Did you know that you are God’s personal work of art? When He made you – when He created you in His mind – when He spoke you into your mother’s womb – when He delivered you into this world – He said it is VERY GOOD. The only One who is good, declared your formation as very good. “You are God’s handiwork.” (Ephesians 2:10)
As God’s creation, what do you like about you? What parts of you can you most enjoy with God? For what parts of you can you be most thankful to Him?
Are there any parts of you that cause you to want to take issue with God? Are there any mistakes that He made in your conception, any parts that you would like to give back to Him? God’s primary gift to you is you. This may be a good time to talk with the Giver about His gift to you.
You are also God’s tool to use in this world for His purposes.
“You were created in Christ Jesus to do good works that He has prepared in advance for you.”...
What is your experience of shame? Usually we don’t recognize the ways shame affects us. It lurks well under the surface of our lives stealthily affecting our decision making and actions.
Shame can be defined many ways, but let's think of it as humiliation or distress that attaches to a person’s identity as result of wrong or foolish thought or behavior. These thoughts and behaviors can be our own or those of another toward us.
Adam and Eve were described in the Garden as naked, yet without shame before God or each other. (Genesis 2:25) However, after their sinful rebellion (the Fall) all people throughout history have struggled with shame-infected identities.
Shame is closely tied to feelings and fears, primarily the fear of being found out as flawed, weak, a failure or morally wrong. It leads people – as it did Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 - to hide from each other and/or from God. We hide so we won’t be found out. The more shame we feel, the...
What does it mean to be a good leader?
There are hundreds of books, on this topic, stored on shelves and in cyberspace .
What are the key ingredients of real, spiritual authority and leadership?
Do you have these qualities?
Could you ever be a solid leader?
I say, “Yes!”
In the United States, we are tempted to think that leadership looks bold, forceful, dominant, overbearing and maybe even boastful. Leadership is for the strong – those who can overpower all contenders. This, however, is not true.
True leadership is based on genuine authority, and ALL authority comes from God. God’s authority is not marked by pride and earthly power.
When Jesus chose His disciples, he chose 12 of them. Why 12?
Many believe that this choice represented the 12 tribes of Israel; that Jesus was creating a new order – a kind of “New Israel.” It is interesting that one of the first glimpses we have recorded, in the book of Revelation, of the throne of God, includes...
How much faith do we need to have for it to be “enough” in God’s eyes?
What do we need to understand and believe?
Is there a specific body of truth statements or a theological construct we must grasp and affirm?
When Jesus spoke to people He often used images, metaphors and similes. He spoke of intensity and commitment. He said people needed to love Him more than their parents and more than their children. He said they needed to be willing to die for Him to be worthy of Him. (Matthew 10:37-38)
Worthiness here is not a matter of performance or accomplishment, but of treasure and focus. We must prize the Kingdom and focus on (prioritize) our relationship with Jesus above and beyond anything or anyone else. Jesus used strong, direct and bold language - to make a clear, undeniable point: The priority of Jesus and the Kingdom is everything.
The question isn’t how much faith you have, it’s about how...
What did you think you were getting into when you decided to follow Jesus?
Did you imagine He would forgive you of everything that needed heavenly forgiveness - past, present and future? He has!
Did you imagine He would help you perceive life, not through the lens of your familial distortions or wounded soul, but instead from God’s Kingdom perspective? He’s doing that even right now!
Did you imagine that He would use you to reveal His glory, grace and truth to others that you were uniquely created to help? This is His plan for you!
When Jesus sent the 70 to go ahead of Him, as recorded in Luke 10, they quickly realized they were in over their heads. Jesus gave them authority to do what was impossible amidst a hostile crowd. He sent them, and they went because they believed He was backing them. They were amazed at what happened. Demons responded to their voice/authority and miracles took place. The 70 disciples...
Does it ever seem to you like nothing much is really happening in your neck of the Kingdom of God?
How long has it been since you have seen significant transformation in the lives or health of people you personally know?
Does it feel like you are just going through the motions of faith – which quite possibly is not faith at all?
Jesus lived an expression of faith that made a difference. He seemed to engage heaven and earth - the spiritual and relational, to great affect and effect. Paul referred to Jesus as the second Adam because He walked in the purposes of God’s created order.
God formed people in His own image, and intended them to rely upon His wisdom and direction, and to represent His will, in His authority, on the earth. (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:15-20) Jesus understood this and lived accordingly, saying,
“By Myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and My...
If you want to experience God’s presence, if you want to understand His ways and counsel, and if you want to live in His power, you are going to need the personal ministry of the Holy Spirit. For some this statement sounds boring and theological. For others it might be off-putting, and sound too “charismatic.” For yet others, it is intriguing and enticing. For everyone – it’s true.
Only the Holy Spirit can reveal, communicate and empower the Kingdom of God in and through you.
The book of Luke makes it clear that Jesus did His ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit. He was/is the Son of God – fully God. And, He was/is the Son of man – fully human. He lived and experienced life just like we do – Jesus was fully human. However, He was also anointed (enabled) by the Holy Spirit to experience, understand and live in the Power of the Kingdom of God.
“God anointed Jesus...
As people get older, they are prone to “soften” in more ways than one. Most importantly, people’s hearts tend to get softer – and they become humbler as the decades start ticking away. Much of our culture looks at this softening process with suspicion, wondering if it’s the fruit of humility or lack of backbone and/or drive. Even if it is humility, the public square often doesn’t honor the character of humility. Yet, God’s economy is quite different.
Both James (the brother of Jesus) and Peter (one of His closest followers) wrote, “God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.” (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5) God opposes those who exhibit pride – because they are opposing Him. When people act in a prideful way, they are not seeking God – and Scripture declares they are also not making room for Him in their thoughts. (Psalm 10:4) If not seeking God, and not including Him in our thoughts are marks of pride...
When you say, "How are you doing?" people usually give a quick (positive) answer, and the conversation moves on. If you slow things down and pursue a more thoughtful answer, you can usually expect a pause - as the person takes stock of their emotional condition and reviews their recent performance. Their status will often be expressed in terms of a treadmill week. And life goes on.
This need not be – there is more to life than a weekly treadmill. Jesus came that our lives may be abundant and full. (John 10:10) We must remember that we will be most fulfilled and alive when we are most spiritually alive. Paul reminds his younger friend Timothy to stir up (the fire of) the spiritual gifting within him. (2 Timothy 1:6) Sometimes we have to intentionally stir ourselves up to rekindle that fire.
What kind of things fire you up?
When was the last time you were on fire?
This might be a good time to put yourself in a setting or two that are likely to stir you...
At different points in our lives we are confronted with different forms of the same question –
“Who are you?”
Often the question comes as a challenge to our competence. We are tempted to define ourselves by what we are able to do and/or how well we can do it.
Sometimes we are enticed to delineate our lives in terms how well regarded, received or "important" we are. The eyes and approval of others become our measuring stick.
Alternatively, we may be incited to understand ourselves and portray ourselves in terms of power – how much (or who) we can gain and control for our own purposes.
These three false measurements of identity are common to all of us. Different ones will be weighted in different ways, nuanced with different language and tailored to fit/attack our specific personalities and susceptibilities. However, these kinds of temptations are bait for the traps of pride or self-condemnation for all of us.
Which temptation bites more deeply...