“Busyness”

Posted in Uncategorized on March 21, 2010 by reasonforthehope

All too often we get busy and cram our days full of school, work, sports, band, and/or church. You pick your poison but we all get caught up in the “busyness” of life. This is something I struggle with. I get caught up in the “busyness” of life and go into a mode of tunnel vision and miss much of what God is doing around me.

There are two stories in the bible I think of when I think of the busyness of life. They are both found in Luke 10. The first I thought of was the story of Mary and Martha. I am sure many of you know it well. Martha has invited Jesus in her home but gets distracted by all the preparations of the day. While Mary on the other hand was sitting at Jesus’ feet just soaking up every word he had to say. She took time to spend in His presence and enjoy just being in His presence.

The second story I did not think of right away. Upon turning to the story of Mary and Martha I noticed “The Parable of the Good Samaritan”. Now we often use this story as it pertains to social status and racism but as I read it I began to think about how we often get busy and pass by those in need. I can’t help but think about opportunities that I have passed up probably on a weekly basis to help someone in need because of the “busyness” of life. It is tragic to think that God may have scheduled these encounters just to place me in the path of someone specifically, and I ignored it because of the “busyness”. It may be that the person God puts in our path may just need an encouraging word from a fellow believer. But it could be God placing me in front of someone that has not experienced the love of Christ.

This “busyness” can cause all sorts of things to happen worst of all our busyness and routines can cause us to miss God’s will for our lives. We have to take time and spend with God in order to know where he wants us. We can miss God’s will totally if we get caught up in what we think we are supposed to do and don’t take time like Mary did to have a relationship with Christ. Let’s all make an extra effort to take time and seek God’s will. You never know what you may experience.

Psalms 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God;
                        I will be exalted among the nations,
                        I will be exalted in the earth.”

-Micahel Reed-

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He did it for me.

Posted in Divorce, Faith, Forgiveness with tags , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2010 by reasonforthehope

I’m sure you have all heard advice from someone in your life to “forgive and forget.”  But I have real issues with that statement.  As hard as I try to forget things people have done to me, some things are just unforgettable.  Some things leave constant reminders.  And as hard as I try to forget they ever happened, the fact of it is they did – and the evidence of it remains.

 I have never known life without divorced parents.  My mom and dad divorced when I was nine months old.  I was really mad at my mom for a long time because of that fact.  Having to go to her house every other weekend was a constant reminder that she and my dad divorced.  As I continued to deal with this during my teenage years I would seek out the advice and council of my youth leaders.  They would always remind me to forgive and forget.  I wanted to punch them in the face.  They couldn’t possibly understand what my mom had done.  How was I supposed to forgive her and then forget that I still had to go her house every Tuesday instead of my own?  Needless to say, I didn’t take their advice and continued to let bitterness build up in my heart toward my mom.  In college, I just stopped seeing her all together because I was officially old enough to make my own decision.  That didn’t stop her from trying to see me.  She would call often, send cards, and try to make plans for dinner.  I would just blow her off as quickly as possible.  Then one day, she knocked on my apartment door and told me she wanted to talk to me.  During that conversation, she told me she didn’t understand why I was acting the way I was toward her.  She gave me a very heartfelt apology about the things that had happened when I was young.  And I sat stone-faced the whole time.  In the midst of her “talk,” she mentioned she always heard the way I talked about the way God was working in my life and how I boasted about being a Christian, but she didn’t feel like I was acting like a Christian toward her.  That kinda stopped me in my tracks.  I was very proud of my Christian life. I couldn’t believe any would could knock the ways I was living.  So, I very quickly took the advice of my youth leaders and forgave and forgot…for a while.

 But the forgiveness didn’t last long because the forgetting part didn’t happen.  I continued to let bitterness rule in my heart when I had to create to separate sections in my wedding program and have my husband adjust to two sets of in-laws.  She didn’t challenge my faith anymore, so I thought I was good.  Then, God challenged my heart.  He met me during a revival at church, and set me straight on what true forgiveness really was.  Through the speaker He taught me about forgiveness.  He taught me forgiveness is a choice.  He taught me forgiveness is a wiping away of wrong doing.  He taught me forgiveness is what you do for others because He chose to do it for us.  When you ask for forgiveness from God, His immediate answer is, “Yes”.  It’s not, “Yes, only if you won’t do it again,” or “Yes, because you challenged my faith.” It’s not, “Okay, because somebody told me I needed to.”  His answer is always, “Yes, your sins are forgiven.” No questions ask.  And we certainly don’t deserve the forgiveness He gives.  We are a nasty, sinful people.  We do so many things against Him, things we know are sin, and still we say, “Forgive us.” And His choice is, “Yes.” Every time.

 There in the pew at Meadowview, God gave me the strength to forgive my mother of all the hurt.  And God was faithful to forgive me for all the time I had not forgiven her.  Now, I would love to say we now have a perfect relationship, but it’s not.  It’s 100 times better because I chose with God’s strength to get rid of the bitterness, so the time I spend with her is much more pleasant.  It’s a work in progress.  But sometimes that bitterness tries to creep its way back in.  That forgetting part just won’t go away.  But, I am thankful that we have a God that didn’t just forgive us once.  He forgives us whenever we ask.  When the bitterness tries to creep back up, I take time to remind myself I have made the choice to forgive my mother, and I will forgive her again and again because she deserves that, and God calls me to do that because I am one of His.  And He did it for me.           

  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Colossians 3: 13

They did…did you?

Posted in Committment, Love, Sacrifice with tags , , , , , , , on February 9, 2010 by reasonforthehope

7 We weren’t aloof with you. We took you just as you were. We were never patronizing, never condescending, but we cared for you the way a mother cares for her children. 8 We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did. 9 You remember us in those days, friends, working our fingers to the bone, up half the night, moonlighting so you wouldn’t have the burden of supporting us while we proclaimed God’s Message to you. 10 You saw with your own eyes how discreet and courteous we were among you, with keen sensitivity to you as fellow believers. And God knows we weren’t freeloaders! 11 You experienced it all firsthand. With each of you we were like a father with his child, 12 holding your hand, whispering encouragement, showing you step-by-step how to live well before God, who called us into his own kingdom, into this delightful life.”

1 Thessalonians 2.7-12

 How often we take advantage of the “goodness” God has granted us. How often do we, as Christians, neglect those in need around us? The reason is often irrelevant. The solution is easy, yet the process is quite difficult: Can we look at these verses and see ourselves? Let’s tone it down a bit. Can we see our reflection in one verse? We strive to commit to Christ, yet we disregard our family, homework, or job. The Bible is very clear that love of God is first and foremost, that commitment is non-negotiable or temporary in our lives. (Matthew 22.37-38)

 A Christian’s great legacy and purpose is set in the fact that we are given the great privilege to share the love of Jesus Christ with other people. We share through our actions, speech, lifestyle, hobbies, sports, school work, behavior…the list can go on and on. We can sum it all up with “every single part of our lives.”

 We accept that gift once we become a Christian. But why do we choose to live a life that pretends that we never received that gift? The question this week is very simple. Do you share the love of Jesus with others? Not a very difficult or complex question. The answer is even a simpler two or three letter answer.  We live in a world of grey, but this is a choice of two options. We either live our life loving as Jesus did or we don’t. 

Take a few moments and ask God to give you the strength to love people you don’t feel like loving. Lean on God to give you the strength to face the temptation that gets in your way of loving Him.

The early Christians  struggled with life and their relationships but shared that love…will you?

Summertime…Hot or Cold?

Posted in Committment, Worship with tags , , , , , , , on May 14, 2009 by reasonforthehope

Summertime, summertime, oh sweet summertime….

Things outside seem to come alive after a long winter sleep.  The birds are chirping, the flowers have bloomed, the ball fields are back in full swing, and the hustle and bustle of  the seemingly endless school year turns to lazy days of swimming, picnics and socializing with friends and family vacations.

 The blight of summer is; worship seems to fall even further down our list of priorities.  What should be a time of “no excuse” to not attend is more a time of “I’d rather do the things I can’t do when school is in session.”

 David declared that he was glad to “go into the house of the Lord” for worship (Psalm 122:1).  Today, many Christians are glad to go into their church buildings to worship Christ, but a growing number are not.  In fact, unprecedented numbers have become dropouts from church attendance.

 Their reasons for quitting vary. But in light of David’s joy in coming before the Lord, it might help to consider some reasons for faithful church attendance:

  •  Because as believers we need help to reflect on the past week and see it as just a small part of the journey of life.
  •  Because we will benefit from being taught and led in worship by others, rather than feeding on a constant diet of our own choosing.
  •  Because we need regular reminders of our standing in Christ and help in acknowledging and confessing our sins.
  •  Because we need to hear how believers in the past also struggled, grew, and lived out their faith, as well as the experiences of our peers.
  •  Because we will benefit as a group from silence before the Lord.
  •  Because we need help in facing the issues of life and faith as presented through the teaching of God’s truth.
  •  Because we need an alternative to the constant messages of a culture that increasingly ignores God.
  •  Because we need a conscious break from work and self-interests in order to concentrate on Christ.
  •  Because we need to pray with others, for others, and hear them pray for us.
  •  Because we need to know we are not in this walk alone. We belong to a community of faith that includes others who are trying to walk and live as good, faithful servants of Christ.

 What will you do this summer? How will you make it different from those summers of the past? When you say “this is going to be the best summer ever” does that  include making it a summer in which you are glad to go into the house of the Lord to worship and grow closer to God or will  you take yet another vacation from attending worship and being part of your church family? 

 God meets with his people in a powerful way when they are willing to meet with him and worship together.

Mirror, Mirror…

Posted in Creation, Obedience, Purpose with tags , , , , , , on April 30, 2009 by reasonforthehope

Let me be very honest with you.  I struggle to find my purpose here on this earth.  I struggle to know exactly why God has put me here in this time and place.  Recently, I began to search for answers to the question, “What is my purpose?”  As I have been studying in God’s word, God is reminding me of things I have learned previously and revealing new ideas.  Throughout my study, though, I keep coming back to one thought.  To one simple answer, yet one profound truth about God and his purpose for man.

 

God’s purpose is to receive glory.  God’s purpose for us is to reflect His glory.  That’s it.  The simple answer.  But is it really that simple to do?  The Bible tells us repeatedly how  God’s glory is all around us. Psalms 19:1 says the heavens declare it.  Isaiah 6:3 says the earth is full of God’s glory. Psalms 115: 1 says God’s glory is present in His love and faithfulness.  Revelation 4:11 says God is worthy to receive glory.  The earth declares it all the time – the changing of the seasons, the crashing waves of the oceans, the moon and stars in the sky.  The whole earth reflects God’s glory, but do we?

 

God has created us all very thoughtfully and purposefully.  The Bible also says in Genesis that God created us in His image.  God created us so that we may be a mirror of Him, so that we may reflect the glory of our Maker.  Because we are to be a mirror of God’s glory we must acknowledge that in everything we do.  In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul tells us, “Because, whatever you do, eating or drinking or anything else, everything should be done to bring glory to God.”  This verse says everything we do.  Whoa.  How many times a day do I do things that don’t bring glory to God?  How many of my choices mirror my inside rather than the face of God?

 

 Everything is a lot of things.  Do the words I say bring God glory?  Will that music help me to worship God?  Does going to that party draw others to Him?  Does using my talent praise Him?  This week I encourage you to ask yourself, “Does this reflect God’s glory?”

 

So, what is my purpose?  To live my life in such a way that I am a mirror of God.  To live my life in such a way that others will know Him because they have seen His glory reflected in me.

What is “Seeking God”

Posted in God, Obedience, Service, Trust with tags , , , , on April 23, 2009 by reasonforthehope

We are all aware that the Bible tells us to seek the Lord, but how can we know that we are truly seeking Him? First, we have to make an effort to know Him, and find out what pleases Him. 2 Peter 1:3 says, “Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God.” When we do our part to know God the way He desires and deserves, He gives us everything we need to live a life that is pleasing to Him. God doesn’t expect perfection from us, but He does require us to cooperate. Because He is a fair God, He’ll never ask us to do anything that He won’t give us the power to do. If you doubt this just read Philippians 4:13. When God deals with us about certain sin in our lives, then He is more than ready to supply us with everything we need to overcome it.

Second, we can know that we are seeking God when sin becomes less appealing to us. We are a work in progress. As we cooperate with God in this process, we will find ourselves growing in the Lord, and making more godly choices in every area of our lives. We won’t listen to the same kind of music, or watch the same movies or television programs. Our friendships will change. We’ll have a growing desire to serve God and others, as well as a passion for sharing our faith. Scripture bears this out in 2 Corinthians 3:18 when it says, “As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like Him and reflect His glory even more.”

Third, a good indicator that we are truly seeking the Lord is that we are trusting Him more, and worrying less. Jesus said, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:34) When trouble comes, what is our first instinct? Is it to pray and ask for the Lord’s wisdom and help? Or do we grumble and complain? If we are seeking God on a daily basis, we will establish a pattern of seeing Him work mightily on our behalf when we need Him to. Psalm 9:10 says “for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.”

Lastly, a good sign that we are seeking God is that our day won’t seem complete unless we fellowship with Him. Scripture says: “And this fellowship that we have, which is a distinguishing mark of Christians, is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3) If we have truly given our hearts and lives to Christ, we have the Holy Spirit living in our hearts, and one of thing He does is fill us with passion for God and His Word. If we don’t have a hunger for God’s presence, if we don’t earnestly desire to feed on His Word daily, then something is wrong. Somehow, we are “quenching” the Spirit of God within us. We are truly seeking the Lord when we refuse to settle for a lukewarm relationship with God, and when we determine to keep our faith stirred up by spending time with Him and His Word daily. The Bible says: “Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually.” (Psalm 105:4)

What is the Lord speaking to your heart as you ponder this spiritual checklist today?

It has to be real

Posted in DiscipleNow, Humility with tags , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2009 by reasonforthehope

We just finished our DiscipleNow weekend. Our theme was “Selflessness.”

Our focal passage was Philippians 2.3-4.

As I spent time with our Guest Ministers for the weekend, I shared some of my heart on these verses and those that followed.

Philippians 2.6-7 says, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing…”

Humility never looked so good. The idea of putting “you” before “me” never seemed so possible. The concept of others first, for the first time, has a chance of happening. Christ was the definition and standard of perfection. He was Deity in the flesh. He had the ear of legions of angels, ready to serve him (Psalm 91.11-12, Matthew 4.11, Matthew 13.41). He walked on water without doubt (John 6.19-20). He stood up to those with misguided influence  and saw through their intimidation (Matthew 5.20, Matthew 16.1-4). He loved without compromise or apology (John 8.1-11).

Christ stood with his perfection not as a bragging right nor as a badge that he used for special treatment. His life was led by God’s will. Jesus’ determination to live a life of obedience to God was his legacy. Jesus made a choice everyday once his feet hit the floor to live like a servant. The King lived with the peasants. He made the conscious effort that he would live a life that was nothing, so that God was seen as everything. He could provide whatever he needed, but instead he depended on God.

This carpenter cared more about God’s voice than his own. This Jew cared more about reaching out to others than reaching in for himself. This simple man made himself nothing every single day. No matter the weather. No matter his mood. No matter what others said. No matter where it took him.

How can I ever deny that? How can I ever look past this? Did Jesus Christ care about me ? YES. Did God sacrifice what he loved most for me? YES. Do I care about those around me enough to set aside myself? Do I crave God more each moment, because I realize how utterly lost and useless I am without him?

He was and is our constant example. Praise God that I don’t have to do life alone. Praise God for grace that will not let go and love that will not run dry. It’s no longer a matter of: Do I need him? That question can’t even be asked anymore. It’s a question of: Do I want him?