Mar 1, 2011

Finding the Faithful

Last night I went to a discipleship training class. We had a speaker named Dr. D. Michael Henderson, author of The Ladder of Faithfulness. What I loved about this training session was the focus on what God is doing right now, in our lives and in the lives of our students, and how does He want us to be involved? Dr. Henderson emphasized the need to find the faithful in our groups and in our life. Find the people who are receptive to what you are teaching and intentionally disciple them and show them how to grow and in turn disciple others. One of the most easily done recommendations that he gave was to showcase what you want to produce. Our students don't want to hear about what they should be doing, but they want (and need) to see us doing what you want them to do.

One thing we can easily lose sight of is that discipleship is just as important if not more than evangelizing. As we disciple students we get them past the seeker and believer stage, hopefully past the worker stage and into the shepherd stage, where they can be discipling others. Evangelism should happen in this context. Don't get me wrong, I believe it is our mission to make Christlike disciple of all nations, and that includes introducing people to Christ, but we can easily focus so much on introducing people to Christ that we never get them past the "baby Christian" stage. We never ween them off the milk and get them on the meat, and this is what Jesus has commanded us to do. This is what it means to make Christlike disciples.

Nov 30, 2010

What is my calling?

God has been using the text for the class I'm taking right now to talk to me. Sometimes it's funny how once I finally get something, I can look back and see all the ways that God was sharing this single message with me, and how many times I didn't get it.

Every person that God has created has a calling. That calling is not stagnant, it changes throughout your lifetime. It probably won't be a drastic change, but as your life circumstances change, so will your calling. Sometime we might define God's calling on our life by our own understanding, instead of waiting for God to reveal how He has defined our calling. God doesn't give us the whole picture, but just glimpses at a time. He gives us enough to act in obedience to each step as it is revealed. Sometimes, we may even neglect what God is calling us to do right now, because we're so focused on something we consider to be more important.The truth is though, that God doesn't need us to save the world, He needs us to be obedient. We may not see the significance in the calling we currently have but that does not mean that there is none. God isn't about busywork. He doesn't give us things to do to keep us out of trouble. He is growing us, and preparing us for how our calling will change in the future.

Sometimes we are inclined to dwell in the past, or to look longingly to the future. But we can't live there. When we are consumed with the past or the future, we miss out on the present. I want to encourage you to be fully present, everyday, everywhere. View what God is showing you in your world, see what he is doing right now, and hear what he wants you to do, right now.

Sep 24, 2010

In the Silence

I found this powerful video on the Engage Worship website. Great message, and something we all need to be reminded of.

In the silence from Sam Hargreaves on Vimeo.

Sep 21, 2010

Within me: Poetry of Worship

I thought I'd share something more personal, since my lovely brother thinks I need to share some of my other writings. Enjoy, and if you don't, don't tell me you hate it!

Within Me

It Flows
a mighty, torrential current
flowing forth from the breach
through flesh and bone.
It meets us where we're at,
saturates the soul.
through agony and torment
it's made pure.
Cleansing and revealing
enveloped absolutely
holy and true
endless and pure
The Love of God within me.

Sep 20, 2010

Do You really know who you are and what you want?

I'm sure you've all had times when it seemed like you were too busy to breathe, let alone update your blog, right?! Life has been crazy. Anyway, enough of my excuses. I do actually have something to write about.

I'm preparing for youth group on Wednesday and I wanted to go deeper into a discussion that we started a couple of weeks ago. Media and marketing and how the message we get from them affects our lives. I watched a documentary that originally aired on PBS a while ago, 2001, I think, called The Merchants of Cool. It was eye-opening to say the least. I think that it would be good for youth workers to watch.

With increasing frequency we see all the ways that companies market directly to teens. This isn't new and it honestly isn't going anywhere any time soon. One of the segments talked about how in an effort to understand teenagers so they can effectively market to them, researchers delve into the world of teenagers to really get to know them. They then create an image they think that the teens should want. They think they are portraying teenagers, but teenagers are really just emulating what they see in the media, so neither is ever really true. It's a feedback loop. This is scary when you think about the long term affect this can have on the younger generation. A generation who no longer thinks for themselves, but lives their life in the embodiment of what they "should" be, and not who they are.

This makes clear the ever increasing difficult Christian teenagers face when trying to life their faith in a world that mocks and scorns them. While unbelievers spout off about how believers don't think for themselves and they are brainwashed, one has to wonder the example being shown to all through the media. Are they not also being programed and shown what to think and feel.

What this really shows us is how important it is for children and teens to have people in their life who they can talk to , those they can trust. We have to teach our children and those under our care, that the world will always try to corrupt us, and separate us from the will of God. Living the truth is not easy, it's about persevering in the faith and trust in God ultimately and throwing the thoughts ans opinions of the media, and advertisers out the window. So how do we teach this to teens who are immersed in media messages that teach them the opposite?

Anyone with any ideas they want to share on counteracting this message?

Jun 18, 2010

The Creation of Idols

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:2-3

These words from Exodus are well known, but not always well understood. As the Israelites wandered the desert, God gave them commandments to follow to keep them faithful to Him. Most people believe that because they have never cast a golden calf and bowed down to worship it as the Israelites did, they therefore have never worshiped an idol. What too few people realize is that this verse clearly tells us, “You shall have no god before me.” This means that anytime we have put something ahead of our devotion to God we have, in fact, placed an idol above God.

Are idols only things like friends, movies, music; physical things of importance? Not at all, in fact, many things that seem good can become idols. Our feeling can become idols, and so can our love for a child, or spouse. Our education can become an idol, or our skills and talents. We can make ourselves idols, or even a mentor, or pastor can become our idol. Physical objects are not the only things that can become idols to us, but anything that takes the highest place of importance in our life is an idol. In The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis writes:

"No natural feelings are high or low, holy or unholy, in themselves. They are all holy when God’s hand is on the rein. They all go bad when they set up on their own and make themselves into false gods."

God not only desires, but deserve our worship; to be our number one priority. What do you choose? What in your life is higher than your devotion to God; your relationship with Christ? What can you do to change it?

Lewis, C.S. The Great Divorce. New York: Harper Collins, 2001. Print.

Jun 16, 2010

Growing Up and Going Deeper

The craziness has officially taken over. In the midst of the choas I wrote a devotional that I shared during a Rite of Passage ceremony for one of our graduating teens. I thought I'd share it with you all.

Devotional: Growing deeper and moving forward

As we grow and move into different stages of our life, it is important for us to realize that our spiritual life makes the same movement: from a spiritual baby, to a spiritual adult. This idea is illustrated in Hebrews 5:13-14, “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

But as we move into a deeper relationship with God it can seem that He is farther from us than when we were spiritual babies. We tend to feel his spirit less, but why?

John of the Cross, in his work Purifying the Soul wrote about the reasons why God would remove our spiritual consolations. When we are very new to our spiritual walk we tend to become very diligent in spiritual disciplines such as prayer and reading our bible, but there is a danger of becoming satisfied with our spiritual works and ourselves. Our hearts can also grow attached to the feeling of the spirit and begin to “focus on the affect rather than on the substance of the devotion.” John of the Cross states that “a soul will never grow until it is able to let go of the tight grasp it has on God.” It is important for all believers to remember that Satan does not want us to grow into a deeper relationship with God and he will try to disrupt that in any way that he can, so we must be on our guard. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

As we grow we must remember to be patient and wait for what God has for us and wait for His timing. We may find it difficult to wait on God, but if we believe that His timing is perfect than who are we to argue with God over the when and how of His plans for us. We must guard against feelings of displeasure with the growth of others, and put aside any feelings of self-righteousness, and become humble before God. As John of the Cross says, “True spirituality consists in perseverance, patience, and humility.”

With all this take heart, God sees all of our imperfections and does not throw us aside, but rather urges us to grow up.

John of the Cross. ”Purifying the Soul.” Devotional Classics. Ed. Richard J Foster and James Bryan Smith. New York: Harper Collins, 2005. Print.

Apr 27, 2010

God's gifts to us

Sadly it has been a while. Life has a way of making you prioritize, and that is the reason for such a long break since my last post. I wanted to share something with you all real quick. This week in bible study we are studying Acts Chapter 2, and what Pentecost provided for us. In Acts 2:41-47 there is a list of things that God has given to all of us. I thought I would share that list with you. It was enlightening to me, I hope it is for you as well.

We see here some gifts that God had given the crowd. This same gifts he offers to us. They are:
Repentance- our ability to turn towards God is a gift
• Baptism- physical action to demonstrate God’s ability to wash us inside, to clean us.
Forgiveness- through forgiveness God wipes away the guilt of our past.
The Holy Spirit- enables the reception of all other gifts, and also enables the fulfillment of God’s commands
Salvation- God saves us from all the separates us from Him
Teaching- Go has provided us with people who can teach us about God, His love, and His commands.
Fellowship- God gives us each other, we should give freely and completely to each other
Breaking of the Bread- Communion, a way to remember Christ’s life and death and what it means for us
Prayer- The ability to be in communication with God
Ongoing Miracles- Jesus’ work is continued through us
Worship- We get to praise our Father for His goodness and justice
Witness- God uses us as vessels for the Holy Spirit to add to His kingdom.