You Are Not An Accident

Albert Einstein said,

God doesn’t play dice.

Long before you were conceived by your parents you were conceived in the mind of God.

You are not an accident.

Isaiah 44:2,

I am your Creator.  You were in my care even before you were born.

Knowing that God uniquely created me (you), what areas of my (your) personality, background and physical appearance am I struggling to accept?

Black Friday Should Be Renamed “Ungrateful Friday”

A few years ago, my son, Micah, made an astute observation after watching news of Black Friday near riots and crime.  He said, “That’s ironic and sad. On Thursday we thank God for all that we have. We’re content. And then the next day we act like we NEED something so bad we’d trample other people.”

I think Black Friday should be renamed, “Ungrateful Friday.”

If you missed it…here’s one Walmart…from a few years ago.

Three Ways to Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness as a Family

1. Simply involve God in our daily conversations. When we’re talking about anything, we’re going to involve God in our daily conversations. And this may seem weird when you first start, but it’s really simple. You’re driving along outside, beautiful sunrise on the way to school, you say, “Man, that’s awesome.” Instead, you say, “Wow, look at the sunrise that God has blessed us with.” And you’re simply showing that God is a part of our conversation.

And you do this in your marriage, instead of saying, “Man, I don’t know what to do. What do you think we should do? Let’s look at the pros and cons.” Instead, you say, “Wow, I wonder what God wants us to do?” & so, in your marriage, you are reminding yourself you are not just a Christian home, you are a Christ-centered home. You involve God in your conversations.

2. Make participation in a church family non-negotiable. If you’re a Christ-centered home, you make the worship of your God something that is non-negotiable. To take one hour a week to honor the Creator and Sustainer of this universe who sent his Son, Jesus, to hear the proclamation of the word because faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word of God. So you say to your family, “We’re going to church, period.”

3. Show how seeking and serving God is fun. There is no reason that church and faith and Christianity can’t be fun. And if it’s not, why would the world want any part of it. So have fun as a family even as it approaches faith issues. Let’s not take ourselves too seriously but let’s be light-hearted so that our environment is not legalistic.

People ask me, “How did you get your daughter to want to go to Haiti to serve others?” I didn’t do anything! She knows that if I’m traveling or people from this church are travelling that fun will break out. She’s understood from an early age that serving others is simply what we do. It’s non-negotiable. But at the same time, we can have lots of fun doing it. We don’t have to tell our kids to be good when we are already seeking the One who is good. We seek first the Kingdom of God & his righteousness and then everything else will be added . “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness because they will be filled.”

This may sound crazy to you but I’ve got a 17 year old daughter, and Jennifer and I never told her “Don’t have sex with boys, don’t party.” My daughter has had no real desire to date yet because she doesn’t think that those hairy-legged creatures are pursuing God enough for her right now. And that’s just where she stands. And some of you might think, “Well, that’s just weird. You’re raising weird kids.” OK, we could do that or raise normal kids that have 8 sexual partners before the age of 18. Which do you want? Normal or weird? You can have what God wants you to have if you will pursue God, period.

Parents, get up off your butts and lead toward a Christ-centered culture; lead toward it. You say, “Hey, I don’t even know where to start.” I’ve made it as simple as I can. Can you show it’s a blessing to serve God? Yes, you can. Can you make church a priority? Yes, you can. Can you involve God in your conversations? Yes, you can.

Humility Has Nothing To Do With Putting Yourself Down

Many assume that humility has to do primarily with how you think about yourself.  If you “lower” yourself, then you’re humble.  But that’s not true.  You can’t arrive at humility by focusing on yourself.  Humility has more to do with how you think about others and God.

Humility is the daily decision to think of others as more important than yourself.  It’s the daily decision to humble yourself under God’s mighty hand.  It’s not putting yourself down, but putting others and God up.  Or, as C.S. Lewis put it more succinctly, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

What Was Jesus Saying When He Said, “Do not Judge Lest Ye Be Judged?”

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged” is so misunderstood.

The cowardly approach: “You live your life, and I’ll live mine.”  Jesus clearly did not mean this.

We must be discerning and even willing to label that behavior which is right and wrong.

Jesus’ admonition has more to do with judging people’s thoughts and motives, which we clearly are never in a position to do.  Only God is.

Jesus teaches us 3 things about what it means to be nonjudgmental:

  1. Don’t say 1 thing and do another–don’t be a hypocrite.
  2. Judge yourself rightly and makes changes first–show integrity.
  3. Give to others the same kind of grace and forgiveness that God has given you–make sure you show mercy.

Hypocrisy (no. 1) is focusing on the speck in another person’s eyes while ignoring the 2X4 plank in our own eye.  Integrity is removing the board from your own eye.  Mercy is removing the speck from another’s eye.

Are there places in your life where you see a tendency to be judgmental of others?

Is Religion Your Idol?

Idols are anything that replace God on the throne of our life.  And believe it or not, a common idol in the Christian community is elevating doctrinal truth over God Himself.  This occurs when people rely on the “rightness” of their doctrine for their standing with God rather than on God Himself and His grace.

The sign that you have made religion an idol is when you show contempt and disdain for those of other denominations or religions rather than graciousness.  Trusting in the rightness of our views can make us feel superior if the fruit of the spirit is not growing in ourselves.

You as Christmas Tree

If you’ve ever had a “live” Christmas tree decorating your house for Christmas, you know that a tree will hold its needles for only so long.  You can water the base of the tree, but it will only keep it flourishing for so long.  Eventually, the needles turn brown and fall off.  The sap begins to run, and the tree will finally die.  Then we take it to the curb for disposal.

But what about that time in between the tree being cut down and finally dying?  We take it into our living room, stick it in a stand, and decorate it with ornaments and tinsel and lights.  We make it look as rich and beautiful as we can, only to throw it away a month later.  Cutting a tree from its source of life and making it look good for a season, in the end, accomplishes little else than seasonal beauty.

It might seem silly to think of yourself as a Christmas tree, but is it far off?  Away from God, we can survive only for a time before we perish in the dry air of consumerism.  The things that make a Christmas tree beautiful are the color of its needles, the way the branches fall, its fragrance, and the texture of its bark.  Cut the tree down and all that eventually goes away.  The underground water supply livens the tree’s roots.  The root system gives the tree its strength, the rich soil that holds the roots all together, nourishing and securing the trunk and limbs.  The tree needs the underground source to make it beautiful to the world.  Its beauty emerges because of the inner work.

It’s the same for us.  The very essence of our being comes from within.  But when something other than God defines us, we reduce ourselves to Christmas trees, beautiful on the outside, perched on our stands, while dying inside.  For some of us, our root systems scare us.  Our insides are mangled by past mistakes and feelings of insecurity.  These emotions confuse us, making it difficult to find our true selves.  It’s easier to put on our tinsel and lights and walk around looking good.

Our culture has tried to define us by what we see on the outside.  But it can’t erase the moments of self-doubt.  We need to feel loved and known for who we are on the inside.  Ultimately only God can do that.