Donny. Just another name, another face, another person in the endless sea of faces (as the band Kutless once put it in a song title) someone may interact with everyday. However, Donny taught Tony Anderson an important lesson; a lesson I believe every human being needs a reminder of daily. But also a lesson every believer in Jesus Christ needs challenged with and encouraged with. In a world full of getting things done, checking things off of to do lists, and getting to the top of our dreams, Donny is a much needed rebuke and reminder. This video speaks volumes about relationships and the importance of them. But even greater this video speaks volumes about a a lifestyle of discipleship the church needs to be focused on. Who helps you get outside of yourself?
It’s summer. Summer means vacation, visits, weekend get away’s, and mission trips. And this past month I had a great opportunity and privilege to embark on a mission trip to one of the most desirable places this year…Brazil. With all the World Cup hype and futbol frenzy Brazil is a country of great focus this summer. While I, my wife, and the six students that went, did not go to Brazil for the World Cup; we realized the great prospect for furthering the Gospel of Jesus Christ God gave us. Here is a brief recap of our trip. I hope to share more in the posts to come, but for now enjoy the sights of Porto Alegre Brazil!
It’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”.
REPEATABLE – 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!
Just as an added bonus: check out this article for other great resolution ideas for 2014!
With Thanksgiving only 2 days away it is time to finish up the 50 Reasons for Giving Thanks. Last time I gave 25 reasons that I am thankful for this year. Today, one day late from my normal Monday post (due to no internet connection where we were staying yesterday), I will round out the top 50 reasons I have to be thankful by giving you #25-1
I am thankful:
25) For safety in traveling this Thanksgiving season.
24) That God protected us from an accident while traveling.
23) For friends nationwide who allow us to visit and stay with them.
22) For parents who love to have us visit (even if I eat alot of their food while visiting).
21) For the grandparents God has blessed my son with.
20) To have vacation time from work.
19) For a church family (Denbigh Baptist) who graciously allows me time away to be with family during the holidays.
18) For snow!!!
17) To live in a place where snow is something we talk about more than we experience.
16) To lasting relationships with people, even though we don’t see each other that often.
15) To have friends in ministry, spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.
14) For down times to catch up with friends and family.
13) For holidays to visit family during.
12) That God has blessed me with more than I could ever need.
11) To have in-laws who have made me feel accepted and like one of their own.
10) For the memories made with family throughout the years.
9) To have known and interacted with all of my grandparents in childhood.
8) For a grandmother who loves Pittsburgh Steelers football more than I do.
7) For a grandmother who was like a second mother to me.
6) For a grandfather who is 90 years old and still “kicking”.
5) For my mother who always took care of our home and loved us kids.
4) To have had a father who made a commitment to being at my events growing up.
3) For a healthy and growing son, that is a blessing to see and hold each and every day.
2) For a wife, that is godly, gracious, and faithful in loving God and me.
1) For Jesus Christ, who gave His life for me and took my sin upon His body, so that I may stand accepted, loved, and justified before God the Father.
All in all, as you can see I have multiple reasons to be thankful this season. However, I pray that these last two posts have gotten your gratitude juices stirred up as well. I am not sure where I heard it or read it, but I have found it to be true in my own life; “he who has a thankful heart, has a happy heart”. Give thanks this holiday season. Sit down with family or friends or both and verbalize a list of things of which you are thankful. Don’t stop at 10 or 25 or 50, see if you can go for 100 reasons to be thankful this year.
God bless and Happy Thanksgiving…gobble, gobble, gobble!
I grew up in the Midwest–the great state of Ohio to be exact. If you have ever been to the Midwest or know someone from there, you know that mid-westerners have a few quirks and crazy traditions. One of the greatest traditions is the card game, Euchre. Now, I never thought Euchre was weird or abnormal; but rather, a well known, everyone plays it, type of card game…that is, until I went to college in the northeast. At college I quickly became aware of the fact that not everyone knows what Euchre is, let alone how to play it! And sometimes I think that is exactly how believers feel with God’s will. They don’t even know what it is, let alone how to do it! So I want to offer some help on this topic, which is why today I am addressing the subject of God’s Will and how to do it in three steps–Distinguish it above all else, Deem others above yourself, and Delight yourself in it.
The first step in doing God’s will is Distinguishing it above all else. To distinguish God’s will above all else we must first read God’s Word daily. David tells us in Psalms to “meditate” (think about, dwell on) God’s word both day and night (Psalm 1:1-2). In other words, God’s word should be on our minds and hearts all throughout our day, at all times. But Paul tells us in Romans 12:1 that the purpose of this “meditating” is transformation (being changed from the inside out), not just conformation (being pressed into a mold by external pressures). And it is only by a continual dwelling on God’s word, that we can be transformed (Colossians 3:16). But to distinguish God’s will above all else we must also trust God’s Word completely. We must believe and live as though it is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, true and good to revive our souls, make wise the simple. It is righteous altogether (Psalm 19:7-9). We must believe and live as though God’s word and God’s Spirit working through His word, can sanctify and make us holy (John 17:17). We must believe it makes us competent and equips us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). And we must believe and live as if everything for life and godliness has been granted to us in God’s Word (2 Peter 1:3). So if we are going to do God’s will, we must first Distinguish His Word above all else, by reading it daily and trusting it completely.
The second step in doing God’s will is Deeming others above ourselves. To do this we must first consider others as more important than ourselves. Paul reminds us of the greatest example of this when he draws our attention to Christ (Philippians 2:5-8). We must think and reflect the actions of Christ, who thought nothing of Himself, being God, but became a man to die a cruel death in our place. But we must also consider the battle between our “rights” and the well being of others (1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1). God calls us not to do everything that we are “free” or “allowed” to do, but to consider the repercussions it could have on others. All of this caution and restricting ourselves for the betterment of others finds its greatest reason in the death of Christ (1 John 3:16-18).
However, we must not only consider others as more important, but we must also consider others input. We must recognize that our hearts can and do deceive us (Jeremiah 17:9). The person easiest to trick and deceive is often ourselves. Proverbs repeatedly calls us to remember and recognize that it is the fool who is right in his own eyes, and because of this often isolates himself for his own self-seeking pleasure (Proverbs 12:15, 18:1, 15:22, 13:20). And Paul reminds us that we all need to make sure we seek “wise” help and company (1 Corinthians 15:33). So if we are going to do God’s will we must also be Deeming others above ourselves, by considering them more important, and considering their input.
The third and final step in doing God’s will is Delighting yourself in it. David tell us in Psalm 37:4 that if we “Delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart.” In others words, when our greatest desire is for God, His will, and His glory, we will get our desires, because our desires will match God’s. But to do this we must first, delight in the joy of God’s will (1 Corinthians 10:31). Everything we do must be done to God’s glory and for the joy of seeing Him made much of. Secondly, to delight in God’s will we must delight in the freedom of it. This freedom is a freedom from sin and death and to obedience and righteousness and eternal life (Romans 6:6-7, 14, 17-18). Thirdly, delighting in God’s will means we will Delight in the security of it. Being in God’s will and doing it faithfully means we no longer fear the punishment of judgment because judgment has been dealt with through perfect love (1 John 4:18).
We now seek not to avoid judgment but to enjoy love. We can freely choose and enjoy a plethora of options without fearing missing God’s will or being punished for the wrong. This is true because the judgment we once feared and wanted to avoid, has been dealt with by perfect love…Jesus Christ’s substitutionary atonement on the cross of Calvary, where He became sin for us, so that we might be the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). So to be doing God’s will we must be Delighting in it by delighting in the joy, freedom, and security of it.
Inevitably, I found a few other mid-westerners while in college who knew the game of Euchre and enjoyed playing it as much as I did. But the greater joy was teaching my future bride and other friends not just what the game was but how to play it. And I believe that God has exponentially greater joy when believers not only realize what His will is revealed in His Word and but also obediently and faithfully do it.
I pray that this post and series has been not only educational, but enjoyable in your understanding and practice of God’s will in your life. If you missed the first post “God’s Will: First Things First“, or second post “God’s Will: Three Wills of God“, or third post “God’s Will: What is it“, you can check them out here.
Can you trust your Bible? – Absolutely! “‘Christianity is based upon an account of something that happened, and the Christian worker is primarily a witness.’ Scripture tell us this account, revealing Christianity’s climax—its central, historical, and verifiable event: God’s gracious act of bringing salvation through the cross of Jesus Christ.” Encouraging and reaffirming article on the trustworthiness of Scripture and the God who authored it.
As always, be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day!