Too Busy?

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“The acid of overactivity eats holes in our souls.”BestYes

True.  Very true.  Very important.

“A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul… she knows there is more God made her to do.”

“We’ve said yes to so much that we missed what I call our “Best Yes” assignments, simply because we did not heed the warning of whispers within that subtle space.”

Good stuff here.  Thank you Lysa Terkeurst in The Best Yes.

Healthy Discipleship Requires Raising Up Disciplers

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We need to raise up disciple-makers… This is not simply the task of your pastor… we are ALL called to be disciple-makers, because disciples of Jesus Christ cannot be mass produced. 

Programs do not make disciples, people make disciples.

Good blog post.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/february/healthy-discipleship-requires-raising-up-disciplers.html

Does Your Church Have A Discipleship Path?

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I need to know, does your church have a “discipleship path”?  Many churches have a class for new people where you learn all about the church, and/or a class for those who want to be baptized.

But what about after that?

If your church has a discipleship plan or path for what comes next, please tell me about it or give me the link to the website!

I have recently been asked to chair a committee responsible for designing the Intentional Faith Development plan (aka discipleship path) for our church and I’m studying other successful models right now.  It’s very interesting!

Thank you!

Your Attendance Is Not The Point

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“If all you do is show up each week at Bible study and then end the session basically the same way you came, I would call that a major fail.” writes Susie Walther (my mentor) regarding her philosophy on women’s Bible study ministries.
       She goes on to say:
      “It usually takes being at The Well (the ministry she leads in Tampa) a year before it really dawns on you that we’re a little different from a lot of women’s ministries. Often, women aren’t even 100% sure what it is that makes us different. Some may think it’s the hugs they get when they come through the doors. Others feel it’s because we are “more friendly” or less “cliquish” than other women’s groups.
     For some, the difference is our weekly devotions, especially when they realize we intentionally pass the microphone to the women sitting in the room who maybe are not polished public speakers or mature Christians yet. Still others believe the magic is in the way we approach our Bible studies, making them discussion oriented and not video driven, causing you to think, do your homework, and be able to articulate what you are learning.
      Indeed, all those and even other elements make The Well all that it is.  However, you need to know that what really makes us different is this – we’re not willing to be satisfied that you decided to come through the door and grace us with your presence.  We’re not overjoyed because you might decide to volunteer to bring a snack, give a devotional, or greet ladies at the door.
     So many women’s ministries and Bible studies would deem themselves successful if “x” number of women “attend” their group or volunteer to keep their program going. BUT NOT US.
      You know why? Because The Well isn’t about building The Well. The Well is about being a conduit or vehicle for building and advancing God’s Kingdom in the lives of women. Matter of fact, if all you do is show up each week and then end the session basically the same way you came, I would call that a major fail.
      Your attendance is not the point – your discipleship is.
     Ministry and Kingdom success equals you experiencing God in such a way through Jesus Christ and the transformative power of His Word, prayer, fellowship and His Spirit that you leave out those doors each week and live like a Jesus-following, God-honoring, Bible-believing, Spirit-filled child of God who knows how to engage people and do ministry in your home, in your church and in the world without a church program or leader directing you.
      You learn to live like that and it’ll be a win-win-win-win: for Jesus, for the Kingdom of God, for you, and even for The Well.”   

Identifying Potential Idols in Your Life

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IdolsI’m guessing that you don’t have a little wooden figurine in your house to whom you pray and pour out daily drink offerings.  Yet, idolatry is one of the main issues in the Bible… so clearly we cannot just say “that doesn’t apply to me” and skip over all those passages.  Idolatry is alive and well today, it just looks different in our culture.

“What if I told you that every sin you are struggling with, every discouragement you are dealing with, even the lack of purpose you’re living with are because of idolatry?” writes Kyle Idleman in Gods at War.

“Idolatry isn’t just one of many sins; rather it’s the one great sin that all others come from.  So if you start scratching at whatever struggle you’re dealing with, eventually you’ll find that underneath it is a false god. … There are a hundred million different symptoms, but the issue is always idolatry.”

It is difficult to see ourselves as idol worshippers.  The battle for supremacy is being fought in our hearts, and there are many things that war inside of us to take the place of God, the place of supremacy that only HE can occupy.  Potential idols are often good things that are morally neutral, until we elevate them, until we value them above their proper place in our lives.

How do you identify your idols or your potential idols?  Idleman proposes asking yourself these seven questions:

1. What disappoints you? When we feel overwhelmed by disappointment, it’s a good sign that something has become far more important to us than it should be.  Disproportionate disappointment reveals that we have placed intense hope and longing in something other than God.  Have you ever thought that our disappointments are God’s way of reminding us that there are idols in our life that must be dealt with?

2. What do you complain about the most?  Ask someone close to you what you complain about the most.  What we complain about reveals what really matters to us.  Are you whining about your finances, your sex life, how people don’t appreciate you, how your sports team is performing, etc.? Complaining shows what has power over us.  Whining is in many ways the opposite of worshipping God.

3. Where do you make financial sacrifices?  Take a look at your bank statement and your bills, and pretend you are examining a stranger’s finances to find out what is important to him.  Where your money goes shows what god is winning your heart.

4. What worries you?  Do you fear a particular loss of your spouse, your kids, or your job?  Do you fear ridicule, or being alone?  What are your bad dreams about?  Whatever it is that wakes you – or keeps you awake – has the potential to be an idol.

5. Where is your sanctuary?  To what or to whom do you run when it has been an awful day?  What place or person is your rescue and refuge?  Is it food, alcohol, exercise, television, novels, movies, porn, video games?  Where we run to when we are hurting says a lot about who we are.

6. What infuriates you?  Everyone has a hot button or two – something that we say makes us crazy.  Do you hate losing a game? Sitting in traffic?  Being disrespected?  Why does some stranger have so much power over your emotions? What’s the real issue here?  Maybe your quick temper reveals the oldest idol of them all – the god of me.

7. What are your dreams?  If nightmares are revealing, so are daydreams – the place where we choose for our imagination to go.  What dream has a grip on you?  Aspirations are fine, but the question is why you aspire to those things.

For me, these questions revealed quite a few potential idols that I might not have been willing to admit previously.  They are areas of my life – of my HEART – that I need to watch closely.

It turns out that I am prone to idol worship after all.  Thanks, Kyle Idleman, for helping me see that.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

These Are Our Stumbling Blocks

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Life is full of challenges.  In class this week we talked about the four things most Christians stumble over.  They are somewhat sequential in our walk to spiritual maturity, but not entirely.

The first thing we stumble over, our first hurdle, is SALVATION itself.  We struggle at the very beginning of the path with the idea that we are sinners, that we cannot save ourselves, that Jesus was the Son of God, that Jesus gave His life on our behalf, and so on.  It’s just not so easy to embrace the whole idea.

The next thing we stumble over is THE WORD.  Learning to read the Bible regularly, to study it, to actually understand it, and to make it a central part of our lives can be so darn hard.  We may not understand how critical the Word is to our lives.  And even if we know it’s important, we still tend to neglect it.  It takes commitment, discipline, practice, and maybe some outside help to become a consistent consumer of the Word.

Then there is the LORDSHIP struggle – the idea that God is to be the most important, all-consuming person in our lives.  There cannot be anything or anyone more important than Him.  He doesn’t want to just be at the top of our priority list, He wants to own our whole life!  Surrendering ourselves, our ideas, and our “idols” is an ongoing, life-long process.  We continue to stumble over this for much of our lives.  We may surrender one part of ourselves, only to discover a few months later that some new idol has cropped up.

And finally, we stumble over PEOPLE.  People can be so hard to love – because we are sinners, they are sinners, and that can make for a fine mess.  Yet Jesus clearly told us in Matthew 22:37-39 that the Greatest Commandment is to love the Lord and to love people!  We are not only to love people, we are to make disciples of them and help teach them how to follow Jesus – that was the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20.

So where are you at in your journey?  What are you wrestling with?  Salvation?  The Word?  Lordship?  People?

I challenge you to think it over and discuss it with a friend.  Then decide what you’re going to do about it.  Don’t miss the whole point of your life on earth after you come to know Christ… He has called us to love and to labor.  Let’s do it!

devotional 10/28/2014

Enoch Walked

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The sermon series at church this month is titled “Running the Race”. It has paralleled my readings in Britt Merrick’s “Big God” very nicely. I though Merrick’s piece on Enoch was especially good:

Enoch

Voluntary. Steady progress. Finding a good pace so that you don’t sprint ahead of God and then wear yourself out. Not being “dragged by God” – LOL – but surrendered and engaged. Love the imagery!