Friday, June 19, 2009

New definitions to words of adversity...

Yesterday, I shared some thoughts from Bob Buford that were passed along by Chip Ingram. Today, I want to pass along some others comments on adversity that Chip passed along on the most recent Coffee Break CD.

He took three words dealing with adversity, and suggested that we consider new definitions for them…

Crisis – God’s opportunity to redirect your life in positive pathways you would never have chosen for yourself. Perhaps you can think of a time you had to make a decision or respond to something that was out of your control, but it turned out to be a great move and made a positive change in your life.

Chaos – External Circumstances God uses to refocus our attention on Him and His Will for our lives. There is a quote that was passed along that says, “We only really get to know God when we’re desperate.”

Confusion – Temporary suspension of the status quo designed by God to help us clarify our gifts and our calling.

We’ll never welcome adversity. But we can better manage it when we know that God works through it to bring us to a better place.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Some benefits of our adversity???

I receive the Coffee Break CD’s by Chip Ingram, and he gives a short message and some insights on each CD. This month, he had two insights that I want to pass along. Today, I’ll share the first, and tomorrow you’ll hear the other.

The first is actually from Bob Buford, who passed this along to Chip Ingram, who shared them on this Coffee Break CD. Bob works with people in their 40’ and 50’s and helps them transition into different stages in their life, and he wrote five reasons why he believes that what is happening today with the economy and the various problems we’re facing, is a good thing for people in this stage of their lives.

1) Adversity causes people to reevaluate what’s really important in their lives.

2) Distress re-centers people on issues of the heart. Rather than issues of rationality. When your in the deep weeds, your mind goes back to the basics.

3) Sustaining a big loss causes people to deal with reality, especially the reality that we are not in control.

4) Where this is abundance, there is a lack of discipline. When we have a lot we don’t have to have a tight budget, when we have a lot we get lazy and undisciplined. God uses times like to this to begin to bring some correction.

5) Thee is a revolution among 20-somethings. They look at us and realize that where we are is not where they want to go. They want to make a great difference, especially a great difference for God, and they don’t see us making a difference.

I know that adversity is hard. But it could be the start of great growth process, if we remain open to God, and get really serious about making sure God is at the center of our life.

I’d love to hear your comments…

Monday, June 15, 2009

New Creations...

On Sunday, we looked at our normal greeting: How are you folks doing?

I know we always say we’re doing good, but really, our bones are a little achy, our finances might be a little tight, our health is undergoing some minor issues, we really aren’t doing great, are we? We say we are, maybe because we can always think of someone who has it worse than we do.

I’m noticing that when I sit for several minutes, I’m a bit stiff when I get up. I notice that my back or my knees or my hips need a bit of time. Maybe you go through the same thing.

Couple that with the idea that, and I almost hate to say this, but we’re getting older, not younger, so more and more things may come up to challenge us. What’s our attitude in light of this? What’s our attitude knowing that we’re stiff, we’re struggling, and things may or may not get much better, at least with some of our stiffness and some of our health issues?

What was Paul's attitude. He has been through more than any of us, his stiffness, his soreness, his failing vision, what was his attitude through this.

To read the full message, click here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Drinking in God's blessings...

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. (Hebrews 6:7-8)

I came across this illustration of God’s blessing in this mornings reading. It’s straight forward, we know that land that isn’t full of thorns and thistles, but rather drinks in the rain, is capable of producing a great harvest.

There are two things that I wonder about. Can we be seen as the land in the illustration? Can our drinking in the gifts and blessings of God be like the land that drinks in the rain? Producing things contrary to God’s will and desire for our lives could produce the curse mentioned? What do you think?

The other thing, in the case of land, it isn’t up to the land so much as it is up to the people who farm the land. The same land can produce thorns and thistles, or corn or wheat, the land really doesn’t care. It depends on what the farmers may plant, how they may care for the land, etc, that determines the whether the crop is useful or not.

Can illustrate our need to work with others, to encourage and comfort and share so they may grow into the rolls that God has for them, so they may live their faith and trust in their God?

What do you think it means, do you have another interpretation? I’d love to hear your comments…

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Following the greatest...

I’ve been reading in the book of Hebrews lately. Perhaps the two deepest books in the Bible are Romans and Hebrews. If you concentrated just on these two books, and understood the teachings and based your entire theology and faith and practice on just these two books, you would still have the basics down pretty well. They are full of God’s wisdom and as applicable to us today as they were to those they were written for nearly 2,000 years ago. The Bible is such a timeless book.

The author of the book of Hebrews is writing to the Jewish people, trying to convince them that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, and that they are saved, not by following the Law of Moses, but by faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus.

His audience knew their lineage well, and knew that they were descendants of Abraham. Abraham was their patriarch, the father of their people, and also the father of their faith. The Jewish people believed that there was no one above Abraham.

Hebrews points out to them that there is one that was greater than Abraham. Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek, a “King of Salem and priest of God Most High.” If Abraham gives his tithes to Melchizedek, than Melchizedek must be greater than Abraham.

He then points to Psalm 110:4, quoting, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” The psalmist was referring to the Messiah to come. Jesus was not a priest in the Jewish religion of the day, a priest in the order of Levi. Hebrews argues that He was a priest in the order of Melchizedek, which is greater.

For the Israelites, the greatest was Abraham. Who is your greatest? If he isn’t Jesus, He isn’t THE greatest.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Investing in the present age...

Many people today have found out how fragile the economy can be.

Paul’s letter to Timothy contains some great wisdom for us in the light of an economy that’s barely staggering to stay upright. He wrote…
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way, they will lay up treasures for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
If you’ve lost 40% of your wealth in the stock market, perhaps you were investing it in the wrong things…

Put your hope in God, do good, and be willing to share. These are the investments that will outlast the present age, and bring eternal returns.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Godliness with contentment...

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

There sure seems to be a lot of complaining these days. People are backbiting, gossiping, complaining, and arguing a lot.

I’m not sure why. I have a strong suspicion that it’s because there is a real lack of contentment in our lives. Commercialism has taught us not to be content, but to get better and better stuff all the time. Our economy only thrives when we purchase, so this lack of contentment is good.

Or is it? Perhaps our economy has slipped and fallen recently as a lesson that it’s foundations are a little skewed. Contentment is a good thing. We don’t constantly need better and better.

We need God. We were created to be with God, and we need Him in our lives today as much as we’ve ever needed Him. And we need to be content with God. I have a quote on my wall in the office that says, “Your too greedy if God is not enough for you.”

Can we return to being godly people who are content to know that God is in control, He has a plan, and that His plan is good. We can find deep peace in that. We can find great hope in that.

There is no peace or hope in running the rat race without God. Yet, though it is infinitely better to trust with contentment, God’s love doesn’t force, the choice is still ours…

Faith First

  Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”  Taking him...