Monday, January 30, 2012

Talk about boring ...

A few days ago, I came across a quote by Mike Foster that grabbed me. I loved it, because it's a simple sentence that really makes you think.

Here's the quote: "Our guardian angels are bored."

It was a "Wow!" moment for me when I read that, because I thought that simple sentence uniquely captures the weakness of today's church, and the emptiness of too many of today's Christians.

We're living so weakly for Christ, our guardian angels are bored!

What are you doing to shake the world around you for the kingdom of God in such a way that you wear out your guardian angels? Keep them always on the go?

Or could your guardian angel take an extended vacation without any worries?


Worship Leader or Lead Musician?

One of the most under-utilized staff positions among churches is that of the Worship Leader.

That's because for many churches, the person serving in that position really isn't a "worship leader," but in reality is more a "lead musician."

If someone is going to serve in a pastoral position of being a congregation's leader of worship, shouldn't that person be the "biblical expert" on the topic of worship? Shouldn't such a position do more than be lead musician and singer for a "worship team," but be devoted to building the purity, quality, and depth of true worship in the lives of church members?

If you had a question about worship, would you ask your Pastor or the Worship Leader? Most would ask the Pastor, but isn't the Worship Leader the spiritual leader responsible for teaching worship?

Or is he a Lead Musician instead?

Why don't Worship Leaders "own" their area of ministry in a fuller way? Imagine how church members could grow if Worship Leaders did more than lead music, but taught the congregation biblical worship!

Teaching could be done bit by bit in church services. The Worship Leader could lead small groups teaching on the topic of worship. He could also build in teaching times and activities in existing groups and settings. He could personally lead short-term discipling groups focused on studying biblical worship. There are a variety of creative ways a Worship Leader can help a congregation mature by learning about worship AND developing a life fuller in biblical worship.

Hiring a musician who is also a gifted singer doesn't mean you've hired a Worship Leader.

Who is teaching biblical worship to your congregation?


What I really meant to say was ...

Many fat people don't want to be fat, they're just too lazy to consistently do what it takes to be fit.

Most of us are that way with our words. We use words and terminology that don't quite properly represent what we mean, we're just too lazy to figure out the right words.

For example, we often hear Christians talk about how God wants to "be a part" of our lives.


God no more wants just a sliver of you than a chocoholic wants a single Hershey's Kiss. God wants your entire life --- every aspect and ounce of it --- surrendered entirely to Him. That way, we get to be a "part" of His life!

God doesn't want us to "take time" for Him. No matter where we are or what we're doing, God is already there. So it's not that 10 minutes with the Bible early in the morning that we call our "God time" that He desires. Instead, He wants to be welcomed into every moment of every hour of every day of your life. God wants you to make life a communing experience with Him, a constancy of journeying through life with Him.

The church isn't a community, but we call it one and treat it like it is one. God says it's His family, Christ says it's His bride and His body. But many keep calling it a community, anyway.

We call the moments we give God our "quiet time" but rarely is it a time when we are actually quiet, listening to Him. Our mind is loud with reading and prayer. That isn't being quiet.

We talk about "inviting Jesus into your heart" or into our lives. Again, Jesus isn't seeking space in a vital body organ. It's all of you, or none of you.

When we're feeling especially holy, we may ask some poor sinner if they have "found God." But we don't find God, He seeks us. He pursues us. He reveals Himself to us. He calls us. He extends Himself to us. Most aren't looking for Him, but He pursues us anyway. Because He loves us.

We say we attend a "Bible-believing church." Really? Because to believe means to apply.

Sometimes we say "I love to worship" but we really mean "I love to sing." We get irritated when the one hour and fifteen minute church service is drawn out to one hour and 30 minutes, but we "love to worship." That's why karaoke is still so popular, and true worship isn't.

You see we say a lot of things, some we mean, some we don't.

Imagine your life with God if your words matched their meaning. What would that look like?

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer," Psalm 19:14.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rethinking Church?

Enough already!

Yet another article is out by a 20-something "Christian hipster" making his argument against evangelism and for the need to build relationships within which we can tell stories.

Throughout the decline of the church in America, we have had many such "new leaders" in the church make their pitch against evangelism (the latest one doesn't even want to use the term, finding the word so unappealing) and for relationship building, completely missing the fact that the greatest evangelist ever --- Jesus Christ --- was relational in His evangelism. Now the new focus is on telling your story. Yes, we have numerous preachers preaching the need to tell your own story.

All the while, the church continues to decline.

All of this has come about because "leader" after leader seem to think they need to rethink how to "do church."

There's one reason why church leaders should rethink how to do church: when they aren't following the biblical model for the church.

None of these leaders have come up with a better way to do church than God did when He envisioned it. Then He provided us with the model, complete with methods, in the New Testament. And guess what, when we actually apply and follow scripture, it works.

This recent writer has a particular disdain for Christian tracts. I've never been a user of tracts, but I know many who have. Yet I would wager there have been more people who have come to Christ through a tract that told the Gospel story than there ever will be through you or I telling our own stories.

Our stories don't change lives. God's story does. Sharing it so others can know His story, and have their lives changed, is called "evangelism."

Maybe we need to rethink how we do church: are we doing it God's way, or creating our own culturally-directed models?


Friday, January 27, 2012

Why we dont' get wisdom when we ask for it ...

Times are tough. You need more wisdom than you have. What do you do?

It's at times like this good Christian friends brush off a well-known Bible verse and offer you this:

"If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking," James 1:5.

So you ask God --- once again --- to bless you with wisdom. You've asked God for the same thing many times. But in many cases, wisdom doesn't come.


Because you're asking just for wisdom.


The problem is, we want to go from not knowing to having wisdom in one swoop. We don't know what we need to know, so we just want God to drop a dose of wisdom on us so we can best navigate our challenges and get on with life.

What's missing are the developmental steps to wisdom. Sometimes God directly blesses us with wisdom, just as simply as James calls for in the Bible text. But we also see in scripture that it's God's intent that we grow spiritually in such a way that wisdom is more of a natural outflow of our development, rather than more commonly a missing aspect of our lives.

How does that happen?

It's a three step process:

1. Knowledge. Jesus calls us to be His disciples, His students. The first step is to learn Him. Not just about Him, or from Him, but to learn Him. To build a solid foundation of knowledge.

2. As we build our knowledge, we strive to increase our understanding. The value of knowledge is more than simply having a collection of information or facts, but to gain understanding from that source of knowledge.

3. Finally, we strive for the best and highest application of that understanding, which is something we call "wisdom."

Many of us want to go from challenge, directly to God providing wisdom, skipping over the growth steps of learning (building knowledge) and gaining in understanding. James wasn't suggesting this leap frog approach to wisdom. Sometimes, even with the best discipling and understanding, we still struggle for wise insight. God delights in helping us past those difficulties. If we lack wisdom, we should ask God, who is happy to bless us with the wisdom we need ... but often, it's IF we're doing our part.

God isn't going to learn for us. He expects us to be students of Christ, diligent in His Word, yielding to the Holy Spirit who instructs us in all truth. By building our knowledge as children of God, growing in our understanding in Him, we will grow in wisdom.

And when we need an extra dose?

"If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking."


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Have you head-butted Jesus?

It wasn't a mini ranch, it was just a few acres.

I was in the fifth grade when we moved onto this old property on the outskirts of Phoenix. We had a horse, for a while we had a calf, some chickens and geese, and finally came a couple of sheep.

This was my first experience with sheep. They looked so friendly and fun, I immediately climbed the fence into their pasture.

I didn't stay there long.

Have you ever been head-butted by sheep who take a running aim directly at you?

I was that day.

Then I learned something about those sheep.

They were frightened of me because they didn't know me. They were in a strange place being approached by someone they didn't know. So they ran at me in an attempt to send me running.

And I did!

But I also learned if you're patient and gentle with those sheep, they will follow you around like puppies once they get to know you. They soon loved interacting with me, welcomed the snacks I brought them, and bleated loudly when I scampered over the fence and left them alone.

Sometimes I think we Christians are like those sheep when it comes to interacting with our Great Shepherd. Because many of us don't take the time, or make the effort, to really get to know the Shepherd, we're more likely to try to head-butt Him than embrace Him.

These words of Jesus are recorded in John 10:14, "I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me."

Do you know the Good Shepherd? Or do you run at Him because He's more a stranger to you than a trusted Shepherd? What efforts are you taking to truly get to know Him?


Monday, January 23, 2012

Imagine starting your day thinking about this ...

For most of us, from the moment we awake in the morning we have at least one objective we want to accomplish that day, even if it's simply, "Get through the day!"

It might be something important at work.

It might be an activity or event with your children later that evening.

It might be something to do with your spouse.

Perhaps it's a personal project you're working on.

Maybe it's something as simplistic as trying to beat the morning rush hour traffic.

But each day, there's usually something we want to accomplish.

Where does, "Bring glory to God" land on your daily to-do list?

Or does it?

Is it something you even think about?

Considering the fact that we human beings exist for the purpose of bringing glory to God, maybe it's something we need to make as a conscious daily pursuit. Maybe we need to move it up higher on our list of important things to pursue. Maybe it's something we need to be purposeful and mindful about. After all, if we're not actually thinking about it, how do we expect to accomplish it? Accidentally?

Romans 11:36 states, "For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen."

First Corinthians 10:31 exhorts us this way: "So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

For a long time now, it has been a part of starting my day to make a portion of my morning prayer time asking God to help all that I am and do that day bring glory to Him. It helps me start my day with a desire and intent to live in a way that will glorify Him.

How do you make living for the glory of God a focal point of your daily experience?


Monday, January 16, 2012

Now that's different!

It takes a difference to make a difference.

Without a difference, there is no difference.

God wants us to be different:

"But you are not like that [we're different!], for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light," 1 Peter 2:9.

How are you different? How are you letting your difference make a difference?


Talking was so 90's ...

Have you noticed the change?

It wasn't long ago the common scene in a Starbucks was that of the room being filled with college students sitting at tables, laptops opens, earbuds in ears, listening to music while simultaneously studying and keeping up with texting conversations on their cell phones.

Today, it's just as common to see senior citizens with iPads or laptops reading the newspaper online or checking out the latest photos of the grandkids on Facebook while reading Yelp comments about local restaurants on their smartphones.

Our culture continues to deepen its embrace of technology, among all the generations. The result is a heightened, more continuous interaction between people. But it's also arguable that we're hearing each other less.

Among all of the major companies providing cell phone service, the least requested service is voice plans. Today, people prefer unlimited text and large data plans so they can communicate via texting and social media.

We aren't talking to each other as much.

Gone are the days of teenagers spending hours on the phone talking to each other. Today, we're sending thousands of sentences to each other.

By talking to each other less we are better able to edit what we hear from each other. It's easier to steer a text conversation to what we prefer, and to avoid receiving incoming messages we really aren't receptive to hearing. The result is our own opinions are less tested by people who know us well ... and who might know better.

In today's culture, we're increasingly becoming more selective listeners.

But selective listening has always been a problem with humanity. So much so that Jesus Christ spoke directly to this point:

"So pay attention to how you hear ..." Luke 8:18a.

We've become adept at designing our own filters for what we hear. Limiting the influences in our lives to 140 characters, a Facebook post, a Flickr album --- or, as in the case with God, a pinch of scripture in a short, rushed, early morning "devotional" --- impacts not only our relationships, but the stature we give to our own thoughts and opinions.

Sometimes we need big conversations, whole dialogues, the sound of another voice, and extended periods of being quiet and simply listening.

We need to pay attention to, and be careful about, how we hear.

" ... To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them," Luke 8:18.

How do you hear God? How do you filter His voice? Or how do you ferret out limitations and distractions so you hear all that He has to say, and clearly so? How are you listening to others in your lives? Are you letting them speak what they have to say?

Are you even aware of how --- and what --- you hear?


Sunday, January 15, 2012

There's a lot wrong in this video ...

There are many biblically incorrect statements in the video below. There are also some biblically correct statements. Take four minutes and watch it ...

I'm not going to make this post about the right and wrong points made in the video. I will speak to the context of the video with a larger view.

I think this video captures much of what is broken about the church today. We have dummied down biblical truth to rhymes and platitudes. The average Christian --- and too many church leaders --- don't have a biblical theology or even a biblical worldview, are ignorant of biblical doctrine, routinely fail to differentiate biblical truth from platitudes printed on a calendar, are happy to simply be spiritual hipsters, have embraced culture, and kissed corporate concepts of leadership.

Yes, there's a lot wrong with religion, but scripture actually says Jesus did not come to destroy religion. Yes, grace should permeate Christian churches, but so should obedience.

And yes, there's a lot wrong in the church. But the church is still the bride of Christ; it is still the family of God. It is Christ's church and not ours.

Maybe if we extract all the culture we've loaded into it, got serious about being followers rather than worshiping leadership, and actually opened our Bibles and applied its truth without adding to or taking away from it, we could be the church God wants us to be.

Like the church in the New Testament.

I've pursued that for more than a couple decades, and will continue to do so.

How about you?


Supplements for Christians?

Many of the people I've trained in the gym have asked about supplements, especially guys wanting to build muscle.

Supplements are just that ... an item designed to supply something that is lacking or insufficient.

The body responds best by giving it what it needs as organically as possible. Feed it right, exercise it right, and you will usually have good health and fitness.

But even those who are quite fit lack some needed ingredients in their diets. Because of that, it's often wise to supplement one's diet with a daily vitamin and mineral supplement. It helps to round out all that the body needs.

In similar fashion, the heart of the Christian "diet" is faith. But as much as we may nurture and exercise what we believe, simply believing isn't fully adequate. According to the Apostle Peter, we need to provide some supplements to our faith:

"Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone," 2 Peter 1:5b-7.

By adding these supplements to our faith, the Apostle Peter says "The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ," 2 Peter 1:8.

What are you doing to supplement your faith to build a healthy, fit follower of Christ?


The one-handed clap ...

Have you ever tried doing a one-handed clap?

It doesn't work very well. In fact, it fails completely to offer a response in a positive way. All you have is a whoosh of air and the following silence as one hand waves alone.

It's a failed response.

How we react to God offering us a New Covenant in Christ is often like offering a one-handed clap.

In the New Covenant, God's part is that of making some remarkable promises to us. Our role is to respond to His promises. The Apostle Peter addressed this issue, first by laying a framework ...

"3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires," 2 Peter 1:3-4.

Now take note of what Peter writes in the first part of the next verse:

"In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises ..." 2 Peter 1:5a.

That simple portion of a sentence holds profound insight for us, something far too many people miss. Instead of responding to God, we look for the promises to be provided, ask for even more from God, and do very little in the way of responding to His promises, His provision, or His purpose.

Kind of a like a one-handed clap.

But a response is needed, and Peter gives us some detail as to what our response should look like ...

"5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. 8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins," 2 Peter 1:5-9.

Our Covenant relationship with God is not a show where God performs His promises and we passively receive. Rather, it is a dynamic interaction with us responding to God in as dramatic a fashion as God promises and provides. Because of His great promises to us, we respond with our whole lives.

To do anything less is to offer God a one-handed clap.

For those who respond appropriately, God will offer them a response beyond anything we could hope for: Him giving us a grand entrance (standing ovation, both hands clapping away!) into His kingdom ...

"10 So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. 11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," 2 Peter 1:10-11.

Have you responded to God offering you a Covenant relationship with Him through Christ? How are you currently responding to His great promises to you?


Monday, January 9, 2012

Who is irresistible to you?

The couple were sitting in chairs facing each other. The husband just finished pouring out his heart to his wife, telling her changes he wanted to make in his own life. As soon as he stopped speaking, for just a second the shadow of the slightest expression swept across the wife's face.

The husband instantly frowned. He knew what he had just seen.


The wife had her own ideas for what her husband should be doing with his life, and now she began to tell him ...


That's a real story from a counseling session I had with a couple long ago. A story repeated countless times with many, many others. You can probably identify with the key aspect of the story: facing resistance.

Resistance is a key destroyer of depth in any kind of relationships.

We see it in marriage as in the story above.

We see it with children, as they resist the authority of parents. We also see it in parents who resist seeing their children as being something other than someone to be constantly directed.

We see it in the workplace all the time. Employees routinely resist job responsibilities, deciding for themselves just how hard they will work, and push back when that level of productivity is met. And we see it in bosses who resist listening to those they lead.

We see it in friendship when the comfort of being a friend is challenged by being a loyal friend.

We see it in the church as church leaders are constantly trying pull a congregation to a committed faith that is more than lip service; and from leaders who think they are the only ones with good ideas.

And we all too consistently see resistance in our own relationships with God.

If the truth were to be told, we've established resistance within our faith. Many openly refuse to love God more than they do their children or spouses. We resist giving. We resist service that costs. We would never actually consider doing anything for God, at any time, at any cost, anywhere in the world.

Resistance hampers --- and sometimes destroys --- relationships. But when it comes to approaching God, it stalls it.

That's because true relationship with God begins with surrender.

Jesus said, "25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?" Matthew 16:5-26.

The one person we see very little resistance toward? Ourselves. We indulge ourselves, and resist others. We find ourselves to be irresistible!

To have communion with God, we have to resist ourselves while discarding our resistance to Him: "Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world," James 4:8.

How is resistance hampering your relationships? What would your relationship with God look like if you removed all resistance to Him and surrendered your entire being to Him?


Sunday, January 8, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Church matters! Here's why ...

Some of the biggest bashers of the church are church leaders who set themselves up as the culturally cool, spiritual hipsters of our day. They take sport in constantly haranguing the church for its faults without realizing who they are really throwing rocks at.

Who would that be?

The "bride of Christ."

That's one description scripture gives of what the church really is, and the further we delve into the Bible to study the church, we learn that the church matters --- dramatically so! --- to Jesus, and so it should also to those who identify themselves as Christ's followers.

"Why Church Matters," written by Joshua Harris and published by Multnomah Books, is a basic, biblically solid, unimposing but direct look at why church really does matter to Christians and to the world, and how it is far more than what many today make it out to be.

In just 119 pages, Harris unfolds in his easy-to-read style plain biblical truths about the church, starting by getting our attention with highlighting the value God Himself places on the church. Harris writes, "The preacher taught from the book of Ephesians. He showed that the church was actually God's idea --- not some plan or program invented by humans. In fact, the church is the only institution God promised to sustain forever."

Harris does more than expound on a theological defense for the church, but walks the reader through why being a connected part of the church matters to every believer, how to look for a church, and how to re-value gathering as the church every Sunday.

This is a good read for those who want a refresher in why church really does matter; for new believers who are learning what the church is all about; and for those who have strayed from a biblical view of the church. "Why Church Matters" could also be used as a good tool for a small group study about the church, and the book includes a four-week discussion guide.

With the start of a new year, I encourage Christians to pick up this quick read and start out 2012 with a fresh insight into why the church matters to God, and why (and how) it should matter to us.


I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, January 6, 2012

A dance, and bad directions ...

I was sitting in Starbucks, doing some work on my laptop, when the young guy across the room suddenly exclaimed, "I made the final cut for my Mensa membership!" then he stood up and --- literally --- danced a "happy dance" in front of everyone.

The stranger was ecstatic that he was a step closer to becoming a member of Mensa International, the society for people who have an IQ tested to be in the top two percent of the population. It's a club for really smart people.

This guy was happy that his intelligence was being acknowledged!

Shortly after his happy dance, he received a call from a friend he had talked to by telephone earlier. As it turns out, he had given his friend inaccurate directions on how to get to that Starbucks.

So much for human brilliance! We delight in being lifted up for our greatness, but can't give simple directions clearly.

That's the human condition. So bright, so capable, and yet so finite in our capacity.

The Apostle Paul gave us a good way to look at ourselves:

"Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us," Romans 12:3.

Measuring ourselves by the faith God has given us is the truly smart way to evaluate ourselves. It won't lead us astray, like a bad set of directions.

What do you use as a measure for yourself?


Do you have ears?

Spend enough time with someone --- anyone --- and eventually you will disagree with them.

At some point, we will witness the people in our lives making a mistake. That's because there's no perfect human being on this earth. So we all will "get it wrong" at some point. Some, more than others.

At some point, you will disagree with the people you love the most, respect the most, learn from the most, listen to the most, follow the most.

But you're really ready for true growth, genuine faith --- you're really the most ready for God --- when you come to that place in your own life when you realize you have gotten it wrong.

It's when we finally understand, and then admit, that we're wrong, we're off track, we are "unright" that we are the best positioned to look to the One who has never been (nor will be) wrong.

Jesus sometimes said something like this, "Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!" (Matthew 11:15).

When we care less about our opinions and more about the Truth, we will have ears to hear, then we can truly listen and understand.

Do you have ears to hear?


Lights! Camera! ...

You can often pick out the couple who had the big fight on the way to church.

Their smiles and greetings are forced. You can see the seething beneath the surface as they pretend to be kind, gentle people.

They're acting.

Lots of people do that when there are others around to see how they really behave when others usually aren't around.

Imagine what life would be like if cameras were installed throughout your home, your automobiles, and your place of work. Imagine if your life was a reality show, where many people observed every act, every behavior of yours. Every moment of every day.

How would that impact you?

Perhaps for a while, you actually would be a little kinder and gentler. But if actual reality shows like the Kardashians, the real housewives, or the Jersey Shore crew teach us anything, we tend to tune out others --- or cameras --- and live as poorly as we would if we were secluded.

Most of us would never expose our "real lives" to be captured on camera. But -- yes, you probably saw this point coming --- God sees it all anyway. God never misses a "private moment." He knows our every thought, every emotion, every action, every desire. He knows our mind and our heart. Everything about us is exposed to Him.

How does that impact you?

Or does it?

It's kind of a clobbering intellectual thought ... but is it more than that to you?

Should it be?

Better yet ... shouldn't it be?


Thursday, January 5, 2012

No rest for who?

You probably could immediately name at least a dozen people who seem to be perpetually weary.

They're busy people, life keeps them exhausted!

Wait a minute ...

... is it life that keeps them exhausted?

Or could it be it's really disobedience to God, disobedience they take little note of?

That busy person may awake before sunrise to read a chapter of his or her Bible, squeeze in some prayer, then start the harriedness of their day.

They leave God in the dark, quiet corner next to their Bible and, if they don't connect with Him again before bedtime, they'll visit again the next morning.

In between meetings is a lot of living they often leave God out of, or keep Him on the fringe of. Instead of what God really wants, which is to be in the middle of it all as we walk with Him throughout every aspect of living out our day.

And so we find ourselves exhausted making life happen by our own accord.

The writer of Hebrews tells us it would happen this way if we don't walk in obedience with God. Look closely at the following verses from Hebrews 4. Read the following text slowly, letting the words sink in deeply:

"1 God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. 2 For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. 3 For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said, 'In my anger I took an oath: They will never enter my place of rest,’ even though this rest has been ready since he made the world. 4 We know it is ready because of the place in the Scriptures where it mentions the seventh day: 'On the seventh day God rested from all his work.' 5 But in the other passage God said, 'They will never enter my place of rest.' 6 So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. 7 So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: 'Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.' 8 Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. 9 So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. 11 So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall," Hebrews 4:1-11.

Striving through life detached, or simply distant, from God is a weary work that keeps us constantly striving spiritually without a fulfilling result. Only by exercising our faith into real obedience to God can we find rest for our weary souls.

Jesus made the issue personal:

"28 Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light',” Matthew 11:28-30.

If you want to find rest in 2012, find Christ.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Little steps often don't take you very far ...

Like a fat kid loves chocolate cake, I love helping people.

It's an incredible thing to see real change and growth in someone's life; to see someone become the person God intends them to mature into.

But here's something interesting I've observed about significant accomplishment, change or growth in people: it often happens --- and lasts --- when we take BIG steps and make MAJOR no-turning-back-now commitments rather than attempt baby steps.

Certainly, that's not true for everyone. Some need to take things one step at a time.

But let's face it, most of us don't.

In fact, baby steps are one of the surest ways to failure. Why? Because there's too much time and too many distractions to tempt us to lose interest or commitment (or both) and wander back to our comfort zone.

But for those who make significant commitments and dive headlong into change, real change often is the result and becomes an enduring part of their lives.

If you really want to make some significant changes in 2012 that last, let me suggest you not play games. Instead, make bold strides, jump in and don't look back.

Go big!