All posts filed under: Personal Growth

People Need to Hear Your Testimony of Grace

In John 4 we read about Jesus encountering a Samaritan woman, a woman who had absolutely zero value in the eyes of the world. Not only because she was a woman, but also because she was a Samaritan, a race that the Jewish people considered to be a half-breed. The third strike against her is that she had also had five husbands and was currently living with a man to which she was not married (John 4:17-18). When I look at this woman from a worldly perspective, I can’t help but wonder what could Jesus possibly want with her? Why would a Jewish rabbi willingly go against all cultural, social, and religious norms, risking his reputation, to strike up a conversation with a woman that scripture doesn’t even name? I think the answer is really very simple: He’s Jesus. At its core, this story is a perfect picture of the gospel. Jesus knew this woman’s past. She herself tells the townspeople after leaving Jesus, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could …

Are You Living Out This Spiritual Oxymoron?

The dictionary defines an oxymoron as a “figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction.” Thank you for the useless help, Mr. Webster. I think that was an oxymoron. Useless help. Examples will serve us better: open secret, deafening silence, minor crisis, jumbo shrimp. I was talking with a man in Texas about oxymorons and he immediately burped out, intelligent preacher. Ouch! The Bible has some amazing oxymorons: virgin birth (Matthew 1:18), dead undertakers (Luke 9:60), blind guides (Matthew 15:14). Some of the most startling—and, perhaps, most useful—oxymorons spoken by Jesus are in the Gospel of Mark: losers who win and life-giving executions. If anyone would come after me he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. – Jesus, Mark 8:34-25, NIV We have all seen the bumper sticker: “He who dies with the most toys wins.” Jesus goes cross-grain with that secular-humanist thinking by …

Are You Stepping Out In Faith?

Something that I love to do is exercise. Working out for me is a time to relax, as contradictory as that sounds. Lifting weights, running, anything along those lines is a mindless activity for me. It’s time I get to hang out with the guys and my fiancé.  It’s a way to better myself. When I get in a workout routine, my body quickly adapts and my progress becomes stagnant, but I like the predictable. I have a friend who works hard to “confuse” his muscles to get the most out of every exercise. Wrapped up in KT tape, Ace Bandages, and blood blisters, when this guy shows me a new workout, the entire I’m thinking there is no way I am doing this. I like my comfort of my routine. We have that same mentality with God. We develop a bubble of comfort we hesitate to step out of. When we look at the servants at the wedding at Cana, we see the faith of servants as they stepped out in obedience (see John 2:1-12). We …

Love Your Neighbors And Your Enemies

The biblical command to love your enemies is likely one of the most difficult commands to follow in the Bible. Personally, I am tempted to just ignore my enemies. Whether it be someone I disagree with, who has wronged me, who has threatened me, or something else, I am really good at ignoring that person. I just pretend like that person doesn’t exist. If you don’t ignore your enemies, maybe you struggle with the tendency to want to hurt your enemy in return. Maybe you gossip about them. Or maybe you go out of your way to make their life miserable. Perhaps you make sure they do not get that job by digging up dirt about them. Whether you struggle with ignoring your enemies or are out to get them, we are disobeying Christ. Of course, Jesus knows that it is “normal” to hate an enemy. He says: You have heard the law that says, “Love your neighbor” and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In …

Your Identity in Light of a Good God

This upcoming Sunday we celebrate Father’s Day.  For some of us, it is a day to celebrate with our father and say thanks.  For some of us, it is a day to remember our father and be thankful.  And for others of us, it is just another day as we never knew him or he wasn’t worthy of celebration.  I’ve been thinking about this recently.  I once had a professor say to me he never prays “Heavenly Father” because he doesn’t want to bring up bad memories of bad fathers for his students. I understand the heart, but I think this keeps a side of God at arms length. On Sunday we will be singing the song Good, Good Father by Chris Tomlin.  I think it is a very appropriate song for Father’s day.  Two things stand out to me in the chorus: You’re a good good Father It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are And I’m loved by You It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who …

Are You Satisfied With Your Prayer Life?

And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. – Jesus, Luke 11:9-10 Are you satisfied with your prayer life? Or to put it another way, do you rely more on your cell phone or your Heavenly Father for answers, security, and direction? When Jesus taught on prayer in Luke 11, He gave three visuals to clarify what it means to bring a request to God. As you go into your next time of prayer think about these three aspects that Jesus taught: ask, seek, knock. ASK: When you ask, make sure your motives are pure. James 4:2c-3 says, “Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give …

Fight Human Nature And Embrace Compassion

Recently, a friend asked me a very poignant question. He wanted to know what I felt was Jesus’ most “Jesus” moment.  I knew immediately what he meant; what moment of Jesus’ life and ministry spoke to me the most. His answer was Jesus showing compassion to the adulterous woman and challenging those who were judging her to throw the first stone if they were without sin (see John 8:1-11). I have always loved the side of Jesus that challenged the established, religious leaders.  As He was extending grace to the sinner, He was scolding and educating the hypocritical aristocracy. I thought my friend had chosen his answer wisely! My answer came to me almost immediately.  When Jesus was hanging on the cross, suspended between Heaven and Earth, life and death, He looked down in His moment of greatest agony, upon the very source of His pain, and uttered “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:42).  Jesus possessed all the power in the universe.  With a word from His lips, a legion of angels would have come to His …

Are You Doing It For The Win?

If you’re not first, you’re last. – Ricky Bobby Who would have thought Will Ferrell could offer such poignant insight into our current culture?  In the movie Talladega Nights Ricky Bobby, Will Ferrell’s character, is obsessed with winning his races.  So much so he routinely wrecks his car in the pursuit of first place.  Now, in the real world such a racer would be fired immediately for his reckless behavior, but in the context of this movie, he is adored by the fans. Ravi Zacharias coined this phrase from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s writing, “At first art would imitate life, then life would imitate art, and finally, that life would draw the very reason for its existence from arts.” The world we live in idealizes winners and those who win are the people with the most stuff, the best stuff, and the biggest stuff.  Winners have the corner offices, the most friends, and receive the highest accolades.  In the world we live in, those things matter.  But to Christians, those things are to mean nothing. So Jesus called them together and said, “You know …

Surrendering My Heart to the Creator

This upcoming Sunday, June 4 we will sing what I think is one of the most aggressive songs you could sing to God. It was written by David Crowder and the title is Here’s My Heart Lord.  More than a song, it’s a prayer: Here’s my heart Lord Here’s my heart Lord Here’s my heart Lord Speak what is true ‘Cause I am found, I am Yours I am loved, I’m made pure I have life, I can breathe I am healed, I am free ‘Cause You are strong, You are sure You are life, You endure You are good, always true You are light breaking through You are more than enough You are here, You are love You are hope, You are grace You’re all I have, You’re everything I just want to bust out singing this prayer to Abba Father! This song leads me to two Psalms written by David that have had incredible influence and impact in my life. The first is Psalm 51 where we find David’s prayer of repentance after being caught …

The Kind of Love That Shows Up

When asked to elevate one law of the Old Testament above all others, Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:36-38). Jesus had a way of taking things a step further and added, “A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:39-40). But He didn’t stop there either.  On the night of Passover while in the Upper Room with the twelve disciples, Jesus said: Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going.  So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. – John 35:33-35 A new command. …