Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Consider the Perspective

Yesterday I spent much of my day in a hospital room in Asheville. I sat in that room waiting on a member of our church to be discharged so I could drive them home. As we sat in that room, I spent much of my time sending emails and texts to stay caught up on my work. My church member spent the time listening to Tennessee Ernie Ford singing hymns on TV and occasionally glancing out the window at the view. When I first walked into the room I noticed the view and took a good long look at it. Off in the distance you could see a beautiful mountain backdrop like you would expect in Asheville. On this day though the rain clouds going by sometimes hid the tops of the mountains but that didn't diminish the beauty of the view.

From my perspective the view was something similar to what I've enjoyed on numerous hiking trips with my boys. I would almost say I took it for granted. From my church member's perspective, I felt it was a glorious revelation of the majesty of God. Listening to those beautiful old hymns that praise and glorify our God, while viewing a beautiful landscape, surely gave that church member a moment of heartfelt worship with God.

Worship of God can be much like our view yesterday. We can sit in church, listen to the same songs and sermon, and yet our perspective can be completely different than someone less than 10 feet from us. From what I've observed in life, you see a picture of newer and experienced Christians in that hospital room yesterday. One of us, like a new Christian, had basically been given a changed heart. To my church member the songs had a new meaning and the view of God's glory took on a whole new perspective. One of us, like a more experienced Christian, saw the same view and heard the same songs, but they had a different meaning. Yes the songs resonated in the heart and the view still revealed the majesty of God. But the context of the person listening and seeing determines the worship experience.

As we develop in our faith, our worship often times takes on a different feel. Do we still want to worship God because of the salvation He's given us? Yes we do. Do we worship in the same style or the same form? Maybe. Maybe not. But the important thing that needs to be consistent, regardless of our perspective is that God is worshiped from our heart. We don't do it to show off. We don't do it because it's expected. We do it because He is God and He alone is worthy of our worship. Regardless of your current perspective on worship, God is still God and we should worship Him as such.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Lead by Example

Last fall my son Cooper played football for a local optimist team. When they started practicing I noticed something about Cooper's work ethic when it came to practice. They would normally stretch out and then run two laps around the perimeter of the field. With Cooper being taller than all the other kids on his team (and 99% of the league) I was surprised that his size didn't translate into a first place finish on the two laps they ran after warming up. After a few practices I really started paying attention to the situation and the reason for him not coming in first place made me proud.

Misty and I have taught the boys from a young age that they need to be leaders in all they do rather than being followers. We've taught them that whether it's sports, school or church, they need to use the gifts God has given them to be leaders in every aspect of life. We've told them the reason they have to lead effectively is because others will follow them and they need to lead in the right way. When I started watching Cooper run I noticed that all but one other kid would cut the corners of the field and with each corner gain a sizable lead on Cooper. He was precise in his corners. He had a laser focus until he reached the corner and didn't cut the least bit of the corner. The one kid following him stayed right behind Cooper. Cooper was bummed because he wasn't coming in first but I told him not to worry about it because he was doing the right thing and he would be stronger for going the extra distance others weren't willing to go. The more laps they ran the more followers Cooper had on the outer corners. Eventually the coaches took notice of Cooper, told all the kids to follow Cooper, and because of his hard work, Cooper was made team Captain.

When it comes to every aspect of life we need to be prepared to lead and lead by example. We garner no respect from our fellow believers, employees, or family members if all we do is direct and command them instead of leading them. The greatest example we could ever hope to see on this matter comes to us from John 13. This is where we see Jesus leading by example. During His final meal with His disciples, Jesus takes time to wash the feet of the disciples. This task was a servant's job and Jesus being a renown teacher and prophet He should never have done this task. But Jesus leads the disciples here by setting the example of how to be a servant to their fellow man. In verse 15 Jesus even says, "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you" (NIV). If we want to effectively lead in every aspect of our life then we need to follow Jesus' example and lead by example. When we do others will follow. Employees will be motivated. Our family will be inspired. And other believers will be encouraged.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

7 Signs You're "Judging" Others

I recently read a blog post by the popular pastor and author J.D. Greear. It definitely gives the believer who wants to grow in their faith some tools to ensure they aren't judging others. I wanted to share the link to it here so others can benefit from the wisdom found in his post. Check it out here. I hope you are able to use it to grow in your faith.

Monday, July 7, 2014

To serve or not to serve...is there a question?

I recently had a conversation with a godly man who has a passion for serving God. Not only does he have a passion for serving God, but he does all he can to encourage others to do the same. Part of the conversation we had centered on the need for more believers in the church to be active in the missions and ministries of the church. There is a definite need for more believers to step up and take on roles of service in the church. There is an old statistic that is thrown around in churches, but it actually is a fairly good representation of what goes on in the church. The statistic is that 20% of the members do 80% of the work. It's a sad statistic but it is true nonetheless. With that many people sitting on the sidelines, is not serving in the work of the church an option?

The answer is a resounding no. Search the Bible and you will never find a place where God says, "If you are this type of person, you don't have to serve me" or "If you are this old, you can take it easy" or "Those who fall into this category are exempt from serving." There is only one class of Christians and they are all called to serve God. We serve God not out of obligation, but out of love for the salvation He has provided us. Although we don't serve out of obligation, God expects each believer to serve in the work of the Kingdom. Ephesians 4:12-13 tells us that God has gifted each of us "to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (NIV). God would not have given us spiritual gifts for service if He did not expect us to serve Him. God has gifted us all in some way so that we can serve Him. When we do not serve God with our spiritual gifts, talents and natural abilities, then we are defying God's desire for us to serve. And going against God's will is never a good idea.

To serve or not to serve? Is there a question? No. My encouragement to you today is to seriously consider what areas of service you can take part in at your church. Once you decide, don't wait, act on it quickly and find out how to get involved. You'll never find the same kind of fulfillment in life that you will when you are serving God exactly where He need you to serve.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Asking God Why

Yesterday I received a phone call from a family member who is battling a serious, and often times fatal, form of cancer. This family member received a really good report and it appears that God has nearly healed this person through the treatments and wisdom of doctors. God is definitely to be praised for this healing. I also know another person battling cancer. The cancer this person has is terminal and there aren't any treatment options. The family is constantly evaluating options for pain management and any changes in this person's condition. We would normally say this is a sad situation and not give a second thought to praising God for this type of situation. But here's the common denominator in both of these people other than the fact they have cancer and it is that they both are believers in Christ.

When we look at both of these situations we often wonder why God would allow such things to happen to God fearing people. How can this be the fate of people who have served Him faithfully and want to continue to do so? Why would God allow this to happen to people who want to make a difference in the world for Him? Why did He choose to heal one and not the other? Why?

Some say we shouldn't question God. I believe part of our relationship with God is being able to question Him, but with an understanding that we do it in a respectful way. We must realize though, that just because we ask the question doesn't mean we'll get an answer? When we ask the big question of "Why," we may have an answer in a few days or a few years. God may choose to wait until we are in heaven to reveal His answer to us. Whatever God chooses, we are at His mercy because He is the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe.

So ask your questions of God. Why did You allow that? How can this be for my good? When will You lift this burden? What will You do about my pain? And whether you get an answer right now or not follow the instructions in 1 Chronicles 16:8 that I shared with my family member before the test results were revealed yesterday. It says "Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done" (NLT). Let the world know how great your God is and what situations in life He is seeing you through.

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