Lost in the crowd?

Lost in the crowd?

Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God and the second is like the first, “love your neighbor as yourself.” Why is it like the first? Maybe it’s because God loves and identifies with people so much that Jesus said, what you do to others, (the least among us) you are doing to me. It seems that God is always pointing us back to Him or to others. One of the last commands that Jesus gave was to love each other as He has loved us. How much is that? Well, he died for us, so I would say, He wants us to love each other a lot.

It’s also the thing that is best for us. If we lose our life, Jesus said, we would find it but if we seek to save our life, we will lose it. Have you ever gotten lost in loving someone else? Have you ever been so lost in loving somebody that you’ve forgotten about yourself? Was there ever a time when a person you love was sick and you sat up all night caring or worrying about them without regard for yourself? Have you ever been so engaged in helping another person that you forgot to eat or sleep?

God does something great to our souls when we forget ourselves and focus on the needs of others. There is a maturing that takes place inside. It’s a change that causes us to know and experience the nature of Christ working through us. It seems counterintuitive when the everyone in the world is trying to work on their own selves and taking care of their own needs that God would say, “turn your attention to the care and needs of those around you and I will meet your needs and transform you into the best “You” possible. It’s a simple plan but requires that we trust God. That’s the kind of faith we need. That’s the kind of religion that the world is starved for. And if you demonstrate it, there will be people in your life who will want it.

Christ Is The Answer To Politics

Christ Is The Answer To Politics

Have you ever been stumped? You wanted to move forward in whatever you were engaged in but you were at a loss. Then another person walks in, lends a hand, gives you an idea, maybe even partners with you on your project and miraculously, problems are solved and you are moving again. It’s happened to me more times than I can count. I learned early on, that I am most comfortable and confident when I partner with others who have different tastes, gifts, strengths and opinions than I do. We need those who have a different perspective around us.

We need friends who don’t always agree with us. We need to be comfortable, not offended, when those around us disagree and offer a different solution or way to think about things. We are so much better when we pull together in the same direction, especially in the church. God refers to us as His Body! Our body parts all look different and have different functions. God’s Body is the same. So, why don’t we just embrace those who are different? Can’t we love someone who isn’t just like us? Can’t we celebrate their strengths as a gift to us?

Politics in America is the most hateful I’ve seen in my lifetime. I hear people calling each other the most despicable names. No one on either side is as monstrous as the other side says. According to today’s politicians, half the people in the U.S. are Communists and the other half White Supremacists. I know a lot of people and I don’t know anyone who is either of those things. Maybe I should get out more or maybe the whole thing is just a big lie designed to make us hate each other. Maybe it’s possible to actually love someone who has a different opinion. It’s my quest in life and in ministry to bring people together who care more about Jesus than their political or cultural differences. I want to be able to literally embrace those whose perspective is 180 degrees from mine. We in the church, will never agree on everything but if we are serious about Jesus, we could agree on the main thing. “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Who is calling the shots?

Who is calling the shots?

Who does your life revolve around? For most of us, it’s ourselves. Even Christians mostly do what they think is in their own best interest. But, there is a principle that exists in our world that would bring us all the things that we desire in our heart of hearts. The question is, do we have faith enough to follow it? Jesus said, “If you try to save your life, you will lose but if you lose your life for my sake, you will find it.” He also said, seek the kingdom of God first and all the things you need will be added. It seems that what’s in our best interest is not to pursue what we think will help us the most but what helps others. Our Lord, again and again tells us to put others first. He said to walk an extra mile, turn the other cheek, pray for those who use you, love your enemies, lend to those who ask you.

This is a different set of rules than what most of us live by. But, the reward is great! What is the reward for making Jesus the center of your life? It’s Jesus himself. It’s all the things that He is that we want and can’t seem to find any other way. It’s Life, Love, Truth, Peace, Joy, Fulfillment and knowing that if we keep on doing the “next right thing”, as a friend of mine put it, all the things we need will be added to our lives. This is what Jesus was referring to when he said to pursue the Kingdom first.

The “Life Course” we are offering at The Net is an interactive series of gatherings that will meet once a month. They are designed around the principle of seeking the Kingdom of God first. These four courses focus on our relationship with God, His relationship with us, our relationships with each other and our mission to influence others with the love of Jesus. It’s going to be instrumental in growing your faith to the point that your daily life will be saturated with the love of God and the fulfillment of knowing you are on track.

What Would You Risk For God?

What Would You Risk For God?

Would you risk your job, your relationships, your money, your life? Following Jesus is not safe. It’s also not synonymous with pursuing the “American Dream.” So, what is it like to follow Jesus? It’s risky! Sometimes it’s downright dangerous. Once, I heard a friend of mine talk about the fact that following Jesus had cost him his insurance plan and his retirement account. I thought that he was a little nutty for giving up his security for God. I thought, God would never ask anyone to give up the “American Dream” for the sake of following Christ. That was before I gave up my security for Jesus. Now, looking back, I see that I was the nutty one for thinking that Christianity was safe. It’s not.

When you become a faithful follower of Christ, He will require whatever you are currently putting your faith in. You may have a choice or He may not give you a choice. He could come as a friend and clearly present His case or He may come as a thief in the night and upset your whole world. He loves us and will not leave us in our false sense of security. Get serious with God and He will get serious with you. 

He is also extremely unpredictable. You may read this and be afraid of how God will deal with your objects of worship. I can almost guarantee that it won’t be the way you are thinking. I’ve never been able to predict His next move in my life. He is also merciful. If you go to your Savior in humility and ask Him to have mercy on you, He will. If you admit your faults to Him, He’ll help you with them in kindest and most gentle ways. If you are open, He will bring people into your life who will love you and help you. Christianity is risky but it’s worth the risk! The reward in this life and the life to come is so much greater than we can imagine. If we are willing, one day not too far from now, we will look back and be glad we took the risk!

Have you lost something?

Have you lost something?

Are you upset over something you’ve lost? King David and his Mighty Men of Valor had been out on the battle field when the Amalekites raided their village and stole their families and all their possessions. When the men returned to their camp at Ziklag, the cried until they couldn’t cry anymore and then they thought about stoning David because they were angry. But David didn’t get angry. He asked God what he should do and the answer was to pursue the enemy and he would recover everything and everyone who had been lost.

Are you angry because of what you’ve lost? Have you cried until you can’t cry anymore? Maybe you should do something constructive. Maybe God would give you back everything you’ve lost and even more. If you are listening to the negative thoughts and doing the easy things like withdrawing into yourself, being angry, blaming others, blaming God and feeling sorry for yourself, then you are listening to the enemy’s voice. Why not listen to the voice of God? His words are true.

In David’s case, he pursued the enemy, overtook them and “slaughtered them from the twilight until the evening of the next day.” Not one person was lost and they not only recovered their families and possessions, but also the plunder from other Amalekite raids.

Why don’t you pursue the enemy? If you’ll start saying no to the negative emotions and stop blaming people, God will show you the way to victory. I try to always remember this one amazing truth that our enemy is not people as the scripture says but powers and principalities and spiritual wickedness in high places. Our enemy is the voice of pity, the emotional call to revenge, self-reliance, selfish ambition and anger with God. Don’t trust in those things. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not depend on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

There’s a Hero in You

There’s a Hero in You

There is a hero in you! That’s not just a great Mariah Carey song, it’s true! The Israelites had been rebellious. Their constant story theme seemed to be this cycle of losing faith, disobeying their God, facing His discipline, repenting of their sin and having God lead them once again to victory. By the way, that seems to be our story too. If you think about it, you may find that pattern in your own life. Okay, back to the Israelites. Their enemies had beaten them so badly that they hid in caves hoping that the Midianites would leave those Israelites who remained alone.

Gideon was hiding like everyone else, shuddering in fear when God told him that he was, in fact, a great warrior who would save Israel. He was a hero waiting to happen! This seemed so impossible to him, that he had to have signs from God in order to believe. I’ll bet that if you truly knew what God wanted to do in your life, you would shudder too.

The scripture teaches clearly that there are two sides to us. You could even call it two people. There is the man of sin who is rebellious toward God and seeks to fulfill his own desires, not caring how it affects God’s plan or others. He is a coward. Then there is the man of God. He seeks to please his Father in heaven. Since he is focused more on living every day for God and other people, his fears can’t overcome him. He is courageous even in the face of fear! He has the Holy Spirit working in him to conquer his fears and devour the enemy! If you walk with Jesus, you will be heroic in the battle!

No matter what kind of person you’ve been in the past, today, you can have victory if you choose to be the warrior God has neatly tucked inside your heart. All it takes is to say yes to God. One yes after another, after another, leads you to victory over every fear, every doubt, every insecurity, bad habit, rebellious sin and every obstacle that stands in the way of your destiny.