The Magic Of Christianity

The Magic Of Christianity

Ok, you super spiritual people are not going to like the word “magic”. But, we use it to describe things that are extremely good. If something spontaneous and great happens, we say it was a magical moment. If someone is extraordinarily good at something, we say to them, “Work your magic!”. If an experience is indescribably special, we say, “It was Magical”. And when the romance leaves a relationship, we say that it has lost its magic. 

I have witnessed in others and even in my own life, times when faith seems to lose its magic. At first, we were all so excited to be followers of Christ. We loved being free and forgiven. We thought about it and talked about it all the time. But, some of us after a while lose our excitement. Jesus talked about how the cares of the world steal the truth from us. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. We actually can and should become more excited as time goes by.

In fact, I have found that almost everything gets better when it is surrendered to God. Your relationships become magical. Your ability to interact with others in the love, grace, mercy, compassion, understanding and confidence of Christ will revolutionize your existence. Life gets more and more exciting as you walk closer with Jesus. As He relies on you to do His work with other people, you will feel more alive than ever. 

So, if you have let the cares of the world rob you of your joy, if things haven’t gone your way lately, if your attitude for whatever reason has taken a nose dive, cheer up! There is a magical life that awaits you! God is just waiting for you to get on board. Start with thanking God for all the good things He has blessed you with and don’t stop. This is how we enter into His presence. Psalm 16 says, “In His presence, there is fullness of joy”. 

And, if you are married, and you treat your spouse as Christ would, your relationship will get magical and stay magical. Just ask my wife! 

What’s Your Story?

What’s Your Story?

Being in ministry for many years, I’ve had the opportunity to attend a lot of funerals. And, I’m always fascinated by how little I knew about the person, even when it’s someone I thought I knew well. Everyone seems to be amazing in some way and I guess that shouldn’t surprise me. Just being human and having the fingerprints of God on our DNA is enough to make us special, but add in the Spirit Of God that brings us to life in a whole new way, and things get very interesting. 

When I was young, I had some remarkable experiences, but nothing like the things that have happened since I have known God. It’s like a whole new world (I think Jesus would call it “The Kingdom”) was opened to me and I saw everything in a new light. The most beautiful thing about it is that our stories weave through each other. We are part of each other’s story. God is part of our story and we are part of His story. Amazing but true. 

I think the most attractive thing that unbelievers can see in us the the story of Christ being played out in our lives. I think that’s what I love most about The Net. You see Christ everywhere. He is in our conversations, our relationships, our actions and our interactions. I heard one of our people say it this way, “My friends here at The Net are helping to write my story”. That’s a beautiful thing and it happens when we let it happen. What if we all decided to let God write our stories and allow His people to join in? I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be. 

Invest in Yourself

Invest in Yourself

The idea of investing in yourself may seem counter to the Christian idea of putting others first. But think about it in this way. Although we have the ability and the duty to invest in others, we also are compelled by scripture to invest in ourselves. Most of the new testament is focused on instructing Christians in how they should behave. This instruction is meant for our benefit. 

In the message series this Spring called “Organic”, we are talking about things that are alive. It occurred to me that we spend so much time, effort and money trying to acquire material things (things that are not alive) which are supposed to make us happy, but very little on the one thing that is alive and  has the most potential to fulfill us. Us. When we invest in our own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, we actually have control over the outcome. We are called to invest in others but the only person we have definitive power over is ourselves. 

I’m not saying we should lavish ourselves with indulgent experiences. I’m saying we should spend a very healthy amount of time, energy and even money if there is a need that requires it, to improve the way we think, speak and act. Put the other person first, but treat your body as the temple of the Holy Spirit and treat the person that you are with honor and respect, making yourself available for God to work in you. This will insure that you are able to give the best you have to offer to others when the opportunity arises. It’s an investment that pays big dividends! Start investing in yourself today. We will all be better for it. 

Your Role In The Resurrection

Your Role In The Resurrection

One of the greatest things about our Christian Faith is that we all have a role to play. Jesus came for us and we are the main characters in the story He is creating here on earth. You are important. When you consider that the odds against you even being born are so great that you are virtually an impossibility, you begin to realize what miracle you really are. If you can understand that God created you for a purpose and knitted you together in your mother’s womb, as the scripture says, you begin to understand how important you are to God. It becomes clear that you have an amazing opportunity to live out the role He has created you for. 

Even something as extraordinary as the resurrection of Christ (the most extraordinary thing that has ever happened on earth) is part of our story. It was for us that He came and it is for us that He died and rose again on the third day. And, you have a role in the resurrection. What is our role? It is to submit to the resurrection of Christ in us. Our part is to give ourselves to His resurrection. It’s the greatest deal in all human history. 

The scripture says if we die with Him, we are raised with Him. That’s not just a symbolic religious idea, it’s very much a real thing. Each time we choose His will over ours, His will becomes more woven into our character and His life becomes more apparent through us. My fear is that we might skip over these very concrete principles and miss out on our role altogether. That would be a tragedy because He has given us a life to live! Live yours to the fullest by letting Him live in you.

Don’t let the celebration of the most incredible event in history pass you by this year without finding out just how you fit into the story.

The Power To Decide

The Power To Decide

It’s ironic! The things that make us human are the same things that make us like God. We have the ability to think, create, feel emotion, make choices about what we want to do and then, by our own will, put those choices into action. In fact, apart from the miracles, we have the ability at will, to live as Christ lived. The nature of Christ is ours to step into, if we so choose. The only thing we lack is the will. That comes to us through the Spirit of Christ as we choose to let Him lead.

That’s pretty great if you think about it! When Jesus was on the cross, He forgave all the people who put Him there. You might think you would never be capable of such a selfless act. But, God created you with the capacity to forgive. I’m sure if you thought about it, you would remember cases in which you have forgiven egregious sins committed against you. It’s not so hard to do if you love someone with all your heart. I find myself able to forgive my brother, my parents, my children and my wife for anything. There is nothing any of them have ever done that I hold a grudge over. It’s because of my will. 

It’s my will, because I love them. And because I love them, it’s always in my best interest to forgive them. That’s easy to understand and not so hard to do. The will that we possess as humans is the key. You don’t have to change the way you feel. You only need to correct your will. You decide and then act on it. I believe from my own experience that it’s in the action portion of the process that the Spirit of God meets you. He empowers you in your actions and your feelings almost always follow. 

So, continuing with the forgiveness example, once I had a falling out with a friend that lasted 2 years. One day as I prayed, God spoke to me to forgive my friend. I still felt betrayed, but I did what God was leading me to do and called him. As soon as I asked him to forgive me (there are always two sides), my feelings began to change. I was committed to forgive him and once I did, my life got better. The grudge was gone, the heaviness lifted, and I regained a true friend. All because of one thing. My will. It can take you to the lowest form of human existence or it can lead you to the highest life God offers. 

It’s all up to you. What will you choose? Decide, commit and don’t let anyone or anything dissuade you. God will meet you in it and your life will get better.

The Bowl On My Table

The Bowl On My Table

Do you have any of those items around your house that have become part of your home? I mean you could remove them, but you never would, because they are part of your life now. I grew up with a little blue dish that always sat on our mantel. It’s not a beautiful piece but it’s always been there. When I visit my parents, sometimes I walk over and open the lid. Inside, there are still little implements from the early seventies. I’m pretty sure there is a dried up bottle of White Out from 1974 still in that dish. 

We have such an item in our home. I really love it. It’s a brown bowl that sits on our kitchen table. It was fashioned out of clay by a very dear friend of ours and given to us. Every time I look at it, it reminds me that something beautiful can be made from a lump of raw material. Isaiah talks about it as well as Paul. God is the potter and we are the clay. By the way, our bowl is white on the inside.

You may think you’re just a lump. I must say the image I’ve had of myself lately, has been pretty lumpy. But God has a vision of you that is all smoothed out. You are the lump that is being masterfully transformed into an amazing vessel. I love that bowl for many reasons. It looks cool. You can see the imprint of our friend’s hands where she formed it on the wheel. She carved her name on the bottom and Lynnae fills it up with fruit. Often there is so much fruit, that pieces fall out around the bowl. 

Isn’t that an image? God forms you with His hands. His fingerprints are all over you. He makes you clean and white on the inside, which is the opposite of what Jesus said about the Pharisees, “clean on the outside but corrupt on the inside”. He writes His name on your soul and you bear so much fruit that it overflows. You become, not just another vessel, but one that is part of the household. You have a place, a purpose and you add beauty to the whole house. 

There is no call to action here. I just wanted to remind you, that He is the potter and you are the clay. Sometimes we need to stop and think. The pressure we may feel is not because God has forgotten us, but it’s because He’s molding us into something great. Take heart, we are His best work!