I mentioned Mitch Albom yesterday and if you aren't familiar with him, over the years he has set-up 9 different charities throughout the metro-Detroit area that are focused on meeting the various needs of the poor, from helping with day-care to after school programs, to helping working families get housing to senior citizen and veteran services.
This past Thursday, he held his 6th annual radio-thon fundraiser, by holding a 15-hour long radio show (as his normal radio show is the 2-hr drive home slot). And it was incredible to watch community happen.
For those 15 hours, friends and celebrities, people of influence throughout the city and state and business owners, professional athletes and coaches and team owners... it was utterly flooded by people who came on board to help raise funds. Over 1.2 million dollars!
No admin costs. Nothing owed to anyone else first. 100% straight to meeting the needs.
Of course, they use the funds to help other charities in the area as well, but among the many incredible moments throughout the day was one in particular.
Mitch also has a project in Haiti, taking care of kids and the poor in that country as well. And while he joked about not knowing where they got the money or perhaps they raided his desk down there, the kids from his Haiti program called into the radiothon... to tell him they had collected $200 to help those in need in Detroit.
It was later pointed out, that while it's amazing that people who have been blessed with abundance would be compelled to share with those less fortunate and really, you wouldn't hope or expect anything less. But it seems the more one has, the easier it is to forget how difficult things are when you are without. Thus, we often witness the phenomenon of those who have little for themselves will give, and give generously for those who often have very little or even less than they.
So to hear kids in Haiti respond to a call to help kids in Detroit... well, it was a tear-jerker to say the least.
Mitch's story of how he moved from not being a generous and charitable person to this kind of investment and influence to bring others together to accomplish this good is quite moving. And while I don't know where he stands in his faith with God, I can't help but consider how often the church misses the opportunity to experience community at this level.
Reasons why we can't or don't give. Can't or don't find time. Can't or don't know where to start or how to get help. Yet it's the church that will be known by their love. And many communities don't know the church in that way.
So, on this #communitySaturday, pray that the church would arise anew, to lead in building, sharing, growing and influencing community. May we make the time and financial investment into those in need among us. Pray for opportunities as we forth, to share Christ and experience God. May the excuses end and obedience begin.
For while big contributions are far reaching
Even the smallest gifts can make great impact.
May we do so today.
For the glory of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
It's pretty incredible when you think about the power the Bible and the concepts and principles that it presents. And the foundational sequence that I heard explained the other day is one, I can't seem to put away. In fact, I only caught roughly half of it, but that doesn't diminish it's power.
In fact, as I look around at community and culture's frustration with Christianity, the power of this principle is undeniable.
True and perfect love moves us to pursue excellence which results in a life of integrity.
We look at people's shortage or complete lack of integrity and we wonder what went wrong. But if we take a look back, we see the missing element. A pursuit of excellence. Perfection is not a behavior to achieve, but an attitude with which we make our approach. It's not that we don't allow for mistakes and grace. But there's preparation, knowledge and understanding and contingencies to take steps to avoid and manage problems followed by learning and moving forward.
And where does an attitude of excellence come from?
Consider 1 Corinthians 13. Hopes all things, believes all things, endures all things, bears all things. It never fails! It is kind and without envy. It is patient without being puffy. It rejoices in truth.
Love does not settle, nor does it quit.
But this is how it builds.
Thus, when we are not kind, when we do envy, when we are short-fused, when we don't hope, believe and endure... when we rejoice in the iniquity rather than the truth; these things make it near impossible to pursue excellence. Which leaves room for a lifetime of second-best, compromise and some potentially ruinous decisions.
And we're certainly witnessing the fruit of that path, are we not?
So, pray this #communitySaturday, that the community would know the people of God as Christ said they would; by our love. May we lead lives that pursue excellence, not to be better or perfect than those next to us, but that God would be glorified as we give our all in like manner as He gave for us. Pray that we would be prepared to give an answer, as the world recognizes the difference in our lives, that integrity would be a marker that would set us apart... not because we know all, but because we know what the work of Jesus Christ has done in us.
May we be the difference makers the world needs
Because we daily open our hearts to the power of God
To make a difference in our lives.
For His glory alone
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
As I stood at my hometown's Festival of Lights parade last night, a long-standing, Black Friday event, I was reminded just how much power resides in community and that impact of strength in numbers for those who join together.
It's amazing what people can accomplish when they come together, both as working towards the goal and as supporters of those doing the work. And yet if the communities of society can come together and spread joy and goodness and enjoyment that is here for a moment, how much more should the community of Christ be about impacting our neighborhoods with eternal joy of Christ and the goodness and grace of Almighty God.
And yet, all too often we are second in such accomplishments, rather than taking the lead. Of course, it's not just around the holiday season that we should be taking the lead, as if special occasion gives us unique opportunity to be more vocal (which is does, as people are more receptive at this time), but the truth and goodness of the Gospel works for any moment in time with which we have opportunity to give an answer for the hope that is within us.
Not just the feel good moments of this life, but the forever goodness of a faith in God through Jesus Christ.
So, pray, this #communitySaturday, that the church would indeed make the most of ever opportunity to be a light in the darkness. May we continue to speak truth to a world lost in a confusion of lies. Pray that we would be a people who shows care and concern, not because of the time of year in which is coming to pass, but because of the love and joy that fills our hearts from what was accomplished on the Black Friday that was the crucifixion of Christ.
A great community in this world.
Not because of the people,
But because of a great God
And the person of Jesus Christ.
In whom we live, move and have our being.
I still have that profound, yet simple concept roaming in the deep recess of my mind that I shared a day or two ago. The weeks continue to pass all too soon, it seems like I only know 3 days that exist and the others, I can't keep track. At any rate... I love this picture.
Jesus is not sitting in heaven, pleading with God the Father to add one more name to the Book.
He did, however, send the Holy Spirit to plead with man, that He would turn to God and repent.
Life is full of choice.
Some are made for us. Some circumstances leave us little to zero options. So "choice" is really the only move available... for even "do nothing" is still a choice; as there's always something that could be done that would simply make matters worse.
What we do, what we say, what we believe, what we engage in, devote ourselves to and invest our lives and resources in... every waking second is a choice.
A moment for God to be glorified.
A moment for God to work the miraculous.
A moment for life and laughter
A moment for trouble and tragedy.
A moment for grace and understanding; love and truth; purpose and calling.
A moment for ministry and testimony.
A moment for relationship, with both God and man.
We don't have time to waste time... writes the man who wastes more time than he cares to admit.
We don't have time to miss on a move of God in our lives and witness the same in the lives of others. Let us draw close to Him while the days draw nearer to His return and closer to those around us, that they too will see and know God for themselves.
Pray, this #communitySaturday, that indeed, the church community would make choices that bring glory to God and display His active role in our lives, regardless of where we find ourselves and what decisions stand before us awaiting our input. May we have the mind of Christ in our conversations and thoughts, as we look to Him to guide and direct our steps. Pray God would help us to be wise stewards, not only with our finances, but also with our time, our knowledge, wisdom and experience, as well as our words and deeds. Pray God would accomplish the miraculous in the lives of those who desperately need Him as we reach out to them, desirous to be used by God for His plans and purposes.
May we be ever-so sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
That we would choose God and seek His face.
And subsequently choose wisely as we live our life.
For His glory and honor.
That humanity would see our lives
And choose God for themselves.
For now throughout eternity.
There's a scene from The West Wing, where President Barlet is standing in the Oval Office with his wife Abbey and at the end of the conversation, she "concedes that she was wrong about the thing" and quickly proceeds to follow it up with "however..."
It is at "however" though, that the President stops her and delivers this brilliance.
"No, no however. You were wrong. Just be wrong. Just stand there in your wrongness and get used to it."
A very lovely, and humor scene of marriage that somehow never quite works out to be so endearing. Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything. (wink, wink)
We live in a world where certain things are just plain wrong. The problem is we all seem to be in varying degrees of agreement as to what attitudes, behaviors, words and deeds constitute "wrong", both on an individual and cultural basis.
The conversation of course, is getting more and more difficult as we continue to work to communicate with community with the truth and love of God. Yet religious views and political leanings often stand in the way, of hearing, receiving and understanding truth. And it doesn't help that we only seem to allow certain arenas of life to be told where are wrong and by whom. Case in point, some people are commended for pointing out to their bosses that the boss was wrong, other employees are fired for continuing to do things wrong after being told by the boss to stop doing things the wrong way.
In essence, in society's effort to move us toward being more open-minded to differing views we have moved away from being able to receive and make true and positive correction... which everyone seems to be calling, waiting and hoping will happen. Each to their own satisfaction, of course. But alas, only One person can help.
As Herman Cain states in the post I referenced the other day...
"Evil is flourishing and America has made a cultural decision to let that happen, and to reject the God who overcomes it."
So, on this #communitySaturday, would you join me again? Pray that as much as we have made a decision to allow evil, may we equally and just as quickly make a decision to turn from evil and repent of our wickedness. Pray for people's open-mindedness to be sensitive to the moving of the Holy Spirit, and that they would allow the truth and power of God to speak into their lives, hearts and minds. May the church be a source of truth, spoken in love... not as the world defines it, but as Christ calls us to be and live. Indeed, pray for repentance and a turning towards God, not only for America, but for the World.
For He holds us in hands.
We are His workmanship
To be used for His purposes
And His glory.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Until the whole world knows.
I keep looking at the world and hearing what I often hear with my kids. And I keep wanting to have the same response as the question I ask them.
How hard is it to play nice?
Let me be clear... I'm not talking about "co-existing". And I'm not delving in to that matter here and now. However, for all the national and international debate taking place on any number of issues, at the end of the day, we are responsible first and foremost, for our individual words, attitudes and actions.
And seriously, I know certain people and personalities can rub us the wrong way and strained and stressed relationships of any kind can certainly be difficult to navigate, but how hard is it to smile?
A friendly acknowledgement of the life of another as you walk by each other.
By and large, you'll really notice the couple of seconds or minutes lost, by deferring to another through the simplest of gestures?
Regardless of religion, politics and economic differences, friendliness costs nothing but two seconds to determine every morning that you will display love and respect through the simplest word or deed of kindness.
Society does better than the church... or so it seems some days.
But a few minutes on social media quickly reminds me that the church should be leading the way in this lifestyle. Plus, we are instructed to love God and love our neighbor.
We keep trying to instruct our children to play nice, but we so often fail to do so as adults. And of course, the inconsistent message places them in a position where they are prone to repeat the cycle of broken adults. And sadly, that's what the world is full of.
Broken kids, who've become broken adults, who've in turn raised more broken kids...
And we watch the news and read our newsfeed and wonder what and how the world is and become so broken. Meanwhile, we deny and ignore the only source of healing and restoration.
So, before this post gets any longer, let's pray this #communitySaturday, that God would help us to be the church He has called and purposed us to live... to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. May we be people of kindness as we interact with a world full of broken people and broken kids, living stressed out lives and engaged in strained relationships. Pray that we would be people who would not only reflect Christ, but encourage those around us to engage with Him. May God continue to grant us wisdom and discernment as we live through the current chaos and that He would accomplish the miraculous through our conversations.
That God would go before us,
As we step forward in faith and obedience
To be used for His glory and purpose
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
We all stand frustrated with the evil of humanity and yet when asked, we fail to recognize the evil that resides in the heart of every individual. We ask how we got to this place as a society and a culture and yet we don't view our words and deeds in light of eternity.
We fail to recognize God, let alone seek to see and understand Him.
We wish for a purpose to this thing called life, but miss the opportunity to have a relationship with the One who designed us with and for a purpose.
We desire meaning and long to be loved, yet deny what Christ did for us and what it means for our lives.
We wonder why people don't do right nor even know what is right, while we teach that there are no absolutes, there are no eternal consequences and that you should trust your gut, do what you feel is best for your and operate by your feelings.
We are teaching and living lies.
All because we fail to believe the One who says that they and their Word are true and truth.
Yet, James McDonald says that hope takes work. Despair is nearly a default.
It stands to reason then, that if we are to have hope and it will require effort and time on a daily and sometime moment by moment basis, that would we put it our hope in someone/something that has stood the test of time; has never failed, never left, never missed a detail, never wasted an experience or a tear to bring about a divine, sovereign and glorious plan.
But that would be sensible and logical, even if it was a risk and a step of faith. And it amazes me how much risk we will accept and what steps we will take, for things far less impersonal and important in light of eternity. Yet when given the opportunity with God, far too many write it off as good for someone else... as if it's possible for humanity to be too good for the grace and love of God. For not only is that not possible, but quite the opposite is true.
People need hope. And the people of God need His help in communicating such to a world fill will evil living a default state of despair.
On this #communitySaturday, pray that people eyes would be opened to the truth of God and his plan and purpose for humanity. Pray that hearts and minds would be opened to the opportunity and risk to engage with Almighty God, Creator of the Universe. May we not be people who live in despair and frustration, but that would be people people who live in peace and hope, ready to give an answer to all who inquire as to our Source. Pray our active faith in Christ would shine to those around us.... like a city on a hill.
For God has not left us in our lonely state
But has made every effort and ultimate sacrifice
To display His love, plan and purpose.
For though He is frustrated with humanity,
We are not utterly destroyed.
Because of His love and His grace.
May we engage people with the same.
For the glory of God.
I heard this article referenced the other day, so after knowing the subject of yesterday's post, I knew this article would make for an interesting extension. Again, as I did yesterday, I don't share this as a point of condemnation, but conviction, for I know once again, I could to be and should be doing more.
But as we talk about culture and community and the realities of people's struggles when it comes to economics and quality of life it's pretty incredible to consider what would happen if the church gave as Christ calls and commands us to give. So look at some statistics that were posted on a blog at Relevant Magazine last spring.
In your average congregation, only 10-25% give tithes.
Only 5% of the United States tithes, with 80% of American's only giving 2% of their income (which by definition, is not a tithe)
Christians in the Great Depression gave more at 3.3% per capita, than today's Christians at 2.5%
So here's the power of giving, if every Christian actually gave a minimum of 10% of their income.
The work of the ministry would have 165 BILLION to move forward!! If you aren't sure how long that will last, consider these numbers
– $25 billion could relieve global hunger, starvation and deaths from preventable diseases in five years.
– $12 billion could eliminate illiteracy in five years.
– $15 billion could solve the world’s water and sanitation issues, specifically at places in the world where 1 billion people live on less than $1 per day.
– $1 billion could fully fund all overseas mission work.
– $100 – $110 billion would still be left over for additional ministry expansion.
Eliminate illiteracy? Solve world water and sanitation problems? Fully fund all overseas missions?
And the open ended question after all the specifics are taken care... God what you have us do with $100 Billion that's left over? It's hard to imagine how churches could impact and forever change their communities. It's hard not to consider how much more churches could accomplish if they eliminated their debt and mortgages? My mind is blown.
On that note, pray this #communitySaturday, that the church would indeed be people who give. May our hearts be opened as well as our eyes, to not only see the needs and perhaps understand them, but to respond to do something positive to change them. May we be people who love, in word and deed, time and resources. Pray God would call and us and move us to be the blessing to others that He has been to us.
For it is not ours, but His.
May we give us unto the Lord
As much as we work unto Him.
To change someone else's world
By changing how we take care of our own.
For the glory of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Community is an amazing phenomenon. It's possible to be present and even plugged in, without feeling energized and empowered. This is seemingly normal and the stories of such an existence are abundant.
Yet such instances detract from the power of community. In fact, if you consider the analogy from the perspective of real life, being "plugged in" while not doing anything is actually a drain on the system. From the television to the toaster, the transfer of energy is still drawn, even if the unit is not on and functioning according to it's abilities and purpose.
So to, the power of the church community and it's engagement with the rest of world is affected when those within the church are drawing power, but not using it for the purpose for which they were created.
Yes, it is a balancing act, for there are seasons of rest at different times for different reasons, but by and large, the power of the church to impact it's community lies in the church using its power for which it was purposed and created.
On this #communitySaturday, pray that God would help to be plugged in; at the right places and times, in order that we might be best used for the purposes for which God created us. Pray for a strengthening of the church community, that we would be empowered and equipped to be a greater impact in the region in which they reside. May God grant wisdom and direction for churches struggling and those in the community feeling as they are being a drain rather than being used. Pray for the miraculous in such circumstances and situations.
May we live as God intended.
Fulfilling His calling and purpose
As He designed for us to be and do.
For the glory of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Moody Radio Network was doing their fall fundraising campaign during this past week and they had a segment where the talked with car guy, Barry Meguiar. Full of life and energy, they were talking about evangelism and the Christian's interaction with the world.
He was talking about how much we over-complicate the conversation, at times. More often than not, we come across as more outspoken about the problems within society and the sins of others, rather than simply taking the opportunity to share our experience with Jesus Christ.
It's all relational.
We don't hesitate to share our experience and interaction with incredible or horrible service at a place of business; the review of an online purchase or product; the recommendation of a contractor; the latest big screen flick (or flop)... the list goes on.
Yet, we're all, myself included, a little to quick to think twice about relaying a story or experience of faith, testimony or trial from our everyday life or one that we heard from someone at church. Society is nothing but conversation after conversation and having conversations about "having the conversation", but it seems the body of Christ is not directing it, let alone, influencing it. I know that's not entirely true, but it feels that way most of the time.
As Christ interjected Himself into humanity, so must we interject Him into our interaction with humanity.
Pray, this #communitySaturday that the hesitance to share Christ would be lifted. As culture shares their experience over things that will pass away, may we share the transformation that will never pass away. May the body of Christ indeed, be relational and intentional in the conversations we carry on with those around; whether they be frequent or infrequent. May God grant us opportunities to impact our world and may we not be afraid to step through the door and speak when He opens it.
For the glory of God.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Well, I'm bummed. I heard a great statement the other day that was played on the radio, and not only can I can't remember it all, as it was a long thought, but I also can't find it online, as I only caught part of the reference of the one who said it. Thus you are getting a late post with a developing thought process.
For the past few hours I've been trying to track down these profound words, the Hallmark Channel has been playing in the background. It's sad really, that Saturday morning cartoons aren't what they used to be anymore and nothing else was worth watching, so their movie Love At First Glance is showing.
Giving up in frustration on my search, I have no idea what to write now. Not that I had much before. The long-lost profound statement was so powerful, I had nothing to add it actually. But in the movie, the main character a journalist, Ann is on a quest to learn about what makes the man who left his phone on the train so interesting. They didn't speak on the train, it was just a glance; but now she is faced with writing a Valentine's article on true love and James, a photo-journalist, has challenged her to learn about him by her contacting everyone in his contact list. As they exchange texts early on, Ann asks herself... "What is it about this man that makes me want to tell Him everything?"
Typical Hallmark, right?
Isn't amazing, that no matter what the nature of our "community" in which we live, we still have moments and times, even days and prolonged ones at the that; that we don't feel connected. We don't feel loved or appreciated or valued. We are present, yet silent. Onlooking, but not looked upon.
But then there is God. And the amazing relationship we have with Jesus Christ through the restorative effects of Calvary's Cross. Yet, sadly, even after returning to God, we still hold ourselves back. Not only from our fellow humanity, but from our eternal Father.
What if on this #communitySaturday, no matter where we are, what we do, what we've done or where we've been, we looked at the face of Jesus, with the desire and awe to want to tell Him everything?
Perhaps the shortest suggestion for a closing prayer ever left on a Bring Me 70, but as this has oddly written itself, I'm going to close with this, as we consider our loneliness in light of community and eternity, in the words of former U.N Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold:
"Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for."
Dr. David Jeremiah was talking about the friendship between Jonathan and David as he closed out a recent sermon series. In discussing the loyalty that existed between them, he made an incredibly profound point.
True friendships aren't built on the ruins of a lost friendship.
Inevitably it always happens on some family sitcom or movie. Some kid or teenager or even adult is ditched by their friend who by choice or circumstance become friends with someone cooler, more popular or whatever. Of course, it's always followed by the encouraging talk of a parent, teacher or trusted person that invests in them with the reminder that superficial and shallow friends aren't much of a friend.
The relationship that is built on the hopes that it will be better than the one that was just exited usually, and quickly, runs in to problems.
Jonathan and David are lesson in longevity. And respect. David didn't speak ill of Jonathan's father. And Jonathan didn't sacrifice his relationship with his father, despite how Saul treated his friend.
Not only is this seemingly lacking from today's circumstances, it's a reminder of the level of stability that true and loyal friendships bring into our lives. There is a rest and a peace in the assurance of true, meaningful, lasting friendships.
If David and Jonathan's lives aren't an incredible example of friendship, remember this...
There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. Yes, even the best of brothers. Jesus Christ.
Pray this #communitySaturday that the church would be the place of friendships... of making great friends, of being great friends, of building great friends. May we be people that bring stability, love and hope to those we come in contact with and interact. Pray that we would not be superficial in our actions, attitudes and words, but genuine, loving and honest. May the body of Christ live loyal to the Cross and true to the calling God has placed upon our lives.
To be His hands and feet extended.
To a world who needs to know and have a friend
Who sticks closer than a brother.
In a world full of homes and damaged people.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
I'm kinda bummed I was unable to join my church friends today in an outreach to a nearby community that has witnessed some serious decline over the past couple of decades. In more recent years it has only gotten worse.
Yet over the past few days I couldn't help but consider the power that is being displayed today, as a community of believers not only steps outside the four walls of their church, but also outside the four corners of their own community to drive to another area and make an impact.
It's a huge undertaking, but I'm believing as many are, that it will be a day of miracles, as many tangible and physical needs are met. People are experiencing an abundant outpouring of love, grace and compassion as the body of Christ steps up and steps forward to express care and concern to those in need and those less fortunate.
It's so easy for many churches and organizations, as well as individuals for that matter, to live life more concerned about personal lives, missions and goals that we neglect to seek and pursue opportunities whereby we show that others matter.
That this world is not our own, but God's.
That our lives are not ours, but His.
That we don't exist in a vacuum;
That our needs are not more important than another's
God shows His care for humanity by moving a humanity to care for others more than themselves.
While the evidence of the evil that resides within is great and often on prominent and dominant display, greater is He who is in us. We should be providing even great evidence of the goodness that we are capable of because of the work God has done in the hearts and lives of those who have submitted to His plans and purposes through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
So, pray this #communitySaturday that God would do the miraculous. Pray for today's outreach, that the compassion, love and grace of God would overwhelm those who are in need and receive the tangible touch of His hand through the people of God. Pray for connections to be made, that people would be connected to local churches and witness daily God's love and provision in their lives. May today be a day of glory and honor to God through the obedience of Christians who have been moved to compassion, to step outside their lives and make an eternal impact in the lives of strangers.
For the glory of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
A day that impacts eternity.
This morning, our thoughts and prayers continue to join with Texas and of course, everyone is talking and watching this hurricane that is about to wreak havoc on Florida. On of the islands affected has witnessed 95% of it's structures destroyed. The storm is nearly twice as wide as the state of Florida. There are reports this morning that 14 million people are under hurricane warning. Over 5 and a half million are under evacuation orders.
It is almost beyond comprehension, especially on the heals of what Texas and New Orleans just experience. Plus there are two other hurricanes coming behind Irma.
We've witnessed the power of community in Texas. I'm certain we will witness a similar outcome for the people of Florida. However, this is somewhat surreal to watch and comprehend.
As always life is complex and it continues. There remains many events and issues that have transpired in recent days that have many people frustrated and bothered that have nothing to do with the weather. In the totality of it all, it's hard not wonder if God is attempting to get our attention? It's not like there's no a precedent for it.
Whatever happens this weekend, with this storm and for the days that follow, we continue to be granted opportunities to return to God. We continue to be given moments to show and to share the love, grace and compassion of God. And we continue to witness reminders of the sovereignty of a just and holy God. We may not know the what and the why and the how of it all and the unfolding thereof as well as God's reasoning behind it, but that shouldn't keep us from drawing close to Him and living in right relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.
Let's pray, this #communitySaturday for those in the path of these physical storms and those affected by them. Pray for safety and protection over their lives. Indeed, pray that these circumstances and struggles will bring people closer to God and to each other rather than further away. Pray the church and people of God will have an increased awareness to show and share of the goodness of God even in the most simple and tangible ways. Pray for peace, in the midst of the storm. May we witness a mighty move of God in our society and culture, even in the face of tragedy and destruction on a physical level.
For this world is not our home
And our treasure is in Heaven
We place our trust in Almighty God alone
For we can control nothing but our response to Him
In life's most difficult moments.
For the glory of God.
What an incredible week this has been. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out as we stand by those affected by Hurricane Harvey, whether directly or indirectly. We've witnessed amazing acts of kindness and love by those who were simply moved with compassion and compelled to step up and act when needed.
Conversely, if you've spent any time on social media, you've seen the church, some very notable, has received much criticism in regards to it's response or lack thereof in the midst of this tragedy.
What's been frustrating to watch about this whole ordeal, is that Christians have expressed their anger and emotions and justifications regarding the church. Meanwhile, non-believers will use this to justify having even less to do with Christians, the church or "organized religion" in general.
I fear that many will use this as opportunity to be convince that humanity can be good on it's own, when it wants to be without the influence of faith and a loving God. Furthermore, it will cement the perception that Christians are less like Christ than they profess.
Granted, we know this not to be true, as many major organizations have stepped up to aid in the relief efforts, many of them Christian or faith-based and quite reputable. Yet people's perceptions remain and the criticism stands.
Thus, will you pray this #communitySaturday, that God would continue to accomplish the miraculous in the midst of tragedy. Pray that God would intervene and fulfill his purposes in light of this life-changing event. May many come to Christ because they have experienced the love of humanity who has had a life-changing encounter with God. May the church be first to respond, not because it's what people perceive should be done, but what God calls and directs for our lives. Pray today would be the day of a new dawn.
That many lives would be changed.
Because Christians step out and live,
As those changed by the love of God.
For His glory.
I heard a candidate for governor last night talk about what was going on in the city where she plans to run and she was asked about the on-goings of Washington D.C. and it's effect on states and communities. And I thought to myself, what a timely question, as so many are outraged and seemingly full of hate and frustration, not only against the elected representatives, but also against the President.
So much so are people's attitudes, that it's beyond making the argument of whether one wins or loses. They want him decimated and destroyed.
Yet this candidates' response was direct. The success of what the federal government sets out to achieve absolutely affects people at the state and local level. To call for their defeat is to call for our own demise, essentially.
I've stated it many times before. The health of families leads to healthy communities and states and ultimately nations. Yet, if we send unhealthy people, attitudes and mindsets to lead at a national level, they will in turn, decide and determine to take actions and methods that will come back and both directly and indirectly affect how we live life on a daily basis and carry out our business.
The difference that will be made in our communities depends on our abilities to communicate and work through the differences that exist between experiences, attitudes and beliefs. Walls make for great boundaries and protective means, but sometimes can really mess up our abilities to communicate.
Thus, we need a super-natural ability to know what and when to defend and where and how to allow points of access. In this time of heightened sensitivity and overt perception to offense, we need God's help to be and remain constant declarers and defenders of truth.
Pray, this #communitySaturday, that God would indeed help us to know when to protect and defend and when to open up and communicate. Pray for discernment in our interactions and conversations. May we continue to positively impact our communities for Christ as we allow God to continue His Work that He has begun in us, for as we are changed for eternity, may we present that to those around us who are in need the saving grace of the Cross. No matter the troubles and trials that we face along the way, may we ever be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is within us, even in fierce times up frustration, angst and hatred, whether from afar or in close proximity to where God has placed us.
That we would be led
By the everlasting, steadfast hand of God.
Empowered by the Holy Spirit
To speak truth in all circumstances.
That Christ would be known and revealed.
Positively impacting eternity from this day forward.
?What does it profit a nation to focus on and debate the sins and wrong-doings of the previous generations rather than acknowledging and correcting the wrong-doings of the generation in which we live?
And how can we correct the the wrongs of our world, if we are not willing to work on the wrongs of our individual hearts?
For who can change the past by destroying it, whether in the life or their community?
We can only ruin our individual and communal future by mishandling what we do today.
Earthly change means nothing if it does not impact eternity.
On this #communitySaturday, we are in need of revival. May the love of Jesus Christ enlighten our minds and affect our hearts. May a genuine relationship with Christ impact our interaction with humanity; to respond in love... not as the world expects, but as God leads us. Pray we would not look at the world through the filter of our life and experience, but through the love and grace of God, given to us by Jesus Christ and empowered to live out daily through the Holy Spirit.
God, we cry out to you alone.
For you alone can heal the brokenness of our sinful hearts.
Call us to repentance,
That we may forgive as you have granted to us.
For your glory, we pray.
We live in challenging times; not because the world is difficult and complex, which it is, but because our understanding and perception of life is so "off-base" from it used to be not so long ago. So, it's inevitable that as society strays more and more from morality and truth that the Bible will continue to stand out and contradict the thoughts and actions of a society bent having less to do with the God of the Universe.
As a result, it's not a surprise to hear a pastor acknowledge that his words aren't politically correct, but one pastor I heard this week followed it up with the only reason that matters.
"I care about your soul."
Nobody is talking about being justified in speaking with malice or dealing with those we disagree with in a mean-spirited manner. At the same time, there are no points awarded for being nice while telling a lie. There are no points for being pleasant while affirming what is false.
Our fight is not carnal, but spiritual.
The battle is real.
Showing true love means a willingness to fight on someone's behalf.
We're not fighting with people for the sake of disagreement or because we think we are "right". It's a fight over eternity and the soul is the true casualty after the appointed time of death that awaits each of us. It's not about changing your life so that you have a better or more pleasant journey on this earth. It's about changing your eternal destination as to whether it is spent in the presence of Almighty God.
How can one who follows the God of truth continually speak and affirm what is false yet still be considered a follower and seeker of what is true? If Satan's native language is a lie, how can he be defeated with another lie? Are you not participating in advancing his argument?
Truth and our understanding of it wins every time. But it does no good for those who want nothing to do with or refuse to accept it when it is told to them.
On this #communitySaturday, pray that as the church reaches and interacts with society, that we would once again, be declarers of truth. May the fear of repercussion not dissuade us, in our efforts to point people to the truth of God and the love of Christ. Pray God would grant up opportunities to those around us, to know how to speak the truth and do so in a spirit of love; that we would not be antagonistic or abusive with our words, but real and genuine in showing our care and concern for the souls of the lost and dying. For indeed, we were once lost and dead in our sin as well.
Truth, in minefield of lies.
To save from the enemies grasps
And bring to Christ the souls of those He is unwillingly to let perish
To be brought to repentance and experience redemption
For the love of Christ will not speak a compassionate lie over a hard truth.
For the glory of God.
John MacArthur preached an incredible sermon series this past week on family and how the most basic unit of community begins with family... as I've often stated. Yet one statement in particular stood out, particularly as I thought of the application and implication of these words on my own life and in my own home.
"Family is the proving ground of Godliness."
I know, no family is perfect. We have our struggles and battles like everyone else. Kids don't always get along. Parents have bad days. Stuff gets missed and misplaced and life takes it's toll and somehow we all figure out ways to cope and manage. By the grace of God; with the love of God... and some days shear force of will.
As much as we know we must persevere in our faith, so to are the days where it feels as though we must persevere in family. But God is a god of relationships. As we were made in His image, part of that is shown through the relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Having created male and female in His image, it's the relationship of the two of them coming together that reflect the power and the synergy that reflect the character of God.
It is with that understanding that helps to explain why society is having such an elemental breakdown in the fabric of community. If the enemy of our souls is successful in disrupting and destroying the family unit, then Godliness never leaves the proving ground where it can influence the open market of society.
The power of family is the testing, learning and developing of faith and the understanding of God whereby we are empowered and equipped to step in to the world and be used for His sovereign plan and purpose.
On this #communitySaturday, pray for families. Pray for those who are struggling with the realities and complexities of life; where the struggles and challenges stand to destroy and tear apart the very thing that God has created and brought together. Pray for healing and restoration in the lives of those whose homes are broken or on the verge of breaking. May the power and truth of God be revealed; may understanding come into existence as we see situations and circumstance in light of what God desires to accomplish in and through our lives. Pray the broken and damaged things would be healed and made whole.
The power of family.
Created and quickened by the Hand of God.
To be used for His glory.
Reflecting the character and love of God
To a world in desperate need of true and eternal relationship.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
The more time I spend on social media, the more I understand why people take breaks from the forum and perhaps disengage altogether. Don't get me wrong, there some incredibly epic material online. Powerfully, profound perspectives. Hilarious moments of laughter that does good like medicine. And tons of sad and sobering stories that remind us of how precious life is, laced with stories that continue to tell us that politicians will be politicians to the bitter end.
Yet the more I read, the more I'm convinced, everything changes when we engage face to face. There's something about social media that empowers to people to speak on a level that they wouldn't engage in real life; certainly not to strangers passing them by on the street. But 30 seconds on somebodies profile page tells "all" and the assumptions are made and the attitudes step up to prove one's point that the other side is dead wrong.
Arguments of tolerance and love can't even be presented as in a tolerant and lovingly manner!
It's as about effective as my raising my voice instructing my kid to not raise their voice to me. I will get called immediately by that child. They know better. As do I.
How do you speak on love with a tone of hatred?
How do you speak on compassion with a tone of anger?
How do you speak about understanding while resorting to name-calling
How can one show they are open-minded as they simultaneously attempt to shut-down others?
None of these are possible. Certainly not very easily when face to face.
Crossing of boundaries and blurring of the lines results in open doors of interpretation. And some things are not meant to be open to interpretation. There are absolutes. If we take seriously the parents' instruction on clean rooms, homework, curfew and chores then how can we look at God's instruction and surmise that what's in Scripture isn't what He meant? Will He not bring greater discipline and correction than the most loving and intentional parent?
On this #communitySaturday, may God help us as we engage the world around us; whether online or in line; Facebook or face to face, pray our conversations with be laced and graced with love and truth. May we be people of understanding, capable of declaringly unabashedly, the truth regarding the fallen state of humanity and the redemptive plan of God. God help us to live authentic lives with no compromise. May God break through the damage and the brokenness; the verbiage and the vitriol that society is expressing towards Christianity and those who follow Christ and reveal His perfect love that casts out all fear.
That would be His light
In a world quickly going dark.
Salt, to a world in need of preservation
One by one, face to face;
That they would see Christ in us
And through every fiber of our word and deed.
For God so loved the world.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.