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31 Days of Christmas

December 6, 2011 Leave a comment

In the midst of the business of the season, its nice to see someone slow down and serve another. 31 days of Christmas is an opportunity to give of ourselves to friends, neighbors, or complete strangers. It’s a way of showing that there is goodness in the hearts of people in Grand Island.

I am looking forward to what will come of this challenge! So many have already begun the challenge, but its not too late. If you haven’t started, thats ok. Just go to http://www.thirdcitychristian.org/31days and start today! There is a new challenge each day.

Also, when you begin, we want to hear your stories. Go ahead and post them on the Facebook page.

 

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Categories: Community

A need for Community and Worship

July 28, 2011 1 comment

After a long time, I am finally back writing again. This summer has brought a busy schedule and not much time for writing, or thinking for that fact. However, as things are slowing down, I was glad to have the opportunity to start writing again.

This week in the social network realm of reality, a friend stated something to effect of “back from an amazing retreat, now back to real life.” After reading this, I became concerned.

You see, what my friend expressed in 140 characters, was quite a statement. It was something that I have struggled with for years. Ever since my first retreat in high school, I have wondered when a person arrives back home from a week away, why we feel as though we have arrived back into reality. This is very troubling for me because I know that “reality” is and can be what ever you want it to be. Don’t worry, I am trying to be metaphysical or anything like that. I am not trying to convince you that their chair your sitting in, isn’t really there. What I am trying to convince you of is the fact that the reality we experience in a retreat can be realized in the reality once back at home.

After years of processing this, the answer finally came clear to me. Their are two primary reasons that retreats give the exhilaration of a high. While there are many other reasons that people latch on to, it all boils down to two reasons. These two things are something each of desperately need. These two things are some God designed us for and meant for us to experience in our daily life.

Most kids come back from a retreat thinking that the media had something to do with coming close to God. Maybe it helped, but I doubt this was the primary reason. Some kids believe that the smoke and lights brought them close to God. Well, again, not likely. While some may have inhaled too deeply and experienced some kind of enlightened feeling, it wasn’t one of the two core reasons.

God created us for two primary reasons. These two reasons can initially be found in the book of Genesis in the garden, and then through every book and every chapter of the Bible after that. These two things are: worship and community.

We were created for worship. God created us to worship him. It’s in our being. It wasn’t until that first sin when this became a challenge for man. Worship is at our core and when we enter into worship with others, we feel it. Worship is like coming back home. It gives you that peaceful feeling that not much else can give to you. So, when these retreats are filled with worship, its no surprise that these people are on a high because they feel that closeness with God.

The second purpose is community. Community is also found in the very beginning. Once man was created, the first thing that God said of man was “It is not good for man to be alone.” God spoke truth. We were never meant to be alone, to live life alone, or to walk with God alone. He created us for community. These retreats provide a week away with peers for and gives one a heightened sense of community. From Adam walking with God in the garden to Jesus meeting with His disciples in the other garden, we were meant to be with one another.

So when my friend thinks that after experiencing a week of worship and community he needs to get back to real life, I think that he is actually leaving real life. Most of us live in a world of busyness and avoid worship and community on this level. What if we made the commitment to experience worship and community on a weekly basis like we do when we are away? Worship and Community aren’t two complicated things, they are the two primary needs that God designed us to have. So when we don’t experience these on a daily basis, we are running away from what God intended for us.

In closing, I want to challenge my friend (and you) with this thought. Don’t look at returning home as coming back to reality. Look at it as a challenge to continue in reality. Reality is what you make it. God intended our reality to be filled with worship and community. Gather with friends and make it a point to walk with God and worship Him with all you have. The lights and the video, while cool, are not what brings you close to God. It is walking with Him just as Adam did in the garden and the disciples did in the other garden. So from garden to garden, let’s actively participate in worship and community and truly experience what reality is!

Book Review: Second Guessing God

Second Guessing God by Brian Jones is a great read.

As one who has suffered a couple of blows in the last year, I have been left wondering what is God’s purpose in all of it. I think its easy to find ourselves asking God the question, “Why did this happen to me?”

Jones, who is not without his own share of tribulations, gives great insight to what can happen when we work through our suffering. Who is not without some kind of suffering? Whether big or small, there is something to learn from it. What is God’s plan in this for me? How am I to go on after something horrible has happened? These are only a couple of the questions that he addresses in this book.

If you have dealt with any kind of loss or suffered any blows in your life, I know you will like this book. Jones bring a his light sense of humor into his stories which makes this a great, quick read.

When life takes a wrong turn and you’re just trying to hold on for dear life, Jones assures us of the promise that God is with us. When all we want to do is yell and scream at God, he assures us, this is ok, He reminds of the book of Pslams which is full of people who ask the question,”Why me?” David, often described as a man after God’s own heart, is often the one who can’t understand why God does what he does. In fact, in one place Jones prays the prayer, “God, please forgive God.”

We all have our own plan in life, its just how we are. Unfortunately, that leaves us vulnerable to being clothes lined by God’s plan which stops us dead in our tracks. If this even vaguely describes you or your situation, please give this a try. Finding the purpose in our suffering will ultimately set us free.

 

Hope Unseen

I wonder what hope looks like. Is it a light at The end of dark tunnel? Or is it a new life when all you have known is death? Whatever it is, i wonder if it’s something i have seen or maybe just something that i have felt.

Sometimes it’s easier to see the hope other people posses, but not the hope that manifests itself in my own life. Whenever i think of hope i try to believe that it’s a place of happiness and of peacefulness. Is that what hope is?

Sometimes i think that hope can’t even be seen. I think that even if hope slapped me in the face i wouldn’t recognize it. More than that, i think that i wouldn’t understand hope. How do you define something you cannot see, but something you read about. How do you define something that seems to elude this person but not the next.

I don’t think that hope and wishes are the same. If they were then hope might look like a delicious stuffed crust pizza, and honestly, that would be disappointing. Its not about what i want hope to be but more about what i need hope to be. What do you need it be? Do you need hope? Or are you lost in the wants and merely want hope like you want something to drink. There is a difference.

I heard once that hope came dressed a a man. This man lived a perfect life and died for you and me on a cross. Is this the hope you and i need? I think its definitely worth looking into. What else has been offered up as hope?

What i hope for is much deeper than anything that i could wish for, its much deeper than anything i can hold in my hands. My hope can only be fulfilled by something i don’t even understand. That is why it is hope. Hope is unseen, and definitely not understood. But hope is available.

I just need to realize that hope is something great. It does exist. It just came in a form of our need and not our want it came in a form that we do not yet understand fully. It was not created in my own mind, but in my creators mind.

This hope unseen is exactly what i need, and whether or not i know it, everything i want.

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Maturing in Christ

Paul, a man whose life story can be defined as “all in for Christ”, was very serious about what his life was about. He was a man of accomplishment. He was revered in some circles and mostly faultless in much of his life. However, with all his accomplishments and accolades and badges, he couldn’t stand the thought that any of those would be worth more to him than a life found in Christ. He speaks of this in his letter to the church in Philippi. The words that he uses like strain and pressing on, gives us an affirmation that his journey is not a easy one, but one that he works for. It’s a journey full of self sacrifice.

Spiritually speaking, Paul is far along in years. Not one of us would say that he is drinking milk as a baby would, nor would we say he is a teenager in his outlook. We would all say that he is mature. We would say that Paul has some things figured out. What is it about his life that makes him so special?

Paul had it figured out. His relationship with Christ was not just lip service, but it was something that was tangible. It was something people saw in him. In fact, I’d say, if you passed Paul on the street, you’d see more of Christ than you would of Paul. It was something he pressed forward with. While fighting against anything that would hold him down or keep him away from realizing Christ’s power in his life, he pressed on. He did not stop. It didn’t matter what people said about him, his life was found in Christ. It was Christ alone that mattered to him.

What would it take for us to take such views? What would it take for us to engage in this type of lifestyle? Sure, the more we stand up for Christ the more the world rejects us, but along the way we are planting seeds that have more power than anything we can come up.

Take a look at this passage from Philippians 3, but pay special attention to verses 15…

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

I ask, what is the mature way of living? The mature way of living is forgetting what is behind, putting your focus on Christ and moving toward him. No more living as a baby or as immature, its time to step up and take hold of which Christ has called you to.

30 Days of Prayer (part 2)

March 30, 2011 1 comment

Well, I have to apologize, I am a couple days late on this. I wonder how many of you took the challenge of praying through the scriptures? My wife and I are over halfway through and it’s been great for us! It has been freeing to pray the things that God wants in our life as opposed to the things that we want. It’s not that our wants don’t matter, but as scripture says, “your kingdom come” meaning God’s purposes first.

Colossians 1:18 tells us that Christ is the head of all things. Everything begins with Christ, it’s His natural place. If only our lives began with Christ, our prayer lives too. What kind of changes would we find if we allowed Christ His rightful place in our lives?

Once we have arrived with Christ at the head, we enter into a spiritual intimacy like never before. We become naked before each other without shame. It was this way with Adam and Eve in the garden before sin entered the picture. Their relationship with God was perfect. Nothing was hidden, they were completely vulnerable and it was good.

This kind of intimacy only comes when a man and a woman have a right relationship with God. How is your relationship? Are you able to experience this level of intimacy?

I hope you continue this challenge of praying through the scriptures. When you seek God’s heart for your marriage, you will be able to experience spiritual intimacy like never before. You’ll begin to see your marriage through God’s eyes. If you are working through these 30 days, please let me know so I can be praying for you.

Day 11 – 2 Chronicles 6:40
Day 12 – Psalm 1:3
Day 13 – Ephesians 4:29
Day 14 – Hebrews 13:4
Day 15 – Matthew 5:16
Day 16 – John 13:35
Day 17 – Psalm 69:6
Day 18 – Philippians 4:8
Day 19 – Colossians 3:1-2
Day 20 – Deuteronomy 6:5

If you have not begun yet, check out my post on 30 Days of Prayer. If you follow this through to the end, I know it will change your marriage! Or you can read Pray Big for Your Marriage by Will Davis Jr.

Blurred Lines

March 29, 2011 1 comment

How does one cope with the onset of an ideal which not that long ago was seen as wrong? With the changing of the seasons, this world brings new change to what we know, and to what we believe. At least it would like to think that its changing  everybody, but there are a few who are standing still. The lines in so many areas of our lives are being blurred. I see it the most in our understanding of marriage.

Whether it’s one man and one woman, or the roles of each, or maybe its the permissible lifestyles each takes on, marriage is no longer what it should be, sadly. It has become something that is almost undefinable, unclear and mostly unseen. Divorce rates have skyrocketed. Whether you are in or out of the church, you are not immune.

So what is marriage? While Webster has conveniently changed its definition from one man and one woman to two people, I will stick with the former. I will stand up to the way God has designed marriage to be and proud to say that anything else is wrong.

It’s safe to say that today’s marriage is all about me. If I am not happy, I have an out. I can marry who ever I want, regardless of their sex. While married, I can live however I want to live and my spouse should except me. It’s so me driven it no longer looks like marriage was originally intended.

Marriage once looked like one man and one woman. It once was more about holiness than happiness and striving to keep a clear focus on God who was at the center of the marriage. It was more about sacrifice and selfless love than anything else. It seems now all these are things of the past. But, they don’t need to be.

If we can just stand up for what is right, and live out our marriages the way God intended, we can show that there is more to it than just the sour “me attitude” that is like a wrecking ball in a china shop. Make your marriage more selfless than selfish. Marriage is black and white. While the Satan attempts to blur the lines, God defines them. It’s about time we take the blinders off and see what God is doing.

Categories: Community