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Tag Archives: christian growth

Time for a Great Picture: STUCK?

  Wouldn’t you love to have been animal control and have gotten this call?

I wonder how they got the little fellow out.

But we get stuck like that sometimes, don’t we?  We make choices and our choices seem to capture us and hold us hostage.

As you make your choices today, might I suggest that you begin with something like the following prayer?

“Lord Jesus, You’ve given me great power to make hundreds of choices today.  Please help me to make the ones that please You.   I want freedom, Lord, but not from You or Your will for me this day.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2018 in stuck

 

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Getting Ready for the New Year! 2018!

It’s hard to believe that another year is here already! I want to become a better follower of Jesus in this New Year.  How about you?

Someone has said of New Year’s Resolutions: “One resolve is like another — in one year and out the other!”  I believe in New Year’s Resolutions IF they are seen as promises which we seek to develop into habits.  We are creatures of habit, so we are told.  And I want to work on ten specific habits this year to go deeper in my life with Jesus and with others.

Someone named Dr. Rob Gilbert said of habits; “First we form habits, then they form us. Conquer your bad habits or they will conquer you.” The noted spiritual leader Thomas à Kempis said: “Blessed is the man who can set aside all distraction . . . Act with courage, for habit is broken by habit.”

Here are the ten habits I want to work on in this New Year:  Getting into God’s Word, Getting Serious about Prayer, Developing an Attitude of Thankfulness, Practicing Solitude, Sharing Jesus with Others, Growing in My Friendship Skills, Being Quick to Forgive, Cultivating a Spirit of Submission, Being Willing to Apologize, and Evaluating My Progress.  WHEW!  That’s a lot to work on.  But He is a Savior who is worthy of all my effort.

How about you?  What are you going to work on this year?

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2017 in New Year's Resolutions

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #10- SINNERS) (con’t)

This is my last message/post on the topic of being STUCK!  These messages were/will be preached at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Augusta (website: crossroadschurchinaugusta.com).  How do we Jesus-followers sometimes get STUCK on the issue of SINNERS?

The reality is we are simply not like the Lord Jesus who was a friend of sinners.  Let’s admit it. We’d rather spend our time with fellow-believers than reach out to the lost.

Our text for this topic is Matthew 11 where we read:

16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

Both Jesus and John the Baptist were mocked by their contemporary culture.  John the Baptist was thought to be demonized because of his austere lifestyle. Jesus was charged with being a glutton and a drunkard because of His indulgence in food and drink.  Both austerity and enjoyment were areas of judgment for Jesus’ culture.  Jesus was neither a glutton nor a drunkard, but His social interaction with “sinners” opened Him up to such accusations.

I want to be like Jesus.  I want to be a friend of sinners.  If that is true, what steps must I take to get more like Jesus, to get unSTUCK in this area?  Please write out one step you will take in this area in the comment section below.  And thank you for sticking with me in this series!


 

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2017 in christian growth

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #10- SINNERS!)

If you have stayed with me through this series of posts, THANK YOU!   We’ve been thinking about areas in which the Jesus-follower gets STUCK!  Most of these messages were (or will be) delivered at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Augusta (website: crossroadschurchinaugusta.com).

The last area we want to consider is SINNERS!  We get STUCK on the issue of SINNERS!  What are we to do with “them”?  Are we to hang around them?  Avoid them?  Become like them?

This topic of our relationship to SINNERS has become a passion for me.  I’m a SINNER.  How about you?  Someone reached out to me with the gospel.  How dare I spend all my time with fellow-believers, eating only Christian cookies, listening only to Christian music, and going only to Christian meetings?  How dare I?

Our text for this topic is Matthew 11 where we read:

16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
    and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
    and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

There is so much in this passage that we are going to take several posts to ponder it.  Please notice that Jesus is rendering a judgment on His generation.  He compares them to children singing mocking songs in the marketplace about Himself and John the Baptist.  “You’re like a bunch of kids pouting because we aren’t behaving the way you want us too!”, Jesus seems to be saying.  These “children” are inviting other like-minded kids to join them in their mockery and derision. What are they so hyped about?

The answer is that they didn’t care for the way either John the Baptist or Jesus lived among them.  And their only response is ridicule and mockery.  John the Baptist and Jesus didn’t dance to their tunes or mourn with their dirges.  And that ticked them off!  (to be continued) 

 

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2017 in christian growth

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #9- SOLITUDE) (con’t)

In this ninth area of STUCKNESS, we are thinking about our need for the spiritual disciplines which will help us grow.  For some of us, we give precious little time to the area of SOLITUDE.  Alone time with the Lord is really important.  He can speak to us when we are quiet and just with Him.

I’ll admit — as an introvert I really like the idea of SOLITUDE.  Just give me my dog, my laptop, and a good cup of Starbucks (and occasional visits from my wife Linda), and I’m pretty happy.

But SOLITUDE is only one of the dozen spiritual disciplines that I need in my life.  We mentioned the others in our last post (the inward disciplines are: meditation, prayer, fasting, and study. The outward disciplines are: simplicity, solitude, submission, and service. The corporate disciplines are: confession, worship, guidance, and celebration). Which of those practices do you find easier to incorporate into your busy life?  Which seem impossible?

Our text for this area of STUCKNESS is Mark 6:30-34 where we read,

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

Doing and saying are important in the Christian life, but so are resting and eating!  Jesus invited His disciples to “come with me.”  They didn’t need to escape Him, but the crowds.  “Come with me by yourselves” — This was not an evangelistic invitation to bring others along. This invitation was strictly for Jesus’ disciples.  “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place.”  We underestimate how much our souls need quiet, don’t we?  “… and get some rest.”  Soul-rest is hard to see but spiritually lethal when it is missing.  This reminds me of Jesus’ promise in Matthew 11:  28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  How’s your rest going?

 

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2017 in christian growth

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #9- SOLITUDE)

My daughter Amy and I are introverts.  We don’t care for crowds; we like our SOLITUDE.  In fact, she says she going to get me a t-shirt that says, “Introverts Unite!  By yourselves!  Alone!  At home!”  (I’d wear that t-shirt!).

In an extroverted world, we introverts are often thought anti-social (and we pretty much are).  How do Christians get STUCK in SOLITUDE?

What we are thinking of are the Christian disciplines that ought to mark healthy, Jesus-following lives.  SOLITUDE is one of those practices that can draw us closer to Jesus.

The classic treatment of the spiritual disciplines is the work done by Richard Foster in his Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (Harper, 1998).  He divides the disciplines into three categories.  The inward disciplines are:  meditation, prayer, fasting, and study.  The outward disciplines are: simplicity, solitude, submission, and service.  The corporate disciplines are:  confession, worship, guidance, and celebration.  You won’t agree with all that Foster says about these practices, but each has biblical support and is valuable for the believer who doesn’t want to get STUCK!

Our text for this area of STUCKNESS is Mark 6:30-34 where we read,

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

Let’s think about this passage for a moment.  Note that the apostles had been quite busy doing what Jesus had commanded and teaching others. They were so busy in fact that they did not have time to eat.  Jesus invites His disciples to “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (v. 31).  They needed SOLITUDE.  They needed rest.  They needed to be away from the crowds.  Jesus’ invitation to His followers is refreshing.  He knows our frame, our weaknesses, our need for quiet and rest.  Just being alone — with Him.  Have you tried that lately?  (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2017 in christian growth

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #8- SERMONS!) (con’t)

Is preaching passé?  Some would say that SERMONS are no longer needed by the saints.

Bible studies, discussion groups, casual conversations are all well and good — but we need the authoritative proclamation of God’s Word!  The saints should be committed to good SERMONS, but sometimes we get STUCK!

We get STUCK with poor preaching, with inadequate study, with irrelevant sermonizing.  [I’ve put together some suggestions for improving one’s preaching in my small booklet “Ten Specific Steps You Can Take To Make Your Sermons and Preaching Better!”  Just send me your email address and I will send you that pdf.]

Let’s think a bit more about our text from Acts 17:

10 As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

Paul and Silas preached in the synagogue!  They preached Jesus and gave evidence that He, indeed, was the promised Messiah.  We often confine our preaching to our churches, to our turf.  How about proclaiming the good news about Jesus in other forums?

There is one other point that this text is making that we dare not miss.  We don’t get even a hint that Paul objects to the Bereans’ examining the Scriptures to see if what he said was true!  He was not afraid of his message being biblically evaluated.  And we should not fear that either.  It is a noble act for others to compare what we say (even in the context of a sermon delivered from a podium at the front of the church) with the rest of the Word of God.  And that will keep us preachers from getting STUCK in our own opinions!

 

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2017 in christian growth

 

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