Aliens and Strangers

Aliens and StrangersChristians are not citizens of Planet Earth. Our citizenship is in a place called Heaven, and yet we are traveling on Earth during our present lifetime. So the question is: How is a citizen of Heaven supposed to act while visiting Earth?

The Apostle Peter was one of the most active disciples of Jesus. During Christ’s first visit to Earth, Peter is recorded as speaking more than all of the other disciples combined. And not surprisingly, Jesus speaks more words directly to Peter than He does to all of the other 11 disciples combined. Peter got a lot of training!

With that background, Peter gives us invaluable instructions in his first letter to the church. He calls Christians things like: strangers in the world, chosen people, peculiar people, and aliens and strangers in the world. He tells us travelers not only how to behave while traveling on Earth, but why we should travel in a God-honoring way.

We will be continue to work our way through these fascinating themes of Peter’s instructions for aliens and strangers this Sunday. If you don’t have a home church in the Cedar Springs area, I would love to have you join us. If you cannot join us in person, we will be broadcasting each message live on Facebook, and then we will make the video available later in the week.

I am excited to rejoin this journey of discovery with you!

The Gospels Side-By-Side (book review)

Gospels Side By SideI love reading. But hands-down, without a doubt, my favorite book to read is the Bible. So I’m always intrigued by any resource that can help me get more out of my time in the Scriptures. In The Gospels Side-By-Side by Rose Publishing, I found a goldmine.

This short pamphlet is chockfull of graphics, charts, maps and historical background information  that helped me see the bigger picture of the story of Jesus that the Gospel writers were conveying to us. It begins with the unique perspective of each Gospel writer, and launches us deeper into the Bible from there.

In this book you will see things like:

  • The events of Christ’s life, and which Gospel tells particular events
  • The miracles of Jesus
  • The parables of Jesus
  • The chronological movements of Jesus
  • How Jesus celebrated Passovers during His public ministry
  • How these biblical biographies compare to other biographies of the era
  • Even the historical harmony of the Gospel message in the post-apostolic age

This should bring new life to any Bible student’s reading time! I highly recommend you check out not only this pamphlet, but many of the other resources available at Rose Publishing.

Here are a couple of screenshots from the book…

 

Screen Shot -Christ's movesScreenshot - gospel writers

4 Tips For Making Better Goals

1 Corinthians 10.31I have noticed a lot of similarities between the September back-to-school rush, and New Year’s Day. Except instead of resolutions, in the fall most people set new goals, or try to readjust their schedules to take advantage of a new season.

This is an excellent idea, and the perfect time to do it.

In a psalm written by Moses, he tells us to understand the value of our days, and be as wise as we can with what we do with each day God has given us (Psalm 90:12).

The Apostle Paul echoes these thoughts:

Be very careful, then, how do you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

One way for us to make the most of every day is to wisely set some goals. Here are four tips that I’ve discovered to help me.

(1) The fewer the goals, the better.

Craig Groeschel said, “To do more things, do less things better.” I totally agree. I would suggest limiting yourself to just 1-2 goals at a time. Then put these one or two goals on your calendar first. In other words: Don’t prioritize your schedule, but schedule your priorities.

(2) Don’t fall into the sacred/secular trap.

So many people—even Christians—think that there are spiritual goals and non-spiritual goals. But the Bible says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Every goal you set is a spiritual goal, because every goal should help you live your life wisely, in a way that honors and glorifies God.

(3) Make your goals S.M.A.R.T.

You may have heard these before, but I really like to use them. Make your goals:

  • Specific—not “I want to eat better” but “I want to eat two servings of fruits or vegetables each day.”
  • Measurable—have a way to track your progress toward your goal. How many pages did you read? how many calories did you eat? how many minutes did you work out?
  • Achievable—don’t set a goal to run 5 miles a day if you’ve only been a couch potato. Ramp your goals up little by little in a way that’s achievable for you.
  • Relevant—I like to ask a “so that?” question about each of my goals in make sure it’s moving me forward. “I want to exercise for 20 minute three times per week, so that my blood pressure comes down, so that I can live medicine-free, so that I can….” I think you get the idea. Keep going to make sure your goal is relevant for your life.
  • Time to review—set a date to revisit your goals and see if you need to adjust anything.

(4) Make a “stop doing” list.

You cannot do everything, so focus on the important, not the urgent. And remember not everything can stay on your calendar. For instance, if you want to read more in the evenings, you may have to eliminate some TV time; if you want to exercise in the mornings, you may have to eliminate that second cup of coffee.

Just a couple of verses after Moses challenges us to make the most of every day God has given us, he asks God for His helpMay the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for usyes, establish the work of our hands.

May God give you wisdom as you make new goals, and may He bless the work of your hands as you implement your new strategies.

I Love My “Job”

I cannot even begin to tell you how thrilled I am when I get to baptize folks in water who have made the decision to follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Today it was even sweeter when I got to baptize a father and son!

IMG_7582IMG_7592 IMG_7589 IMG_7585

 

Poetry Saturday—Joy And Sorrow

I know this technically isn’t a “poem” but I found this allegory poetically beautiful. I hope you enjoy it as I did!

FullSizeRender“…sorrowful, yet always rejoicing…” (2 Corinthians 6:10)

Sorrow was beautiful, but her beauty was the beauty of the moonlight shining through the leafy branches of the trees in the wood, and making little pools of silver here and there on the soft green moss below. When Sorrow sang, her notes were like the low sweet call of the nightingale, and in her eyes was the unexpectant gaze of one who has ceased to look for coming gladness. She could weep in tender sympathy with those who weep, but to rejoice with those who rejoice was unknown to her.

Joy was beautiful, too, but his was the radiant beauty of the summer morning. His eyes still held the glad laughter of childhood, and his hair had the glint of the sunshine’s kiss. When Joy sang his voice soared upward as the lark’s, and his step was the step of a conqueror who has never known defeat. He could rejoice with all who rejoice, but to weep with those who weep was unknown to him.

“But we can never be united,” said Sorrow wistfully.

“No, never.” And Joy’s eyes shadowed as he spoke. “My path lies through the sunlit meadows, the sweetest roses bloom for my gathering, and the blackbirds and thrushes await my coming to pour forth their most joyous lays.”

“My path,” said Sorrow, turning slowly away, “leads through the darkening woods, with moon-flowers only shall my hands be filled. Yet the sweetest of all earth-songs—the love song of the night—shall be mine; farewell, Joy, farewell.”

Even as she spoke they became conscious of a form standing beside them; dimly seen, but of a Kingly Presence, and a great and holy awe stole over them as they sank on their knees before Him.

“I see Him as the King of Joy,” whispered Sorrow, “for on His Head are many crowns, and the nail prints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great victory. Before Him all my sorrow is melting away into deathless love and gladness, and I give myself to Him forever.”

“Nay, Sorrow,” said Joy softly, “but I see Him as the King of Sorrow, and the crown on His head is a crown of thorns, and the nail prints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great agony. I, too, give myself to Him forever, for sorrow with Him must be sweeter than any joy that I have known.”

“Then we are one in Him,” they cried in gladness, “for none but He could unite Joy and Sorrow.”

Hand in hand they passed out into the world to follow Him through storm and sunshine, in the bleakness of winter cold and the warmth of summer gladness, “as sorrowful yet always rejoicing.” —Lettie Cowman

Trust The Bridge

From Corrie ten Boom’s book I Stand At The Door And Knock

John 14.6“Once I was waiting at a very primitive bridge in New Zealand. We were traveling by car, but we didn’t dare to cross. First, one of the men in the car went to investigate if the bridge was strong enough. It appeared to be strong enough, even though it was very primitive, and we crossed without a problem.

This man was not investigating our trust in the bridge. Very often, we tend to look at our faith, and we know our faith is big and strong, or weak and small. But we shouldn’t investigate our faith; we should investigate the Bridge. We should not rely on ourselves, but on Him. And when we look to Jesus, we know that He is strong.” —Corrie ten Boom (emphasis added)

Thursdays With Oswald—Backsliding

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Backsliding

     The tendency to rest in any of the blessings which are the natural outcome of union with God is the beginning of backsliding. … 

     If God were to remove from us as saints the possibility of disobedience there would be no value in our obedience, it would be a mechanical business. … The possibility of disobedience in a child of God makes his obedience of amazing value. … 

     If we have received the life of Jesus, it is unconscious blasphemy in God’s sight to stop short of attaining anything He reveals as possible for us. … If once we deliberately stop short and refuse to let God’s life has its way with us, we shall revile the truth because it has not been reached.

From The Philosophy Of Sin

Oswald Chambers is reminding us that there is no standing still for the saint. We cannot say, “That’s good enough, I don’t want any more,” or “It’s so wonderful here, I don’t want to move on.” Either of those attitudes sets us up to begin to slide backward from our relationship with God.

“But,” someone might say, “the next level God is calling me to seems so difficult. Staying where I am seems safer than attempting something where I might fall flat on my face spiritually!” Chambers reminds us that obedience to what God calls us to do is “of amazing value” to Him. Also, a littler later on, Oswald Chambers encourages us with these words: “All God’s commands are enablings.” In other words, what God calls us to do, His Spirit enables us to do.

Don’t stay where you are and risk backsliding away from Him. Press on! Press forward! Keep obeying what God is revealing to you!

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