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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Perspective and Attitude


I’m currently sitting in the allergist office waiting my mandatory 30 minutes to make sure I don’t have reactions. It is actually a very annoying weekly ritual, but it is for my own safety and in the long run makes me stronger. The waiting room tv is playing an interview with a woman who has diabetes. She just shared that many of her friends started to pray that God would take away diabetes. She responded by asking her friends to stop praying because diabetes saved her life. I thought that was a peculiar response so I listened a little closer. She went on to explain about how unhealthy and sick she felt until the discovered the disease and now she felt strong and healthy. She was grateful for the diagnoses, because of how it changed her life.

Now this might seem like a stretch, but it immediately caused me to think about the things around us that we are constantly asking God to take away because it is annoying or hard. What if God is allowing those things to be present in our lives to make us stronger, healthier or even greater reflections of Him? If that is the case, shouldn’t my attitude be one of thanksgiving instead of one of complaining.

Paul shares some similar thoughts with the church in Corinth. We don’t know exactly what the thorn in his flesh is, but he begs God to take it away three times. God chooses not to and teaches Paul, “My grace is sufficient of you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:7) Paul changes his attitude and decides to be grateful for this weakness and struggle. He discovers and explains in his letter that when he changes his attitude, “Christ’s power may rest in me…For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

In Genesis, we discover Joseph seems to have embraced a similar attitude.  His brothers have plotted to kill him, but end up selling him as a servant. After serving in Potiphar’s house, he is falsely accused and thrown in prison. When he is finally reunited with his family and saves them from suffering during a famine he says to them, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” While I’m sure there were several times Joseph was frustrated and struggled with his circumstance, he allowed God to shape and mold him during the process.

Our God is very good and does not harm us, but he does desire to use the brokenness around for his glory. We have to be willing to allow his Spirit to work through us in that way. Are there things in your life that are causing frustration or hurt? What is your attitude toward those things? What might God be trying to teach you? How might he be trying to shape you through these circumstances? How might God be using this as an opportunity to make himself known to you and those around you?

Friday, September 02, 2016

Simplicity of Discipleship

As a Discipleship Minister it probably comes as no great surprise that I am passionate about discipleship and get really excited when I see it in action. I asked Jeremiah to snap this picture during service because I thought it was a beautiful picture of the simplicity of discipleship. Far too often we make discipleship into this massive task that is far too difficult to even talk about let alone try to do. The more I study discipleship and disciple others, the more amazed I become at the simplicity of it.

I used to think discipling others meant I had to be perfect at following Jesus. Wrong! Not one of the disciples we see in Scripture was perfect and they went on to start churches all over the world.

I used to think discipling others meant I had to have all the answers. Wrong! The disciples in Scriptures wrestled to understand the Text. I love Paul’s story because we see him mature and grow throughout the book of Acts.

I used to think discipling others meant lots of formal meetings where I would teach what I knew about Jesus and the Bible. Wrong! Jesus disciples others as they are doing simple every day things like fishing, going to the Temple to worship, eating meals, gathering water at a well.

Paul tells the church in Corinth, “Be imitators of me, just as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1 NASB). We read that and freak out because we know we aren’t the best imitators of Jesus. Paul is not saying he is a perfect imitator. He is simply telling the Christians in Corinth, “I’m following Jesus. Come follow Him with me.” Do the things I do in following Jesus so you can learn how to follow Jesus too. It sounds so simple, because is many ways it is.

Annette follows Jesus and worships Him by singing praises and making music for His glory. She invites Evelyn to do the same. So Evelyn learns to follow Jesus by worshiping Him through singing and clapping. There was no long lecture. Annette just followed Jesus and invited someone to do it with her.

Now I’m not saying the process of discipleship is always easy. That certainly is not the case. Often simple things aren’t easy. Try not eating that amazing bowl of Sherman’s Ice Cream or your favorite dessert placed right in front of you; simple but not easy. I do want to challenge us not to make discipleship more challenging than it should be. Let’s keep following Jesus and inviting others to do that with us.

It starts with an invitation. Jesus says to his apostles, “Come follow me.” Who can you say that to by inviting them to come to church with you or joining one of our Fall Bible Studies. It is a simple start to a beautiful journey.