I read a story today from a Pastor that grew up in Rwanda. He talked about praying over and over again in his young life.  Telling Jesus,  “I trust you.”  One day the death squads I’ve only read about came to his village.  He hid in his building praying over and over again saying “Jesus, I trust you.  Jesus, I really trust you.” While the soldiers didn’t find him and his family and they were spared, he said he felt like Jesus told him, “You say that you trust me but you really don’t or you wouldn’t have been so scared.”

That stung because I don’t have nearly so much to be scared of in my 1st world, West St Louis County life, but I manage to spend a good portion of my time worrying. I worry what people think of me. Worry if I have enough. Worry what will come tomorrow. All while I say that I trust in Jesus.

I’m going to try today to consider the blessings God has given me. Tomorrow I’m going to wake up and try to remember them again. The day after that my goal will be to think again all that God has done for me. This is so that maybe, just maybe, when trouble does come I can remember how He has taken care of me. I can remember that He is good and no matter the outcome I can trust him.

Will you join me in that?

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Common Goal

The Other day I saw a Blog post from the Disney Institute. Maybe you’ve seen it, it is about customer service and titled something about a purple balloon? It spoke of customer service and the key being that all employees, no matter what they were doing or where they were had a common goal. The common goal for Disney Employees is Creating Magical Experiences for their guests.

This got me  thinking about the common goal of our churches the common goal of our families and even the common goal of Christ Followers. Shouldn’t our Common goal be aligned with God’s goal? What is God’s goal. Some would say that it is to redeem the world and bring all to a saving knowledge of his Son Jesus Christ. I’m not sure that is God’s goal. I think maybe that is a means to the end. Our being saved is a way God achieves his Goal. So what is the goal of God and what should be the common goal of Christians?

“After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” – John 17:1
Jesus went to the cross and yes we are saved, but it was  to Glorify the Father. God’s ultimate goal in everything He does is to bring Glory to himself.
Think about what it would mean if our Goal was to Bring Glory to God in everything we do. From the smallest thing we do in what seems to be the most meaningless situation to the Big events in our lives are we living in a way that Brings Glory to God?
Can we make this our Common Goal?
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“Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?” Isaiah 2:22

Admittedly this is a struggle I’ve had for a long time. The fight to gain acceptance, respect, accolades, happiness from the people around me. I have and often continue to live my life thinking I need to live up to the expectations of the people around me. Believing I will be happy if people like me and think well of me and worried that something I may do or not do will break that relationship.

It leads to so many broken things in life. If we live this way we become resentful of the people we are trying to please. They don’t see how hard we are working and don’t appreciate what we are doing. It drives wedges between us and the people we most care about. Living  as a person who finds their worth in what the people around us think of us will also always eventually lead us to disappointment. What do you do when the person you were trying to please, the person that was giving you worth does something that hurts you? When they are human and selfish or when they just have to not agree with you on something?

God says stop. Stop trusting in men. When we put this much focus on the respect and accolades of others; when we look to them for our happiness and worry about doing something that might upset them. We have made them an idol.  It is so easy to do though because when we do get that respect, that thanks, that love it feels so Good. God says to come to him for those things. Trust that he has shown you how much he cares for you and how much you are worth to him, by giving up his son for you. This doesn’t mean ending relationships with people you care about, it just means understanding that they are human. Each one of them fails and you will only be disappointed if you try to find your happiness and worth in them.

God will not disappoint and God will always love you even when you forget about him for a bit. When we are broken when we have been disappointed, when our focus has been in the wrong place, God invites us to come back to him and he is waiting with open arms.

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The danger of Hypocrisy

I was reading 1Peter 2 this morning and came across this section of Scripture

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”

In a time where there was real persecution and danger involved in claiming Christianity Pater says some very hard things. The first of which is to submit. yourself to the emperor. An emperor who’s law by the way would eventually crucify Peter, upsides down.

Peter also says that it is Gods will that His people should silence the critics by doing good.

I read this and I wonder how we, the Christian church in America, are doing?

I worry that we set ourselves up as the Moral Police for the world and then excuse our own failings with sayings like, “Being a Christians just means we’re saved it doesn’t mean we’re perfect” while this is absolutely true, Claiming Christianity also means that you have a responsibility to reflect God to the world.

Our actions should be so good, all the time that we silence those who are against Christ, Not give them fodder. We have to depend on the Holy Spirit for leadership in this and each for accountability because I know I can’t do this on my own.

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A little confession. I opened the journal I started a while back, this Morning. I haven’t been good about it lately. The last dated entry was from January. As I looked at it I noticed a lot of complaining and worry that filled the pages. I thought about scripture and being thankful for God’s blessings; about rejoicing in the Lord, and I decided to make a list of things to celebrate. It ended up being a very long list and I think I barely started.

I keep seeing a quote that says something about happiness not making you thankful but thankful people being happy. I know this, I’m in a better mood, for the moment, than I’ve been to start the day in awhile.

Hare you come up with a list to celebrate today? let me get you started:

  •  God loves you
  • Jesus died for you
  • you have access to a Computer and the internet
  • ok you keep gone Now!
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Do you believe the Gospel? Right Now?

Do I believe the Gospel today? Right now? How much?

Do I believe that the God of the Universe, The Holy and completely different from me, creator of everything. Loves me?

Do I believe that He is so different from me that I could never, on my own, by my own will become good enough to measure up to His standard? Have I sat in the reality today of my own inability to be worthy of anything God has for me?

Do I believe, today, right now, that despite all this He has made a way for me to right with Him? That He, through the sacrifice of His son has punished my sin and covered me with Jesus Glory?

Do I believe that I don’t have to do anything to earn or keep His love?

Do I believe that He wants me to be close to Him? That He wants me to rely on Him? Do I believe that He will help me be more like Jesus if I will ask for help?

Do I believe, Right now, in this circumstance, that there is an eternity? Do I believe that God has prepared a place for every one of His adopted children? Do I believe that it is perfect and better than anything this world could offer?

Do I believe that God allows me to be a part of the work He is doing in this world and has a call and a reason for my life?

The Good News is that all of these things are true. The Gospel is this:

That because I am unable to keep God’s Law in it’s perfection and cannot live up to God’s perfect standard. Jesus came to earth to die as a perfect sacrifice, substituting his life for mine in punishment and offering me his life to cover mine in righteousness. There is nothing I cad do to make that better and nothing I can do to cause God to rescind his promise. If I believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God and accept the gift he offers me I am saved. (and so can anyone else be)

Do we believe that today? Right now? In whatever circumstance we are in? Does it affect us?

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Raising up Spiritual Champions

I Love the Barna Book written a few years ago. There is all kinds of great information about Family, Youth, Children’s Ministry in this book but the truth is It’s mostly about how important it is for Parents to be the spiritual leaders in their kids lives.

Let’s be honest I’ve messed up plenty as a parent and I will continue to mess up plenty but I read this article about why some kids hate church and end up leaving as they start to make their own decisions and thought, YES YES YES.

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