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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What God Requires of Me

"With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

Micah 6:6-8 NIV


The question is, "What does the Lord require of you?" It's a bottom-line question, really. In the area of faith, that means it's a profound question.

The answer is what you'd expect from God--any god, really. He wants you. Not your stuff. Not your money. Not your prayers. Not your offerings. Not your sacrifices. Not even your first-born son.


He wants you. All of you.


By you he means he wants all of your life--your allegiance. Total surrender.

And this is what he wants from you once you've surrendered your life to him:


"To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." With him. Relationally.


It's simple, really. Beautiful. Profound. Personal.

There isn't anything more valuable that you could give than yourself. Which would be fitting since that's what he gave you. Himself. His life. At the cross.


What is God saying to you today?

What are you going to do about it?

Monday, July 06, 2015

Are You Blind to Pride?

Amaziah, however, would not listen, for God so worked that he might deliver them into the hands of Jehoash, because they sought the gods of Edom. (‭2 Chronicles‬ ‭25‬:‭20‬ NIV)


This whole story of Amaziah is a picture of nearly every king of Judah found in 1 & 2 Chronicles and 1 & 2 Kings. These men struggled with pride. In most cases, their pride caused them to fall. The only real difference was how blind they were to their pride.

The root of sin is pride. Pride has many manifestations. In the end, it makes us vulnerable to the temptation leading us to sin against God. It gives us a false sense of security where we do not fear the Lord. As a result, we begin to see ourselves as self-sufficient. We make more and more decisions that revolve around us. We think too much about ourselves.

Amaziah did this. A prophet comes to him and tells him he can win his battle without the help of Israel, who he's hired for just that purpose. He remarkably follows the prophet's advice and sends Israel's army home. Judah then fights and wins the battle.

Now here's what's remarkable. Amaziah keeps for himself idols from the people he just conquered! He bows down and worships them! The prophet again comes to him and shows him how stupid this is asking, "Why do you consult this people's gods, which could not save their own people from your hand?" Pride truly blinds us. Especially in success.

God saved Judah in battle. Amaziah foolishly turns away from the Lord, who delivered them, to false gods. How blind can you get?

This is easy to see. However, our pride blinds us too. It's subtle. It shows up most when we're successful. It's consequences are tragic.

Amaziah loses his life as a result of this foolishness. Worse--the nation suffers because of his foolish pride. Many people in Israel and Judah suffer because this ruler makes foolish decisions rooted in pride he doesn't even see. He's blind to his bride.

We also have blind spots--created by pride in the wake of success. Make no mistake, we are prideful even when we're not successful. But we're more vulnerable when we succeed. We often believe we were successful because of our great skill, intellect, charisma, etc. We usually forget that it was God with us that led us to succeed thus failing God's test. We are often blind to pride.

What can we do? Some suggestions:

1. Pray daily asking God to reveal your blindspots. Be particularly aware of your recent successes or wins. Could these be blinding you?
2. Embrace relationships where others feel free to speak into your life when you need them to. This takes time to nurture. You must prioritize this re-ordering of your life to create space for this to happen. It will not happen unless you intentionally make space for it.
3. Confess your sin as soon as you recognize pride in your life. No matter how small. Don't delay. Deal with your pride tenaciously and persistently.

A great additional resource for this is CJ Mahaney's book "Humility".

Remember, as soon as you think you have humility, you just lost it.

Remember, too, that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6)


What is God saying to me today?

What am I going to do about it?

Friday, July 03, 2015

Simple, Straight Facts on Abortion

by GoTandem Books
by GoTandem Books)
Let's assume you're convinced that aborton is (a) illogical or (b) scripturally wrong. What in the world can you do about it? How can you lead your friends in the right direction, and exactly what do you say? Use these facts about abortion from 10 Reasons to Stay Christian in High School as your guide for making a case about this hot-button issue.

A fetus is not just another part of a woman's body.
A body part is defined by the common genetic code it shares with the rest of its body. The unborn's genetic code differs from the mother's, even to the extent that some unborn babies are male, while their moms are female.

An unborn human is not just a blob of tissue.
From the moment of conception, the unborn is what it is. . .a separate, living human being. At six weeks, you can see a beating heart. At twelve weeks, eyes and hands can be observed.

A fetus is not just a blueprint or a potential human.
A fetus is a person at a particular stage of development—much like a toddler or an adolescent. The fact is, something nonhuman does not become human by getting older and bigger.

Life does not begin at birth.
Science has shown us that human life begins at conception. All genetic characteristics of a distinct individual are present from the moment of conception. Our recognition of birthdays is cultural, not scientific.

Denying abortion does not step all over a woman's rights and freedoms.
The onetime choice of abortion robs someone else of a lifetime of choices and creates pain for the mother, not to mention others involved. Furthermore, responsible societies must deny choices that would harm others.

If abortion is made illegal, thousands of women won't die from rusty hangers.
Prior to the legalization of abortion, 90 percent of abortions were done not in back alleys but by physicians in their offices. In fact, women in America still die from legal abortions.

The early stage of human life is as meaningful as any other stage.
But if we listened to abortionists, who base human value on size and intelligence, then we'd also have to dehumanize other members of society: dwarfs, basketball centers, the obese, the mentally disabled. And when we dehumanize the beginning of life, we dehumanize the end of it as well.

Since human life is valuable, every human is wanted.
A pregnancy may be unwanted, but there is no such thing as an unwanted child. The list of couples wanting to adopt runs into the millions. And if we destroy all human beings we believe are "unwanted," then any segment of society is at risk: AIDS victims, the elderly, derelicts, etc.

. . .For more advice for teens on how to react when you're in a tight spot,
CLICK HERE for a free preview of 10 Reasons to Stay Christian in High School
on our Resources page.


10 Reasons to Stay Christian in High School will Enable Readers to:

Survive and Thrive During Their Teen years
Better Handle Peer Pressure
Share Faith with Confidence
Find Real Friends and Avoid Lethal People
Navigate "Landmines" Like Impurity, Drugs, and Drinking


https://www.gotandem.com/

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Helpful Ways to Help

The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.” Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. (‭2 Kings‬ ‭4‬:‭1-3‬ NIV)


Elisha shows Jesus-like wisdom here as he helps this family in need.

Their needs needs seem obvious but he doesn't presume to know what to do or how to respond. He is seeking direction from the Lord by asking the wife questions.

Most specifically, it's interesting to me that he asks her what she already has that may help, as opposed to just giving her something that he has or can get.

In addition to that, he asks her to ask for help from her neighbors. His direction is specific and intentionally in calling her own community to become part of the solution. This would have been natural for them to do in that day (and for most cultures except the more individualized western cultures like the US) but not necessarily easy under these shameful circumstances.

My takeaway is, when helping people in need, to ask questions. These questions seem like good ones to have handy whenever someone asks for your help:

How can I help you?
What do you already have that may help?
How might your neighbors or local family help?

What is God saying to you?

What are you going to do about it?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What are you holding onto?

This video illustrates how we can get trapped by the things we hold onto. God wants us to let go and trust him with everything--our whole lives. Like this baboon, however, we hold onto people, places and things that keep us from fully relying on God. The result is we lose our freedom and are enslaved to whatever it is we're holding onto.





What are you holding onto?

What is God saying to you right now?

What are you going to do about it?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Who is the Enemy in Church Shooting?

A few thoughts on the shooting this week in Charleston at the Emmanuel AME Church prayer meeting. 


True Enemy

The true enemy is behind this. (Ephesians 6:10-13The shooter isn't the real enemy here. The powers behind his evil deed are.

The shooter could have done this on a Sunday morning when there was a much bigger crowd. He could have killed more people and made a bigger headline. Why did he seemingly go small and murder the few in a prayer meeting of about 13?

I believe he was sent to go after those battling the true enemy on their knees. Our enemy knows where the battle is fought and won.