Wednesday, April 29, 2009 important

I came across this little verse today which has more to say than first meets the eye...

"Even though we had some standing as Christ's apostles, we never threw our weight around or tried to come across as important, with you or anyone else." (I Thes 2:6)

It's easy to read over verses like this without pausing to ask, "do I measure up?"  Think about it; Paul and the apostles had all kinds of reasons to ask for, and expect a certain amount of respect based solely on their standing, "positional authority."  Yet we read here that they didn't go about things this way...insteady, they poured themselves into those they were leading and working with, never throwing their "weight around," or "pulling rank."  In a word, this is called "humility" two words, it's called "servant leadership."

Of course, they were simply following the example of another...

"Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion." (Philippians 2:5-7).

Talk about humility - and yet, this is the very call that Christ has placed on us.  How many times have I tried to hold onto some authority, never considering all along how much Christ gave up and His call for me to do likewise?  Remember the foot-washing?

All of this can seem very over-whelming, and yet, the call remains...

"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up." (James 4:10)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Spring...a time for Growth

Spring is a time for growth.  Everywhere you look, you can see it; cherry blossoms, flowers, trees, the deer are back, birds are flying, hummingbirds buzzing, the grass is growing (and needs mowing) and even the dandelions are peeking up.  So what about you?

If you're like me, the memories of New Years Resolutions are long forgotten and the goals set earlier in the year are perhaps, also long gone.  Not to worry - our God is a God of second chances.  So how about it?  Spring is a great time for a fresh start, and for GROWTH.  Are you growing?

Recently, I made a re-commitment to my "vine-time"...time I spend in the Word and with my God.  This time is in-valuable to me, and I've noticed it making a difference in my life again.  In some ways, I'm re-discovering the joy of walking with God, DAILY.  In short, I'm growing again...and it feels great.  Is it a magic bullet that has solved all my problems?  Of course not.  However, the Bible is filled with every answer I'll even need, and God just happens to be the only one who can lead me through this thing called life.

So my challenge for you is this; GROW - take the Spring time to re-commit to growing in your life, your faith, and your spiritual journey.

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love." (John 15:9)

Monday, April 20, 2009

More from Philippians

As I said in my previous post, I've been in the book of Philippians and there are a lot of fact, have you noticed the Scripture is packed with nuggets?  Not just nuggets, but life itself?  (yes, that is said with a bit of "no duh" in it).

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11, Message)

Question - is there a difference between loving much and loving well?  We have to conclude, "yes."  Reading this passage Paul seems to be talking about the difference between an "emotional" type of love, "sentimental gush," and contrasting that with an "educated" type of love, something that requires knowledge and your brain.  Look at it this way; what means more to you...going on 1 date and having that person tell "I love you," or hearing that same thing from someone who knows you inside and out, who actually has knowledge of you?  The difference is the former would be uttered out of emotion and "sentimental gush" while the latter would be an educated proclomation.  Paul here is praying that the love the believer's show is the latter - a knowledgeable love of God and depth of insight into His ways.

So how does this apply to us?  The idea is quite simple, really...don't coast!  What I mean is this - it's easy to worship God, sing songs to Him, tell Him you love Him, but never really seek to KNOW Him.  It is much harder to invest in the relationship, to know God, to seek Him, to study Him and learn Him...but how much more powerful the love we show Him would be if it came from a depth of knowledge?  This is Pauls prayer for the Philippian believers, and I believe, his prayer for us as well.  That our love and worship of Christ would be one that comes from a deep relationship with Him; an understanding of who He is, His ways, His desires, His priorities.

So my encouragment for you, is "don't coast" - put in the time to learn know Him.  If you don't know where to start, try studying the names of God (click here).  Go deep!  Run hard!  Run to win...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tired...time to focus

I'm tired.  Yep...not the "physical tired," more of the emotional/spiritual kind of tiredness.  It always hits me the week after Easter.  When you do what I do for a living, there's always a huge push and lead up to Easter weekend...which naturally leads to little bit of a let-down after Easter.  So how do I deal with it?  Sometimes well, sometimes poorly...but I have been in Philippians this week and it has encouraged me and challenged me.  I'll write a couple or three posts on some of these things.

First: "There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears." (Phil 1:6).

This verse is a tremendous encouragement to me, and to all believers.  Put simply, Christ has begun a work and He will finish it.  That work is something that is happening to all of us...the work of us being conformed and conforming to like Christ.  It is encouraging to me for this simple reason; I know that Christ, through the Holy Spirit, is alive in me, even when I feel dead.  In fact, as Paul writes elsewhere, it's precisely when I'm at my weakest that Christs's strength is strongest in me. 

The reason this Scriptural truth is so encouraging is that it reminds me and us that we are not alone in this work.  God is doing His part in us.  Quite simply, we work in co-operation with the Holy Spirit (or, at least I try to work in co-operation with Him).

Have you ever had a boss tell you to do something, only to find out you didn't really know how?  Then when you asked them how, they said something along the lines of "go figure it out for yourself?"  That can be quite discouraging...and it is precisely the opposite of how God works.  Instead of saying "go figure it out," He says, "follow this...and oh, by the way, I'll give you my Holy Spirit and through Him, I myself will ive inside of you to help you."  That is encouraging!

See that picture at the top?  I think it's a perfect picture of where I'm at today.  There are clouds and darkenss, signifying the simple fact that I'm tired, but yet there is a rainbow - a promise of God that the clouds will pass, and that most of all, He is at work in me and will finish the work he began.  Praise be to Him!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Happy Easter...but never forget...

"Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD's hand
double for all her sins...

Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.

And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it.

For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Are you Being YOU?

I've had recently a couple of thoughts collide which have drawn me into this encouragement for you -read below...

"He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ's followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ's body, the church, until we're all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God's Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ."  (Ephesians 2:12-13)

Conclusion: All of us, believers, have a gift from God.  His Spirit gives us all gifts for the purpose of being fully alive.  God has gifted you in ways He hasn't gifted me, and vice versa.  There's only one you on this planet - combine your Spiritual gift with the other ways he's made you - your personality, your emotions and passions, your desires, your experiences, your values and motivations - all of that combined comes together to be the miracle that is YOU.

I'm reading a book called True North by Bill George and in this book one of the main points he makes is that for leaders to lead well, they must be authentic.  Read this quote from CEO Lynn Foreser de Rothschild;

"Being trut to yourself is the most important thing.  If you're ambitous, that's great; if not, that's also fine.  Just be true to what you want...Know who you are, and you can achieve anything in life."

Now as believers, it's important we know who we are in two ways; 1) we must always remember who we are in Christ - He has changed our identity forever...the old has gone, the new has come; but 2) we must learn about ourselves and our gifts so that we can run fast and run free.  We need you, believer, to run fast and free.

So how about it?  How has God wired you?  Do you know yourself?  Ask/answer these questions and it will help you get started...
- When do you feel most alive?
- When you fell most alive, where are you, what are you doing, and who are you with?
- If you asked others about how you're gifted and wired, what would they say?
- Do you have a passion, something that gets you fired up every time you think about it?

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Cor 5:17)