around? 
Have you pleaded with God to remove a hardship?

Like a knight in shining armor coming to save the day, in comes God to your trial and he cuts you off in your litany of woes and pleas for relief. And it all starts with one word... "but." That word is a powerful word. It comes with force. It comes with strength. Things take a turn when you see this word. And in this case with Paul, it is God who is the true strength behind this powerful word. 

Imagine being in Paul's shoes. Imagine begging and pleading with God to take away your pain that torments you. Then God looks at you and says something to the effect of, "Sorry, not gonna happen that way." How would you respond? Would you huff and puff and roll your eyes as you stomped away? I'm sure you can relate to being tired of dealing with a particular circumstance.

This word, "but," is where I have found myself pausing in my circumstances and finding hope. Why? Because look at the truth that God spoke to Paul. I want the details of my life to be easy, perfect, and simple. I want all pain taken away. So I plead and beg, plead and beg, plead and beg. Then the course of my perspective is turned around and met with a truth that reminds and reassures me that my sovereign God sees things in ways I don't...in a way that is for my good and for his glory. Because the truth is this..."My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Your can't beat that argument.

"'God will take you where you haven't intended to go 
in order to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own.' 
I call it the theology of uncomfortable grace." 
-Paul David Tripp

When you find yourself without hope, weak, in pain, anxious, etc., interrupt it with the "but" and remind yourself of this truth Christ spoke to Paul. The truth is where our minds need to dwell. The truth is where hope is found. The truth brings strength you can't muster on your own. And as uncomfortable as the truth may be compared to your worldly perspective, the truth is where God works to "produce in you what you could not achieve on your own."


Monday, April 29, 2013

Instagram Identities

It doesn't matter if you a male or a female...your identity matters to you. You could be someone who is unshakably secure in your identity in Christ. Or, you could be secretly hopeful that anyone (or 100 somebodies) will notice you. Either way, your identity matters...you either want to be sure you define yourself through Christ or through others/circumstances/material things/etc.

This time last year I began working out with a group of ladies. Over time this group has exploded in numbers. (This group is a great story for another day.) One of the missions of this group is to redefine beauty. Women come to this group and find themselves surrounded by other women who will love them and be their greatest cheerleaders. They find it refreshing to not feel like they have to compete with others or feel like they are being judged by other women.

Sadly, the battle for approval, acceptance and acknowledgement is all to familiar to all of us. Someone recently sent me a link to a great blog post. In this post, a volunteer youth worker writes to parents to help them see the way that many students base their self-esteem and identity on what they see and experience via social media. PARENTS and STUDENTS - please read this blog post and take time to discuss it together. Challenge your friends to read this, too. This isn't just a battle that students face. How many adults find joy in someone "liking" one of their posts, too? Let's battle together, side by side, to fight to see ourselves as God sees us.

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Multiply




Several of you have been reading through a great book in your discipleship groups called "Multiply" (by Francis Chan). My Monday night group just wrapped up this book last night. I was so excited to start this book and it didn't disappoint.

First off, this book is a great challenge to followers of Christ to be obedient to the Great Commission. You know, this commandment from Jesus:


18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 
20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

So, how are you doing when it comes to being obedient to this commandment/charge? What keeps you from being faithful in living this out? What joys do you draw from living this out? Who are you currently investing in right now?

Another thing I love about this book is that it really lays out how to read and understand Scripture. Have you ever been a part of a conversation with people where you couldn't participate because you didn't have knowledge about what they were talking about? Two thoughts come to my mind:
1) You talk about what you know.
2) You talk about what you love.

And if you think about it...whatever it is that you love, you are going to know a lot about it. How many of us claim to love Christ but rarely talk about Him? I know...Ouch, right?! Don't worry, you're not hopeless. This book is a great resource for you...for all of us! When you read this book, you will capture themes throughout Scripture that will help you better understand what God has been up to and what God is currently up to in both earthly and heavenly realms. This book will also give you a better comprehension of what you read as you read it because you will better understand the context of what you're reading as it pertains to Christ and God's working in and around you.

The idea behind this book is that once you go through it, then you can turn around and take someone else through it and help them to grow to know Christ for the first time or help them grow in their faith. Then, that person could take someone else through the book. That's it...multiplying disciples who make disciples who make disciples...fulfilling the Great Commission.

Are you interested in reading this book? You have two options:
1) Go purchase it at a local bookstore or online. Here is a link to it on Amazon.
2) Go to their website and read it for free.
I suggest option #1, though, so that we can support what they are doing financially and also because it gives you something tangible to hold and mark in as you read. Maybe I'm just old school when it comes to reading hard copies of books.

I'd love to hear what you think as you read this book...or if you've already read it.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Year: 10 Questions

Yesterday we looked at some questions I wrote down during a worship service at the beginning of last year. It was a great chance to look back and see where we've been this past year.

Today let's continue looking ahead. These questions were passed on to me from my mentor a few years ago. Like we did yesterday, take a moment to read each of these questions. Read one at at time and don't rush through to the next one until you have sufficiently taken time to think through your response. Ask God to help you process these questions. Allow Him to probe your heart and help you grow as you take a look at your life.

10 Questions to Ask in the New Year
by: Don Whitney
1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

Accountability is always helpful. I encourage you to share your responses with your family and friends. Ask them to check in with you throughout the year to see how you're doing in accomplishing the things you set out to do in 2013 based on how you answered these questions. Challenge friends and family to join you in answering these questions. Can you imagine what God will do as you keep your eyes on Him and allow Him to work through you? It's going to be a great year. Eyes on Christ!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Happy New Year: A Look Back

I love staying up to ring in the new year. Growing up I spent several New Year's Eves celebrating at my grandma's, usually with a few cousins, aunts and uncles. It has been a few years but I finally got to spend another NYE with family in GA. I was pumped! I convinced my cousin, Katie, to be my date and hang out with me for the night. We rallied the troops and got more family to join us. Katie and I painted our nails a sparkly silver and then we spent the evening playing "Farkle" with our family. It was a lot of fun. How did you welcome in 2013?

I've been keeping a piece of paper in my Bible, holding on to it this past year so that I could blog about it at the beginning of the new year. But honestly, I COMPLETELY forgot about it until tonight when it fell out of my Bible. Good timing, Lord!

I can't tell you exactly when I jotted down this scrap of paper, but my guess is that it was one Wednesday at Journey. I remember that these questions were posed by Tommy and I really wanted to remember them. Take a moment to read each of these questions. Read one at at time and don't rush through to the next one until you have sufficiently taken time to think through your response. Ask God to help you process these questions. Allow Him to probe your heart and help you grow as you take a look at your life.
  • What do you really need this year?
  • Have you grown in your faith this past year?
    • How would you describe it to someone?
    • What steps did you take?
    • How are you different?
How did you answer these questions? Take some time to discuss your responses with someone. Ask them to answer these questions, too. Talk about these questions with your family. What a great way to challenge your family in their faith! Share your responses with your friends as you sit around the lunch table. What a great way to share your faith!

At the bottom of my scrap piece of paper I have the following note:
  • Direction trumps desire.
You can desire something all you want, but you have to headed in that direction to get there. Make sure you're headed in the right direction to get where you want to go in your faith in 2013. While it may not always be easy, it's going to be an incredible year. Keep your eyes on Christ!

Be sure to come back tomorrow to see part two of this post.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Infant's Star

When you were born did your parents send out birth announcements? Mine did. Parents are so proud and excited. They want everyone to know their sweet new bundle of joy.

God didn't hold back on the birth announcement for the birth of His son, Jesus. There was a multitude of angels that shared the good news with the shepherds. A heavenly host! Wow! And if that wasn't incredible enough, then, then there was a star! This light appeared in the darkness and led the Magi to the newborn.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NIV84)

Jesus was born and God dwelled among His creation. This was all for a reason.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– (John 1:10-12 NIV84)

He came to offer life. Eternal life. We are full of sin and our sin separates us from God. But God chose to make a way to restore our relationship with Him, allowing us to live forever with him.

In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:4, 5 NIV84)

But not everyone understands what God is up to. We are called to be ambassadors and to help spread the light of Christ to the lost, dark world.

Many, many years ago a star shown in the darkness to help announce the birth of the Light of the World...the Light that came to penetrate all darkness and offer hope and life.

As we celebrate Christmas let's share with others the good news about this little baby, the light that shines in the darkness. Let's help announce what God has done for us out of His great love for us.


O come let us adore Him!


 

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