Thursday, June 15, 2017

Live Your Life in Balance

When I was in college, I worked with a Christian youth organization called Youth for Christ/Campus Life. Back in those days we had a theme verse we taught the students about living a balanced life. The verse was Luke 2:52, ‘And Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.’

Jesus gives us a clear framework for personal growth in four distinct areas.
1.        Personal growth means growing in wisdom. Remember the phrase, ‘A mind is a terrible thing to waste?’ Growing your mind isn’t something that stops with graduation. It’s a lifelong pursuit. Do you want a stronger mind? Live life and pay attention along the way: read, listen, ask questions, go places, see things, take on projects and challenges, or take a course in something. Never stop learning and applying what you learn.
2.       Personal growth means improving our physical health. Luke was writing about Jesus when He was an adolescent growing into a man and perhaps just talking about that natural process of growth. But I believe there is an application here: If a mind is a terrible thing to waste, so is a body. We should eat well, sleep well, exercise well, and live well. After all, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
3.       Personal growth means growing up spiritually. Jesus grew spiritually; He grew ‘in favor with God.’ It’s an amazing thought, since He was God but He was also human. So often I see people around me who have never experienced spiritual growth. You may ask: Why aren’t they experiencing growth? My answer: It takes time, energy, desire, and effort just like any other area. To grow in any area, there is a cost; many are unwilling to pay the price. Jesus disciplined Himself to grow spiritually.
4.       Personal growth means growing socially and relationally. John Donne in 1624 said, ‘No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.’ God created us for relationship. With family. With friends. With Him. It’s in His design for us. Jesus came to serve others- to relate to others- to touch others. He gave of His time. He helped the hurting and the helpless. He protected the defenseless. He wants us to do the same. You can’t influence the world in isolation. You need people.
I want to challenge you to live a balanced life. A life like Jesus lived. A life of personal growth and development intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially. Live life to the fullest in Christ!

Mark "the Bru" Brunott

P.S. Is it okay for me to watch Game of Thrones? Can I watch something that is Rated R? How do I decide if I should or shouldn’t watch something with violence and sexual innuendos? Come this week at 9:15 and 11:00 to see what the Bible has to say about these questions. Bring a friend with you.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Grace Experienced

This last week I read a great book entitled ‘Grace is Greater,’ written by Kyle Idleman. I highly recommend this book because the focus is on God’s plan to overcome your past, redeem your pain, and rewrite your story.
Idleman states that “Grace is compelling when explained, but irresistible when experienced.” I love that concept highlighting grace as an ‘experience.’ Sometimes we forget how great God’s grace is because we have missed the reality and the depth of our sin. We haven’t applied grace in our experiences in life. So often we miss out on the grace of God because we think ‘I’m not that bad,’ ‘I’m not as bad as so and so.’ When we think like this, grace will never seem that good.
Idleman points out that grace is always greater than anything experienced in life. Consider the following:
  • Grace is powerful enough to erase your guilt.
  • Grace is big enough to cover your shame.
  • Grace is real enough to heal your relationships.
  • Grace is strong enough to hold you up when you’re weak.
  • Grace is sweet enough to cure your bitterness.
  • Grace is satisfying enough to deal with your disappointment.
  • Grace is beautiful enough to redeem your brokenness.
  • Grace is greater than your mistakes.
  • Grace is greater than your hurts.
Think about your experiences in this: some have been great, some haven’t, some have been delightful, some have been painful, some have been hopeful, and some have been disappointing. Whatever your circumstances, grace is always greater. The truth of God’s grace is this: No matter what you have done, no matter what has been done to you, you need to know that grace is greater.

Explaining God’s grace is necessary, but grace experienced is essential. Have you brought God’s grace into your experiences?

I Can't Remember Their Names

It happens to me all the time. I bump into somebody at Target, the hospital, in an elevator, at church, at an activity and they say, “Hey Mark, how’s it going,” and I freeze. I recognize them, but the name escapes me. I do a quick assessment. Do I know this person? Have I talked to this person before? When did we last talk? Where were we when we met? Why can’t I remember his/her name?

Instead of saying, ‘I’m sorry, your name is escaping me,’ I make matters worse. I talk with the person like I’ve known them all my life- trying somehow to get them to say their name in the conversation. Does this scenario sound familiar?

The truth is remembering names is hard; remembering people’s names is also important. You may try to excuse yourself saying, “I’m not good at remembering names.” But I don’t buy that. You probably know your families’ names, your street address, your phone number, and your social security number.

Name memory is not a spiritual gift or some kind of genetic trait that you inherit. People who are good at remembering names simply try harder and place a higher value on remembering names than others. You can do this!

Let me give you five simple things to help you remember names:
1.        Repeat names. Repetition builds memory. The more you repeat a person’s name, the better chance you will have of remembering it later. When you meet a person for the first time, say their name as much as possible. “Cool, Bill. Glad to see you Bill. It was nice meeting you, Bill.” The more you say it, the more it will stick.
2.       Read names. In your mind, visualize it. Spell it in your head, ask them to spell it. This may seem weird, but it works. Have you noticed how some people can tell you every football players’ name, stats, years they played on the Nebraska Cornhusker team? Chances are they read those names on the sports channel, programs, etc.
3.       Record names. If you want to remember the names, write them down on a piece of paper, put them into your phone, or take their picture with your cell phone and put their name by it.
4.       Relate names. Our brains remember images, not words. Turn their name into an image is the best way to recall it. Regan into ‘ray gun,’ Bakers into ‘bakers,’ and Brunott into ‘brew not coffee’.

5.        Remember to remember names. Make a conscious effort to hear the name, associate the name with something, listen to the name and make an effort to store it away.