Saturday, February 28, 2009

honest about our brokenness

Do you think you could walk into your church, get up on stage, and tell everyone about your brokenness? Is this acceptable in our churches? Outside of baptism and testimony times, do we allow ourselves to be this honest with one another? Have we made it taboo to admit our brokenness in the church? Have we become masters at image management in the church?

If I'm honest, I would have to say these are questions I don't really like the answer to. We have a church culture where we do tend to try to hide our brokenness. We think we have to look a certain way and, therefore, manage our image to look exactly that way. And, while some struggles may be okay to admit, there seems to be a line that we don't cross in what we share. To be honest, when I look at these answers, based on my own experience, it saddens me and worries me.

I think there is incredible power that comes when we're honest with one another about our brokenness. And the fact that we are broken is not unique to us - all of us are broken. The ways in which we are broken may be different from others, but the fact remains that we are all broken.

I, quite honestly, think that there is a danger that comes with our trying to look like we have it all together when we come to church. Our brokenness goes unmentioned and God is not allowed in to bring His healing, and in the end our brokenness may cause us a "spectacular" problem that we can't hide even though we would like to.

I wonder if sometimes our unwillingness to admit our brokenness makes our brokenness seem like a bigger deal than it actually is. If it wasn't such a taboo thing to admit, I think we would begin to realize that we're not alone in it and the power that Satan uses to defeat us with it would be broken.

The church should be a place that welcomes broken people with open arms. That allows people to be broken in their midst. And that points broken people to the truth and healing found only in Jesus Christ and our surrender to Him.

Friday, February 27, 2009

trusting God with your greatest fears

In the last couple months I have been challenged with this question more than a few times:

If the my greatest fear in life happened, would I still trust God?

It's something that has made me really think. First of all, about what my greatest fears on life are. And, then, about whether I would trust God even if they did happen. Those things in life that we tell people we could never survive having them happen to us - if that happened would I still trust God? Would I still go on with life?

A favorite speaker of mine that I was listening to earlier today said that "it's not enough to trust God that that which we fear the most will not happen." I think that is so often what we do. We take what we fear the most and we decide we'll trust God that it won't happen. And, then, if it does happen at some point, we decide that we can't trust God at all. When we live with this thinking, the enemy will constantly threaten us with exactly that fear. He will threaten us with it until we are completely incapacitated by it.

Rather than this, we need to choose to say: "even if _________ (insert one of the things you think you won't survive happening) happens, I will choose to trust God - to trust God that He knows what He's doing and that He will use it for good in the end." That's a radically different way to live than we normally do. And it's a choice we have to make.

When we make this choice we become dangerous to the enemy! He loses any power he had over us!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

legalism . . . or discipline?

Is there actually a difference between being legalistic and being disciplined? I've been thinking about this question for the last couple of days. It was spurred by reading 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 where Paul says:

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

Paul was talking about making a choice to work for what happened in his life - in his journey with God. He didn't say that doing these things was the way to gain salvation, but he did emphasize the importance of being disciplined.

I think in our culture we often look for the easy way to get something. We don't want to work for it. And we quite easily transfer this same way of looking at things into the spiritual realm as well. In this passage, Paul reminds the Corinthian church of the results of their self-discipline, if they chose to go that route, rather than looking for the easy way to get through.

We do often look down on self-discipline - especially when it comes to the spiritual journey. But it's not necessarily a a bad thing. It can become a bad thing, but in and of itself it's not. Making, or setting aside, time in our days for Bible reading and prayer is a necessary thing and we shouldn't allow anything to get in the way of that. Just as we make time to grow our relationships with our friends, we must do the same in our relationship with God.

I have so often heard people say that they don't schedule things like Bible-reading and prayer because they think that's being legalistic. They say they do those things as they feel led - which is all well and good. But, I have to wonder, knowing my own tendencies, how often that means they actually do those things? I don't think it's the actual making time in our schedules that makes it legalistic. I think it becomes legalistic when we start to look at some one's prayer and Bible-reading times as the means of salvation, rather than a means to grow relationship.

It is incredibly important that we have the self-discipline to train myself to run the race of life as followers of Christ well. This means making time in our schedules to grow our relationship with Christ, so that we can follow in His footsteps as I run.

Having said all this, I would say that, in answer to my opening question, yes, there is a difference between being legalistic and being disciplined. I think the main difference comes because legalism starts to see the things we do as a means of being saved; whereas, discipline means that we are making the necessary time to grow our relationship with our Savior.

Friday, February 20, 2009

random . . . I'm all over the place in this one

So I've had a lot of thoughts going through my head in the last while that really haven't made enough sense to write anything about them. I have no idea where this blog will go tonight, but I was thinking that I hadn't written anything in a while . . . so here goes . . .

Have you ever taken the time to sit down and go back through your life thinking about the major events, important people, etc. that have shaped you into the person you are today? That's something I've been doing lately with a program I'm doing through my church. It's an interesting process . . . once I started writing down the things that came to mind initially, more and more started coming to mind. It's kind of strange to look at all of them in one place. And as I do, I can see God in the midst of them - even in the hard times. It's pretty cool to see. And encouraging. To realize how God has been there in all of your life is pretty amazing. Even when you think He's not, He is!

I've been thinking a lot about prayer lately . . . probably because we've been doing a series on it at the young adults group I go to. It's such a huge topic to try to cover in a short series . . . and a VERY IMPORTANT one. I used to get intimidated by the idea of prayer. It just seemed like something that had to be done just right, but I'm learning that it's not so much. It's mostly about just talking to God - having a conversation with Him. And it can happen as you go through the day.

OK, I know I'm all over the place with this blog, so to be even more all over the place, here's a song that I've come to like recently that I want to share.

Well, that's all for now. I will stop rambling about things now. That's where my thoughts have been recently.

Friday, February 13, 2009


So I was reading in 1 Corinthian about an hour ago and something really jumped out at me.
(Disclaimer: This idea may not be a fully developed as they usually are when I write them. I usually wait for a few days to write about something, but this one I just feel like I need to write it now.)
OK, back to what I read . . . Paul had this to say in 1 Corinthians 4:16
"Therefore I urge you to imitate me."
I read that verse and just stopped there today. I couldn't go any further. I started thinking about it and what Paul was actually saying in this verse.

First off, context of this verse: Just a few verses before, Paul is talking about how he is a fool for Christ, and he is telling the Corinthian church about his mistreatment to warn them about trouble or persecution that may be coming to them. The Corinthian church was a mixed up church. From the letters in Scripture we know that they caused Paul a lot of anguish and he had much to say to them. In the first three chapters of 1 Corinthians Paul is reminding them that they follow Christ, not whatever preacher brought them the message of salvation that they responded to.

OK . . . that's the context . . . now on to Paul's words here. Paul is telling the Corinthian church to imitate him. He wasn't doing this because he was perfect or knew it all - he was very aware of his own sinful nature. But, he devoted his life to pursuing God with everything he had. He was calling the people to imitate the aspects of his beliefs and conduct that were modelling Christ's way of living. And, I mean, it makes sense . . . how much easier do we find it to imitate someone whose lifestyle we can see?

The part of this that really challenged me was when I started thinking about it in my own life. As someone who is involved in leadership in church ministries, could I tell other people that they can imitate aspects of my life? That's not an easy question to ask. It made me take a good look at my life - about how I live day-to-day. It's a bit sobering to do that, because you see things that you maybe don't like about how you do live day-to-day. But, it's good to do . . . especially when you're someone in leadership of any kind.

The more I thought about my own life (and the longer I write on this blog), the more I realized that I could get the externals for people to imitate down to an art, without it having any impact on the internal of my life. Going through the motions really isn't that hard - especially when you've grown up in the church. But, I don't think that was what Paul was talking about in these verses. Paul wasn't just talking about the externals in his life that they should imitate, although that was definitely included, he was calling for the Corinthian church to imitate his whole-hearted pursuit of God - no matter what God brought their way.

That's the kind of life I want to live. In many ways, I want to imitate those parts of Paul's life. And I hope that others can do the same with my life.

Lord, I pray that you would give all of us a passion to live lives that other people can learn from and imitate. Give us a passion to pursue You with everything we have, no matter the circumstances. Amen.

Friday, February 6, 2009

pray continually?

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says to “pray continually.” What does it mean? What does it look like to pray continually? Is it even truly possible? Or is it just something nice to say that has no practical out-working in our lives?

For the last week or so I have been really wrestling with what this verse means. I cannot seem to get it out of my head. I mean, really, what does Paul (the author of 1 Thessalonians) mean when he says this? How do I do this in my own life?

As I have studied and thought about this over the last week, I have come to understand that in this verse Paul is talking about living in an attitude of prayer – having a constant communication with God through-out the day. One of the authors I was reading on this topic described it in a way that made so much sense to me and I cannot put it in better words, so I will quote them:

“Prayer should be the constant attitude of the Christian – not that he
abandons regular duties and gives himself wholly to prayer. He prays at certain
regular times; he also prays extemporaneously as need arises; and he enjoys
continual communion with the Lord by prayer.” (Believer’s Bible

When Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that we should pray continually, he is saying that we should be talking to God regularly – both in specific times set aside for prayer and in moments through-out our days as we feel the need.

Praying continually is not only possible, it is the better way to live!

When we pray through-out our days, it does not have to be something where we stop what we are doing and get our knees and start with the same words we were taught to as children. We can just cry out to God in the midst of whatever we are doing at the time. There is definitely a time and a place for setting a block of time aside to spend in prayer, but we can also be in communication with God through prayer through-out our days.