I invite you to join discussions, it enhances the reading experience for everyone. Please share your thoughts, opinions and knowledge in a respectful manner. May we all learn something in our endeavor to educate our hearts and minds. I look forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

God Slapped Me!

God slapped me upside the head the other day.

Not saying I didn’t deserve it, I did. 

Just wasn’t expecting it. 

Thankfully, I’m getting used to hearing His voice, so I listened and boy I’m glad I did! 

Here’s how it happened.

I was in the shower muttering under my breath about all the problems of the day. Basically, I was complaining about anything and everything.

I was in the process of rinsing the shampoo when God spoke.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing” (Phil 2:14 NIV)

“Yeah, I know God. But…”

“No, Buts’.” 

I didn't listen. “It’s just that this is so unfair.”

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (Col 3:23 NIV)

Ouch! That really got me.

God wasn’t finished yet.

“Would you have felt this way if I would have told you to go the extra mile out of your way?”


“Then don’t complain now.”

I was silent.

God had me…and He knew it.

Truth is like that. 

It speaks volumes and leaves silence while we try to comprehend it.

Truth shatters all our excuses, all our perceived injustices and all our complaints.

Truth prevails…if we listen.

I, for one, finished my shower and thanked God for quieting my storm. 

Inside, I had been letting rage build. Unfairness of a situation was eating at me and God knew it.

So He spoke into my storm.

I listened and my waves ceased. 

I got out of the shower full of peace.

The situation hadn’t changed, but my perception of it had.

This wasn’t about me.

It was about God working in me and through me.

When we are faithful with the little things, He will give us more.

But how can He do that if we’re stuck complaining about the extra mile we sometimes have to go? 

Simple, we can’t.

That’s why it’s so important to keep our eyes on Him and not our situations. 

He is what matters. 

My question for you:
Are you too busy complaining to hear God speak?

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship Chapter 17 Part 1

Matt 6:19-24 Sermon on the Mount con’t

I want to stress here the reading of KJV “if therefore thine eye be SINGLE, thy whole body shall be full of light.” (emphasis mine)

The opening paragraph rocks! 

NOTHING is to get in the way of serving God.

 It’s not, Jesus + anything.

It’s Jesus. 


“Only by following Christ alone can he preserve a single eye.”  

The law, religion, church, family, job, world, government, works, etc, NOTHING should get in our way of following Christ. 

“The life of discipleship can only be maintained so long as NOTHING is ALLOWED to come between Christ and ourselves.” (emphasis mine).

NOTHING- not even good things. Good things can get in the way of following Christ. 

Missions, giving, teaching, providing for family, taking care of loved ones- ALL GOOD THINGS. But they must not be ALLOWED to rise above God.


ALLOWED implies it’s our choice.

Often, without realizing it, we move our priorities and Christ drops a peg or two. 

We don’t mean for it to happen. 

We even deny it has happened, but our hearts reveal the truth… and out of the abundance of the heart our mouths speak (Matt 12:34, Luke 6:45).

When our eye is not fixed solely on Christ, we begin to show signs of it.

Our feet stumble and our hands don’t operate as they should. 

“…the heart of the disciple must be set upon Christ alone. If the eye sees an object which is not there, the whole body is deceived. If the heart is devoted to the mirage of the world, to the creature instead of the Creator, the disciple is lost.” 

As a church going Christian, I know how venomously we deny loving the world over serving Christ. 

But that’s not true. We all fall prey to this temptation. If we didn’t, Jesus wouldn’t have preached on it. Remember last week, our Spirit is willing but our flesh is weak (Matt 26:41).

“The light of the body is the eye, and the light of the Christian is his heart…But the heart is dark when it clings to earthy goods, for then, however urgently Jesus may call us, his call fails to find access to our hearts.” 


This passage in Matthew says we can’t serve God and anything else. 

It’s all God or none of God. 

If our hearts are weighed down with the cares of the world- even good things like serving others- we have taken God off His throne and we serve an idol. 

Those aren’t my words, they’re Gods. 

Yes, we are to enjoy the things God gives us, but the Bible makes it very clear we are given possessions to use, not to collect and not to take the place of God.

“Where our treasure is, there is our trust, our security, our consolation and our God. Hoarding is idolatry.” 

The size of our treasure or what it consists of matters not. What matters is if it is placed above God. 

So how do we know if something is taking the place of God in our lives/hearts?

“…everything which hinders us from loving God Above all things and acts as a BARRIER between ourselves and our obedience to Jesus is our treasure, and the place where our heart is.” (emphasis mine)

We can’t serve two masters. 

The Bible says it’s “either—or”.

God and the world do not mix.

The tricky part is enjoying all God gives, yet remaining detached from it. 

For our possessions, even our good deeds, slowly move in and take root where God is supposed to reign. Satan’s sneaky. He doesn’t come out and tell you something is getting in your way of serving Christ. It’s a slow process. 

“…because the world and its goods make a bid for our hearts, and only when they have won them do they become what they really are.” 

In the end you love one master and hate the other.

None of us want to say we hate Jesus. But the Bible clearly says if we love the world, the love of the Father is not in us (1 John 2:15). It also says can either love the world or God…either—or.

So if God’s not first, He’s last.

If God’s not your love, you hate Him.

If we try to combine “love for him with love for the world, we are turning our love for him into hatred.”


Bonhoeffer asks probing questions, they are my questions for you today (worded slightly different):

1.        What are you really devoted to?
2.       Is your heart set on earthy goods?
3.       Do you try to combine devotion to possessions with loyalty with Christ?
4.       How can a disciple have dealings with earthly goods and yet preserve a singleness of heart?
5.       Are you devoted exclusively to Him?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How to be a Politically Active Christian: GUEST POST

I have the honor of having Jon Stolpe GUEST POST! Jon humbles and inspires me with his servants heart. He is someone who actually "practices what he preaches".  He is passionate about small groups, missions, family, marriage, parenting, and Philadelphia sports.  Jon is also a writer and blogs daily at Jon Stolpe Stretched. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wonderful wife, Leanne, and their two kids.  Connect with him on TwitterFacebook or his blog.

I’ve always had an interest in politics.  We are so blessed to live in a country where we can take part in the selection process for our local, state, and national leaders.  Voting is a right, a privilege and a responsibility.

Free speech is also one of the rights that we have in this country.  Free speech gives us permission to defend our position on an issue or on a candidate.  I’m thankful for this right.  But I sometimes wonder if this right has gotten our country into trouble.

With the creation and rise of social media, everyone has a say.  People’s thoughts and opinions are out there for everyone to read.  Once it’s on Facebook or Twitter or once it’s published on a blog, it’s a permanent record for all to read.  And it seems like everyone has something to say.

Maybe I’m forgetful of past election cycles, but it seems to be that more and more people are posting personal character attacks on Facebook and other social media outlets.  Photo-shopped photos of candidates with disrespectful comments dominate my Facebook news feed.  To be honest with you, it’s wearing me out.  I wasn’t comfortable when friends and family attacked former president George W. Bush, and I’m not comfortable with the attacks on current president Barack Obama.

Sure, it’s okay to disagree with policies, budgets, and agendas of our leaders.  But it needs to be done with respect.  The other day, I was reading the Bible and a passage from Ecclesiastes stuck out to me:
Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird of the air may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say.  Ecclesiastes 10:20

Today, it just doesn’t seem like people care about reviling or respecting our leaders.  So how should we as Christians respond responsibly and respectfully?

1.    Pray for our leaders.  Whether or not you agree with a particular political leader, we should pray for our leaders.  Paul directs this in his letter to the Phillipians:
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  Philippians 2:1-2

2.    Don’t participate in the disrespect.  Don’t add fuel to the social media fire by being disrespectful in your posts, comments, or conversations.  In our country where free speech is our right, dialogue intelligently and respectfully with each other.

3.    Vote.  This is your right, responsibility and duty.  Let your voice be heard through your vote.

4.    Win, lose, or draw, live your life in a Christ-like manner.  Whether “your” candidate wins or not, you have the opportunity to make a difference by how you choose to live your life.  If you feel strongly about an issue like helping the poor, get involved by helping the poor.  We don’t need our candidate in office in order for us to make a difference.  We can make the most of each and every opportunity, and we can do so with respect.  And we can still choose to love those who lead us and who debate with us – even if they disagree with us.  (John 15:17)

What other suggestions do you have for Christians to participate responsibly and respectfully in the political process?  Are you being respectful or are you adding to the clutter?

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship Chapter 16

Matt 6:16-18 Sermon on the Mount con’t

“Fasting helps to discipline the self-indulgent and slothful will which is so reluctant to serve the Lord, and it helps to humiliate and chasten the flesh.” 

The life of a devote Christian is one of discipline. 

Discipline is a life time practice, not just once in a while. 

It’s like someone who competes in the Olympics, they don’t just discipline their bodies one day a week or on holidays, they train daily in order to compete in the Olympics.

We must take on that same mind frame and have rigorousness training in our walks with Christ. 

Being a disciple is serious business. We must take it seriously and harness our flesh in order for God to be able to use us fully for His Kingdom. 

“…if we give free rein to the desires of the flesh (taking care of course to keep within the limits of what seems permissible to the world), we shall find it hard to train for the service of Christ. When the flesh is satisfied it is hard to pray...or to devote oneself to a life of service which calls for much self-renunciation.” 

But it’s not enough to have an exterior show of discipline in Christ. 

Our hearts reveal the true measure of who we are and what we serve. 

Bonhoeffer points out that those who truly surrender their will to God are more acutely aware of much further they have to go, how much more they must discipline their body. 

They understand they must die daily to self. They must train 24/7 because our spirits are willing but our flesh is weak. We must “Watch and pray” (Matt 26:41). This takes effort, more than most want to do.

“The spirit knows the right way, and desires to follow it, but the flesh lacks courage and finds it too hard, too hazardous and wearisome, and so it stifles the voice of the spirit.” 

One way the flesh resists discipline is by claiming “liberty” and excusing our “self-indulgence and irregularity in prayer, in mediation and in our bodily life…We forget that discipleship means estrangement from the world.”
How can we be estranged from the world if we don’t ACTIVELY work out our faith? 

Faith alone won’t keep us from the world. Jesus tells us to “WATCH AND PRAY”.  Those are action words!

“…the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.” 

The words from Ephesians 6:12 NIV come to mind when I read Bonhoeffers words. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Spiritual warfare is real. Our spirits long to please God but our flesh wars with our spirit and often the flesh wins out. 

Going against our flesh is like swimming upstream- not easy. It takes training to be able to swim against the currents of our society. 

“How is it possible to live the life of faith when we grow weary of prayer, when we lose our taste for reading the Bible, and when sleep, food and sensuality deprive us of the joy of communion with God?” 

Yes, the life of a disciple takes work, but the benefits are great! The fruit of the Spirit is one example.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22-25 NIV

Another way our flesh resists discipline is in being pious. Taking upon ourselves the work Christ accomplished on the cross in order for all to see our good works. 

“Such publicity gives it the reward it seeks.”

If you struggle to understand why Christians fast and what the benefits are of fasting, I encourage you to read:  “Awakening: A new approach to Faith, Fasting, and Spiritual Freedom” by Stovall Weems.

1.       What are other ways our flesh resists discipline?
2.       How do you guard against the desires of the flesh?