Thursday, March 27, 2014

Are you discouraged?

I meet many discouraged Christians these days. Some are discouraged because of circumstances, others because of a problem of one kind or another.

Others are discouraged because of failure; people failed them, the church has failed them, the government has failed them, life has failed them.

Many people have to live with pain or a special physical or mental need of one kind or another and this is always an opportunity for discouragement.

I have many friends in full time Christian ministry who get discouraged because they feel their work is in vain and they are accomplishing very little for God.

Yes, these are days when many people are discouraged. When you find yourself discouraged remember the Holy Spirit is your encourager. Jesus sent Him to come alongside of us and lift us up. The word “comforter” in John 14:16 means “called alongside of.” He encourages us by teaching us the truths of the Bible.

When you read the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit he will reveal God’s promises to you.

He also prays for us and helps us to pray in God’s will. He gives you the power you need to live the Christian life. “For it is God that works in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) Patience, courage, wisdom, power; the Spirit can grant these to us as we live our life.

The Holy Spirit takes away all fear “For God has not given to us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

If you find yourself discouraged and ready to quit, yield to the Holy Spirit and you will be encouraged. Trust Him, wait for His help, and know He will never fail you.

P.S. How do you respond when you know something is going to happen to you but you don't know when and where you will be when it happens? To discover what Mark is talking about, come this Sunday and worship with us at 9:00am and 10:30am.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The final step

Today, we will look at the last of the five habits of highly missional people listed in Michael Frost’s book by that title. My prayer for you and for me is that we would continue to live out these habits weekly.

Putting the five habits together forms an acronym spelling the word B-E-L-L-S:

I will BLESS three people each week, at least one of whom is unchurched (generosity).
I will EAT with three people this week, at least one of whom is unchurched (hospitality).
I will spend at least one period of the week LISTENING for the Spirit’s voice (spirit-led).
I will spend at least one period of the week LEARNING Christ (Christ-like).
I will journal throughout the week all the ways I was SENT out to alert people of God’s rulership in my life through Christ.

These habits will help you live your life on mission. Our English term, mission, comes from the Latin word “missio” which means to send, to be ejected or pushed out. All of us are missionaries, sent out, to tell others of God’s reign in our hearts through Christ.

If our lives are to alert people to Christ, and what He has done for us, how might we do this? Let me suggest four things:
1. Reconciliation – we are to announce God’s reconciliation to the world and demonstrate it (be reconciled to others, broker reconciliation among others).
2. Justice – the Bible calls us to defend and uphold the poor, the powerless, and the disadvantaged. We can demonstrate God’s rulership through Christ in our lives by helping to eliminate sex trafficking, fighting against homelessness, opening our homes to the poor – promoting justice. Journal the ways you were sent to show justice in your world this week.
3. Beauty – the heavens declare the glory of God. You can alert others of the beauty of God by observing His creation, appreciating the arts, music and crafts. Help others see the majesty of God – that indeed, He rules the world – through appreciating beauty.
4. Wholeness – Jesus came into the world and proved He was the Messiah through the miracles He performed – blind received sight, lame walked, those with leprosy were cleansed, the deaf heard, the dead were raised and the Good News was proclaimed to the poor.
The healing of broken people – repairing a broken marriage, praying for physical healing, providing emergency relief to victims of natural disasters – show them what His rulership will look like someday. Helping people understand that only Jesus can make them whole is a primary evidence that He shall rule the earth someday. We are sent out today to tell people of the day in which every knee in heaven and earth and under the earth will declare that He is Lord.

Have fun declaring these five habits. Occasionally, send me an email to let me know how you are doing.
Be a blessing,

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Are you living your life on mission? By mission I mean living out values like engaging in conversation with your neighbors, connecting with others, developing a deeper experience of God’s leading, growing in a stronger understanding of the Gospel, and discovering a framework for identifying ourselves as missionaries.
To live life on mission, I have been sharing with you five habits taken from Michael Frost’s book, “The Five Habits of Highly Missional People.”
Habit #1 – Bless – I will bless three people this week, at least one of whom is unchurched.
Habit #2 – Eat – I will eat with three people this week, at least one of whom is unchurched.
Habit #3 – Listen – I will spend at least one period of the week listening for the Spirit’s voice.
Habit #4 – Learning – I will spend at least one period of the week learning Christ.
Let me suggest that you add an intensive study time to your devotional schedule by studying the Gospels. Read and re-read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Take time to read a Gospel at one sitting. Mark takes 90 minutes. John takes a couple hours. Matthew and Luke are about 2.5 hours each. Reading at one sitting helps you connect the broad themes of Jesus’ life.
Second, read about Jesus. Here would be my recommendations:
The Challenge of Jesus by N.T. Wright
Jesus According to Scripture by Darrell Bock
The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey
Third, further viewing. The Passion of Christ (2004) is a powerful depiction of the suffering of Christ. The Bible series by Mark Burnett now in theaters entitled Son of God is very good as well.
Through Bible study, theological reading, and even viewing of films, we slowly but surely orient our lives towards the things of Christ, and we become deeply familiar with His story so we can share it whenever anyone asks us for the reason, for the hope we have in Him.
Learning with you,
P.S. Why not just walk across the room/street/classroom and start a relationship with a coworker/neighbor/classmate? This Sunday we will provide you encouragement and help to do just that - walk across the room. See you at 9:00 or 10:30am!

*Oh, and don't forget to Spring forward and set your clocks an hour ahead this weekend!