Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tripping over Traditions

In Colossians 2 Paul warns Christians to be careful to guard against being carried away by human traditions. Those early Christians were being influenced heavily by those that wanted to enforce traditions and customs from the Law and the rule of the Jewish Priests. Even if it isn't from Jewish priests, today we face the same challenges. If we aren't vigilant we can make our own human traditions, personal preferences or personal opinions to be doctrine rather than just our druthers.

What are some traditions or preferences you have that can sometimes challenge even your dependence in Christ? Have you ever considered the influence of your preferences to this degree? Paul wants you to. And that means God wants you to since He inspired Paul to write this challenge to the Colossians (and to all Christians).

Which traditions, preferences or opinions tend to cause you to take your eye off of Christ?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What Do You Need?

I have a friend that has a running joke with his wife and it goes like this: Whenever one of them asks for something or says, "I want...", the other responds with, "and that's all I need..." The joke is funny because it is so true. We try to convince ourselves that the next object of our eye or heart will bring the satisfaction we've been searching for all of our lives. In the second chapter of Colossians, Paul is encouraging Christians to realize all they need is Christ even though shallow philosophers are trying to convince them otherwise.

Christ is sufficient because He supplies what we need and works to keep from us what we don't need. When we turn to Him we will find a great source of satisfaction as we learn to rest in Him and His provision. To the unbeliever that sounds strange, to the believer it sounds right, but difficult. Indeed, it is a challenge to walk away from a philosophy of self-provision, but there is great joy to be found resting in the Savior's care.

Can you identify your "one more thing"? What falls in the category of "and that's all I need..." in your life? How has this thinking deceived you in the past? How could it deceive you in the future?

How could you turn to Christ for greater wisdom and satisfaction today?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

God's Glory Matters Most

I grew up attending Baptist churches in Georgia and Kentucky. God graciously brought me to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ at the young age of five. I have had the privilege of serving in Baptist churches in Alabama and Kentucky over the past 18 years. Thankfully, I have grown up in and around the church.

Yet, a few years ago I found there was something I was missing. While attending Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama I had the opportunity to hear John Piper preach. The two messages he preached were unlike anything I had ever heard and they greatly changed the course of my life.

To begin to understand that the Gospel was not all about me and my need, but to see that the chief aim of the Gospel, and, therefore, my life, was to glorify God changed the way I viewed my relationship with God, the way I studied the Bible, the way I saw the church and the way I handled relationships. Yes, God does love me (and all of humanity) very much, but there is something He treasures even more and that is His glory.

Although the message on this video was delivered in December 2009, it is a great summation of the messages I first heard in Birmingham in 1998. I pray it will be as great of a help to you as it has been to me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Is Meditation for You?

Recently on ABC's World News Tonight there was a clip on mediation and its benefits. I've embedded the clip here.

This clip immediately made me think of Dr. Donald S. Whitney who has done a tremendous amount of work on meditation and the Christian life. As you see the benefits of the clip from ABC, think about how much more beneficial mediation would be if you align it with God's Word.

You can read more about meditation from Dr. Whitney's website,

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What is The Gospel?

What is the Gospel? Here's a short video where John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, offers an explanation.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I'm Afraid of Being Nice

I'm afraid of being nice. It's not that I don't want to be kind or helpful to you. The fear is rooted in being misunderstood. There is no doubt that I should be nice because you are neighbor, friend or family member. But I should be nice for a greater reason. I should be nice because you are a fellow citizen, driver, shopper or thinker. But I should be nice for a greater reason.

Where I live people are generally nice. They help one another. They try to put the pieces back together when disaster or tragedy comes. They do caring things. They're nice. It's nice. That's nice.

My fear is that being nice brings some glory to God, but not enough.

I fear it brings some glory to God because it shows we are created in the image of a God that is kind, caring and loving. And our acts of kindness are a reflection of these wonderful traits. That is a good thing.

However, these acts of niceness don't show the full depths of God's love, kindness and care.

When I am nice I am often acting out of sympathy. I feel pity for the situation you're in and will offer some help to bail you out.

Sometimes I am acting out of empathy. I hope you'll do the same for me if I wind up in the same situation.

Sometimes I am acting out of selfishness. I hope you'll realize the mean thing you did to me by seeing the nice thing I did for you.

Sometimes I am acting out of pride. I hope the other people around us will see how nice I am because of what I just did for you.

True kindness is much more than this. And to understand it requires explanation.

The Apostle John said in 1 John 4:7-21, "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."

Do you see the components of this love? God loves someone that does not love Him. God demonstrates this love with the action of sending Jesus Christ to die to offer us forgiveness. Because the person receiving the display of love does not love God, at least not at first, there is no guarantee that love will be returned.

That is risky. It is love simply for the sake of love. It is not love for the sake of returned love. That doesn't seem very natural to my mind. I mean really, what if the other person doesn't do anything in return? Can I accept that?

So here's where we bring it together.

I'm afraid simply being nice confuses people because I am assuming most people are like me. I'll hold the door for you so you'll hold the door for me. While that is nice, it isn't love. At least not the kind of love God calls us to receive from Him, show to Him and show to others.

And here's the part that isn't very nice.

In your niceness, what is your motive? What are you trying to accomplish? When are you willing to be nice? If your kindness is to resemble that of God's kindness you are being called to a whole new level of living.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How Do You Evaluate Your Love for God?

Jesus says the greatest love a person possesses is their love for God. He says in Mark 12:28-34 that people should love God with all of their being.

Here's my question:
How do you know that you are loving God this fully?

Post some answers and let's discuss it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Church Should Encourage the Church

Please pray for the 11 members of Immanuel that are traveling to McAllen, Texas to work with Upon This Rock International as we try to strengthen and encourage churches in Reynosa, Mexico. We are thankful for our long time partnership with these churches and this missions organization. May God be glorified by our efforts!