Monday, August 25, 2014

Going through the motions

Last Friday, while Dru practiced football at a local park, Cooper and I went onto the baseball field to work on his pitching. Next year will be his first year in "kid pitch" so he wants to be prepared to try and pitch. Although I pitched very little back in the day, I do know the mechanics and motions of pitching and so I agreed to work with him. To put it mildly, the kid started off throwing like "Nuke" LaLoosh or Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn. He had all power and no control. After we worked on some fundamentals of his pitching motion, we were able to tame that wild arm that was hitting the back stop with more pitches than the catcher's mitt. What Cooper needed was some instruction on how to do things right and what he was doing wrong. What he needed was for someone to come along side of him and show him what he needed to do. This is similar to what is needed in developing new believers.

In Matthew 28:18-20 Christ commands all of His followers to "make disciples" of those who come to faith in Christ. Unfortunately, what we often times see is that when it comes to making disciples we will "dip" them and then we will "drop" them. This simply means we focus intensely on leading someone into a relationship with Christ and then once they are baptized and sitting in the church pew, we "drop" them and end our discipleship making process. What we do is we lead them into a relationship with Christ and then expect them to figure out how to develop that relationship without any help or guidance. We as individual believers in Christ and as churches need to make sure that we are doing everything we can to help new believers develop in their faith. It may be that we need to start a "Next Steps" class at our church to lead new believers into a more grounded faith. Maybe we need to individually mentor a new believer. Regardless of how it happens, we need to make sure that new believers have someone coming along side of them to show them how to develop their faith and live the Christian life. So here's a challenge for you today. Find a new believer that you can help develop in their faith. It may be a family member, friend, co-worker, or church member, but find someone you can help develop. Then get started. Don't wait or you won't do it. Make contact today and find a way to pour into this baby Christian so that you can help them mature in their faith.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Guarding the Archer

Saturday afternoon the boys had a friend over and they decided to go outside and play. I went outside to check on them and make sure they weren't doing anything to get themselves in trouble. Somehow my presence ended up with the four of us playing a game of "War" with bows that shot foam arrows. Dru and I played against Cooper and his friend. Living in the parsonage of the church does have it's advantages, so we ran around the outside of the church, hid in the bushes, and ran through the playground. We had a great time. We played with the rule that if you were hit by the opposing team's arrow you died. In the middle of the game I saw Cooper doing something that I thought was remarkable. Cooper was standing in front of his friend, who held the bow, as a human shield. He was regularly giving his "life" in the game for his teammate. It was an example of self-sacrifice that wasn't lost on me.

When we consider the Christian faith and bring up the idea of sacrifice, most people generally jump to one area of the faith. Most people think of Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross for mankind. But what we sometimes forget about the Christian faith is that we are called to live our lives as a sacrifice for the One who loved us enough to die for us. That means we no longer live for ourselves but we live for Christ. We are to live with an eternal perspective when it comes to every aspect of our lives. This means we sacrifice our own wants, desires, and needs for what God wants and desires from us. We start looking for areas to serve Him. We find ways to give to the work of His Kingdom. We use our gifts and abilities to praise Him in worship. All of this is done with the same attitude we read Paul had in 2 Timothy 4:6 when he wrote, "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering..." (NIV). We should gladly pour our selves out as a sacrifice to God for the salvation He's provided. We can always do more to show our devotion to God. What is an area of your faith you need to do more to pour yourself out to God?

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Monday, August 11, 2014

What are they running from?

Last week, while on vacation at the beach, I had the chance to watch an interesting sight and have some fun while doing so. We were regularly watching these small fish jumping out of the water near where we were playing in the ocean. I couldn't resist the opportunity to mess with my family, so of course I said something that caused my family to take notice. I said, in a serious dad-type of way, "That's not normal. Fish don't just jump out of the water like that unless their being chased by something. I wonder what they're running from?" Of course the boys start edging towards the beach (and to sell it I did too). Having been in the ocean near a shark 20 years ago, and having told the story to my boys, they don't doubt me (yet) when I say stuff like this. Nevertheless, we did see these fish jumping in the water for reasons known only to them.

When we find ourselves running from God we do some pretty dumb things. We react like a fish jumping out of the water when there is no predator around. We try to avoid God, like that could ever happen (just ask Jonah). We stop reading the Bible and stop spending time in prayer. We may even avoid church or friends that we know go to church. But why? What are we running from? We are running from a God who loves us and wants only the best for us. We are running from a God who is intimately involved and personally invested in our lives. We are running from grace and mercy that are far better than anything this world has to offer. Instead of running from God, especially when we feel unworthy because of sin in our life, we should instead run to Him. We should run headlong into the arms of the one who loves us so much that He gave His only Son to die for us. So if today you find yourself running away from God, then take that difficult first step in the opposite direction and start the short run back to Him. He'll welcome you back with open arms, abundant love, more than sufficient grace, and mercy beyond belief.

Sorry for the short hiatus in posting. As of late ministry and life made it difficult to find time to post. Mondays will be the norm going forward. So be sure to check back each Monday for a new post.

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