Monday, March 16, 2015

Are you a Disciple?

And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. -- Luke 14:27
Without over analyzing this short statement by Jesus I want to think through what Jesus is trying to say to those who would call themselves His disciples. I want to look at the last part of His statement first--"Cannot be my disciple."
If we have a desire to identify ourselves with Jesus, which is really what defines a disciple, then maybe we should think about what it is Jesus says disqualifies us from being a disciple. Jesus makes it very clear that just stating that we are a disciple of his is not enough.
There is something more than just stating our allegiance to Him. It involves movement and a cross. Jesus was beaten and then had the burden of carrying the cross to his death. When we get a mental picture of this journey we begin to understand Jesus' commitment to the mission. This mission required a sacrifice. So if we are going find identity in Jesus the first thing is to have a willingness to sacrifice.
Sacrifice!? Sacrifice what? Whatever get is in the way of the second part of the qualifier. Jesus said we must carry our cross and "Follow Him." When our identity is found in Jesus we will follow his ways while we live on this earth. We will reflect His image.
In order to qualify as a disciple--someone who identifies with Jesus--we must sacrifice what ever gets in the way of following Jesus. And then we follow Him.
As we approach Easter and as we talk about the cross, find something you are willing to sacrifice in order to follow Jesus. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

What if you had access to the smartest and most powerful person in the world to help you build your life, your business or your church, would you listen to them?

Of course you would. You may ask some questions and push back, but ultimately you would respect that persons knowledge and strength.  Most, if not all of your decisions would be based on that access.

Then why is it so difficult to let God lead? I mean he is the most powerful--the creator of the universe. He is the wisest--Paul says that "the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength" (1 Corinthians 1:25).

If this is true, and as a follower I believe it is, then why can't I let Him lead?

Think about this verse from Psalms 127:1:

     "Unless God builds the house, its builders labor in vain."

Get out of the way and let God lead. Let Him be the center of your family, your career or your church.

He has the greatest wisdom and the greatest strength. Only a foolish person would go it alone.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Stop . . .

Elihu, the younger friend of Job is angry because Job charges God of being his enemy. So he speaks to Job, correcting him for questioning God.

In the middle of going through hell on earth, this young friend of Job utters these words, "Stop and consider the wonders of God." (Job 37:14)

Elihu is challenging Job to look at how God has blessed him despite the major set backs in life. Before Elihu tells Job to consider the great things God has done, he tells him to "Stop."

What great advice for all of us. Something goes wrong at home, at work or at church. Frustration sets in, we begin to rant about our situation. We blame God for our circumstances or the current situation. We begin to get angry because we have not gotten what we want. What should we do?



Think about how you have been blessed. Too many times we think about what we don't have instead of thinking about the things we do have.

Look around you. How does God show His wonder? Do you ever consider the ways of God? Do you ever consider God's presence in your life?

A lot of times we miss the wonders of God because we don't take the time to "Stop." Their is great purpose in taking a days rest to experience the blessings of God. How often do you rest in the presence of God and consider His blessings?

Not the things you want? But what he has blessed you with--food, water, clothing shelter, relationships and His grace. "Stop" and consider His wonders, thanking Him for the blessings you need.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Shades of Grey

There is a popular movie out right now, I don't plan on seeing because of the content. The name of the Movie is Shades of Grey.

The verse of the week at Northwest is:

     "See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full
       of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted as when the light of a lamp shines
       on you." Luke 11:35-36

The part of this verse that struck me as odd was the first sentence, "See to it that the light within you is not darkness." How can you have light and darkness at the same time?

When I was a kid, I had friends who had a black light as the light in their room. When we were in their room instead of being lighted, it was kind of grey. Was it light enough to see? Yes. But the room was kind of grey.

Here is a question. Do we live our life closer to the grey than to the light? Do we have some dark or grey areas in our life?

I believe this is what Jesus is challenging us to think about. He goes on to say if our whole body is full of light, no part of it will be dark or grey.

We are not called to live our lives in shades of grey. We are called to live our life in the light and to be the light of the world.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Value of Serving

As we have been going through our core values at Northwest one of them is the concept of serving others.

I am not sure if we can really call ourselves a follower of Jesus if we are not willing to serve others. The reason I say this is because of what Jesus said and how he lived His life.

We live in a culture which has an entitlement mentality. Whether you are in the top one percent or you are living in poverty, whether you are old or young, whether your are highly educated or not and whether you are a Christian or not many in our culture believe others are on earth to serve them in some way.

We want special treatment and want nothing to do with the consequences of bad judgment. Look, don't feel bad, Jesus' disciples thought the same thing. They argued about who was the greatest and who should get the best seats.

Both times Jesus said stop focusing on who should be serving you and focus on how you can serve others.

"If anyone wants to be first, he must be last and the servant of all." Mark 9:35

It works in any relationship. the goal is to focus on the other person and their needs rather than your needs and wants. If spouses could learn this marriages would be enhanced. If employers and employees could learn this businesses would be more successful. If we could just learn this principle in life--the culture around us could be changed for the better.

Who are you serving today?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding
in all your ways acknowledge Him
and He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6
I get it, I am suppose to trust God with all my heart. There are things I don't want to do or things I get anxious about. In those moments I need to trust God with all my heart. I need to allow him to give me peace knowing he will provide for me and protect me. There are times when people will say all you need is faith. Yep that is all I need. But that faith has to be consistent with where God is leading me.
We all do it. We have opportunities arise where we think this is something I really need to do. But every opportunity that arises is not always in line with God's will. When we begin to question it, we always just say we need to trust God and walk through that door.
Sometimes the trust is on the side of the door you are standing on. I mean, some times we need to decide not to go through an open door and trust that God is leading us in the right decision.
I remember a time in my life I thought I needed to go to Abilene Christian University to work on my masters. I even sent in the application fee and was accepted. I was going to work with some friends at a church in Texas. Everything seemed right. Everything was falling into place. But as I prayed about it I got the sense it was not a door I needed to walk through. I had no peace, until I decided not to go to Texas. (It was hard considering it is one of the best eating states I have been)
I had friends tell me I was not being faithful to God and trusting Him. But as I look back it would have been one of the worst decisions I could have made.
It was funny, the week we decided not to pursue that direction we found out Rhonda was pregnant and soon after that we bought our first house. It was a house we lived in for seven years and then sold for almost two and a half times what we paid for it.
Really it is not funny, because when we acknowledge God and let him lead then He will make our paths straight. He will lead us in the right way.
Usually it is when I have leaned on my own understanding that it has gotten messy. Even when it seemed like the right thing to do.
So my encouragement to you is to Trust God, let him lead. Every decision should line up with His word and be seasoned with prayer. These are the times we are truly led by the Spirit. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

I have currently been reading through the gospel of Mark. I try to read a chapter every morning and every evening. When I get up in the morning I read a chapter before email or anything else online. It is pretty convenient with YouVersion on my phone. I can read the Bible anytime pretty quickly and easily.

In Mark 6:31 Jesus says to his disciples, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."

It is what surrounds this statement that gives the verse more power. The first part of the verse says, because so many people were coming and going that they did not have a chance to eat.

They were busy. Have you ever been so busy you have not taken the time to eat? I have. It is within this busyness Jesus teaches us something. We have to take some time by ourselves and rest. Sometimes I turn the T.V. off at night when everyone has gone to bed and just sit in silence. The practice of a Sabbath is so important for all of us.

After they take some time with Jesus on a boat in a solitary place they land and the crowds were waiting for them. This eventually led to the disciples assisting Jesus in feeding five thousand people. They were right back at their busy lives.

In the midst of their busy lives they paused to be alone with Jesus.

My challenge to you this week is to take the time to spend some time alone with Jesus. It can be five or ten minutes a day reading a chapter of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Or it could be sitting in silence praying to God or listening to him speak into your soul. This is a time of rest for your soul, then you can get back to your busy life.