Archive | August, 2013

Helping You Down From the Pedestal…

30 Aug

bible3“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” –Colossians 3:16 (ESV)

“In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue, but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.” –Mark Twain

“When leaders begin to thrill you more than Jesus, return your heart to Jesus. Listen to Him, watch Him, follow Him, for He alone brings living water to the desert of your life” –Pastor Koetsier, TACC Sermon Sunday, August 25.

Use discernment to determine if you are spending too much time with the speaker/author of the words and not enough time with the Word itself. 

Helping You Down From the Pedestal…

Posted by Gina Smith

Dear Christian authors, speakers and preachers,

I read your books and listen to you speak. You inspire me. I become a follower. Many have followed you. You have a lot of really good things to say. God is using you. Unfortunately,  I started to hold on to every word you said. I started to think you could say nothing wrong. I quoted you and promoted your writings.  In fact, it makes me feel quite “spiritual” when I mention that I love your writings and am in any way associated with your name. After all, you are highly respected, an “expert”…a theologian. You are, in many ways, a Christian celebrity.  Many would say you are their Christian hero.

Then I read something you said and I questioned it. In fact, I really didn’t agree with it. I studied my bible and found that what you said wasn’t completely biblical. I was shocked. I was disappointed. I shared it with someone and they defended you. How in the world could YOU be wrong?

I looked around and saw other people following you, reading your books, listening to you speak, agreeing with all you say, not wanting to see that you are human and that you are capable of error…

…and that all of us have a tendency to want to follow SOMEONE!

Then I sensed God telling me that I had been wrong to follow a person. That I had put too much stock in what you said. That even though you are godly, and are a gifted teacher and author, the only One that is without error is HIM.

I really don’t believe that you intend for people to follow you. You are very sincere in your attempts to present the truth. That is why I know you will not mind if I don’t agree with everything you write. I know you would want me to compare all you write and preach with the Word of God.

Even though I may not agree with everything you say…I promise that I won’t write you off. You still inspire me in many ways, and yet I will not hold you up as the ultimate authority anymore.

I know you wouldn’t want me to do that anyway.

I’m not disappointed anymore. I know you are only human. In fact, I have helped you climb down from the pedestal I put you on. I feel foolish and humbled for putting you there in the first place!

Sincerely,

Just another imperfect God follower who gets easily distracted by “what is seen” but who is trying to keep her eyes on the One who is not seen!

Acts 17:11 “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. ”

1 Corinthians 3:4 “For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task.”

Excerpted from: Real Life Titus 2: Helping You Down From the Pedestal….

Another article to consider: A Critical Mind vs. A Critical Spirit – Trevin Wax

Advertisements

How Do We Hear?|By Actively Listening

26 Aug

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” –Romans 10:17

“When God speaks in your life, listen carefully, receive humbly, and  respond gratefully'” –Pastor Koetsier (TACC Sermon, Sunday, August 25)

Listen-Chinese340

Listen Carefully

“Whoever has ears, let them hear” –Matthew 11:15

The Chinese character for the verb “to listen” stresses the importance of using one’s whole body to hear. Eyes, ears, attention, and heart are presumed focused and actively engaged. Whether reading the Bible, meditating, or in prayer, listen with your whole being –quietly, patiently wait upon the Lord.

Receive Humbly

“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you,which can save you Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says ” –James 1:21-22

Bible scholar W. E. Vine said that the Greek word for receive means “deliberate and ready reception of what is offered.” It is an obedient and meek acceptance of what God wants and acknowledging it is good.

 Respond Gratefully

“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” –1Thessalonians 5:18

Outside of public/corporate worship within the church; honor, praise, and glorify God in private worship with prayer, singing, and thanksgiving.

How Do We Hear the Voice of Jesus?

by John Piper

Do you want to hear the voice of Jesus? So do I. The Father certainly wants us to. “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” (Luke 9:35).

To which we cry, “Yes, Lord. Yes! We want to listen to him.”

Does he speak today? He does.

Every word of the Bible is the voice of Jesus.

How do we know this? By inference. And better, by experience…

View the remainder of the article here: How Do We Hear the Voice of Jesus? – Desiring God.

Revisit this previous post from TACC Connect to Women’s Ministries here: Hearing God…

LifeWay Women All Access — 10 Ways to Meet Women Where They Are

23 Aug

life“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” –Matthew 18:20

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen” — 1 Peter 4:8-10

10 Ways to Meet Women Where They Are

By Mary Margaret Collingsworth

We’re constantly trying to find new ways to reach women where they are, and it’s becoming increasingly more difficult. As culture shifts, so do the needs of women. No matter what your age may be, women are still women and we are always going to need other women in our lives. Here are 10 ways to meet women where they are:

  1. Don’t assume anything. We often look at women and assume that they already have enough friends or they don’t have enough time. Looks can be deceiving! Maybe she has a lot of acquaintances, but is longing for a real friend. It could be you!
  2. Ask. Ask her to go places with you and be in your life. The worst thing they can do is say, “No.”
  3. Keep asking. Unless someone tells you to stop asking, keep extending the ask. Sometimes it just takes a few attempts and the right thing to grab her attention. Don’t just quit asking because she turned you down the first time.
  4. Do life together. One of the sweetest parts of friendship is knowing the day-to-day happenings of the other women in your life. The mundane can be, well, mundane, and it  can be so much more rich in community. This also happens in the good, the bad, and the ugly times. Life is messy, and we all need other women in our lives who just know us to walk with us through it all.
  5. Be real. Last week, I heard Pete Wilson (pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville) say, “Authenticity is the cry of all, but the game of few.” While we often claim authenticity, we still try to prove ourselves and often end up being someone we’re not. Just be you, and she’ll love you for it.
  6. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Some of my dearest friends are ones that I initially thought I had nothing in common with, but was so wrong. When my friend Christie and I met while I was in college, she was a newlywed and I learned that she had majored in Math in college. I was single and lets just face it… I still hate math. I literally thought we had nothing in common except for Jesus, but boy, was I wrong! Nine years later, I’m in the airport waiting to board a plane to visit her and her family (5 kids!) and couldn’t love her more, even though our everyday lives look so different.
  7. Pray for her. Don’t just ask how you can pray for her… actually pray for her and pray with her if the Holy Spirit leads you to. Be willing to go to battle with her through prayer, whether she ever knows it or not.
  8. Speak truth. The truth can hurt, but find ways to speak it in love. Be honest, but be kind in how you approach challenging conversations and situations. It can feel risky, but seek the Lord before you speak. Make sure you’re not speaking out of your flesh, but you’re listening to the Holy Spirit. My closest friends are the ones who are willing to speak truth into my life.
  9. Love her right where she is. It’s not our job to fix anyone or change her, but we are called to love her. Be the kind of woman who is steadfast in her life, whether she has a relationship with Jesus or not. Walk with her, pray for her, and just love on her.
  10. Be Jesus to her. Take her a meal. Watch her kids. Listen to her. Cry with her. Laugh with her. Show up. Just be there. When you can, put your needs aside and just be Jesus to her. You don’t have to provide answers or a solution, but point her to the One who can.

At the end of the day, we are called to meet other women at the point of their need. Philippians 2:1-8 paints a beautiful picture of how to treat the people in our lives. If we truly are putting the needs of others above our own, it will show through our actions. Our role is to step in, stand in the gap, and offer them a cold cup of water in the name of Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:42). We often over-complicate things that are really simple, and sometimes it just takes one step in the right direction on our part. It might be hard, but it’s absolutely worth it.

via LifeWay Women All Access — 10 Ways to Meet Women Where They Are.

Don’t Drink the Dirty Water|Drink in the Word of God

20 Aug

bible2

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols” 

–1 John 5:21

“Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind””

–Matthew 22:37

“F. W.Boreham spoke of Christ’s cross as “the climax of immensities, the center of infinities, and the conflux of eternities.”

“The infinite God of the universe –the King, has communicated to us His insurpassable love, sent an inexorable Savior, with unfathomable salvation. Does He really need to do anything else?”

–Pastor Burris Passion 2013: For Our Families 

The scope  and magnitude of God’s love for us is most spectacularly displayed upon the cross. How can we stand lukewarm –leaning on our own self sufficiency and self satisfaction –too comfortable, complacent, and apathetic, in the shadow of such enormity? 

“The essence of lukewarmness is the statement, “I need nothing.” The lukewarm are spiritually self-satisfied. To find out whether you are among that number, don’t look into your head to see if you think that you are needy; rather, look at your prayer life. It doesn’t matter what we think in our head, the test of whether we are in bondage to spiritual self-satisfaction is how earnest and frequent and extended our prayers for change are.

Do you seek the Lord earnestly and often in secret for deeper knowledge of Christ, for greater earnestness in prayer, for more boldness in witness, for sweeter joy in the Holy Spirit, for deeper sorrow for sin, for warmer compassion for the lost, for more divine power to love? Or is the coolness and perfunctoriness of your prayer life Exhibit A that you are spiritually self-satisfied and lukewarm?”

–John Piper adapted from: How to Buy Gold When You’re Broke

Don’t Drink the Dirty Water

LORE FERGUSON

We both drank from the same glass, our mouths leaving marks on opposite sides, a tall drink of water for the parched soul. This is what it is to come to the only Water that will quench our thirst: a shared glass, shared germs, shared experience, but only one Way, one Truth, one Life. Drinking from the same glass.

I tell a friend this morning that I feel straddled between two camps, and I don’t know how long I can sustain this position. I fear being viewed as tepid water. John writes of lukewarm water being spewed from the mouth of God (Rev. 3:16).

We’re drinking from a stagnant pond if we keep returning to the same story over and over and over again hoping to find resolution (Prov. 26:11). We’re drinking from a rusty tap if we don’t purify our words with fire (James 4:8), season them with salt (Col. 4:6), and sweeten them with honey (Ps. 119:103). We’re drinking from contaminated water if we believe that we’re the water others long for.

We’re drinking from water that will never satisfy if we’re not drinking from the Living Water (John 4:7-30).

Some of us come to the well at high noon, fearful to gather our drink where others in our camp might see us. Some of us come in the morning, with the masses, because to stand apart, to stand alone is too much for our approval starved hearts.

But Jesus? Jesus takes our chin in his hand, lifts up our eyes to where our help can only come, and shows us a better way, a more beautiful way. He calls our sin what it is so there is no opportunity to remain lukewarm or ignorant, but he also says the watering hole in which we find ourselves is no thirst-quencher at all.

He is Water and we drink from his glass alone.

Excerpted from: Don’t Drink the Dirty Water – The Gospel Coalition Blog.

Grow Your Faith|Immerse Yourself in God’s Word

14 Aug

bible“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” ― 2 Timothy 3:16

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” ― Hebrews 4:12

“It’s one thing to be unfamiliar with Scripture when you don’t own a Bible; it’s another thing when you have a bookshelf full. No Spiritual Discipline is more important than the intake of God’s Word. Nothing can substitute for it. There simply is no healthy Christian life apart from a diet of the milk and meat of Scripture.”

― Donald Whitney “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life”

From TACC Worship Guide August 11, 2013:

What is your personal practice of Bible listening, reading, studying, memorizing, meditation?
What are some practical steps you can take to improve?”

  • Set a time and place to read.
  • Pray as you read.
  • Use the same Bible all the time.
  • Mark your Bible.
  • Learn some Bible study principles.
  • Have an accountability partner.
  • Read consecutively.
  • Buy a devotional guide or easy to read commentary

Make a decision to spend as much time in the Bible as you do on the internet, television, watching sports.
Fast from electronics, when you have spare time, read your Bible

― Pastor Burris “Life Group Questions”

Additionally the following article offers some additional thoughts and encouragement related to Bible intake and faith

by Jonathan Parnell –Desiring God (excerpt)

If you want your faith to grow, read the Bible.

Earlier this Spring, in a discussion on sanctification, John Piper explains, “The only way faith grows is by God speaking to you. ‘Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God’ [Romans 10:17] — and not just when you got saved, but everyday of your life.”

God speaks to us when we read his word. There is where we encounter his truth — his promises, his warnings, his commands — of which we are called to trust and obey. And his truth is where the Spirit builds our faith…

The remaining article and videos can be viewed here: Do You Want Your Faith to Grow? – Desiring God.

Resolving Conflict: Don’t Make It About You |Make it About God

9 Aug

conflict“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” –Colossians 3:13

Easier said then done sometimes right? Forgiveness is not easy especially when our sense of self preservation kicks in to guard from further hurt. We are not imbued with magnanimity it is something we have to work hard to engage. God wants us to forgive so we need to obey and reflect His mercy and grace even when we want to hold on to the slight and make it all about us. When we refuse to forgive we risk allowing the anger to turn into bitterness and resentment.

“The person who is living by grace sees this vast contrast between his own sins against God and the offenses of others against him. He forgives others because he himself has been so graciously forgiven. He realizes that, by receiving God’s forgiveness through Christ, he has forfeited the right to be offended when others hurt him”

–Jerry Bridges Transforming Grace p. 44-45.

It is not about us…

Resolving Conflict: Don’t Make It About You

“If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone” Romans 12:18 (HCSB)

A LifeWay Research study revealed that people claim to be prepared to resolve conflict between themselves and others. According to a survey of more than 1,000 American adults, nearly 85 percent somewhat or strongly agree they are prepared for such resolution.

But how prepared are they, really?

Ranking seven options, respondents suggested “Go to a higher authority,” “Avoid the problem and hope it goes away,” and “Attempt to fully satisfy yourself and others” less than half the time. “Give in to the other person” and “Pretend there is no conflict” were suggested more than half the time, with “Find a middle ground” mentioned nearly 75 percent of the time.

This deeper questioning reveals a truly problematic thought process of how conflict can be resolved, though. The answer mentioned most often – more than 80 percent of the time – was “Stand up for yourself.”

Experience will teach almost anyone who cares to learn that wanting our own way – selfishness – is the cause of conflict, not the solution to it. It seems people who insist on their own way will impede peace rather than pave the way for it.

The Bible addressed this centuries ago. In the New Testament book of Philippians we read, “If there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” Phil. 2:1-4, HCSB.

Notice how the emphasis on unity in verse 2 depends on the attitudes mentioned in verses 3 and 4: humility and preferring others before ones self.

The attitudes of humility and putting others first are at direct odds with standing up for yourself as a means of resolving conflict. If humility is a means of deflecting conflict in the beginning, it is a necessary ingredient to resolving it.

As followers of Christ we must be peacemakers in our families, our small groups and our families of faith. As we pour over Gods Word together let us make sure we remain humble, treating others as we hope to be treated, and considering others before ourselves. To put it another way, echoing the words of the Apostle Paul, “Make your attitude that of Christ Jesus.” When we do, there will be more unity and less conflict.

via Resolving Conflict.

Prepare for Martyrdom | Step Out Boldly in Faith

6 Aug

bold“If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” –1 Peter 4:14-16

mar·tyr

/ˈmärtər/
Noun
A person who is killed because of their religious or other beliefs.

The etymology or origin of the word martyr is interesting. The old English martyr, from Late Latin martyr, from Doric Greek martyr, literally translates as “witness.” In that context it seems especially appropriate considering the number of early Christians persecuted for witnessing –sharing the Gospel.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? –Matthew 16:24-26

“Every believer in the true God MUST be a potential martyr” –Pastor Burris

What can you do? Pick up your cross and boldly follow Him! From August 4, 2013 TACC sermon:

  1. Be the church: holy, humble, honest, helpful, homeless (Daniel 6:13; Jeremiah 29:7; 2 Chronicles 26; Hebrews 11:13-16; 13:14).
  2. Seek God (Daniel 9; 1 Kings 8:46-50; Psalm 137:5,6; 132:13-18).
  3. Believe in the Sovereign LORD (Daniel 6:4, 10, 13, 16, 20, 22-23).

“Haven’t we all prayed the following prayer? Lord, we pray for safety as we travel. We ask that no one gets hurt on this trip. Please keep everyone safe until we return, and bring us back safely. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen. The exact wording may vary a bit, but that is the standard prayer we recite before leaving on mission trips, retreats, vacations, and business trips.

We are consumed by safety. Obsessed with it, actually. Now, I’m not saying it is wrong to pray for God’s protection, but I am questioning how we’ve made safety our highest priority. We’ve elevated safety to the neglect of whatever God’s best is, whatever would bring God the most glory, or whatever would accomplish His purposes in our lives and in the world.”

Excerpt from Crazy Love by Francis Chan, page 133

Hearing Gods Voice 101 | Are YOU listening?

3 Aug

listen“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” –John 10:27

In what ways does God speak to you? Because we are all unique the way you hear God speak is also unique. Obedience to His will occurs when we hear and act with an open heart prepared to follow Him. Seek Him, spend time with Him, He is jealous for your time.

Hearing Gods Voice 101

Back to the basics: 5 reasons why you should engross yourself in Gods Word

I wish that I could give you a syllabus, prepare lectures, and let you complete a test so that you could drink it in—it being the ability to hear Gods voice. But its not that easy. Sometimes God invites us, like he invited Moses, into the “thick darkness” and communicates with us there. That’s what this is all about—going into the darkness and meeting God there. But before we head to those dark places, lets lay down some general rules about how God communicates with us.

  1. God most often does not communicate with us audibly. (Romans 10:17)
  2. God most often communicates with us through his word, the Bible. (Hebrews 4:12)
  3. You Must Read the Bible in Order to Hear God Speak (Matthew 4:4)
  4. Obey God’s Word If You Want to Hear His Voice (James 1:23)
  5. God Communicates With Us Through Other People (2 Timothy 2:21)

 

An in depth look at the above list can be read here: Hearing Gods Voice 101 | Todays Christian Woman

%d bloggers like this: