TOP 3 BLOGS – December 2019



THANK YOU!

In the month of December, twenty new blogs were posted, and the response has been encouraging. Thousands of people in over twenty countries read and listened. This month, we have reached people all over the United States. In addition, people have been reached in Thailand, The United Kingdom, Ukraine, Nepal, South Africa, Myanmar, Canada, France, Israel, South Korea, Norway, China, Finland, Kenya, Singapore, The Czech Republic, Uganda, Poland, Panama, and Switzerland. It is amazing how connected we are globally these days.

Here are the TOP 3 POSTS of December based on your views.

top-3

  1. 5 Lies I Hear as a Pastor
  2. BROKEN | The Example of Ruth
  3. Blessing and Cursing (new audio)

Wendy and I are committed to continuing blogging in 2020 and would like to ask for your help. Looking back over the past month, we see that your decision to share a post drastically improves the reach of the message. Would you consider being intentional about sharing the blogs as we continue in 2020? You could get started by clicking on any of the titles above and reposting one of the top 3 now.

Our next post will come out on January 1st.

We’ll see you in 2020!


 

BROKEN | The Example of Ruth



WRITTEN BY: Wendy Cutchins

I can’t tell you how often I wonder about why God wants me. Some days are better than others, but it doesn’t matter if it is a good day or a bad one. I find myself wondering all the same. As I listen to a worship song on the radio or read a blog about how God loves us all, I can’t help but think, “Why in the world would He want me?” I have made many wrong choices, have many flaws, do many things wrong. I am broken, and yet He died for me, forgave me, loves me.

Recently, I have been studying about women in the Bible and the roles they played in God’s plan. The one recurring theme is how God uses the most unassuming and broken people to do amazing things.

RuthWk2Take Ruth, for example. Her husband died, she lost her home, and she was desolate with nowhere to go. She lost everything. Ruth was broken. However, her faith was so strong that everyone could see it. Her own mother-in-law was encouraged by her faith. Even people who didn’t know her personally knew of her because of her faith.

I can see that Ruth didn’t allow her circumstances to influence her trust that God was in control. You can’t get much more broken than losing everything. How would you feel if you lost everything? I would hope that I would have the faith that Ruth had, but I am not so sure I would. God used Ruth to teach others about faith so many years ago. And today, her example is still strong.


51054-51038-ruth.1200w.tn.1200w.tnFour things stand out to me about Ruth.

  1. Ruth was compassionate. She had every opportunity to leave her mother-in-law behind. She had no obligation to stay with Naomi and care for her. But she did because she loved her and had a compassionate heart.
  2. Ruth was patient. If you know the story, you know it took a lot of time for her to meet her husband, Boaz. She had to patiently wait for opportunities to improve her circumstances.
  3. Ruth was strong. As a woman without a husband, she found herself in a dangerous situation. She could have been taken advantage of, but she found resourceful ways to provide for herself and her family.
  4. Ruth was determined. Despite everything she had going against her, her determination kept her moving forward despite numerous setbacks along the way.

Ruth wasn’t perfect. She was broken, but God chose to use her in mighty ways, and He can use you, too.


 

Christmas Humility



What does Christmas mean to you?

As Christmas was approaching quickly, a young man started thinking about what he could give his father, who lived far away. He wanted to get him something special, something that would show how much he valued him. He looked around and found something he thought would be unique, special, and unusual. It was an exotic parakeet.

Screen Shot 2019-12-25 at 3.48.32 AMIt was so unique that it could speak five different languages. It was a most unusual bird, and it cost ten thousand dollars. This guy thought for sure that this bird would show his father how much he loved him. He purchased the bird and had it shipped to his father. He called his father on Christmas Day. He said, “Dad, did you get my gift?” His father said, “I certainly did, son.” The man said, “Well, Dad, how did you like it?” His dad replied, “Oh, it was delicious!” His dad obviously missed the point. Unfortunately, many of us miss the point of the gift of giving at Christmas. We forget about what really matters.

Have you been in a situation that drastically changed the way you think about life? I will never forget the feeling of fear that came over me on a cold December Sunday afternoon a little over ten years ago in Charlotte, NC. Madi, my oldest daughter, was around three-years-old at the time and had been feeling a little sick all morning. She was running a slight temperature, but her symptoms had not been serious. In a moment, that dramatically changed. My wife ran into the room with Madi in her arms, screaming, “HELP! MADI HAS STOPPED BREATHING!”

Emergency and urgency, dialing 911 on smartphone screen.I took Madi into my arms and urgently told my wife, Wendy, to call 911 while I tried to figure out what was happening. Madi was still not breathing, her face was beginning to turn blue, and her eyes rolled into the back of her head. I frantically laid her down on the ground and started to give her mouth to mouth resuscitation with hopes of stabilizing her until help came. Nothing I did seemed to help. She laid there limp, and as time went by, I began to deal with the thought that she might die in front of me if she didn’t start breathing. It was just her and me there on the ground, and I was as powerless as she was.

Realizing there was nothing I could do, I prayed and asked God to help “my” daughter. It was at that moment a thought came into my mind, and a feeling entered into my heart that has stuck with me since. “My” daughter is God’s daughter first, and only He could control what happened next. I quickly realized this beautiful little girl is only on loan to me. She is not mine. She has been entrusted to my care by God, who loves her, and only He is in control of her life. At that moment, I let go. I submitted and prepared for whatever the Father had for us in the moments to come. My love for God and His love for me overpowered my fear.

To make a long story short, Madi made it to the emergency room and recovered sufficiently from what we found out was a significant febrile seizure. As scary as that moment was, it continues to be a powerful reminder to me as a parent that God is in control and that He loves me. The love I felt from Him at that moment was so powerful that it overpowered my fear. In all of the circumstances we experience in life, God’s love is intense and passionate to meet us before, through, and beyond our time of need.

Screen Shot 2019-12-25 at 3.50.53 AMLet me ask you a question. What are you afraid of? People are afraid of all kinds of things. We have names for a lot of fears. Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders. Claustrophobia is the fear of tight spaces. Peladophobia is the fear of bald people. Perhaps the most ironic of them all is phobophobia, a fear of phobias. God’s love replaces fear. Let me submit to you that this is because of humility.

We see humility in the big picture of the Christmas story. Luke wrote that “all the world” was to be registered. This included the entire Roman Empire. The decree for “all the world” to be registered was issued by Caesar Augustus, who was the reigning emperor. He is arguably the most significant person in Roman history.

IMG_4442We also see the humility of the setting. Luke wrote that Christ was born in Bethlehem, the city of David. Jesus was treated like any other baby and was born in a smelly, filthy, chilly shelter, surrounded by noisy animals. The word “manger” is the word for a feeding trough. Troughs could be found anywhere animals were kept. The announcement of the birth of Jesus Christ was the greatest good news that the world has ever heard. But what does it mean?

Christmas can become an excuse for self-indulgence, materialism, and partying. In many ways, it has degenerated into an event that misses its true meaning entirely. We sometimes have an adventure in missing the point. Many things pollute the simple, yet profound, meaning of Christmas. So, what does Christmas mean to you? Do you get it? Martin Luther confessed, “When I am told that God became man, I can follow the idea, but I just do not understand what it means.” Let me suggest that it means God loves you, and he loves me. God’s love replaces fear because of humility.

LOSING MY DAD



GREEN HEARTS EBOOK_R01This month marks the 20th anniversary of my dad’s death. Grief has a way of hanging around. Today, I want to share the story of my dad included in Green Hearts.

My dad and I had a special relationship, and he was the person I looked up to most in the world. When I was just a boy, he would take me fishing regularly. I also remember him holding me in his arms and asking me if I knew how much he loved me. His answer was always, “Big much.” In my heart and mind, I can still hear his voice saying those words today as if he were standing in the room with me. “Big much” was his way of keeping the message simple, clear, and memorable. Despite being diagnosed with kidney failure when I was in middle school, my dad continued to work full-time while on home dialysis well into my high school years. He also continued to be a loving, caring, and available father.

I remember many late nights when he and I would hang around in the kitchen after my mom went to bed. We would eat leftovers and talk about whatever was on my mind. Reflecting on it, I realize now that his sickness was, in many ways, a gift to me because he was less consumed with work and more available. Growing up with sickness in your immediate family changes the way you see each moment. Watching the man you most admire decline slowly and die during your developmental years changes the way you see the world. He eventually retired on disability, and I went off to college. There is much of his story that I missed over the next four years. However, one thing never changed. I would always call him when I couldn’t get my head right.

IMG_4431The word that describes my dad best is “wisdom.” Fred Cutchins was a serious student of God’s Word and served as both a deacon and teacher in his church. He was one of the wisest and best-studied men in my small hometown. He earned a PhD in counseling psychology from Georgia State University in 1976, the year before my birth. When I was born, my brother was sixteen, and my sister was twelve. I grew up as the “baby” of the family and also like an only child because my siblings were so much older than I. My dad was a reserved and private man. Just weeks before he died, I was at home visiting. It was the first weekend in December, and I had come home from college to study and prepare for exams. I can remember spending time with him and enjoying conversations, yet again, with him about life. At this point, his health was not good, but he was at home.

One moment from that weekend stands out from the rest. He asked me to help him get dressed. Neither of us knew that would be one of our last times together. There was a moment when we looked at each other, and it felt as if our hearts and minds connected deeply. I knelt to help him put on his socks and shoes for the day and glanced up to see his eyes already looking in my direction. Neither of us said a word, but the connection between a son and his father has never been so strong. I could sense his gratitude and love toward me. I returned to college, and he died only a few weeks later.

528-40-semenovskiy-previewI can still remember being woken up in the night. I received the phone call that I had dreaded since the day he was diagnosed with kidney failure years before: “Your father has died.” His presence in my life up to that point had been constant and stabilizing. A new and unwelcomed normal began to take over my heart. The days and years after my dad’s death were not easy ones. There were so many ways our lives were intertwined that each day became a journey of absence. He would miss the birth of my children. They would never know him the way I did. Today, I tell my two daughters that he would have loved to know them. However, it is not the same as having him there asking them, “Do you know how much I love you?” I am sure his answer would be “Big much!”

grief-counseling-682527202-1170x780At times the waves of grief would come and go. As the years went by, the pain seemed to be fading away, and I would begin to think that my journey with grief had ended. It became more natural and more comfortable to talk about him without tearing up and wrestling back the grief. I thought I was finally done with swallowing back the pain and could move on with only the happiness of the great memories I had made with my dad. Years after I thought I had mastered the art of moving on from grief, I was driving across town to work one morning. I was in my first job as a public school teacher. It was a typical spring day; the sun was shining, and I was enjoying a cup of coffee in the car as I thought about the day ahead.

I had gotten up early for a long run; I was training for a marathon. I felt on top of the world as I listened to my favorite playlist in the car on the way to work. My mind was free to think and dream, and I began to find myself deep in thought about something. Honestly, I don’t remember what it was, and it doesn’t matter. I got to the point that I couldn’t seem to get my mind right about whatever it was. I was stuck. Out of sheer habit, I grabbed my cell phone and called my dad. I was so deep into the routine of my day that I had forgotten he had died.

grief_1350The previous routine of calling my dad for all those years when I had a question and was stuck had resurfaced momentarily. I wasn’t thinking; I even held the phone up to my ear and let it ring several times before it hit me. He is not there. He is not going to answer. At that moment, the grief of losing my dad flooded into that perfect morning and wrecked me all over again. I had to pull over to the side of the road, where I cried and cried for the better part of an hour. I even had to call in sick that morning. I think I cried more intensely in that moment than I had the weeks and months after his death.

Grief has a way of hanging around. So, what is your story? Life is not skipping from mountain peak to mountain peak. There are valleys. However, when we lift our eyes, we find the goodness of God in the worst of times.

5 LIES I HEAR AS A PASTOR



As a pastor, I hear a lot of lies. Lies are the tool of the enemy. The more you allow yourself to think about and say a lie, the more it is endorsed. Don’t rehearse and endorse a lie. Replace the lie with the truth. Today, I want to share five lies I regularly hear as a pastor that we need to stop rehearsing and endorsing.


LIE #1 – My marriage can’t make it.

11667764-0-image-a-14_1553985845827This lie is one that we really need to correct. If Jesus loves you enough to go to the cross for you, He loves you enough for your marriage to make it. If He can save the world, He can save your marriage. I am thankful to be part of a church that takes marriage seriously. If you have experienced a failed marriage, you know how painful it can be. But even a failed marriage in the past doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy marriage in the future.

I believe in your marriage, and I know God believes your marriage can make it.

Stop rehearsing and endorsing the lie that your marriage can’t make it.

TRUTH: Your marriage CAN make it.  


LIE #2 – I’m not good enough.

26461166565_03c142bd7c_oAmerican artist James Whistler was once advised that a shipment of blank canvases he had ordered had been lost in the mail. When asked if the canvases were of any great value, Whistler remarked, “not yet, not yet.”

The keyword here is VALUE. You have great value in the eyes of God. You and I are good enough to die for you. Take a moment and correct this lie in your mind and your heart. Unfortunately, in today’s world, we know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. When God gets involved, our past mistakes no longer define us. We have a clean slate. Paul wrote, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). None of us is perfect. The church exists to be the perfect place for imperfect people because God loves imperfect people.

I think you are good enough and God says you are good enough.

Stop rehearsing and endorsing the lie that you are not good enough.

TRUTH: You ARE good enough.


LIE #3 – God doesn’t care about me.

Grace-1The church exists to share the good news of salvation by grace alone. We are saved by grace, but we still struggle in this world. Because God has not yet removed evil, we live in an evil world that results in pain and suffering. How do we understand and deal with our pain and suffering? Remember that God is at work and never wastes a hurt. His silence is not absence. Sometimes waiting is important, so be prepared to be still and have hope. Realize you are not alone, and the journey is important. Our freedom from pain is delayed but not denied. Jesus is enough. Ask yourself, “what is God doing here?” Ask yourself, “will I trust Him?”

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust. ” Psalm 18:2

I care about you, and I know that God cares about you.

Stop rehearsing and endorsing the lie that God doesn’t care about you.

TRUTH: God DOES care about you.


LIE #4 – Things will never get better.

This lie is the soil of depression, anxiety, and defeat. The hardest situations in life present a choice to either get BETTER or BITTER. Talking with God can help you push back bitterness and become a better person. The keyword here is HOPE.

Motivational huddles aren't just for sports teams

When you feel like you have lost hope, talk with God. We exist to be people who pray without ceasing. One of the benefits of a relationship with God is that we have direct access to Him through prayer. However, we often misunderstand prayer to be our way of getting God to change our circumstances. When Paul prayed for people in the Bible, he never asked God to change their circumstances. Instead, he asked God to make them better in their circumstances. Even if your circumstances don’t get better, YOU CAN. Share with God about your situation and ask Him to give you the wisdom to see your situation from His perspective.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).

I believe things will get better and I know God has great things ahead for you.

Stop rehearsing and endorsing the lie that things will never get better. 

TRUTH: Things WILL get better.


LIE #5 – My life doesn’t matter.

Sad-borderline-personality-disorder-Woman-In-Depression-And-Despai-63903205This lie is a dangerous and life-threatening one. Recent statistics tell us that there are about 5,000 teenagers who commit suicide every year. There are 2 million serious suicide attempts among young people each year.

God made us for relationships, and He created us to need each other. Someone needs to hear this today. You are needed! Christ paid a high cost for your life and for mine. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God” (1John 3:1). If he loves us that much, who are we not to love ourselves? If you think the world would be better off without you, you are wrong. That is a lie. You are needed! You are loved, and you are not alone.

I believe your life matters, and I know your life matters to God.

Stop rehearsing and endorsing the lie that your life doesn’t matter.

TRUTH: Your life DOES matter.


Lies are the tool of the enemy. The more you allow yourself to think about and say a lie, the more it is endorsed. Don’t rehearse and endorse a lie. Replace the lie with the truth.

“Take every thought captive to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

Stop rehearsing, and endorsing lies. 

Replacing Limiting Beliefs



What limiting belief can you replace with a liberating truth?

Yesterday, I wrote about “How the Christmas Story Ends,” and we saw that Jesus entrusted John to care for Mary. John is one of the central personalities of the New Testament. He was the younger of the two sons of Zebedee and a very successful fisherman. John was a disciple of John the Baptist, but once Jesus showed up on the scene, things began to change. John became one of the inner circle of three (Peter, James, and John) who were with Jesus when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.

passionEach time I visit Israel, I visit the Garden of Gethsemane. If I could choose to experience anything in the Bible, I would want to hear the prayer in Gethsemane. “‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.’ And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping” (Matthew 26:39-40). Why do you think Jesus did the things He did? He wanted to please His father. There was no joy in the cross, but there was joy in pleasing His father with obedience. At this moment, Jesus was prayerful and obedient. John was asleep. 

Although he now has a reputation as “the apostle of love,” John had a fiery personality. Jesus named John and James the “Sons of Thunder,” and the two brothers lived up to that title. John mellows over time but never loses his passion for the truth. He transformed from the quick-tempered Son of Thunder to the compassionate apostle of love.

602a615a80f6b82cfd5084c0522aae47--last-supper-jim-caviezelSome have suggested that John was the youngest of the disciples Jesus called. He was perhaps only 24 years old when he first followed Jesus, who was 30. John was one of the first disciples chosen. John wrote a Gospel, 3 Epistles, and a book of Prophecy. Altogether, he wrote five of the twenty-seven New Testament Books, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John, the Gospel of John, and Revelation. John dealt with eternal life in both 1 John and the Gospel of John. John shared Pauls’s passion for the clarity of the gospel. Remember Paul’s words to the Galatians.  

There are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” Galatians 1:7

83e4ca06914fb426af4a568084c88338Like Paul, John wanted people to know the truth and reject lies. We can stop rehearsing and endorsing lies. We can replace limiting beliefs with liberating truths. Michael Hyatt says, “The best way to overcome limiting beliefs is to replace them with liberating truths.” Let me give you an example. I might say I don’t have time to pray. Well, that is not the truth. That is just my belief, and it is a limiting belief. It is a lie that I rehearse and endorse by saying it over and over. And it’s poison. Here is the liberating truth. I have all the time I need to pray, and everything I do will be better as a result.

What limiting belief can you replace with a liberating truth today? John was an advocate for the gospel. Like any pastor, John could not stand idly by; he had to stop his followers from rehearsing and endorsing lies. He send words off clarity to the churches under his care.

“I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.” 1 John 2:26

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13

What limiting belief can you replace with a liberating truth today?

How The Christmas Story Ends



Who are the people that stick with you no matter what happens?

For Christians, Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ. Jesus came into this world as a Human being and had strong personal relationships with people. Two people were with him to the very end. With Christmas just around the corner, let me invite you to begin the Christmas season with the end in mind. Let’s focus our attention today on the end of Jesus’ life and see who is with Him.

Screen Shot 2019-12-18 at 7.38.02 PMJohn was called the “beloved disciple” and was with Jesus to the very end. He stood with Mary as she watched her son be crucified. He held her as only a close friend could. Perhaps Jesus loved John so much because He knew the future. Jesus knew from the beginning that John would care for his mother. Jesus knew John would do more for Mary than any family member in the end. John took on the responsibility of caring for Mary. John was trustworthy. Jesus trusted and loved him. Jesus wasn’t just any friend, He was the Son of God. Mary was not just any mother, she was Mary the mother of Christ. This was not just any situation. It involved a virgin birth, a miraculous life, and a cross. Allow me to take you into this landmark moment in history.

Screen Shot 2019-12-18 at 7.47.00 PMI wonder when Mary realized the fullness of who Jesus was. Mary was a willing servant of God who gave birth to the Messiah. But Mary did much more than just give birth. She raised Jesus as a boy, and she loved Him. Mary watched as her son grew into a man. Although Jesus had a short adulthood, it’s not how long you live but how you live that matters. Jesus lived an amazing life with the support of a loving mother. She was with Him all along the road of life. Mary had to watch her son walk down the road to the cross. She watched as her son submitted himself to the cross. More than anyone, Mary knew the power He had available to Him.

Screen Shot 2019-12-18 at 7.47.13 PMWhen Jesus was lifted up on the cross, Mary looked up at her son. John was there with her watching his friend die. I wonder how John prayed while he was holding Mary close. I wonder what John saw and felt as he experienced the crucifixion with Mary. I wonder how John felt as Jesus spoke from the cross. Jesus said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” We believe that Joseph had been dead for some time. Jesus also passed over his own brothers in entrusting this great responsibility. Jesus knew that they did not believe in Him. John 7:5 says, “For neither did his brethren believe in Him.”

How would you feel if Jesus told you to take care of his mother?

Screen Shot 2019-12-18 at 7.47.23 PMMary was there with John, the beloved follower, and friend. Mary was not alone as she watched her son take his last breath. She was not alone as she heard His last words. Jesus spoke and said to Mary, “Woman, behold your son.” But that was not all He said. Jesus turned and looked to his friend. He looked past Mary to John and said, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour, John took her to his own home. John took on the responsibility of caring for Mary. John was trustworthy. Jesus trusted and loved him. But before John took Mary to his home, they watched Jesus die.

Screen Shot 2019-12-18 at 7.47.28 PM John and Mary watched as the soldier took a spear and jabbed Jesus in the side. John’s Gospel includes details about Jesus’ crucifixion not recorded in any of the other three Gospels: “The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man and of the other man who had been crucified with Him. But coming to Jesus, when they saw that He had already died, they did not break His legs; but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.” John 19:32-34

Screen Shot 2019-12-18 at 7.47.32 PMIn the end, Mary held her dead son and John was there. He was with her. He saw her pain and he carried his own pain. The pain of loss and pain of the vicious and violent death of his friend. What John saw, what he experienced, changed him. He saw things that you and I can only imagine.

Who are the people that stick with you no matter what happens?


 

Not all Christians are Disciples



What area of your life is Christ trying to reach this Christmas?

Screen Shot 2019-12-18 at 6.36.07 AMC. S. Lewis once shared a story from his childhood. “When I was a child, I often had a toothache, and I knew that if I went to my mother, she would give me something which would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother; at least not till the pain became very bad. And the reason I did not go was this: I did not doubt she would give me the aspirin, but I knew she would also do something else. I knew she would take me to the dentist the next morning.

Screen Shot 2019-12-18 at 6.36.20 AMI could not get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want. I wanted immediate relief from my pain, but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right. And I knew those dentists; I knew they would start fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth which had not yet begun to ache. Our Lord is like the dentists. Dozens of people go to Him to be cured of some particular sin. Well, He will cure it all right, but He will not stop there. That may be all you asked; but if you once call Him in, He will give you the full treatment.”

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”  Galatians 2:20

This verse describes Christ replicating Himself in Paul. Would you consider yourself to be a disciple of Christ? Not all Christians are disciples. Disciples make disciples. They don’t just reach others, they replicate themselves. We are called to be conduits of truth and not just collectors of information. A conduit is a channel through which something is conveyed. Water flows and the wind blows. They have the most power when they are moving. Discipleship involves allowing Christ to be in control of your life. What area of your life is Christ trying to reach today?

Paul looked at the world as if it were on a cross—and the world looked at Paul as though he were on a cross. The world was crucified to Paul and Paul was crucified to the world. Because of the cross, the world system had lost its appeal to Paul, and he had lost his appeal to the world.

Screen Shot 2019-12-18 at 6.37.34 AMPaul describes himself as being crucified. He said, “I die to myself daily.” But this requires humbling yourself. Some of us are better at that than others. I love that picture of a kitten looking into a mirror and seeing a lion. I actually have it framed in my study at work. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.The truth is we can’t trust everything we think about ourselves.

“Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Galatians 6:14

Screen Shot 2019-12-18 at 6.38.49 AMThe crucifixion was necessary because there was no other way for man to be saved. It’s the power of the cross that purifies man from his sin and makes him presentable to God. The cross allows no place for human pride, status, or achievement. You can’t lose your salvation, because it’s not yours to lose. Christ is the one who does the saving and He’s got you.

“In this is love,” John explained, “not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

What area of your life is Christ trying to reach this Christmas?

Grace Without Holiness



Grace without holiness leads to license.

Screen Shot 2019-12-17 at 6.20.38 AMA young boy saw a pack of cigarettes on the ground and decided to try them. He went to a field near his home and, after several fumbling attempts, got one to light up. It didn’t taste good; it actually burned his throat and made him cough. But it made him feel tremendously grown-up. Then he saw his father coming.

Screen Shot 2019-12-17 at 6.20.43 AMQuickly he put the cigarette behind his back and tried to be casual. Desperate to divert his father’s attention, the young boy pointed to a nearby billboard advertising the circus. “Can we go, Dad? Please, let’s go when it comes to town.” The father quietly but firmly replied, “Son, never make a petition while at the same time trying to hide a smoldering disobedience.”

Grace without holiness leads to license.

Grace is receiving something you did not earn or deserve. Holiness is doing what you ought to do in response to God’s love. License is abusing freedom to do what you want to do. The idea of Christian freedom is so easily misinterpreted and misapplied. True freedom is NOT doing whatever you want to do. True freedom is doing what you ought to do. Ironically, the more we assert self-centered freedom, the more we become enslaved to sin. When we choose to persist in sin, we develop less and less control over it. We eventually forfeit any choice entirely. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (John 8:34).

“Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh.” Galatians 5:13

The flesh and the Spirit are opposed to each other. In Romans 7, Paul gets very transparent. “I do not understand my own actions. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” 

Screen Shot 2019-12-17 at 6.30.01 AMThink of King David with me for a moment. David got into some trouble with Bathsheba. But the Bible is clear that David was NOT doing what he was supposed to be doing. “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle … David remained at Jerusalem.” 2 Samuel 11:1

“Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16

This passage is a command. The idea here is to focus on doing the right things. The grass is always greener where you water it. If you focus all your energy on not doing bad things, you will exhaust yourself. Find the right things to do and get busy. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.

Grace without holiness leads to license.

What areas of your life need a little more holiness?

How can you walk in the Spirit this Christmas?

 

Unity Is Not Sameness



How does it make you feel when someone disagrees with you?

If we are honest, it’s probably a little natural to get irritated. One leadership thought is: “If you and your friend always agree, one of you is unnecessary.” Having different perspectives can help discover the truth in many situations.

What is truth? Truth is telling it like it is. Truth is not simply what makes you feel good. A bad report from the doctor might cause you to feel bad, but it represents the truth. Truth is not always what we want to hear, but truth is valuable. Let me encourage you to surround yourself with people who will tell you the truth. We can agree to disagree and still maintain unity because unity is not sameness.  

Screen Shot 2019-12-16 at 6.55.24 AMIf a football team is unified, it doesn’t mean that everyone is playing the same position. It means everybody is going toward the same goal line. 

Screen Shot 2019-12-16 at 6.55.39 AMIf an orchestra is harmonious, it’s not because there are all playing the same instrument; it’s because they are all playing the same song. 

Screen Shot 2019-12-16 at 6.55.48 AMIf a choir is singing in great harmony, it’s not because they are singing the same parts; it’s because they are adding their part to the same song. 

It’s a common goal that produces true unity. Unity has to do with the same purpose. A coach, a conductor, and a director all have to provide genuine feedback based on the common purpose. That is what a leader does. Great leaders provide great feedback.

Let’s talk about Paul. Paul was a great leader.

The name “Paul” means little. Before his conversion, he was advancing in Judaism beyond many of his contemporaries. But God stopped Him in his tracks and transformed him. One way to deny the truthfulness of a message is to deny the authority of the one who gives it. Some said that Paul was a self-appointed apostle. He fights against this label for years. Paul loves the Galatians and is sharing the truth about the gospel with them. But he could tell they felt differently about him because he shared the truth.

“Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” – Galatians 4:16

We-see-extraordinary-opportunities-to-grow-How-Griffith-Foods-plans-to-double-its-sales-and-triple-its-bottom-line_wrbm_largeWe all have friends and enemies. Be careful not to confuse a friend to be an enemy when they tell you the truth. Even salt and sugar look the same. The Galatians have decided that Paul is now their enemy because he is telling them the truth. He is being punished for trying to help them. Remember, unity is not sameness. Surround yourself with people who will tell you the truth

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:6

Surround yourself with people who will tell you the truth.

Who in your life is a friend that will tell you the truth?

Who do you need to speak truth to this Christmas?