Category Archives: Teaching Series

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.

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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.

Growing Pains, Pt. 5 | “Discipleship”

Being Stretched

One of the most difficult things that we as Christians must face is ourselves. For the most part there is no greater barrier to spiritual growth than our own preconceived and long standing beliefs–or misbeliefs. It is hard to get rid of those ideas and thoughts that have guided us throughout our lives. This is more the case for adults than for children because when a child comes to Christ they have not lived too much life. They have not experienced as much or seen as much. A child comes in innocence and through the love and structure of a church and family can learn the faith without having to replace or undo other ideas and feelings and thoughts from outside sources. The child asks this question, “Is what I have been taught the truth?” The adult on the other hand asks a different question. An adult’s question is, “Why should I change what I already believe and hold to be true?” This fundamental difference is what causes the stretching in people’s lives.

For the child it is a struggle to hold on to what he or she has been taught. For the adult it is the process of replacing already held beliefs for Christian ones. And it is through the process of discipleship that the stretching occurs. It is through the struggle of finding the truth and learning to exercise faith that we become more and more like Jesus. Continue reading Growing Pains, Pt. 5 | “Discipleship”

Growing Pains, Pt. 4 | “Participation (Time)”

What Do You Value?

If looking at your checkbook will give you an idea of where and for what your money is being spent, what will determine where and for what you life is being spent? The simple truth, I believe, is that what we give to most is what, in the end, we value most. This is not a comment of judgment, but a reality. When I look at what I do with these few precious moments that I have been given in and on this world, I have to ask, “What good is coming of my being here?” When the time comes for all of us, and it will, when we will breath our last, will what we remember be memories of a life filled with years or years filled with life?

Being a Christian means that we have made a choice. Whether we understood it completely or not the choice was made. It was a choice to live by a certain code of morals, ethics and values. The choice was to change the way we were living our lives because we had met someone who had a better way. A vote of confidence in Jesus is a vote of no confidence in ourselves-that we cannot find the best way, let alone live that way on our own. I think that it is an injustice to new Christians not to explain this to them. If a plant is not growing or bearing fruit the assumption is that it must be dead. Continue reading Growing Pains, Pt. 4 | “Participation (Time)”