Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Questions Jesus Asked (3) – Worry & Faith

This next set of questions (found in Matthew 6) that Jesus asked are some of the most difficult for me. I know what He’s saying, but “doing” what He’s teaching is pretty tough. See for yourself…

Jesus asks a couple of questions about why do we worry about food and clothes, but the main question is verse 27 - Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

I don’t know about you, but I understand that worrying is like a rocking chair – it gives me something to do, but it doesn’t get me anywhere. I know that. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to stop worrying – it just comes to us so naturally… and I’m pretty good at it!

The reality is worry really doesn’t help anything. In fact, most of us would admit worry has a pretty negative affect on our lives. So, how do we stop worrying?

You may not like this answer, but I’ve found it’s the only one that works. The answer can be found in Jesus’ last question of chapter 6 – Why do you have so little faith?

See, even if you are a spiritual person – this question has a little sting to it – I mean if I do believe in God and the Bible and all that…well…I should have enough faith not to worry. But if you’re not a spiritual person – then – I guess you’re kinda stuck with your worry – I don’t have a “next best answer” for you.

But I do have some good news – you can become a spiritual person – and it really does help you move from worry to faith. Not all at once, and sometimes you’ll still get blindsided. But one thing I’m learning about my faith is that it’s still there when I get myself calmed back down - because my faith is not based on my efforts, but on the Person of Jesus (the guy asking all the tough questions here). You see, even when I “lose” faith, He remains faithful. If you want to more info. on how you can begin to find faith you can e-mail me at Dave@RedoingLife.com.

Well, let me wrap this up – how do I increase my faith and decrease my worry? I hop over several short books to the right in my Bible to Philippians 4:6-7 which says –

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but when I want to worry about something what I’m really looking for is peace. And there’s no better peace than the peace God is able to give to us. Our worries come from our hearts and our minds, so when we take these worries to God that is what He promises to guard – our hearts and minds.

I wish I could tell you that I do this perfectly every time. I don’t! But when I do…well…I guess you’ll have to experience it for yourself – because the Bible’s right – I can’t really explain it – you just have to live it.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Questions Jesus Asked (2) – Love & Kindness

We find Jesus’ next questions at the end of Matthew 5 in verses 46 and 47:

If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that?
If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?

Okay, Jesus is going right to the “heart” of the matter here. One of the things that bothers me is the reputation the church has as being full of hypocrites. I think it bothers me because I know I’m in church – and I know I’m a hypocrite – so I know they’re right.

I’ve often used the reply – but there are hypocrites everywhere, so take a look in the mirror. But, I think this is the response that Jesus knew we “Christians” would have and He points out that we ARE SUPPOSED TO BE DIFFERENT!

Sure, I know that most Christians admit that we know we’re not perfect and we don’t attempt to take on the perfection label. But is that it? Does that make our hypocrisy okay?

Another typical Christian response is – well not all of the people in church are really Christians. I agree, but I’ve also spent enough time in churches to know that those I would strongly suspect are Christians are just as bad as the others. In fact, why do non-Christians at church continue to act like they have always acted? Because the “Christians” in the church continue to act like they’ve always acted.

Before I move into a full-on rant, let me express to all of you who maybe have the “been-there-done-that-don’t-need-that-anymore” view of church, I would like to say (and encourage you to consider) that churches are also filled with people who DO “get it” and who do truly care about others – not just their friends, but everyone with whom they come in contact. And, the truth is, the closer any one of us is willing to come to Christ the more we learn how to see others differently. To love and be kind to all people, not just our friends.

Do we do this perfectly? No, far from it, and we need to be willing to throw our hand up in their air and admit when we blow it. But if all of us would consider Jesus’ questions here at the end of Matthew, I think we would find a challenge worth taking. How do we learn to care about those we don’t click with? How do we find ourselves looking to put other’s needs before our own?

Well, it does not come easily. In fact, unless we are first willing to surrender our agendas over to Christ, I’m not sure this is really possible at all. But as we learn that we do not naturally care about others who are not close to us (and sometimes even those who are close to us), we can also discover that we have been created for relationships and that while it’s true there’s risk involved with loving – the alternative is to be love-less – and that’s just a miserable existence, not the life we were created to live!

So, why not take a look in the mirror. How do these questions from Jesus hit you? Can you find ways to see people differently? Can you learn to love … everyone?

I’ve got the paddle next to you in the same boat – but I always love a challenge :-).

Monday, January 22, 2007

Questions Jesus Asked (1) – Salt

As I begin this series of questions Jesus asked, I want to be clear that this does not make up the full teachings of Christ. However, I do think we can learn a lot from His questions & I’m really curious to see where this takes us.

I just started in Matthew – and the first questions Jesus asks is recorded in Matthew 5:13 where He asks – “What good is salt if it has lost its saltiness? Can you make it salty again?”

Okay, I could totally understand a, “Yeah, that’s helpful – what in the world is He talking about” thought to this question. And while I don’t want to make this a book – I think a little background would be real helpful.

A good starting point is to remember the culture and time frame in which Jesus was teaching – they did not have freezers and microwaves. They had not figured out how to stuff food with so many preservatives that their shelf life is longer than our average life span. So, one use for salt was to preserve foods. Part of what we can learn from this question is Jesus was talking to His followers saying, I want you to do good things and preserve goodness. I want you to be a positive influence on those around you.

Another use for salt was for cleaning. Have you ever rubbed salt in a wound? I don’t recommend it – but the truth is it will clean out a wound. So, another potential teaching here is – bring healing to those you come in contact with. While sometimes the truth stings a little, the cleansing is worth is and will bring healing – and that’s a good thing.

I’m sure there are more analogies we could make, but I’ll make just one more. Have you ever heard, “That guy or girl is worth their salt”? It’s kind of an old saying, but it came from the fact that soldiers use to be paid in salt. So, someone who was doing well was, “worth their salt.” Today, our society has changed, so a similar statement we may hear is, “That girl is worth her weight in gold.” Same idea. So, what could we learn from this aspect of being “salt”? I think its fair to say that Jesus would want His followers to make a positive difference. To have relationships that others say, “I’m glad you’re my friend. We don’t always see eye to eye, but your friendship is worth it.”

So, a couple of things from this first question that we can learn – Jesus wants us to be a positive influence, a healer, and be someone worth having a relationship with. Cool stuff! But if we really look at the way He asked the question – He’s saying if were not all of these things – what good are we?

I think I need to look at how I interact with those around me and make sure I’m “worth my salt.” How about you?

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Value of Questions

Awhile back I heard Andy Stanley talking about how the questions we ask reveal what we value most. For instance, if I constantly ask my kids, “Is your homework finished?” I’m communicating to them that I value homework. More specifically, I value them completing their homework.

But is that what is most important? Wouldn’t a better question be, “Do you understand what you’re learning?”

Or, if I always ask my wife, “Honey, what’s for dinner?” What does that communicate to her - that I value dinner. Again, more specifically, I value someone else making dinner for me.

Wouldn’t a better question be, “How’s your day been? What can I make you for dinner?”

[Sweetheart, when you read this, I love you, and you probably really don’t want me in the kitchen :-)]

You see the point? (See, what I really value is communicating in a way that you understand my perspective.)

Okay, here’s an even better point – if it’s true that we can see what’s important to a person by listening to the questions they ask – then I think it would be great to take a look at the questions Jesus asked people.

So, at least for a little while (read - unless my ADD kicks in), that will be the focus of most of my future blogs – looking at the questions Jesus asked and learning what He valued most.

Stay tuned…

Thursday, January 18, 2007

New Look - Same Blog

Hey all! Just made a few changes to the look - no changes to the doodles :-)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Christmas - In Review

How was your Christmas?

Really – how was your Christmas?

I just finished listening to a guy talking about what Christmas has become – and he was right on target.

He used an illustration of a For Sale Sign in a front yard that in big letters across the bottom said:


He went on to describe how we really need to plant this sign in the “front yard” of our lives – REDUCED!

Less pace for more peace!

Was this Christmas a time of more peace or more pace? You see, it’s one or the other.

How about your life in January – post-Christmas? Peaceful?

If not, why not? What’s in your life that needs to be REDUCED?

Here’s my short list:

REDUCE my “busy-ness” --
o Don’t waste time on the unimportant (I really don’t have to figure out every detail);
o Some things really can be done tomorrow – go home and spend some time with my family;
o When it’s family time – BE THERE – too often I’m in the house, but I’ve made myself busy (like….right now).

My biggest problem is I’m a “doer.” If I’m not doing something I get nervous. I’m praying that I can get a handle on my “busy-ness addiction.” I truly am addicted to “doing.” I need to learn how to shut down – relax – enjoy people (especially my family).

How about you? Where do you need to post your REDUCED sign?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Sore Back...and Knee

Hey Gang! So, I “tweaked” my back Saturday. “Tweaked” is better than an all out pull – just a minor “ouch that hurts” – compared to “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

Anyway, the back was sore but livable; however, as the days have gone by one of the muscles just above my knee has become very sore. If any of you have dealt with back pain you know what I mean when I describe how a little “tweak” of the back can cause all kinds of other problems as we do strange things to compensate for our outta-wack-back.

The same thing happens in our relationships. Many times what starts out as a “minor pain” creates all kinds of problems in a relationship. Why is this? Paul described the church as a body and talked about how when one part hurts, all the parts suffer (1 Corinthians 12). Well, this can be applied to all of our relationships. When one person is hurting, all involved feel the effects.

So, how do we heal “sore” relationships? Again, the Bible is very helpful as God teaches us to rejoice with those who rejoice and struggle with those who are struggling. Does this mean we become responsible for everyone else’s issues? Nope. We all have to take responsibility for our own decisions, but it does mean that when someone is hurting we learn to care about them and do what we can to help.

Are you hurting? I hope you have someone who can share your struggles – even if all they can do is lend a listening ear while you process. But, I also hope you celebrate with others when things are going well. I don’t think we do enough celebrating when were doing well!

So, maybe it’s time to throw that party and celebrate!!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

"Christian" vs. "Christ-follower"

I'm treading onto thin ice here - I know it - but I think it's a great conversation to have.

There has been a lot of talk - especially in the Western world - about the "Christian." The fact is many in the US would probably label themselves a Christian, but it's more by default than by their relationship with God. What I mean is people go through the religious lists and settle on Christian. The tought process is something like - well, I'm not Muslim, I'm not Mormon, I'm not Hindu, I'm not Jewish,... so, I must be a Christian.

Another way North Americans tend to look at this is by saying, well I live in a "Christian nation," so I must be a Christian.

A third way is to say well my whole family is Christian - so I am, too.

I can understand this way of thinking, but it's not really accurate. I don't make this observation to be critical, but simply to point out that the label of Christian has become very watered down - especially in our culture.

In an effort for clarity, many have begun using the title Christ-follower. It's a way of saying that I'm making the effort to live the way Christ teaches us to live in the Bible. It recognizes that this does not just happen by default, but takes intentional effort.

Now, this can go too far as well. Sometimes we can become so - well...judgmental - that we begin to feel the need to do some crazy things to prove to others that we are Christians.

The bottom line is it's not about all of our outward actions or labels as much is it is about our hearts and how we feel toward God. Do we acknowledge Him in our lives to the point of being willing to live for Him in everyday ordinary ways. Or is it a show. Or do we just do whatever we want and not really give God a second thought.

I know some may not see the humor in this video link, but I decided to share it anyway. I would also suggest you read all of the comments on this video. The best way is to click on the "View all 44 comments" (additional comments are not enabled)toward the bottom of the page after the comments that appear on the screen. This view shows them in the order posted and which ones are replying to previous posts. Here's the link...

I'm a Christ Follower

Living for Christ - from the inside out.

Comments, Comments, Comments

Hey guys & gals! I was talking with my favorite IT guy (and church planting buddy) Brian, and telling him I wish it were easier for people to post comments on this blog (not have to set-up an account, etc.).

Well - Brian took a look and made that possible (that's why we keep you around buddy!!). So, my hope is that you all will interact more with this site now that posting a comment is much easier.

By the way, your comments will not show up on the site until I approve them, so don't freak out if you post a comment and can't see it appear on the blog right away.

Enjoying the journey!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Vision of Relevant Community Church

I wanted to take some time and post what’s been happening with the new church start where I serve as one of the Pastors. We have just completed our Vision Statement – that describes what we’re all about. I’d love to get your feedback on these thoughts.

Our Vision statement is – Building life-changing relationships with God, each other and our community.

We spent many hours praying, reading God’s Word and discussing the right words to convey what we believe God is calling us be as His church.

Building – acknowledges this does not just happen – we have to be intentional and it takes work to have healthy / life-changing relationship. (Some key verses: 1 Corinthians 3:10-17; Ephesians 4:11-12)

Life-changing – we have many relationships in this world, but few are “life-changing.” We recognize that truly biblical relationships with God and others will change our lives for the better. (Key verse: Colossians 1:6)

With God – until we can have healthy relationships with other people we must have a life-changing relationship with God. Only then are we able to begin to see others as God sees them – has His prized possession. Naturally we look at the outside – looks, personalities, etc., but God enables us to understand how He sees them. (1 Samuel 16:7)

To help people connect with God we will provide environments of large group, high impact Worship that includes inspiring music and dynamic biblical teaching.

With Each Other – once we have a life-changing relationship with God we begin to see each other differently and desire to have healthy relationships with other Christians (Christ-followers). (Key verse: The Great Commandment – Matthew 22:37-40)

We believe small group environments are critical for building healthy relationships with other believers.

With Our Community – We know God wants us to reach into our broken communities and point them towards health – which is found in life-changing relationships with God and each other. (Key verse: The Great Commission – Matthew 28:18-20)

We talked about the need to reach the world for Christ, but also realized that our main point of influence is within our community. As others come into a relationship with God we will help them discover their spiritual gifts and help them connect to ministry opportunities both in the church and with other ministries. This would include other mission ministries throughout the world.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

VT & Cowboys

Hey - wow this week went by fast.

Well, Virginia Tech looked good early but then you all must have stopped praying :-)

To make it worse I just watched my Cowboys blow a play-off game. Then again, it is just a game.

This year is off to a quick start. That whole deal about time moves faster as you get older - I don't know how that's possible - but it sure feels that way.

Well, I have to enter my period of mourning for my football teams.

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

Well, it’s January one and time for all of those resolutions. I couldn’t help but laugh (to myself of course) as I watched probably half a dozen…um…not so athletic…athletically challenged (for the politically correct crowd) people lumber past my house today in their so-new-they still-have the-tags sweats. I didn’t count the guy who looked like he was in pretty decent shape (running in an old t-shirt and shorts).

Now, in the name of full disclosure I have to tell you I was outside for less than two hours taking down the Christmas lights (the rest of the day I was horizontal in the recliner watching college football and writing this blog).

But I couldn’t help but think about the first day of the New Year’s Resolutions and wonder how many of those folks I’d ever see again “running” past the house.

I had the normal reaction – those resolutions will never last, but then I had another thought – at least those six people (and many others I did not see) made the effort to give it a shot (which, to this point, is more than I have done).

So, kudos to those of you who are willing to give it a try and attempt to make a change for the better in your life.

For me, having a relationship with God is kinda similar. I don’t deserve it. I know I won’t keep my end of the relationship up very well. And yet God says, “All I need for you to do is take the first step and trust me.” “Surrender your life to me and I will sustain you,” is what God tells us. In fact, it gets even better – God knows we won’t follow through perfectly – and yet our relationship with Him is secure – forever.

Want to make a change that will last? If you haven’t already asked Jesus to give you a new life (a fresh start), that’s the best New Year’s Resolution you will ever make – and the “keeping it going” is God’s part.

Have questions about what I’m talking about or just want to chat some personally – e-mail me at Dave@RedoingLife.com.

Happy New Year

I want to wish you all a blessed and happy New Year!

My prayer for each of us is that we would fall more in love with the Father who deeply loves us and who desires to bless us beyond measure.

May we all come to understand His mercy and grace in new and wonderful ways this year!

Happy New Year!!