Archives For August 2018

The local church has changed a lot in my lifetime. As the son of a pastor, I’ve had a front-row seat to many of these changes. I’ve seen pews replaced by theater-style seats, platforms transformed into performance stages, pulpits disappear, and suits replaced with jeans and leather jackets. Worship styles have gone from centuries of tradition to modern and contemporary. Sunday School is fast becoming a relic of the past. Vacation Bible School has transitioned from flannelgraphs to all-out adventure camps.

more Jesus,mission,local church,megachurch,commitment,tradition,pews,hymns,pulpit,Acts,book of Acts

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There’s no doubt the local church is far cooler than it’s ever been. I’ve been a fan of many of the changes. Certainly, some have led to some coming into a church who wouldn’t have dared before. Still, I can’t help to ask, at what cost have we become cooler? I’m convinced what we have lost and what we need today is one and the same: it’s more Jesus.

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We are never defenseless. God has promised to never leave our side (Deuteronomy 31:8). He will always stand with us. A.W. Tozer wrote, “If you accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, you will have all the power of God back of you to defend you; all the will of God on your side; all the justice and righteousness of God pledged to your defense, as well as all the infinite love and mercy of God to welcome and bless you.” What amazing promises!

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Too many of us spend too much of our lives living in fear. Whether it’s a fear of failure, intimacy, confrontation, inadequacy, rejection, whatever, we spend much of our lives in fear. The fear of what complete strangers will think of our appearance or actions keeps us huddled within a protective cocoon. Jesus called us to live in love, not in fear (John 13:34-35; 1 John 4:18). He didn’t call us to shrink back but to go out (Matthew 28:18-20)!

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It’s a fact of life. Everyone and everything gets old, wears out, breaks down, and dies. When we lose those close to us, it can be a devastating loss. It seems to always come as such a surprise as if we expected the one we loved to be the exception to the rule. They would be the one to cheat death and live forever! Certainly, some deaths come more unexpectedly than others, but considering none of us have the guarantee of another breath, shouldn’t we be doing a better job of cherishing the moments we have right now?

death is certain,life,death,purpose,commitment,gifts,spiritual gifts

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Let’s face it, everything dies. We will die. The key is to prepare our souls first and then help others prepare for that day as well. Death is certain. There is no getting around it, so why do we work so hard to avoid thinking about it?

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Be careful! When you surrender your life completely to Christ, expect Him to give you some God-sized goals and work to do. The brilliant part of this plan is our God-sized God can accomplish all the God-sized goals he conceives. The fact He would engage people such as you or me to accomplish His work is beyond all reason, wonder, and logic. Yet, it’s what He does. God invites us to partner with Him in His mission for all humanity.

God-sized goals,goals,purpose,faith,God's will,Matthew 19:26,all things possible,Ephesians 3:20-21,more than we could hope or imagine

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Our role is to be surrendered, committed, and obedient. We only need to do what He tells us to do. Even when things look impossible, we simply must have the faith to believe it will be accomplished. That’s God’s role in our partnership. He gives us the dream and the abilities to see the dream to fruition. Whatever we lack, He Himself will supply.

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When doing my usual daily reading of something from A.W. Tozer, I came across a question which pierced my soul: “Can you renounce everything which is inconsistent with the glory of God and the highest good of your fellowmen?” I wish I could say I immediately responded ‘yes’ without hesitation, but this wasn’t the case. I try and live a simple life but still find myself living in absolute luxury compared to almost all the other 7 billion people roaming this planet.

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By American standards, I’m not rich. It’s worse than that; I’m comfortable. Comfortable; what a horrible word in this context. Jesus has called his followers to a lot of things, but comfort was never one of them (Luke 9:57-62; Luke 14:25-27).

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Eugene Peterson once said, “Busyness is an illness of spirit.” I think not only is busyness an illness of the spirit, but busyness will also cause your spirit to be ill. Given this, I would implore you to stop being busy! I’m not certain when being busy became a badge of honor, but it seems like it has been in my lifetime. I hear my father tell stories of people sitting on porches and just talking with their neighbors, passing the days as if they had all the time in the world.

stop being busy,busyness,Eugene Peterson,message translation,discipleship,priorities,mission,Matthew 28:19-20,great commission,Luke 10:2,workers are few

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Previous generations seemed to put a lot more stock in building relationships than we do today. And no, Facebook and WhatsApp do not count in this context. I’m talking about deep, personal, and lifelong relationships. I believe our obsession with busyness is killing our ability to forge true relationships with others.

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During some recent study, I was struck with a concept I had inexplicably never considered before. While I talk a lot about stewarding our resources of money and time, I had never considered stewarding the resources of our words. As a writer, the thought struck me deeply. I see words as being an incredibly powerful resource we can use to further God’s Kingdom or to tear it down.

stewarding your words,stewardship,commitment,discipleship,love,mission,humility,Ephesians 4:29,build up someone,2 Corinthians 10:3-5,take every thought captive,James 3:6,tongue is a fire

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Actions indeed speak louder than words, but words can change minds, influence change, and impact the world in ways that little else can. Yet, how much thought do you give towards stewarding your words each day? How often do you intentionally measure your speech to be certain each word you speak makes the greatest impact for the Kingdom of God?

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I love A.W. Tozer. Perhaps no one has had a greater impact on my walk with Jesus than this late, great preacher. Tozer once wrote, “Anyone can do the possible; add a bit of courage and zeal and some may do the phenomenal; only Christians are obliged to do the impossible.” I understand this isn’t scripture, but A.W. was a man who walked incredibly close to our God. I hold what he said in the highest regard.

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Did you catch what he said about doing the impossible? He didn’t say we should try to do it, or we should pray to be able to do it, he said we are obliged to do the impossible. Obliged means to “make (someone) legally or morally bound to an action or course of action.” In other words, we are morally bound to do the impossible!

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I heard Pastor Craig Groeschel say in a recent message, “When emotions are high, wisdom is low.” How true. When we let our emotions rule the day, we are destined to say or do something we will regret. Nowhere is this more evident than in our conversations with other people. Too often we find ourselves being criticized for something or we are the ones doing the criticizing. Criticism is a cancer that should be eradicated from the life of every follower of Jesus. Our default interaction with anyone should be that of encouragement (Ephesians 4:29-32).

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Humans, as a rule, love to criticize. Whether from a place of pride or as an act of defense, criticism spills from our lips easily and without warning. Scripture contains many warnings against using criticism, but we have either forgotten or perhaps choose to ignore those parts of God’s Word.

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