All posts for the month July, 2011

Camping in Moses Lake with Kincade and his baseball team. Stayed up until midnight talking and laughing with the other parents.

It has taken a lot of time for us to become comfortable with each other. You see, this isn’t a christian group and I am a preacher. But over the past year we have gained each others trust and friendship. And I thoroughly enjoy hanging with them.

Something I’ve realized: christians inadvertently put pressure on each other. We’ve created a culture where we have to act a certain way, instead of just being ourselves. With these baseball friends, I can be myself  without the pressure of acting a predetermined way.

But this is the deal: I want to keep the genuineness, but I also want every one of them to become a follower of Jesus Christ. I want my life to be so attractive that a hunger grows in them so they begin to pursue a relationship with Christ. And it is so clear, to do this is a work of the spirit.

So my prayer today is that Christ would work through me to influence my friends towards Him.

Are you a planner or a day-at-time kind of person? Do you think Christians should be one or the other? Some believe you should not make plans and be led each day by the Spirit. Others believe you should plan, but leave space for God to change those plans at any moment. What do you think?

Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:15 NIV)

James highlighted this issue and resolved it by emphasizing a daily walk with God that is spontaneous, but also gave room for planning that is submitted to the plan of God.

I imagine, depending on which side of the fence you are on, there is room to grow. If you are more spontaneous, you probably should consider taking one day a month and asking God for His next steps. If you are more of a planner, like me, you probably should leave space in every day with nothing planned. Either way, let’s be committed to doing the Lord’s will, whether spontaneously or planned.

Here is a scenario: what if you woke up one morning, the recession has just ended and things are looking really good, and your boss decides to hand you the reigns of the company and walk away? What would you do and more importantly, how would you lead?

Isaiah 16:4-5 paints that picture and here are the qualities of that leader: will rule with mercy and truth, will always do what is just, and will be eager to do what is right.

I think we, as leaders, often focus on the results of our leadership rather than leadership itself. We major in the charisma and minor in character. But I have longed believed that the way we lead is more important than the results we produce. If it is just about the bottom line, then we may find ourselves, under the pressure of performing, giving up a little on the character side. We can start making excuses that if we just lie a little here, or manipulate this person in such a way it will be better for them, and on it goes. The ends justify the means. But in God’s economy he is way more concerned about how we produce than what we produce.

So today, I am going to give it my best shot to be more merciful to those I work with, to be honest and truthful (even if the truth hurts), just in all my dealings, and I will seek to do right by all those in my life. God help me.

So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine. (Hosea 3:2 NLT)

The story of Hosea in the Bible is a very powerful illustration of the mercy of God. He asks this prophet, Hosea, to buy back his wife who has gone into prostitution as a symbol of God’s love for us, who have strayed from His grace.

What hit me this morning, is that God asks Hosea to buy her back. In this culture, he could have just went and taken her back. It was his right. But instead he pays good money to buy this prostitute, his wife. He was willing to use his own money to purchase back his unfaithful wife.

Why did God ask Hosea to buy his wife back?

Two thoughts:
1) To show us that it cost God something to offer forgiveness to us. Ultimately His son.
2) To show us that following God may cost us something. Particularly, our reputation, our finances, and certainly our pride.

In light of God’s sacrifice for us, I am challenged today, to be more willing than I have been, to sacrifice my own reputation, my finances and my pride to follow Christ.

Have you ever wondered if your financial problems are somehow related to your spiritual life? Like many, we have been struggling financially. I always want to be careful to not over-spiritualize things, but this is the deal: in Psalm 115, verse 13 it says, “God will bless those who fear the Lord.” I have to be honest, I have been fearing circumstances, the economy, and uncertainty, more than I have been fearing God.

What does fearing God mean and how does it relate to our finances?

Fearing God doesn’t mean being afraid of Him. It has more to do with honoring, respecting, and giving Him authority in our lives to lead us. Let me give you an example: when I continue to do things or think things that, I know, are not honoring to God, I am not fearing Him. When I start “taking matters into my own hands” and trying to figure it out on my own, I’m not fearing Him.

So, how does all this relate to our finances? This is what I know about God: He loves us. He really does. He wants to help us. He wants to bless us. You may not believe this, but He is like the best, and most loving, father. And what loving father will give His kids a brick when they ask him for bread? But if we don’t honor God as the loving father he is, we don’t get blessed by His hands. If we don’t fear him by living according to His word, then we won’t be blessed by God.

But if we strive to live rightly and let Him lead us (give up control), then it is very possible God will look out for us. It’s like a scene from the movie, “Facing the Giants” where the coach taught his players: “Whether we win or lose, we will praise Him.”

Let’s give God a chance to show us His kindness by having a healthy fear of Him.