Thursday, December 20, 2012

Love Made Visible

Dave Brubeck isn’t well known for music that makes profound theological statements about Christmas.  He is better known for progressive jazz songs like “Take Five” and “Take the ‘A’ Train.”  But, later in his career, Brubeck and his wife Iola crafted a lyric that could inspire the best of Christmas sermons.

One day, while driving down the road, Brubeck announced to his wife that he had finished a new song.  Being familiar with the song, Iola disagreed.  She said, “No, you haven’t finished it.” Brubeck asked, “Well, what did I leave out?” She suggested a new lyric: “God’s love made visible. He is invincible.  God’s love made visible.”  Brubeck said that her lyric “finished it.”
I think that statement could finish a lot of talk about Christmas.  Christmas is the time when God’s love is made visible.  The Gospel of John agrees in saying, “The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  On Christmas morning, the glorious love of God was seen in Jesus Christ.  His people experienced that love as they came to know Jesus.  That love spreads through them as they love the world.  As Jesus works in and through the actions of His people, the world sees the love of God.
As you go through Christmas week, make God’s love visible.  Look for Jesus Christ in the midst of all the holiday business.  As you see Him, let His love flow through you to a hurting world.  God’s love is visible this Christmas.  Your life can be a testimony to the truth of that profound lyric.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Christmas Jesus That Preaches Repentance

I love the Advent story in the Gospel of Mark.  Jesus arrives and says, “The time has come, the Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news,” (1:15).  In other words, “Check yourself! The Son of God is looking you in the eye. Pledge your undying allegiance to me!” Mark does not mention the birth or childhood of Jesus. He allows Matthew and Luke to fill in that information.  He doesn’t wax theologically about the Word incarnate.  He leaves that to John.  Mark instead announces a grown up Son of God who proclaims God’s authority, demands repentance, and imparts the Holy Spirit. This not-so-cuddly Jesus is just as much a part of the Christmas story as the baby Jesus introduced in the other gospels.

Mark’s Christmas message is different than what we hear at the mall.  The scene is set at the mall: everyone adores the sweet baby Jesus because He is as cute as a cabbage patch doll (a great stocking stuffer for your daughter, on sale for only $49.99 at Toys R US). Seldom does the mall’s depiction of the Christmas story tell the rest of the story. It doesn’t mention the perfect God of the Old Testament. It doesn’t mention human sin and the death that sin causes. It doesn’t mention that because God became human in Jesus Christ, God has conquered sin and death! That little, wonderful baby holds the keys to the world’s salvation!  The mall doesn’t share that message. It might be bad for business.

At Faith Center, don’t let the mall’s portrayal of Christmas change the Christian’s portrayal of Christmas. This Christmas, don’t let your worship stop at the historical fact that Jesus of Nazareth was born a couple of millennia ago.  Let the reason WHY Jesus came penetrate your life. Whether you are a new convert or lifelong believer, take Mark’s good news to heart. Jesus Christ is Lord of heaven and earth. He is declaring the closeness of His Kingdom. He is calling you to repentance. Believe His good news and follow Him.  Jesus will save you.  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Gift of Ol' Saint Nick

Saint Nicholas was a Christian Bishop who lived during the fourth century in Turkey.  Among many other things, Nicholas became known for giving gifts anonymously.  Legend has it that Nicholas gave to a poor man who needed money to help his daughters.  Saint Nicholas gave the money anonymously by sneaking purses filled with gold coins into the poor man’s house.  He gave one purse, three nights in a row, one for each daughter. 
After giving the second purse, the poor man realized Nicholas was the giver and confronted him.  Nicholas insisted that God had provided for the poor man.  In order to not be seen the third night, Saint Nicholas climbed on the man’s roof and dropped the third purse down the chimney.  The third daughter had just so happened to wash her stockings that night and hung them above the embers of the fireplace to dry.  The third purse of gold fell into the stocking, helping the poor man’s last daughter.

Anonymous giving is a healthy spiritual exercise for all Christians – not just Ol’ Saint Nick.  It allows the giver to serve others out of complete devotion to God.  Anonymous giving removes any temptation to give out of a desire for recognition or something in return.  It also allows the recipient to recognize God’s provision through His people. 

Jesus uses vivid imagery in promoting anonymous giving.  In Matthew 6, Jesus tells His followers, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.”  Though it is impossible for our left hand to not know what our right hand is doing, it is a helpful illustration of the importance of giving without recognition.

Faith Center is organizing an opportunity for our church family to give anonymously.  We have placed Christmas ornaments on the Christmas tree in the sanctuary.  Each ornament lists needs and wishes of families who could use help this Christmas.  You, your family, or your Growth Group, can take those ornaments, purchase gifts, return them to the church, and we will make sure they make it to the family in need.  Your left hand will be none the wiser and God will be honored because of it.

This Christmas, join the tradition of Ol’ Saint Nick.  Give out of complete devotion to Jesus.  Give so that the world knows that God is providing.  Give because the God you love gave all, two thousand years ago, in a manger in Bethlehem.  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Wonderful, God Given Life

There is a famous Christmas movie about a guy named George Bailey.  George Bailey dreams of leaving the small town he grew up in and exploring the world.  George never fulfills his dream because the circumstances at his family business wont allow it.

At one point, the family business gets into financial trouble.  George panics and feels trapped.  He has sacrificed a lot for the Building and Loan and, all of the sudden, it looks like it might be lost too. 

At the depths of disappointment, George meets an angel.  The angel shows George what his small town would have been like if he had never existed.  George realizes how meaningful his life is.  The change in perspective gives George a new outlook on life.  He appreciates all that he has been blessed with and recognizes how wonderful his life is.

We all can learn from George Bailey.  The disappointments and challenges that come our way discourage us too.  We forget what God is doing through us with co-workers, children, spouses, and on, and on.  We need a messenger of God to give us a perspective check and remind us of all that we have to be thankful for.
The Apostle Paul gives us that kind of perspective check.  Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica, telling them to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  In other words, look for the good in every circumstance and thank God for it.

As you enjoy this holiday season, be on the lookout for all the amazing ways God is using and blessing your life.  Pay attention to your children and how they bless you.  Remember neat things that God has done through you in your work place.  Look for, take note, and thank God for the good things that are going on in your life.  As you do, you will realize that God is indeed at work in your wonderful life.

Gets me every time...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Voter Registration, Aggressive Drivers, and the Grace of God

There is a woman in Arizona who thinks it is very important to vote.  She thinks it is so important that she ran over her husband for failing to do so.  Wow.

This is how it happened: the woman’s husband admitted that he hadn’t participated in this year’s election.  The woman got mad, her husband fled the scene, and she followed in her car.  Police caught up with the couple and found the husband pinned underneath his wife’s vehicle.  He told the officers that his wife ran him because of his “lack of voter participation.”

We laugh at that odd news story, but how many of us behave that way in our spiritual life?  Someone does something that is bad (worse than not voting) and we go after him or her.  We point out the sin, describe how wrong it is, and then park on it.  We want the person to pay the price for the mistake and we are happy to enforce it.
The sad thing about that approach to sin is this: it robs people of the opportunity to change.  So much damage is done in emphasizing the sin, we never get the chance to mention God’s forgiveness or redemptive work.  Basically, we ruin our chance to point to a real solution.

The Gospel of John says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”  Jesus came to forgive people of sin so that they might be changed for the better.  Jesus came to offer a solution.  No car chase needed.

As you go through the coming week, see how grace opens doors for real change. Don’t get offended by a problem and park on it.  Be gracious and tell people about a God who forgives and redeems the broken.  You’ll find that focusing on the solution is way more effective than focusing on the problem.  And, it will be a lot easier on your tires.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Jesus...Redeem Me

Last month, the New York Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs.  Though they are well known for their lineup of hitters, the Bronx Bombers had a hard time connecting with the ball.  They lost close, low scoring games.

People are quick to point the finger when consistent winners like the Yankees lose.  Third basemen Alex Rodriguez was one of the players fans blamed first.  Rodriguez batted poorly throughout the playoffs.  Because he draws a large salary, many thought Rodriguez was particularly responsible for the team’s poor performance.

I read an article this week that noted a symbol of the fans’ blame.  During their last series, a frustrated fan painted a sign for Rodriguez.  He stood in the stands at Yankee Stadium and held it high for everyone to see.   It read, “A-Rod…Redeem Yourself.”

That fan’s sign represents a common mindset in our society: we need to redeem ourselves.  In the case of the Yankees, a few more hits, a few more RBI’s will fix everything that went wrong in the past.  Redemption is a swing away.  If we just work harder and do a little better, we can fix it.

There is an obvious spiritual parallel to the message on that sign.  Humans feel like we need to redeem ourselves from the brokenness of our past.  Many are trying.  We are doing our best.  We are working hard to do the right thing.  We get frustrated because it isn’t producing the results we want.

The Apostle Paul suggests that it will never produce lasting results.  Paul writes to the church in Ephesus: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”  Redemption is not something we earn by performing better, but a gift given to us by God.

As you go through the coming week, call on God for grace.  Stand in the bleachers of your life holding up a sign: “Jesus…Redeem Me.”  The good news is that Jesus will.  By calling on Jesus, and getting to know Jesus, we will be set free from the strikeouts of the past.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Storm Warnings

A couple weeks ago, super storm Sandy hit the east coast.  Days in advance, officials pleaded with residents whose homes were in the path of the storm to evacuate.  The Governor of Connecticut pleaded, “Get out before you can’t.”  The Governor of New Jersey told residents that they were responsible for themselves if they chose to stay.  Residents along the north Atlantic Coast were warned well in advance.

People stayed.  The day the storm struck, people were seen jogging.  Some walked their dogs.  Others stopped by their favorite local bistro for a coffee and bagel.  They were living life as usual.

As a result, those folks witnessed the storm first hand.  Sandy destroyed homes and took lives.  One couple was killed by a falling tree, while walking their dog in the park (during the storm).

While I'm not saying Sandy was an act of God's judgement, God does give us storm warnings in our spiritual lives too.  God gracefully warns us time and time again that sin leads us into danger.  He said it at the Garden of Eden.  He sent His Son to look us in the eye and tell us.  He sent His Holy Spirit to empower His church to proclaim the same message: “Sin will lead you straight into the eye of a deadly storm!”

Like super storm Sandy, we go on living our lives as if the warning never existed.  We act as if we are immune from the heartbreak sin inevitably brings.  When sin leads to the pain and frustration we were warned about, we are genuinely surprised.

As you go through the coming week, heed God’s warning.  “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”  Turn from the things that will harm you and find life abundantly in Christ.  Though His warnings are age old, His ways will save us from the storms that threaten today.   

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Jesus on GameDay

Alabama played Ole Miss about a month ago.  Several Alabama fans didn’t want to miss the game.  Let me be clear: they really didn’t want to miss the game.  So, they chartered a small plane to fly them from Fairhope to Tuscaloosa (the home of Alabama football).  About twenty miles from Selma, the plane had trouble.  Within minutes, one of the engines stopped and the plane went down.  The fans began to worry and prayed to Jesus for dear life.

The pilot made an emergency landing on a rural road, clipping both wings on treetops during the descent.  The plane came to a stop in a cotton field, allowing the passengers to exit.  The fans got on their knees, thanked Jesus for saving their lives, and then checked the time.  They still had time to make it to the game.  As any self-respecting ‘Bama fan would, they abandoned the plane in the field and hitched their way to Tuscaloosa.  To restate my earlier point: these fans really didn’t want to miss the game.

It is easy to make Jesus a priority when life hangs in the balance.  Things go really bad and we call on Jesus for dear life.  But, when things get better, we are tempted put Jesus back in his place.  We pay Jesus our respects in route to the real business of life – like football.

Jesus insists that He is in fact the real business of life.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father but through me.”  According to John, Jesus isn’t a part of life we dust off when things are bad.  Jesus is someone who gives life, sustains life, and then defines life.

As you go through the coming week, devote your life to Jesus the way Alabama fans devote themselves to football.  When you realize you have another day to live, look at your watch and say, “I’ve still got time to serve Jesus.”  He is the one who makes every part of life truly worthwhile – including game day in Tuscaloosa.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Lord of the Harvest Party

Harvest was a big deal in the town where I grew up.  I grew up in a small community in southern Idaho that was supported by several large farms.  Those farms spent the entire year looking forward to the harvest.  When harvest arrived, they collected their crops, took them to market, and sold them for profit.  This generated income for the coming year and drove the little town’s economy. 

The best part about the harvest was the party that followed.  Farmers celebrated the income the harvest generated.  They celebrated the year’s work.  The town celebrated another year of business.

Christians in Homedale added something to the celebration.  They celebrated God’s provision.  They recognized that the good work and income was ultimately a gift from God.  God provided the rich soil and ideal climate for the harvest.  God provided the resources that allowed them to reap another year’s livelihood.

In a world of super markets and vending machines, it is hard to appreciate the harvest.  A wealth of food and products are always available, at the swipe of a debit card.  Because we harvest blessings on a daily basis, we may not always remember that the Lord has provided those blessings.

The Bible reminds us in very clear terms.  Psalm 67 says, “Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us.”  Celebrating any harvest is an opportunity to rejoice in God’s provision.  We can rejoice in God’s provision the next time we drive the combine or stop by the grocery store.

Sunday night, our church family will be rejoicing with our very own “harvest party.”  Kids will descend on our church building in droves.  They’ll wear wild costumes, play games, and eat candy.  As they do, remember what we are partying for.  God has provided.  Though few of us sow as farmers, all of us reap the incredible rewards of God’s harvest.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Shock and Awe of Apologies

Apple Computers did the unthinkable.  No, they didn’t invent something discontinue the iPhone.  No, they didn’t give their Macbooks away for free.  It was way worse.  Apple Computers apologized.

A couple weeks ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook issued a letter of apology to customers.  Apple had released a new application that was riddled with bugs.  Customers were unhappy.  Apple listened to their feedback, realized the product didn’t live up to the company’s standards, and posted a letter of apology on their website.

What struck me about the apology was not the apology itself.  The letter read like your standard act of repentance.  What struck me was the shock of the people Apple apologized to.  People were genuinely surprised.  News outlets led with the story.  Bold, alarming fonts announced the news on the front page of websites.  Bloggers analyzed the meaning, intent, and ramifications of the apology.  People were really surprised – even shocked.

For Christians, apologies are hardly a surprise.  Apologies are a way of life.  The Bible teaches us that we are all broken people who make mistakes.  The best thing we can do about our mistakes is admit them, ask those we have hurt for forgiveness, and go a different direction.  The Bible tells us, “Therefore confess your sins to each other…” For Jesus’ people, apologies are a way of life.

As you go through the coming week, don’t hesitate to apologize.  When you have wronged someone, act quickly.  Say you’re sorry.  If you have spent time covering up a mistake, trying to hide it from others, stop wasting your time.  Instead, say, “Hey, I really got that wrong.  Please forgive me.” Though the world may be shocked by the apology, they will be even more surprised by the freedom it brings you.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Priesthood of All Cheaters

When I was in school, I took a very challenging class called “Aspects of World Religiosity.”  For one of the mid terms, the professor allowed us to take the exam at home.  We were to give ourselves fifty minutes to answer two essay questions – no more.

I took the exam, honored the time given, and wrote just under three pages worth of answers.  I showed up the next day, ready to turn in my exam, and was shocked.  A few of my peers had written over twice as many pages as I had.  I worried that my work was not as thorough as theirs and I would be graded down.  I expressed my concern to the professor and he assured me that everything would be fine.

Later that day, one of the students confessed to another student that she had cheated.  She said she had taken far more time to answer the questions than the professor had allotted.  She wanted grades that were good enough to get her into a PhD program and cheated in order to give herself the greatest advantage possible.  She justified the behavior in saying this: “It’s not like I’m going to school to be a pastor.”

Even though that student didn’t want to be a pastor, I still think her actions mattered.  Pastors are not the only people Jesus calls to live with integrity.  We are all called to live our lives in a way that glorifies God.  In his first letter, the Apostle Peter tells the entire church to be holy as Christ is holy.  It seems that holy living is the profession of every Christian, not just the clergy.

As you go through the coming week, live in a way that honors Christ.  Whether at work, home, or school, live with an integrity that reflects Jesus’ holy character.  Jesus has given us an example to follow.  When it comes to following that example, it doesn’t matter if you are going to school to be a pastor or not.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Root Beer and Good News

A popular blogger recently wrote about his search for an ice-cold root beer.  He was driving down the road one day and felt a little thirsty.  He saw an A & W on the side of the road and thought he would stop to get a cold one.  He got out of his car, walked in, and ordered the beverage.  The cashier responded, “We’re out of root beer.”

The blogger thought it was odd that the restaurant had run out of its signature product.  But, feeling charitable, he didn’t cause a fuss.  Stranger things have happened.  Root beer shipments run late.  Orders get lost.  He assumed he had visited A&W at a bad time.

Days later, the blogger stopped by the restaurant again.  He still craved a frosted mug of classic A & W.  He approached the cashier and ordered the illusive drink.  The cashier gave him the same answer: “We’re out of root beer.”  This time he asked, “How does A&W run out of root beer?”  I think that is a fair question.

We may be quick to scoff, but we wrestle with a similar challenge in our devotional lives.  Jesus gives His people good news.  It is the product the His people are known for.  But, we also have a hard time articulating it on our own.  If someone were to ask us about Jesus and His impact on our lives, we don’t know what we would say.

As a result, people walk right up to us and place an order for good news.  We tell them, “We’re out.”  After a couple times, they wonder, “How does the church run out of good news?”

If Jesus Christ has made a difference in your life, tell someone.  You don’t have to get on TV or stand on a soapbox.  Simply tell a friend, co-worker, or family member what Jesus has done.  If Jesus has made a difference in your life, show someone this week.  Be peaceful, patient, kind, joyous, and self-controlled when the world least expects it.  In a world where fast food restaurants and soda fountains fail, Jesus gives us good news that doesn’t run out.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Blown Calls and God's Grace

The Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football last week.  Well…I need to be clear.  The Seahawks kind of beat the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football last week. 

In front of a national audience, on the last play of the game, the referees made an incorrect call.  That incorrect call awarded the Seahawks six points they didn’t deserve.  As a result, the Seahawks won.

The following morning, news outlets of all shapes and sizes reported the blown call.  They replayed footage of the play over and over and over again, underscored by negative commentary.  News anchors, analysts, talk show hosts, and their long lost relatives complained, criticized, and bemoaned the officiating. The American media was on the attack.

I am glad that the American media isn’t interested in my mistakes.  I would hate it if they broadcast the replay of my worst moments over and over again.  Analysts would find a lot to complain about, criticize, and bemoan.  It would be embarrassing and heartbreaking to listen to.

The Apostle Paul encouraged early Christians to avoid such commentary with other Christians.  He says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  Paul encourages early Christians to use the grace God extends to us in Jesus as an example of how to extend grace to others.  Because we have been forgiven much, we forgive much.

As you go through the coming week, look for simple ways to extend grace when people make mistakes.  If a waiter messes up your order, be kind and tip anyway.  Tell them Jesus loves them.  If a co-worker is late filing an important report, point out an area of their work that has benefited you in the past.  Thank them for it.  In a world that loves to complain and criticize and bemoan mistakes, forgive and move on.  If you do, you’ll look back at the replay and find that you made the right call.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hope in Future Success

Teachers are changing their tune about education.  For years, educators assumed that cognitive abilities are the greatest indicator of future success.  If a child could understand and use information, they were thought to be more likely to succeed.  Those who had difficulty grasping the same information were thought to be less likely to succeed.
According to a New York Times article, researchers are finding that those assumptions are false.  As it turns out, perseverance, determination, and character are far better indicators of success.  Those who exhibit the ability to overcome adversity have a greater likelihood of achieving desired ends in the future.

Christians have their own take on this.  The Apostle Paul wrote the church in Rome and insisted that suffering produces perseverance and perseverance produces character and character produces hope.  Overcoming adversity can be an indicator of success.  It just isn’t an indicator of our future success as much as it is God’s. 

As Christians experience adversity, we learn to trust in God.  As we trust in God, we recognize His provision.  As we recognize His provision through life's many challenges, we get a glimpse of the big picture.  We start to sense that a day is coming when every adverse situation will be overcome – a day when Jesus returns and sets the entire world straight.  In this way thinking, overcoming adversity is a huge road sign pointing to Christ’s future success in His second coming.

You may be faced with some hardship this morning.  You may be tempted to throw your hands in the air and give up.  Don’t.  Keep on keeping on for Jesus.  God may not have created your hardship, but He can use your hardship to create a good work in you.  That good work points to a day when Jesus will set every hardship right once and for all.  That is future success is something all of God’s people can bank on.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sabotaging Blessings

A few weeks ago, a fifteen-year-old boy from Columbus, Ohio collapsed from dehydration and exhaustion.  His fatigue wasn’t due to what you might think.  He hadn’t been working excessive overtime at his summer job.  He hadn’t been irresponsible at a friend’s back to school party.  The boy had been playing video games on an Xbox for over four days straight.  Fearing for his health, the boy’s mother took him to the hospital and confiscated the Xbox.

Most of us would agree that there is nothing wrong with video games or an Xbox.  Games can be a fun way to relax and spend time with friends.  We can also agree that playing video games to the point of dehydration and exhaustion is unhealthy.  It is an abuse of what should be a blessing.

We all share that boy’s proclivity to sabotage things that are meant as blessings.  God has given us wonderful things like food, homes, jobs, relationships, and on, and on.  We twist and abuse those good things to the point that they hurt us.  We don’t just enjoy food, but overeat until we have health problems.  We don’t appreciate homes as a place we live, but obsess about the status our address gives us.  We don’t enjoy our work as an opportunity for creativity, but sell excessive amounts of our time to the highest bidder.  Humans often twist and abuse blessings to the point that they are dangerous.

The Apostle Paul understood this about humans.  He encouraged early Christians to avoid the abuse of blessings and, as an alternative, enjoy them as God intended.  Paul wrote, “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”  Paul suggests that the freedom to enjoy God’s blessings should not lead to sin, but love.

As you go through the coming week, see how you might enjoy good things for God’s glory.  Look for activities you enjoy and see how they might be freed from abuse.  Honor God with the good things He has given.  That way, you can take pleasure in the blessings of life including the XBox

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Every Week, Every Month, Every Year

When I was in college, I went on a mission trip to Mexico during Spring Break.  A group of us visited an impoverished suburb of Tijuana and helped build a small home for a family.  It was a life-changing week.

I hadn’t experienced that type of poverty before.  I can remember sitting on top of the house we were working on, overlooking miles of scrap metal, plastic, and cardboard homes.  I was struck by the challenges of life there.  I remember thinking, “I’m here for Spring Break.  These folks live here every week, every month, every year.”

The poor often live in communities like that because they don’t have a choice.  Economic realities in developing nations insist that large numbers of people live on very little.  But, there are also people living there, every week, every month, every year who do have a choice.  They have the means to live in “better” neighborhoods, but choose to live in a slum, hosting groups like ours, building houses for the poor.

Those kind of folks are a rare breed and they aren’t only in Mexico.  Faithful people all over the world set aside lives of privilege in order to minister in some of the world’s toughest situations.  They go in the love of Christ to announce that Jesus is Lord.  We call them missionaries.

Missionaries aren’t only noble because they often set aside privilege for the sake of spreading the Gospel.  Missionaries are also noble because they remind all Christians that the call to missions can’t be relegated to Spring Break.  All of us are called to set aside comforts in order to advance God’s kingdom, wherever we are.  Jesus calls all of us to a life of service and evangelism.

As you go through the coming week, remember those missionaries who sacrifice much for the Gospel.  Pray for them.  Give money in support of their work.  Then, let their faithful service inspire you to be a missionary in your world – every week, every month, every year.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Because I Said So

When I was growing up, I asked all kinds of questions.  One of my favorite questions was this: “Why?”  Responding to my favorite question, my Dad had a favorite answer: “Because I said so.”

Early on, I accepted my Dad’s answer without question.  When my Dad answered, “Because I said so,” I obeyed.  I did what my Dad told me to do because I thought His will was good in and of itself.  I looked up to my Dad so much I thought the things he wanted were naturally right and good.  

Christians do all kinds of things in order to follow Jesus’ will.  We care about the poor, worship Jesus together, and pray in order to follow Jesus’ instruction.  When we are asked why, a great answer is this: “Because Jesus said so.”

Because the Son of God told us to do His will, we do it.  There is no other reason.  We don’t care for the poor for our own benefit.  We don’t worship for a feeling we get.  We do those things to honor Jesus.  We love Him and revere Him in such a way that His will seems naturally right and good.  We follow Jesus’ will for Jesus’ sake.

As you go through the coming week, follow Jesus’ will because He said so.  Let every aspect of your day be lived for Him.  We will find fulfillment and growth and joy in doing those things, but it isn’t why we do it.  We do His will because He is so good.