Category: What God is Teaching Me …

Beginning With God

I thought my prof was going to have a seizure!  One of my classmates in grad-school put up his hand in the middle of a theology class focusing on the person and attributes of God.  “I don’t get it.” He said,  “we’re looking at all these various truths about God.  What difference does all this stuff about God make in my daily life?”

I might not be as brave as to ask the same question in the same way, but in reality we ask the same question every day; we effectively publish answers to that question with the way we live out each day.

Even when we try to be intentional, the process is naturally corrupted because our starting point is wrong. We start with what makes sense “to me,” because obviously “I’m the most important person in the universe!”

God has given us the Psalms in part to help us ask and answer the question, “What difference does knowing about God make in my daily life?”   The answer starts with who HE is, not with me.

The process of discovery continues with one very simple question, “What do I see?”  Not, “what do I think?” or “what have others said?”  BUT, “what do I see in the words that God inspired in the Psalms for the original readers and for us?”

On Sunday we looked at Psalm 96.   Look back again and reflect a bit. How does God’s glory – the sum total of all his attributes on display – effect the mundane of my life?  How beginning with God changes everything in my life?  How does God’s glory effect how I look at people who are not like me?  People who may live a looooong way from me.  Then — how does celebrating our glorious God impact the way I think?  How does it impact the decisions I make?  How does it impact our emotions?

Honestly asking God my classmate’s question might not feel like a good thing.  But as we have seen, asking this question of Psalm 96 result in some answers that are life changing!

  • Dave Muchmore
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Holy Emotions

Holy Week is such an emotionally mixed bag. Even saying that we “celebrate” Good Friday feels odd. My kids rarely wanted to attend the services when they were young. It’s a week of readings and music fraught with tragedy and triumph. Good Bible teaching leads us to all that we know to be true of the Cross and its benefits and the Spirit directs us to the awe of God! He is risen indeed!

Slow down for a moment and consider a friend’s revealing question: What do I do if Sunday comes and I don’t feel “happy”?

There are several possible answers, but what is true about my friend’s life is they struggle with a common, little discussed, season of depression. Whether temporary or long term nobody knows, but it’s here in March of 2016.

Consider Holy Week through the experience of a person wrestling with depression:

I will attend the services with my family and some of them will understand my dilemma.

I will feel alone though I am surrounded by people.

I will listen to teaching and work hard to remain present.

I will feel little emotion on Friday or Sunday and will “fake it” at times to fit in.

I will fight through guilt to believe “It is finished” applies to me.

I’m learning these days to appreciate the faithfulness and the fight of this!

To be faithful amid such cloudy emotions is courageous and inspiring. Octavious Winslow in The Sympathy of Christ said, “Tears are not always marks of weakness, they are oftener evidences of Power. Springing from the depths of the soul, they are sometimes the exponents of great thoughts, of mighty purposes, of manly feelings, and have a language and meaning more eloquent and effective than ten thousand tongues. Such were the tears of Jesus.”

And the fight to believe truth is just as encouraging. Augustine said it well, “True happiness is to rejoice in the truth…” To my dear friend, I thank you for staying in the fight to worship God no matter what. Your life reminds me that my feelings about Holy Week are not unimportant, they just aren’t nearly as important as the fact that Holy Week happened. He is risen indeed.

  • Jeff Pierce

 

Real Joy in Service

Whenever I think of people in the church doing great things for God, I often think of those who preach, teach, lead worship or conduct prayer meetings. Recently, I accepted the position of Executive Elder and frankly, through this season of life I am discovering there are critical roles in the Church that I have overlooked.

As Executive Elder, I spend time in the church office supporting the needs of the elders and the pastoral staff. In addition, I have had the pleasure to share with some who visit the office, assist with needs from the congregation, visit church family in the hospitals and nursing homes. All of which is opening my eyes and heart to a calling of Christian life that I was previously unaware or ignored.

Not too long ago, I was asked to call someone; talk with them, share in their need and pray before the call was concluded. I was dumb struck that those fifteen minutes meant so much to the person on the other end of the line. By my simple phone call I helped someone in our covenant community carry their burden. The call enabled a believer to know that LCC cared about and for them. Unexpectedly, the person other end of the line, ministered to my heart, praising God’s for His goodness and expressing their gratitude for the caring people of LCC

Caring for the body of Christ is not given to only a few people in the Church. Each of us has spiritual gifts for ministry to the body. Even though I don’t think of myself as possessing the gift of hospitality, I am surprised by the numerous opportunities the Lord has given me to serve Him in small hospitable ways that aid others in their need; with each engagement I am unexpectedly, blessed along the way.

This is a game changer for me. Believers, who minister quietly, behind the scenes, are equally important to those who are seen in front of the people. Service to Our Lord is not drudgery but a delight. No doubt, at times service may include difficult work. Yet, God will provide the strength to step into the gap for our needy brethren, as both parties discover what our Lord is teaching through pain and suffering.

  • Selby Brannon

You Only Live Once

I was driving on the highway the other day when a late model BMW blew by me in the fast lane. I’d like to tell you what model it was, but I’d not seen one of these before and it got by me so fast that I couldn’t read the model number on the back of the car. It wasn’t, however, going so fast that I couldn’t see the license plate.

“U LIVE 1S.”

You live once. Of course. The mantra of the American consumer dream. You only live once, so do whatever you want, all the time. Grab whatever pleasures come within reach. Maximize your experiences. Whoever dies with the most toys, wins, right?

Except that it’s a lie.

As believers, we all know that. Unfortunately, for me, it’s a lie I’ve lived most of my adult life and continue to live in some measure despite my faith. Now, because I’m a conservative, non-demonstrative, non-flamboyant guy, I disguise my selfish choices better than most people. I mean, I don’t drive a hot car with vanity plates proclaiming my self-glory, I’d never do anything that obvious.

But my commitment to self, to comfort, to security shows itself in any number of revealing ways: Why do I live how I live? Why do I live where I live? Why do I save what I save? Why do I spend what I spend (or not spend what I don’t spend, for that matter)? If I truly believe that I am eternally redeemed by the blood of our savior Jesus Christ, why do I behave the way I do and make the choices I make? What am I saving for? Have I raised security, stability, predictability to idol-like levels?

James 4:3-4 says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Is Christ my passion or is the world? What am I storing up for? I’m thankful that Christ never turns away, never stop poking and prodding despite my worldly choices.

  • Paul Burkholder

What God is Teaching Me

Having been involved in the Saturday Morning Men’s Bible Study for the past 25 years, it’s always one of the highlights of my week. Through the years there have been men come and go, but also a couple of men who have been there longer than I have. It’s truly a special relationship with men you have studied God’s word with (early on Saturday morning) for such a long time.

This year our group decided to study the book of Romans – a logical move in my mind after studying the book of Acts last year. We typically share an assigned commentary amongst the group and/or are free to use other materials for the study. I always learn the most when it is my turn to lead the study. I typically read the Word multiple times, the assigned commentary, read other commentaries, prayerfully ask for insight, and try to digest the material as best I can to be able to share with the group.  I recently lead the men’s group, the study pertained to Romans 1:8-17. Romans 1:14 Paul writes, “I am obligated both to the Greeks and the non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.” At the time of Paul’s letter to the Romans, the Greeks were considered wise, anyone not a Greek (non-Greek) was considered foolish (by Greek standards). Remember, Paul is writing to the Romans (non-Greeks), but insists that he is morally obligated to share the gospel with both Greeks and non-Greeks. Due to Paul’s relationship with Christ, His gospel is deeper and more essential than all national, racial, and personal distinctions.

That said, I ask myself how am I doing in that area? I find myself most comfortable with people who share my likes and interests. I don’t really make an effort to reach out to others who have different interests as I feel I have nothing in common with them. Paul challenges my ‘thinking’ in the fact that he states his moral obligation is to both the wise and the foolish.  “Lord, help me come out of my comfort zone, help me to see others as you see them. No matter what their interests are, no matter what nationality, race or other personal distinctions, help me to see people who need the Lord.”

  • Lynn Stephens