I recently watched this video of Francis Chan taking about the stupidest thing he had ever done in church. It is pretty funny but the message behind it is gold. If you see a blank black screen and no video just simply click on the title of this post to view this 3 minute video about the difference between claiming to believe and actually believing. If you do see this video then... enjoy!
And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
Verse 5 talks about the transition from servanthood to sonship. I feel like sometimes I never really accepted this part of the relationship. I still feel that I need to earn my relationship status with Jesus. I love how verse 7 simply states that we are no longer slaves but God's child, and even further than that we are heirs.
I feel like I should walk around in this truth more often, understanding that I am an heir to God, I am His son. Its easy to "church" it up and say we are all children of God, but when you really chew on it and think about it and allow it to sink into your bones then it changes you. I don't know if this verse is striking me differently because I have a two month old son or what. We are Sons of God. If you are reading this and you know that you have not received this gift then take the time to talk with someone you trust today and start asking some questions.
Okay, so I don’t read it every day, but almost. Have all my life. I probably started reading it pretty seriously when I was about 12 – now I’m, uh, 50. So I think that’s 38 years of reading the same book. Over and over. I’ve read it straight through several times but I find that painful – as some parts are boring.
I mostly pick and choose. Sometimes I’ll spend a half hour sort of flipping back and forth and letting my eyes fall on certain portions and then either moving on quickly or allowing myself to be pleasantly distracted and get lost in that passage. Not often, but sometimes I lose track of the time and realize I’ve read through a whole book – maybe an hour or even more.
Sometimes I study it. Focus on a topic and get out my iPad and Bible program and search for every time this or that word comes up. I imagine myself as St. Augustine or someone really smart like that – trying to figure out the philosophy behind the theology. I have a long list of papers I’ve written from these times. Papers on “the church.” Or on “the gospel.” Such things. I try to “figure it out.” Probably for the purpose of teaching it to others.
And sometimes I treat the Bible like dessert. I just read and wander around in it, enjoying its flavor. I look for odd things. For humor and sarcasm. For love and romance. For wars and Great Adventures like the ones the Hobbits left for with Gandalf and Aragorn.
I was told – growing up – that I was “supposed” to have a daily quiet time. Preferably in the morning and for about 15-30 minutes in length. Problem was that I didn’t live any other part of my life this way. When I married Chris, I didn’t treat her that way. None of my other friendships were that way. I tend to be scattered – actually, let’s call it “spontaneous.” A much better word.
I’m not a morning person. I’m not particularly disciplined. I enjoy diving into the Bible and its riches whenever I want to. I think that’s allowed. And….I don’t like to be told “how it’s done.” (You may have guessed that).
So WHY do I read the Bible (almost) every day? Because I like it. I enjoy it. It makes me happy. How’s that for some good theology? Oh, there are tons of reasons of course, but those are as good as any. Mainly – because I want to.
Last week Andrew Kown made several great points in his post on Signs. Too often we focus on the signs and don't experience what the signs are pointing to. Many Christians have all of their theological and doctrinal I's dotted and T's crossed, but they don't "know" God intimately. As a PhD student in seminary I am especially susceptible to this danger. Ironically, the last three years I have spent in seminary have been the most difficult for me devotionally. With all of the reading assignments, book reviews, papers, etc., often times my devotional life gets left in the dust. I am so busy learning "about" God that I neglect my relationship with God. It would be like reading every book that has ever been written on Yosemite National Park, but never going there to experience it for myself. I would be an expert on the park without the joy of experiencing it for myself. That is what many of us do with God and I think that is what Andrew was getting at in his post.
Even though I think Andrew is 100% right in his post I want to give a helpful caution. What I want to caution Christians against is creating an either/or scenario with signs and the real thing, instead of a both/and. Signs are extremely important. The sacrificial system and ceremonial laws of the Old Testament were signs that pointed to the real thing - which is Christ. Just like the signs in Yosemite that explained what you were looking at and the history behind it, the Bible explains who God is and the history of His people.
The purpose of reading about who God is and how He interacted with His people in history is to grow in your love, trust, adoration, and affection for God, as well as, your fellowship with God. The sign (the Bible) helps you experience the real thing (God). Without the sign you may distort and dishonor the real thing. It is for this reason that we need both the sign and the real thing. So let us walk that fine line between focusing too much on the sign and not on what the sign points too, and neglecting the sign and interpreting what we see however we want to.
Luke 11:42 "But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone."
A good buddy of mine Ryan Bear used to say "leave nothing undone" in reference to a days work at the baseball field (ball yard as some call it). I believe he might have pulled that from this verse. What if we tried to really live out our faith as to leave nothing undone? Would the standard that we try to live up to be raised and subsequently we'd get more out of ourselves each day? Is this another challenge?
I think so... Choose wisely who you spend your time with. Are they subconsciously pushing your personal standard to another level by the way they live?
So we had our All-Star break the last three days and me and my wife and son went back to Yosemite. We couldn't get enough the first time so we went back. I told my wife I think I was supposed to come here a lot earlier in my life because it has had such an impact on me. The funny thing is that I noticed since the last trip to Yosemite and being around my teammates and trying to explain to the ones who had not been how amazing the views were and how awe inspiring the whole place was - There was no way to put into words what was seen and experienced! As I was there this time I noticed something. There are little signs in front of the falls and most of the beautiful sites that explain what you are looking at and a little history of the location. As I was sitting there reading the sign I realized that it would be pointless to just sit there and read the sign about the falls or the meadow or rock face and never actually look up and experience it. Yosemite is not meant to be talked about, it is meant to be seen and experienced. Then I felt an overwhelming sense that the Holy Spirit was revealing something to me. All to often I get caught up in reading about a relationship with Jesus Christ. To often I just read about what the power of the Holy Spirit can do. To often I just read about the power of God. We serve a relational God who wants a growing relationship with us. Don't get me wrong, reading and learning is great. But in the same way that if I just read the signs about Yosemite falls and then walked away I would be missing the point. We need to experience God and do it often. We need to experience the Holy Spirit and that power.
Reading and learning is obviously essential to a growing relationship, but only if all the learning and information leads to actions.
"You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone." (James 2:24 NIV)
Terry put me up on this verse years ago and it was one of the scriptures of point in Church last Sunday. This verse, if really meditated on can be a powerful beacon of faith and momentum in life.
Joshua 1:8 "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."
The thing that stands out to me is to consume the Word everyday, fill yourself with scriptures and live according to what is written in them. If we can really press in and make this our lives I'm confident we're going to like where we are in life and our relationship with the King. "Well done my good and faithful son" thats success to me.
When I was hurt last year I developed a new hobby. I, all of the sudden, out of the blue, took an interest in growing things. I had a little garden in the yard where I could get out of the house and clear my mind... I called it my sanity garden. I had a few different tomato plants, some peppers, some herbs, some strawberries, etc. It was cool. But, I became borderline obsessed with it. This year I have way more stuff. I wake up in the mornings thinking about how I can grow things better, and how to fit more stuff into the tiny spaces I have. I've started doing some serious digging (no pun intended) about farming, and I won't lie, I'm really looking forward to becoming a self proclaimed expert at growing things. I wake up in the morning and one of the first things I do is look outside to see if things have grown. Most days I get home from the field around 11 or 12 at night and go straight out to check on my plants. A lot of these plants I grew from a seed, and my wife seriously thinks that I love them like children. I think she might be right. Anyway, that long rambling story reminds me of the parable of the seed sower in matthew 13. See, when I planted those seeds, I made sure I had the correct soil. The parable says some seeds fall on rocky soil and wont grow. I made sure that didn't happen. I made sure the correct amount of water got to those seeds as they were growing. I continually make sure there are no weeds choking out my plants as those thorns did to some of the sowers seeds. I did all these things in order for the conditions to be just right. But, after all that, if God doesn't breath life into those seeds they will not grow... no matter what environment I have prepared. On the flip side, if I don't plant the seed at all it certainly won't grow. And, if I don't do it with care,... well you get the point. Here's where I'm going with this... you have a friend... probably been a friend for a while. You talk about everything with this person EXCEPT God. You love this person, but you're scared that if you talk about Jesus it'll change things. So you brush it aside. Think about this. God has prepared your life for you. He says in Job 38 "where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth. Y'all, He is in control. The people in your life are not there by accident. Maybe that friend of yours is ready and waiting for the Holy Spirit to take over their life. Maybe it's not. Maybe your friendship is the foundation of great things to come for the Kingdom. Then again, maybe not. In the parable it says not all seeds will grow. Not everyone you share with will have ears to hear what you are saying. That's okay... some will. You won't know if you don't plant the seed. Share Jesus with whoever it is... and let the Holy Spirit take it from there. He has the power to turn water into wine and the hardest of hearts into pillars of the faith (ask Paul).
-waino Galatians 5:1 It's for freedom we've been set free.
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13 NIV)
I have been reading "forgotten God" by Francis Chan. It is a book about the Holy Spirit and the book looks to tear down misconceptions about what the Holy Spirit is and is not.
I would take some time to read it if you have not already.
While I was reading the book I came on this verse that was in the book Acts 4:13. It was one of those moments that I could not just rush past. I can't explain why the verse struck me like it did, but it did. In the passage John and Peter were surrounded by the rulers and the elders and the teachers of the law, as well as the high priest. These people that were supposed to be the leaders were not able to explain these miracles that these men had performed under the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus. These men were not raised in the church, they were "unschooled, ordinary men". Why do you think that those words ordinary and unschooled were put into the Bible? I think the reason is to show once again that it's not about how much you know about our Lord and Savior but about how much you trust Him. These men trusted with all that they had and reflected the glory that they saw in Jesus' face and it showed. They could not help but stand out after being face to face with that kind of glory.
2 Kings 11:10 "and the priest gave the captains of hundreds the spears and shields which had belonged to King David, that were in the temple of the Lord."
In this text the priest Jehoiada uses a strategy to encourage and empower his captains by giving them weapons to use for battle that have already been used in a victory. He knew that these men needed an edge, something to get excited about, something tangible to hold that would redirect their faith and thoughts back to God's power. I thought this is a good illustration of what happens when we come to the blog site here and get fed. Often we read or learn something that we can use as a weapon (a shield or spear from King David) to conquer anything that we're facing today. Our faith can get stale when we are habitual and going through the motions. I see it often in my own life where I need to take a step out of my comfort zone and get a new taste of the King. God is so good and yes He is so good even in our trials. God bless my brothers.
Challenge for the week - (pray that God would use you to love on somebody) be on the look out for God to deliver someone to you that needs some encouragement or some brotherly love. Be totally present in that conversation and let the Holy Spirit speak through you without having your own agenda. Often people just want to authentically be heard and not fixed. I'm confident that God will show up in this and reveal Himself to us in a new and refreshing way.