Tag Archives: Jesus

Counting the Cost

Having just finished a lesson study on Discipleship, I find it interesting that friends of mine are expressing frustration with the burdens they carry – especially at church. Maybe you got asked to serve as a deacon one too many times. Perhaps you got stuck with the (fill in the blank) program that no one else wants.

Take some time to count the cost during this struggle. Deep down we all know that anything worth having is worth sacrificing for. Look at Jesus. For Him the salvation of the human race was worth having, so He sacrificed Himself for it.

Don’t get angry at yourself for struggling. Consider it a time to count the cost. Everybody has the freedom to choose. God doesn’t force. Perhaps serving in some capacity at your local church isn’t a part of God’s plan for your life right now. But count the cost of choosing to follow Jesus – wholeheartedly. Take your time. This is a matter of great consequence. Jesus likened it to taking up a cross. You just have to ask yourself – is it worth it?

Life forever with no more sin, sorrow and pain. The ability to enjoy this Earth that way it was originally created to be enjoyed – forever! Is that worth a few struggles and hiccups over the course of a few years now? Forever. A few years now. Go ahead, count the cost.

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A Tale of Two Funerals

In the past two months, I have attended two funerals at the same church, with the same nice funeral home folks from down the street and the same congregation and community. But the funerals were vastly different.

Same church, same desire to love God and serve Him with their whole life, but the two men who passed away had one major difference. One led with truth and the other led with grace. The Bible has a lot to say about truth and grace. The truth will set you free. Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. In John’s gospel account, he says we were able to catch a glimpse of the glory of God in Jesus – full of grace and truth.

After spending time devouring God’s Word, it seems that we need both truth and grace in our lives. From reading at the beginning of all things, in the book of Revelation, to the beginning of our little part of it on Planet Earth, in the book of Genesis; the truth is that we screwed up. We disobeyed God and brought much suffering upon ourselves and a curse upon humanity. But Jesus led with grace. He already had a plan in place to save us.

Two funerals. Two different men. The man who led with truth, had a few people say some nice things about what he had done to serve others. Those attending the funeral were scattered around the largely empty church. The man who led with grace? His funeral was packed with standing room only, even in the balcony. So many people shared stories amongst themselves about the impact this man had made in their life. Relationships were healed that day as folks saw a living demonstration of grace and healing.

Two men, two funerals, two outcomes. Lesson learned: we make a better impact for God when we lead with grace.

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Filed under Community, Spirituality

Time Out Gets a Bad Rap

I am here to speak up for that often misunderstood gift of Time Out. Someone in the marketing department should have gotten fired for promoting this solely for disciplinary purposes in school. It’s about time we saw the other side of Time Out. Please bear in mind, this is coming from a woman juggling too many things and about to drop them all. Time Out is the only place you can set them all down and not get in trouble for it.

How Time Out should really be marketed: Are you running at capacity? Are your shoulders no longer broad enough for the burdens you are carrying? Did one more thing just get dumped in your lap? You, yes even you, can leave it all behind during Time Out. This special place leaves all the external stimuli behind so you can just be alone and get your thoughts together once again. Some of the world’s greatest leaders highly recommend Time Out. Read this excerpt from that Nazarene Radical – Jesus, “Come apart and rest awhile.” Call now and we’ll even throw in a special Time Out box, with great pictures inside of remote places of serene beauty to help you get the most out of your Time Out experience.

With truth in advertising – this is the way Time Out should be promoted and right now, this busy pastor’s wife, mother of three and very poor juggler is in line to be one of the first to get my very own Time Out!

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For the Weak

Have you heard this before? “Religion is for the weak.” Or how about this one? “God is for wimps.”

My personal opinion is that people who speak such things do so out of ignorance. Evidently they haven’t taken the time to read the Bible and see whether the God described there is wimpy or weak. A few passages in Revelation talks about Jesus coming back a conquering King with His robe dipped in blood. Sounds like a mighty warrior, not a wimp.

In the Old Testament there are numerous references to God’s mighty right arm. In the book of First Kings, Elijah encounters God in a still small voice. Of course, this was after the mighty wind (think tornado), earthquake and fire that passed by first. One of my favorite verses is in the book of Micah. Chapter 7 verse 8 says, “Do  not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, The Lord will be a light to me.” In other words, you haven’t seen the last of me because God never gives up and neither do I. You have been warned.

My new favorite among this caliber of verses is Amos 3:8. “A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” I remember being at the Oklahoma City Zoo as a kid and everyone there freezing for an instant. We knew it was safely enclosed, but when that lion roared, you could hear it through the entire zoo and it made the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

Is God loving and merciful? Of course! There are countless stories in the Bible of His great love for us and that is an understatement. Does God show mercy? Of course He does or you and I wouldn’t be here today breathing and taking up oxygen. As Christians, we are called to share the love of God with others. If you’re not sure about whether or not God is strong enough for you, read more about Him. You just might be surprised.

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Of Spirit and Letter

My personal opinion: unless all of your children have the exact same gender and personality – there is no way you can treat your children the same. You may try, but the children will suffer because you aren’t meeting their specific needs. Is it easy? How many ways can I say NO!

Greta would gladly give everything in her lunch just to have the admiration of her friends. If she eats her lunch, she only eats enough until her desire to play at recess takes over.  She would rather not ride her bike in a bike-a-thon and walk beside a friend with a broken chain than go on without the friend. Greta’s world revolves around friends. The boys don’t have that personality. Greta’s lunch has been an issue that we even had to bring up to the teacher. Please don’t let her give away everything in her lunch. She comes home starved. We had to assure Greta that true friends would still be true friends even if she didn’t give them cool things from her lunch. If they are hungry, by all means share and let the teacher know that there is a child with no lunch.

We came up with a simple guideline to help Greta. Pack at least 5 things in your lunch and try to eat your entire lunch. Leave nothing behind. Don’t give it away. Don’t trade wholesome stuff for junk food. Today, Greta saw Matthew with only 4 things in his lunch. She cried unfair. How come he only has 4 things in his lunch. Isn’t he supposed to have 5 things? That guideline was never given to Matthew, because it wasn’t necessary for him.

Greta got tangled up in the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law. She focused on checking off her list, do I have 5 things in my lunch, instead of the fact that her parents love her very much and want to make sure that she has a nutritious lunch that will help her finish out the day at school.

This is nothing new. Jesus ran into the same problem. He dealt with a bunch of folks more concerned with checking items off of the list than getting to the heart of the matter. They couldn’t see that God created us to have abundant lives and that’s exactly what He wants for us. He gives guidelines to help us get to that understanding.

Greta is off to school and I will pray that God gives us guidance on how to communicate to this ADEM child that the real issue is we love her and want her to have a nutritious lunch that will benefit her.

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Filed under Parenting, Spirituality

Victory

Romans 8:37 is my memory verse this week. Yes, because of Jesus, I am more than a conqueror!

So the battle with forgiving those who failed to properly diagnose me years ago, I can win, because Jesus made me more than a conqueror! Forgiving myself for past mistakes that have had lasting consequences (I know I’m not the only one) is possible, because Jesus made me more than a conqueror!

There are some who put up walls of defenses to keep people out. I don’t want to go that route. I’m going to go forward – and conquer!

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Drift Vs. Discipline

Just to set the record straight – discipline is training, not punishment. A well disciplined soldier is a well trained soldier. A well disciplined child is a well trained child. So when I think about Drift vs. Discipline, I’m thinking about when we get out of training and just kind of drift along. It is failing to follow through on what we know will help us achieve our goals and just sort of hope it happens naturally. Are we messed up in our thinking or what?

There are four spiritual disciplines that share a unique relationship: fellowship, study, prayer and solitude. Fellowship and solitude each enhance study and prayer, but they are opposite of each other. These are also four of the first targets of drift. We tend to drift out of fellowship with like believers, drift out of that quiet time each day with God. We know we should study and pray, but we choose to drift along because the schedule is tight today. Eventually, due to the lack of discipline or training, we become out of shape. We become spiritually out of shape.

There is a saying that faith walks out when fatigue walks in. Drift can happen quickly during times of ill health, stressful situations, financial crisis and so forth. Things that wear you down and wear you out – fatigue – can wear down your faith; unless of course you are well disciplined. Even if the crisis causes you to miss a few days of Bible study and prayer, your training will eventually draw you back to what has given you strength.

So what’s the answer for drift? Discipline! Be well trained during the times when things are going well. Get your mind and body used to times of fellowship. study, prayer and solitude when there is no temptation to follow the lure of the drift. When things go wrong – and they will – you will return to what you know and the strength you receive from that training.

It is football season and I love watching those long passes. The quarterback sees his best shot and throws. The receiver is still running, not even looking at the QB and just at the right time, he turns around to make eye contact and catch the ball. Think that happens by accident? It’s called training. It’s called discipline. That play has been rehearsed so many times that it comes naturally to the receiver to turn around and catch the ball at the right time. The ball doesn’t accidentally drift into his hands. He’s been trained to catch it.

The spiritual disciplines are there for your training and development, because a continuing relationship with the God of the universe doesn’t happen by accident. Don’t get me wrong. Let me say it loud and proud right here – Jesus did it all and there is nothing we can do. It is all Jesus, reaching out to us and starting that relationship with us. It is all Him. But once that relationship is started, He wants you to grow and develop and follow Him. That happens with discipline, with training as you choose to stay in that relationship that Jesus has initiated.

Ready for training?

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