Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day # 37 March 31st – Making Disciples not wimps

Matthew 28:19 says “therefore go make DISCIPLES” (some emphasis added). We are not making mere believers, we are making full-fledged ready to go to battle disciples. God is not in the business of converting, he is in the business of complete transformation of body, mind, and soul (Romans 12:1-2). A disciple is someone who in engaged in the disciplines of following Christ. Paul says it is like running, you cannot just show up to the track without training and expect to compete, but you have to train and practice (1 Corinthians 9:24-26). Jesus does not want us to go and make passive pew warmers, but trained chiseled message bearers. Therefore, faith for us does not end at accepting Jesus, but we must continue to press on (Philippians 3:12-13) and continue to grow through the journey of life and faith. We cannot expect to survive and thrive with a 6th grade education, but spiritually that is what we tend to do with new believers. We are disciples, we are making disciples, we are growing disciples, and we are training disciples. The verb “making” suggest that there is a process, it does not just happen. “Growing” tells us that it happens through time with nurturing. “Training” tells us that it comes with great effort, and no matter how long an athlete has been playing in the big leagues he/she still needs to continue to train. As a people of God, and as a church, we must be in the long dedicated process of making disciples.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day # 36 March 30th – Building a New Congregation (To the Ends of the Earth)

God created a lot of uniformity when it comes to the operations of the cosmos. Gravity, physics, weather patterns, seems to follow complex mathematical equations producing predictable outcomes. God likes uniformity in the workings of the galaxy, but God does not like uniformity in people. The diversity of God created languages, cultures, ethnicities, and races, and plans on keeping these distinct qualities among human kind in heaven when we gather together to worship him (Revelation 7:9-10). God likes diversity, but he does not like division (1 Corinthians 1:10-13). God is building his nation, his own people, and his congregation. Isaiah 2:2-5 is a beautiful passage about all people coming to the mountain of God in unity. God has one large table for us all to feast at the end of this age, and the table will not be absent of any race, language, ethnicity, nation, or denomination. This table will neither be divided among cultural similarities, but all will be sitting together side by side with differences and all. For this to work, God will have an array of foods spread throughout the table. God loves diversity, but hates division. We must be conscious when sharing the word with one another that we do not make any rules that divide, separate, or prohibit people from serving the God of love based on our preferences. Though we are distinct, God still desires us to be united which is why he says we all are God’s children united by him, and not divided by our differences (Galatians 3:26-29). Therefore, embrace the diversity of God, and celebrate the challenges, the insights, and the power of God’s love to unite us all.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Day # 35 March 29th - Sharing the Word/Evangelizing/Spreading the Gospel/Becoming Foolish

What does being in a relationship with Christ eventually mean? Becoming a child of God is more than earning a rubber stamp that says “heaven approved.” Becoming part of the divine family means we are reach given purpose and function. As a child, follower, or student of the Way of Jesus, we are called to continue to share the great news (gospel). This gospel is that God loves us and wants to be known by us. Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, and rose from the grave for our justification (Romans 4:25). This truth frees us from destruction (the Way of the world leads to destruction). The Way of Jesus also unites us with the divine God Yahweh (John 17:20-23). We are called to be united in union and in relationship with the cosmic creator of everything! God wants to be in eternal communion with us! God desires for us to participate in a joyous never ending life filled with love and fulfillment…how awesome is that! God desires this so much, that he, himself, in the form of Jesus, died a brutal death of a criminal, raised from the dead, and before he returned to rule in heaven gave the commandment of his disciples, and all of us “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have command you” (Matthew 28:18-20). We are all called to share the good news, teach the good news, and make effective followers and teacher so the Way of Jesus, so that we may all participate in the overwhelming eternal love of God! Go therefore, and share, go and teach, go and make disciples. Do not just win people (this is not a game), to not just convert people (this is more than mere convictions), but make disciples (or in the words of John Tauler make gotesfrunt “friends of God”).

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Day # 34 March 27th – More than a philosophy (sharing the truth without being smug)

Apologetics is the area of Christian thought that tries to effectively argue for the existence of God through rationalization, using philosophy, the sciences, and general observations. Apologetics is a great and helpful way to bring people to Christ, but it has its limits. The truth is God cannot be rationalized, measured, or put into a Petri dish to be observed or studied. 1 Corinthians 2:12 tells us that the key to understanding God is through the Spirit. The truth is the best laid argument can still be rendered ineffective, and the worst stated argument can bring someone to their knees. I am not saying that we should not be ready to make a good case for Christ, but what I am saying is that it all begins with the Spirit.  More than anything our love that we have for God and neighbor is what brings people to God. Jesus’ best arguments did not always change people’s mind about who he was (in fact many times it just made them angry) but it was Jesus’ love and his intent on establishing life changing relationships that brought people to him. We must be ready to love like Jesus and invest in life changing relationships to bring people to God. Yes we can be ready to make a solid case, we can be ready with the Romans road, or a rationale defense, but more than anything we must show them the life changing love that Christ offers. Convince someone of Jesus not through your clever words, but through your serving love.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Day # 33 March 26th – Theology (becoming not just a child, but a student of God)

The scriptures are more than whimsical quotes that we can place on our daily calendar; they are the character and unfolding story of God. While being able to spit out occasional Bible verses from our childhood Sunday school class is good, it is simply not enough. God came through his Son Jesus to give us life, but also to reveal himself. If we want to know the heart of God, we must be familiar with what he did, and is doing, as written in the scriptures. It is not enough to have read it once, or to know some passages, our life must be dedicated to reading, and understanding through prayer and guidance the words of God. We are too easily satisfied with our scripture intake that we get Sunday morning and maybe Wednesday night, but we must daily be indulged in scripture. Jesus says that “man does not live by bread along, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). But as Paul lamented, we are still only drinking milk like a new born, and have not matured to eating meat (1 Corinthians 3:2). As we grow in our faith we grow in our understanding of God through the scriptures. The word “meditate” literally means “to chew on.” When we study the word we chew on it, extracting its flavor so we can ingest it receiving its full benefit. The more we grow the more portions, and the more complex of scripture we are ready to chew on. We need to stop being satisfied with mere milk, and go to a complex carbohydrate diet of scripture. Seek after the heart of God, read his word, study his word, and keep it hidden in your heart. Seek the full course meal of God’s word, which is the bread of life.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day # 32 March 25th – Power (becoming a weapon of mass destruction)

As followers of Jesus Christ we are called to be humble, but that does not mean we are called to be passive. 2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” We are promised by Jesus in John 14:16, 17 that we will be given the Holy Spirit, and it is in that Spirit we receive power. Romans 1:16-17 tells us that the message of Jesus and the cross is the power of God. We are entrusted not with a weak message, but a strong message that has dynamite power. We are given a Spirit that is powerful enough to move mountains, to divide rivers, to stop the sun, defeat armies, tear down walls and bring holistic healing. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 reminds us that God has equipped us with divine powers to heal, teach, preach, make new, and oppose evil through the generous outpouring of the Spirit. Go therefore, with the Power of God, which is the good news of Jesus, and destroy barriers, evil, and enemies. Restore that which is broke through the power of God’s love, and do not back down, fore if God is before you, who will be against you (Romans 8:31)?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day # 31 March 24th – Sanctification

Sanctification may sound like one of those fancy words that only pertain to the uber-religious, but in reality, it is a part of our everyday life. Sanctified simply means “to be set apart for.” I have a suit that my wife bought at Target for a mere $90. It is black with white pin stripes, and even through it is starting to get a little snug around the midsection, that suit is set apart for one of two occasions, marrying and burying. As follower of Jesus the Messiah and Son of God we are called to be set apart for him. Just as a wife or husband is set apart for no other intimate relationship than with their spouse, we are to be set apart for God. Jesus does not simply forgive us, or make us right, but he also sanctifies us through the power of the Holy Spirit 1 Corinthians 6:11. Our time with family, friends, at work, must all have God at the forefront. If we make God second, that means we are putting something up higher than God (that’s idolatry). God forgives us, puts us in right relationship, and sanctifies us, separating us from all that is ugly and hateful, and surrounding our lives with love. What is not about God in your life, what needs to be sanctified, what is suffering because you have left God out?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day # 30 March 23rd – Change

Standing still, and running on a treadmill cover the same amount of real distance. The prospect of change usually triggers one of two responses (especially I n the church). The first response is to dig down and freeze in place to avoid change, desperately holding on with white knuckles to the safe and familiar. The second response is by busying oneself with so much “busy work” that there appears to be no time for real change. Change is unfamiliar, scary, and implies that the previous way is wrong, or ineffective. It is hard to enter into the unknown, and it is hard to admit that one way of moving one is no longer effective (or maybe it never was). We must be ready to change. In fact, 2 Corinthians 5:17 says we are a new creation in Christ. Our faith has so much to do with change, that we become a new creation. It is true that God is the same, but it is also true that the world changes every day. When Jesus came to earth we matched the customs, the language, and the practices of the place and time he was living in. If Jesus came today and to the United States, instead of 2,000 years ago in the Middle East, do you think we would have still worn a sandal and robes, spoke the same language, practices all the same customs? As followers of Jesus, and as the community of believers we must be ready like Paul to become all things to all people so that we may actually effect the world and save some 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. As those who are redeemed, we look different, act different, and our continually changing to reflect Jesus. The Church must continue to change to meet the world where it is at, so we can bring love, forgiveness, service, and restoration to them. We must change to become better, we must change to become more like Jesus, and we must change because the old order of things is passing away.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Day # 29 March 22nd – Regional Faith (understanding international Christianity)

The Way of Jesus Christ is larger than you or I, it is larger than the Baptist or Methodist denominations, it is larger than Protestant or Catholic, Armenian or Calvin, and it is certainly larger than King James or New International versions of the Bible. Paul dealt with the problem of division, “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Later on Paul states that the divisions made up by human standards are road blockers 1 Corinthians 1:10-17. Often times we pick on fellow brothers and sisters (Catholics denouncing protestants, and vice versa). Jesus says in Matthew 12:25 that a house divided against itself will fall, and it is no wonder that the legs of the body of Christ are teetering. It is good to have our beliefs, our histories, and our distinctions, but they should not serve as obstacles to prevent the Church universal from working together. In fact creating obstacles and stumbling blocks is very dangerous according to Romans 16:17. Instead we need to be united in Christ across all languages, cultures, denominations, and musical leanings. We need to look for ways to learn from each other. I am always reading and learning from Catholic and other denominational writings. We need to look for ways to work together and support each other. This does not mean we have no differences with each other, but it means that the uniting of the Love of Jesus Christ sets those differences aside so that together we are the regional and universal Body of Christ.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Day # 28 March 20th – Relationships (understanding small group dynamics)

One of the reason Jesus decided to leave his heavenly dwelling for earth was to establish relationship with his people. John 15 highlights Jesus’ desire for his disciples to know him, be one with him, and to understand his plan. Jesus even calls his disciples his friends in this passage. Jeremiah 29:11-13 states that God wants to be found and known. Our faith goes beyond mere religion, but it is a calling to have a relationship with God the creator, and a relationship with those around us. God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Without the Father, or the Son or the Holy Spirit, than you have something less than who God is. The Church is the Body of Christ, if you approach faith with only yourself, than you are falling short, and selling short the church. We were made to be one with God and one with each other. The prayer of Jesus in John 17:20-26 is that we would be one with him and with each other. We are called to be in deep prayerful, and meaningful relationship with each other. We are expected to trust God and each other with our entire lives, the good parts, the bad parts, and the really messy parts. We are called to do more than believe because even the demons believe (James 2:19) and we are called to do more than sit by each other because people do that on the bus and train station. We are called to enter into relationship with God and with each other. Today step out of the safe distant box that you live in, and enter into the life God has for you, and enter into the lives around you.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Day # 27 March 19th – Guidance

Surviving the wilderness takes an expert, just ask Bear Grills. Bear Grills is an expert in surviving the wilderness, eating and drinking about anything so that viewers can comfortably sit at home and watch and learn with wonderment about basic (and not so basic) survival skills. Why is it that we so readily submit to the authority of doctors and lawyers for our medical and legal well-being, but when it comes to our spiritual lives, we think we all have it figured out? The truth is that we all need a mentor or spiritual teacher/teachers in our life. It is foolish to think that we have any part of our lives all figured out. We need a spiritual guide to help us when we have questions, and also to correct us and point us in a better direction when we are going astray. This means we have to be humble and submit to the authority of someone else. However, this submission does not make us weak, but it makes us strong. Joshua had Moses, the disciples had Jesus, Timothy, Barnabas, and Silas had Paul. Find someone, or someones you can continue to learn from and grow in knowledge and in the love of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day # 26 March 18th – Image (dress with success)

We measure our success by our accomplishments. If our goal is to become a doctor, we know we have succeed by earning our degree and practicing the profession. In the same token if we want to become famous we know we have reached the goal when we see our name in the tabloids. Who we are and who we are becoming is part of our image. However, being a doctor or famous is only a small temporary construction of our image. Our image is an eternal existence and any profession or notoriety does not last eternally. Therefore, the focus of our image must center on something bigger than occupation, accomplishment, and even bigger than ourselves. Some define their image in groups or association. Some may join the army or marines to be part of something bigger than themselves. But again, this too falls short, because every great military has and will eventually fall. Scripture wastes no time in identifying the proper image that we were made for, in Genesis 1:26-27 we read that God made us in his image. We were made in God’s image, and only this image will do. This means that we find our true worth, our true identity, and true significance not in accomplishment, or fame, or wealth, or association with a group, but with God and his family. How do we live as image bearers of God? Well first we follow the commandment to have the same attitude as Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5). Unlike Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, we rely on God the Father just as Jesus did. It means we become one with God as Jesus prayed we would in John 17, by identifying and trusting in him over any nation, association, or group. To be an American, there is an image of strength and independence, the image of someone who has succeeded is a wealthy slender and often very egotistical individual, but the lasting image that we were created for is one the reflects the love, humility, and compassion of Jesus Christ. Think today what you can do to be an image bearer of God. What will you do, so that when people see you, they will be able to identify you as a child and follower of God?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day # 25 March 17th – Hear, See, Speak No Evil/ Avoidance

“Submit yourselves, then to, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33). W are not invincible. We are effected by those around us. We are affected by television, radio, what we read, what we watch, and what we hear. We have become so desensitized by evil that we no longer recognize its power. Is it any wonder that abusive homes often produce abusive people? Is it any wonder that after a football game people flee into the parking lot with aggression (you never see that at a ballet). We watch murder, violence, sex, drug use, and we tend to stand up strong and say it has no effect on us. Well if it has no effect I say give it up for a month and tell me if nothing changes because it will. We must be careful about who our influences are. There is a reason God warned Israel, and Paul warned the church from letting evil practices linger around because they corrupt. Find something in your life that is negative, (movies, music, friends, books, language, etc.) and plug something Godly in that absents (scripture reading, prayer, meditation, uplifting music, or movies). Let God be your influence, let fellow believers, and followers of the Way be your character molders. Avoid evil at all costs, and pursue faith, hope, and love with equal ambition.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day # 24 March 16th - Choosing Sides (Making decisions based on the Future)

“…then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). In Matthew 10:34-36 Jesus says that he has come to bring division. Matthew 5:1-12, Matthew 10, and John 16:33 all point out the truth that those who follow Jesus as the Son of god, will be opposed. I think we tend to want to be fence sitters. We know Jesus is God, but we do not want to assert it to our own loss of reputation, financial gain, or even life. We try to straddle the line between living for the Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of the world. However, Jesus warns against this kind of attitude “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one, and love the cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24). I believe we can substitute that word “Money” for almost anything, such as “sex,” “fame,” “success,” “drugs,” etc. We must chose now who it is we will serve. Many make this choice on what seems best for them this moment. As believers and followers of Jesus we make our decision based on the future because we now that those who are in Jesus are conquerors. It is like deciding to either receive $10,000 dollars right now or receiving $2,000 dollars each week for the rest of your life. No doubt the $10,000 benefits you more immediately, but there has to be something seriously wrong with you if you choose that over the $2,000 each week. We call that seriously something wrong “sin.” We must choose now whom we will serve, God, or our own desires. We must choose now what we will receive, praise from this world, or eternal glory with God. Every day, and every decision we need to make with the realization that Jesus has conquered, there will be a resurrection, and eternal life offered to those who know and love God. Today, before you make a decision, before you react, but in perspective the future, not just a day from now, or a year from now, but from eternity from now, knowing that God has conquered.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Day # 23 March 15th – Frugality/Simplicity

“Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Luke18:22). “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). It is no doubt that Jesus, the son of a carpenter, and traveling healer/evangelist/prophet/Son of God, lived a simple life. We also see that Paul, gave up many luxuries for the sake of responding to the gospel (good news). We even see Jesus command the rich ruler to give up all he has. The disciples later in Luke 18 point out to Jesus they have given up everything, and Jesus acknowledges this fact and promises them great reward. We can look at Matthew 6:19-34 and see that Jesus teaches us not to worry about earthly possessions. Despite these examples, and call to simple living, we tend to think these texts address other people, and not our selves. In a time and a country that finds identity in possession, we have become consumed by consumerism. Simple living is an archaic idea that no longer applies to our societies. Yet, it is the abundance of our possessions that have too long weighed down our souls. We are called to live simple lives. This does not mean we forsake all money, and adopt a life of extreme poverty (although for some people God is calling them to exactly that). Simple living means using your money for necessities, being frugal, so that the excess of money can be used to bless, give, or help others. Simple living allows us not to be bogged down by stuff, and helps us approach God more easily and freely. Jesus tells us not to waste time storing up treasures here because eventually they disappear, but our lives should be spent storing up treasure in heaven, but living simply, giving generously, and loving dangerously. It is only when we give up our life, we find it (Mark 8:35).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Day # 22 March 13th – Suffering (the art of becoming one)

I am not talking about ritual beatings, or holy lacerations. But suffering is how we become wholly connected to one another. Suffering is a part of life, hunger, poverty, homelessness, sickness, disease, violence, racism, disasters, hate, and we could go on. Suffering as a discipline is the intentional act of entering into someone else’s suffering. We see that Job’s three friends did this when they found out that their friend had lost his cattle, servants, and children within one day (Job 2:11-13). When I served my internship as a hospital chaplain, I walked into rooms with families to help them through the news that a loved one had just died. We learn through love to suffer not just for people, but with people. Suffering with each other is what unites us as one. Stanely Hauerwas says that God makes it possible for us to share our life with him because he suffered with us and for us through his son Jesus. Too many times when suffering is happening we want to run in the other direction, or try to lighten the mood, or fix the situation. However, when we enter into someone else suffering we are saying that they are important enough, that their feelings are real enough, and that love is strong enough to keep us by their side. Suffering with others is simply crying when we see someone crying, when we see someone hungry maybe we fast and give them our lunch, when we see someone with no clothes maybe we give them our shirt and we go without, when we see someone lose a loved one, we give them out time and love. Suffering for others, and for God shows that our love is genuine and real, and not conditional. Acts 5:41 the disciples rejoiced because they had suffered for the name of Christ. Romans 5:3 reminds us that suffering produces endurance. Romans 8:16-18 says that as children of God we share in his suffering. Hebrews 2:10 says that it is through Jesus’ suffering that we are made perfect, and our suffering for the gospel points to His perfection. Suffering is part of our faith, if we love God, we will be hated by the world. Therefore, enter into the suffering of Christ, suffer for his message and find comfort, suffer in the pain of others, and bear each other’s burden with love.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Day # 21 March 12th – Sacrifice (giving up the things you love for the ones you love)

Relax PETA, were not talking about slaughtering goats. To many of us, the word sacrifice means a loss of something we enjoy. Sacrifice is a discipline that comes out of our need to give back to God. It is not that God needs to receive something from us, but we need to practice the art of giving over ourselves and our possessions as a sign of love. Luke 21:1-4 documents the love of a widow to give all the money she had (two small pennies) to God out of sacrifice. Sacrifice is the act of taking our life out of our hands, and putting them into God’s, it is the recognition that we give something up to gain something more. Galatians 2:20 says it all “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” The biggest sacrifice was Jesus coming down to earth and dying on the cross for our sins. Sure Jesus gave up his heavenly home, lived in poverty, and died with those nails in his hands, but his work was not a loss because out of it came redemption for all creation. Sacrifice is both giving up something for God, and for others. Sacrifice for God teaches us dependence upon him, try giving up some money to give back to God, or time, or television so that you can receive the benefit of a closer relationship with Jesus. Also we sacrifice for others, by giving money, time, our home or whatever it is to help and bless someone else. Sacrifice is putting God first, and others second, when we do that we do not lose ourselves, but we find ourselves. Intentionally give something up today for God, and give something up for someone else, and watch for what changes in your life through this act.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Day # 20 March 11th – Blessing (more than a good luck charm)

When someone sneezes do you pray for them, or do you bless them? When you thank God for your supper do you pray for the food, or do you bless the food? These two questions simply point out that there seems to be a difference between a prayer and a blessing. A blessing is a type of prayer, just as corporate prayer, and praying for your enemies is a type of prayer. The primary purpose for blessing, is not to amass possession, but to establish relationship between two parties. To bless someone is to bring to light the importance and value of a relationship and those who benefit from it (Genesis 12:2 shows the blessing of a single person, and Deuteronomy 7:14-16 reveals the blessings of a group of people. Blessing a marriage is a type of prayer that puts God’s watch and protection over that important relationship, and in turn that relationship becomes a blessing to their children, and the relationship between the parents and children receive a blessing so that it may be a blessing to the grandchildren, and all who enter into the home. The scripture is full of blessings. God blesses people to establish a relationship with his creation, God blesses the relationship of Adam and Eve, Abraham and his children, Israel and the other Nations, and Jesus and all of creation. Also we can bless each other. When you bless someone you ask god to either bless other person’s relationship with God, someone else, or even yourself. Even the act of blessing someone, is a blessing upon the relationship between the blesser, and the blessing receiver. The most known blessings if found in Numbers 6:24-26 . So, do not simply wish someone luck or good fortune, but bless each other that relationships may grow and be solidified. If there is one thing in the world that could be fixed to change the way we live, it would be to fix our broken relationships. Be a blessing and bless each other, build each other up, and fix the broken relationships of our lives.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day # 19 March 10th – Prayer for Enemies

“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:44-45. Again we come back to prayer. Perhaps this is even the most difficult form of prayer. It is easy to pray for people we love, and those who are good to us, but to those who have hurt us, and intentionally oppose us is difficult. There are some great pains in our life that have been committed by others that linger on for many years, and affect our lives greatly. If we mention our enemies at all in our prayers it typically is asking God to rain down vengeance (instead of justice) upon our enemy. Jesus tells us that we must pray for our enemies if we are going to be any different than tax collectors and the rest of the world. Again this discipline involves the will of obedience over every inclination to do otherwise. So what do we pray for when we pray for our enemies? First pray for their forgiveness, and that they may seek forgiveness. Second, pray that God may reach out and touch their life, and pray that you may be able in some way reach out to who they are and touch their life. Finally just pray for God’s will and love, when we do not know the words to say, let the Holy Spirit do the talking Romans 8:26-27. Be obedient, be a child of God and pray for an enemy today

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day # 18 March 9th – Corporate Prayer

“For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20). Corporate prayer is not what Enron was furiously doing after realizing they had been caught and were going to jail for a long time due to their financial crimes. Corporate prayer is also not a prayer being uttered over a loud speaker every day at work. Corporate prayer is praying with other people. Certainly this discipline fits under Day # 1 discipline of prayer, but our prayer life has become so one dimensional (where we treat God like Santa Clause and only talk to him by ourselves when we want something) that it is important we stress corporate or group prayer. Group prayer goes beyond praying for people, but it is praying with people. The reason that we do so little of this is because praying is an intimate activity. We are speaking to God about our struggles, our joys, our worries, and other things that are in our life with someone else. We are in a sense admitting to the fact that our life is out of our hands. We have a hard time accepting prayer and offering because it is intimate, and we are a people that like our space. We must be ready to pray at all times, for all people, in all circumstances. Next time someone is sharing something with you, ask them if you can pray with them. It may feel a little awkward at first, but we need to push past the awkward and be obedient. Through practice it gets easier, and through seeing the results it becomes contagious. Today pray with someone you normally wouldn’t (ask them first) and every time you hear a problem in someone’s life ask if you can pray about it with them.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day # 17 March 8th – Fellowship

Fellowship is more than a mere party or get together, though it does include those things. It is neither an option in the life that is being lived for Jesus Christ. Dallas Willard again says “fellowship is required to allow realization of a joyous and sustained level of life in Christ that is normally impossible to attain by all our individual effort no matter how vigorous and sustained.” Simply put, we need each other to carry the burdens of hard times, and to celebrate through good times. In the beginning of creation God looked at everything he created and saw that it was good, but in Genesis 2:18 God says that it is “not good” that we should be alone. Paul knew he could not do faith alone, so when he traveled from town to town he either Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Luke, or someone else, or a combination of people around him. Even the life and ministry of Jesus was one done surround by his closest friends and disciples. The importance of being united is stressed in John 15-17 in the entire book of Ephesians 1 Corinthians 12 and many other places. Those who claim that their faith is between them and God, are greatly mistaken in their belief. Our faith is between God and all of creation. Our faith involves who we live with our family, friends, neighbors, enemies, strangers, the hungry, lost, orphaned, sick, imprisoned, everyone, and everything. Fellowship is powerful and needed. First we cannot get through faith on our own. The Church is the body of Christ, alone; we only represent an eye, or a leg, (pretty useless without the rest of the body). Second, we have a gift that God has given us through the Spirit that is only helpful if we share it. Therefore, find someone to share your faith with continually. Maybe it is a small group at church. Maybe it is through Bible study and worship. Know that meeting with each other is not only enjoyable, but beneficial to our growth and work in Christ.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Day # 16 March 6th – Secrecy
This one is just plain fun and creative, yet difficult.  This act is the prevention of letting our good deeds from being known.  This practice is important for our own growth because it teaches us to follow God’s will despite any recognition from others.  This trains our hearts to serve out of love and not for notoriety.  Philippians 2:3 helps lead the discussion by saying, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  So start this practice today, make it a daily or weekly practice.  Do something kind without letting anyone know.  Do not tell your friend, do not even tell your spouse.  Put money in an envelope in the car of someone who needs it, and tell no one.  Buy a gift and give it without revealing yourself.  Let someone win in a game; convince your family it is your turn to wash the dishes (even though it may not be).  Once my wife and I were eating out at a small local restaurant, only to discover that someone had completely paid our bill, the waitress said it was a gift from the kitchen.  Later I found out through good snooping that it was a member of our church, who told the staff not to tell us it was from them.  What a gift!  By doing these acts the love of God flows.   There is nothing more amazing than receiving a completely anonymous gift, it is pure joy.  When we do this we do not get thanks, but God gets all the thanks.  Imagine someone praying for money for rent, and then money appears in her car!  We can be the hands of Christ, and Jesus promises what we do in secret God will see in secret and reward us Matthew 6:1-4.  

Friday, March 5, 2010

Day # 15 March 5th – Service
Dallas Willard says “Service to others in the spirit of Jesus allows us the freedom of a humility that carries no burdens of “appearance.”  Service goes back to humility (Day 11) with a purpose.  We are taught that if we work hard enough, and study hard enough (for ourselves) we can achieve enough money, fame, notoriety to “have it made” so others can serve us.  The truth is that this attitude enslaves us to wealth, fame, and notoriety, and makes us do the tasks those “accomplishments” require.  The idea of independence does not free us, it imprisons us.  Jesus teaches the truth, which runs completely counterintuitive to this idea in Matthew 20:25-28 or in Mark 8:34-37.  Willfully serving God, and serving others is what frees us because in serving God we receive reward, and in serving each other we learn true love and true greatness.  Find a way to serve God, or others today.  Clean off snow from someone else’s car/driveway.  Take down your neighbors Christmas light (it’s about time they were down any way).  More importantly dedicate your life to serving others, not getting others to serve you.  Soup kitchens, homeless shelters, prisons, food pantries, and many more places are full of broken people waiting to experience the loving hands of God and another person.  Serve someone today, and write down what it was, how it went, and how you feel.  

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day # 14 March 4th – Love

If you only get one thing right, make it this. We can practice all the obedience, all the disciplines, and do all the right things, but still completely miss the entire point. These last 2 weeks have been a time to draw us closer to Jesus, and to draw us closer to each other as the body of Christ. However, anyone of these practices is useless and meaningless without Love. Read 1 Corinthians 13. Love is not merely an action.  We can do many things that look loving, but have selfish purposes. Love is also more than emotion, love pushes on when it is hard, and when it does not feel good. Love is an eternal state of being that promises devotion and service out of trust and care.  Too often we simply relegate love into an emotion which is why we hear many people complaint I am not in love any more.  Too often we relegate love as only an action, which to causes many to say if you love me you will do this. The reason there is so much divorce, separation and animosity is because we are looking for love, but do not even know what it looks like. Love is the purpose we were created. 1 John 4:8 says "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love" and later in 1 John 4:16 "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love." Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. All that we are, and all that we have, and all that is offered to us comes from the love of God. Our way to eternal life with him is not just the observance of simple rules, but through genuine participatory love. Love for God and love for neighbor, is what the entire faith hinges on, everything else are details Mark 12:28-31.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day # 13 March 3rd – Forgiveness

The only reason forgiveness is hard is because people are really good at hurting us. Forgiveness is also important for our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. By holding on to hurts and anger, our muscles tighten, our blood pressure rises, our emotions are heightened, and our spirit becomes hard. In fact Matthew 6:14-15 says we have to forgive, if we want to be forgiven. Imagine you not ever being forgiven only because you refused to forgive someone else. We all do wrong, we all are good and versed at hurting each other, that is why Jesus came, that is why there is the cross. We all need forgiveness; therefore, we need to forgive those who hurt us. This is how the body of Christ works together. The church does not function together because we are perfect, but because we are forgiven, and continue to forgive. Community only works if there is confession, and confession only works if there is forgiveness.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day # 12 March 2nd – Confession

Confession has become a difficult discipline for us to participate in, and the problem most likely stems from our lack of humility. The best we get at confessing is saying “sorry” and then immediately list several reasons that caused us to act the way we acted (go ahead, just try saying I am sorry, without any justifying statement following afterward). Confession is important for the health and well being of our emotional spiritual and even physical state. When we have done wrong, we need to confess, and ask for forgiveness. Confession is first admitting your wrong, and then seeking forgiveness both from God and the one you hurt or offended. James 5:16 says Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Confessing our sins to God is important, but for the sake of maintaining Holy fellowship we must confess to each other. Keeping our wrongs locked up and hidden separates us from God, and from each other. Do you have an unconfessed wrong, change that today, and free yourself from the burden and weight of sin.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Day # 11 March 1st – Humility

(See Philippians 2:1-11) You would be hard pressed to find “humble” as a noble character trait within our professional world. Just imagine a humble lawyer, politician, or doctor, almost comical isn’t it? In fact, any one we see as a leader whether it is in the political, corporate, or academic world are expected to be charismatic, intelligent, and sometimes even brash, but never humble. We are in a world that is constantly in search for love, but we have missed finding it because true love starts with humility. Considering others better than yourself is the only true act of love there is. Jesus showed true love by putting himself below others and offering himself as a perfect sacrifice on the cross. Is it any wonder God is called love? Look for ways to put others before you. Allow someone to cut in line, hold the door open, make yourself a servant for someone else. Exercise true love, by exercising humility, and remember, the last shall be first.