Search

Preacher on the Run…

Faith, Family, Ministry, and Everything in between

Category

Purpose of Life

Monday Special: Just Too Busy

Busy“We can feel reassured by busyness and strangely comforted by it, even as it saps us of all strength and keeps us from feeling as if we are succeeding at even one of our responsibilities.” Ever feel so busy you cannot get anything done? All too often the typical response to,”how are you doing?” is “I’m busy!” This article gives a little bit of a different perspective as well as exhorts us to realize busyness may not be so much what life is, but what we allow.

Enjoy!

Advertisements

Feature Friday (1/31/14)

authentic-large“…this idea that to live out of conformity with how I feel is hypocrisy; but that’s a wrong definition of hypocrisy. To live out of conformity to what I believe is hypocrisy. To live in conformity with what I believe, in spite of what I feel, isn’t hypocrisy; it’s integrity.” – Erik Thoennes quoted in this great article on “Has ‘Authenticity’ Trumped Holiness

As always enjoy time with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day!

Resolved 2014

2014-resolutionsIt’s inevitable–this time of year between December 25 and January 1 is filled with conversations, blogs, emails, tweets, posts, etc., all dealing with New Year’s Resolutions. And truth be told, most of these resolutions are not bad; rather, they are pretty good ideas and attempts at change. Actually, according to TIME’s “Top Ten Commonly Broken New Years Resolutions” the list looks pretty good. But let’s be honest, this year after year after year repetition of resolutions and failed outcomes gets old. So what should we do? We have two options: 1) quit or 2) make better resolutions. I want to give 5 simple tips to making better resolutions, and then one suggestion for a resolution every Christian should make this next year. Instead of giving up, this year why not make S.M.A.R.T. (er) resolutions.

SPECIFIC – A goal that is vague and undefined is exactly the kind of goal we not only fail at, but often don’t even know if we met or not. So in making resolutions this year, make them specific. Instead of saying, “I will workout more”, state, “I will run 2 times a week”.

MEASURABLE – Another problem with resolution making and keeping is that we have no standard or rule by which to measure our success. If we take our first example again, “I will workout more”, what is “more” compared to…more than yesterday, more than last week, more than my sister? Replace immeasurable goals, with measurable ones. State the resolution like this, “I will run 2 times a week”. It gives you a measure by which to judge yourself (2 times).

ATTAINABLE – This is the area where most of us fall short–we set goals that are not attainable for us. In our example, “I will run 2 times a week”, the number of times a week is our judge of attainability. How much did we run last year? If we did not run at all, then saying we will run 2 times a week may be a little much. So instead, you may want to bump that “workout more” to “walk/run 2 times a week”. That seems a little more realistic at least at the start of the year and when you find your stamina improve then re-tweak the resolution to the “run 2 times a week”.

stuck-on-repeat1REPEATABLE – If you have the specific, measurable, and attainable aspect of a resolution in place, yet still fail, it may be due to the repetition of the goal. Often goals are mentioned as “I will workout more this year”. But two months into the year, when the monkey seems to jump on your back, work commitments get larger, and time becomes tighter, the end of the year can feel far away. So instead make the yearly goal repeatable and able to be evaluated throughout the year. Again, state the goal as “I will run 2 times a week this year”. It gives you a weekly evaluation point and something that is repeatable throughout the year.

TIME SENSITIVE – This aspect is similar to our last one. We often do not give ourselves deadlines within the year. So instead of “I will workout more this year” write the resolution down as “I will run 2 times a week this year”. This gives us a deadline to hit, not once a year, but once every week throughout the year, making success come much more often, and a resolve to continue much more of a reality.

So what kind of S.M.A.R.T. resolution should I make? If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, let me make one suggestion. You should endeavor to make Bible reading/study a resolution for 2014. Why? Love for God’s Word and abiding in it is a sign of a true believer (John 8:31-32). Romans 8 tells us that if we are in Christ we have been set free from sin, yet in the Christian life this side of heaven, our lives feel like anything, but free from sin. But Jesus tells us, if we want to be free, know the truth (John 8:32). Working backwards, He then says if you know the truth, you are my disciples and if you are my disciples you will abide in my word (John 8:31). So make a resolution this year, as a true disciple of Jesus Christ, to abide in His word. But be sure to make it S.M.A.R.T!Jonah

Just as an added bonus: check out this article for other great resolution ideas for 2014!

God’s Will: First things First

the will of godWhat will I be when I grow up? Where will I go to college? What type of job will I have? Where will I live? Who will I marry? All of these questions and more were ones I remember asking myself all throughout my teenage years. But amongst all of the questions that I pondered during those years, there was one that I just could not shake…”What is God’s will for my life?”. That question was one that I dwelt on an awful lot. And to be truthful, from time to time I still think about it. However, I have recently once again realized I am not the only one who has asked or is asking this question. So what is the answer? Well, stick around the next few weeks as we work through this question and flesh out an answer that is both biblical and practical.

Before diving headlong into this series, we must first understand three truths: God’s Dominion, Man’s Dependence, and Our Desire.

When truly asking God about His will for our lives, it is important to stop and remember whose will it is…God’s. And by definition God is the ultimate authority and ruler of the world (Job 38:4-7); He is the One who has Dominion. God possesses dominion first and foremost because He is the Creator. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). As Creator He made everything good (Genesis 1:31). Being the good Creator means that God is also the Sovereign over all of His creation. In other words, God owns everything and needs nothing (Psalm 50:10-12). God is the only eternal, everlasting, and independent being of the universe. More

If God is the independent Creator, that means man lives in constant dependence. We live in dependence upon God for our existence. God is the one who made and gave authority to man (Genesis 1:26-27). In other words, the life we have and the authority we have is from God. However, we are not perfect supervisors. We only get to chapter 3 in Genesis before man messes up the responsibility he has been given. And as a result of that sin, sin and death spread to all mankind (Romans 3:10-18, 23). That is right–every homo sapien that has, is, or ever will walk the face of the planet is a sinner deserving death (Romans 6:23). Therefore, the fact that we live and have being simply shows the dependence we have on God each and every day (Acts 17:25, 28). In light of this, there is a great chasm to be spanned between our desires and God’s.

God’s desire is for good in all of His creation, but our desire is always for something other than God’s goodness. This creates the first problem when pursuing and wishing to know God’s will for our lives. Truth be told, our desires do not match the desires of God. Therefore, we must cultivate in our hearts the desire to be cooperative and to be submissive in order to know God’s will. Because we are sinful at our core, our desire is to do things our own way; however, Jesus teaches us that our will and desire must be for God’s will to be done (Matthew 6:8-10). In order for us to desire to be cooperative with God and His will, we must be submissive. The only way we can truly pursue submission is to recognize that it is God who made us and teaches us, not the other way around (Isaiah 40:13-14).

golgotha-01

So before seeing God’s will for our lives, we must recognize God’s Dominion, Our Dependence, and where Our Desire must be. But the problem is we cannot desire cooperation and submission to God on our own. That is why God had to create a way to transform our hearts and desires. The only way He could do that was to eradicate the sinful way we relate to Him. In other words, a payment had to be made for our sin. But the only acceptable sacrifice was perfection. (Insert, climactic music here) Bad news: no human being could be a perfect sacrifice, we all have sinned. So what did God do? He paid the penalty Himself, by sending His Son Jesus Christ in our place (2 Corinthians 5:21; John 3:16-18; Philippians 2:6-8).

It is only when we see that God has Dominion, we are utterly Dependent, and that our Desire must match His that we can begin to know and pursue His will for our lives. Stay tuned for the continuation of this series next week!

Jonah: Reaction is Flawed

ALEXANDER_TERRIBLE_HORRIBLEHave you ever read “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”? It is quite an interesting child’s story. Little Alexander just cannot seem to cut a break. Everything he hates seems to happen in one day. Everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. No matter what the circumstances, Alexander seems to have all the bad luck in the world in just one day. Ever feel like Alexander? It seems like if something could go wrong, it will and does. But how often do we get into a funk thinking everyday is like that, no matter what the circumstances? Often times we fail to see the blessings simply because of a few unexpected changes. This is the truth Jonah reveals to us in the final chapter of the story.

A man whose job (being the prophet that he was) depended on his obedience to God’s call and message, Jonah seemed to respond in all the wrong ways. God gives him a message to preach to Nineveh and what does he do? He runs the other way. He is given an opportunity to tell about the God of the universe and what does He do? He sleeps on the bottom of the boat. Over and over again, Jonah shows that Resistance is Futile. Two weeks ago we saw Jonah exemplify that God is still in the business of rescuing, even if the Rescue is Fishy! Last week we saw that with God Repentance is Favored! Today we will see that despite the positive results Jonah experiences (over 1/2 million people repent and believe in God), Jonah’s Reaction is Flawed! We will see this through Jonah’s Attitude and Jehovah’s Actions.

God’s plan for Jonah caused him to be quite possibly the greatest evangelist of all time (Jonah 3:10). Jonah spoke a mere five words and an estimated half million people repented of their sin and came to believe in God. So we would expect Jonah to have a joyful, worshipful attitude, but that is not the case. Instead of being full of joy and worship, Jonah’s attitude is full of bitterness and anger. He is displeased. Jonah sees what God has done, in relenting of disaster, as a great evil (4:1). Jonah thinks what God has done is wrong. He is showing the anger of a mortal man (James 1:19-20). It is here that Jonah reveals his heart attitude and why he is so angry. In a prayer to God, Jonah tells the reason why he originally ran from God…because he knew God’s character (4:2). Jonah knew God would be gracious, merciful, patient, loving, and forgiving to the Ninevehites, people who are Jonah’s sworn enemies. And the prophet does not like it. download

Jonah’s attitude is like mine was when I was a child at Christmas. I was so excited to get to Grandma and Grandpa’s house on Christmas day. I knew there would be great gifts for me. When I got there I could not wait to open my gift. With all the family around, I sought mine out, began to tear it open and was thrilled to begin to play with it. However, my attitude quickly change a few minutes later, when I realized my cousin, who was only two months older than I, received a gift from Grandma and Grandpa as well. “What gives?” I thought. I believed that Christmas, and specifically Grandma and Grandpa giving gifts, was exclusive to me. I did not like it that my grandparents generosity and grace extended to anyone but myself.

That is the attitude of Jonah here. He cannot believe that God would be gracious, merciful, and forgiving to his enemy. Jonah wants God to be gracious, merciful, loving, and forgiving, but he does not want God to be that all the time to all people. Jonah throws a pity party similar to Elijah after he killed the prophets of Baal. Elijah questioned if God had done all He had through Elijah just to see him on his own, secluded, and lonely as a righteous prophet (1 Kings 19). But God reminds Elijah, as he will Jonah shortly, that His grace falls on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).

Jonah-24

While Jonah’s attitude was misguided, it is through Jehovah’s actions that we will see Jonah’s Reaction is Flawed. Jonah because of his anger, self-pity, and selfishness, he goes out from the city (and away from God) to continue pouting (4:5). But even when the prophet “runs” from God a second time here, what does God do? He appoints a plant to relieve Jonah’s discomfort due to the heat (4:6). Jehovah is showing Jonah grace and mercy despite his sinful attitude (Psalm 103:10). But God does not stop there. Next He appoints a worm to eat the plant and an east wind to teach Jonah a lesson (4:8). God is showing Jonah that the prophet is more content with creature comforts than with the Creator’s control. And even at this point we see the prophet’s Reaction is still Flawed.

Jonah responds to God’s blessing in the plant and discipline in the worm and wind by requesting to die one more time (4:8). However, Jehovah reveals His character once again by patiently dealing with Jonah. He simply asks Jonah a rhetorical question to get the prophet thinking (4:9). Then God drives home the lesson. He shows Jonah patience, love, forgiveness and grace, not by wiping the complaining prophet out, but by drawing the real life application from the real life illustration (4:10-11). God points out Jonah’s pity for the plant that he did nothing to create or sustain. Then God compares that to His own pity for Nineveh which He did everything to create and sustain. Jehovah’s point is this: Jonah cared more about a plant, than he did for people! Jehovah’s actions show mercy, grace, patience, love, and forgiveness unconditionally to all, both a disobedient prophet and a disobedient people.

golgotha-01

While Jonah’s Reaction is Flawed demonstrated by his attitude, Jehovah’s actions are perfect. His grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness are all exhibited in His dealing with Jonah and Nineveh. And these attributes of God are exhibited perfectly years later on a hill called Calvary. It is at this hill and on a cross that God mostly clearly reveals His mercy, grace, love, patience, and forgiveness. And He does so not just for prophets and priests, but for the enemies of God (Romans 5:8). Have you recognized this love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness? More importantly, have you recognized yourself as the enemy of God in need of a great Savior who loves and forgives you? Or are you like Jonah, whose Reaction is Flawed? Are you grateful when God is gracious, merciful, and loving with you, but upset when He is with others? Do you realize the mercy God has shown for you a great sinner and desire for others to see that as well?

Thanks for joining us for this series on Jonah. In case you missed any part of this series you can find part 1: Resistance is Futile and part 2: Rescue is Fishy and part 3: Repentance is Favored by following the links. Thanks for reading! As always I love to read from my readers!

Feature Friday (9/27/13)

busyness

Busyness! – It seems like every conversation I have these days, busyness comes into the mix. “How are you doing today?” Oh, man I am busy! “How are things going with you?” I am busy! Why is it that busyness seems like such a badge we wear proudly? Especially as Christians, we need time to stop, reflect, pray, spend time in the Word, and process what is happening in life. So how can we help each other in this endeavor? Here is a helpful article pleading, “Christians, Protect Each Other from Busyness“.

Enjoy! As always, be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: