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Archive for the ‘Personal Growth’ Category

On April 10, 1912, the RMS Titanic set sail from Southampton, England, bound for New York.  Four days into her maiden voyage, she hit an iceberg and sunk into the Atlantic Ocean.

The sinking of the Titanic is a story ingrained in our culture with mythic proportions.  The events of that tragic day have been scrutinized from every angle, but the greatest contributing factor to the loss of so many lives was the simple neglect of multiple warnings from other ships, “Icebergs ahead.”

Failure to head warnings has lead to more disasters than just the sinking of one ship.  It has lead to loss and heartbreak at every level of life and human relationships.

I believe there are three significant warning signs every follower of Jesus must be aware of if they desire to steer free of icebergs as they navigate their way through life.

Three warning signs of ice bergs ahead:

  1. When what I hear on Sunday morning changes my language, but not my life, I am in iceberg waters.
  2. When the cry for comfort is louder than the cry for compassion, I am in iceberg waters.
  3. When my eyes are so focused on this world that I am not homesick for Heaven, I am in iceberg waters.

Warning signs are not a guarantee of either a collision or avoidance thereof.  They simply are what they are, a cautious observation that you are sailing in dangerous waters.

I pray you will give careful consideration to the warning signs around you, and may you steer clear of the icebergs that could hurt you or the ones you love.

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Super Size, Value Size, Whata Size.  It has become the nature of American consumer that when we place an order, we want to go big with it.  We all want to get the most bang for our buck.

But, real life is much more complicated than ordering off of a fast food menu.  How do I go big on the menu of everyday living?

Jesus may not have frequented fast food establishments (though He was the originator of the super-sized happy meal), but He understood the principles that can make life much bigger and more full than the smallness we often relegate ourselves to.  In Luke 6, He tells us:

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  — Luke 6:37-38 (NIV)

Jesus says you are the determining factor of the size of your life.  When you measure generously toward others, you measure generously toward yourself.

I pray you find freedom in this remarkable teaching from our Lord Jesus.  As you walk in forgiveness and generosity toward others, may it lead you to experience the fullness of life our Lord desires to pour into your lap.

May you experience the joy of a King-Sized life today!

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Somewhere along the journey of life each one of us takes a picture of ourselves.  And in that snapshot, we magnify our faults.  We memorialize a moment of failure, a moment of weakness, or an insecure or awkward stage of life.

At some point in time, someone said something, pointed out a fear, or made a judgment about you — and it stuck.  In fact, it is still sticking.

As much as we try to hide, it seems impossible to get away from the flaw-filled person we see in the mirror.  We are all wounded by the damage we have received, and even more, we all fear the damage we can cause.

As personal as our story may be, we are not the only ones who feel this way.  It is a wound common to us all.  Tucked away in the pages of the Bible, we find a man who shared our common pain, our common fear.

Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.  (1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NKJV)

I see three simple, yet powerful connections between each of us and the life of Jabez.  Through acknowledging these three truths, we could each find ourselves breaking the cycles of our past and enjoying the grace of God for our lives today.

  1. We all carry scars.  However hidden or personal our story may be, we are all united by the simple fact that we are not alone.  Everyone around us finds themselves trying to make sense of their life.  We all carry scars of the pain we have received and the pain we have caused.
  2. We all carry fear.  The most damaging impact of the scars we carry is the haunting fear that the pain may not be over, that our past may wound us again in the future.  We carry the fear of being hurt again and the fear of hurting others in the same way we were hurt.  If left unanswered, our fears will box us into a small and unsatisfying life.
  3. We all carry hope.  It is what moves us forward.  Somehow, somewhere, someone has to have more to offer than a life lived in cycles of fear and pain.  Hope invites us to take risks and embrace a life of meaning and purpose.

This was the story of Jabez.  He carried the scars of the wounds he caused as a child and the fear of the name given him that he would continue to cause pain all the days of his life.  But somewhere in the midst of the scars and fear, Jabez nurtured hope, and his hope caused him to cry out to the God who created him, “Bless me, indeed.  Enlarge my territory.  Let Your hand be upon me.  Keep me from evil.  Keep me from causing pain.”

A powerful and faith filled prayer.  A prayer we still connect with on a very deep level.

If I were to summarize my personal connection with the prayer of Jabez, it would be: “I don’t want to keep hurting from the same old wounds, and I don’t want to be the link that causes my pain to become my children’s pain.”

Do you have a personal connection with the prayer of Jabez?  How does his cry touch your heart?  What does it stir in you?

May you be blessed indeed!  May God enlarge your territory, your sphere of influence!  May the hand of God be upon you.  May God keep you from evil!  May you and those you love be free from pain!  Amen.

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“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”  –2 Timothy 2:2

Here it is.  In one verse Paul describes the Christian faith.  A chain of grace, linked together by love and designed for living relationally generational.

It is a verse that demonstrates honoring your fathers and loving your children and grandchildren enough to leave a legacy of faith to those who will follow after you.

2 Timothy 2:2 identifies four people in this faith legacy — Paul, Timothy, reliable men, and others.  These are the people we must have in mind in the development of our spiritual life.  We must take the viewpoint of Timothy in this verse.  From those lenses, it is essential that we identify who fills the role of Paul as a mentor in our life and who fills the role of “reliable men” as the ones we are actively discipling.  And we must disciple those reliable men in such a way that they will be able to teach others.  In essence, we are loving those we may never know through the way we train those who will lead them.

This amazing verse in the book of 2 Timothy paints a picture of very deep and significant relationships.  Relationships which are not to be taken lightly, but must be given prayerful consideration and intentional development.

It is my sincere prayer that you may know where you fit in the chain of grace.  May you know those whom God has placed in your life to coach you along the way.  And may you know and develop those God has placed in your life to receive from the wisdom you have to offer.

May your children’s children be blessed and may they receive an inheritance from your life of faith.  Amen.

 

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This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.  — Jeremiah 18:1-6 (NIV)

“Can I not do with you as the potter does?” declares the Lord.

“Yes, Lord, you can,” I reply.

How about you?

 

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Everyone dreams of living an extraordinary life, of being an extraordinary person.  But, when the moment comes to put on those extraordinary shoes and walk that extraordinary path, we often find ourselves shrinking back.

We second guess.  We self-examine.  We sell ourselves short.

The greatest enemy of the extraordinary is fear.  We fear the cost of the extraordinary life.  We doubt whether or not we are the right person for the extraordinary job.  We wonder if God will pull through for us if we really step out on that extraordinary limb.

In Hebrews chapter 11, we see a beautiful picture of the courage necessary to embrace the extraordinary.

By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.  — Hebrews 11:23 (NIV)

It is my sincere prayer that you will find the grace to see the extraordinary in your life and pursue it unafraid.  God is doing the extraordinary all around you, and He is inviting you to participate with Him.

  • In your church.
  • In your spouse.
  • In your children.
  • Through your gifts.
  • Through your passions.
  • Through your prayers.
  • At your workplace.
  • In You.

May you see by faith that you are living no ordinary life, and may you be not afraid.

Amen.

 

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I’ve never been accused of being a vegetarian, but I have been eating a lot more salad since studying the book of Hebrews.  The primary ingredient of this spiritual feast has been the “let us” that can be harvested from virtually every page of Hebrews.

The author of Hebrews did two things amazingly well.  First, he or she brought glory to our King Jesus through the powerful comparisons that prove Jesus to be superior to anything in all creation.  Second, he or she knew how to inspire readers to action.

Over and again we are confronted with challenges of how to live our lives in light of the glorious King we serve and the marvelous covenant we have with God.

Below, I present to you a Hebrews Salad, which is a collection of the “let us” gleaned from the letter of Hebrews.

  • Hebrews 4:1 (NIV) Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.
  • Hebrews 4:11 (NIV) Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.
  • Hebrews 4:14 (NIV)  Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
  • Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
  • Hebrews 6:1-3 (NIV)  Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.
  • Hebrews 10:22 (NIV)  Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
  • Hebrews 10:23 (NIV) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
  • Hebrews 10:24 (NIV) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
  • Hebrews 12:1 (NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
  • Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
  • Hebrews 12:28 (NIV) Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,
  • Hebrews 13:12-14 (NIV) And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
  • Hebrews 13:15 (NIV) Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.

 

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