Archive for the ‘Spiritual Discipline’ Category

Blogging Again

I’m sure if you’re a regular blog reader you’ve seen this tons of times.  A would be blogger gets into the game and takes off like a rocket.  Then as quickly as they started they disappear into the vast waste land of the internet.  So here I am trying to find my way.  But why?

Well, blogging helps me…

  1. It slows me down.  When I slow down its easier to take things in.  Actually, before taking them in I notice them.
  2. It is a another way to learn.  Before I post I want to make sure that what I am communicating makes sense.  Wow, funny this is something else that forces me to slow down.  In sharing my thoughts I may need to do some research.  In sharing my thoughts I open myself dialog.  There will be things that I can teach you and things that I will learn from you.
  3. It is teaching me to communicate better.  Everything in life comes down to communication.  This is an area where I need improvement.  Even while I am writing this I am thinking about what I am communicating and how I am communicating it.  And as I am writing this point I’ve realized that this is another slow me down point.  Maybe God is trying to tell me something.

What’s in Your Heart?

In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to the LORD, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign. But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the LORD’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 32:24-25 (NIV)

In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to the LORD, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign. But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the LORD’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem.

2 Chronicles 32:24-25 (NIV)

But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart.

2 Chronicles 32:31 (NIV)

Have you ever heard someone say that how you deal with adversity shows a lot about who you are?  I’m sure you have and while this is true we do need to look at the other side of things.  How do you deal with the good things that come to you?  Hezekiah was ill to the point of death and when he prayed God gave him a miraculous sign and healed him.  But the Bible tells us that Hezekiah did not respond to the kindness shown him.  After experiencing the wrath of God he repents and God removes His wrath.  A little while later it said that while some rulers of Babylon (to ask about the miraculous sign) were visiting God left Hezekiah to test Him and see what was in his heart.  In experiencing displays of God’s power and success at every corner the greatest challenge he faced was how he would respond to these good things.

Success can be one of the greatest test we face.  This is a tough test because our natural tendency is to gravitate towards pride.  Instead of an attitude of thankfulness and remembrance we might experience some short-term memory loss and think we did it all.  Instead of praise for God and others our language might be filled with personal pronouns.  These are signs that you are failing the test of success.

So if you are in the midst of this test how do you pass?

  1. Remember – Remember ultimately God is the source and remember you probably didn’t do this alone
  2. Thankfulness – This is one thing that God absolutely loves.  Say thanks for everything you can think of.
  3. Watch – Be mindful of the pronouns you use.

Lesson’s from Leviticus

The Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting.  He said, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When any of you brings an offering to the Lord, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock.'” – Leviticus 1:1-2 (NIV)

As I have been reading through the book of Leviticus one of the main ideas that stuck out to me was that God is very concerned about how we approach Him.  When we worship God we are to approach Him on His terms not ours.  At the beginning of this book the God tells Israel that when they bring an offering is must be done in a certain way and as we go through Leviticus there are different types of offerings each with specific steps.  Now we can easily get caught up in the gruesomeness of the offerings brought or lost in all the details that are given and totally miss the deeper point of what I think God was trying to communicate.

God is holy, blameless, righteous, powerful, just and perfect.  Now I could go on an on, but you get the point.  If God is all of these things should we not be careful in how we approach Him?  In our worship should we not be more concerned with what He desires than our own personal preferences?  This is what I think God is after in the book of Leviticus.  When I look at all of the steps given and sacrifices that are prescribed it makes me stop.  I think about who God is and I realize that many times the worship I bring does not fit the honor that He is due.

Our prayer every day should be this, “God, as I worship You today what would be pleasing to You?”

Response

In life we cannot always control the circumstances or people that surround our lives, but we can always control our attitude and our response.  How I respond is more important than what happens.  I don’t want to speak lightly about trials and test that come, but how we respond will shape who we become.  We can grow and mature or we can wither and die.  The choice is yours how will you respond?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4 (NIV)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4 (NIV)

Shut up

Now from the title of this post you may be thinking this is going to be some negative rant on what is upsetting me, but you’re wrong.  Actually, you couldn’t be farther from the truth.  You may also be thinking, didn’t the Church Marketing Sucks Blog and Kem Meyer just post a link to the Harvard Business Review that talked about this very same topic.  You are mostly correct in this assumption, but I promise you (you can ask my friend Sam Luce) that this is a blog series I have been talking about doing for the last couple of weeks. 

In my life as a Christ-follower, husband, and a pastor I am learning that there are times when it’s best to just Shut Up.  The more I talk the more trouble I usually find myself in.  Have you ever been in this place?  Have you ever put your foot in your mouth?  Have you ever over-communicated?  If so, this series is going to be right up your alley.

Next post: Shut up and sing

Remember pt. 3

This past weekend in Junction 567 (part of Uptown our children’s ministry at  Mt. Zion Ministries) our lesson focused on communion.  The main idea we were trying to communicate was that communion helps me remember what Jesus did for me.  I remember reading a commentary by William Barclay who said that Jesus knew we would need help remembering.  He knew that we would get caught up in life and the things we can’t explain or just plain frustrate us.  Life happens and many times we just get consumed with what is happening.  It is in these moments that partaking in communion can be so powerful.   

When we take communion it forces us to stop.  It forces us to stop and remember what exactly has been done for us.  It forces us to stop and remember that even though everything else in life may be going crazy there is something that we can be grateful for.  It forces us to remember how great our God is and how much He loves us.  

Remember pt. 1

Remember pt. 2

Keep your ears open and your mouth shut

As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut!

Ecclesiastes 5:1 (NLT)

Wow!  Direct and to the point, but I needed to read that.  For me taking time to just listen and keep my mouth shut is one way in which I can grow in my relationship with God.  This is a discipline that stretches me because by nature I am a doer and I find a certain amount of comfort in knowing that I did something that I can look back on and say I read that or took time to fast this.  When I just take time to listen it’s hard to look back and see what was accomplished.  But this is precisely what I need because it is not about accomplishing something but creating a place where I can better connect with God.

Remember pt. 2

For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with springs that gush forth in the valleys and hills. It is a land of wheat and barley, of grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, olives, and honey. It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking. It is a land where iron is as common as stone, and copper is abundant in the hills. When you have eaten your fill, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. “But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the LORD your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and laws.

Deuteronomy 8:7-11 (NLT)

Here the people of Israel are being reminded of the wonderful and prosperous land that they are being brought into.  This land is being described as being plentiful and lacking nothing.  It is in this plentiful place that Moses warns the people of Israel to be careful.  Why would Moses tell them to be careful or use a word like beware?  He knew that when the people experienced all that God had promised eventually they would forget.  They would forget who their Provider was and that is was God who brought them to this great place.  Many times when there no obstacles or we are not experiencing hardship our dependence on God can diminish.  In this life we not only have to remember what the Lord has done for us in the bad times, but maybe more so in the good.  In those times that we must be careful to remember.

Remember

I just finished working my way through the book of Deuteronomy.  Throughout this book we are constantly being encouraged to remember what the Lord has done for us.  When we remember what He has done in our past it can only help us move forward in the future.  No matter what we may be going through, when we remember it helps us to persevere, to obey, and to walk out our faith.  So the question before us today is what I can I add to my life to help me remember.