Category Archives: Growth

Lent Day #12 | Think about these things

       Finally, brothers,
               whatever is true,
               whatever is honorable,
               whatever is just,
               whatever is pure,
               whatever is lovely,
               whatever is commendable,
               if there is any excellence,
               if there is anything worthy of praise,
       THINK about these things. — Philippians 4:8

I find the admonition to think about “these” things to be an interesting one. The reason may be that the call to engage our minds in the deepening of our faith is unique in the world of religious expression. Meditation, another way of describing what Paul says here, is common in many different religions around the world. What makes the Christian understanding of meditation unique is in what we are called to meditate on. The focus of our meditation is external to our being. We are not encouraged to look inward to find something there. Rather, we are pointed to an external source to find clarity.

The process of transformation within the Christian faith is found in our displacing our ego as the central object of focus, and replacing it with something greater than ourselves. When we come to Christ, repent of our sins, and trust in Him for our redemption we are righting the error of the human condition. That error is the delusion that peace and joy and truth will be found within us. Our limitations makes this effort fruitless, and yet, there are many who would orient their lives around this flawed principle.

The power of the Gospel is who it sheds divine illumination on our problem. We are broken spirits. Our identity is the summation of our achievements or giftedness. Who we are can only be discovered when the architect of our being realigns perception, bringing it into proper alignment with his character. What this means is that without Jesus clarifying who he is–the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15)–we are lost in our search of who we are.

There is a quote attributed to C. S. Lewis that I find appropriate here. The reason I find it so compelling is in the way Lewis clearly and succinctly states why Jesus is so important to our spiritual growth.

C. S. Lewis Quote

When we move out of the way so that God can rule and reign in our lives we will be in proper relationship with God. I believe these are the things that we should be thinking on. I hope that you do.

How Keeping The Speed Limit Keeps Me Sane

About one month ago I attended a men’s conference at one of my favorite outdoor camps, Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters. There are some good folks up there.

I am writing this because my wife noticed that I had started keeping the speed limit when I drove. When she asked I did not have a good answer for her. I still do not, but I have been thinking about it and wanted to share with her and with you some of my thoughts.

As I spent time away, reflecting and praying on a couple of decisions I had to make, something happened that I do not have a good explanation for. Nothing was said to make me think about the fact that most people speed when they drive. We talk about being good men, good fathers, good husbands. We talked about our devotional life with God. We talked about life and we ate good food. But, there was nothing said about the fact that most people in this country break the law every day. There was not any reference to this kind of behavior, but when I left the camp I was not speeding.

I like said, I am not sure why I am driving the speed limit consistently. I can not explain it, but what I know is the effect that it has had on my mind and heart. By obeying the speed limit I notice how many people are in a terrible hurry to get to the next place. I have noticed that people look at me like I’m the one that is strange. “Doesn’t he know that I have some place to be!” My fellow drivers just do not appear to understand why someone would NOT be in as big a hurry as them. It has been one of the most rewarding realities of my life. I was living a hurried life. And now, I do not have too.

Leaving five or ten minutes earlier is a better choice than trying to make up that five or ten minutes by driving recklessly. Most of our time on the road is less than an hour long. Driving five, ten or even fifteen miles an hour faster for that short a distance does not really improve driving time. What driving faster does is amplify the affects should (God forbid) an accident occur. This is a great website from Australia that helps validate this by providing stats on the effects of speeding on a possible accident. (I am pretty sure Australians have the same tendencies as we do. They are humans too.)

Here are some of the findings that they discovered. Driving over the speed limit:

  • increases your chances of being involved in a crash
  • means you have less time to react to avoid a crash
  • takes longer to stop the vehicle to avoid a crash
  • increases the severity of injury in a crash.

This is not the only interesting effect of keeping the speed limit. Keeping the speed limit has given me something to pray about as I drive. I find myself praying more as I drive. I just keeping thinking of all the people who genuinely believe that if they do not speed all their plans will fall apart. I have realized that I do not want this to be my life.

I have learned that keeping the speed limit not only makes good practical sense, it makes good spiritual sense. I want to live a consistent life before God. I am not where I need to be, but I hope that I am making progress.

Growing Pains, Pt. 7 | Changing Circles

Difficult Choices…

What happens when we make life decisions that make a change in the way that we live our lives? It is hard to change the way that we do things. How much more difficult can those changes be for our families and friends? If we have Christian family we should consider ourselves blessed. But, there are many who make a decision for Christ and are pushed out by the those that they love. It is not an easy thing to chose Christ. The way may appear to be simple, but the journey can cost us in areas that we could not imagine.

To live the Christian life, to live it as it is meant to be lived will require difficult choices. And these choices are difficult because some of the choices may require us to change the circle, or circles, of influence in our lives. A circle of influence consists of those individuals that we listen to and trust. The reason that a change may need to be made is not because the person is bad, but because our values have changed. The reasons and motivations of our lives have changed and if someone does not share these things with us then something will give. Something must give. Having said this, it does not mean that you must let go forever or even at all. What changing circles means is that the ear that at one time was ready to hear must now filter words and intentions that do not agree with the Word of God.

…Must Be Made…

It begins with hearing the truth of the Gospel and all of a sudden the conviction of the Holy Spirit moves us to make a profession. We confess our sins, accept Jesus as Lord and are baptized, joining a local body of believers. Then we go and share what has happened because this was such a wonderful thing that has just happened, but we do not get the reaction that we wanted or expected. We are left to wonder whether or not the decision that we made was the right one because the ones that have helped and counseled do not seem to agree with us. It is here that the we reach a crossroads where the difficult decision is made.

A choice must be made because we cannot continue in our old ways of doing things. It must be made because we have been changed and have become new creations in and through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). It must be made because if there is to be any chance to be what God would have us to be we must be willing to make the decision and be confident that it is the right thing to do.

…In Order To Grow.

Ultimately the most important relationship that is nurtured in our lives is the one with our Heavenly Father. Because of this it is important to surround ourselves with those individuals that will provide for us the environment, structure, education and encouragement that we need to make our faith a reality. It is possible to have a faith that is not real to us. If faith is mere theory, an idea what we wish we had, it will not be real to us. If what we want is to have a real and living faith we need to do what needs to be done-we need to change circles.

It’s not about hurt feelings, missed friends or a popularity contest. We are talking about our hearts. We are talking about the condition of our souls and the direction of our lives and the lives of our families. It is time to live the choice-you already made it.

Growing Pains, Pt. 6 | “Evangelism”

Give What Has Been Given

If there is one characteristic that embodies the essence of Christianity it is selflessness. Another word for this humility. Rick Warren wrote in The Purpose Driven Life that humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. I could stop right there, but that would only be part of the picture. If we are going to be the people that God would have us to be, then we must be willing and able to share the Good News of Jesus to all who are around us. There is a phrase that has stuck in my mind over the last several years. It is borrowed, but it says, “God will not send a blessing to you, if He knows He can’t get it through you.” God’s hand and activity in your life is not about you, and it surely is not only for you.

Christianity is a religion of return. No one comes to faith in isolation. Faith requires a body of faith to give it to others. If you had never seen a church, a Christian or a bible you never would have known about Jesus. You may have thought about God, for Paul said that the world testifies of God, but what we need can only come through revelation and that gift and responsibility has been given to the Church of Jesus. If there has been any benefit or change in our lives, then we are charged with a great responsibility, to give what has been given to us.

Many Ways To Share

Far too many Christians have been turned off to evangelism because they think that to spread the word is to get on a soapbox or hand out tracks or to be able to quote scripture to someone who is not a Christian. Evangelism is more than what you know or do not know about the church, the bible or the doctrines of scripture. What has Jesus done for you today? If you can think of one thing, then share that. It should not be that complicated.

Bible thumping is not the best or only way to do what Jesus did. Can you take a warm meal to a family in mourning? This is evangelism. Can you tell someone of a prayer that God has answered? Can you show grace where once there would have been anger? Can you look past the sin and love the sinner? This is evangelism. There are some that may feel comfortable with the confrontational method. There are some that need this kind of straight forward talk, but there are others that could use a gentle hug of comfort or a kind word of hope. The Gospel is supposed to be a balm, a medicine that we apply to the pains and hurts of someone’s life. If this is true, then it should not feel like alcohol on an open wound.

Like A Vitamin

Sharing your faith with someone else is like taking a vitamin. The more and the longer you share your faith the better you feel and the stronger your faith will become. I share my faith by showing that it is possible to have fun, to have a full and vibrant life and not compromise your values and convictions. There was a time when men and women knew that they needed God in their lives. There are so many distractions and diversions today, God has been relegated to an “as needed” remedy.

So many people feel that with a good job and good pay they can get everything that they need. The form of evangelism must change, not its substance. Try to find some way to share what you believe. Remember; you may not change anyone, but you will change the way they look at you. And that is evangelism at its heart.