Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Enemies Within

Have you ever listened to a Christian speaker and had the uneasy feeling that what you were hearing did not ring true? Perhaps it was a television preacher whose appeal for funds seemed a bit manipulative. Or maybe you've attended a Bible study where the leader seemed to suggest that the Bible is a helpful book but not necessarily true in all it affirms.
The early church faced many threats. Some were from outside enemies, but the greatest danger came from within. The problem was false teachers. People who claimed to be students of Christ began emerging in various locations with new or distorted versions of the gospel. Some were chasing tangents, while others claimed to possess a new, superior knowledge of spiritual things. The same is very true today as well. Ancient heresies never die, they are simply recycled after a hundred years or so. The church today is in no less danger from false teaching than it was in the first century. The scripture I am reading from this morning deals with the problem of false teachers in the church. While we must be cautious about making an accusation about false teaching (a person may simply be uninformed or poorly trained as a teacher), we must also be vigilant about guarding the essential tenets of the Christian faith. Read 2 Peter 2:1-22 today. Ask God to speak to you. Remember God is not the author of confusion. He is very easy to understand.

Love God...

Ok...So Jesus lays it out there. He tells us to, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind." How do we do that? Is it tough? Should it be hard? I don't think so. You wanna know why? Because we are created in the image of God which we read in Genesis 1:27. Got that so far? We are created in the very image of God. You are created in the likeness of God Himself! That is cool, huh? We go towards the back of the Bible in the book of 1 John 4:8 we read that, "God is love." So if we are created in the very image of God.....just like God and God is love, it should be pretty natural and easy to love, correct? I'm tellin ya, it has to be that simple. God is a straight forward God. He is not a God of confusion but rather The Author of Truth and Love. I am really perplexed by people who say or act like they have an upper hand with God. Like God reveals Himself to only a select few. Not the God I serve! Not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Not the God who loved you so much that He sent Jesus, His Son, to die upon a cruel cross so that we could have life. He loves us all the same. He is a righteous and holy God who is worthy of our love. So.... Jesus tells us to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind. We are made to love. So, won't you try it today? I promise it won't hurt. Just lean in and maybe even whisper, "I love you, Jesus.... Thank you for loving me." What an awesome start! Give your heart to Jesus and He will preserve it and protect it. Let your mind be captured by thoughts of His beauty and goodness all day long.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Is it really supposed to be this hard?

You know, we humans really make things hard, don't we? I mean I really don't think God intended for us to struggle with all of the finer details of the Christian life. Jesus laid it out pretty simply in Matthew 22:37-40 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. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments." Two commands; Love God with everything we have and love others. I like how one church puts it, "Love God and love people". It really is that simple. But somehow we make it much tougher. I believe part of it comes from how we define how we are to love God. There are so many hurdles to jump. There are so many i's to dot and t's to cross. It is just unmanageable sometimes, isn't it? My thoughts lately tell me this is all wrong. After much deliberation and intellectual discernment, I have come to a one word conclusion...... Are you ready? Here it is: "Hogwash". I told you it was sophisticated! If this life is hard as a believer, it is because we are making it hard. Make no mistake about it; Jesus told us we would suffer persecution because we follow Jesus. But Jesus also promises that He is with us every step of the way and when it gets too hard, He carries us through. We never go it alone as followers of Christ! Isn't that awesome? So tomorrow I hope to start a walk through these verses in scripture to see how we can simplify things and be dedicated, on fire, committed followers of Jesus Christ. May you spend some time today seeking Him in the quiet places of your heart. He is there waiting..........

Sunday, November 16, 2008

And so it begins...

I have been encouraged for quite some time to start a blog but never got around to it. I was inspired to finally start one last week while I was in South Carolina taking a couple classes. My instructor and friend, Mark Wilson encouraged me to get it started. It is my hope to post the happenings of my life and ministry on this on a daily basis. I want to grow closer to God through this experience. I want to be held accountable by being vulnerable about life's challenges that come my way. But perhaps most importantly, I want to be used of God to help others who walk this journey of life. I want my life, ministry and experiences to be used to help encourage someone to never give in and to never offer God less than our very, very best. May He use this blog to bring all of us closer to the cross and make us more like Jesus today than we were yesterday. God bless!