Tag Archives: God

What is Good?

Most of the time, we have a very poor definition of good.  We read Romans 8:28, and we think of our own definition of good…

Good to us is a well-frosted piece of cake.  Good to us is a plush, cushioned recliner.  Good to us is sitting on the beach with an ice-cold sweet tea.  Good to us is when we wake up with clear sinuses, no aches/pains and low blood pressure.  Good to us is when we have some extra in our bank account for some fun purchases this month.

While these things are not bad…it shows we have little idea of how good the goodness of God truly is.  God’s goodness is more than this.

Joni-Eareckson Tada (a diving accident at 17 left her without use of her hands/legs…is now CEO of Joni & Friends International Disability Center, famous artist using her mouth, & international speaker) said this:

“God cares most – not about making us comfortable – but about teaching us to hate our sins, grow up spiritually, and love him.  To do this, HE gives us salvation’s benefits only gradually, sometimes painfully gradually.  In other words, he lets us continue to feel much of sin’s sting while we’re headed for heaven…where at last, every sorrow we taste will one day prove to the be best possible thing that could have happened.”

You see, God operates from a whole different level.  Not limited by time & space; Unlimited knowledge & power that has no bounds

BUT Put all these together and just TRY to doubt that God can accomplish Romans 8:28 in our difficulties.

Sure, good can be seen when life is riding on unicorns on rainbows while eating skittles.  But when life gets hard – that’s when we really see God work in miraculous ways.

God can orchestrate his plans, interweaving through the evils of this world, pulling decisions and circumstances from the past, present & future…allowing difficulties, exercising patience…and HE IS ABLE TO MAKE IT GOOD.

That’s my God – NOTHING can stop Him from accomplishing His goodness.  None of these things stopped God from producing good in Joseph’s life.  And NOTHING will stop him from producing good in your life either.

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Book Review: The Screwtape Letters

Book Review:  The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

I know what you are thinking.  Have you been living under a rock?  Did you just recently learn to read?  How’s come a pastor just done read this book?  Well, to be honest I grew up without much of a desire to read.  I didn’t really like it.  I’m a bit of a slow reader, a visual learner, and Calvin & Hobbes, Guinness Word Record books, and Garfield were the only books I remember completing.  So, let’s just say I’m still catching up from the days of comic books and playing outside…and beginning to really enjoy reading.

The Good:

Eye-Opening.  When you dive into the spiritual realm, it is truly an eye-opening experience.  The unseen is a fascinating place to take your mind, and when you begin to imagine the spiritual warfare that is happening behind closed doors, it truly opens your mind to what could be happening.

Just Said “Wow” Out Loud Again.  It’s true; while I was reading this book I would actually say “wow” out loud.  The reality of these temptations were so real life, it was almost shocking at times.

Mind-Reader.  The way Lewis puts the temptations and discussions between tempters, is like he could read minds.  He was a master at finding common temptations and constructing his sentences to take you to times where your mind and temptations were real life experiences.

The Bad:

Mind Tricks.  Not a knock on the book, but was a challenge.  Every time the “Enemy” was mentioned, it wasn’t Satan, it was God.  And when you heard “Our Father”, it was not speaking of “Our Father, Who art in heaven”, but the Great Deceiver himself.  So as you read, you almost had to trick your mind so you can follow the storyline and experience the spiritual battle yourself.

The Grade:  A.  Sure the language was a little older and took some getting used to…but there is a reason this book has been set to plays, quoted by a President, and read by thousands.  It is a fascinating display of behind the scenes literature.  The reader is capture by what is happening behind the scenes and capture by what might happen next to the “the patient”.  Get your mind ready, understand the context, and buckle up for an incredible ride.

 

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3 Reasons People Do Not Find God

According to Acts 17:27, God is not far away. So how do people miss God? If God is sitting in front of everyone with open arms, why are so many turning the other way, or missing out on a relationship with the Creator. Here are 3 reasons why people miss out on “finding” God.serendipity

Fail to Look. Men, we are famous “give-up lookers” – we ask our wife – “Hun, where are the keys?” “In the diaper bag” – 2 seconds of looking – “They’re not there”…we get frustrated…BUT WE FAILED TO LOOK! Heard this happens, not like I have personal experience with this.

People – don’t fail to look for God. So many are looking in the wrong places for answers to life, and God is right there waiting. John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

There is only ONE way…and many are taking a wide turn so far from the truth – finding it hard to come back…but you are not as far as you think. No matter your past, no matter what you have done – one simple turn to God – and you can find forgiveness, eternity, and salvation.

Distractions. So many distractions in our lives from what really matters. Our enemy, Satan, has become a master and taking our eyes off of God. Let me give you an example. If you go out to lunch today, just look around – see how many families are actually talking to each other vs. their faces glowing by the screen of their smart phone/tablet. Our jobs, families, sports, current events…while they are not evil, can distract us to finding God.

Darkness. That phrase “feel their way” is the same description used in Homer’s classic “Odyssey”. It described the blind Cyclops who was groping to find Odysseus in the cave…knowing he was there but unable to grab him in the darkness.

The darkness…it is sin. Sin is the darkness…and because of that darkness, many find it hard to find the light. Sin is getting in the way of finding God. But you know what – God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for those sins – to wipe them away – and if you put your trust in Him today – He can forgive them and place them as far as the east is from the west.

Listen, God is not far away. Like that lost item we spoke of earlier – when you find it, you almost kick yourself, because it was there the whole time. 2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” God is patiently waiting with open arms – for you to take place in his family. The adoption papers are all signed and approved – it’s up to the child to come running to the Father.

 

Disclaimer:  “Find” is in air quotes, because it is truly God that finds us.  But this is the words used in Acts 17, describing someone’s conversion experience.

Entire Sermon can be found here:  http://mbconline.org/images/files/sermons/2015_sermon-archive/MBCOnline.org%20Sermon%2008-30-2015.mp3

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Potential of Young People

kideyesGod saw it…when he put an 8-year-old on the throne to change the political and religious landscape of a nation.

God saw it yet again…when he called a young boy into ministry from a deep sleep

God also saw it…when a group of teenagers were asked to stand up against pagan idolatry while facing a fiery consequence.

God saw it once more…when He sent an angel to tell a teenage virgin she would carry and deliver the Savior that would take away the sins of the world.

Jesus saw it…when he chose a bunch of teenagers to be world-changers and his successors of the Gospel message.

What did they see?  The saw The Potential of Young People.

Listen, if you don’t see it, and you are a parent of young children or teenagers, or you work in children or student ministry…then you need to start seeing it.  All throughout Biblical history, young people were used in powerful, dynamic, and world-changing ways.  From Josiah to the virgin Mary, we see God using a variety of characters to be used to carry out incredible tasks.

So why should your children or teenagers be any different?  About 10 days ago, the student leaders of our student ministry were in charge of hosting an Easter Egg Hunt for the community.  They did everything from publicity & recruiting volunteers to organizing set-up and production of the event.  There were 300 people who came to the event, and it was all on the shoulders of teenagers.  These teenagers had an impact on their community because they were given the chance.

Do-hard-things-harrisCurrently, I’m reading a book called Do Hard Things, written by teenagers that started a rebelution against low expectations of teenagers.  They took that idea to the bank, and were able to intern in the Supreme Court at age sixteen.  Their idea of being a teenager was not to wait until after college to make a difference, they believed they could do something right now.

And you know what, I’m tired of low expectations too.  Seeing teenagers plan an event for an entire community successful, allowing students to plan one youth group night a month from start to finish, pushing more young people to serve in church ministries…these things have changed my expectations of teenagers.  It’s time we take them to new heights, push them further, and start seeing the Josiah’s, Mary’s, and Samuel’s of our group become world changers even before they reach adulthood.

Start opening your eyes.  Start seeing the potential of young people.  God saw it, and so should you.

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Who Was the 1st Mentor?

god-touches-adam1 Who was the first mentor in the Bible?  Answer:  God.  Yeah, the Sunday school answer would have won the contest.  It’s true.  If there was ever a mentor that we should model, it would be God.  And the very first discipleship process is found in the Garden of Eden.  So how was God a mentor to Adam, and what did He do in the discipleship process?

1.     Spiritual Guidance – Genesis 2:16-17

It didn’t take long for Adam to receive spiritual guidance from his mentor.  They are pretty clear instructions – don’t eat from this tree.  Let that be a lesson to you in your discipleship process.  Be clear in your spiritual guidance, and help those you are mentoring to not make the common adolescent mistakes.  Impart wisdom and guide their decisions.  Should I go to this party?  Is it OK to date _____?  Help them!

Your job as a mentor is to help that young person make decisions.  Partner with parents and help them on the right path, help them use the Bible as their roadmap, guide them in godly decisions.

2.     Help Solve Problems – Genesis 2:18

God saw it was a problem that Adam was alone, and He fixed it.  He provided a helper for him.  Sure, we are not God, and we cannot solve all the problems of our young generation, no matter how much we would like this to be the case…but we can still help.

Help students find solutions to their problems.  Listen, suicide is the second leading cause of deaths in teenagers.  It is the fourth leading cause of death  in ages 5-15!  We need to help them find solutions, because they are finding the wrong answers all too often. Answers can be found in God’s Word.  Some have parents that will lead them to those right answers, others do not.  Let’s do our part as mentors, and help students solve their problems with God’s Word and prayer.

3.     Give them responsibility – Genesis 2:20

Our motto this year in our student ministry is “Student Takeover”.  My goal is to have students take over multiple ministries.  Sure, it will start small with things like:  announcements and running PowerPoint.  But so far it has evolved into leading prayer groups & small groups, or leading the praise band.  We have even taken it to the point of having the students plan and execute an entire Sunday Night youth group by themselves.  How cool is that!  They are learning ministry.  What’s next in the takeover?  Planning and executing a Community Easter Egg Hunt.  Do I help?  I try not to as much as I can.  You may think that is cruel.  I think it is empowering, teaching, and mentoring!

Keep finding ways to plug students into ministry. Let me give you an example.  There was a 9th grader who was somewhat shy.  So, did I make him be the “announcement guy” or lead a Bible study?  No.  I saw his gifts were in technology and computers.  I talked to his parents and mentioned the idea of getting him plugged into the sound/multimedia team at church and in youth group.  Now he runs PowerPoint for the main service and helps with sound on special events.  How cool is that?  He’s serving!

Sometimes all it takes is recognizing a student’s abilities or gifts, and plugging them in a service opportunity.  God gave Adam the task of naming the animals.  Well, that’s already been done, so find something for the teenager or child you are mentoring to do for God!

Who can you mentor today?

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