Monday, November 24, 2008

Do you LIKE other people?

Here’s something I was thinking about today. In the Christian world we often talk about loving each other (primarily because that’s what Jesus said we should do – “love your neighbor”).

But, do we really LIKE each other?

I’ve heard a lot of people (including myself) say things like, “Of course I love them – I have to – I’m a Christian. But I don’t have to like them.” I think this misses Jesus’ whole point! He wasn’t teaching us to SAY we love people, He was teaching us to truly love people. And if we truly love people, guess what, we’ll like them, too!

So, maybe what we should start asking ourselves is, “How much do I really LIKE other people?”

There’s no doubt that we all have those things that will annoy others. I’m not saying all that goes away. What I am saying is that we begin to really see people how God sees them – He loves them – and He likes them, too! Annoying quirks and all.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

How do we do this in real life?

Philippians 2:3-4Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

I was putting together my thoughts for some ministry work I’m doing with community leaders. This led me to this verse in Philippians (in relationship to part of the Great Commandment where Jesus tells us to love others).

The context for my notes was Marketplace Ministry – How does God want to use us in the marketplace? You could really expand this from “in the marketplace” to “in our whole life”.

As I pondered this verse, it struck me just how hard this is to really live out. Don’t you want to impress others at work? Isn’t this how we move ahead?

I don’t think this is saying to be a slacker – not at all. God calls us to give our best at work (Eph. 6:7). What I believe it is teaching is that we do not “use” people to get ahead. In fact, we go a step beyond and proactively look for ways to help those around us – we look out for their interests, too. And, we do this with a sense of humility – it’s not ploy, it’s who we really are (or are becoming as we allow God to work in our lives).

How do you see this verse in your life?
How does it challenge you?
What questions does it bring up?

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Monday, November 10, 2008

I Agree with Satan

Did that title get your attention? I guess I should explain.

I often talk with people who tell me how whenever they feel like maybe they could really step out and be used by God, they “hear” Satan whisper in their ear all the reasons why God could never use them.

While it’s not an audible voice, it’s just that reminder of past failures – bad decisions, sinful actions, abusive words, whatever it is that make them feel… well… useless and unworthy.

Here’s my advice – agree with Satan. Your “conversation” may go something like this…

After Satan mentions something from your past – simply say, “You know what, you’re right! I did do that. No doubt about it that was a really stupid decision.”

But, if you’ve made the decision to follow Christ, that’s not the end of the dialogue. Because then you can also point Satan’s attention to the Cross of Jesus Christ and remind him that all those past failures are why you praise God for the Cross! Remember, the Cross is payment in full for those stupid and sinful things we have all done.

You should see the look on Satan’s face when you remind him of the rest of the story!!

Okay, you can’t really see his face, but it would be great if you could!

Never allow Satan to steal the power of the Cross in your life. Because he really can’t steal it, he can only hope you forget about it.

So, next time Satan attempts to pull you down with your own past – simply agree, point him to the Cross, and step out and allow God to do all He wants to do in your life!


Saturday, November 08, 2008

How do we learn to love?

One of the things my cirlce of friends have been talking a lot about lately is how do we get back to the foundational teaching of Jesus - love God, love people? This post encompasses both of these principles.

Whether you would consider yourself a Christ follower, Christian, religious or none of the above - most people believe the principles found in the Bible are good.

Let’s take some time, to look at the process Peter writes about that leads to loving all people:

2 Peter 1:5-7 ~
In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

Peter writes, “make every effort”. This is not some ho hum attempt at getting along, this is full blown commitment to grow in this way. And what’s the growth process (which, by the way, often overlap each other)?

Supplement your…

->Faith (Do I truly trust Jesus?)

-> Moral Excellence (Am I becoming more pure in my thoughts, words and actions?)

-> Knowledge (Am I gaining God’s wisdom to make better decisions?)

-> Self-control (Do I exhibit control over how I interact with others and issues?)

-> Patient Endurance (Am I more patient with people and circumstances?)

-> Godliness (Is my character becoming more like God’s character?)

-> Brotherly Affection (Am I laying my life down for my friends?)

-> Love for everyone (Do I truly love my neighbor?)

Here’s how I view this teaching: As I practice Moral Excellence by trusting Jesus (in Faith), it leads to gaining Knowledge. This Knowledge allows me to gain Moral Wisdom leading to Self-control. By not always just reacting to things around me, I learn to be more Patient; it enables me to Endure difficult times and people. As I Endure, my character becomes more Godly and my reverence/respect for God’s work in my life grows. Since God is Love – my Love begins to grow - first, for other Believers; then for all people. This is the essence of the Great Commandment – to love God and love people. In fact, my love for all people reveals my love for God.

The key to all of this is actually found in verse 3 of 2 Peter 1 - By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.

We get to know God through reading the Bible, prayer, and interaction with His church – the people of God.