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As we settled down to read the Bible, we acknowledged this was a first. Our first time reading the Bible, together, at the same time, in the same place. And just like anything you do for the first time, you figure it out.
Ever heard “You get what you pay for”? That is a reality and it is true for your spiritual life too.
“Jesus, today I would like the spiritual strength of a person who doesn’t talk to you or review your Words for me but really dwells on the attitudes and opinions of those who don’t believe you exist. What kind of Christian walk can I have at that cost?”
Your investments in your spiritual life and walk pay off. Your walk with Jesus, strong or weak, is a direct result of your time and effort. Just like your physical health reflects the time and effort you put in exercising and eating right.
You will never leave where you are until you decide where you would rather be. ~Kurt Parker
Well, we all want the best life we can have. No one argues that. But how we believe we get it is where we differ. Often we think we know what our ‘best life’ is and we believe we can make it happen ourselves.
Why do we think that? We didn’t make us or even one thing in this world. So why would we think we know how to attain the best life here?
The Maker does. The Maker made us. The Maker made everything. The Maker – makes it happen.
Maybe we should get to know Him better.
Read. Pray. Fast. All three, repeated in the Word, are the staples of a believer’s life who wants to know the Maker’s plan. Read the only true Words we have to stand on in this life; pray by talking to Him as you would a Father or friend; Fast: give up elements of this world you hold too close. Show Him you are serious about getting on the fast track to your best life. Invite the Maker to take you “as is” and make you into more than you could ever be on your own.
If it doesn’t mean something to you, it won’t mean anything to God.
Come join “You in the Making” series launching next week with Harborside Christian Church as we kick off fasting and groups and a commitment to receive His Word this year.
“You’ve done a “Class A” job, an Oscar-winning performance of hiding your pain,” says Pastor Kurt yesterday. “Everybody sinks but no one has to drown.”
How long can you keep holding your breath?
The Life-Savior is waiting, “Come,” He says. Follow these 3 specific steps to guarantee your rescue.
Ever get tired of hearing all talk and no action? A friend of yours keeps talking about getting together; keeps saying they want to meet you and catch up. They just keep talking about it. You don’t believe it because it’s not happening.
You don’t believe what people say, you believe what people do.
It’s like crickets. And no one’s moving. Watch Jim Carrey’s reaction to all this talk about ‘fickle times’ in Fun with Dick and Jane.
Do you think God might feel that way? He looks down on a bunch of people who all say they know Him and profess to have faith and believe in Him. But no one is doing anything.
Yes. They did. Read on: see if you can find the toilet!
(Always a fun game to play overseas)
Here is a little more information from the missionaries in Papua New Guniea about our upcoming excursion in 2 weeks and counting!
– What is acceptable for women to sleep in? Continue reading Did you say “pit toilet”?
Best way to start your day: face down in prayer. Don’t take one step forward in your day without holding the hand of God. He knows what’s in store for you, so recognize early that you can’t do it alone.
But when you receive the Word, are you just a hearer? Or are you a doer?
I’ve actually been in such a routine mode of daily scripture before that my motions – even my motives – became mechanical. Using the Holy Bible app on my iPhone, I would just plug the auxiliary cord into the car and let the audio run while I drove to work. But the words just slipped through me like noise. I wasn’t retaining anything because I wasn’t actually plugging in, only my phone was.
You don’t just hear the Word and receive His promises. By grace, you most certainly may. But grace is only given according to the measure of our faith, and our faith is strengthened through our actions. The Word specifically recites:
Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” James 1:22-23
It takes practice, patience, a little technique and active concentration. Follow the blueprint given to you, believe in it with your whole heart, receive His promises. Here are some helpful practices:
The evil one will throw darts at you the moment you wake up, if he hasn’t already done so in your sleep. So first-things-first – start your day with a 100% Daily Value injection of the mind-opening and spirit-awakening truth. Open your day with a verse. Either a randomly-selected verse, a sequential verse (if you are reading through the bible), or a verse you’ve tee’d yourself up for the night before. Don’t even roll over in bed until you’ve read that verse.
How does the verse fit contextually within the overall message of the chapter? Are there other, relative instances throughout the Bible? Does it relate to experiences you or someone you know has had in the past, or are currently engaged in? What are you being called to do, or how are you being asked to behave? What is the promise?
Don’t just recite – repeat. Repeat in the shower. Re-read it during your lunch break. Write it on a sticky note and put it in your pocket. Share it with a friend.
Every day is trial run. You are sharpening yourself as a tool for our LORD; you are buffing yourself as a living light for Christ. Every day is an opportunity to practice your faith and to grow in the Word. One day you are going to be called upon to perform; each verse you retain, the moments you apply the Word, and every seed you sow will help you grow in Christ, will leave you better prepared for your future and will equip you to make a Godly difference in the world.
The best way to end the day: facing up, in prayer. Did the verse bring you discernment? Did it bring you courage? Was it exactly what you needed to hear? Did it lead you to another verse that you needed to hear? Did it bring you clarity? Did it open knew doors? How are you a better person at the end of the day, because of the verse, than you were when you woke up? Thank God.
When you are ready, God will find you and will grant His promises. So be ready. Set your mind on things above by reciting and meditating on a single, strengthening promise from God in His Word by plugging into a single verse for each day of the week.
Don’t be afraid to open your mind, heart and hands to a person or situation that God is laying on your heart to pray for! Believe that His Holy Spirit in you is working!
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Mathew 7:24
Now go be doers of the word and not hearers only!
A handful of tokens lay ordered in a line across the movie room counter. Our group members were encouraged to ‘glance’ at them while collecting this week’s handout of discussion questions.
Our week’s focus on memory was tested as we went round robin at the discussion table sharing something we remembered from the lesson video. We also wrote down any items we could remember from the countertop. When we think about it, it sure does feel like we have a bad memory right?
Do we remember people’s names? Do we remember the pain our friends or family are going through?
Through sharing our earliest memories, we learned that points of pain or pleasure we easily remembered. Do you remember any of the stories we shared Monday night? I’ll give you some clues: being stung by a wasp then falling down stairs off the stage in the rain dropping your action figure in your batman underpants while you ride in the special ambulance to the ER for stitches. Turns out we all had the same memory!
(Sorry if I couldn’t remember a piece from *your story!)
We remember pain. Do you ever wonder if Christ remembers His pain from dying for us on the cross? As we read in I Cor 11, we reminded ourselves that we take communion in remembrance of Him. The pain that He went through to bring us together; to restore us to God; to unite us in Him.
No one likes pain. Don’t let there be pain with the Spirit within in you and your walk with God. Don’t let there be pain and brokenness in your relationships with others. Determine now that there is no pain too great to keep you from harmony with others and unity in the body of Christ. Christ’s body was only broken and torn once…don’t allow brokenness in your body the temple or His body the church. Remember His pain during communion, and continue to break bread in fellowship with our Father and those He allows to move through our lives.
Please remember ~ if you are part of our group, to pray for our Prayer Requests from this past week
We know football is out of the question. You won’t ever miss church because of football because the games don’t start until 1pm. The grocery store is open all day, so that’s not it. And you can’t be munching on Chic-Fil-A waffle fries, either (fresh ones, at least). So why do Christians miss church on Sunday morning?
Maybe you think you won’t affect anyone else if you don’t attend church. Maybe you think you have the right and a license to determine yourself above and outside of anyone who feels the need to be there. Would you join a golf club and not play golf there? Are you a member of anything worthy, without actually being active or involved? It’s truly wonderful, knowing you are accepted and grafted into the family of God. Why, then, would we not want to meet in His house?
Google search “why people avoid church” and you will likely find an excuse you have used before: I don’t need a temple to feel connected to God; I’m afraid of being judged; Nobody will notice if I’m not there, anyway. Perhaps its your pride, or maybe a negative experience in your past that keeps you away. These situations are very real and they certainly diminish our motivation to attend church. Regardless, try opening your heart and mind as we address these hang-ups and reconsider the value in attending your church, both for the edifying of the body and spurring of your part within it.
I don’t need a temple to feel the presence of God.
Sure, you can feel God’s presence in other places and different ways, but is that a “too much of God” line you’re throwing out there? Are you putting a quota on Christ?
I understand this sentiment. Admittedly, I personally am an avid seeker of God’s love at a personal level, and have not always been keen on seeking him through others. Even when I feel the Holy Spirit working in His people, I still prefer to feel an intimate relationship that is direct to me.
The point of attending church and communing with other Christians, then, is not to seek God in other people, but to seek Him with others. What good am I, as a torch-bearer for our Lord, if I stand alone and am not actively pushing back the darkness in His kingdom, with His people?
There is a candle effect that occurs when we worship together. Two flames burn brighter than one. How much easier it is to push back the darkness when we combine our efforts in fellowship. Sometimes we don’t feel the Spirit flickering very brightly within us, but that’s even more of a reason to go!
The Holy Spirit is a constant stream of God’s power and truth, and all it takes is one candle to ignite another. We have a responsibility, then, to attend church because either we can contribute our flames to those who are weak, or we need that spark to reignite our own torch. We share our testimonies, our pains and our struggles so that we may learn from each other and encourage each other to press on.
Rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” – Romans 12:15
When you see God’s work in other peoples lives, who have dealt or are dealing with the same struggles as you, it helps strengthen your own faith that God is working your life, as well.
Our pasts hurt, we feel shame and we don’t want to be judged.
Sometimes our own guilt and shame cause us to withdraw from fellowship and makes it difficult to face Christ. We may feel ugly, tattered, worn or unworthy. But our beauty is in Christ, who died for our sins so that we may live freely and in boldness of love.
Yes, come and be judged by our Father, who loves you endlessly and will never turn from you. He already knows, was there with you, and died for what we are ashamed to admit or confess to Him.
So we turn to His light and reveal our blemishes and imperfections so we may grow in the yoke of our Lord. The body of believers should not and will not judge. We are not called to be the jury, only God is. No verdict will be determined upon you apart from the one He nailed to the cross. Confess your faults, be corrected, and above all, worship and give praise with His people.
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” – Acts 2:38
Peter reminds us that we are PROMISED redemption.
I’m not important. Nobody will care if I don’t go, anyway.
Unfortunately, this statement devalues our meeting at the Lord’s house because it incorrectly assigns the ones who approve our attendance. How do we measure our ROI for church attendance?
In today’s secular world and in Western ideology, perfectionism and the “self” are glorified. As an example, I’m going to pick on my own demographic. Face it, Young Adults, we have already been coined as the “Selfie Generation.” The world will say what it may, but we determine who we are. Our value — as it pertains to our roles within the church, our communities, or any other arena of our lives — is not measured by the perception of others, but by our identity in Christ.
The Lord is the foundation from which you strengthen your role within His kingdom. You are a Christian, first, and being a Christian means you belong to a larger family. You are part of a team of generations of believers, and your role in the Big God Story is as unique in the narrative as you are an individual. You are anointed with a gift and a purpose! Own your calling and forget about what labels society wants to give you.
Having gifts differing according to the grace that is given us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or Ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.” – Romans 12:6-8
Go, Team, Go!
Yes, we are all in this together. But you don’t just show up to the game, put on the pads and expect to win. In other words, we don’t just show up to church and expect that to satisfy our part, as believers, or to satisfy God’s purpose for our lives.
Individually, we are all responsible to put in the work during the “off season.” Professional athletes train on their own time, in addition to working out as a team. We have to develop and manage our own personal training for God to be glorified in full effect. We should constantly be communicating with God on our own time. We should be looking for ways to glorify Him with believers outside the church. And we should be praising God in corporate prayer, every week.
Bring the practice of walking to God to a live-action march. When we bring our efforts together to push that ball down the field in accordance to The Coach’s game plan — how could we fail?
What shall we then say to these things? For if God be for us, who can be against us?” – Romans 8:31
God is your coach and your biggest fan. He has big plans for you and He wants to be glorified through them, and through you.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:” – Ephesians 4:11-13
Talk about a game plan. (Read Ephesians 4 in full.) No, we are not all called to be the same, but we are all called to come together at the cross for the edifying of the body of Christ. In fact, it is a biblical mandate that we do so.
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:22-25
So, may we save you a seat next week?
The evening kicked off early with a visit to the Sedona Clubhouse leasing office. Due to leasing dates, moving notices and yada yada, our ‘leader’ — no names mentioned, Jenny — had yet to secure the complex media center for our Connect Group’s 8 weeks of meetings. No matter. Did anyone *really* use the public clubhouse space for anything other than scrapbooking, anyway? You might be surprised.
A $100 holding check was left in the capable hands of a leasing assistant, who promptly secured our ‘official’ booking by scribbling aimlessly across 8 weeks of Mondays. Not as official as the booking software Planning Center Resources that Harborside utilizes but, hey, we can’t expect everyone to be that efficient.
A quick peek in to the theater room revealed a man and his daughter camped out watching the US Open. It was only the final match — they wouldn’t be there for long. Just a minor fault in our game plan.
Fast forward 1 hour. It’s 7pm and snacks/supplies are being carried down for set up. You could feel the bass vibrating through the windows before you even reached the outside doors; Zumba class was on and strong in the public lobby space adjoining the media center. Hmm. An interesting menu of activities. Work up a sweat then come align with us in study? On some bizarre level it made sense. However, the spandex and erotic moves of the women did jar ones concentration from Biblical alignment and small group discussion topics. Cue The Parent Trap, “Let’s get together, we can have a swinging time!” This would be an interesting night after all.
The level of noise and accompanying confusion lent itself to an informal arrival hour of typical first week parking and settling in. Newer folks to the community had to learn the gate code system and understand the serious nature of a subtly marked “Tow Away Zone,” i.e. ANY space not marked “Visitor.” Just hand Jenny the $155 in cash now and she’ll go collect your vehicle from a local abandoned junkyard conveniently located at Tampa International Airport.
Regardless, the room was buzzing and group had not even started yet! Naturally, a display of Trader Joe snacks and appetizers lined the counter space. (Have you met Jenny Maass before? You would swear she has stock in the company.)
With so many distractions (combined with the slight panic in Jenny’s mind as group facilitator), the only way to break ice, to drown out the pulsating Zumba music and “get together” was to — literally and physically — execute the Human Knot. Have you tried to untie a Human Knot before? Its great for babysitting and camps. It didn’t end well.
So the night started off about as awkward as a newborn giraffe. A punctual segue to our topic. Eventually we got our legs under us, we got it together, we plugged in and were ready to connect.