Some thoughts from James 1 . . .
God has been good to us and gives us life.
“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.” (vv. 17-18)
Don’t be content to only know truth.
“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” (vv. 22-25)
Watch your mouth. Show justice.
“If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (vv. 26-27)
You’ve been shown grace, and you’ve been given truth. Now live it out that grace and truth.
From GCM Collective:
Two simple truths:
- Discipleship = Head + Heart + Hands
- Theology + Venn Diagram = Awesomeness
This post is adapted from a talk I gave to a youth group at a local church.
Your life is not about you. It’s about Jesus.
It’s easy to think that this is true about missionaries in far off lands. But no matter you live, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you’re life must be completely surrendered to Him. Always, and in all ways.
We Are All Missionaries
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere — in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
And the truth is, we are all called to be missionaries. Jesus commissioned His followers (and the same call applies to us) to tell others about Him. We are not called to win anyone to Christ, but to follow Him in obedience and tell others about Him. And the latter (telling) is only made credible by the former (how we are living).
All Christians are missionaries and ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). In our homes, schools, cities, countries, and all over, we represent Jesus with our words and with our actions.
But as you go to share His good news, focus on where you have been, where you are now, and where you will be.
Our second year in Allendale was quite the adventure. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been here that long already; time has flown by!
I’ll never forget the rapid transition from Greenville to Allendale. Here’s a shortened version:
- Tuesday, December 14, 2010 — Joanna and I take our first trip Allendale, with two leaders from Grace Church
- Wednesday, January 12, 2011 — Interview with the Boys and Girls Club
- Thursday, January 13, 2011 — Offered (and accepted) job with the Boys and Girls Club
- Sunday, January 16, 2011 — Spent my first night in Allendale, to start work the next day
- Saturday, April 16, 2011 — After 3 months of me commuting (weekly) and several short trips to Allendale by Joanna and the kids, we all moved into our Allendale home (with the help of a flock of friends)
Even though I left my first job in Allendale, we knew that didn’t change our love of Allendale, or our commitment to serving the children of this community. We saw how God Provided Through My Job in 2011, but we were confident that He would do the same in 2012.
Well, 2012 brought more adventures, and many unexpected moments.
Quite possibly my latest favorite song (yes, I’m aware this song is several years old now — I’m behind the times), by Bebo Norman:
Majesty had come down
Glory had succumed now to flesh and bone
In the arms of a manger
In the hands of strangers that could not know
Just who they hold
And the angels filled the sky
All of heaven wondered why
Why their King would choose to be
Be a baby born to die
And all fell silent
For the cry of an infant, the voice of God
Was dividing history
For those with eyes to see, the Son would shine
From earth that night
To break the chains
Of guilt and sin
To find us here
To pull us in
So we can join in Heaven’s song
And with one voice around the throne
All the Angels filled the sky
And I can’t help but wonder why
Why this King would choose to be
Be a baby born for me
Be a baby born
Be a baby born to die
I want to wish you and all your family a very Merry Christmas.
Recently, I was thinking of this older post (on my other blog) about What Christmas Means to Me. I was thinking that the purpose of God the Father sending Jesus (and Jesus being obedient to the Father) is not about Jesus being served, and not about Him living a good life. The coming of the Son of God was about Him living a life of service, and ultimately about His dying for our sins.
Or, as Ryan Welsh puts it, Christmas Isn’t Just About Baby Jesus; it’s about the man of Jesus, who died on the cross.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28
Let our lives be more like that of Jesus, serving and laying down our lives for others.
*image courtesy of weewillyd via rgbstock.com
The Verge Network (which I highly recommend you following if you are interested in learning more about living a Kingdom-centered life) posted a series of videos by author and speak Paul Tripp.
The series was called “Missional Marriage,” but it included several videos relating to parenting and children. Each video is only a couple of minutes long, and you should watch them, whether or not your have young children.
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
I John 3:16-18
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
In October, I had the opportunity to do a break out session at The Sticks Conference. The topic of my talk was “How to Connect with Your Community’s Gatekeepers.” Here is Part 1 of my notes.
I hope I did not disappoint my audience. I hope they didn’t come to my talk expecting to hear “Seven Steps to Make You Community Love You” or “Have a Major Impact in Your City in 30 Days or Less.”
After all, I explained, there are too many variables in what this “magic formula” would include, such as:
- Size and demographics of your community
- Size and strengths of your church
- Official and unofficial roles of your community’s leaders
Because of these (and other) variables, the best we can do is develop a theological framework. Then, we can be led by the Holy Spirit in the context of community.
A few months ago, I was worshiping at a particular African-American church. I know a few people who are members there and have connected with the pastor, so I visit on occasion. It’s a pleasure to worship there when I can; since this church is full of loving people, and is involved in the community.
Towards the end, it was time to collect the offering. Years ago, in situations like this, I would also feel obligated to give something, but being a visitor, I knew that I could just sit and pass the plate without putting money in.
To my surprise, a grandmother in front of me saw that I was not getting out money, so she turned around and slipped me a dollar. I tried to refuse it, but she insisted.
OK, I thought. No big deal. She wants me to give, so I’ll put this in the offering plate when it comes my way. No big deal.