Burdened with Blessing

The most important thing I do every morning is check my attitude. I need to look at the glass that is my life and realize how near to full it really is. It’s important for me to know that if this is the last day of my life I will awaken in heaven with my Lord. I need to remember I am surrounded by beautiful women from my bride through my daughter, grand daughter and three year old Kaydence. I need to remember I have a wonderful work situation that allows me time to do things like this blog. I need to recall I am in the richest nation on earth. I need to know I will have all the food I need today and money for every real need in my life. I recall that I am suffering from no malady that will hamper my mission or end my days on earth on this day.

I need to begin the day realizing that I have more blessings than my arms can hold so that I live with an attitude that if I don’t give some of it away, the blessings will be wasted. Our choice is to consider life half full or half empty and all flows from that: whether we smile or frown, whether we look to give or to get, whether we thank or whine, whether we bless or suck the feeling of blessing from around us.

It’s sad when we stand on our porch and moan that our’s is not the largest house on the block, forgetting we have a house at all. It is pathetic when we are gloom over the attitude of our children, when there are those whose children are no more or never were. It is ludicrous when we bemoan the state of our nation when we can still tell others about our Lord freely.

Our attitude should compel us to action and motivate us to good works.

So what’s your problem this morning.

Be blessed.

Nick

 

Saved For Good Works

It’s so easy to forget that we are saved for a purpose, that salvation is not an end in itself. It makes us think thoughts like, “Why doesn’t Jesus just take us home the moment we are saved? Wouldn’t that make sense?”

The problem is that it wouldn’t make sense. We are saved for good works. It’s a source of much confusion, causing some of us to believe that we are saved BY good works. It can become a pride thing whereby we judge ourselves and others by the quality of our good works. It can cause us to question the whole concept of salvation, concluding that if there aren’t sufficient “good works” can there really ever have been salvation.

Probably the biggest problem is that many of us have lost the concept of joy in accomplishment. Real pleasure isn’t found in recreation; it comes in accomplishing something worthwhile. It’s built into our nature. Real joy comes from doing what we were created to do, in finding and working out our purpose.

If life has become joyless, we need to seek out and perform good works. If we have become tired and frustrated we need to reconsider whether what we are doing are really the good works we are called to or just “duties” we have fallen into.

A good work is a deed performed by the person called to it in the power of the one who has made the call. Just doing things that need to be done are not “good works.” Doing things on our own strength are not “good works” either. The key is practice at listening to and responding to the call. It usually starts with small things. We feel an urge to do something. It is usually something beyond our normal activity and outside our comfort zone, something we will need divine help to accomplish. When we step forward and do that thing, we are blessed by the knowledge that something special has occurred: a divine act performed by a human agent.

Be alert and be ready. Good works are in your future.

Be blessed.

Nick

 

Led by the Spirit

Yesterday I blasted teachers and preachers. I aimed at a real problem but after some thought not the biggest problem. Let me share my frustration and re-aim my concern.

I believe that the church is the last best hope for us all. I also believe that it is generally ineffective in its mission. This is certainly not a failure of the Spirit, and probably less a failure of leadership than it is a lack of response in the flock.

Let me use last Sunday at my church as an example. We have a teaching hour at 9 a.m. Sunday we had an important message on “Fishers of Men.” But like teaching hours at most churches, it was not well attended. However, the message was so important that the Spirit gave the same message to the Pastor to pass on at the principal service. Even many of the same scriptures were involved.

As it turned out however, much of the church was not in a position to receive that message. Much of the 10 o’clock time was taken up in prayer for health and other needs. This was a Spirit Led time of prayer and very necessary. Our congregation, like most, is besieged by health and physical problems. Until those are dealt with, the church can not be the army called upon to carry out the great commission.

Yet the Pastor delivered the core of his message: be led by the Spirit. God is desperately calling His people to action; but Satan has us so tied up in the woes and cares of the world that we can not seem to hear and certainly can’t seem to respond to the message.

I’ve had people complain that they are tired of being preached at to “do something.” Maybe if they did something that preaching could stop. Church, don’t we know that the whole point of being Followers of Christ is doing something?

The Church has so much to accomplish that it is challenged to do it all on Sunday morning. We need to have announcements. We need to send off precious families who are called away. We need to praise and worship our God. We need to pray for those who are challenged by health and other concerns. We need to hear from God.

So much to do and so little time. We need to be led by the Spirit. Not just on Sunday, but every day. God is being very clear in His message to us. It comes at us during the teaching hour, during the worship time, and any time during the week that we take time to listen. It’s time to listen and be led. Our teachers could certainly be more effective in the spreading of the word, but the real problem is that the Word is not being heard.

What is God leading you to do? The message is plenty clear enough. Do it and be blessed.

Nick

 

Precious Words

I love reading the words in red in scripture, the words of Jesus. They are a study in themselves. Jesus’ ability to convey profound thoughts in a handful of words is a wonderful gift.

We have a limited window to communicate with others. If we pour out too many words without sufficient meaning, our listener will cut us off. We have all experienced the termination of listening long before the speaker has run out of words.

Jesus was well aware of this phenomenon and spoke with a great respect for His listener with every word counting. Review the gospels and read any of Jesus teachings or exchanges. They are short and sweet and nothing is left to be said at the end.

It is a gift that has been lost in the modern church. Much of what is said on Sunday mornings is repetitious babble. I don’t know why preachers think they can add to the words of Jesus. I don’t know why they think saying something 10 times is more profound than saying it once.

There seems to be a compulsion to fill an imaginary time period each Sunday morning like we were dealing with a news talk show with a time slot that must be filled. If the service normally ends at noon, we better keep talking until then, even if we ran out of anything significant to say about 11 a.m.

There is clearly a place for expository preaching. We are often aided by application of the Word to modern situations. We can benefit from learning the context in which biblical events occurred. Sometimes we lack sufficient biblical knowledge to tie the subject scripture to the overall message of the gospel. But more often than not appears the goal of the preacher is to muddle the scripture or to stretch it to cover situations to which it was never intended to apply. After a sermon, we should have a greater understanding and appreciation of the Word of God than when we started. We should not be more confused.

The Word of God is the Word of God. We need to comment on it, expland upon it or apply it only after great time spent in prayer and with careful timid steps. God has much to say to us in His word. It’s our obligation to ensure the meaning is not lost in a sloppy delivery.

Pray that the Holy Spirit will sweep through the Church bringing an enhanced appreciation for the Word of God and a refreshed ability to make it’s applicability clear to God’s people.

Nick

 

March Madness

I am enjoying the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament this year. Two of my favorite teams are still alive: The Florida Gators and Kentucky Wildcats are both in the final eight. It’s amazing to me how the same programs have success each year. I understand that success breeds success; but it must be admitted that certain men have the uncanny ability to get self-centered, egotistical, eighteen year-old superstars, to decide they can be better and that success lays in being part of a team.

It’s really what Jesus does for us in the process of Discipleship. Jesus meets us where we are, challenges us to be better than we are, makes us want to be better than we are, enables us to be better than we are, and joins us together as part of His spiritual body to spread His gospel here on earth. As part of the team, our real worth emerges.

It’s amazing to watch these guys take skinny freshmen and build them into basketball scoring machines. These guys are drilled in teamwork. Each having a role in producing the eventual winning machine.

It’s what Jesus calls us into. He wants us to give up our individual goals and meld into His body for the greater good of His church on earth. It’s a role that can’t be played sitting at home, or sitting in the pew. It requires getting up and moving. It means we need to go where the lost live. It means being willing to touch, spend time and deposit truth into dark and lost places.

It’s tip off time and this “Madness” isn’t limited to March.

Suit up and get in the game.

Nick

 

Truth

Touch, TIme and Truth are the elements of Discipleship. Truth is the goal; the centerpiece of discipleship. It is the area in which we most often fail.

First. We often try to deposit Truth without having it ourselves. It is impossible to deposit Truth into the life of another unless it is securely part of our own life. We need to make sure we possess truth before we try to give it to someone else.

Truth isn’t a set of true facts. We often make the mistake of believing that truth is a set of beliefs. Not so. Jesus explained, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” The truth we are called to deposit is not a set of ideas; it is the person of Jesus Christ. It is a living truth that can respond to and address all the question and needs of life. We can’t transform another’s life, by substituting their beliefs for ours.

We often believe we can deposit truth instantaneously, without investing touch or time. While it is true that Jesus gave the Good Thief on the cross all he needed in a matter of moments, we are not Jesus and the person we are trying to disciple is not hanging, dying on a cross, next to the savior of the world. We should stick to the tried and true methods.

In order to deposit truth, we have to overcome some strong “modern” ideas. The first is the idea that there is no absolute truth. Most believe that truth is relative. What’s true for me, isn’t true for you. That’s a lie. After investing time and touch, we need to create a curiosity in others to learn what we have that they don’t. We need to create a recognition of a need for the Truth that has changed our lives. Another idea is that the “truth” of the gospel is “outdated” and “not for these times.” Others assert that Christianity is cultural; okay for the west but not for eastern minds, for example. Jesus is the truth for all times and for all people.

The process of discipleship has been summarized as: Make a Friend. Be a Friend. Bring a Friend to Jesus. That may not completely explain the process, but it gives us enough of an outline to keep us on the right track.

There are dozens of people in our lives that desperately need Jesus. There’s discipleship work to be done.

Let’s get to it.

Nick

 

TIme

The elements of Discipleship are Touch, TIme and Truth. Although may treat touch as a limited commodity that we dole out miserly, time really is limited. We are each given but 24 hours in a day and those are eaten up pretty quickly. Sleeping, eating, taking care of personal needs, work, care for children all eat into those 24 hours. The time we have for ministering, discipleship is limited.

But it’s not as limited as we think. Try recording your use of time for a day, or even better, a week. You will be surprised how much time we waste. And if we are recording our time, we are less likely to be wasteful as we are on a non-monitored day.

Our allocation of time is a function of our value system. We do what we consider important. We need to sleep and eat so we spend time on these activities. We owe so off to work we go. If we cherish family, we find time to spend with them. But much of our time we flit away staring at a tv screen or computer screen watching meaningless programs or playing mind-numbing video games. It is frightful to consider that we will be called to account for each wasted moment.

Most of us recognize the value of time and are very appreciative when some splurges some time on us. One of the most common comments at a Kairos is an expression of gratitude at the willingness of the volunteers to give up a long weekend for those who consider themselves forgotten. If they only knew how much time is also spent in preparation and training.

So when we invest time in another, we gain credibility credits. If we have spent time with someone, they are all the more willing to listen to any truth we might dare to share. They are more open to any touch we may offer.

Where are you investing your time? I am always embarrassed when I consider how much time I waste. I have much more time to spare than I am willing to admit. I bet you do as well.

Invest some time and be blessed.

Nick

 

Power of Touch

Yesterday we discussed the elements of discipleship. Today I would like to expand on one of these: touch. I remember years ago a study of newborns which demonstrated the power of touch for these young ones. One set of newborns were touched and held regularly and the other group was not. There was a demonstrated difference in the health of the two groups.

The power of touch continues well past the new born stage. One of the most dramatic parts of a Kairos weekend is watching how the residents go from being sullen and withdrawn to smiling at the hugs and touches from those who offer unconditional love.

I believe we can judge the status of relationship by the fervor of touch. I greatly look forward for the first day my great grandchild is back with us. I know I will be kissed and hugged enthusiastically. We seem to lose that free spirit of touch as we get older. We need to be careful that we not lose that enthusiasm of touch. Are we willing to reach out and touch those we say we love? We live in a world that greatly needs a “touch” from above; but we live in houses with others who also need to know they are loved. That knowledge is best passed by simple touch.

Reach out and touch and pass the blessing.

Nick