We’ve Got a Great Story to Tell

I once met a man who told me of his search for meaning in life _ how he had pursued it by using money, alcohol, success, promiscuity _ every vice imaginable until one day he was surfing radio stations and heard a sermon on a Christian radio station and it changed his life because he had discovered Jesus.

That’s a great story but what he said next really got my attention: “What’s incredible is that there were Christians living on both sides of me. We lived there for years and yet they never talked to me about Jesus _ they didn’t even invite me to church for Easter. We talked about baseball, camping, our jobs, the weather _ but they never brought up Jesus.

Then when I became a Christian I told them how Jesus had changed my life and invited them to church. They said that they already had a church and go every week. Here all this time I thought they were going to breakfast on Sunday morning.”

In Matthew 28 Jesus gave the marching orders for the church: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

What that passage boils down to is sharing our faith in Jesus. I know some of you are thinking that you can’t do this. You are too shy _ you don’t know enough about the Bible _ they wouldn’t want to hear it anyway. Well those are excuses that don’t cut it.

Listen, we’ve a story to tell the world. It’s a message that can make a huge difference in people’s lives, including ours. So be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit _ focus on telling others about Jesus _ then let them respond. It’s connecting with another person so that they will be connected to Christ.

 

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Make Us One

Unity is one of the most difficult things to maintain in the life of a church. As individuals we have differing opinions on just about everything. It can be anything from style of music, to decorating tastes, to different translations of the Bible, to how we dress.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that anyone who doesn’t see things exactly as “me, myself, and I” is wrong. Satan uses this to his advantage. He drives little wedges between people to bring disunity!

Jesus on the other hand brings unity. In John 18:21 after praying for the apostles we find Jesus praying this for us, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”  

Just before Jesus ascended into heaven He gave the church her marching orders: Go _ make disciples _ baptize _ teach. If we are going to accomplish that then all of us must use the gifts, talents, and resources that God has given us. Our gifts and talents may be different but when they are used for God’s glory (our purpose for existing) wonderful things will happen.

I challenge you to pray this prayer taken from Romans 15:5-6 for yourself and our church as we follow God’s lead. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give this church a spirit of unity among the believers as we follow Christ Jesus, so that with all of our hearts and mouths we will glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

It’s Time to Change

Football coach Lou Holtz once said that the guy who complains about the way the ball bounces is usually the guy who dropped it. Each of us has dropped the ball at some time or another in life. There have also been times when someone came along and knocked the ball out of our hands. The question is: Will we spend our time complaining about the ball being on the ground and the clown that made us drop it _ or _ will we pick it back up and start running with it?

Here are a few thoughts about taking responsibility for your life. Being responsible begins with your spiritual life. It begins with coming to grips with who you are and what you do _ admitting to yourself and to God, “I am a sinner.”

There are many times when there is a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do. There are times when we say or do things that hurt people. There are times when we only care about “me, myself, and I” giving little or no thought to the wants and needs of anyone else including God.

That is just plain wrong. The good news is that we can receive absolute, total and complete forgiveness. Not because we deserve it, but because God is loving and merciful and forgiving. God wants to forgive our sins _ He wants to help us get past them, to abandon them, to become a better person, to become more like his Son, Jesus. In order for that to happen one change that needs to be made is to take responsibility for who we are and what we do and where we are in life.

Frankly, this goes against our nature _ it’s so much easier to blame someone but if we’re blaming others, more than likely we’ll continue to make excuses for our behavior and continue to avoid taking responsibility for what’s going on in our personal life. As a result, our life never gets better _ our situation never gets better.

Here are a couple good ways to get the ball rolling… Paul shared, “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) James shared, “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22)

At one time or another we have all wanted to turn over a new leaf. As a matter of fact, some of us have probably done it a thousand times. But what we really need is more than just a new leaf. We need a new life. I must say that new life _ a second or third or fourth chance _ comes through faith in Christ. The Bible says…If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17) This new life with Jesus is the first step toward becoming the person God wants us to be and for that matter the person we want to become.

Decisions

There’s a story about a young man named president of a bank. That was a goal he had set for himself when he graduated from college, but he never dreamed he’d be president so quickly. He realized that he needed wise counsel, so he approached the Chairman of the Board and asked, “I was wondering if you could give me some advice about how to be a good president?”

The old man came back with just two words: “Right decisions!” The young man had hoped for a bit more than that, so he asked, “That’s really helpful, and I appreciate it, but can you be a little more specific? How do I know if I’m making right decisions?”

The old man simply responded, “Experience.” The young man said, “Well, that’s the point of my being here. I don’t have any experience at being a president of a bank and you do. How do I get it?” The older man replied, “Wrong decisions!” By that time the young man was somewhat frustrated: “And how do I avoid wrong decisions?” The old man said with a smile, “Right decisions.”

I can assure you that you are going to make plenty of both right and wrong decisions. It’s gratifying when you make “right decisions.” It’s frustrating when you make “wrong decisions.” The question is: What are you learning from those decisions?

Let me offer some advice. When you make “right decisions” don’t let them go to your head because a wrong decision is looming just around the corner. And when you’ve blown it _ when you have made yet another “wrong decision” _ don’t let it paralyze you. My point is simple: Learn from your mistakes then press on, but don’t make the same mistakes over and over again.

Who Are You Following?

‎John Maxwell who has written several books on leadership has written, “People tend to become what the most important people in their lives think they will become.” The Apostle Paul used a phrase several times in the New Testament “Imitate me.” He’s saying: Do what I do, say what I say, follow my example. That’s a bold thing for a person to say but Paul said it because he had decided to follow Jesus.

Truth is that any leader might as well say it because it happens. Sometimes you’ll hear people say, “You’re just following a man,” or “You’re just following a preacher,” and, of course, we need to be careful about that — we’re to be followers of Jesus Christ because he is Lord of lords and King of kings. But the simple truth is that in every area of life, especially the area of being a Christ-follower _ you’ll find yourself yielding to the influence of certain leaders and authority figures.

So be very careful when you choose those who influence you. If you choose crabby people there’s a good chance you will become an old crab. If you choose people that constantly find fault there’s a good chance you will become a grumbler. If you choose people that willingly serve there’s a good chance you will become a faithful servant of Christ. If you choose a loving, kind, caring, godly person there’s a good chance you will become a rock-solid Christian.

So I ask _who have you been listening to? Who have you followed? Who are you imitating? What do those you are listening to want you to become? First and foremost I hope you’re being influenced by Jesus _ by the Word of God _ by godly men and women _ those who are walking closely with Jesus _ those whose lives reflect his presence _ those whose example is worth imitating as they imitate Christ.

And here is one more question for you… Are you living a Christ-honoring life that is worth being followed?

The Road That Leads to Success

It’s been said that successful people are successful because they’re willing to do the things that the average person isn’t willing to do. If someone were to ask you what your reason for living is, what would your answer be? Sometimes people have trouble answering that question truthfully. Oh, they’ll say what they think the answer should be. But what does their lifestyle reveal to be their true reason for living.

Here are three questions: I want you to take a moment to think about. You don’t have to tell anyone else, you only need to answer for yourself.

  1. When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing you think about?
  2. 2. During the day, what do you spend most of your time thinking about?
  3. 3. As you fall asleep at night, what tends to dominate your thoughts?

If the answer to all three questions is the same, THAT is your reason for living. If not then you need to decide which is more important to you than the others. Whatever it is that dominates your mind may determine how successful you become.

For instance, a great Christian life doesn’t occur by merely attending church on Sunday and making a half-hearted attempt to live by the 10 Commandments. A great Christian life occurs when a person becomes radically committed to following Jesus Christ and doing his will.

Now if we are going to achieve greatness in any area, not only are there things we need to do there are also certain things we will need to abandon. When two people get married, they abandon their past, with a vow that says, “Forsaking all others, I pledge myself only to you.” When a couple has their first child, they abandon some things as well. Such as, silence _ sleeping through the night _ watching a TV show all the way through. These things all involve sacrifice, and yet, they’re all worth the rewards they bring.

It works the same way in the Christian life. If you’re serious about being a Christian _ if you want to live a life that has a positive impact on the world around you _ then there are some things you’ll have to not only do but also abandon. Here are 3 of the things we need to abandon…

Empty promises: Jesus doesn’t buy them anyway so get serious about committing your life to him.

Lame excuses: Jesus won’t accept them anyway so take action today.

Limited Faith: It only stands in the way of experiencing Jesus’ power _ the kind of power that raised Jesus from the dead. So, stretch yourself to a no-limits faith in God’s ability to work in your life. And start now.

It Takes a Team Effort to Win

Steve May, a missionary in Brazil, shared this article and I felt it was worth sharing.

“On May 26, 1959, Pittsburgh Pirate pitcher Harvey Haddix accomplished something no one else in baseball has accomplished: He pitched 12 perfect innings in a game against the Milwaukee Braves. It was enough to set a record, but it wasn’t enough to get a win.The score was tied at zero in the bottom of the 13th when the Braves’ lead-off hitter reached first on an error. Two batters later, Joe Adcock knocked in the winning run. The Braves took the game, 1-0. And Haddix took the loss. The Pirates had men on base all afternoon — more than a dozen altogether — but they couldn’t manage to get anyone across home plate. And so, with no help from the offense, Haddix’s brilliant record-setting performance wound up on the LOSS side of the ledger.

“Today many leaders are convinced if they themselves can maintain a certain level of brilliance, it will be enough to guarantee the success they’re looking for. While brilliance will certainly never work against you, neither can it take the place of teamwork. You’re not enough by yourself. Whatever it is you’re hoping to accomplish, you can’t do it alone. You need a team.

“Solomon wrote… Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up… Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:10, 12)

“I encourage you today to remind those on your team that you’re committed to doing your part, that you’ve got their back, and you’re thankful that they’ve got yours.”

Well said Steve. Hmm, I wonder if that’s why Jesus prayed for unity. Now remember no matter how good the team is the owner of the team has the last say. So, church make sure you pray and check the instruction manual called the Bible and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. That is a winning combination _ a perfect team that has Jesus as its Captain _ a team that the gates of hell will not overcome (see Matthew 16 13-18).