Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was another good day. We made and served breakfast for over 300 people at the local High School yesterday morning. It the day of an annual 5k race to raise money for scholarships in memory of a longtime educator from the community. In an effort serve the community and be good citizens of our community we have made and served breakfast each of the 5 years of this race.

We had a good time of worship during the singing, people were very engaged as we sang.
The message was a clear presentation of the gospel. The scripture was Acts 4:12 and the message was entitled "What Have You Found?". People are searching for all kind of things, including salvation. What you find depends on where you search. Some common places people are searching for salvation are ... Yourself, this is very popular, just look at the self help section in bookstores. But no matter how hard you look, you will not find salvation in yourself. William Temple said, "The only thing of our very own which we contribute to our salvation is the sin which makes it necessary." People look for it in Stuff. Things will satisfy, but not for long. New stuff will come along and prompt us to be dissatisfied with our current stuff. Things are not the problem, but they are certainly not the solution either. People look for it in whatever Feels Good. That which feels good in the beginning may be destructive for you in the long run. The problem is you can suffer deep damage before you realize that the "feeling" is not the answer. People look for it in whatever is Popular at the moment. Salvation has nothing to do with popularity, remember they crucified Jesus.

So we need to recognize the real thing. Salvation is only found in Christ. Salvation is available to you and to everyone. Read John 3:16-17. Salvation has been offered but you must accept it for yourself. Salvation can make ordinary people courageous and extraordinary because of who died for them. Read Acts 4:13.

Where have you been looking? What will you do with what you found?

Sunday evening I began a new study in my group entitled, "Your God is Too Small". It is a look at what people believe about God. We had a great discussion as we began this study. I am really looking forward to this study.

Here's hoping you find what you the truth in your search this week.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was a good day. God is still working through this series "A Celebration of Healing/Recovery". Yesterday was the final part of that series, I always struggle with conclusions for series and yesterday was no different but God is still God.

We had several men gone at a retreat and several other regulars gone for a variety of reasons. We had to do some scrambling to fill spots and some we did not know were going to be gone until they didn't show up. We are also without part of our sound system as it is being replaced and has not arrived. We made do and again God is still God and did his thing.

We still had a decent attendance and it appears a few new people have decided that we are there home church, that is encouraging. We had some good sharing about our new recovery ministry that begins next week. The people who shared were vulnerable and honest in their testimonies.

Principle #8 in the sermon series is "Yield myself to be used by God to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and by my words." The key word in this principle is "yield". Romans 6:11-23 is the foundation for this principle. Yield what? Yield yourself, including your thoughts, body, attitudes, motives, time, stuff, etc... Yield your hurts and pain. Why would you want to hold onto to it? But we often nurture it, and don't recognize that God wants to recycle your pain. When something is recycled it is broken down, refined, reformed and then used as new again. Yield your habits, God can help you overcome them. Holding on to them has not helped has it?

How can you yield this stuff? It starts with you offering yourself, habits, and hurts. This is choice, God has given us free will. You must choose. To yield you need to die to sin, self and style. Romans 6:11 says, "count yourself dead to sin". Live as you are dead to sin, self and style. By style I mean the appearance we so often think is what a follower of Christ looks like. Style is not the issue, substance is what matters. Yield by being alive in Christ. Following Christ is the most exciting life anyone can choose. It is a sin to bore people with the Gospel or to be boring as a disciple of Christ. We are literally set free when we yield ourselves to Christ. It is under his control and we are free to just live the life he has for us.

Why should I yield, what difference does it make? Yield so you can be an instrument for Christ. An instrument is available to the owner for to follow the intended purpose. The purpose includes sharing the Good News, offering healing to others and to offer love to people dying to be loved. Your purpose includes offering acceptance to those who are lost and to show and share forgiveness. God's forgiveness and yours. All of this is to be shared with others, not kept to ourselves or some select group. Then you will be able to enjoy eternal life and realize the grace of God is for you.

Are you yielded? Yes? or No? What is your choice? I pray that you are working the principles in your life.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday had all the trappings of a holiday weekend. Low attendance and lack of energy, but God still showed up. This was the last getaway for families with kids in school, school begins on Tuesday. We were scrambling in to fill spots in many areas and some we were not able to do.

I continued the series "A Celebration of Healing/Recovery". This was week, and principle, number 7. This principle is based on Mark 14:38 and says, "Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow Him." This is a maintenance step. We all realize that growth and maturity is not a smooth ride, but there are usually surges and stumbles. This message was dealing with the stumbles, how see them, how they happen, how to prevent them and how to recover from them. The stumbles are relapses, where we move back toward old habits and hurts. There is actually a pattern to most stumbles and relapses. First is complacency, we start getting comfortable with short term gains. The pain is reduced and we think we can live with the pain since it is reduced. Second is confusion, we start to forget how bad it was before. Third is compromise, we begin to return to the risky situations and the compromise is on. Fourth is the catastrophe, we give in to the old hurts, habits or patterns. We need to realize the relapse did not begin at the catastrophe, it just became obvious there, it began with the complacency.

What leads us toward the stumble and relapse? We revert to willpower. Galatians 3:3-5 ..."are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?"... Willpower didn't work before and it won't be enough now. We ignore some of the steps or principles, in other words we get in a hurry. We try to heal without support. This one is huge. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. We need help, we need God, we need others to make it the victory over our hurts and habits. We need people watching, loving, confronting and guiding us. We also become prideful which leads to a fall. Proverbs 16:18. This is an especially vulnerable position for many of us in an area in which we think we are strong. Because we believe we are strong in an area we often leave it unguarded which leads to it becoming a weak area.

So how do I prevent the relapse and recover? Start with evaluation. That seems to be a constant every week, doesn't it? We need to evaluate our physical symptoms. The physical is greatly impacted by hurts and habits, and physical problems and ca lead to poor habits and hurts. Evaluate the emotional. Do a HEART check: Am I Hurting? Am I Exhausted? Am I Angry? Do I Resent anyone? Am I tense? Evaluate your relationships. In past weeks we talked about doing a relational inventory, pull it back out and review it. Evaluate the spiritual. How is relationship with Christ? Do you have a personal relationship with Christ? If you do is it growing? If it is not growing then something is wrong. We need to do evaluations regularly, on the spot, at the end of a day, a week, or a significant event and keep doing it. We also prevent, or recover from a relapse through listening to God and thinking on His Word. This requires us to slow down long enough to hear from Him. Another tremendous prevention and recovery action is prayer. It is how we plug into God's power for our life. I don't care how you pray, but I care deeply that you pray. Stand, sit, lay down, do it out loud, be quiet, walk around, write it down, I don't care, but make sure you pray.

Where are you most vulnerable? What are you doing to prevent a relapse? What will you do about it today?