Saturday, October 23, 2010

Imitate this!

I gotta tell you, this scripture was recently placed in stark relief for me.

Hebrews 13:7
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. (NIV)

What would you do if you met a guy who was hungry?  What would you do if you ran into a family that had a serious need for shelter, clothing or food?  What you do if you came face to face with a lady who needed medicine and couldn't afford to pay for it?  Some of us would ignore the need.  Some of us would rather believe that the need was somehow going to be taken care of by 'others'.  Some of us would as soon convince ourselves that the situation was deserved by past sins and mistakes.  Unfortunately, many would do nothing.
I believe a leader is a person of action.  Recently, I got a front row seat to witness this.  There was a hungry guy.  He needed shelter, clothing and food.  I don't know if he needed medicine, but if he had, tough luck, because he had no money with which to purchase it.  One of Christ's people put him up for a couple of weeks, fed him, saw that he had a place to live, food to eat and the opportunity for a fresh start.  It was a modern day twist to a familiar story that Jesus told.  In this story, though, quite a few of God's people joined in with this leader and helped effect this rescue. 

None of them are after any no names here!  No, the cudos go to the ONE who deserves them. He gets all the glory.  But, because I'm grateful...I will say thanks.  Thanks for the great example.  Thanks for leading God's people to do what they were created to do.

Who are you imitating?  Find someone who is living the life that Christ calls us to and imitate them. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


This past Sunday I preached on the subject of ‘stewardship’.  I realize that this is not most people’s favorite subject…by a long shot.  The conclusion that I have come to is that it really is a matter of understanding purpose.  Do you know what your purpose is?  Have you ever really thought, ‘I am here on this earth for _______________’?  A further conclusion that I have come to is that we all have the same basic purpose.  If you were listening on Sunday, you surely remember, right?
Our purpose is to glorify God.  That is the simple truth.  Just like the creation we marvel at, we are a living, breathing sign on the road of life.  A sign that says, ‘this is what I value.’  Unfortunately, we often point away from God instead of towards HIM.  When I remember the mistakes of the past, it is with shame that I realize I had become a personal tour guide leading whoever happened to be watching away from God instead of towards.
The sad truth about my ‘humanity’ is that I have the ability to cross over from glorifying God to glorifying self in a New York minute (which I understand is pretty doggone quick).  That’s why it is so important that I be reminded often of my purpose in life.  Paul told Timothy in 1 Tim 4:16: “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”(NIV) I believe a good interpretation of that scripture is simply this: make sure your life and your teaching match up!  Be careful that you practice what you preach. 
When our words and claims say one thing and our life says another… we are confusing those watching us and we won’t be effective at fulfilling our purpose: that of pointing people towards God.  If that really is our purpose, stewardship is really about faithfully using ALL of our resources to accomplish that goal.  Where in your life are there resources that aren’t supporting your purpose?  How can you use your resources to better ‘point’ others to God? 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

New Beginnings...

There are a couple of verses in the Old Testament book of Lamentations that are really cool.  Here they are:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 
Lam 3:22-23 (NIV)

I don't know about you, but I seem to screw up fairly regularly.  On a daily basis, I think, say and do things that I am not real proud of.  Sometimes I shake them off and find it pretty easy not to go there again...for a while.  But occasionally, Satan seems to really get his hooks in me and it seems like I am drawn back again and again to the same issues.  Like a dog returning to it's vomit as scripture says.  I know that's a gross thought, but really...that is how God views it when I keep returning to my old ways.  I can just imagine him saying... 'Billy, you know I love you.  Why are you feeding on that which is never going to satisfy you?  I am ALL you need.'

And intellectually, I know that.  And you do too.  But over and over, throughout life, our personal demons (sin issues) keep coming back again and again.  We try so many ways to rid our lives of the garbage and seem to fail so often.  Here is a truth that I believe...and am trying to live out, however, imperfectly.

Our relationship with God is THE ANSWER for our struggle with sin.  If you are not seeking God, you will not overcome your issues.  You can hang it up.  And showing up for church on Sunday simply won't cut it.  It's a start, but you are gonna have to do better than that.  What God wants is you.  If you are reading this, then you have the exact same thing I have and that is 24 hours every day to decide what to do with.  Your personal relationship with God is the single most important thing in life.  This is true for alot of reasons...but consider this one.

God is the most powerful, loving, just, merciful, forgiving, holy being in the universe.  When you are walking in his will, you are aligning yourself with the only being who really has your best interests at heart.  And He doesn't make mistakes.  Most of us only give him a little slice of our we only get a little power to resist those personal demons that keep haunting us.  When you really begin to seek HIM...your mind actually changes.  This is why mere rulekeeping will not produce righteous, holy behavior.  Only being in the presence of God can do that.  Seriously...grab your Bible and read Colossians 2:20-3:3.

Your life will never be what it's supposed to be if God isn't everything to you.  So don't wait.  Say to God: TODAY I will begin seeking you.  I'm not going to wait for you to show up on Sunday.  Pick a scripture of praise (try Psalm 86:1-4) and imagine that you are sitting before this holy God and simply pray this Psalm and ask God to hear you.

Here is the amazing thing that will happen.  As we allow God to fill up our spirit more and more with his WORD and time spent before Him...our mind will change and the vomit that we've been feeding on will no longer be so appealing.  I believe this is why David was 'a man after God's own heart'.  He actively sought God!  Consistently.  He had lots of issues, but desperately sought God.

I believe that over time, we can become so enthralled with God, that we crave spending time with him and realize our weakness when we aren't in constant communion with him.  We feel disconnected.  And that's when Satan moves in... Can't you see the cycle?  So break it.  Today.  Break the cycle of despair, desperation, and disconnection!  Prevent that cycle by choosing to walk with Him in prayer and through His WORD.  Be consistent.  Be humble.  Be blessed.  And remember, his compassions are new every morning.