Monday, October 5, 2015

40 DOL-1: Knit Together in Love

As we launch or 40 Days of Love spiritual campaign over the next six weeks I am excited about what God is going to do in our lives and in our relationships.  Coming together for corporate worship, joining together in our life groups, and expressing our faith in love is our pathway to growth in this Fall season.

Perhaps today's Scripture will encourage you in your spiritual journey as well.

“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7 NLT)

Monday, May 11, 2015

As a man Thinks: part #6

Our minds are able to focus on one thing at a time.  One truth, one focus, one emotion, one event, etc... As I conclude this online series about our thinking, I want to leave you with a powerful & practical encouragement found in a letter written to a church in the first Century.  It reads, 

"Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." (Philippians 4:8)

Fixing your thoughts means that you have the ability to choose what your mind focuses on.  This is true whether it is positive, negative, scary, joyful, encouraging, or draining.  Since we can choose, the teacher (Apostle Paul) gives us a helpful list of what to focus on.  Your thoughts are like the dart.  Paul is telling us to AIM WELL, and leaves us the pathway. 

1. What is TRUE:  So many focus on lies they have bought into about their identity, self-worth, future, and capacity.  In order to discover what is true, I would strongly encourage you to make a list of what God says about your live, and over your life. 
  • I DECLARE God’s incredible blessings over my life because of Jesus.  
  • I DECLARE I will experience God’s faithfulness.  
  • I DECLARE I have the grace I need for today. I am full of power, strength, and determination.  
  • I DECLARE it is not too late to accomplish everything God has placed in my heart. 
  • I DECLARE I am grateful for who God is in my life and for what He’s done.  
  • I DECLARE a legacy of faith over my life.  
  • I DECLARE that God has a great plan for my life.  
  • I DECLARE God’s dream for my life is coming to pass. (Taken from Joel Osteen's I DECLARE)

2. What is HONORABLE:  What behavior and choices are Able to be Honored.  Whether they come to light before others, or just between you and God, what can be honored.  Anything else only bring about shame.  

3. What is RIGHT:  Simply put, that which is approved and acceptable to God.  It is less about following the list of Don't, but what is right is also that which is righteous.  When our lives are "right" there is great freedom and peace in our minds.  We no longer have to hide or cover up.  

4. What is PURE: The term "pure" for Paul refers to that which is free from what he terms the flesh.  It is the carnal part of our lives, that must be brought into submission to the life of Jesus in us.  The more room we give for Jesus, the less room there is for the flesh.  The pure life is a powerful life.  It is unpolluted or diluted by the flesh.  

5. What is LOVELY & ADMIRABLE (Good Report): It is that which is worth speaking and sharing.  If it is not worth repeating, it is not worth doing or saying the first time.  

The Apostle ends with "Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."  If it is worthy to be CELEBRATED, is not worth your thoughts.  Don't invest your energy or time in what can't and shouldn't be celebrated.  

Your mind (thoughts) determines the trajectory of your life.  Don't leave it to happenstance or random emotions that come and go.  Think on purpose, Think for your future, Think for your life… THINK ON THESE THINGS!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

As a Man Thinks, part #5... PREOCCUPATION WITH SELF

The condition of our minds that I would like to address today is that of Preoccupation!

What are you preoccupied with?  

For most we are preoccupied with ourselves, our circumstances, our relationships, our needs, our failures, etc...  Most of us can relate, for our needs and wants seem all consuming!

The paradigm of life in which all of life Surrounds me, begins with me, ends with me, and is all about me is a great form of evil that encompasses the human mind.  Most times (although not everytime) depression, emotional strife, difficulties, relational strain, and spiritual battles begin in the form of preoccupation with self.  Preoccupation with self is a great danger.  

It was the original trick of the enemy with Adam and Eve how had more than they needed or could ever ask. BUT, the devil deceived them with preoccupation, which led to sin.  His strategy is for you and I to get our eyes off of Christ and to put gaze upon self.  

Preoccupation is what caused David to sin with Bathsheba instead of focusing on his purpose. Preoccupation got Joseph in trouble with his brothers (bragging about his dreams) even when God's hand was upon him.  Preoccupation with self caused Ananias and Sapphira to sin against the Holy Spirit and then lose their lives.  

Paul alludes to this death that comes with preoccupation with self, which he encompasses with the term "THE FLESH".  He these words, 
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:5-8)
That last sentence is so powerful... for in this "realm" we cannot please God.  Why?  We are trying to please self at the expense or neglect of God.  

So this week, let me encourage you be FREED FROM PREOCCUPATION WITH SELF, and enjoy life in the Spirit, that keeps eyes on Christ!  The remedy is not to think less of yourself, but to think of yourself less!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

As a Man Thinks: part #4

It Takes a Thought, to Heal a Thought!

The mind is either Sharp or Dull.  A dull mind is not made sharp by "adding", but rather by scraping away the excess.  The sharp mind has "subtracted" that which clutters and blunts the mind.  There are decisions each day that either dulls or sharpens.  Relationships, music, books, media, and even our own thought life either sharpens or dulls.  The meanings (truth) we ascribe to certain events in life will often affect us in much of the same way.

Painful events (i.e., divorce, major illness, death of a loved one, loss of a job, injustice, abuse, etc...) in the present or past also affect our minds.  We replay yesterday and redefine our today's by the meaning we ascribe to events.  These meanings we attached to life events either sharpen or dull our minds.

For instance, a broken relationship with a spouse, parent, or friend can be dramatically impactful.  The meaning we ascribe to such events will determine our future.  If I conclude people are unsafe, and not worth the potential pain, I will keep those who might bring new life and joy at arms length and never again experience the potential blessing and benefit they might bring.

The condition of our Mind (sharp or dull) affects all four areas of our life (Relational, Emotional, Physical & Spiritual).  INTERESTINGLY, we can be sharpened in one area of our lives (Physical), and yet dulled in another (Relational).

The great Apostle Paul (one who re-evaluated his life due to fresh revelation from God that brought new "meaning") wrote these words about our minds and thoughts.
"Keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable.  Practice what you've learned and received from me, what you heard and saw me do.  Then the God who gives this peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:8-9)
Sooooo, if you find your mind has become dulled in one way or another, remember "It Takes a Thought to Change a Thought."  Get the flint stone and scrape away that which is un-needed, and you'll have a new useful "blade".    If you change your thoughts, your life will take on new meaning.

Monday, April 6, 2015

As a Man Thinks: part #3

Through the Words of Jesus we begin to see the heart and mind of our Creator.  We feel with his heart, we see through His eyes, and we get a clearer Revelation of our Father through Jesus.  We get a glimpse into His mind and thinking as Jesus ushers in His Kingdom.  
So often we discover that our ways are so different than His, and our thoughts are alien toward His.  It is as if He turns our world upside down.  But on reconsidering, perhaps it is us who have flipped life on its head.  Since we are IN the world and its system, the danger is we become OF the world and its system.  

As I get a chance to reflect this morning (the day after Easter), my heart has rested on the word striving.  STRIVING can be defined as: making great effort to achieve or obtain something; to struggle or fight vigorously.  Striving is SOOOO different than hard work, perseverance, or patience.  Striving is the effort used to gain for self.  There may be no greater affront to the working of God's Spirit in our life than the striving of man.  Striving empties His power from our life and activities.  

Hard Work... YES, Goals... YES, Dreams... YES, Motivation... YES, Missional... YES, Accomplishment... YES,  STRIVING.... NO!!!  Why is Striving such an affront to the working of God's Spirit in your life?  Striving is the direct opposite of Submission & Dependence.  

The great Evangelist, Paul, first moved and preached in Europe at a town called Philippi.  It was a very wealthy town from the resources in its mines.  Here the Apostle Paul directs his letter to the church of this Roman providence, scribing these words,
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,even death on a cross.
As you consider your week, may we seek to remove striving from our soulish mindsets, and lead with submission to the will and heart of the Lord.  Perhaps to redeem this word we can strive to empty ourselves, as the example Christ laid for us.  In its place, may obedience mark our lives.  

Let me suggest a song that has recently ministered to my spirit and leads us to place of Submission and Dependence upon the Spirit of our God.  Enjoy the presence of your living God.