Thursday, September 21, 2017

Success in God's Eyes

I looked up how many titles have “success” in them on Amazon books and came up with over 6,000 titles. In contrast, titles with “failure” in terms of ‘how to’ were 9. It suggests to me how we tend to overrate success in our culture and underrate failure. Does God look at success and failure the same way we do? I think not.

For example, we usually measure success by how much money or how many things you have accumulated over the years. But in God’s economy, success is measured by faithful obedience. Jesus said, ‘Well done my good and faithful servant’ to both the servants who received differing amounts of silver (Matthew 25).

‘Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful’ (1 Corinthians 4:2).

In man’s kingdom, success is measured by things like independence, personal strength, and survival of the fittest. But in God’s kingdom, success involves embracing dependence upon God and understanding that when we are weak, He is strong.

In John 15 we are reminded that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. The closer the connection between the two, the better; we become stronger in our weaknesses. The last part of verse 5 says, ‘For apart from me, you can do nothing.’ Paul, the Great Apostle who wrote much of our New Testament, performed miracles, endured all kinds of trials, hardships, and tests concluded, ‘For when I am weak, then I am strong,’ (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

I have one last thought on success as measured by God instead of how the world measures it. With God, success is measured by our resiliency- the ability to become strong or successful after something bad happened, to recover after the wind has been knocked out of you, to get up when the chips are down, to keep our eyes on the prize. Success, no matter what the hardship, difficulty, problem, burden, or pain, is being able to say what Paul said at the end of his life. ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have remained faithful’ (2 Timothy 4:7).

Are you successful the way God measures success? If so, what do you need to keep doing to continue being successful? If not, what changes do you need to make so you can finish the race well and hear the words, ‘Well done my good and faithful servant’?

Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. If I were to ask you, “Are you a grace-filled person?” How would you answer? How can you tell? For that matter, what is grace? Join us this Sunday morning at 9:15 or 11:00 AM to discover what the Bible has to say about being a grace-filled person.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Broken Relationships - Is Restoration Possible?

You have often heard me say that we were made for relationships. First and foremost, we were made to have a relationship with God through His one and only Son, Jesus, and second a relationship with each other. That is why I am such a supporter and participant in Life Group Ministry. It’s for building relationships with others; learning, serving, laughing, helping, praying, and supporting each other. Did you know that there are about 50 ‘one another’ statements in the Bible? Every statement was designed to show us how to relate to each other.

But what happens when a relationship breaks down for some reason? Is there a way to restore the relationship? Of course there is. Isn’t that what the cross of Jesus is all about? Reconciling a broken relationship (God with man because of man’s sin) through the cross of Jesus is one of the purposes of the cross of Jesus. And it offers the same kind of hope of reconciliation to us in our human relationships.

In Philippians 2:6-8, we are told that in order for us to be reconciled to God, Jesus had to humble Himself. Paul says we ought to have the same attitude toward others: Thinking about others more than yourself. One of the reasons why so many relationships fall apart is because so many people are unwilling to do the serious work that humility requires. Yet, the Bible commands us to ‘clothe yourselves with humility toward one another’ (1 Peter 5:5) and ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble’ (James 4:6).
Grace is the power to change. Grace is the power to heal a relationship. Grace is the power to receive forgiveness and offer forgiveness. Grace is the power to restore what you thought was dead.

Let me give you a couple of practical tips which demand humility that can help you if you are experiencing a broken relationship.
1.        Ask God to help you be reconciled to that person.
2.       Affirm their value as a person. Romans 12:10 says, ‘Have a profound respect for each other.’ Tell them that you value them.
3.       Acknowledge your part of the problem. Not their part, but YOUR PART. Where you blew it, where you were wrong. Ask them to forgive you for the part you played in the fracture.
4.       Accept what the future holds for the relationship. It may be reconciled completely. It may not be. If you have done your part- you must leave the rest up to the Lord.

Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. If I were to say to you: You are creative. You are gifted. You have a talent. What would your response be? Join me this week at 9:15 or 11:00 as we discover what the Bible has to say about creativity.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Are You Easily Distracted?

Sometimes I look at my spiritual development and say, ‘I should be further ahead’ or ‘I’m not as spiritually mature as I should be.’ And then I begin to come up with all my reasonably good and noble reasons why this is so, some of my reasons are:
Church ministry is so demanding. It wears a pastor out emotionally. Life is just too busy. There just isn’t enough time in the day. It’s the enemy. Satan doesn’t want me to have any intimacy with the Heavenly Father so he diverts me any way he can. Grandchildren. They demand so much time. Oh, they’re a blast to be around, but it is very time consuming. Church business. I get so busy putting out fires- going from this event to that event- who has time for spiritual growth and development?
But honestly, the reason I’m not developing spiritually is not because of the enemy, church busy-ness, the time it takes to prepare a sermon, or my grandchildren. It’s because I’m too easily distracted. If I were a betting man, and I’m not, I would bet you struggle with the same problem- distractions. Distractions hamper productivity, and most of us don’t realize how it affects our spiritual growth.
Why not try a little experiment on yourself? Count the number of times you get ‘interrupted’ during a day. I am defining an interruption as any media notification. One study concluded that workers are interrupted every 3 minutes at their job and it takes 25 more minutes to get back into the groove. If we would apply that to our spiritual development, is there any question if we are growing or not?
What’s the solution? Well, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to answer that one. Minimize the distractions! That’s right. But the better question is: How do I minimize the distractions so I can have uninterrupted time with God?
I suggest three things:
1.        Go off the grid. No phones, emails, kids, spouses, coworkers, TV, or any other kind of electronics. Find a private, secluded spot. You may have to get up earlier in the morning or you may have to wait until everyone at home is in bed and find a secluded spot.
2.       Pray that God would speak to you in the quiet, uninterrupted moments. Don’t be disappointed if it always doesn’t appear as if He is. Stay at it. Try something different; read the prayers of others, write out your prayers, and say your prayers out loud.
3.       Listen to God as you read His word. Here again, you don’t have to have a reading program. You can use a devotion. Whatever helps you listen- use that.
The whole point of all of this is to minimize the distractions of life so we can grow spiritually and be more like Jesus.

Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. Do you ever regret not taking a certain job or not taking the risk on a financial investment? Do you ever regret not spending enough time with your kids when they were growing up or regret a missed opportunity? What can be done to refocus on the future? Join me this Sunday at 9:15 or 11:00 to learn how we can reset and live abundantly after missing a promising opportunity.