Monday, September 30, 2013

Baggage



“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (Luke 6: 46-49)


Shine Your Light

"No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden"




“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”(Luke 11:33-36)

Taking light in

In the passage above, Luke the disciple/doctor speaks about how our eyes take in light and allow us to see.
Where are the lamps or lights placed in your house? Are they hidden away so no one can see them? Or are they put in places where they can shine brightly, giving sight to those in those in the rooms?
The Gospel of Jesus is the light we all need; through him, we no longer live in darkness. He not only gives us our salvation, but also the love, hope and power to change and grow as we strive to live out a Christian life.
How much light are you taking in? Is your body filled with light?

Shine out the light that you take in

We shine our light by loving people and sharing the Gospel with them. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke to the crowd saying that God's people are the 'light of the world'. His people are the ones charged with spreading the light and love of God to others. We carry the responsibility to illuminate this sin-darkened world.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Don’t be ashamed of the light!

We live in a sin-darkened world, and all of us are in dire need of the light of our Savior.
Let's open our eyes, taking IN the Light through reading God’s word, and shining OUT the light we take in by loving others, sharing the Gospel, and using the amazing gifts and opportunities God has gifted us with.
When we come together we can be a city on a hill that cannot be hidden.
You are the light of the world; so go ahead, don’t be afraid to SHINE!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Why can’t I see God?

From time to time, everyone struggles with feeling like God is nowhere to be found. Sometimes our prayers just don’t seem to get “past the ceiling.” We ask ourselves why God doesn’t just show up in a way that we can see, touch, and hear Him like we do other people. We can see Him working in our lives and can talk with Him through His word and in prayer, but sometimes it’s hard to understand why God still seems so hidden from us. After all, many people don’t even think God exists! Why doesn’t He just show up and prove them wrong by having a face-to-face with them like in the movie “Bruce Almighty?”  

You're not alone

It’s comforting to know that you aren’t alone if you struggle with this. Any pastor can tell you about counseling people going through a crisis who have had to face this problem head on. Sure, some folks never seem to allow this problem to faze them. Generally, however, most people would likely say that they wish they could experience God’s presence in more obvious ways. In fact, we see this same sort of plea throughout Scripture in passages such as:
  • In Job 13:24, Job pleads before God in light of the crisis he was in and suggests that God had distanced Himself from Job.
  • In Isaiah 45:15, Isaiah observes that God does hide Himself from His people at times because of their sin.
  • The writer of Psalm 10:1 asks why God doesn’t make Himself known when evil men take advantage of God’s people.

3 reasons for God’s hiddenness

The Bible doesn’t tell us all the reasons that God acts the way He does. It does assure us, though, that God’s actions are based on His perfect nature. So, we can begin to think of reasons, which are consistent with His nature, that He might be hidden to a certain extent. Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Hidden for our protection. Perhaps God hides because of how His presence would affect us. We know that if a man sees God fully, he will surely die (Exodus 33:18-20) and we also see examples, like that of Isaiah, of those who stand in the presence of the Lord and are utterly “ruined” by His holy and glorious presence (Isaiah 6:1-6). Isaiah’s sin caused him to be overtaken by his guilt in this vision where he stood before the Lord. If God was to become fully present in the world, He would also judge the world by immediately ending the lives of sinners who are apart from Christ. His holiness will not allow Him to be in the presence of sin. Therefore, God’s hiding Himself to an extent is an act of mercy as He postpones judgment to allow many people time to respond to the Gospel. 

  2. Hidden for the sake of relationship. God may hide because He wants a particular kind of relationship with us. What would be the effects of experiencing the fullness of God’s presence in our daily lives? Would we still have free will? Consider this—if you had a personal policeman follow you around every waking minute of your day, would you ever commit a crime? You probably wouldn’t even if you wanted to. At the least, you would act very differently than if he wasn’t following you. Well, maybe God hides because He wants us to obey Him out of our love for Him, not because we are pressured into it just because He’s standing over our shoulder ensuring everything we do is perfect. His hiding could be His way of giving us more freedom to choose to obey.

  3. Hidden so we might seek Him. Moreover, let’s remember that God is a personal being who loves us. Rather than being constantly overwhelmed by His presence, maybe God wants to give us the opportunity to really long for and seek after Him. Someone once told me that God doesn’t always put His cookies on the lower shelf. What they meant by that was that God sometimes puts the sweetest things in life, like being in His presence, at a higher reach to make sure that those who find Him really want Him. Of course, Scripture teaches us that no one seeks after God if left to themselves (Romans 3:11) but because God sought us, He give us the ability to affectionately seek after Him. 

Are we looking in the right places?

The “signs” of God’s presence in the world may look differently than we expect. Some people say “I just wish God would give me a sign that He’s here with me”. Well, it could be that He does but it’s not what we want it to be. Sure, in some places and at some times God has made His presence known in over-the-top ways, like raising people from the dead. At other times, though, He makes Himself known by transforming people’s lives and raising them from spiritual death. In both instances, God is making Himself known in powerful ways. The Gospel has the power to absolutely change people and this power should be understood as the presence of God as He works among us! 

Are we blinded by sin?

Our sin can keep us from being aware of the presence of God. Paul seems to say in Romans 1:18-21 that everyone knows deep down that there is a God and we know certain truths about Him. However, it is the sinfulness of people that results in our “suppressing” this knowledge. This is not to say that some people don’t really have doubts or questions about God’s presence or existence, but rather that sin has an effect on people that can lead to us ignoring or pushing aside the truth. Sin always muddies the water between what is true and what is a lie.

What about Jesus? 

When we see Jesus, we have seen God (Colossians 1:15). Studying Jesus’ life provides us all the details about who God is and how He loves us. In Jesus, God came to walk among us and taught how we might be cleaned of our sin so that we can experience His full presence in heaven. Through Jesus’ ministry, we see the Holy Spirit come and live inside the Christian, making the Christian sensitive to God’s presence and making him more like Jesus. While we only experience the presence of God in somewhat limited ways now, it is because of our identity in Christ that we have access to God at all! 
Finally, we look forward to a time when we will no longer feel like God is hiding. In Revelation 22:1-5, we see a future place of residence that has been healed of sin’s effects. In the new creation, there will be nothing keeping us from seeing the face of God and there will be no more darkness because of the light of His face. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Power Of God

I hope you guys had fun for the last few days on Guys Are Waffles, Girls Are Spaghetti. We are going to go back to the devotionals. Hope you ladies are having a great day! 




God is the ultimate being. No one is bigger, smarter, more powerful or more sovereign.
In Ephesians, Paul wanted people to know the following:
 … the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
I want you to know the same thing. No matter what, who, where, or when, our God is greater.

He is greater than angels

Sometimes you look through your Facebook news feed and see someone posting about their girlfriend and they say, “She’s an angel!”
Well, in the Bible … almost every single time someone sees an angel … they fall down, terrified, and beg for their life. Now if that’s what people experience when they see your special someone, fine. In reality, however, angels are truly powerful beings.
In Isaiah 6, when angels surround the throne of God and speak, the posts of the temple doors move. They shake the very foundations with their cries.
But angels can. They are powerful. Really powerful. But still not near as powerful as God.
God is their creator. God is their authority. God’s will keeps them in existence. They bow down to God, they obey God, they praise God and do his will.
God is more powerful than angels.

He is greater than demons

In Mark 5, we see demons inhabiting a man, causing him to run around crazy, naked in the woods. The people surrounded him and tried to bind him with chains and the Bible says he was given power to break through those chains. Demons are very powerful.
The story continues, however. Jesus comes up to this man and asks the name of the demon. The demon replies, “We are legion for we are many”. You know what happens next?
They beg for mercy. They asked to be cast out into a herd of pigs instead of being cast out of the country. You know what the Bible says? “So he (Jesus) gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs.”
Jesus is still in charge of all of their activity. He can cast them out wherever he pleases, and they have no say in the matter. He reigns over them, triumphs over them and has the ability to do with them what he wants. God is more powerful than demons.

He is greater than Satan

The Bible warns us about Satan in 1 Peter 5:8. Peter tells us that Satan is like a roaring lion who walks about seeking whom he may devour.
Now I’m sure that most of my readers are tougher than me. I can barely pick up a donut. But I don’t care how much you work out and how tough you are - if a lion starts charging at you in Starbucks (or wherever you’re reading this), you’re going to run. You’re going to be freaked out. You understand that the lion is powerful.
The Bible says God is still infinitely more powerful!
In Job chapter 1, we see that Satan has to ask permission from God. In Matthew chapter 4, we see that Jesus withstands the temptation of the devil. In Revelation 20:10, we read that one day God is going to fastball Satan into the lake of fire to be tormented day and night forever and ever. God is more powerful than Satan.

God's power for you

Remember the verse from Ephesians 1 that I stated at the top of the post? In that verse Paul says that God’s power is “toward us who believe”.
God’s power is towards you when you face worry, fear and doubt. God’s power is towards you when you face the temptation of the devil. God’s power is towards you when you go to do his work and spread his message.
Rejoice!
If God is for us who could ever stop us?


*Check you this video* (How Great Is Our God)


*How Great Is Our God-Laminin- Louie Giglio*



Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fail

Ladies, Here Are a Few Tips Guaranteed to Bring Failure to a Store Near You.

Swap God for Guys
If you make guys your first priority, if you try to put them in the place in your life where God should be, you will really suffer. Remember this math equation; God > the sum of guys.

Try to Change Him
If people change because of your influence, that's one thing, but to set out to try to change someone is not a great method for good relationships. You can't change him; it's more likely you will change, and probably not for the better.

Get Them to Love You
It's close to impossible to "make" someone like you, let alone "love" you. Love is something you discover and then commit to. You cannot force people into these things. Love is not forced; it is freely given. Do not try to fit a round peg in a square hole.

Only Say Yes
If you haven't learned to be comfortable with the word "no", the you are making your life much more difficult. Making choices simply to please others can make you a pushover who is easily manipulated, pressured, and used. Healthy females don't try to please everyone. You cannot do this anyway. But you can learn how to treat yourself with dignity. Learning to say "no" is a very important part of that. Only saying yes = Fail.

Be Naive
You need to know how to evaluate people, truth, action, and care. Don't just take people at their word. Make them prove it in their actions. Do not be naive; be informed.

Date Really Young
People who date young always suffer the most hardships and often wish they would have spent less time on guys and more times on anything else. You cannot have a healthy relationships until you spend with yourself, your friends, and your family. 

Constantly Have Boyfriends
Boyfriends are not shoes; you don't always need them. They face a much higher risk for depression, emotional pain, poor self-esteem, disease, sexual abuse, and broken heart. 

Only Focus on the Present
People who use their brain to only focus on here and now are selling themselves short. You can enjoy the present while thinking about and planning for the future. Enjoy where you are and know where you are going, and you won't be thrown off course by the changing tides.

Form Your Identity Around What You Think Guys Like
Instead of being themselves, these girls fall  the trap of doing exactly the opposite and  become a person someone else wants them to be. People appreciate you more for being yourself, not what you think they want you to be. 





Guys, Here's a List of Surefire Ways to Get an A+ in Fail.

Pressure People, Especially Girls
If you want to be a stalker/creep/not-fun-person-to-be-around/sexual-assaulter type, then pressure people. OR JUST DON'T! Many guys have strong personalities and don't realize they can put pressure on people simply because they are persuasive. Being considerate will serve you much better in life than being selfish and pressuring others.

Embarrass Girls
There is a difference between teasing and embarrassing. No one likes to be embarrassed, especially girls when they are in public. Girls are sensitive. Make sure that you are being sensitive to them as well.

Be The Whiny Guy
Do you really need an explanation?

Be Loud
You are one human being. Don't try to be the voice of everyone. If you do, then everyone will not like you. Give other people room to speak and be heard. Your opinion, though important, is not the most important one.

Be Macho
Macho is an act. It may look like it is working for some guys, but a macho persona will not serve you well in the long run.

Be Clingy
Are you constantly sweet-talking girls or clinging to a girlfriend to the point that it takes up more than its fair share of homework time or time with your friends? Then don't. Girls can be an important part of your life, but don't mistake them for life itself.

Be Obsessed
Don't be the little dog in heat, running around looking for something to...well...just don't obsess over girls.

Setting Relationship Boundaries


Joyce Meyer-Establishing Boundaries.



Friday, September 20, 2013

Listen!

Developing good listening skills take time for most people, but it's essential for both guys and girls. Instead of quickly responding, answering, or interjecting when the other person isn't even done talking....consider a few of these techniques:

  • Refrain from feeling like you have to say as much as someone else. Just say to yourself, "I'm in listening mode." Try to say less and make the other person the center of attention.
  • Rephrase what has been said: "So what you're saying is..." or something that shows you are trying to understand. Don't be cheesy about it though; it sounds weird.
  • Regroup: Ask for clarification, or ask whether what you heard in close to what he or she said.
  • Explore: Sorry I couldn't find another R word. Just take time to recognize what the conversation is really about. I am amazed at how many times good conversations end up tense and confusing because everyone got offtrack. Keep in mind the possible reason people talk to you:

  • They like you and want to share stuff with you.
  • They are confused about something, and they are hoping it will get clearer after talking.
  • They feel upset (with you or someone else) and want to clear the air.
  • They are nervous.
  • They have a decision they have to make.
  • They want attention.
  • They think it is fun.
  • They want to practice. A lot of people are painfully aware that they are bad with conversation. Some of these people actually wan to work on learning to talk to people.
  • They are afraid to let you talk because they don't want to be judged or evaluated.     
  • They have had a great day, and they want to tell someone.
 
And the list goes on....
I think you can see that you will have a better interactions if you figure out what he conversation is all about rather than forcing it to be something it is not.                                 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Why Guys Are Waffles & Girls Are Spaghetti

Girls Are Spaghetti

In stark contrast to guys waffle-like approach, girls tended to live life as though it were a plate of pasta. If you look at a plate of spaghetti, you will notice that there are a lot of individual noodles and all of the noodles touch one another. If you attempted to follow just one noodle around the plate, you would intersect a lot of other noodles you might even switch to another noodle seamlessly without realizing it. This is how girls face life. Every thought, feeling issue is connected to every other thought, feeling an issue in someway.
This is why girls typically are better at multitasking than guys. A girl can talk on the phone, paint her toenails, shop online, double with her algebra homework and picture what her wedding will look like while simultaneously texting and eating. Because all her thoughts, emotions and convictions are connected, she processes more information and keeps track of more activities taking place. 
Because girls have these incomprehensible conversational skills, when it comes to solving problems they have a very different perspective than guys. Girls don't look to solve all problems with simple and fast solutions. Girls, much more than guys, desire to talk things through. This helps them processed the situation. Guys usually try to process in their head by themselves first. Through conversation girls can link together the logical emotional, relationship, relational, and special aspects of an issue. These links come to girls naturally so a spaghetti conversation is effortless for them. 

Guys Are Waffles

Guys thinking about it up into boxes, and each of those boxes has a room for one issue and one issue only. Family night going to one box, while girlfriend goes into another, I'll schoolwork is in yet another, and so on. The typical guy tends to live in one box at a time. When he is playing video games, he is simply playing video games. When he is playing sports or burning ants with and I'm not magnifying glass, he's playing sports are intensely focused on killing tiny insects a terrible and fascinatingly. Guys concentrate on one thing at a time. This is why he sometimes looks like he is in a trance and can seemingly ignore everything else going on around him. Psychologists call this "compartmentalizing"... That is, putting life and responsibilities into different departments. 
As a result of this compartmentalizing, guys are problem solvers by nature. They enter a box, size up the situation or the problem, and formulate a way to act on it and solve it. In the sports we guys choose to play, we consider what it will take to be successful, decide how good we might be able to be, then focus on accomplishing some goals. In communication, guys really are more considered with the main point in getting there as quickly as possible. They're not as concerned with talking for links of time just to feel closer as they discuss something.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dealing Tips

Girl Tips for Dealing with Adam



  • If a guy seems cocky or arrogant, or he's being a jerk, he's usually compensating for a lack of confidence or feelings of success. If you're pretty sure he's not a jerk, offer the occasional encouragement to boost his morale...but not that babying kind; that will make him feel worse. He doesn't need to feel precious; he needs to feel manly.
  • If he seems aggressive, competitive, or obsessed with movies where things blow up...there's really nothing you can do about this.
  • While there are some guy activities that you may find silly (wrestling, punching for fun, being loud...among thousands of others), there are often deep reasons why these things happen. During puberty guys are finding their place socially, as well as their strength, confidence, and voice. Sometimes these juvenile behaviors play an important role in the establishment of these discoveries. Notice I said sometimes.


  Guy Tips on Dealing with Eve

  • If you comment on the weather and a girl starts to cry, she's probably not that upset about the forecast. It is probable that a lot is going on in life, and something sent her to her breaking point. Be supportive, offer to listen, and don't make fun of her for crying.
  • If the girls in your life are constantly putting themselves down, kindly but honestly let them know you don't really like it when girls do that. Point out their positive traits, and help them focus on those.
  • For girls, things are connected...get used to it. When you are interacting with a girl, try to remember that they won't funnel things into neat little boxes of understanding. They are trying to figure themselves out just as much as you are trying to figure them out. When you realize that things are much more of a process than an event, it will help your interactions with all the females in your life.
  • Guys, a compliment goes a long way, especially when it's kind and sincere. Girls, like you, can struggle greatly at times with accepting themselves and needing encouragement. Heartfelt compliments, even if small, can go a long way and mean a whole lot (be wise how you compliment a girl. Girls can take it the wrong way). This is also just a good thing to learn to do. People will like you more, and girls will like you a lot more (make sure you don't cross the line of a romantic relationship, unless you are already in one).

Monday, September 16, 2013

Guys Are Waffles & Girls Are Spaghetti

So, I figured it would be fun to change things up a little! What do you guys think? I'm gonna take the next 3 or so days and have a little fun on how guys think and how girls think. You may get a laugh at this. This will be fun. Shake things up a bit! I will be taking things out of a book by Chad Eastham (I'll post the book), Guys Are Waffles & Girls Are Spaghetti.

 Chad's (author) Obeservations 
of Guys and Girls
  •  Guys like to hang around girls who lower the stress in their lives. In other words, they like girls who aren't self-centered or too demanding (low-maintenance) and don't bring unnecessary drama.
  • Females bring up different subjects more often than males because they are more motivated to work things out. After all, not everything can be solved by saying, "Whatever."
  • Guys tend to get angry when they are provoked by another person in a competitive game or in an encounter with the opposite sex. Girls tend to get angry when they are faced a circumstance that seems to be out of their control.
  • Girls struggle with depression more often than guys.
  • Girls tend to be attracted to guys who demonstrate dominance in their social settings. Guys tend to be attracted to girls who are physically attractive to them. These are not the traits, however, that remain attractive in long-term relationships. Over time, friendship, conflict resolution, acceptance, and sacrifice become the traits in both sexes that are most attractive.
  • Guys and girls experience emotions at about the same rate and intensity, but girls are much better at expressing them. Guys tend to avoid them or stuff them away. when upset, guys typically do something physically active; girls typically express themselves emotionally.
  • Girls are more concerned than guys about what other think of them. Guys are more concerned than guys about what others think of them. Guys are more concerned about what they think of themselves. If a guy is confident, he will give himself the benefit of the doubt in just about everything. If he lacks confidence, he will be critical of himself in just about everything.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Anxiety

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)





Anxiety is a paralyzing emotion believed to be experienced by about forty million Americans, and women are twice as likely to suffer from an anxiety disorder than men are! That is not a Happy-I'm-A-Girl statistic! What in the world has us so worked up, ladies?

Part of the problem is that many who suffer anxiety don't even know what it is. They are like my friend Lori's four-year-old daughter. For years the family has been perplexed by Ella's clumsiness. But Ella has never complained or asked to see a doctor even though...unknown to all of them...she could not see well out of her left eye. Now, if you or I wake up tomorrow and cannot see out of left eye, we are going to make some noise! I am going to cancel my entire day's scheduled and get to the doctor. Right? But limited vision has been Ella's measure of normalcy from the start. She doesn't know any different.

How would a girl who has suffered from anxiety since birth (yes, babies can be anxious) know she feels differently from other people? Anxiety is easily misdiagnosed. It masquerades as racing heartbeats, frequent headaches, loss of sleep, fear of what others think of us, or just an unidentifiable feeling of dread. To be honest, anxiety is one of the most "normal" emotions a human being can encounter.

Will a Christian experience anxiety? This is a highly probable yes, but Paul gives us an answer to the racing heart, the fear, and the feelings of dread. "Pray about everything." You see, our all-powerful, generous-in-love God isn't far from each one of us. Our response to trails and fears ends up being a measure of our belief, or our trust, in God's ability and willingness to do for us exactly what he promised. Entertaining anxiety leads to sin in no time because it distracts us from trusting and being obedient to God.


Action Plan
Memorize Isaiah 26:3 to battle anxiety: "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!" Use it in prayer. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

On Mediating for Others

Interfering in someone else's argument is as foolish as yanking a dog's ears. (Proverbs 26:17)

Occasionally the Bible says something that just astounds me. It would seem to me a good thing to jump between two friends who have an argument and act as the voice of reason. Then again, those who do so often get bit!

Today's verse reminds me of the time I tried to help out our dog, Ruth. Somehow, Ruth had made her way into the hood. Ruth didn't like other dogs too well, as a result of being nearly killed by a big dog when she was only four months old. I heard a commotion and ran to the street. Trying to grab Ruth by the collar, my hand was intercepted by the mouth of the beagle Ruth was "arguing with," and I suffered my first dog bite. This is a painful injury! I wince to this day every time I hear the words dog bite.


I think those dogs were just having a little argument. It was a spat. My dogs argue now and then. They weren't going to hurt each other, but I had to go and foolishly get in the way of their business. Mediating for friends can bring the same results if we aren't careful.


I'm not suggesting your friends needs to fight to establish a pecking order. This kind of fighting is more likely sin and along the lines of James 4, which explains we fight because of eveil desires warring within us we just can't lay down. What I am suggesting is the fights between your friends are better left to be solved by your friends so you don't get caught in the middle of something ungodly to begin with!




Action Plan
  1. Let each friend know you love her
  2. Tell them you will not be getting involved
  3. Suggest an objective mediator if appropiate
  4. Pray for them. If they can solve their issue and offer forgiveness, it's a win all around! 

When Should I "Unfriend" On Facebook?

I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is  abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don't even eat with such people. (1 Corinthians 5:11)


It's time for some very practical, non-nonsense advice. When it comes to your friends list on Facebook, who should be on there and who shouldn't?

The apostle Paul spends a moment in the verse about clearing up for the church a comment he had made to them at an earlier time. He had instructed them to not to "associate" with people who are immoral. Time passed, and Paul was beginning to receive reports that the church was tolerant of gross immorality within its own ranks. Paul says his instructions were not to avoid unbelievers who were behaving in an ungodly manner...that would be like avoiding dogs who bark or cars with horns. His instructions were to cut off associate with believers who...well, you can read the list above of yourself. It's pretty clear.

In terms of Facebook, there are two sets of people to look at on your friends lists. The first would be acquaintances who are not believers in Jesus. They probably act and talk as they "should" given their current state of belief. The Bible says you once behaved like this, too, before you came into the light (see Ephesians 5:8). These people, as long as they are not posting obscene pictures or clogging your news feed with profanity, are okay to keep around. They should be before your eyes and on your heart so you can bring them before God in prayer.

The second set of people for you to consider are professing believers. Their use of Facebook should be held to a different standard. If your friends who claim to be Christians are using Facebook as a vehicle for engaging in sexual inappropriateness, idolizing the wicked adventures of certain celebs, or dishonoring God's holiness, you need to unfriend. This is not an invitation to chew them out online (see yesterday's devo) or to be snarky to them at school. It is a call to protect God's holy name. He is zealous for it, and it's time we get some backbone as well!


Action Step
Clean up your friends list, but not until you have bathed this in prayer. Do you have the guts to stand with God for holiness in his church? 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Who Is Family?

Ruth replied, "Don't ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people, and your God will be my God." (Ruth 1:16)


Ruth had a broken family. She had married a nice young man, and they were carving out a life for themselves when...he died (see Ruth 1:1-5). Ruth was left miles from home, with no family but her husband's mom. Ruth begged her mother-in-law, Naomi, to let her stick around, and it turns out, Naomi loved Ruth. She helped her find employment in the harvesting fields, and ultimately counseled her in regards to winning Boaz as a husband. When families are broken, God sees to it we are still rewarded with deep relationships. Psalm 68 even says he sets the lonely in families.

 One group working for years to set kids in family relationships (when their own family can't swing it alone) is Big Brothers/Big Sisters. The concept of the program is simple. Kids who need an adult with time to give are paired with just that...a big brother or sister who hangs out with them once a week or so. The results of the program have been astounding. Kids who have someone with time to give are far less likely to miss school, smoke and drink, or even react to problems with violence.

What Ruth and Naomi started isn't unusual. Family can be blood, but Jesus pointed out long ago that family is also the church. He "places the lonely in families" (Psalm 68:6). No one needs to be alone.

Action Step
Read all about it...Ruth is a short book. Who is your family? 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Self-Taught

The words of the wise are like cattle prods...painful but harmful. Their collected saying are like a nail-studded stick with which a shepherd drives the sheep. But, my child, let me give you some further advice: Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out. (Ecclesiastes 12:11-12)

Ken Jennings is regarded as one of the greatest "trivial" minds in the world. It took six months to kick him off the quiz show Jeopardy! By the time he finally lost, he had earned a spot in the Guinness World Records for earning a record fortune on a quiz shows...$2.52 million. Jennings didn't learn all of his information in school. He learned by exercising curiosity every day of his life. Jennings says those who have a thirst for knowledge live far more interesting lives. We have to agree.

Solomon mentions the pain of being goaded by wisdom. It's like exercising for the first time when you are terribly out of shape. It hurts! Exercising breaks down muscles, wounding them, so they can heal themselves and come back stronger than before. Solomon says the acquisition of wisdom is like a nail-studded board poking you in the hiney...that'll get you up and moving!

Let's see if we can get up and moving...from the couch, from your bed (in the morning), or whatever you tend to go for vegetation! Try something new this week to "take your mind to the gym." Here are some of our favorites: 
  • Do a crossword puzzle.
  • Try sudoku.
  • Read a "self-help" book (nonfiction)
  • Watch a TED talk.

Action Step
Set aside a portion of each day to "take your mind to the gym." Not just for today or a week...as a lifelong habit.
  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Beanstalk Principle

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line Zerubbabel's hand. (Zechariah 4:10)

You are familiar with the story of "Jack and the Beanstalk," right? Jack goes off to sell the family cow so he and his mom can eat, and a mysterious old man suckers him into trading Old Bessie for some "magic" beans. Of course Mom is furious with Jack, and in a fit of fury, she tosses the beans out the window. Up grows the beanstalk, and Jack repeatedly climbs up the stalk to the home of rich ogre and robs him blind.

Perhaps it's not the most honorable example of wealth building, but here's the thing: Jack was forced with a lot of limitations in the beginning of this fairy tale. He and Mom were starving, and the cow had quit producing milk. From the pictures we've seen in fairy-tale books, the cow had limited prospects as a beef cow too. Jack is young and without any marketable skills. He comes home with nothing but a handful of small seeds...about what you'd expect when you send a kid to save the family.

Small things, however, can set huge things in motion. Zachariah reminds us never to dismiss the small things or to judge what God is up to by our meager, human standers. You see, this is part of the same passage where God warns Israel, "It is not by force nor by strength, but by Spirit" that he will deliver her (4:6), Zachariah prophesied about two olive trees on either side of God's dwelling place. One was Joshua, a less than imposing military figure. The other was the high priest Zerubbabel, who built a less than imposing Temple. Yet God said these two were moving mirroring his own story about his plan for humanity's salvation, accomplished as we know by the humble servant King and High Priest Jesus, rather than the impressive military conqueror so many were expecting. God does not always use massive show of power. In fact, he's saving that for the end of the book.

It started with a bean. God has graciously provided the stalk.


Action Plan
Your gift is not too small. Find one small good deed you are passionate about and can do on a continuing basis. See if a big old stalk takes root! 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Five Words to Avoid

So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own. (Luke 14:33)

One of the most frequent reasons given for not tithing and not giving to church and outside ministries is budget problems: "I can't afford to give." Those are the five words we want to help you avoid, because, in most cases, they simply aren't true. What we are really saying with those words is either we have put ourselves in a bad spot with debt or we would have to make lifestyle changes we are not willing to make in order to add giving to our budget. But that's the thing about truly following God. Once he invites us to get in on his big adventures, he asks us to make life changes to do so.

The examples of this are as numerous as the people we know and love in the Bible. Abraham was asked to give his son as a sacrifice. Ruth had to leave her home and her people. The disciples dropped heir fishing nets and walked  away from everything they had ever known; by the time all was said and done, eleven of twelve had given their lives. There is no such thing as following God without making an adjustment in your life, and sometimes it's an adjustment that doesn't make much sense to you or others. There's a cost involved. Jesus isn't telling us in Luke 14 to literally sell everything we own. He's reminding us it's not ours to begin with.

The reason we can afford to give is because everything belongs to Jesus. We manage it well or we manage it poorly, as simple as that. The money we've been entrusted with is of varying amounts, but the principle remains the same...if we are managing whatever we have been given so poorly that we have none to give, even what we have will be taken from us. We can give. We may just need to make adjustments.


Action Step
What would you be willing to sell or give up so that you could be freed to give financially? How can you free more of your time to say yes to God's invitation?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Where Are the Real Men?

[King David said to his, Solomon,] "I am going where everyone on earth must someday go.  Take courage and be a man. Observe the requirements of The Lord your God, and follow all his ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go." (1 Kings 2:1-3)



Guys are experiencing somewhat of an identity crisis right now. The average age of marriage for a guy has risen to twenty-nine. A lot of grown guys are spending yours living with Mom and Dad staring at a TV screen an average of six hours a day. It's Mo wonder then that 17 percent of your fishing pond are weighing in with technical "obesity" and less than 59 percent are sticking around to be a father after getting a girlfriend pregnant.

This not to villainize guys. It's just that they don't have many good role models these days. It looks like a lot of guys are going to the Hollywood School of Preventing Intimacy, Money and Power, Being Put in Your Place by Dominant Woman, and 101 Guns You'll Be Allowed to Own. What about instruction in justice, loving what is good, serving rather than taking, and speaking tenderly to his wife and children?

Today's verse recorded Kings David's parting words to his son, Solomon. He told his son to "take courage and be a man." His wisdom called his son to step up and lead. And Solomon did. He wasn't perfect, but he did demonstrate goodness.

Be sure you wait for a guy who has had the advantage of Solomon...a wise and life-tested mentor against whom he has been able to measure, test, and develop his own manhood modeled for them to be the perfect picture of chivalry. And why do we go for the bad boy who seems to be more exciting? Choose your guy for life is the single most important decision you are going to make other than following Jesus as your Savior. The real men are out there. And most of the time, they have a real man teaching them.


Action Plan
Have your dad or an adult guy you respect help you make up a list of "manly" traits that you should look for in a guy.

Friday, September 6, 2013

That Girl Is Poison by Carl Lentz

I would love to know what you guys think of this message when your done listening to it. Please comment on the video. :)

Negativity Part 2

Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me...everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:9)

A pastor in Kansas City, Missouri, realized he could not ask his people to imitate him without initiating a lot of negative talk. And so he set a goal for himself. He was going to go twenty-one days without saying anything negative. To track his goal, he placed a bracelet on one wrist. Anytime he caught himself saying something negative, he would take the bracelet off, place it on the other wrist, and begin his count again. It proved to be a simple system...but not easy. He finally did it to twenty-one days, but not before breaking three bracelets and watching nearly three months of his life pass by! Three months to reach twenty-one days of pure positivity.

Today's devotion is sort of one big Action Step. Paul concludes his lesson on thought life and unity with an exhortation to imitate him. How great would it be to have the kind of countenance and reputation where we could say to other people, "Do what I do," and not have to worry one bit about the results of that?

If you choose to take this challenge, there are a couple of things to consider. What you are undertaking is a promise to speak blessings rather than curses. Speaking a blessing over a situation is not the same thing as condoning it. To speak a blessing is to find the good (whatever is true, lovely, right, ect.) and give voice to it. You do not need to change your stance on a friend's unholy relationship, in other words, in order to stop bathing everyone around you with your negative views on it.

Speaking truth is not the same thing as speaking negatively. Again, let's look at the friend who is in an unholy relationship. To tell her privately her decisions are not right in God's eyes is not the same thing at all as speaking negativity. Your convictions can be spoken with complete grace and truth without an ounce of negativity present.

Negativity Part 1

Now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8)

*These devotions are out of a book (I'll post the book hopefully today) so the story's that are shared are from the lady's that wrote the book*


On a recent missions trip, Gina (not her real name) was the resident drama queen. She complained when her team didn't have time for a sit-down meal in the airport. Then, she verbalized her stress again and again about how nervous she was about missing the flight. When the team decided to shop for a while, she told everyone they had to go to the gate. On and on and on the negativity went, and the teens hadn't even left the United States yet. She drained the life right out of the team, and no one wanted to spend time with her.
 
There is so much to be positive about, though if we spend to much time focusing on the drama of our circumstances, we might miss this fact. Paul's words are refreshingly positive. As long as something, anything...whatever floats our boat...passes the litmus test of being excellent and worthy of praise when held up to the light of God's truth, Paul exhorts us to think on these things. Not focus on what could go wrong or what is wrong with something, anything.
 
The only time a negative comment is needed is when you are saying passes Paul's test. And here's the test:
  • Is what you are saying true?
  • Is it honorable?
  • Is what you are saying right?
  • Are your motives pure?
  • Are you acting in a lovely manner?
  • Is this criticism admirable?
 By asking yourself if what you're saying passes this test, you'll be more positive. For example, there's no need to complain about missing a flight until you are less than fifteen minutes away from departure nowhere near the gate. Until then, what you are saying isn't true!


Action Plan
Which of the above questions do you need to work on the most? Spend a day thinking about all six, and select one to work on over the next week.