Posts Tagged With: Christ

Light in and of the World

Genesis 1:3-4

New International Version (NIV)

3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  4God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.


 What is light? According the Miriam-Webster dictionary light is simply a source of energy that makes it possible to see things.

Throughout scripture light is used to refer to God and Christ in various ways, but when we think of light as being the aforementioned source of energy we can begin to see why the biblical authors would use such a word.

It is a word to represent power, strength, illumination, guidance, protection, and glory.  It is a word that is cross-cultural and describes an element that every living human being would know: the sun.

Everyone is familiar with light whether in America, or a third world country, whether they were born before or after Thomas Edison.  Light is something we hold onto.  It is safety in the dark.  It reveals what is lurking in the shadows and causes them to run.

To ascribe the properties of light to the one true God demonstrates that He is Almighty,  all consuming, caring, compassionate, and above all things.  He is the one who commands the darkness to flee.

As we enjoy the sun and its light let us reflect and remember that this was God’s first creation and gift to all of the world.  He created light to guide the way and separate the darkness.  The sun may be powerful, but the Trinity is infinite.

How have you seen God’s power at work in your life?

What does His light in your life look like?

Categories: Christ, Church Life, Devotional Thought, Faith | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sometimes Saying You’re Sorry is Messy

Sometimes saying you’re sorry is messy because the reason you’re apologizing is messy.

730CB71529Courtesy of Stocksnap

Recently I made the mistake of confronting a friend of mine.  I say mistake because I handled it in a manner that caused embarrassment, guilt, and ruined what could have been a great afternoon of spending time together. Instead of winning the respect of my friend by taking him aside and sharing my thoughts, feelings, and frustrations in a safe way I opened my mouth and let my words fly free.

If I would have had the patience to wait, calm down, and remind myself that he is a great friend the conversation would have been beneficial and our friendship would have grown stronger.

Scripture, if we allow it, can speak, humble, teach, and strengthen us.  Shortly after my vocabulary explosion I was reading through the New Testament and just so happened to run into 1 Peter 5:6-8.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.(NIV)

I was humbled by God’s word.  I was anxious the entire day after that confrontation, but when I cast my anxiety on God and apologized to Him, and my friend, for my actions the stress began to leave.

When we are worshipping God with all of heart, soul, mind, and strength there are times that we will fail, stumble, and fall.  If we continually learn to go to His word we can find the strength to go on.

Life can be messy, but every moment we live for God sweeps away some of the dirt.

Categories: Church Life, Lifestyle, The Worship Table | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Same Power

Romans 8:11

New Living Translation (NLT)

11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.


Often there are songs that have lyrics that resonate with me.  This past week I was driving home after a meeting with our Worship Design team and such a song came on the radio.  This Sunday is VBS Sunday at our church and we had just finalized the outline for the service.

The theme for VBS this year is “Everest: Conquering Life’s Problems with God’s Mighty Power”.  The kids have been repeating the words “Hold On” as the leaders proclaim certain truths about God’s character and saving power.  As I was driving the chorus of Jeremy Camp’s new song “Same Power” broke through the silence and made me pause.

The same power that rose Jesus from the grave
The same power that commands the dead to wake
Lives in us, lives in us
The same power that moves mountains when He speaks
The same power that can calm a raging sea
Lives in us, lives in us
He lives in us, lives in us

I love it when poets and lyricists can give the scriptures a melody that sticks with you.  One that makes it easy for us to remember and recall God’s Truth.  All week the children have been learning this very truth.  They have been learning that God, who has done marvelous and amazing things, gives us the very Spirit that rose Jesus from the dead.

Do our lives reflect that Truth?  Do our actions suggest that we believe that God has given us that power?  Our children are learning about this and proclaiming “Hold On”.  May we reflect their cry. May we Hold On the Truth, Hold One to the promise, Hold On to Christ, and Hold On to the love of God.

 

How will you Hold On to the love of God this week? 

Categories: Church Life, Devotional Thought, Faith | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dynamic Force Starts with a Spark!

“Live your life in such a way that it demands an explanation!”

Sparkler
(Courtesy of unsplash)

That is one of my favorite quotes from college.  One of the Missions professors would always state it before he began his lectures.  It struck a chord with me…

Every year for the 4th of July my wife and I drive home to Illinois to spend the holiday with her family.  It is always spent, weather permitting, playing croquet and bad-mitten, sitting on the screened-in porch, enjoying grill food, and water-skiing out on the lake.  Usually we would spend the night of the 4th lighting off fireworks in the cul-de-sac outside the house or going to one of the surrounding cities to enjoy their show.

This year, however, was different.  We had to leave before all the firework events began because I needed to be back in Ohio to lead worship the next morning.  Our trip landed us just outside of Indianapolis at prime firework time.  As we were driving toward, through, and out of the city we were on the edge of our seats.  To the left, right, and front of us were all manner of exploding bursts of light in dazzling blues, greens, reds and whites.

As I drove away from the city it got me thinking.  Does my life explode with love?  Does the dynamic pressure of my actions cause people to stop and stare in amazement?  Does it cause people to want what I have?

If you held a spark to the love that I possess would it sizzle out or would it explode with such force that it knocks people over?

Jesus had a way of doing that. He rocked the foundations of what people thought love was.  He broke down barriers and caused the world to stop and stare, and over two thousands years later we are all still staring.

It has been three years since I graduated from Lincoln Christian University and I still use that quote.  It makes me want to reflect Christ in everything I do so that people will see what love is.  I want my life and love to spark into such a dynamic force that people demand an explanation.

Do your actions demand an explanation?

Categories: Christ, Church Life, Lifestyle, Love Does | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

3 Things Tragedy Taught Me About Church

Tragedies strike when we least expect.  They sneak up from behind and flank us before we have a chance to respond.  They are real, hurtful, and devastating.  They cloud the sun and wilt the flower.  They are the anti-joy and hope-stifling things nightmares are made of…

Tragedies, as defined by the Miriam-Webster dictionary, are disastrous events that cause great sadness.

photo

Our service had been planned in advance, I had just returned from a week-long vacation, The Pastor had planned to take the weekend off, and our guest speaker had his message prepared.  Sunday was shaping up to be a true celebration of Christ and His Love and Faithfulness.  Then Friday happened.  That evening I was alerted to an urgent prayer request.  I read the email with unbelief and sat staring at my iPhone screen stunned.  A three-year-old child from our congregation had passed away.

In two days the service was scheduled to be a Celebration of Family Service centered around God’s love and His Faithfulness, and was to be followed by an all-church brunch.  The leadership team discussed ways to assist the family and congregation with their grief.  Would we keep the service the same?  Would we alter aspects of what was planned?  Are their counselors who can offer support?  On and on the questions continued to burst forth from our minds as we tried to grasp the reality of the situation.

It was decided to leave the service as planned with minor changes to be sensitive to the mourning that would take place.  It was in that service, and the week to follow, where I learned 3 very important things about the Church.

1. God’s Love and Faithfulness are constant in all circumstances.

 Life will throw us curve balls and, occasionally, will knock us flat on our backs.  The situation was devastating and the family was hurting.  What the church did in response was to gather together and concentrate on who God is, what God did for us through Christ, and what God promises to do.  God is faithful to His people, and His love allows us to endure.

2. The Church is a family that both grieves and celebrates together.

The sense of love and togetherness was the strongest I have ever experienced.  This was The Church, this is what God wanted: A people who would gather together in the love and the sorrow.  A people who would come together as a family and mourn with and for one another.  A people who would love.  The people surrounded this family with prayers, meals, time spent together, love and unending support.  There were no debates, there were no theological discussions…it was simply love doing.  It was the Church.

3. Musical worship can express even the hardest of emotions.

Words are often not enough to express the loss, sorrow, and pain that comes with the passing of a loved one.  Music transcends the silence and allows us to express truly deep emotions.  Singing songs to God in a congregational setting, however, has an even greater significance.  Every voice is raised as one.  Every person with tears, tissues, uplifted hands, clenched fists, and folded arms.  Every child and visitor.  All are unified before the Lord, and all are sharing in the grief as the band plays.  The focus is on God and bringing Him all the pain.

Tragedies will sneak up on us, but The Church can hold fast to the love of God and remember His faithfulness when the clouds begin to roll in.

Categories: Christ, Church Life, Lifestyle, Love Does | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’ll Be There in 15

photo

In the past two years I have noticed a strange and disconcerting pattern emerge.  I have noticed it in coffee shops, churches, businesses, movie theatres, and restaurants.  I have personally been effected by it and have known people whom it has offended.  It happens with scheduled meetings, it happens with dates, and it happens worst of all on Sunday mornings…

It is the phenomenon of lateness. 

It is not just the act of being late, but it is the act of being “culturally late”.  What does it mean to be culturally late?  Cultural lateness is looked at as the norm, it is shrugged off and explained away as being part of who the individuals are, and it goes undiagnosed for far too long.  This phenomenon is not excusable, it is a reflection on an individuals integrity.

I have found myself sitting alone and waiting on far too many occasions because someone has low integrity.  A text, call, email, or facebook message is not an acceptable way to shed the responsibility of honoring a commitment.  If your go-to response is to send a text before every scheduled meeting because you are running late you need to change your habits, set reminder alarms, leave earlier, and become a person of your word.  If you cannot honor your integrity you will loose trust, respect, and miss out on great opportunities.

Are You Allowing Culture to Influence Your Integrity?

It may not seem like it, but your integrity says more about you than you know.  Our actions often speak louder than words.  If you are constantly showing up late to meetings, events, appointments, and church services it is sending a message.  A message that communicates that you and your time are more important than your scheduled engagement.  We have all experienced the events of alarms not going off, kids refusing to cooperate, or a car that wouldn’t start.  But when those events become habitual the routine needs to change.

As Christians our words, actions, and habits are always on display.  Constant lateness and a refusal to strive for excellence in integrity can send negative messages about our beliefs.  We have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and given new life in Christ.  If we are not living to honor that sacrifice we have the potential to distract and repel non-believers from encountering the risen Lord.

Does Your Integrity Reflect Your Faith in Christ in a Positive or Negative Way?

If Not, What is One Way You Can Change Your Routine Today?

Categories: Christ, Church Life, Lifestyle | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Carte Blanche Yieldedness

Luke 18:22

New International Version (NIV)

22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”


Lacking one thing is a challenge.  I tend to want all the right answers and know all the details of the path ahead of me.  I am not a fan of lacking vital information.  I used to have the Facebook app on my iPhone.  I checked it daily, hourly…maybe every thirty minutes.  If I’m being honest I was addicted to it.  I felt like it kept me in “the know” of what everyone was doing.  I justified that it helped know more about the lives of those I lead every Sunday morning.

In reality, however, I was addicted.  I’d check it just to pass time, and often I would find myself sucked into the black-hole of Youtube videos and movie trailers.  This one app, this one small portion of technology that took up less than 1GB of data had consumed me.  I knew without a doubt that it was a problem the day I went to delete it.  The decision to remove it from my phone, I am ashamed to say, took a good 15 minutes of internal debate.  But it had to go, it had gotten in the way of my relationship with Christ and took precious time away from my wife.

This was only technology.  What if we are called to give up more than that to follow Christ?  What if our comforts and lifestyles are keeping us from living a truly, 100%, and in the words of Bill Hybels, carte blanche yieldedness to the will of God?  I want that in my life.

What one thing is holding you back from having a “carte blanche yieldedness”? 

What steps can you take to change it?

Categories: Christ, Church Life, Devotional Thought, Faith, Lifestyle | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Partnerships

Acts 3:6-8

New International Version (NIV)

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.


Partnerships are characterized by two or more parties coming together with ideas and sharing the benefits of working together.  We form partnerships in school, at the office, on sports teams, and as the church.  We partner with one another to accomplish great and small things. Working together usually makes us feel good and each party walks away feeling satisfied and equally “paid”.

Peter was willing to trust in the partnership and authority he had with God, and in that authority he could do amazing things.  Just like Peter, when we partner with God we get way more than we could ever ask or imagine.  We get His Grace, Mercy, Love, and Holy Spirit.

We get the power to withstand hardship because we have Hope.  We the get the power to show others compassion because we have Love. We get the power of forgiveness because we have Grace and Mercy.  A partnership with God is unbalanced.  God will always give us more than we deserve, and He loves to do it!  He continually grants us His presence and continually guides us.

– God will always give us more than we deserve, and He loves to do it! –

May we remember the partnership we have with God, and let us be people who are willing to listen to His voice, respond, and give Him all the glory.

How will you respond to God this week?

 

Categories: Christ, Church Life, Devotional Thought, Faith, Love Does | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whistle While You Work

Work!  It is a past time that every adult knows all to well.  It comprises most of our day and awards us with a paycheck to spend how we best see fit.  Work, on some occasions, defines who we are.  It can also determine how other people view us.

So when you think about work what is the first thing that comes to mind?   Do you immediately think about how much you like, or dislike, your current job?  Is there a hint of sarcasm or annoyance?  Do you think about your co-workers?  Or perhaps a past job that you really loved?  When you think about work do you think about God, and how what you are doing can be honoring to Him?

In the Old Testament writings the authors expressed this idea of work is several ways.  In the original language the Greek word for work is ‘Abad, and it simply meant to work, serve, or labor.

‘Abad

The KJV Old Testament Greek Lexicon

Strong’s Number: 05647

Definition:

  1. to work, serve
  2. to labor

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15, NIV Emphasis Mine)

The earliest reference of work by man in the Old Testament comes the minute he is placed in the Garden of Eden.  He has been given a position of authority and granted the task of taking care of the creation that God has made.  Work, in this sense, is not a task that Adam fights and dreads, but is one that he accepts as a gift from God.  It is done is service and obedience to God.

Work, however, is not simply viewed in the sense that we relate to it today.  Work is more than a job, it is an act of worship before the Lord.

“Fear the Lord your God, serve Him only and take your oaths in His name.” (Deuteronomy 6:13, NIV Emphasis Mine)

“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!  Serve the LORD with gladness.” (Psalm 100:2, ESV Emphasis Mine)

When we serve something, we honor it and give it our undivided attention.  When a Christian serves the Lord they must be sure to bring glory to God and not themselves.  We are to focus our attention solely on God alone.

Worship is a ministry of service before the Lord.

We are called to be Christ’s representatives before a lost and broken world.  We are called to worship God in all circumstances and locations.  When we serve God by being faithful, honest, and diligent in our jobs we can have a dramatic impact on our families, friends, and co-workers.

When you work, work for the glory and honor of God!  Be a beacon of Hope in your place of employment.  View your job as a place of ministry!  Let others take notice, and always be pointing to the Lord above.

Categories: Lifestyle, What is Worship?, Word Study | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oh For A Thousand Tongues To Sing

Acts 2:1-4

New International Version (NIV)

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.


This Sunday is Pentecost.  It is the defining moment that the Church was given the authority and power to fulfill their mission from God.  It was the moment that God broke the barriers of Babel and proclaimed the Gospel in many languages.  It was a foretaste of what was to come.  It was a foretaste of God’s Word being available to all.

Portions of the Bible have been translated into over two thousand languages since it was first put together into one collection.  The Gospel is now more available than every before.  It is in major retail stores, online, in apps, and can be heard on certain television stations.   All this because a handful of men accepted Jesus’ call and followed the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

We have one God, one Gospel, and one mission.  The Church is the light of the world and we have the power and authority to spread that light through our love.

 

Will you allow the Holy Spirit to guide your actions?

How can you share the love of Christ that is found in the Gospels this week?

 

Categories: Christ, Church Life, Devotional Thought, Faith, Lifestyle | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Ethan & Emilie

Embracing an Inspirational Life

rethink

Jesus. Church. Culture.

Tales from the Great Adventure

a journal of living-like-we-mean-it, by Derek Maul