Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The coward ...

There was a time when Alexander the Great ruled much of the known world. At the height of his success, a soldier was brought to him in chains, with the accusation that the soldier refused to fight.

Alexander the Great look at the man and asked, "What is your name?"

"Alexander," replied the soldier.

The great leader raised his eyebrows, and for a moment, stood quietly in thought.

Then, looking the soldier directly in the eyes he said, "You must either fight, quit the army, or change your name."

Alexander the Great couldn't bear the idea of a coward with the same name.

Just as the soldier bore Alexander's name, as Christian's we bear the name of Christ. How well do you represent Him?

"You are the light of the world --- like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father," Matthew 5:16.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

God may be asking more of you than you think ...

It's not uncommon on a Sunday morning to hear a polite sermon about being a servant of Jesus Christ, or encouragement to "serve the Lord."

In fact, the New Testament often directs us to live as servants of the Lord.

And that's somewhat of a problem.

In many references in the New Testament referring to "servant," the translators shied away from the accurate translation of the word "doulos," which is correctly rendered "slave." One writer notes the following;

"Doulos occurs over 140 times in the Greek text and yet was never translated as 'slave' in the King James Version. In the NIV, it is translated 'slave' only 98 times --- often being rendered 'servant' or 'bond-servant' the rest of the time. Interestingly, there are at least six Greek words for 'servant,' and doulos isn't one of them. For some reason, translators shy away from the use of the word 'slave' in English bibles."

There's a big difference between being a servant of God, and a slave of God.

A servant is hired, a slave is owned.

A servant can have more than one job, a slave works solely for his or her master as the master sees fit.

A servant can choose to change masters according what they think is in their best interest, but a slave is one who gives himself up to the will of another.

A servant works to create gain for themselves, but a slave is devoted to another to the disregard of their own interests.

The more we look at the differences between the words servant and slave, the more we understand why the Greek text more commonly refers to Christians as slaves of God.

"But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life," Romans 6:22.

"And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ. God paid a high price for you, so don't be enslaved by the world," 1 Corinthians 7:22-23.

"For you are free, yet you are God's slaves, so don't use your freedom as an excuse to do evil," 1 Peter 2:16.

Are you a "servant" of God according to your own interests? Or are you a slave of God, one who willingly surrenders your will and self-interest to the will and purpose of God?


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Above all things ...

The new hire orientation for new employees of a large, international corporation was held every Monday on the 20th floor of its corporate headquarters. The CEO loved the attention his position brought him, so each Monday he would go down to the 20th floor to welcome the new hires.

The executive didn't just love the attention of his position, he also liked to shock people. Whenever he would attend the orientation, he would suddenly bolt toward the floor-to-ceiling window as if he were going to jump. As he did so, the new personnel would react with startled fear, and some would point and scream. But the window was so strong the boss would bounce off it, and he would laugh at the response of those who thought he was going to jump.

One Monday morning, the CEO introduced himself to the orientation attendees and then, wanting to have some fun at their expense, he turned and ran toward the window. This time, as he hurled himself at the window, the glass gave way and the executive plummeted to his death.

There's always a cost to demanding to be the center of everyone's attention; it's a position reserved for only One. Colossians 1:15-18 speaks of the supreme position of Jesus and then describes the concept of the preeminence of Christ with a simple sentence ...

"... So he is first in everything," Colossians 1:18.

 Do you demand to be central in the lives of others, a place reserved for Christ alone? Or do you yield center space to Jesus?

What about in your own life ... is Christ alone "first in everything"?


Thursday, July 25, 2013

No props needed ...

Because we can't see God, we sometimes have a hard time trusting Him with the entire support of our lives.

Human beings have struggled with this issue throughout history, and often respond to it by adding visual supports, something they can see as means of support to their lives.

Doing so is much like the story of the Windsor city fathers in the 17th century who commissioned famed architect Sir Christopher Wren, designer of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, to design a new town hall. The building was completed as desired except for one exception.

The city fathers wanted their meeting room above a "corn market" --- an open space for farmers to display and sell their products. But when they inspected the new building they were alarmed. Wren had used a new technique for supporting the floor/ceiling below the meeting space and above the corn market that required no pillars (except, of course, at the edges). To the city fathers and others, it seemed obvious that the ceiling of the corn market would soon fall under their weight as they met above it.

The city fathers insisted Wren add four pillars in the middle of the corn market to support the floor of their meeting room above. Wren refused; the added pillars would destroy the beauty of the building. He adamantly insisted his design would work; the ceiling of the corn market was in no danger of collapsing. The city fathers were more adamant; the pillars must be added. Wren reluctantly agreed and everyone watched over the next few months as his workmen created the required four pillars.

Some years after the building's celebrated dedication the corn market ceiling needed re-painting. As workmen erected their scaffolds they noticed something strange. Wren's pillars did not touch the ceiling. The space between their tops and the ceiling was so small as to not be noticeable without close inspection. The ceiling had long stood by the design of its master builder rather than the false support insisted upon by the city fathers. Wren was dead by the time this was discovered. The city fathers then added material to fill the gaps "just in case."

We're a lot like those city fathers. God has created something beautiful with our lives, but because we can't always literally see His supporting our very existence, we insist on bringing in other things to "prop up" our lives. But whatever we add to God's design are just faux pillars, they accomplish nothing of value in our lives.

What are you relying on to sustain your life --- your Master Builder (God), or the phony props you've added?

"For the life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every humans being," Job 12:10.

"For nothing is impossible with God," Luke 1:37.

"And it is impossible to please God without faith ..." Hebrews 11:6.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Are you like Justin Bieber?

The photo set below was posted on a social media site and caught my attention ...

From looking at the pictures, it seems Bieber's choice of hats has less to do with team loyalty than it does a fashion choice at the moment.

But in real life, some people are a lot like Bieber in choosing hats ... willing to change loyalties ("hats") according to what benefits them at the moment.

That is very different than the loyalty Jesus Christ expresses toward us ... 

"There are 'friends' who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother," Proverbs 18:24. Jesus is that kind of "friend" to us.

That is the kind of friend scripture inspires us to be ... 

"A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need," Proverbs 17:17.

Do others consider you to be a loyal friend? Or do you wear a lot of hats? 


Sunday, July 21, 2013

It's good to be a sheep ...

You've heard the warning to beware of wolves in sheep's clothing ...

... but far less attention is given to the serious warning of not being sheep who put on wolves' clothing ...
Sheep ... in wolves' clothing?

Yep, you see it often among those who profess to follow Christ, but who actually long for things of the world. They don't simply engage culture, they embrace it; they find walking the Way to be a little boring, and a lot un-cool. In their minds, all the cool things to be and do are in the world. So on Sunday they put on their sheep's clothing to "go to church," but on Monday they become sheep in wolves' clothing, completely ignoring the warnings to the contrary ...

"Don't copy the behaviors and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. ..." Romans 12:2a.

"Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the father in you," 1 John 2:15.

"You adulterers! Don't you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God," James 4:4.

"Don't team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be God's temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: 'I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don't touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty'," 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.

As disciples of Christ we are to resist any temptation to be like the world ...

"Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don't let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires," Romans 13:14.

"Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him," Colossians 3:10.

If you belong to Jesus Christ, it's good to be a sheep ...

"Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture," Psalm 100:3.

Have you thrown out your wolves' costume and clothed yourself with Christ?


Saturday, July 20, 2013

If you think a golf ball could do some damage ...

Golfers --- like fishermen --- are famous for their rather colorful stories. Like the "big one that got away," golfers tell of the amazing shot that only a hole in one would best.

But of all the stories any golfer could tell, few could rival the tale of Mathieu Boya. Several newspapers around the world have investigated this story, and have verified it's a true, yet remarkable event.

This bizarre story began in 1987. Boya was a teenage boy living in his homeland of Benin, a tiny West African nation of eight million people. Boya loved the game of golf. Unfortunately, in this small impoverished nation there were no golf courses. Due to this, Boya routinely went to the local airfield to practice his swing. There were five airfields in the nation at the time. Of these, only one was paved. The country had a small air force that consisted of only five Mirage fighter jets that frequently taxied up and down the runway. For the most part, the pilots were usually oblivious to the youth’s presence near the air base.

One morning, Boya went to the airfield to get in a little golf practice. Little did he know he was about to set into place a chain of ridiculous events that looked like a slapstick farce.

One of the five jets had begun to taxi down the runway when Boya teed off. The errant shot flew high into the air and struck a low flying sea gull knocking him unconscious. The stricken bird fell from the sky, landing in the open cockpit of the taxiing jet. When the gull landed in the lap of the pilot, the startled bird began to flap about wildly and peck at the pilot who was startled and quickly lost control of the jet. The bird flew out of the jet at the last moment just as the pilot crashed into the four other Mirage jets parked near the runway, damaging or destroying them all.

Boya was immediately arrested. Fortunately, no one was injured but damage from this errant golf ball was estimated at $40 million. There was no money in the nation’s treasury to pay for the damages and Boya was ordered to pay restitution. Sadly, the teen made only $275 per year. At this rate, it would take 145,454 years for the youth to pay his debt to society.

If you think of how impossible it would be for this teenage boy to repay the cost of a mini air force for his nation, just think of trying to pay the cost for your sin.

It's impossible.

That's why Jesus Christ offered His own life to pay your sin debt.

"He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds," Titus 2:14.

Our sin has done more damage than any golf ball ever could, but Christ has paid the debt and is restoring the damage we've caused. Have you accepted the redemption He offers you?


Friday, July 19, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: A leadership book with a twist ...

"I've Got Your Back" (published by Tenth Power Publishing) is James Galvin's attempt at a contemporary leadership parable to teach "biblical principles for leading and following well." The final result for readers are a few good points otherwise woven into an undistinguished book.

Let's start with the good points ...

Galvin understands that you cannot be a good leader without first being a good follower. Thus, much of the book deals with followership and "following well" in order to be able to understand good leadership. In fact, what seems to be the writer's underlying point is that "leadership and followership are two sides of the same coin."

"The essence of leadership is helping people follow well," Galvin writes, a concept that requires a thorough understanding of followership as much as it does of leadership.

The teaching content focuses on Galvin identifying three types of leadership, five levels of followership, and what he describes as the God-created "leader-follower dynamic."

Now for some weak points ...

Galvin's attempt to use a parable format, telling a story of four young adults who are recent graduates of a Christian university, falls flat. Th
e vignettes are too short, too shallow, and a little "cheesy."

The entire book, from the parable to the "concise theology of leadership," has a tone as if Galvin was writing in a hurry; the style is clipped and moves too fast to have a book that offers real depth on followership or leadership.

People don't usually read a book for just a few good ideas; a good book is good reading from cover-to-cover. If that's the quality of book you're looking for, you might want to skip "I've Got Your Back."


I received this book free from Handlebar 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.” 

Talk v. Walk: Getting real about what you profess ...

As Christians, we hear about and talk about "living for Jesus Christ," but is that a conscious objective of yours every single day of your life?

Do you start your day with God? Are you in the Word daily? (Psalm 1:2).

Do you walk with God while at work? At school? At home? (Romans 13:13a, Colossians 3:17).

Do you put Christ in the center of every relationship, and above every relationship? (Colossians 1:18).

Does Christ rule how you value and use your resources? All of your resources ... time, talent, treasure (Hebrews 13:5, Acts 20:33-35, Matthew 6:21, 33, Luke 6:38, 1 John 3:17).

Do you do your best to take every thought captive for Christ? (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Do you take up your own cross every day and follow Jesus? (Luke 9:23).

Do you worship and praise God each day, or just for a matter of minutes on Sundays? (John 4:23).

Do you serve God? Do you serve others in His name? (1 Peter 2:9, 1 Corinthians 15:58).

Is prayer not just a priority of your life, but an unceasing part of it? (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Do you love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind? Do you love your neighbor as yourself? (Matthew 22:37-40).

Is living a holy life part of your life mission? (1 Peter 1:16).

Do you make disciples? (Matthew 28:18-20, 2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

You see, we can talk about "living for Jesus," but that talk is of NO value unless we are doing our best, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to actually do it every day of our lives.

If we're sincerely trying, with God's help, then we can say we're living for Jesus. Otherwise, we're simply including Him in ways we find convenient, and excluding Him in the many other ways we find inconvenient.

None of us will ever be perfect in our followership during this lifetime, but are we purposely trying to do our best each day to follow Christ, to have Christ fully developed in us, and to be like Him?

Or is this more talk than reality?


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Does your life look like this?

One of God's greatest passions for you and me is our holiness.

Like pure ocean waters, God wants our lives to be holy, completely free from sin ...

"Everyone who sins is breaking God's law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is. Dear children, don't let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning," 1 John 3:4-8.

"So you must live as God's obedient children. Don't slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn't know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the scriptures say, 'You must be holy as I am holy'," 1 Peter 1:14-16.

"God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives," 1 Thessalonians 4:7.

God has not given the life of His Son to cleanse us from sin only for us to continue in sin. Do you purposely strive to live a holy life through the power of the Holy Spirit?


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

This is when someone might need you the most ...

You don't have to know me well to know that cold weather and I are not friends. I've lived too long in places like Arizona, California, and Hawaii to find cold and snow to be pleasant in any way.

But I tried.

During a year of my teen life, I lived on a farm in northeast Arkansas. It was quite a cultural contrast for a West Coast guy ... who was actually born in that small town of Pocahontas, AR.

When winter rolled around and everything was covered with snow, I decided (foolishly?) to take my uncle's suggestion to do some rabbit hunting. Yes, in the winter, in the snow.

With two pair of thermal socks on underneath high-topped weather-proof boots, and otherwise bundled up with only my eyes exposed, I took my uncle's shotgun and headed out.

Part of the experience was enormously enjoyable. It was remarkably quiet in the still of the cold, with only the sound of my boots crunching in the snow. The unusual quiet spread a blanket of peacefulness across the farm.

Still, as much as I directed my attitude to enjoy the adventure, I eventually wearied of the cold and headed back to the house.

I thought I had endured my daring foray into the wintery whiteness rather well ... until I took my boots off. As my feet warmed, they became racked with pain. I was uneducated about the after-effects of suddenly being in a warm house after an extended period of having one's feet covered in snow.

My feet, for all their insulation, had been much colder than I imagined, and their "thawing" quickly (too quickly) in the warmth of the house surprisingly caused a good deal of pain!

This simple adventure reminds me of something I've seen many people experience, something I've experienced myself. That is, sometimes when we are challenged by trials or difficulties in life, we keep moving in order to push through. Once on the other side, we think we've done well and arrived safely, but it's only when the battle is done that we feel the full pain of the experience we've weathered.

That's why it's so important for those family and friends who were willing to walk any portion of your trial with you to not leave too early. It's one thing to be with you through the scary journey of your challenges, but sometimes the worst pain comes when the fight is over and you finally feel your wounds.

And that's when you'll really need the support of people who love you.

Many times in counseling sessions, I've sat across from people who have weathered some great storms in life, only to be perplexed as to why they seem to be hurting so much now that the storm had passed. It's because they were too focused on gaining the victory during the battle to take full notice of the wounds they had suffered.

It's when you get to the other side that you need to give attention to healing.

If you know someone weathering a storm or trial or great challenge, remember that they need your support not only in the midst of the battles, but especially after the fight. When the cold of life's challenges begin to thaw away in the heat of victory, they may feel great pain caused from the experience. They will still need your loving support as they tend to their wounds.

Some of the most intimate moments of a relationship is when we are there for someone who is feeling the pain of their battle. Some of the moments in life we most need a friend is when we feel the pain involved in our healing.

If you really care, stick around. Don't leave while your friend still has their boots on.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

An extreme God ...

God is an extreme God.

His love is extreme.

His mercy is extreme.

His grace is extreme.

His capacity for being extreme is best shown in His desire to save humankind from sin so we can be reconciled with Him. What did He do? He wrapped Himself in flesh by being born into this broken world as a man, and while wearing a crown of thorns He offered Himself as the perfect and only acceptable sacrifice for our sins.

That's the extreme to which God is willing to go to save us.

Now, He commissions us as His ambassadors to carry on this ministry of reconciliation ...

"And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, 'Come back to God!'" 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.

God has gone to the extreme to save us; now, to what extreme are you willing to go to carry on His ministry of reconciliation?


Saturday, July 13, 2013

A tale of two attitudes ...

It's a difficult thing to over-estimate the value and impact of a good attitude.

In fact, the reality and quality of your life has less to do with the circumstances you face than with the attitudes you choose.

Compare how this works out in the lives of Frank and Joe ...

Frank is not a morning person, nevertheless, he gets up early to start his day in prayer, Bible study, and reflection before heading to the gym where he works out at least three times a week. He then goes home for a quick shower and breakfast with the family before going to work ...

Joe also is not a morning person, which means he hits the snooze button on his alarm clock as many times as possible before he's left with barely enough time to get up, dress quickly and rush off to work. Joe never exercises (at least, not on purpose), and grunts at the family as he runs out the door ...

Frank's morning commute means slow going in heavy traffic, but he has learned to use the time well. Armed with audio books and hot coffee in his car's console cup holder, he spends the time attempting to navigate traffic congestion by learning more about things that will sharpen his skills, inform him, or even listen to the reading of a great novel. This has turned Frank's morning commute into a daily adventure ...

Joe hits his horn multiple times and spends his commute cursing at the other drivers around him ...

Frank doesn't work at his dream job, but every workday as he walks through the employee entrance he offers a silent prayer of thanksgiving to God for the employment he does have, and asks God to lead him through his workday so that all he does for his employer will bring glory to God ...

Joe hates his job and he reminds himself just how much he does every time he walks through the employee entrance ...

Frank's commute home is also in heavy traffic, but he uses his drive home every workday to call a friend so he can make sure he stays connected with the relationships in his life ...

Joe's commute home is used hitting the horn multiple times and cursing the other drivers around him ...

Even though he's had a full day, Frank relishes using his time in the evening on what is important to him: spending time with his family, being activity in ministries of the church, and making some time for other relationships, including discipling a couple of men he has led to Christ ...

By the end of the workday, Joe is spent. That means he doesn't want to be bothered, he just wants a cold beer, a hot meal, and a few hours vegging in front of the TV ...

Frank's life requires selfless choices about his attitudes and a daily exercise of self-discipline. Joe's life is all about Joe, and it shows.

How do the attitudes you choose every day mold the quality of your life? Do you exercise self-discipline to live joyfully to the glory of God? Or is your life more like the average Joe?


Friday, July 12, 2013

Release the brake ...

Several years ago I jumped into my car to head out for another busy day. Maneuvering my way through traffic, I suddenly realized the performance of my car seemed to be very sluggish, which was odd since it was a newer vehicle.

I checked all the gauges, but no problems were indicated. Still, the car felt as if it were lacking power. Concerned that something was mechanically amiss, I lightened up on the accelerator and cruised as easily as possible to my destination.

When I arrived, I quickly parked and, when reaching to set my parking brake, discovered I had been driving with the parking brake on all along!

Fortunately, my trip was short and didn't result in any harm to the car, but driving with the parking brake on much longer could have caused damage to the car that could have been costly. Instead, my mistake only resulted in a reluctant performance from my car.

That little trip reminded me of an old saying that goes, "There is nothing so easy but that it becomes difficult when you do it with reluctance."

Life is that way. That which we do with an attitude of reluctance becomes more difficult, as if we're trying to drive with the parking brake on. As Christians, the Apostle Paul steers us away from such an attitude with this exhortation:

"So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God," 1 Corinthians 10:31.

When we make the purpose of all we do in life to be about bringing glory to God, reluctance fades away and we can engage with a joyful enthusiasm.

Kind of like releasing the brake.

Are you living reluctantly? Or joyfully, to the glory of God?


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The language of distance ...

One of the most repeated statements from Christians today is that Christianity is not a religion, it's a relationship.

Then why the pervasive use of the language of distance?


It's very common to hear preachers, teachers, and others talk about "encountering God" or "experiencing God," almost as if you have to hunt for, search down, and nearly sneak up on God in some remote place to interact with Him!

When describing some of the most intimate human relationships you have, you probably don't speak that way. You probably don't talk about "encountering" your spouse or your children, "experiencing" your friend or your neighbor; but we use these terms routinely when describing interacting with God ...

... the very One who is with us ALWAYS ...

... the very One we are directed in scripture to love foremost ...

... the very One who sustains our very existence ...

... yet, we talk about "encountering" or "experiencing" Him?

Isn't our relationship with God supposed to be even more intimate than our relationship with our spouses, our children, our family members, our friends, or anyone else?

"Jesus replied, 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment," Matthew 22:37-38.

An "encounter" or "experience" is something that isn't common, that isn't ordinary, something that is unusual. Yet, God desires a communion with us that is so intimate it is "common" to talk with Him, walk with Him, to interact with Him.

When we talk about "encountering" or "experiencing" God, we conjure up pictures of Moses stumbling upon a burning bush and having a unique "encounter" with God. That was then, but this is now. And now is a period of New Covenant, where the Holy Spirit lives in disciples and those who truly know Christ have Christ in them.

Words matter.

To continually speak of God in a distant voice often has a root reason: the person is distant from God, not experiencing the intimate, ongoing communion God wants to have with us.

What is your relationship with God like: an unusual, occasional encounter, or an intimate relationship?


Thursday, July 4, 2013

You're richer than you think ...

Waylon Prendergast committed a spur-of-the-moment robbery while on his way home from a late-night drinking session. A very inebriated Mr. Prendergast forced his way into a house through an open upstairs window, filling a suitcase with cash and valuables before setting the living room on fire to cover his tracks. He then escaped through the back door and made his way home, chuckling all the way. It was only after he turned the corner onto his own street, however, and discovered three fire engines outside his house, did he realize that in his drunkenness he had burgled and ignited his own property.

What did he have to say for himself?

"I had no idea I had so many valuable possessions!"

Most of us haven't done anything quite as stupid as this, but many of us find ourselves at the same conclusion as that drawn by Mr. Prendergast --- we had no idea we had so much!

But according to the Apostle Paul, as a Christian you're probably richer than you think ...

"All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ," Ephesians 1:3.

Along with the incredible blessings of God, today, as Americans, we take time to reflect on the great blessing of living in the "land of the free, and home of the brave," and all that offers to us.

You are, indeed, richer than what you might think!

Paul offers a much better way to respond to such lavish blessings than Prendergast's example ...

"So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding," Ephesians 1:6-8.

Today, remember to thank God for all His blessings, especially that of true freedom. Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Portion control of spiritual proportions ...

One of the keys to weight management, and even good health and fitness, is portion control, something Americans in particular have a real problem with.

Restaurants often lure customers in by promoting monstrous portions of culinary delights, and we think we're being hospitable when we serve family and guests with heaping platefuls of food.

The truth is, we routinely eat much more than what is healthy for us.

That's because we want more than we need.

We hear preachers talk regularly about not dreaming big enough and that we should ask God for more, but it's become routine for us to ask God for far more than we need. We've forgotten the model for prayer that Jesus gave us, teaching us to ask for proper portions ... "Give us today our daily bread ..." (Matthew 6:11).

Why is it that God often doesn't give us all that we ask for?

Because God knows what is best for us. "Best for us" might mean less, smaller, slower, quieter than what we wanted. God responds to our requests with the portion size that is best for us.

Have you allowed your desires to become obese? Do you routinely seek from God more than you need?


Monday, July 1, 2013

You're not the only one who wants some results ...

We are results-oriented people.

We want results from our work, results from our investments, results from our relationships, results from our prayers, and results from God.

We want results!

But have you ever considered God might want some results from you?

God didn't spend all of human history working out His perfect plan to save us from our sins for there to be no results from His work in our lives.

The Apostle Paul writes about results that should show in our lives ...

"... Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear," Philippians 2:12.

Does the way you live demonstrate the transforming work of God in your life?